Toughie No 1871 by Sparks
Hints and tips by 2Kiwis
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BD Rating – Difficulty ***– Enjoyment****
This is our very first effort at writing a Toughie blog and we have been anxiously waiting all week to see who the setter would be. As it turned out we need not have worried as Sparks has given us a not too fiendishly difficult and very enjoyable puzzle.
We seem to recall that Sparks usually puts a hidden message in his puzzles. We have searched but were not able to find anything. Perhaps there will be a surprise waiting for us when we wake up tomorrow morning.
Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.
1a Adverse reactions as in-law darns gross pants (6,3,6)
SLINGS AND ARROWS : An anagram (pants) of IN-LAW DARNS GROSS.
8a Office software is better (5)
EXCEL : A double definition. The office software is part of the Microsoft suite and better is a verb.
12a … another conceals drink in old cloak (7)
MANTEAU : A nickname for a well-known football team contains a favourite British drink.
13a Comparatively pleasant part of western precinct (5)
NICER : A reversed (indicated by western) lurker found in the last word of the clue.
15a Having interrupted drinks, drops off brief summaries (9)
SNAPSHOTS : A word for drops off or has a brief sleep is inside measures of spirits.
17a Over which, e.g., Picasso would proceed cautiously (5,4)
SPEED BUMP : A cryptic definition of something that could be found on the road. Picasso here is not the painter but an example of a motor vehicle.
20a Topless chest put forward (5)
OFFER : A synonym for a chest or hamper loses its first letter.
21a Attracts client services, always 50 per cent off (7)
ENTICES : Remove the first 50 percent of the second and third words in the clue.
25a See 6 Down (8)
26a Before close of play, keep score twice? (5)
FORTY : A keep or stronghold and then the last letter of play.
2d Doing time like an old native (5)
INCAN : Split the answer 2,3 to find the location of someone doing time.
4d Nobbles about rising expenses (7)
ACCOSTS : A two letter term for about or approximately is reversed (rising) and then expenses.
5d Turn over cover on novel — Catch-22 (7)
DILEMMA : Reverse a type of cover and then a novel by Jane Austen.
6d and 25 Across: Characters that could make mimic livid when ‘bigged up’? (5)
ROMAN NUMERALS : The letters in mimic and livid when written in upper case are all part of this series.
7d Smith’s work is put here without due care (2,3,4)
ON THE HOOF : Where the work of a smith or farrier may be found.
10d Jack and Jill‘s bursary taken for this? (7,5)
NURSERY RHYME : The second word of the answer describes the relationship of bursary to the first word of the answer.
16d Engaged part of wheel, front almost spinning (6,3)
SPOKEN FOR : The part of a wheel that goes from the hub to the rim and an anagram (spinning) of FRONt without its last letter.
18d Opens cover of unknown mains left to be insulated (7)
UNSEALS : The cover of unknown is its first and last letters, and then mains or bodies of water include (insulate) the abbreviation for left.
19d Fools put drink at bottom of trifle (5,2)
PLAYS UP : A three letter word meaning to drink follows trifle or dally.
22d Caught half-hearted grass with old conviction (5)
CREDO : The cricket abbreviation for caught, then a type of grass loses one of its central letters and finally the abbreviation for old.
All the long clues round the border appealed to us and 1d especially, because of its reference to our part of the world.