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Toughie 1873

Toughie No 1873 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty */**Enjoyment ***

We don’t often get new Toughie setters (about one a year on average, I reckon) so a warm welcome to Stick Insect. My investigoogling has turned up little information about our new setter other than that he/she is a compiler for the Listener crossword. I hope that he or she will drop in and leave a comment so that we get to know him/her better.

Today’s puzzle is a pretty gentle introduction with plenty of anagrams (my anagram counter just crept into double figures).

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Carol and Jerry, both heartless, resorted to blandishment (8)
CAJOLERY – an anagram (resorted) of CA[r]OL and JE[r]RY.

5a Blow a hot pipe (6)
HOOKAH – a blow, in the boxing ring say, followed by A and the abbreviation for hot.

10a Fairy queen circles broad, complete space over stage for opera (6,9)
MADAME BUTTERFLY – the name of a fairy queen, said to be the bringer of dreams, in English folklore contains an alternative American informal word for ‘broad’ (i.e. woman). Follow that with an adjective meaning complete or total and the (normally plural rather than the singular here) name for the space above the stage in a theatre.

11a Place that is inches high (7)
INSTALL – join an abbreviation for more than one inch and a synonym for high.

12a Meanly taking half levy, revenue’s ending butcher’s device (4-3)
MEAT-AXE – take just half of the word meanly and append a levy or duty and the end letter of revenue.

13a Nearly plagiarise quite freely in review (8)
CRITIQUE – an informal verb to plagiarise without its last letter is followed by an anagram (freely) of QUITE.

15a Chore mixing clay and iron pigment (5)
OCHRE – an anagram (mixing) of CHORE.

18a Perfect fish pursued by small boy (5)
IDEAL – a freshwater fish (one I’ve only ever come across in crosswords) followed by a shortened male forename (we have to guess which one though the definition does give the game away).

20a Place having submerged tin works appearing in map (8)
ATLANTIS – put an anagram (works) of TIN inside another word for map (although you’d be disappointed if you bought one of these and found it contained only one map). I’m not keen on works, as a transitive verb, following rather preceding the fodder.

23a Tolerated party finale in glum tedium (7)
BOREDOM – join together a verb meaning tolerated, a festive party and the final letter of glum.

25a Disgrace in prison embraced by backsliding boys (7)
SCANDAL – a North American slang term for prison is contained inside the reversal of a synonym for boys.

26a Appointment aboard U-boat perhaps creates mutiny? (15)
INSUBORDINATION – split the answer 2,3,10 and it could be a religious appointment aboard a U-boat.

27a Servant takes long time to control (6)
MANAGE – charade of a male servant and a long time.

28a American pen recreated unlimited black art with most extreme characters (8)
ALCATRAZ – an anagram (recreated) of [b]LAC[k] ART followed by the letters at the extremities of the alphabet.

Down Clues

1d Company with exactly what one is looking for to hold two million in pledge (6)
COMMIT – the abbreviation for company and an informal word for ‘what one is looking for’ or ‘the very thing’ contain the abbreviation for million twice.

2d A deer just disturbed rosy flowered plant (5,4)
JUDAS TREE – an anagram (disturbed) of A DEER JUST.

3d Thrash innocent, a saint (7)
LAMBAST – fuse together a metaphor for an innocent or a gentle person, A and an abbreviation for saint.

4d Insurgent, fifty, going after beer, drunk (5)
REBEL – the Roman numeral for fifty follows an anagram (drunk) of BEER.

6d Lear’s daughter that’s broken up loves herb (7)
OREGANO – the name of King Lear’s middle daughter goes between two occurrences of the letter that resembles a score of love.

7d Author involved in mounting pipsqueak fakery (5)
KAFKA – hidden in reverse.

8d Fellow always supporting Welsh town produces irritation (3,5)
HAY FEVER – the abbreviation for fellow and a synonym for always follow the name of the town on the Welsh/English border which is famous for its literary festival.

9d Originating material for organisms hawk traps caught and gathered up (4,4)
STEM CELL – a verb to hawk or peddle contains the reverse of an abbreviation for caught and a verb meaning gathered or assembled.

14d Queen manufactured mirage in difficult situation (8)
QUAGMIRE – an abbreviation for queen followed by an anagram (manufactured) of MIRAGE.

16d More risky to take doctor for producer of hot air (9)
HAIRDRIER – an informal comparative meaning more risky contains an abbreviation for doctor.

17d Game away is monotonous at first, defending one’s area (8)
NIMBYISM – concatenate a game for two people (often involving matchsticks), an adverb meaning away (as in ‘she had a small amount of savings put away’), IS and the first letter of monotonous.

19d Spotted flier in America that’s left bad guy twisting (7)
LADYBUG – start with the abbreviation for left and add an anagram (twisting) of BAD GUY.

21d Once more upset, god falls on border (7)
NIAGARA – reverse an adverb meaning once more and add the name of an Egyptian god.

22d Pancake‘s last remnant of kitchen in sudden attack (6)
BLINTZ – I didn’t know this pancake but it turns out to be a Yiddish variant of a pancake that I did know. Insert the last letter of kitchen into a word for a sudden attack (from the German word for lightning).

24d Irons out ingredient of wax (5)
ROSIN – an anagram (out) of IRONS.

25d Southern inclination to drink greedily (5)
SWILL – the abbreviation for southern and a word meaning inclination or intention.

My favourite clue was 28a (for the clever ‘pen’ misdirection). Which clue(s) engaged you?

42 comments on “Toughie 1873

  1. Hello and welcome, Stick Insect
    I enjoyed this a lot, needed the hint from Gazza for 17d. I was convinced that this was one of those crosswords that uses every letter in the alphabet, and was trying to use the outstanding one. 28a my favourite. Thanks guys

    1. I did notice that we were one letter short of a pangram and looked around to see how the missing letter might have been incorporated most easily. My best effort was to make 13a ‘pratique’.

      1. I’ll raise you 18a SPELL, 23a EARLDOM and 17d ASTERISM.
        Wish you hadn’t mentioned it, Gazza, that took longer than the puzzle!

        1. Well done, Jane. When we get a puzzle that’s one letter short of a pangram I always wonder whether the missing letter is due to a change requested by the editor.

  2. Welcome stick insect. Very enjoyable crossword with one or two light bulb moments. If Stick Insect is indeed involved with The Listener then I am sure he/she won’t always be this gentle with us. I enjoyed their style and look forward to their next submission. Many favourites but needed help with 22d

  3. It must have been a gentle introduction to Stick Insect as we’d finished before Gazza’s hints were available. Many thanks to both.
    We too thought 28a particularly clever – Several trains of thought before the right one came.

  4. According to The Listener’s list of compilers, Stick Insect’s name is R Beards, so adding to the existing hirsute compilers, whether he or she.

    1. Listener clues are often quite gentle. It’s the themes and devices used.

      For example, one revealed a hidden message which told solvers to throw the puzzle away and send a picture postcard in instead.

      This was a gentle introduction. Stick Insect has produced both EV’s and Listeners and are good fun to solve.

  5. I found this on the easier end of the spectrum, but a very enjoyable puzzle nonetheless. I spend a while looking for a ‘p’ thinking I had possibly slipped up somewhere. Welcome Stick Insect, and thank you, and thank you, Gazza, for the review.

  6. Welcome Mr Insect. I love it when I can do a Toughie unaided (not often enough). This one was very gentle and enjoyable. Not come across 22d before, but I was able to work it out. 17d and 28a stood out for me. 1.5*/4*.

  7. I enjoyed that, once I’d managed to spell 1a correctly and accepted that Titania wasn’t going to feature in 10a! In truth, I guessed at the opera for the latter and then worked out the parsing afterwards.

    Like Gazza, I didn’t know the Jewish pancake (kept thinking of one of Rudolph’s mates) but was very relieved to find that it existed.

    Top scores went to 26&28a plus 21d.

    Thanks to our brand new Toughie setter – perhaps you’ll be kind enough to pop in and introduce yourself? – and to Gazza for a great blog. Can’t say that the 7d author looks like a particularly appealing personage – wouldn’t have wanted to meet him on a dark night!

  8. That was fun. Like most commenting above I smiled muchly at 28a. I also liked the simple 11a which, as far as I can see, has not been done before. Welcome and thanks to Stick Insect, and thanks to Gazza for a great set of hints.

  9. Was afraid to have to look for an American writer in 28a. Glad it wasn’t the case.
    Didn’t even try to parse 10a as the answer fitted so well in the little squares.
    Liked the definitions in 21d and 17d.
    Thanks to Stick Insect for a great debut toughie and to Gazza for the parsing.

  10. Failed on three today 25ac 22d and 25d. Can’t do the Mini Sodoffku either. Hello to the stick insect. My girls had stick insects once and by crikey they procreated. We ended up with hundreds of them eating privet like their was no tomorrow. A nice steady puzzle with not much in after the first run through but the 15 letter opera is always that one so lots of checkers to help. They fell pretty quickly after that. Lovely clueing. Thanks to the stick insect and thanks to Gazza for the explanations

  11. I also went searching to find if we knew Stick Insect by another name and must have visited the same sites as Gazza and Tilsit. Quite a lot of GK required and with 10a only parsed it enough to be sure I had the right answer. The fairy queen would have been a challenge. The luxury of not having to write the blog. Once I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to look things up, like 22d, it all went together without major hold ups. Good fun.
    Thanks Stick Insect and Gazza.

  12. I can’t put my finger on it, but I didn’t enjoy this one much. All good and fair, but… there’s a but.
    Never mind; many thanks to setter and to Gazza for the blog. ***/**

  13. Hello and thank you all for the very kind welcome, and especially to Gazza for kicking that off with a very comprehensive blog . To answer some of the questions above: male (the R is Rod, hence Stick …) As your research has discovered, I have done some Listeners and EVs and this is my first daily – no other pseudonyms to ferret out. It’s good and very helpful to hear what you liked (and didn’t) – though fairness dictates I have to confess 28a was greatly improved by the editor.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Stick Insect and thanks for dropping in. We do appreciate it when setters get involved.

    2. So good of you to pop in, Stick/Rod – we do like it so much when there’s a bit of connection between ‘us’ and our puzzle setters. Welcome to the world of BD – it’s mad, vocal and brilliant!

  14. I failed miserably on 17d and resorted to revealing letters. This word is new to me and I had to then google to find out what it meant. So very British! Apart from that, I found much to like including 5d, 16d, 20d, and 21d, but the top spot goes to 28a. Welcome and thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza for the review.

    1. I admire you for solving a puzzle set in what is effectively your second language.
      My next Open University module discusses the numerous English Language there are.

      1. MP…I am a born and bred Gloucestershire lass, but I’ve been abroad for a very long time. I do read the UK newspapers daily and get home when I can (met up with Big Dave a couple of times!) but it’s hard to keep up. The English vernacular is ever-evolving. I have learned more about modern jargon from the DT crosswords and this blog than I could anywhere else!

  15. .My first Toughie that I have had a proper go at.
    The top half was fine, almost back page level, however the bottom half was too difficult, mainly because I ran out of steam, and too many obscurities for my limited vocabulary.
    Main problem with the Toughies is that the wordplay is so obscure.
    Thanks both.

    1. Stick at it, Hoofit and just keep doing as much as you can – that’s what I do and it does pay off sometimes!

  16. You need to read the clues a lot less in toughieland Hoofit. There will be lovely sentences but they will not have much to do with the word in the answer. As Jane and Gazza have said, stick with them experience will help. I would pass on the back pagers it the toughies were available on the newspaper subscription scheme. It may be an idea to only tackle the toughies recommended in the back page comments by the likes of Jane and CrypticSue. They won’t be suggesting newcomers try the impossible. Also consider a half completed Toughie to be a success. It shows that you are getting there. If you ever try an Elgar toughie shout from the rooftops if you get any on the first read through.

    1. Thanks. It’s also hard when one has burnt so many brain cells solving the back pager to then face the Toughie. Maybe do them in tandem.

  17. Much as l enjoy our “usual” setters, it’s nice to find a new one! 2*/3.5* overall, even though l needed the hint 18a (l WILL remember that damn fish!) and hadn’t heard of the game in 17d so couldn’t do other than guess (correctly) at the answer. I enjoyed 21d. Many thanks to the Stick Insect, and to Gazza.

  18. A really enjoyable crossword. Being a newbie, I was unaware that Stick Insect was a fresh compiler to the Toughie. 22 down had me pulling the the remnants of my hair out until I noticed my spelling error of 28a. Only the second I have completed so feeling quite chuffed.
    May thanks to you all.

  19. A most enjoyable debut – welcome Stick Insect. Fairly gentle, and very nicely done, so 2*/4*.

    Thanks to Gazza for the review and SI for the puzzle.

  20. A bit late tonight but thought I’d just pop in – I’d forgotten all about Stick Insects!
    I approach all Toughies with a sense of trepidation – I now know the setters I can usually cope with, the ones who I find difficult but stand a chance with and then there are a few others – quite a few – so with a new setter I had no idea what to expect.
    I enjoyed today’s – I agree there were lots of anagrams but I like them.
    I gave up trying to sort out why 10a was what it had to be – thank you Gazza – and hadn’t heard of the 17d game.
    I suspect that Stick Insect was probably ‘testing the water’ when it comes to the level of difficulty and that trickier ones will follow.
    Thank you for the crossword, Stick Insect, and welcome from me too – thanks also to Gazza for the hints and pics.

  21. Yes, I suspect this Stick Insect might be yet to flex his muscles, which may well prove bigger than his name suggests! Enjoyed the puzzle, which held few problems except at 26a and 28a. I was another who made the pancake first and then had to check it. (The best way to check a pancake in my opinion is by eating it, but in this case Google had to do.)

    Thanks and welcome to Stick Insect, and thanks to Gazza. Great illustrations.

  22. A late comment to greet our new Toughie setter and to say that I really enjoyed this.

    I didn’t know that game in 17d. Otherwise I didn’t need to look up anything — am familiar with the pancakes from old recipe books! For once, I managed to complete a Toughie…

    I liked the literary and musical allusions. 16d gave me a big chuckle, and I did like 28a very much. My fave has to be 5a. It brought back memories of The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The copies I had as a child had beautiful illustrations — I think they might have been Sir John Tenniel’s. One featured a caterpillar [I think it was] smoking a 5a. Delightful!

    Appreciative thanks to Stick Insect for a most enjoyable crossword and to Gazza for the excellent review.

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