Toughie 1893

Toughie No 1893 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I found this one a bit trickier than we normally get from Micawber (possibly because several of the words were new for me) but it’s really enjoyable as his puzzles always are. I pretty much solved the puzzle from the bottom up – I quite often find that it’s easier to start at the bottom, especially in the SE corner.

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

Across Clues

1a Rolls perhaps stuffed in apron for baker’s helper? (6)
BICARB – what a Rolls is an example of goes inside a sort of apron or protective garment.

4a Spirit that’s not United aficionado’s shout! (8)
VIVACITY – bearing in mind the intense rivalry among football fans in Manchester this (when split 4,4) is not what you’d expect to hear from the home supporters at Old Trafford.

9a Insect‘s extremities grasping ends of hair (6)
THRIPS – I didn’t know this little black insect which can be a serious pest to flowers and food plants. Another word for extremities (not ‘toes’ which was my first thought) contains the outer letters of hair.

10a Inspect over stern after docking by ships carrying earth (8)
REASSESS – a word for the stern or back end without its last letter is followed by two abbreviated ships with, between them, the abbreviation for earth.

11a It’s a bloomer to rent electronic instrument, some might say (8)
HYACINTH – to some (but not to me) this could sound like a phrase (4,5) meaning to rent an abbreviated electronic instrument.

13a Trendy outfit — sick! (6)
INFIRM – stick together an adjective meaning trendy and an outfit or company.

15a Tick to show belief in story (6,7)
CREDIT ACCOUNT – a verb to believe or trust is followed by a story or report.

18a Excerpt from film by snapper, one making connections on circuit (9,4)
CROCODILE CLIP – a short sequence from a film follows a large predator with lots of teeth.

22a Lack of b-booze in cup (6)
NOGGIN – start with a phrase (2,3) indicating that the mother’s ruin has run out then double the first letter of the booze to get what the BRB describes as a small mug or wooden cup (new to me).

24a Source of timber in conversion of barn and home (8)
HORNBEAM – a straightforward anagram (conversion) of BARN and HOME gives us a deciduous tree (another word that I didn’t know).

26a Drawing lots of airmen at dance (8)
RAFFLING – concatenate the abbreviation for our fighting airmen and a Scottish dance.

27a Subtlety is lost in pain (6)
NUANCE – remove IS from a pain or pest.

28a Severe or twisted boss (8)
OVERSEER – an anagram (twisted) of SEVERE OR.

29a Gold rated competitor at Chelsea? (6)
ORCHID – join together our usual heraldic tincture of gold and a dated verb meaning rated or berated.

Down Clues

1d I’ll lay money on that airline accepting cut (6)
BETCHA – an airline contains a verb to cut artistically.

2d Starter motor damage avoided in fall in river (9)
CARPACCIO – start with a motor (the same one that we have in the crossing 1a) then add an Italian river containing the first half of what a fall or trip (8) can be after you remove a verb to damage or diminish.

3d Cloth cap’s a nasty piece of work (7)
REPTILE – charade of a type of cloth and a slang term for a cap or hat.

5d Stare at ‘Posh chap’ said to be mountain climber? (4)
IBEX – LOL! We need two homophones here. The first is a sound-alike of a verb to stare at and the second sounds like the popular nickname used for the husband of the woman known as ‘Posh’.

6d As Wenger, finish off in charge (7)
ARSENIC – the first name of football manager Monsieur Wenger without its last letter is followed by the abbreviation for ‘in charge’. If you’re unsure about the definition here pay attention to this clip:

7d Freeze coverage scheme for old Brits (5)
ICENI – a verb to freeze is followed by the abbreviation for the monetary contributions made by UK workers and employers which was originally devised as an insurance against sickness and unemployment but which these days is regarded as just another tax.

8d Casual greeting by Middle Easterner in US park (8)
YOSEMITE – a casual greeting (once famously used by George Bush to Tony Blair) is followed by someone from the Middle East, in particular an Arab or a Jew.

12d Fool attaining 51 gets gloomy (6)
TWILIT – an informal name for a ‘silly billy’ contains the Roman numeral for 51.

14d Peer and bishop getting over viewpoint in garden? (6)
GAZEBO – a verb to peer or look intently is followed by the chess abbreviation for bishop and the cricketing abbreviation for over.

16d Match official with clout taking number — the latest in a long line (9)
UMPTEENTH – start with an informal (mainly North American) abbreviation for a match official (in cricket or tennis, for example) and add a metaphor for clout or effective influence containing an abbreviation for number.

17d Scheme succeeded — head honcho controls Asian state after revolution (8)
SCENARIO – the abbreviation for succeeded is followed by the 3-letter abbreviation for a head honcho containing the reversal of an Asian country.

19d Fliers‘ oil rose in exchanges (7)
ORIOLES – an anagram (in exchanges) of OIL ROSE.

20d Sloth and monkey hiding love (7)
LANGUOR – hide the letter that resembles a score of love inside a long-tailed monkey.

21d Threaten naughty child’s rear (6)
IMPEND – split 3,3 this could be a naughty child’s rear.

23d 28 finishing early is a mistake (5)
GAFFE – a synonym for 28a without its last letter.

25d Joint king born female (4)
KNEE – the chess or bridge abbreviation for king and a word meaning ‘born’ which precedes a woman’s maiden name.

There are too many fine clues to list them all so I’ll restrict myself to 4a, 29a, 3d, 6d and 16d but my runaway favourite has to be the guffaw-inducing 5d. Which one(s) tickled you?

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29 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The most splendid crossword that left me with a smile on my face all morning (despite having a horrible archiving job to do) and produced a great deal of blogger envy (not just from me ;) )

    Thanks to Micawber for the fun and the “deservedly lucky’ Gazza for the blog – 5d was my favourite too :D

  2. Rabbit Dave
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This was great fun and just about at the right level for me for a Toughie, which I managed to complete after a steady solve with only a minimum of electronic assistance.

    For several reasons I didn’t like 10a, but, that apart, there were a lot of great clues to be found here with a special mention going to 16d.

    I was worried by the definition “insect’s” for 9a until I discovered that the answer (which ends with an “s”) is both singular and plural.

    I’m not normally a great fan of homophones but I thought 11a was exceptionally good and 5d was my favourite clue in the whole puzzle.

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza, particularly for explaining fully the wordplay for 29a (I didn’t know the past tense of “chide”).

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted October 4, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Ah! I’ve just read Gazza’s decryption of 10a and I withdraw my reservations (although I would just say that the surface is a bit iffy).

  3. Beaver
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Don’t often have time for a toughie, but did today and thoroughly enjoyed the solve, particularly the NE corner as a light blues fan!
    Completed the bottom half first then chipped away at the top ,I seemed to tune in to the right wavelength and was surprised at the **** difficulty rating, every dog has his day.
    Favourite 6d, took a while to spot the parse, should have seen it sooner as I am a chemist.
    Thanks all.

  4. the_toff
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Top notch stuff from Micawber, found it both challenging a Mrs11 of fun. My picks 4a , 5d.

    TY M and Gazza

  5. LetterboxRoy
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Looks like it’s just me then. Some clever cluing, but overall I didn’t find it very engaging or satisfying. Not keen on clues such as 23d, the definition for 29a or the surface of 4a (for example). A bit of a disappointment after a wonderful back-pager, perhaps I was hoping for more of the same.

    Many thanks to Micawber nevertheless, and to Gazza for the review

  6. Gazza
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Stick Insect tomorrow.

  7. Tony
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This was a puzzle of two halves for me. I got the bottom half, and enjoyed it very much, but there were too many things I was not aware of (the two soccer references and several others) in the top half for me to to be able to finish this which was disappointing. Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  8. jane
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 5:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As others have said, this was definitely a ‘start at the bottom and work up’ -and some of the top half took a long time!
    In fairness, I also had a blip in the SE having stupidly transposed two vowels in 20d which left me scratching my head over 27a until the light finally dawned.

    Like RD, I wasn’t happy with 10a – surely the answer requires ‘inspect over again’ or some-such?
    Had to laugh over 11a when I remembered who was in the blogging chair today!

    Top picks for me were 4,22&26a plus 5d.

    Thanks to Micawber for quite a challenge and to Gazza for the review. I’m proud to say that, for once, I did know both of the words that were new to you. I shall try to remember that as it may well never happen again!

    • Gazza
      Posted October 4, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I think that ‘over’ meaning ‘again’ is a mainly American usage. Merriam-Webster quotes these as examples: “Do it over” and “Let’s start over from the beginning”.
      If Expat Chris looks in it will be interesting to run it past her.

      • LetterboxRoy
        Posted October 4, 2017 at 9:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

        It’s a poor clue in my opinion, an artificial construction to make the surface work – but it still doesn’t, at least not elegantly.
        If it’s an unindicated Americanism, that’s not good. In English, we would only really use ‘(start/do it) all over again’.
        That and the surface would probably be ripped to bits in Rookie Corner, I suspect, even if the dictionary says it’s get-away-with-able.
        Even then it could be argued that ‘inspect’ is what is done in order to ‘reassess’. Another point which jarred.
        Thanks again Gazza.

        • Jose
          Posted October 6, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink | Reply

          Inspect = assess (LRB), though not vice-versa. But we do have an unindicated Americanism, which I can forgive the setter for (over and over does = again and again) – do we really need every individual element in a clue to be specifically “indicated” every time? For me this clue is OK, but only by the very skin of its teeth.

  9. KiwiColin
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Whenever we have trouble getting started on a puzzle we do as Gazza does and try the SE corner. We even call it ‘Carol’s corner’. With this one it was the SW corner where I got my first toehold and worked from there. Not a quick solve by any means and excellent fun all the way.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

    • Posted October 4, 2017 at 11:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Janet frequently starts at bottom of the down clues, being left-handed, as she often sits to my right, hence called ‘Janet’s Corner’. I have been allocated the NE, Tony (J’s husband, who no longer participates) had the NW, and Sam (our late lurcher) the SW, although she wasn’t very helpful.

  10. Ape.
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 7:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Seriously difficult for me. However I take satisfaction in getting 14d 18a. I need to try the toughie more often.

  11. Kath
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Ooh – I could do it and so I was pleasantly surprised, to put it mildly, to find that Gazza had given it 4* for difficulty.
    4a was a problem but guessed that it was one or other of the sports that I don’t understand – one with a round ball, the other with a funny shaped one and one with an ‘H’ for a goal post and the other with a net. Oh dear.
    I’ve never heard of the 9a insect – I also thought of toes.
    11a sounds fine to me but it would, wouldn’t it? I knew it wouldn’t be OK for Gazza.
    I do know 24a – they are beautiful trees.
    Got in a bit of a pickle with the 28a/23d overlap – dim.
    I could go on for ever but I won’t.
    Too many good clues to pick out any in particular.
    Thanks to Micabber for a fabulous crossword and to Gazza for an equally fabulous set of hints and pics.

  12. PLR
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 9:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Might have let out a celebratory whoop but for 9a and 11a which defeated me. Did enjoy the crossword though. Top clue for me 4a.

  13. Salty Dog
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 9:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The NW corner put me just over the border into 3* territory for difficulty, but this was a satisfying puzzle (4*). I enjoyed 11a and 27a. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  14. Posted October 4, 2017 at 10:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As others have said this resolved from the bottom up, it went well until the NW corner that didn’t come good before the post-pub G&Ts. Overall very enjoyable, with a slight doubt about. 10a. Thanks to Micawber & Gazza

  15. Expat Chris
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 11:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Sadly, I was left with 10A and 7D unsolved and I confess to needing parsing help with several. Ah, well. I ticked 4A, 9A, 5D and 8D. Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  16. Posted October 4, 2017 at 11:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I really enjoyed what I managed, but came to a complete halt with 5 in the NW blank. Wanted to spend more time on it later, but it’s now now and I’m trying my very best to sleep at sensible times these days rather than succumb to my natural semi-nocturnality. So needed some aids to finish before the witching hour.

    My favourite was everybody’s favourite: the Posh chap.

    Thanks to Micawber for the fun, and to Gazza for another great blog.

  17. miffypops
    Posted October 5, 2017 at 12:59 am | Permalink | Reply

    Getting there and enjoying it lots. Work and the family situation get in the way but I will finish. Great puzzle. Cannot comment on Gazzas blog because I have not read it.

  18. Lesley
    Posted October 5, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    I had spelt 20d wrongly (inverted the vowels) which gave me “soigne” (anagram of gone and is) for 27a. Was really pretty pleased at completing, until I I read Gazzas comments. Down to earth with a crash! Thanks Guys

    • Gazza
      Posted October 5, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink | Reply

      27a couldn’t be an anagram of ‘gone’ and ‘is’ because the word ‘gone’ is not in the clue – so that would make it an indirect anagram (which is verboten).

      • Lesley
        Posted October 5, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Couldn’t ‘gone’ be ‘lost’? I’ve seen indirect anagrams plenty of times. Didn’t know that they were verboten. Oh well, I will maintain my indifference, subtlety and soigne!.

        • Gazza
          Posted October 5, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I’d be very surprised if you’ve seen an indirect anagram in a published crossword. For more information see Section 9.4 of Prolixic’s guide to the ‘rules’ here.

  19. Mac
    Posted October 5, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink | Reply

    I battled my way through but needed help with the NW corner, not being into Italian cuisine and entomology. Couldn’t parse 6d at first until I realised that ‘As’ must be the chemical symbol. Great to hear Tom Lehrer again in what is my favourite song of his, especially the outrageous pun at the end!

  20. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Struggled with the NW corner even with 1d and 9a being solved from the start.
    Thinking that 11a would start with Hyr didn’t help. Should know better when it comes to that R. Specially on Gazza’s watch.
    Thanks to Micawber for the great workout and to Gazza for the review.

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