Toughie 1921

Toughie No 1921 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This is a pleasant puzzle but there are rather a lot of references to UK TV programmes which may make it tricky for some of our overseas correspondents. Thanks to Messinae.

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

Across Clues

1a Body Shop worker, a successful contestant on Eggheads? (5,6)
PANEL BEATER: double definition, the second cryptic. Eggheads is the name of a quiz show on TV where contestants aim to defeat a team of experts.

9a The person setting familiar enterprise area in beach resort (5)
IBIZA: charade of a pronoun identifying the setter, an informal word for an enterprise or business and the abbreviation for area.

10a Turner’s skill with work of Art Deco (not English) (9)
WOODCRAFT: start with the abbreviation for ‘with’ and append an anagram (work) of OF ART D[e]CO without the abbreviation for English. This turner works with a lathe.

11a Giving the Spanish wine that’s sparkling and cold (7)
ELASTIC: join together a Spanish definite article, our usual Italian sparkling wine and the abbreviation for cold.

12a Relating to parts of words just so, with blooming contrary content (8)
SYLLABIC: the Latin word meaning ‘thus’, used to indicate that something quoted is exactly as it appeared originally and is not a typo, contains the reversal of an old-fashioned adjective meaning blooming (signifying annoyance).

14a Weed grassland yielding a great deal of hay! (8)
HOEDOWNS: stitch together a verb to use a weeding implement and a word for gently rolling grasslands. Hay (alternative spelling of hey) is a winding country dance according to Chambers – who knew?

15a Bond’s declaration in game (1-3)
I-SPY: with a space rather than hyphen this could be a statement from 007.

17a Martin singing about alien in danger of breakdown (7)
RICKETY: the common forename of Mr Martin, the Puerto-Rican singer, contains our usual little alien.

19a Trotter, perhaps one supplied by meat counter (4)
DELI: one of the Trotter brothers from Only Fools and Horses has the Roman numeral for one added.

20a Aim to enter merry union, making rude suggestion (8)
INNUENDO: insert a synonym for aim or target into an anagram (merry) of UNION.

21a Doctor coveting guerrilla (8)
VIETCONG: an anagram (doctor) of COVETING.

23a Sex appeal in stock attractive influence (7)
GRAVITY: insert an informal word for sex appeal into the type of stock served with a Sunday roast. As the great Hancock remarked “I thought my mother was a bad cook but at least her ***** used to move about a bit”.

25a Cor — with this you get explosive to hand over (9)
EXTRADITE: split the answer 5,4 for what’s needed to make ‘cor’ into a type of explosive.

26a More than one rude peer searches the internet lacking energy (5)
OGLES: an informal verb meaning searches the internet without a word meaning energy or zest.

27a Expert in 10 around hospital ship (5-6)
THREE-MASTER: a cryptic synonym (4,6) for an expert in 10a contains the abbreviation for hospital.

Down Clues

2d Indefinite number engaged in system of exercises standing on head in pain (5)
AGONY: the letter used to mean an indefinite number goes inside the reversal of an Indian system of exercises.

3d Draw stumps or stump? (7)
ENDPLAY: the answer (new to me) is a verb used in bridge to place one’s opponent in difficulty. When split 3,4 it means to conclude the day’s entertainment in a cricket match (very relevant given that the Ashes series starts tonight).

4d Cookery expert twice reported nasty disease (8)
BERIBERI: what sounds like the surname of a cookery expert famous for her baking gets repeated. Chambers has the disease hyphenated.

5d Bear market for gambling (4)
TOTE: double definition, the second being a system of betting where the payout is directly related to the overall amount staked and the number of winning tickets.

6d Religious teaching given to English blues singer making rude jokes (8)
RIBALDRY: the abbreviation for religious indoctrination followed by the surname of a very tall English blues singer.

7d Seagull — one following boat after equipment on it capsized (9)
KITTIWAKE: what a boat leaves behind it in the water follows a synonym for equipment or gear and IT reversed.

8d Switching elements of wildlife programme is what keeps hunter going (11)
WATCHSPRING: switch around the two elements of a wildlife TV programme which appears on our screens round about May. Hunter here is a type of timepiece.

12d Child’s toy that can make star of Russian leader (8,3)
SPINNING TOP: I spent some time considering whether uptin, elnin or tsalin could be a celestial body before the penny dropped. The Russian leader is one of the emperors whose line came to an abrupt end in 1917 and obeying the answer will turn him into a star.

13d Mark on list from radio play producer (7)
CHEKHOV: this name sounds like a verbal phrase (5,3) meaning to put a tick against one or more items on a list.

16d Run in slot machine suitable for the Telegraph? (9)
PRINTABLE: insert the abbreviation for a run in cricket into a type of slot machine.

17d Most piping plumber finally ends in raised support (8)
REEDIEST: start with the final letter of plumber then insert a verb meaning ends or conks out into the reversal of a ball support.

18d Urgent message set Republican in school (8)
TELEGRAM: bring together an informal name for the set that traditionally sits in the corner of the living room and a word for a school of whales with the abbreviation for Republican contained inside it.

19d Agrees 13 of last month for Caesar (7)
DECIDES: when split 3,4 this could identify the 13th day of the last month of the year in ancient Rome.

22d Component of gunpowder in egg laid by sappers (5)
NITRE: concatenate the egg of a louse and the abbreviation for the sappers. In a down clue ‘on top of’ would be better than ‘by’ though that would not be so good for the surface reading.

24d Ignore November in long period of time (4)
YEAR: start with a verb to long or itch and remove the letter that November represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

I liked 1a and 8d but my favourite clue was 26a. Which one(s) made it to your podium?

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23 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It was slightly trickier than I expected a Messinae to be – no particular favourites but I did grump a bit about a couple of the double unches (and you know if I notice them, then it is definitely a problem)

    Thanks to Messinae and Gazza too

  2. dutch
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Quite tricky. I knew the singers but hadn’t seen them in crosswords before. I didn’t know the word for blooming but I’d come across the dance before.

    Still not really sure I get the stumps – chambers has both ‘draw stumps’ and ‘stumps’ meaning end play in cricket, I’m aware of the answer in Bridge (and other games) but i’m struggling to make it match the clue.

    Favourite was 26a, also the homophone 13d

    Many thanks Messinnae and thanks Gazza

  3. jane
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Stared at a blank grid for quite some time before 2d finally gave me a way in and 1a then became obvious. Smooth sailing from there on although I had to look up the bridge term to confirm 3d and hadn’t previously come across that particular collective term for whales used in 18d. I also toyed with the wrong Martin in 17a for a while.

    Very much enjoyed this one and would have given rather more stars to it on that score than Gazza chose to do.
    Tops for me were 1a and 8d with 2d getting a mention for giving me a much needed starting point.

    Thanks to Messinae and to the shining knight for the blog – ages since I’ve heard anything by that blues singer!

  4. geoffrey tong
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Finished without too much trouble, but havs spun top in all directions and failed to find a Russian leader.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 22, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The Russian leader is TSAR. Spin the top two letters to get STAR.

      • JB
        Posted November 22, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Doesn’t help me. I spell it “czar”!

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m happy to report that I did not have any problems with the TV shows, even though I’ve never heard of 1A or 8D. Who knew that hay (hey) was a dance indeed! I thought the hay reference referred to all those bales scattered around at a proper hoedown in the barn for folks to sit on. I did know the Trotter reference, though. I thought this was a lovely puzzle and lots of fun. Among my favorites are 12A, 26A, 3D (just knew the cricket definition but I liked that), 6D and 17D. thanks Messinae and Gazza.

  6. geoffrey tong
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks, Gazza, the atrophied brain awakes!

  7. Tony
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I looked at a blank page for a long time, and then 21a emerged followed by a thin diagonal leading up and eventually to the rest of the puzzle. In addition to the TV references, I had not heard of the cookery expert in 4d, or the hunter in 8d, or the blues singer in 6d, or the term in 3d, all of which detracted from my enjoyment of an otherwise stern but fun puzzle. 15a gets my vote for favourite. Many thanks to all.

  8. Posted November 22, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was really having a lot of fun with this one, then fell off a cliff with a handful to go. Thanks to Messinae for the fun and to Gazza for the safety net.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The left side went in Ok but the right was a cauchemar for me.
    Couldn’t parse 25a and 18d although the answers made sense but gave up on 14a, 7d and 8d.
    Thanks to Messinae and to Gazza for the explanations.

  10. Una
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I got about 2/3 of the way through.
    I liked 20 and 23a.
    It didn’t help at all that I had syllable instead of the correct answer for 12a.
    Thanks to Messinae and Gazza.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    All the TV references were know to us except the one in 8d which we also got quite readily from the wordplay. We did not remember the dance for 14a so a case of right answer but not sure why. Good fun and an excellent distraction for us while we were waiting for the website to come back on line so we could finish our blog.
    Thanks Messinae and Gazza.

  12. Sheffieldsy
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Nice puzzle all round. 3* /3.5*.

    The child’s toy was a bung-in once all the checkers were present. Really liked attractive influence in our clue of the day.

    Thanks to Gazza and Messinae.

  13. Ash Cooper
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Second toughie this week I managed-though some of the parsing beat me.(Especially 12d where I needed the amplified explanation to help me. Got 18d but gam as a pod of whales was new to me (as are some other uses of the word!).

    Specially liked the linked pair 10a and 27a.
    Thanks to all

  14. Gazza
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Firefly tomorrow.

  15. Posted November 22, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Started off really enjoying this but got bogged down a bit. After a beer we had completed with two iffy parsings, one confirmed and one not.
    Thanks Messina and Gazza.
    G: A lot to enjoy, but a couple …
    J: Get up the bar you old misery
    G: Bah! Now we’re talking!

  16. Kath
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I managed only about half, or maybe a little bit more, of this one.
    It shows me how dependant I am on knowing the style of a particular setter – we don’t see Messinae very often.
    Even I noticed the large number of double unchecked letters – oh well, onwards and upwards, as they say, whoever ‘they’ are.
    I enjoyed what little I managed so thanks to Messinae and to Gazza for sorting me out.

  17. PLR
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 8:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Had to give up on 3a but managed the rest. Needed a lot of help with parsing. Learnt some new words. This + today’s back-pager provided a thorough workout for my brain.

  18. Shropshirebloke
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 10:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this toughie most absorbing, but became completely bogged down on my last one in. I reckon that I could have sat until this time next year and still not come up with ‘tree master’ to link with 10 across. Fair play to Messinae, but far too clever for me. Nevertheless it was very good entertainment and most certsinly beats watching ‘The Apprentice’ for sure – I just cannot stand Alan Sugar.

  19. Jon_S
    Posted November 22, 2017 at 10:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Slowish but steady progress throughout, but then I got badly stuck on 14ac, 8d (which is obvious in retrospect!) and 25ac. Fair and enjoyable throughout…

  20. Mac
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink | Reply

    Had to think about my English blues singers. My first idea was Joe Cocker, although not for long. Then, when I got 17a, the last letter brought George Melly to mind. I finally settled on Long John Baldry although, up to then, I had thought he was American!

  21. Joehorn
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This one was ** / **** to me, but parsing 14a, 12d and 18d led me to BD’s blog for enlightenment.
    Hay and gam now added to my vocabulary!

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