Toughie No 1929 by Micawber
Hints and tips by Gazza
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BD Rating – Difficulty *** – Enjoyment ****/*****
This was a joy from start to finish. My only real hold-up was with 10a where I spent too long trying to work out a relationship to 22a before the penny dropped with an enormous clang.
Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.
1a Seedy growth of Brit rock on Oz radio? (11)
POMEGRANATE: this sounds like an Australian’s derogatory term for a British person and a hard type of rock.
7a ‘Name’ with advantage going round on stump (7)
NONPLUS: the abbreviation for name and an advantage or asset contain ON.
8a Roll with ends of tahini and odd bits of some divine dip? (7)
BAPTISM: string together a type of bread roll, both ends of ‘tahini’ and the odd letters of ‘some’.
10a This 22’s tricky to get (5)
CATCH: this could just be a cryptic definition but I’ve taken the definition to be ‘to get’ (a cold, for example) with the wordplay describing a paradoxical situation deriving from Joseph Heller’s novel. How many others tried at first to work out how 22a could be relevant?
11a Terrified of Nato allies, say, getting caught in leader of America’s fight (9)
AWESTRUCK: insert a general term to describe Nato allies or non-Communist countries between the first letter of A(merica) and an informal word for a fight or brawl.
12a What’s on your ‘ead? A bit of it may be what’s blocking pipe! (7)
AIRLOCK: charade of a Cockney’s word for what’s on your ‘ead and a piece of the same thing.
14a Queen interrupting property being returned — a classical piece of marble? (7)
TESSERA: our Queen’s cipher goes inside the reversal of a property or resource.
15a One making initial report increasingly absurd about Republican (7)
DRAFTER: a comparative meaning increasingly absurd or foolish contains the abbreviation for Republican.
18a It’s helpful to climbers thus to enter mountain from the east (7)
PERGOLA: these climbers are non-human. An adverb meaning thus or therefore goes into the reversal of a high mountain.
20a Joy drinking essence of zebra plant (9)
EUPHORBIA: a synonym for joy or great happiness contains the central letter of ‘zebra’. I initially thought that the surface here didn’t make sense – then I discovered that there is such a thing as a zebra plant.
21a Animate short cartoon on TV? (5)
SPARK: a short way (1,4) of writing the title of a long-running American animated cartoon series (which is definitely ‘not for children’).
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22a Agreeable Shiraz, say, for family (7)
KINDRED: concatenate an adjective meaning agreeable or good-natured and what Shiraz is an example of.
23a Equalise, still getting disqualified (4,3)
EVEN OUT: start with a synonym for still or undisturbed and add an adjective meaning disqualified or eliminated.
24a Bob maybe having vital ‘Access all areas’ pass? (8,3)
SKELETON KEY: bring together a type of bob (one seen hurtling downhill at the Winter Olympics) and an adjective meaning vital.
1d Ordinary patron’s butt of gags halfway through for comedian (7)
PUNSTER: an informal word for an ordinary patron or customer has the last letter of ‘gags’ inserted halfway through it.
2d Consider — having left off central heating — bed cover (5)
MULCH: start with a verb to consider or ponder, remove one of the abbreviations for left and append the abbreviation for central heating.
3d Crikey, embarrassing losing watch — it’s a hunter! (7)
GOSHAWK: an exclamation of surprise like crikey is followed by an adjective meaning embarrassing or sensitive without the old word for a watch or lookout.
4d I’ll get to the heart of confession of corruption that’s all-enveloping (7)
AMBIENT: start with a personal confession of corruption or dishonesty (1,2,4) then move the ‘I’ to the centre.
5d Cook prepares it right away, perhaps (9)
APPETISER: a semi-all-in-one. We want an anagram (cook) of P[r]EPARES IT without the single-letter abbreviation for right.
6d Impressive flower for man of taste (7)
EPICURE: fuse together an adjective meaning impressive or heroic and a river in North Yorkshire.
7d Canoodle repeatedly, being close (4,3,4)
NECK AND NECK: canoodle twice.
9d Fashion requirement for tennis is to be loud (4,1,6)
MAKE A RACKET: fashion here is a verb.
13d Privatise public water supply (9)
OUTSOURCE: assemble an adjective meaning public or revealed and a water supply or spring.
16d What one does with bolt-on as program shuts down (7)
APPENDS: split the answer 3,4 and it could mean ‘program shuts down’.
17d Transform marketing of beer brewed around centre of Wigan after advert (7)
REBADGE: place an anagram (brewed) of BEER round an abbreviated advert and the central letter of Wigan.
18d Ineffectual treatment of rank bad smell (7)
PLACEBO: another word for rank or status followed by the abbreviation for a personal hum.
19d Rhetoric of a Labourite __ __ __ ? (7)
ORATORY: split the answer 2,1,4 to remove any hint of party bias.
21d Well-oiled on ship — bottoms up! (5)
SLEEK: reverse a word for ship bottoms.
It would be easier for me to list those clues which I didn’t tick but I’ll just highlight the ones I thought were the crème de la crème, i.e. 1a, 8a (‘divine dip’ is brilliant), 11a, 21a, 24a, 4d and 7d. Which ones made your shortlist?
Today is a special day in Crosswordland with two of my favourite setters appearing. As well as the excellent Micawber puzzle here Arachne is on top form over in the Guardian (and if you’ve never tried an Arachne puzzle you’ve been missing something special).