Toughie 1929

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.

Across Clues

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.

Down Clues

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).

20 responses to “Toughie 1929

  1. Someone described this crossword to me earlier today as a “sheep in wolves clothing’. Once I got started however, I’d agree that it was ‘tremendous fun while it lasted’

    Impossible to select just one or two clues for favouritism so I’ll just say a big thank you to both Micawber and Gazza too (the latter is not wrong about Arachne either)

  2. I’m not going to try to pick a favourite from all of these gems either. Too much sparkle is dazzling to the eyes.

    This was a joint solve for us and we found it an excellent one to share. Lots to mull over and then smile about, and not over too quickly either, even with an extra head.

    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza. Great pictures as well as great words, paired with a great crossword. A good day in crosswordland indeed.

    As an aside, placebos are of course not actually ineffectual. I think an Ignoble Prize was awarded for research showing that a more expensive placebo works better than a cheaper one. Also, they apparently work even when the patient knows they’re getting a placebo. Amazing.

    (Oh, and there is a prize* for guessing what our favourite episode of the 21a cartoon is!)

    *Terms and conditions apply.

  3. Luverly stuff with just a couple of hold ups in parsing having a) forgotten the bobsleigh and b) never having heard of the US cartoon – thought the latter clue had something to do with the old Sparky comic!

    12a & 7d made me laugh, plenty of others got ticks and I scribbled ‘YUCK’ in capital letters alongside 17d.

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the blog – will check out the Arachne this evening, thank you for the heads up.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed this from beginning to end. There was a plant and some marble that I was pleasantly surprised to find existed, but each had helpful checkers and wordplay and so neither held me up significantly. Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  5. Unfortunately, my solving skills are diametrically opposed to those of Gazza.

    My first one in was the 22 one … then a real struggle to get much further … still struggling but am determined to finish without further assistance apart from all the usual electronic aids.

  6. Brilliant , a bit too brilliant for my solving skills at times , but nonetheless brilliant.
    Thanks to Gazza and Micawber.

  7. I stared at the grid for a while before I found a way in. Eventually I got 5d, and the rest unfolded smoothly.

    Like Jane, I was thinking of the sparky cartoon – but that is called sparky and someone else, I think.

    Favourites were 8a and 4d

    5d could be upgraded from a semi-all-in-one to a full-fledged punchy all-in-one by omitting perhaps – I wonder whether Micawber considered that. Maybe we are seeing an edited version.

    My chambers app thinks 11a is (6-3)

    I’m surprised Gazza didn’t complain about the 1a homophone, not because of any R’s. I pronounce the answer with an uh instead of an ee in the second syllable – brb acknowledges both pronunciations

    Many thanks Gazza, and many thanks Micawber for another brilliant puzzle

    • I remember thinking that the ‘perhaps’ wasn’t necessary in 5d. I’ve had a look at the dead tree BRB and (to my surprise) it confirms that 11a should be hyphenated.
      I’m very comfortable with the 1a homophone.

  8. We’ll join the hordes in giving this one an unqualified thumbs-up. We did not get 1a initially but once we had worked around the grid and came back to it with a few checkers in place, laughed out loud. Excellent fun.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  9. Been a while since I enjoyed a crossword so much.
    Had to start from the bottom up as only 8a was successfully solved in the top half.
    Then the long clues on the sides fell and slowly everything made sense.
    A proper challenge and a well deserved completion. That’s how I feel about this one.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review.

  10. What a pleasure this was from start to finish. 10a was my last one in and a wild guess that I could not parse despite Mr Heller’s masterpiece being one book I will want on my desert island. I will buck the trend and name my favourite clues- the bed cover and the divine dip.

  11. After a period of blankness, the penny dropped, and this little gem of a puzzle finally flowed. Nothing much to complain about except ‘a’ redundancy in 14a – thought that was the last letter
    Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza

  12. Just watched the news on French TV.
    Johnny Halliday has just left us.
    RIP.
    But on the other hand,,nothing else happened in the world as the News didn’t cover anything else.

  13. Great fun. The NW corner took me into upper *** time – the penny didn’t drop for ages on 1a, which was my favourite – but the whole thing was a **** experience. Thanks to Micawber, and Gazza.

  14. I enjoyed this but had to use one of your clues. Noticed a lot of “k’s” which in theory should lead more easily to solutions and maybe it was this frequency that helped me with “Katch 22” !

  15. Needed two of the answers and several parsings from the blog (for which .. Thanks).
    In the terminology of the on line version ranking I rate this “extremely satisfying”.
    Three ticks for 8A and 7D, but lots of other great clues.

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