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Toughie 1953

Toughie No 1953 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

I have the feeling that Stick Insect is still working his way into Toughie setting and I didn’t really find this puzzle terribly stimulating. There’s not a great variety of clue types and quite a few of the surface readings (e.g. 28a, 17d and 22d) don’t make a great deal of sense.

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

Across Clues

1a Erase stuff shown by son’s notebooks (11)
SCRATCHPADS: string together a verb to erase or cancel, a verb to stuff or fill and the abbreviation for son. Chambers has the answer as two separate words.

10a Better name cool river (5)
NICER: assemble the abbreviation for name, a verb to cool or chill and the abbreviation for river.

11a New term involving ancient city’s study of body’s impulses (9)
NEUROLOGY: a word meaning a newly coined term (photobomb and listicle are recent examples) containing our usual old Biblical city.

12a Suppress church, certainly with European help (5,4)
CHOKE BACK: draw together an abbreviation for church, a response expressing agreement (certainly!), the abbreviation for European and a verb to help or support.

13a One giving hope, not supporting penny-pincher (5)
MISER: start with a noun for someone who gives hope or raises expectations and take away the prefix meaning supporting or ‘in favour of’.

14a Overcome by drink, is backing daughter’s legal position? (6)
ONSIDE: inside a word for a drink (as in ‘*** for the road’) we have to put the reversal of IS and the abbreviation for daughter.

16a Frenchman discovered better light cloth (8)
JEANETTE: join together a popular French male forename and the word ‘better’ without its outer letters (dis-covered). I’d never heard of the light cloth. A little Googling reveals that this forename is not all that popular in France at the moment with the most favoured boys’ names being Gabriel, Jules, Raphaël, Léo and Adam.

18a Anger in the majority being overturned: electorate’s conclusion is ‘boring‘ (8)
TIRESOME: insert a synonym for anger into the reversal of a word meaning ‘the majority’. Finish with the concluding letter of electorate.

20a Stop working after idiot mostly becomes eating obsessive (6)
FOODIE: a verb to stop working or conk out follows an idiot without his or her last letter.

23a Acts like a Viking god, one sad on reflection when Freya finally leaves (5)
RAIDS: knit together the Egyptian god of the sun, the Roman numeral for one and S[a]D reversed without the final letter of Freya.

24a Hairy grub‘s wife provided most of destruction within equipment (4,5)
KIWI FRUIT: insert the abbreviation for wife, a conjunction meaning ‘provided’ and a word for destruction or demolition without its last letter into another word for equipment or uniform.

26a I will enter factory with former partner first to translate unencoded writing (5,4)
PLAIN TEXT: insert I into a factory or mill and append our usual former partner and the first letter of ‘translate’.

27a Ancient mother-in-law I grumble about (5)
NAOMI: reverse I and a verb to grumble or whinge to get an Old Testament mother-in-law.

28a The French badly treat the English imitation hide (11)
LEATHERETTE: bring together a French definite article, an anagram (badly) of TREAT THE and an abbreviation for English.

Down Clues

2d 4 disregarding news over tree (5)
CACAO: remove the two examples of N(ew) from the answer to 4d and append the cricketing abbreviation for over.

3d: Idiot blonde loses agent’s protection (7)
AIRHEAD: start with an adjective meaning blonde (4-6) and remove the informal word for a US agent or lawman from its periphery.

4d: Dance has the power to preserve (6)
CANCAN: charade of a modal verb meaning ‘has the power’ and a verb to preserve food.

5d All keep moving around university artist (4,4)
PAUL KLEE: an anagram (moving) of ALL KEEP containing the single-letter abbreviation for university.

6d One who welcomes party with alternative staff (7)
DOORMAN: concatenate a festive party, a conjunction introducing an alternative and a verb to staff.

7d Excellent medicine is way to get out cold (8,5)
KNOCKOUT DROPS: an informal adjective meaning excellent or stunning and liquid medicine applied in small amounts.

8d Squeezed company group invested in wine (8)
CORSETED: the abbreviation for company followed by a group or gang inserted in a type of wine.

9d Colder city, her cooking supplied by natural power (13)
HYDROELECTRIC: an anagram (cooking) of COLDER CITY HER.

15d Mostly grumpy about exam hangover (8)
SURVIVAL: an adjective meaning grumpy or morose without its last letter contains an oral exam.

17d Time after moment in heavens is foggiest (8)
SMOKIEST: the abbreviation for time follows a short moment contained in a synonym for heavens.

19d Woman from South America meeting Henry’s second wife (7)
SUSANNE: abbreviations for South and America precede the forename of Henry VIII’s second wife. I know that Mr Cohen spelt the woman’s name slightly differently but I don’t think it matters:

ARVE Error: need id and provider

21d Displeasure from Church consuming Slough (7)
OFFENCE: a preposition that can mean ‘from’ and the abbreviation for the established church in England contain another word for a slough or marsh.

22d Article supporting cut with raised cover (6)
SWATHE: a definite article follows a verb to cut having its W(ith) raised towards the top.

25d Forbidden to rear duck inside — it’s designed to dive (1-4)
U-BOAT: reverse an adjective meaning forbidden and insert the letter that resembles zero or a duck.

The clue I liked best was 6d. Which one(s) took your fancy?

30 comments on “Toughie 1953

  1. I think it was the aforementioned surface readings which made this a tricky toughie for me – I nearly sent an ‘is it me or him’ email but managed to sort it out before needing to receive confirmation that my cryptic brain power was on the wane

    Thanks to Gazza and Stick Insect

  2. I found this tougher than Stick Insect’s previous offerings and it took me a while to get into it, but when I did I made reasonable progress. Parts of it were enjoyable but some of the surfaces were rather iffy and it was spoilt slightly for me by the inclusion of quite a few Americanisms in both the clues and answers. I seem to remember making a similar comment about a Stick Insect puzzle before, and I wonder if the setter is American or lives in America?

    16a was a new word for me but was easily derived from the wordplay, and I needed the review to understand the parsing of 23a & 15d.

    24a wins the prize for one of the best definitions of all time.

    Many thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza.

  3. This was slow and steady for me until I hit a bit of a sticking point and it took a little thinking to get unstuck. 15d was last in.

    My 3d was half-parsed as I was wondering why F would = agent. Oops.

    I really liked the hairy grub (24a).

    Thanks to Stick Insect for the puzzle and thanks Gazza – great pictures.

  4. Well into 3* difficulty for me!! 16A was easy to guess but a new word for me. The meaning of the integral part of the solution for 15D was also unknown to me. Finished all but three words, one of which 4D, would have been my favourite of the day if only I had solved it!!

  5. The hairy grub made me laugh. I enjoyed this. Any excuse for a listen with Lennie is fine by me.

  6. Same here, rather odd feeling generated by surfaces that made me question my own skills!

    Well, such as they are… !

    Any road up, I’d like to know more about Stick Insect. Interesting puzzle.

  7. Thus far I’m having a bit of bother with Stick Insect’s puzzles which I think is, to some extent, down to the sparsity of decent surface reads. Finding a couple of new things in the 16a fabric and the artist didn’t help the cause. Having Googled some of said artist’s work I can’t say that I feel I’ve been missing out on much!

    The notion of the hairy grub raised a smile but nothing stood out as a winning clue.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza for the blog.

  8. I got there, but by no means did it pan out smoothly. Agree one or two surfaces are a bit odd which is a distraction for me, and admittedly there are still one or two bung-ins that I can’t quite work out. I’m sure they’ll come to me.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza.

  9. Quite a few nice touches i thought- like MP i liked the hairy grub, Also the legal position, the eating obsessive, squeezed and 4 disregarding news.

    I’d forgotten about the one for the road, was trying to use “on”=drunk=overcome by drink, leaving me with an unparsed E. Like kitty, I was also trying to remove an F from Fairhead.

    many thanks Gazza and Stick Insect

  10. Thanks for the Leonard Cohen moment, always a pleasure.
    I liked too many of the clues to mention them all.

  11. I know that my first name is not popular anymore. At one point everyone was called Jean something. I still see a few Jean Baptiste in the younger generations but that’s about it.
    Took a while to get the boxing clue as I wasn’t sure about a couple of across clues on the left hand side.
    Solved it in a daze this morning but remember that progress was steady and nothing really stood out.
    Thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza for the review.

  12. A few strange ones I thought, but managed to work them out except for 15 d. Never heard of viva for exam despite having to do classics for many years a long time ago! 7d my favourite.
    Definitely *** difficulty for me. Pleased to see the favorite french names…!
    Thanks to all and au revoir!

    1. Ah, the viva exams were the humiliating experiences of being interrogated on your thesis for a post-graduate degree. The word conjures up nightmares for me.

      1. I was never a post-graduate but we all had vivas after our written degree exams as far as I can remember.

  13. 14a was our last one to sort out as it took a while to remember that type of drink. It goes without saying that 24a was our favourite. A slowish steady solve for us which is often the way when we have lots of bits and pieces to fit together. We enjoyed the process.
    Thanks Stick Insect and Gazza.

  14. More than ** in difficulty for me, although I did enjoy it along the way. I made life harder on myself by confidently putting ‘punch’ as the second word in 7d. I needed Gazza’s review to fully understand why some things were what they had to be (23a for example). There were a couple of things that I had not heard of (the tree in 2d and the cloth in 16a), but the word play, and Google, led me there in the end. Many thanks to Stick Insect and Gazza.

  15. Oh – 2* difficulty from Gazza has put me right back in my box – I found it really difficult and almost gave up.
    I know we don’t talk about solving times but think I’ll get away with saying that it’s taken me hours, on and off.
    I now know more than I really ever needed to about legal terms (14a) and hairy insects (24a).
    I liked 3 and 19d and my favourite was 4d.
    Thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza.

    1. Judging difficulty is very subjective isn’t it? I found yesterday’s Toughie pretty tricky (considerably more so than today’s) though others found it relatively gentle. I think it often depends on whether you can fill in 4 or 5 helpfully-positioned answers early on from which you can branch out to fill the grid.

      1. Yes, you’re right, as always, but I do think that ability has just a little tiny bit to do with how difficult someone finds a crossword.
        Didn’t do either crossword yesterday – might have a go later in the week when I’m not up to my armpits in making marmalade – very sticky.

      2. yesterday’s was trickier than usual for a Tuesday and today’s took me longer to sort out. Definitely more than 2*

  16. This was a bit like Kath’s marmalade for me- rather sticky. Thanks to setter and Gazza.

    1. Thanks for looking in, Stick Insect, and thanks for the puzzle. We’re always pleased when setters drop in.

  17. Although Stick Insect’s first couple of Toughies weren’t especially memorable for me I really enjoyed this one, and I thought there were some excellent clues here, especially those which contained divergences from the norm. For instance “Frenchman” (16a) is invariably “M” for Monsieur, or occasionally “Rene,” whilst “exam” (16d) is very often “oral.” I liked particularly 1a, 23a, 24a, 7d and 16d, none of which reminded me of any clues I’d seen before in crosswords. I misparsed 3D, too. (Thanks, Gazza !) Based on this puzzle I’d look forward to future crosswords from this compiler, whether s/he’s British, American or from anywhere else !

  18. Middling difficulty for a toughie, so ** sounds about right. Though solved at the end of a long day, and after a glass whisky, so I claim a handicap. Fun throughout, and no complaints…

  19. Sorry, can’t agree with some of the negativity here. I found it tough but fair and slowly got there without resorting to the blog for help. Particularly enjoyed 23a, the Viking (not) God and 24a, the hairy grub definition. Thanks to all

  20. Saved this one from last week to do in Tenerife…..and just finished.

    24a was best for me and 27a last in.

    Tried to make 19d = Suranne, thinking South in Spanish was Sur…..

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