Toughie 2009 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2009

Toughie No 2009 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Stick Insect’s previous Toughies have been on the easy side prompting Bufo to say (Toughie 1926) “I’d like something more challenging next time”. Kitty maybe had a premonition of harder things to come in her review of his most recent Toughie (1984) asking “Are things about to get stickier?”. Well, the wordplay in this one is still fairly straightforward but some of the vocabulary is more obscure (including the use of more unusual meanings for common words) which meant that I had to make considerable use of Chambers and Google. Thanks to Stick Insect for the challenge.

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

Across Clues

6a Mass producers maybe trick star with pompous speeches (13)
CONCELEBRANTS: glue together a word for a trick or hoax, an informal term for a star or well-known personality and pompous or bombastic speeches. The answer means two (or more) priests sharing the workload at a religious ceremony such as a mass.

8a Cab provided to return port (6)
FIACRE: reverse a conjunction meaning provided and add a port in Israel.

9a Library book I loaned out (8)
BODLEIAN: the abbreviation for book followed by an anagram (out) of I LOANED produce the name of the main Oxford University library.

10a Letter from island with half missing (3)
RHO: just half of the name of a Greek island.

11a Those sliding on snow risk crashing around end of the slope without leap (6)
SKIERS: an anagram (crashing) of RISK contains the end letter of [th]E. Finish with what remains of ‘slope’ after you’ve removed a verb which can mean to leap (thanks Chambers).

12a Veneered dial? (8)
OVERLAID: if you split the answer 4,4 and treat it cryptically you’ll end up with ‘dial’.

14a Nude’s odd bits left in genuine spin (7)
TRUNDLE: insert the odd letters of ‘nude’ and the abbreviation for left into an adjective meaning genuine or correct. The answer usually means to move slowly and ponderously but the BRB came to my aid once more – it has an archaic meaning of ‘to spin’.

16a Child adopts old approach this evening (7)
TONIGHT: another word for a very young child contains an obsolete verb meaning to approach.

20a Ben’s rose is twisted, short and stiff (2,6)
EN BROSSE: an anagram (is twisted) of BEN’S ROSE.

23a Move soldier after final month (6)
DECANT: a soldier insect follows the abbreviated final month of the year.

24a Notes in teachers’ paper (3)
TES: double definition, the first being notes from tonic sol-fa.

25a Feature polished off, followed by a drink (5,3)
CHINA TEA: bring together a facial feature, a verb meaning polished off and A.

26a Blast soot is unlimited and gushing (3-3)
TOO-TOO: a short blast on a horn is followed by the word ‘soot’ without its outer letters.

27a Energy shown by very loud cute lass excited about north-east success (13)
EFFECTUALNESS: start with the abbreviations for energy and very loud then add an anagram (excited) of CUTE LASS containing the abbreviation for north-east.

Down Clues

1d Unit of land held by nameless Greek poet (8)
ANACREON: a unit of land equivalent to 4,840 square yards is held inside an abbreviation meaning nameless or unidentified. I’d never heard of this Greek lyric poet.

2d Backing engineers against sort of laser (8)
REVERSAL: fit together an abbreviation for army engineers, the abbreviation for ‘against’ used in sports fixtures and an anagram (sort) of LASER.

3d Court guide‘s piece that includes editor and bishop (3,4)
RED BOOK: the wordplay here is straightforward (a chess piece containing abbreviations for editor and bishop) but how the answer means court guide had me Googling a lot. I eventually settled on its meaning the term used for the ‘bible’ providing authoritative information for solicitors, barristers and judges involved in the murky world of family law.

4d Dickens character after old penny for tedious task (6)
DRUDGE: the abbreviation for a pre-decimalisation penny and the surname of a Charles Dickens character. The answer usually means a person having to do hard and dull work but the BRB reveals that it can also mean the dull work itself.

5d Disclose university five seized by backward property right (6)
UNVEIL: start with an abbreviation for university and then insert the Roman numeral for five into the reversal of a legal term for a right to property. The surface doesn’t mean a great deal.

6d Crack sovereign measure to bear down on East European plant (13)
CHINKERINCHEE: I’m not very good on plants at the best of times and this one seems more obscure than most but once again the wordplay is fairly straightforward. It’s a charade of a crack or narrow opening, the cipher of our current sovereign, an imperial measure of distance and the abbreviations for East and European.

7d Vegetables in small utensil, roughly adding nuts (7,6)
SPANISH ONIONS: string together the abbreviation for small, a kitchen utensil and a suffix meaning roughly or somewhat. Now add a slang word for nuts or heads.

13d Drunk, lacking limits, produces leak (3)
RUN: simply remove the outer letters of ‘drunk’.

15d Origins of Darwinism upset orthodox pair (3)
DUO: the first letters of three words in the clue.

17d Badly lost, Del embraces variable dates Julius arranged (3,5)
OLD STYLE: an anagram (badly) of LOST DEL containing one of the algebraic variables. This refers to the outdated Julian calendar which was replaced by the Gregorian one in Scotland in 1600, but not in England and Wales for another century and a half. If you want to see what happened at the time of changeover Google ‘September 1752 calendar’.

18d Confined lion’s calm, on speed occasionally (8)
INCLOSED: select the even letters from the four word phrase at the centre of the clue.

19d Festival band discovered with American disease (7)
TETANUS: knit together the name of the Vietnamese New Year festival (best known in the West for the accompanying offensive during the Vietnam war), the word ‘band’ without its outer letters and one of the abbreviations for American.

21d Tie-breaker arranged for fun (3-3)
RUN-OFF: an anagram (arranged) of FOR FUN.

22d Patter disturbed this heartless cook (6)
SHTICK: an anagram (disturbed) of THIS followed by ‘cook’ without its inner letters.

Top clues for me today were 9a and 7d. Which one(s) did you pin your rosettes on?

31 comments on “Toughie 2009

  1. I enjoyed this and, with a little electronic help, finished in good time. I then went on to be completely beaten by the back page . Ah well, tomorrow is another day!

  2. I have major problems getting on the same wavelength as Stick Insect and indeed had to invoke Gnome’s Law after a time when I only had a few solutions in the grid. This particular puzzle gets the award for the use of words you wouldn’t believe existed. I liked 9a (not least because one of my lovely nieces works there) and 20a because its an expression I haven’t heard for years.

    Sorry Stick Insect – I promise to keep trying – but I did have more crossword fun elsewhere today. Thanks also to Gazza

  3. A decent challenge that was a steady solve, albeit on the slowish side.

    Unfortunately, my knowledge of French idioms are roughly on a par with Del-Boy so I struggled with that clue.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and Gazza.

  4. Much stickier for me today!

    I wrote gfwp (got from wordplay) by too many clues to mention. Unfortunately not my last in, 6a, which I cheated after having checked the unlikely possibility that 6d existed. (Didn’t Dick Van Dyke sing about that in Mary Poppins?…)

    A good challenge, but I couldn’t identify any stand-out favourites.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and Gazza (especially for doing the hard work identifying the 3d court guide).

  5. 6 down fell between two stools in Chambers (if that does not seem indelicate). As given it appears in my 13th edition Chambers (the notorious one with the 400 missing words), and says ‘see chincherinchee’, but does not have chincherinchee in the printed version. It is in the subsequently issued list of the missing.

    The vocabulary was obscure enough for me to suspect the Don, but perhaps I accused him out of habit. :-)

    A serious workout to start the Toughie week. Nicely blogged there Gazza!.

    1. Like you I’d have guessed this to be a possible Manley production.

      (The Toughie week begins on Tuesday btw!)

      1. Sorry Kitty, a senior moment. I had an unpleasant medical procedure in prospect when I wrote. No excuse, though. Oblivion beckons.

  6. Just to add that Chambers gives “red book” (3d) the meaning of a court guide. Must say that I enjoyed working out the 13-letter ones. I thought 12 a was very neat.

    1. … but it doesn’t specify whether the court is a royal court, a law court or a tennis court. The fact that Chambers also defines red book as ‘peerage’ and ‘directory of persons in the service of the state’ made me think initially that the court was a royal court.

      1. I was a solicitor and often used the Green Book (County Court Practice) and the White Book (High Court Practice) though not the Red Book.

      2. In the NHS we have “the” green book which is all to do with imms and vaccs – basically for nurses but I have to refer to it often to establish eligible cohorts for report writing,

      3. At the jardin we have a golden book where anybody can write whatever they like.
        Does this make sense? My English seems to be flowing out of the window at the moment.
        But managed to get all except the plant in 6d the poet in 1d and the cab in 8a as I was looking for a port thinking the whole clue was reversed.
        Started with spinach in 7d until the right spelling of the Oxford library was checked.
        No problem with the French haircut. Only fit for soldiers. A bit like the crew cut.
        Learned a new word in 14a but the parsing led me nicely to it.
        Thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza.

  7. There were too many things that I had not heard of to make this truly enjoyable for me. 6a and 6d were amongst my last in – once I had run down the cab in 8a, I needed all of the checkers in 6d in order to get it from the word play. (My heart always sinks when plants are invoked because there are so many of them, and I am so ignorant of them). I did succeed in the end, but I would not have come remotely close without (significant) on-line back up. Many thanks to all.

  8. I had to call upon the BRB and Mr Google so often during this solve that it became a joyless battle.
    I liked the 7d vegetables but that was about the height of it.

    Sorry, Stick Insect, not one for me. Many thanks to Gazza for services above and beyond!

  9. Too many obscure words to be totally enjoyable, although we did get them all without cheating (just some checking after the fact). As well as the obscure word, we didn’t know that meaning of trundle.

    Favourite was 19a.

    Thanks to Gazza for the review and to Shtick Inshect.

  10. I can add very little to what has already been said about today’s Toughie, except to ask if there might just be a spelling mistake in 6 down. I’d previously not heard of the plant in question, but my sources of reference suggest a fourteen letter answer which includes an ‘h’ in the word and ‘c’ and not ‘k’. Even a Google search corrects me when I type Stick Insect’s spelling of the word.

    1. No, not a mistake, just a variant spelling, which is in Chambers (though see comment 5 above).

      1. Thanks for you replies both – Sadly I missed reading comment number 5, which would have enlightened me on the spelling. A large-ish birthday looms in July, so perhaps a few hints in the genersl direction of Mrs SB might just yield a Chambers dictionary ;-)

  11. The two guest members of the solving team for this puzzle, Mr Google and BRB both had to work quite hard. However as the wordplay was generally generous most of the looking was for confirmation rather than cold searching. That is absolutely fine with us and we enjoy journeys into arcane areas of knowledge. It’s amazing how much time just disappears once one starts exploring trails of Greek poets and brush-like haircuts. All good fun.
    Thanks Stick Insect and Gazza.

  12. Solving on the hoof is normally OK for me without recourse to any assistance. Not today. I gave up . Sorry Stick Insect . Am reading the Hints but I really do not think I would ever have finished this. As Jane said – a joyless battle

  13. Thanks all for the feedback as ever. Rather flattering to even be mentioned in the same breath as Don!

    1. Nice to see you pop in SI. I learnt seven new words/meanings from your puzzle today, but still enjoyed doing battle with you. At least I am able to get on your ‘wavelength’, which is more than I can say of some of our Toughie puzzle setters. Looking forward to locking horns with you in the future.

    2. Thanks for looking in, SI. We do appreciate it when setters take the time to leave a comment.

  14. Late again. I was finally defeated by 6A. I note that I have no ticks on my page.That is not to say I didn’t enjoy unraveling the puzzle (well, most of it) bu nothing tickled my fancy today. Thanks Stick Insect and Gazza.

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