Toughie 2038 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2038

Toughie No 2038 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***/****Enjoyment ****

Bufo is otherwise engaged today so I’ve been drafted in for a second appearance this week (not a chore when Micawber is the setter).
A few of the clues had me scratching my head as to what to underline as the definition and I had to resort to a cold towel to decipher 4d, so I thought this was trickier than what we normally get from Micawber – thanks to him for the entertainment.

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

Across Clues

1a Pointless letter in academic press to Twitter (7)
CHIRRUP: letter here is someone who lets – remove the cardinal point and insert what remains into the abbreviation for a university publisher.

5a Where dissidents were sent by heads of Soviet intelligence — one in particular (7)
SIBERIA: the first letters of Soviet and Intelligence and the name of Stalin’s ruthless spy chief. Absolutely brilliant!

9a Universal film star, after rejection, given a raise (5)
UPPED: start with the abbreviation for universal and then reverse the surname of a Hollywood star best known these days for his piratical roles.

10a Duck having bitten top off flower is in a bad way (9)
NAUGHTILY: stick together another word for a duck or nothing and a trumpet-shaped flower without its first letter.

11a Diamonds may be expected here (2,3,5)
ON THE CARDS: I’m not sure what to underline here. The answer is where you’d find red diamonds but as a phrase it means expected or likely to happen.

12a Pastry, not an entrée perhaps (4)
DISH: remove AN from a Scandinavian pastry.

14a Joint statement (12)
ARTICULATION: double definition.

18a The bean scale, to put it another way? (7,5)
BALANCE SHEET: an anagram (to put it another way) of THE BEAN SCALE gives us something (involving a synonym of scale) that’s the province of bean counters or accountants. Very clever.

21a Face rejection of support by student (4)
DIAL: reverse (the second use of rejection) a word for support or assistance and add our usual abbreviation for a learner.

22a Viewing that’s a draw for Barbican (10)
WATCHTOWER: knit together a synonym of viewing and something that has a draw or pull. I’m not totally convinced by the wordplay (unless I’m missing something).

25a Lead in ‘Endgame’ I’m acting badly — it’s obscure (9)
ENIGMATIC: an anagram (badly) of the leading letter of E[ndgame] I’M ACTING.

26a Office staff stay in? (5)
BATON: this is a staff of office, especially in the military. If split 3,2 it’s a crickety phrase meaning to stay in, i.e. not declare the innings closed.

27a Seaman in command safeguarding holy books of religious writings (7)
TANTRIC: knit together one of our many words for a seaman and the abbreviation for ‘in charge’ and insert the abbreviation for part two of the books in the Bible.

28a It’s said this setter admits material can contain such holes (7)
EYELETS: a homophone of the subjective pronoun identifying ‘this setter’ and a verb meaning admits or allows.

Down Clues

1d Redemption is a possibility with this takeover happening (6)
COUPON: charade of a takeover or putsch and an adverb meaning happening or taking place.

2d Charge one’s placed on earl (6)
IMPUTE: join together the more common form of one’s or ‘one is’, a verb meaning placed and the abbreviation for earl.

3d Scarlet woman’s item of jewellery creating a diversion (3,7)
RED HERRING: weld together another word for the colour scarlet, the possessive adjective meaning woman’s and an item of jewellery.

4d Mountain dweller who chews gum and betel with Bill when climbing (5)
PANDA: start with a word for a gum for chewing containing betel leaf with areca nut and sometimes tobacco which is widely used in South-East Asia and append the reversal of an informal word for a bill or poster. Google was extensively utilised in the preparation of this hint.

5d Agent behind rise to go off with money (9)
SOURDOUGH: a verb to go off like stale milk followed by a slang word for money.

6d Old rustic brought up in unconventional way (4)
BOHO: knit together the abbreviation for old and a word for a rustic or lout then reverse it all. The answer is an informal adjective describing someone who ignores social conventions.

7d Streaming passages perhaps where Irish tin is mined (8)
RHINITIS: an anagram (mined, in the sense of extracted) of IRISH TIN.

8d A Big Apple affair? It’s not love (8)
ANYTHING: string together A, the abbreviation for the ‘Big Apple’ city and another word for an affair or matter. Love is, of course, nothing.

13d Awful ballet with name cast (10)
LAMENTABLE: an anagram (cast) of BALLET and NAME.

15d Iodine — it cleans round the bend, like starch? (9)
INELASTIC: the chemical symbol for iodine followed by an anagram (round the bend) of IT CLEANS.

16d Award regime conferred on knight, for doing as one’s told (8)
OBEDIENT: start with an award or gong and follow that with an eating regime around (conferred on) the chess abbreviation for knight.

17d Dog stayed still between two men (8)
ALSATIAN: another word for stayed (as a dog is bidden to do) between two male forenames.

19d Bandage hit male (6)
SWATHE: a verb to hit sharply and a male pronoun.

20d I hear you are an American Olympian (6)
URANUS: this Olympian was a Greek god. Cement together a homophone of ‘you are’, AN and an abbreviation for American.

23d Retain memory of constant pain (5)
CACHE: the letter used as a constant for the speed of light and a synonym for pain.

24d Foreign ruler has Queen taking note (4)
EMIR: our Queen’s regnal cipher containing one of the notes in tonic sol-fa.

I liked 1a, 18a, 26a, 1d and 3d but top clue for me today is the superb 5a. Which clue(s) had you cheering?

19 comments on “Toughie 2038

  1. Not sure what it says about me that I knew the chewy stuff in 4d? Probably too much time spent watching documentaries. 5a was my favourite too

    Thanks to Gazza and Micawber

  2. Gosh , that was hard and I couldn’t quite manage all of it , mostly in the lower half .
    Those clues I could unravel I enjoyed .
    I’ll pick out 5a ,5d and 20 d as clues that gave me a smile , among many others .
    Thanks to Gazza and Micawber .

  3. Failed on the parsing of two – 12a which was silly of me and 4d. A distant memory tells me that I had heard of the latter but I don’t think it was spelled with a single ‘A’.
    Thought 22a was a bit unconvincing – apart from anything else isn’t the first part of the answer a synonym for ‘view’ rather than ‘viewing’?

    Plenty of good stuff for the podium – 5,11&18a plus 3d all earned themselves a spot.

    Thanks to Micawber for the challenge and to Gazza for doing the extra shift and for sorting out the mountain dweller!

    1. For the chewing stuff pan is an alternative spelling for paan. I agree that 22a is a real stretch.

  4. Well, that was certainly a stiffer test today, and for most part, I found it very enjoyable. For me, it was another case of working from the bottom up in order to make progress – the generous anagram in 18a was a helpful starting point. However, I did not help myself by confidently entering ‘board’ for 26a. I eventually got that all sorted out. In the end, 4d and 6d would have been my last in if I had been able to get them. I did have 4d penciled in – I had all of the checkers, and I could make sense of the climbing Bill, but I had no idea of the gum with betel. Even with both checkers and a likely ‘old’ to play with, 6d did not come either – never heard of it. Pity – I came so close! Many thanks to Micawber, and to Gazza yet once again.

  5. 5a & 4d were a had-to-be guesses, would have been brilliant had I known the spy chief. Agree 22a is not ideal, but gettable; 20d was no doddle for me either.
    Lots of wit, as is oft the case with this setter, which was appreciated. 18a probably fave, but in very good company.

    Many thanks Micawber and to Gazza for stepping in.

  6. Penciled in 1a, 4d and 10a as I couldn’t parse the first two and thought that naught in the third was spelled with an “o”.
    Favourite 18a.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the help.

  7. After a good start at lunchtime G took Micawber to the pub to watch some football. By the time I arrived there was one to do and 4d to parse. It turns out G knew something about betel once I got him focussed.
    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  8. I think 4d might be a better clue than you give it credit for. The definition is “Mountain dweller who chews gum” i.e. gum trees i.e. Eucalypts. Isn’t that what Pandas do?

    1. Think you are getting confused with a koala. The animal in the answer eats only bamboo. Gazza’s explanation is spot on.

  9. We just loved this puzzle. Plenty to keep us head scratching for quite a long time but the smiles never left our faces. Our last one to get was how the wordplay in 1a worked.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  10. An excellent puzzle in my opinion. Like Tony, I had to start In the South and travel North but was defeated by the mountain dweller. I needed some parsing help too with a few clues.

    Thanks to Gazza and Micawber.

  11. Now that was a good puzzle – definitely on the tricky side, but as sparkling, inventive and enjoyable as expected from Micawber. Last few in were in the NE corner, where 4d and 6d in particular caused no end of difficulties.

  12. Hard work but we got there. 5a is clue of the week, at least.

    Thanks a Gazza and Shamus.

  13. Good stuff – apart from my blunder on 11a. ‘In the rough’ – that held me up in trying to complete the NW corner. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  14. 6d clues an adverb rather than an adjective, methinks, and HOBO doesn’t seem to be one, so a bit unconvincing.

    1. The answer is BOHO, not hobo. Boho is an informal adjective meaning Bohemian (socially unconventional) and it comes from O[ld] and HOB all reversed.

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