Toughie No 2085 by Stick Insect
Hints and tips by Gazza
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BD Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment ***
There’s nothing too strenuous today and I proceeded fairly steadily once I’d resolved my difficulty with 1a. I’m not a great fan of long anagrams and I was pleased to find that only one of the four 15-letter answers was a full anagram. I did notice, too late as always to be of any help, that it’s a pangram.
Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.
1a A shaman got April confused about imaginary figures (15)
PHANTASMAGORIAL: we start with an anagram (confused) of A SHAMAN GOT APRIL. I got a bit confused with this one at first because I expected the answer to have a ‘C’ near the end and I couldn’t find it.
9a People mark course (9)
RACETRACK: charade of a people or nation and a mark or trail.
10a Do better without prison space, mostly (5)
EXCEL: a prefix meaning without followed by a space in prison without its last letter.
11a Spin is turning over wicket on both sides (5)
SWIRL: reverse IS containing the cricket abbreviation for wicket and append abbreviations for both sides.
12a Comfort before PM cut parliament’s opening: it shows highs and lows (6,3)
RELIEF MAP: string together a synonym for comfort or ease, the truncated surname of our Prime Minister (at the time of writing) and the opening letter of parliament.
13a Pacifies tiny number aboard ship (8)
SWEETENS: insert a synonym for tiny and a cardinal number inside the usual abbreviation for ship.
14a Reprieved area moves west in extent (6)
SPARED: start with a synonym for extent or reach and move the abbreviation for area a couple of places westwards.
16a Cut into victim (6)
QUARRY: double definition, the first a verb to cut or dig into.
18a Most of group adulterated mare’s milk substitutes (8)
CREAMERS: weld together a group or working party without its last letter and an anagram (adulterated) of MARE’S.
22a Making up for leaving father split inside (9)
EXPIATING: a present participle meaning leaving or withdrawing with an affectionate term for father split into two separate letters inside it.
23a Agile umpire’s concealing a bit of a gut (5)
ILEUM: a lurker.
24a Character expressing feelings held regularly in Exmoor jail (5)
EMOJI: regular letters from the last two words of the clue.
25a Right finale: sex appeal is half acceptable for performance (9)
RENDITION: we have to assemble five different bits for the answer: the abbreviation for right, a synonym for finale, an informal word for sex appeal, half of the word ‘is’ and an informal word for acceptable or satisfactory.
26a Reportedly cultivate a green when dropping head of drug science (15)
PHARMACOLOGICAL: concatenate a homophone of a verb to cultivate, A and an adjective meaning green or environmentally friendly without its leading letter.
1d Resistance is overcome by changing shapes and expressions (7)
PHRASES: the abbreviation for electrical resistance is contained inside an anagram (changing) of SHAPES.
2d Assign ace writer (7)
ASCRIBE: the abbreviation for an ace in card games followed another word for a writer.
3d Young child settled heretical belief in tyranny (15)
TOTALITARIANISM: cement together a word for a young child, an old-fashioned verb meaning settled or descended and a heretical Christian belief. ‘Heretical’ of course is how it was described by the ‘other side’ – if its adherents had won the argument it would have been ‘orthodox’.
4d Meet under the main promenade (8)
SEAFRONT: what ‘the main’ usually means in Crosswordland followed by a verb to meet or oppose face to face.
5d Walk a line, lacking directions for chemical base (6)
ALKALI: remove all three directions from ‘walk a line’.
6d Finished the map off, losing time measuring and marking too much (15)
OVEREMPHASIZING: splice together an adverb meaning finished or done, an anagram (off) of [t]HE MAP and a present participle meaning measuring.
7d Pay Republican immigrant (7)
INCOMER: a word for pay or earnings and an abbreviation for Republican.
8d Allen’s apartment maybe frog’s place of rest? (4,3)
LILY PAD: cryptically how the apartment of Ms. Allen (the singer) could be described. I did listen to several of her records but nothing really appealed to me, so, instead, here’s a singer that I like with her take on an old classic:
15d New and old kit in Alabama (8)
ORIGINAL: knit together the abbreviation for old, a word for kit or equipment, IN and the standard abbreviation for Alabama.
16d Perhaps make a crocodile tail rise (5,2)
QUEUE UP: a heraldic term for the tail of an animal and a word for a rise or high place.
17d Cockney actor in favour of being heard acts at first in jug (7)
AMPHORA: link together how a Cockney would describe a poor actor, a homophone of a preposition meaning ‘in favour of’ and the first letter of acts.
19d European and Gaelic hybrid is mournful (7)
ELEGIAC: an abbreviation for European followed by an anagram (hybrid) of GAELIC.
20d Influential discussion group with U-turn at the end? (7)
SEMINAL: start with a discussion group (especially at university) and change the final letter by making a 180 degree turn involving the two letters we met earlier at 11a.
21d Initially nonchalant, I’m thrown rather in calculation of N (6)
NITRIC: initial letters of six words in the clue. N here is a chemical symbol.
I liked 8d but easily my favourite clue today was 23a which is a perfect description of the late cricket umpire David Shepherd with whom I went to school (though he was three years or so ahead of me). Do let us know which one(s) appealed to you.