Toughie No 2095 by Sparks
Hints and tips by Dutch
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BD Rating – Difficulty **** – Enjoyment *****
A wonderful puzzle by Sparks full of surprises and fun. A few new words for me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. There’s a little theme with a related Nina.
Definitions are underlined and the hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay. You can always reveal the answers by clicking on the to bear a hand buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought.
8a Instrument found in box office after brief speculative view (7)
THEORBO: The abbreviation for Box Office comes after a 6-letter speculative view or conjecture without its last letter (brief)
10a Old celebrity couple replacing son in finale about missing female (7)
HOUDINI: A couple or pair of performers replaces the abbreviation for Son in a reversal (about) of a 6-letter word meaning finale or ending, missing the initial F(emale)
11a A tender kisser, Duncan regularly strays (9)
SICKNURSE: An anagram (strays) of KISSER + (d)U(n)C(a)N (regularly)
12a Mature, wise men finally settled on epitaph (5)
RIPEN: Mature is a verb here. The last letters (finally) of wise men follow (settle on) an abbreviation commonly used as an epitaph on gravestones
13a Clean seats returned around end of June (5)
SWEEP: A reversal (returned) of seats (especially the church kind) goes around the last letter (end) of June
14a Innocent type almost a victim, a sucker to some (7)
LAMPREY: A young animal that describes an innocent person without the last letter (almost), and another word for victim
17a Friends, perhaps outside city, moan anyhow (9,6)
SITUATION COMEDY: An anagram (anyhow) of OUTSIDE CITY MOAN
19a Cushion idiot owing debt? (7)
HASSOCK: Take a 3-letter idiot or fool, then find a (2,4) expression meaning ‘owing debt’. The first word thereof functions as an insertion indicator. So, the idiot goes inside the second word.
21a Black pen for penning love letters? (5)
SOOTY: A pen where pigs hang out contains (for penning) more than one letter (letterS) that look like a score of love in tennis.
24a One sought on line taps an ISP from the east (5)
LOACH: Take the abbreviations for the two temperatures found on taps, add the abbreviation for an American ISP (internet service provider), and reverse the lot (from the east)
26a Drop proceedings relating to non-capital sentences (5-4)
LOWER CASE: A word meaning drop and another word for (e.g. court) proceedings
27a Course adopted by English Lord portraying feeling of power? On the contrary (7)
EMPATHY: ‘On the contrary’ turns the definition into ‘power of feeling’. A course or route goes inside (adopted by) the abbreviation for English and an interjection meaning Lord!
28a Vehicle returned — still missing one item on forecourt? (7)
RACQUET: The reversal (returned, again) of a 3-letter vehicle and a word meaning still (as in noiseless) without an I (missing one)
1d Inactivity extremely self-evident in existing state of affairs (6)
STASIS: The first and last letters (extremely) of self-evident, then a (2,2) expression that means ‘in existing state of affairs’
2d Trunk examinations — not right on time (3,5)
SEA CHEST: An 8-letter word meaning examinations (e.g. at borders) without the abbreviation for Right, then the abbreviation for Time
3d King, along with pawn on rook’s square, held up major feature of key play? (5,5)
GRAND PIANO: A 2-letter Latin abbreviation for a king, a conjunction meaning with, the abbreviation for Pawn, then a reversal (held up) of ‘ON rook’s square’, where rook’s square is the 2-character index of the chess board square occupied by a rook at beginning of play.
4d Turning to smother daughter in act of flattery (9)
WHEEDLING: A word meaning turning contains (to smother) the abbreviation for daughter
5d River rising, unusually heavy rain primarily the cause (4)
RUHR: First letters (… primarily the cause)
6d Captains shelled seafood (6)
KIPPER: Take an 8-letter word meaning captains and remove the first and last letters (shelled)
7d Maybe dumb down in Sydney if travelling (8)
DISNEYFY: An anagram (travelling) of SYDNEY IF
9d Monster conger-eel seen off and on (4)
OGRE: Alternative letters (… seen off and on)
15d Crazy displays behind lorry (10)
MOONSTRUCK: A word meaning ‘displays behind’ and a word meaning lorry
16d Group kind of play about when adult’s not there (4,5)
PINK FLOYD: An anagram (about) of KIND OF PL(a)Y but without the abbreviation for Adult
17d Romantic writer ultimately writes terrifying tale (8)
SCHILLER: The last letter (ultimately) of writes plus a scary book or film
18d Old drivers crashing into base tramp in Roman town (8)
EBORACUM: The abbreviation for old and a 3-letter motoring club goes inside (crashing into) the base of natural logarithms and a 3-letter tramp
20d Sewage initially affected gut of big fish (6)
SCAMPI: The first letter (initially) of Sewage, another word for affected, and the middle letter (gut of) big.
22d Girl in survey at last checked — but not quite (6)
YVETTE: The last letter of Survey plus a word meaning checked without the last letter (but not quite)
23d Jacob’s mate possibly on river vessel (4)
EWER: I thought Jacob was biblical but turns out he’s ovine. Jacob’s female mate plus the abbreviation for River
25d African doctor also getting reported (4)
HUTU: A homophone (getting reported) of a TV doctor and another word for also
I enjoyed 21a, 26a, the simple but funny 15d, and 16d which was my last one in. Which clues did you like?