Toughie 2161 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2161

Toughie No 2161 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

It’s always a pleasure to find a Micawber puzzle on a Thursday and this was as enjoyable to solve as his puzzles usually are. There was nothing particularly difficult but some of the wordplay needed teasing out

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Breeder supplying mock croc, auditors find? On the contrary! (10)
PROPAGATOR: A homophone of a genuine creature related to the crocodile

6a    Time and space traveller brought back non-meat protein (4)
TOFU: T (time) + a reversal of a presumed alien spacecraft

9a    Sharks can be seen on this, in bid to make one part with money (5,5)
SALES PITCH: The Sharks are a rugby union team based near Manchester and, if you add an apostrophe, the answer tells you where they play their home games

10a    Queen informally to sanction ditching pound (4)
BESS: An informal name for Elizabeth I = ‘to sanction’ with the letter L (pound) removed

12a    Racegoing odds are cut in long term (4)
AEON: Remove the odd-positioned letters from RACEGOING

13a    Rude man is upsetting female carer (9)
NURSEMAID: An anagram (opsetting) of RUDE MAN IS

15a    Element opposing energy being extracted from tin (8)
ANTIMONY: ‘Opposing’ + ‘tin’ with the letter E (energy) removed

16a    Attempt to acquire information that’ll be needed to get engine going (3,3)
BIG END: An attempt round information = a component of a piston engine

18a    Paste that’s watery, and a filling one (6)
TAHINI: A paste made from ground sesame seeds = ‘watery’ round A + I (one)

20a    Ancient language featuring sacred syllable that’s swallowed, perhaps of Attic origin? (4-4)
HOME-BREW: An ancient Middle-Eastern language round a sacred syllable in Hinduism = something to drink that might conceivably be concocted in the attic of your house

23a    Tory federation admitting slip held consultation (9)
CONFERRED: ‘Tory’ + an abbreviation for ‘federation’ round ‘to make a slip or mistake’

24a    Section of church to lose faith when liberal’s removed (4)
APSE: Remove L (liberal) from ‘to lose faith’

26a    Agatha Christie detective (not the Francophone) turned over carriage (4)
PRAM: A reversal of the surname of Agatha Christie’s best-known female detective after the French definite article has been removed

27a    Star is paid, incorrectly, for something normally developed in-house? (10)
ASPIDISTRA: An anagram (incorrectly) of STAR IS PAID = a houseplant featured in a Gracie Fields song

28a    Whirlwind romance’s ending — yen goes after two days (4)
EDDY: The last letter of ROMANCE + two occurrences of the abbreviation for ‘day’ + the abbreviation for ‘yen’

29a    Fixing what pirate perhaps gained and lost? (4,3,3)
HOOK AND EYE: A fixing or fastener on a garment = what replaced the hand of the pirate in Peter Pan AND what a pirate might have lost to make him wear a patch


1d & 14d    Wrapping it up in fancy plastic paper is what’ll help make present perfect (4,10)
PAST PARTICIPLE: A reversal of IT in an anagram (fancy) of PLASTIC PAPER . ‘Present’ and ‘perfect’ refer to tenses of a verb

2d    Most unctuous way to attract attention, with art deceiving? (7)
OILIEST: An exclamation used to attract attention + ‘(thou) art deceiving’

3d    Wandering sailor, transported, had objection (6-6)
ABSENT-MINDED: An abbreviation denoting a sailor + ‘transported’ + ‘had objection’

4d    Ordering a stiffener containing gin that’s dropped in (8)
ALIGNING: A + a layer of material used for stiffening a garment round G (GIN less IN)

5d    Transport that power-steers? The other way round! (2-4)
OX-CART: This mode of transport is drawn by steers (bovine animals)

7d    Mean adult becoming old? Too much so! (4,3)
OVER AGE: Take a mean and replace A (adult) by O (old)

8d & 25d    Promoted team relegated — it should be more fruitful in lower division! (6-4,4)
UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE: ‘Promoted’ + a team + ‘relegated’. I don’t see any wordplay for the second word. What have I missed?

11d    Considering rearrest? (12)
DELIBERATION: The final ten letters give a word meaning ‘setting free’ and so the whole word could be interpreted as a reversal of this. I was held up looking for a word beginning RE

14d    See 1 Down

17d    Deceive mobster over the counter (8)
HOODWINK: A mobster + a counter used in a game

19d    House journal‘s difficult to find answer in (7)
HANSARD: The House is the House of Commons. ‘Difficult’ goes round the abbreviation for ‘answer’

21d    Group engaged in mechanical recitation as sign of support for party (7)
ROSETTE: A group inside ‘mechanical recitation of something to be learned’

22d    Painting, one bound to lift company (6)
FRESCO: A reversal of a labourer bound by the feudal system + the abbreviation for ‘company’

25d    See 8 Down

Today we have an engineer here making the next attempt to resolve our intermittent central heating problems. Maybe it’ll be fixed by the time summer comes.


22 comments on “Toughie 2161

  1. Very enjoyable as we’ve come to expect from Micawber – although I did wonder with this one whether they’d switched to paying setters by the word!

    Thanks to Micawber and Bufo (get warm soon!)

  2. This was challenging and mostly enjoyable although rather too wordy overall for my taste.

    I was hoping for enlightenment regarding 25d but, alas, Bufo is in the same boat as me.

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Bufo.

  3. Foolishly stuck on 5d forgetting the alternative meaning of steer and, like Bufo spent ages trying to prefix 11d with RE. All in all, when I got there, I think 11d was my favourite.

  4. Superb puzzle as always from Micawber.

    I was hoping that Bufo would explain the wordplay for the last bit of 8/25d. The only thing I could come up with was based on the punctuation sign between ‘relegated’ and ‘it’. It resembles a bar in heraldry and a bar (of soap) can be a 25d. Think that’s weak? So do I.

    I have ticks everywhere – 9a, 18a, 26a, 2d, 3d and 19d. My favourite was 5d.

    Thanks to Micawber and Bufo.

    1. In an upside-down cake, the fruit, usually pineapple, goes in the pan first (at the bottom or lower section of the cake) before the cake batter is poured in and when the cake is done the whole thing is turned upside down. Worked for me!

      1. Yes – that’s the definition (as underlined by Bufo). It’s the wordplay that seems deficient. The first 3 words give UP (promoted) SIDE (team) and DOWN (relegated) but what provides the CAKE?

  5. I took 25d to be there would be more fruit at the bottom of the ****, probably mistaken. Favs 26a and 11d. Thanks Bufo and Micawber

  6. Huge fun as always from this setter and a battle royal for podium spots.
    So far I have 1,6,20,26&29a jostling for places so will need another podium for the down clues!

    Many thanks to Micawber – hope you might make it to the birthday bash? – and to Bufo for the blog.

  7. I totally agree that this was a terrific puzzle. It was one that did not look at all promising for me at the outset, but gradually, starting in the SE corner, I was able to get established and eventually complete it. My last in was the paste in 18a – (I think I have been stung before by not being familiar with it). I’m glad I am not alone in wondering about the final piece of the word play in 8d/25d. I was able to let go of ‘re’ as a prefix to 11d relativity early, but I was much slower in letting go of a Belgian Agatha Christie detective in 26a. Many thanks to all.

  8. It is now many hours since we solved this but we are still chuckling over the brilliant 1a. But that was not the only chuckle-worthy answer here and it was all great fun.
    Thanks Micawber and Bufo.

  9. Spent a while hunting for the wordplay for 25d. Maybe the 1a croc ate it. :scratch:

    My many likes include 1d/14d (an example for the case that wordy clues aren’t always bad), but pleasingly the biggest laugh came right at the end: I’d been slow to get 1a but once that clicked satisfyingly, so too did 5d. Brilliant!

    Many thanks Micawber and Bufo. Hope the engineers manage to sort things out sooner rather than the (likely, I agree with you) summer …

  10. I generally find Micawber tricky and today was no exception. I’m fairly certain that I find puzzles easier to solve with less wordy surfaces, but I did enjoy battling it out over a couple of sittings with this one. Needed a couple hints along the way due to my impatience.

    An enjoyable tussle with thanks to Bufo and Micawber.

  11. Lots of fun to be had from Micawber as expected. A little tricky in places, especially the NW corner. Or perhaps that was just the point tiredness caught up with me.

  12. Oh dear. Excuses for 8,25:
    1. I was over my word allowance – something had to go.
    2. What Kitty @10 said.
    3. It was a complicated +lit reference – the clue itself in a sense ‘taking the cake’.
    4. I thought Sue was supplying the cake as usual.
    I owe you all a cake. Or a drink, to be redeemed on Saturday week.

    1. Ooh, a good deal! I’ll take a drink over a cake any time. Or at least, while I can be reasonably confident of remaining upside up … :wacko:

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