Toughie No 2276 by Messinae
Hints and tips by Gazza
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BD Rating – Difficulty **** – Enjoyment ****
Either Messinae has cranked up his difficulty level or my little grey cells are disappearing faster than I thought. This was a proper Toughie and I enjoyed my joust with it – thanks to Messinae.
Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.
1a Service area with major retail chain strikes out (12)
COUNTERMANDS: stick together the place in a shop or pub where you get served and a high street retail chain (1,3,1).
8a Having hand in decadent fancy dish (7)
ROULADE: decadent is usually an adjective but can also, so Chambers says, be a noun. Place a hand (e.g. a worker in a racing stable) inside one of its synonyms. I spent some time trying to parse this using L(eft) for hand.
9a See 10d
11a Iconic organisation for the better means to pick up what’s said (7)
TOTEMIC: charade of an organisation that accepts sporting bets and a short word for an instrument that picks up sound.
12a Tango with scaffolder friend of ‘Dave’ (7)
TRIGGER: the letter that Tango represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet followed by another word for a scaffolder gives us the nickname of the character in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ who always called Rodney Trotter ‘Dave’.
13a Wounded, become bloody (5)
GORED: split the answer 2,3 to ‘become bloody’.
14a Smart sports car model (9)
ARCHETYPE: weld together an adjective meaning smart or cunning and a classic sports car (1-4).
16a Bill’s written about short dance in work of fiction (9)
NOVELETTE: another word for the sort of bill you might have in your wallet or purse contains a ballroom dance without its final A.
19a Do be quiet at the back (5)
SHAFT: do here means to cheat or treat unfairly. Combine an exhortation to be quiet and an adverb meaning at the back (of a ship, say).
21a In brief, US politician gets lift leaving party (4-3)
SEND-OFF: the abbreviation for a politician in the upper house of the US Congress is followed by a verb to lift one’s hat.
23a Keenly working to restrict newspaper’s graphic edge (7)
KEYLINE: an anagram (working) of KEENLY contains the name of a UK daily newspaper. The answer apparently is a term used in printing.
24a Taxing heavily as a ruler (7)
SOAKING: an informal word for taxing heavily (often followed by ‘the rich’) comes from stringing together an adverb meaning as or likewise, A and a ruler.
25a One enthralled by old organ player of distinction (7)
OLIVIER: the Roman numeral for one is inserted into the abbreviation for old and a bodily organ.
26a Sound source of entertainment worth both its successors put together (7-5)
SEVENTY-EIGHT: this is about successive standards for vinyl records based on their speed of rotation. What we need here is the rpm of the oldest one which happens to be the sum of the speeds of two successors.
1d Sort of bomb left in possession of US general (7)
CLUSTER: insert the abbreviation for left into the name of a US general whose main claim to fame came from an ignominious defeat.
2d Woman, jolly journalist, incapable of giving offence (7)
UNARMED: concatenate a woman’s name and abbreviations for a jolly (member of our armed forces) and a senior journalist.
3d Cutting earthwork to shelter soldier? (9)
TRENCHANT: stick together an earthwork below the surface used as a shelter for fighters in WWI and our usual soldier insect.
4d Laughing Cavalier in art (5)
RIANT: an anagram (cavalier) of IN ART. Knowing the French verb to laugh is useful here.
5d Gather a quantity of leaves round about (7)
ACQUIRE: A and a quantity of 25 leaves or sheets contain the single-letter abbreviation meaning about or approximately.
6d Dull, collecting yokel’s top and bottom separately at the end (7)
DYINGLY: an adjective meaning dull or poorly lit contains the first and last letters of yokel.
7d Sports ground masks label on international competitors (12)
PROTAGONISTS: an anagram (ground) of SPORTS containing a label, ON and the abbreviation for international.
10d/9a Maybe Hoover vacuum cleaner left dust around politician once (7,5,7)
HERBERT HENRY ASQUITH: this is a UK Liberal Prime Minister of the early twentieth century. He’s made up from a) the forename of US President Hoover, b) the proprietary name of a vacuum cleaner with a distinctive smiling face and c) a verb meaning left or resigned with another word for dust or powdery residue around it. I got the answer mainly from the enumeration.
15d One holds up chap with chutzpah, British ace (9)
CHEEKBONE: chap here means the lower jaw (better known to me as a bit of a pig). Assemble a synonym for chutzpah or audacity, B(ritish) and the playing card with a single spot.
17d Collection of Graves? Poet finally given a bust (7)
VINTAGE: an anagram (bust) of the last letter of (poe)T and GIVEN A.
18d Long time wrapped in string like a cat (7)
LEONINE: a division of geological time is contained in a synonym for string or cord.
19d Release from prison holding unknown number of traitors (3,4)
SPY RING: a verb meaning to help a prisoner to escape contains one of the algebraic unknowns.
20d I’m saint converted from primitive religion (7)
ANIMIST: an anagram (converted) of I’M SAINT. It seems to me that the answer here has to be an adjective and some dictionaries do define it thus but Chambers only has it as a noun.
22d Scrap something insignificant that odd characters rejected (5)
FIGHT: a word for an insignificant amount (usually seen in a statement such as “I don’t give a ***”) followed by just the even letters of ‘that’.
I liked lots of clues including 1a, 21a, 4d and 17d but my favourite was 26a. Do spill the beans on which one(s) gave you pleasure.