Toughie No 2439 by Serpent
Hints and tips by Gazza
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BD Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment ****
It was only when I was checking my full grid for a possible pangram (which seemed a probability with all the high-scoring Scrabble letters present) that I realised that what we actually have here is a lipogram where our most common letter is notable by its absence. How clever is that, especially without any obscurities – I added an extra star to the enjoyment factor for this feat of compiling. If you’re interested in a 50,000 word novel involving (or rather not involving) the same letter check out this.
Thanks to Serpent for giving us an ‘out of the ordinary’ puzzle.
Do leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.
1a Perhaps fragmentary portrait is of prophet (6)
MOSAIC: double definition, the second an adjective meaning relating to an Old Testament prophet.
5a Current queen is not commonly brief (8)
ACQUAINT: start with abbreviations for a type of electric current and queen and append a common way of saying ‘is not’.
9a Denied relief in the pursuit of profits (8)
GAINSAID: a synonym for relief or succour follows another word for profits.
10a British bear with Resistance money man (6)
BURSAR: string together an abbreviation for British, a word for a bear (as used in Constellations) and the abbreviation for electrical resistance.
11a Former college student dons understood in various languages (8)
POLYGLOT: knit together the old name for a type of college and a verb meaning understood or twigged containing the usual abbreviation for student.
12a State backing leads to new guns for unconventional way of fighting (4,2)
KUNG FU: reverse the abbreviation for a well-known state or country and add the leading letters of four words in the clue.
13a Examination always covers subject associated with specific country (8)
NATIONAL: hidden in the clue.
15a Women’s Institute not involved in broadcasting work (4)
SONG: remove the abbreviation for Women’s Institute from a synonym for broadcasting.
17a Feminine commercial’s causing rages (4)
FADS: the abbreviation for feminine followed by a short commercial with its ‘S.
19a I run away from criminal suspect with hostile attitude (8)
INIMICAL: start with I and add an anagram (suspect) of C[r]IMINAL without the cricket abbreviation for run.
20a Material beginning to confirm reporter’s suspicions (6)
CHINTZ: the first letter of confirm and a homophone of a word meaning suspicions or traces.
21a Miss first half of game for children’s activity (8)
SKIPPING: charade of a verb to miss or omit and the first half of a ball game.
22a Foreign capital swelling Conservative vote in dramatic finish (6)
CLIMAX: a foreign capital city fills out an abbreviation for Conservative and the letter used for a vote in a polling station.
23a Copyist, having removed margins, limits data form (8)
IMITATOR: take away the marginal letters from the final three words.
24a European Right working to curb unreasonable desire (8)
ROMANIAN: the abbreviation for right and an adverb meaning working contain an unreasonable desire or obsession.
25a Vehicle certainly requiring good skill to corner? (2-4)
GO-KART: I’ve taken this to be a semi-all-in-one. A short response meaning ‘certainly’ is trapped between the abbreviation for good and a synonym for skill.
2d Person that addresses tips to improve one’s work (8)
ORATORIO: a speaker followed by the initial letters of “improve one’s”.
3d Tiresome nanny I almost got sacked (8)
ANNOYING: an anagram (sacked) of NANNY I GO[t].
4d ‘Doctor’ in academic role wanting one connected with Labour promoted (9)
CHARLATAN: string together a metonym for professor without the Roman numeral for one and the reversal of an adjective meaning related to labour or childbirth. Presumably the quotation marks round doctor are indicating that the said individual has no qualifications.
5d People charged with financial matters answer idiotic summons in distress (5,10)
AUDIT COMMISSION: the single-letter abbreviation for answer followed by an anagram (in distress) of IDIOTIC SUMMONS. The body in question was scrapped in 2015.
6d Universities accepting students content to play around is not normal (7)
UNUSUAL: two occurrences of an abbreviation for university contain the identity of the students’ union. After that we have to reverse the content of the word ‘play’.
7d Trappings of office I gain unexpectedly after getting elected head of school (8)
INSIGNIA: I and an anagram (unexpectedly) of GAIN follow an adverb meaning elected and the first letter of school.
8d Convoluted exit raised by leader of Ukip in high places (8)
TORTUOUS: the reversal of an exit or way of escape and the first letter of Ukip go inside some high places (especially on Dartmoor).
14d Backing up data is main source of income after line’s cut (9)
ARCHIVING: a charade of an adjective meaning main or principal and a source of income without the abbreviation for line.
15d Male lead swapping parts of Charlie and good man in racy vehicle (5,3)
STOCK CAR: this is a Spoonerism in all but name. Start with a feathered male and a lead actor then swap the letter for which Charlie is used in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet and the abbreviation for a good man.
16d ‘Nothing exists’ encapsulates the core of this mindset primarily (8)
NIHILISM: this is an all-in-one. A sporting synonym for nothing and a verb meaning exists contain the central letters of ‘this’. Finally append the primary letter of mindset.
17d Get into a panic over sailor’s fare (8)
FLAPJACK: concatenate a verb to get into a panic and one of our many words for a sailor.
18d Depressed broadcaster’s wretched and precipitate descent (8)
DOWNPOUR: cement together an adjective meaning depressed and a homophone of an adjective meaning wretched.
19d Revolutionary new independent school is up and running (2,5)
IN TRAIN: reverse the abbreviations for new and independent and add a verb to school.
My podium is populated by 15a, 25a and 16d today. Which clue(s) made the grade for you?