Toughie 2447 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2447

Toughie No 2447 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Thanks to Stick Insect for a workmanlike puzzle which didn’t cause too many problems although I did spend a fair amount of time looking for a better explanation of the 13a wordplay (for which I added half a difficulty star).

Do leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a Helpful maxim, not in favour of mood changer (9,4)
AUXILIARY VERB: an adjective meaning helpful or supporting is followed by a maxim without the prefix meaning ‘in favour of’. The mood is grammatical.

9a Misbehave excitedly in audition in place of worship (9)
SYNAGOGUE: join together homophones for words meaning misbehave and excitedly.

10a Compound starts to affect me, infecting nerve endings (5)
AMINE: initial letters.

11a Cavity appears in useless bottles (5)
SINUS: a hidden word indicated by ‘bottles’.

12a Motor race among leaders of drivers yesterday (4)
INDY: stick together a preposition meaning among and the leading letters of the last two words to get the short name of an annual motor race in the USA (even more boring than Formula 1 in my opinion).

13a Heartlessly ruined sketch (4)
SKIT: I’m puzzled by this one. Heartlessly must mean without the central letter(s) but here (I think) we have to remove the fourth letter of a 5-letter informal adjective meaning ruined or penniless. Anyone with a better idea?

15a Newton’s overwhelmed by genius somehow succeeding (7)
ENSUING: the abbreviation for newton (the SI unit of force in physics) is contained in an anagram (somehow) of GENIUS.

17a Dangerous to change sides in supper to make room (7)
PARLOUR: start with an archaic adjective meaning dangerous and change the letter that starts ‘supper’ to the letter that ends it.

18a Beat a touch upset in dance (7)
LAMBADA: a verb to beat or strike is followed by the reversal of A and a verb to touch or press lightly.

20a Consider old folio trailing poor Yorick’s finale (5,2)
THINK OF: abbreviations for old and folio follow an adjective meaning poor or scanty and the final letter of Yorick.

21a Struggle with expectation (4)
VIEW: a verb to struggle and the abbreviation for ‘with’.

22a Count half of wall drawings (4)
GRAF: this count is a German nobleman. It’s the first half of (usually unauthorised) wall drawings.

23a Burning coal ends in climate doom, bishop fears occasionally (5)
EMBER: glue together the final letters of climate and doom then add the chess abbreviation for bishop and regular letters from ‘fears’.

26a Lousy rental returns housing Welsh girl (5)
NERYS: hidden in reverse.

27a Picked up about firm taking on third of executives (9)
OVERHEARD: knit together a preposition meaning about or concerning and an adjective meaning firm containing the third letter of executives.

28a Criminal trap con laid in one of four ways (8,5)
CARDINAL POINT: an anagram (criminal) of TRAP CON LAID IN.

Down Clues

1d What church supporter did in care home? (8,6)
ASSISTED LIVING: the church supporter might have helped to augment the income due to a church in return for the spiritual care of its flock.

2d Periodically, 54 times nothing mounts up (5)
XENON: reverse a synonym for nothing and the mathematical sign meaning ‘times’. I recently watched an excellent programme by Jim al-Khalili about Dmitri Mendeleev so I knew what ‘periodically’ meant here.

3d Key point one found in pub relating to supply of men (10)
LOGISTICAL: insert a word meaning the key point or the main thrust and the Roman numeral for one into a neighbourhood pub.

4d Claiming a belt fits around most of gut (7)
ARGUING: A and a synonym for a belt or band contain two-thirds of ‘gut’.

5d Surrender the result of cows producing more? (5,2)
YIELD UP: this could be the result of an increased production of milk from a dairy herd.

6d Style displayed in cycling lane (4)
ELAN: cycle the last letter of lane around to the front.

7d Something Bob the Builder might do in two different books involving twist (9)
BRICKWORK: two different books (the first an abbreviation, the second a synonym) contain a verb to twist.

8d Any character involved in direct payment authorisation? (6,2,6)
LETTER OF CREDIT: the answer could mean any of the characters in the word ‘direct’. I don’t think that this works very well.

14d Goes in search of fashionable holiday boat (6,4)
CRUISE SHIP: graft together a verb meaning drifts around in search of something (possibly a sexual partner) and a dated adjective meaning fashionable or trendy.

16d Balanced my crimes out over time (9)
SYMMETRIC: an anagram (out) of MY CRIMES containing the abbreviation for time. I don’t like the use of ‘over’ as a containment indicator in a down clue.

19d April Fools’ Day or beginning of idiocy from first principles (1,6)
A PRIORI: string together how April Fool’s Day may appear when written down as a date (3,1), OR and the first letter of idiocy.

20d American sweet almost made a hole round fabric (7)
TAFFETA: all but the last letter of a North American sweet is followed by the reversal of a verb meaning ‘made a hole’ or ‘wore through’.

24d Revolutionised India with box containing hot appetiser (5)
BHAJI: assemble the letter that India represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet and a verb to box or punch containing the abbreviation for hot then reverse the lot.

25d Rodent catcher spends little time for employer (4)
USER: a rodent catcher of the type favoured by Mr K loses the short word for a little time.

My top clue today was 1a. Which one(s) did the business for you?

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37 comments on “Toughie 2447
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  1. All solved in a reasonable time but still struggling to parse 13a, 1d, and 20d even with the hints. I did toy with the concept that 13a is today’s setter heartless, but still no further on than why remove an n which isn’t in the middle of skint ? Don’t get church in 1d and never heard of this American sweet in 20d. I did enjoy the rest however. Thanks to Gazza and Stick Insect.

    1. 1d a ‘church living’ is the property and revenue attached to a church.
      20d American sweet is taffy which (I think) is their spelling of toffee.

  2. Re 13a – I eventually came to the same conclusion as you, Gazza. In the absence of a better explanation we might have to conclude it’s a dud clue. In mitigation one might argue that the 3-letter “heart” has been “ruined” by being reduced to just 2 letters. But then “ruined” would be operating on itself…. Oh never mind!
    Otherwise a pleasant and straightforward back-pager.

    Thanks for the blog and thanks to Stick Insect for the puzzle.

  3. I found this moderately enjoyable and not too difficult. I too was bemused by 13a, and, even though its provenance is indicated, I think the sweet in 20d is rather obscure.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza.

  4. Another 1* from me for difficulty today. Absolutely delightful 9a – tickled pink! Worthy of a back-page quickie pun. Because of that, 4* for enjoyment. I have no probs with either the American sweet or the heartlessly ruined 13a. Thanks Mr/s Insect (or may one just call you Stick?), will now go & read Gazza.

  5. I did enjoy this, although it was well into *** territory in diffuclty for me. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one puzzled by 13a. I don’t have a strong enough sense of grammatical form in 1a to completely understand what is going on, and so I had to piece it together with the checkers (2d was very helpful in this). Also, I am not quite sure what is going on in 1d, and again I had to cobble it together from the checkers. I didn’t know the ‘dangerous’ word in 17a which again slowed progress for a while. Many thanks to Stick Insect and Gazza.

  6. I’m being very dense but I cannot get my head round 7d. Brick book? Work book. I put it down to the extreme change in temperature. I liked the welsh girl and the old ‘front room’. I would never have got 2d I wish I could learn that lovely song putting the periodic table to music! Thanks to all.

  7. Workmanlike is a good description, Gazza, it certainly wasn’t a barrel of laughs!
    I didn’t know either the ‘count’ or the American sweet and had the same dilemma as others over 13a.
    4d raised a bit of a smile.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza for the review. 26a is the name of my wonderful podiatrist, I’m just praying that she can come back to work soon…………

  8. I enjoyed 9a my personal COTD but i still do understand 13a and the parsing of it, 17a is another I do not understand any explanation is welcome, but as always enjoyable.

    Stay Safe Everyone TTFN

    1. In 17a dangerous is PARLOUS. We then have to change the S (first letter of ‘supper’) to R (last letter of ‘supper’).

  9. Managed all bar about five, which is very satisfying for me. There were many clues to like although 8d didn’t quite work as Gazza said. This was one I had to reveal the hint for and, while I can see the logic, I thought it somewhat obscure. Favourites were 17 and 18a

    Many thanks to Stick Insect for the challenge and to Gazza for the hints.

  10. Excellent puzzle, minus two I couldn’t parse, which I finished without any help–so in the minds of some, I didn’t really ‘finish.’ I agree, but I certainly enjoyed the tussle. I always thought that ‘taffy’ was a British word (see what I don’t know!), but it really doesn’t taste anything like toffee. Some really crackerjack clues, like 9a, 19d, and 27a–my top three–with 13a (bunged in) and 24d my last two in. Thanks to Gazza and Stick Inset. ** / ****

    Hello Gazza: Did you see my apologies for mis-titling the Rembrandt the other day? I knew it was The Anatomy Lesson but something in my brain did a switcheroo.

    1. Yes, Robert, I did see your apology. There’s absolutely no need to apologise for such slip-ups – we all make them, I more than most!

  11. 1d was the last one to get sorted for us.
    We hoped to find out here what we had missed in the parsing of 13a. Oh well……
    Enjoyed the solve.
    Thanks Stick Insect and Gazza.

  12. Hi Gazza, if you look at 8 down again, I think you’ll find that the clue means letters of credit (anagram of direct) At least that was my thinking.

      1. True – but it was the only alternative explanation that I could think of though – the letters of ‘direct’ are certainly the same as the letters of ‘credit’. Come on Stick Insect – please tell :-)

          1. I can’t see how it works as an anagram. If the answer were letterS of credit (which could signal an anagram of direct) then possibly, but just one ‘letter of credit’ doesn’t work as an anagram for me.

            1. It’d help a lot if Stick Insect would drop by and clarify – but certainly any one the the letters in direct are also letters of or in credit.

            2. I think it means “any character in direct is also a character in credit” so all singular. It’s not an anagram, just a straight cryptic definition. It’s actually very clever, now I’ve thought about it a bit more.

  13. Perhaps this slightly suffered in comparison to today’s excellent back pager but it didn’t quite do it for me. There seemed to be a lot of ‘minus first/last letters etc’ . I found 1d quite tenuous and didn’t particularly like 8 or 14d. On the upside I thought 9a was a cracking clue and quite liked 12a, though that may be more to do with Gazza’s description, with with I wholeheartedly concurr!

  14. An extremely late (or early I suppose) comment chiefly due to the age it took me to complete. Rather disconcerting that after checking Gazza’s difficulty rating before starting I stalled after about 10 answers. Got there in the end albeit with the help of Mr G for 19d which is new to me. Loved the 9a homophones.
    Will need to read the review carefully to understand the correct parsing of quite a few though.
    Thanks to all.

  15. A rare occasion when I completed the whole thing, but wasn’t always sure how the answer was constructed. E.g. 13a was puzzling and I have not heard of the American sweet in 20d. I liked 1a the most.

  16. Live and learn. Finished either the bung in of 20d, having long given up parsing 13a. The problem with the latter is that loose clues like that make one inclined to insert incorrect, half-fitting answers that make everything else impossible. 2 and 9 favourites.

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