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Toughie 2451

Toughie No 2451 by Gila

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

There are twelve 4-letter and four three-letter answers in this puzzle. We often refer to such as ‘pesky’ but only one gave me any real problems – 8a where the A?E? pattern and the less than helpful definition had me scratching my head and eventually revealing a letter so that I could finish the puzzle. That head-scratching made me add an extra difficulty star. Thanks to Gila for the contest.

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

Across Clues

6a Good examples of electronic form used to fill lists (4,6)
ROLE MODELS: insert the abbreviation for electronic and a synonym for form or manner into another word for lists (which could be a verb or a noun).

8a Flipping big city area taken over (4)
ANEW: this was my last answer and I eventually revealed a letter to get it. Stick together an archaic word for a big city (especially London) and the abbreviation for area and reverse (flipping) it all. I did know the word for the big city but I wasn’t sure originally which end of the clue held the definition. I’m not really convinced by ‘taken over’ as the definition and I can’t come up with a sentence where that is interchangeable with the answer. Thanks to Nogbad for pointing out that the definition is just ‘over’.

9a Soft and hairy hybrid shrub (9)
FORSYTHIA: an anagram (hybrid) of SOFT and HAIRY. How many of you initially tried to find a shrub starting with P?

11a Great success as one blocking corruption (4)
RIOT: the Roman numeral for one goes inside another word for corruption or deterioration.

12a Hot soup is incredibly acidic? (3)
PHO: this Vietnamese soup (when split 2,1) looks like it’s an indication of very high acid content.

13a Bun is light, creamy at first, covered with fudge (5,4)
FAIRY CAKE: insert an adjective meaning light or spacious and the first letter of covered into a verb to fudge or falsify.

16a Rider provides cover for US soldier around animals (4)
PIGS: a rider or something added at the end of a document contains the reversal of our usual US soldier.

17a Couple possessing too much information about songbirds (7)
TITMICE: a verb to couple or unite contains the abbreviation for ‘too much information’ and the single-letter abbreviation meaning about or approximately.

18a Overly large but useful computer interface (7)
TOOLBAR: string together an adverb meaning overly, the clothing abbreviation for large and a preposition meaning but or except.

20a Female nurse headed to give assistance (4)
ENID: combine the abbreviation for an Enrolled Nurse and a verb to give assistance which has its first letter headed or lopped off.

21a Failing strategies, lacking input from good studies (9)
TREATISES: an anagram (failing) of STRATE[g]IES without the abbreviation for good.

23a Qualifiers seeing some competitors fight back (3)
IFS: hidden in reverse.

24a Zulu queen clutches a religious text (4)
EZRA: our Queen’s regnal cipher contains the letter that Zulu stands for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet then append A. A bit of Yoda-speak.

25a Become aware stuff brought about tense, messy affair (5-4)
MARE’S-NEST: weld together a verb to become aware (of) or recognise and a verb to stuff. Now reverse all that and add the grammatical abbreviation for tense.

29a How many make up a Spanish soccer side at any time? (4)
ONCE: if you only learned to count from one to ten in Spanish you should have gone just a little bit further.

30a Love getting into vacations to travel somewhere in the Atlantic (4,6)
NOVA SCOTIA: insert the letter that looks like love or zero into an anagram (to travel?) of VACATIONS.

Down Clues

1d Make a mistake and almost quit (4)
GOOF: start with a phrasal verb to quit or leave (2,3) and drop its final letter.

2d Drugs of unusual quality in the 60s? (4)
GEAR: double definition. Chambers says the second is an old slang adjective meaning ‘unusually good’ – I lived through the 60s and I wasn’t aware of that meaning.

3d Slightly unwell — or, on reflection, extremely poorly (4)
ROPY: reverse OR and add the outer letters of poorly.

4d Daughter comes in to take cap off, revealing untidy hair (7)
BEDHEAD: insert the abbreviation for daughter into a verb meaning to take the cap or top off.

5d Plant in pound range with moss for replanting (10)
LEMONGRASS: start with the letter used as the abbreviation for pound sterling and add an anagram (for replanting) of RANGE and MOSS.

7d Don’t start getaway, then vigorously attack victim (9)
SCAPEGOAT: a word for a getaway without its first letter is followed by a phrasal verb (2,2) meaning to attack vigorously.

8d Group erected storage unit to support a citadel (9)
ACROPOLIS: a synonym for group or collection and the reversal of a storage unit for grain are preceded by A.

10d Gutless slugger boxing current holder of title (3)
SIR: the outer letters of slugger contain the symbol for electric current.

13d Situation marked by no frenzied frolicking? (6,4)
FRIEND ZONE: this, new to me, is a platonic relationship between two people, one of whom wants it to be more than platonic. It’s an anagram (frolicking) of NO FRENZIED.

14d I meddle to begin with and step in direct (9)
IMMEDIATE: concatenate I, the first letter of meddle and a verb to step in or intercede.

15d Sailors in team synch manoeuvring (9)
YACHTSMEN: an anagram (manoeuvring) of TEAM SYNCH.

19d Strip bar with little reputation tackles the crux of adverse publicity (7)
DEPRIVE: a bar with a poor reputation contains the central letter of adverse and the abbreviation for publicity.

22d Place to stay during the last part of autumn (3)
INN: as is very often the case the easiest clues appear in the lower reaches of the down clues. Combine a preposition meaning during and the last letter of autumn.

26d In the end, it’s ordinary and very meh! (2-2)
SO-SO: put together the last letter of it’S, the abbreviation for ordinary and a synonym for very.

27d European fashion college (4)
ETON: the abbreviation for European is followed by another noun meaning fashion.

28d Understand, principally, that worthiness isn’t guaranteed (4)
TWIG: the principal letters of the last four words.

My podium contenders were 13a, 18a and 19d. Which one(s) appealed to you?

28 comments on “Toughie 2451

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed this but was defeated by 8a. Other than that I made steady progress. Favourite clue was 12a which I remember enjoying for breakfast on my travels to Vietnam. Thanks to Gazza and Gila.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed this one too. Excellent 1d & 29a; 8a took nearly as long as the rest! I eventually remembered the other name for London when the penny dropped. 3*/4*, thanks Gila. Will now read Gazza’s hints! Ok, having read your hint for 8a, does “taken” refer to the letter added, & “over” indicate the answer?

  3. I managed about half unaided then had to resort to electronic help. I don’t like to do this but it does show me parsing, word play etc. Anyway, finishing half unaided is a plus as far as I’m concerned.

    Many thanks to Gazza and Gila.

  4. Did most of it. Made 5d impossible buy thinking 11a was “ruin”. Made sense – run, a success in gambling etc and then put in the “i”. Got the definition the wrong way round. Silly.

  5. I think the explanation for 8a could be “Stick together an archaic word for a big city (especially London) and add (taken) the abbreviation for area and reverse (flipping) it all”. That way the definition is just ‘over’, as in do again or anew. Just an idea, but it works…..just!

    1. Welcome to the blog, Sandpit.
      Thanks – Nogbad (above) had the same thought and I’ve now updated the blog.

  6. I had the same problem with 8a, which was my last in. Eventually I looked for a synonym for ”over” which was “anew,” as in John Lennon’s song Just like starting over. I then looked up “wen,” a word which I didn’t know, and was relieved to find that it means a big city area. I remember the aforementioned Mr Lennon and his friends used the expression “fab gear” in the sixties, which helped me with 2d. Overall this was certainly a Toughie worth the name, although we were spoilt by Elgar’s masterpiece yesterday, which was particularly satisfying and enjoyable, whereas this puzzle was more prosaic, relying much more on working out the letter formations in a lot of short words.

  7. I did enjoy this on the whole, but I had a few raised eyebrows along the way. I found the difficulty varied from straightforward to very hard. I got there in the end although I needed to record it as DNF as the parsing of two of those pesky four-letter answers (8a & 2d) proved elusive. I must have been too spaced out in the 60s to have noticed that second meaning of 2d.

    I also learnt some new words/expressions, including “meh” in 26d (what a very ugly word) and the answers for 4d & 13d.

    I am not sure about “headed” in 20a. Wouldn’t “beheaded” be more accurate?

    18a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to the 2Gs.

    1. The first definition for head (as a transitive verb) in the BRB is ‘to remove the head or top from’.

    2. Beheaded in 20a would be a bizarre and rather unpleasant surface RD. I think it’s ok as in ‘dead-headed’; the BE in beheaded is just means ‘was’ or ‘did’ or ‘is’ doesn’t it? I spent too long thinking ‘tend’ [nurse] was the word losing its head but couldn’t find a way to insert the I, unless assistance was ‘information’ abbreviated to I

  8. I seem to remember the answer to 2d having that meaning in the Liverpool area in the 60s. The dodgy word in 8a is still used occasionally to describe sebaceous cysts but William Cobbett used it for cities in his Rural Rides, which we had to read at school. I knew it would be useful one day.

  9. Enjoyed this. I quite liked the short word answers, especially the 4 letter, which seemed to help things flow, although I was beaten by 2d and 8a despite having the checkers.

    Note to self – learn some more modern slang (26d) and more text speak, 17a (coming after Elgar’s 1,1,1,1, yesterday!)

    Overall, a good balanced puzzle. Thanks to Gila and Gazza.

  10. I was beaten by three of the four letter entries. In the double definition of 2d I hadn’t heard of either definition, I didn’t know the city reference in 8a, and I don’t think I had met ‘enrolled nurse’ in 20a. Pity – not being able to finish took away from what was otherwise a highly enjoyable puzzle. Thanks anyway to Gila and Gazza.

  11. Certainly a toughie and rather a quirky one. It reminded me a bit of the much missed Elkamere. I was fine with 8a, being familiar with The Great Wen as a descriptor for London, but failed with 20a which is a shame as I double dislike the clue. In what sense is “headed” an indicator of head removal? And I hate first name answers. Sour grapes, moi?
    Favourites were the tinies, most of which were cunningly done, especially 29a, but expecting O-level Spanish might be a bit much.
    Thanks to Gila and Gazza.

    1. Re “headed” – I see you have already responded to RD [post 7 above] Gazza and I must accept the wisdom of Chambers but really?? Just head this fish for me would you? No, I didn’t think so.
      And anyway, are there any Enids walking around these days, apart from possibly in the Rees-Mogg dynasty? I note that the grid is somewhat restrictive but what’s wrong with a decent word like sned or snod?

  12. With some electronic help in the NW corner and a whole lot of luck in several bung-ins (20a, 2d, 29a), I actually finished filling in the grid, but I found much of this puzzle tedious. And I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a puzzle before. There were a few very nice clues, like 13, 21, and 25a, and I was grateful for those. I have enjoyed Gila in the past but not so much today. A day of two stark contrasts: the brilliant Jay on the one hand, but the too-too-much Gila on the other.

    (I did know the Great Wen because I’m a great reader (ha ha) but once I saw ‘over’ at the end, I just ‘knew’ the answer. It wasn’t the sparseness of the clue that led me to ‘Wen’, though: I don’t think ‘big city’ is nearly enough to get me to Wen, IMHO.) ***** / ** Thanks to Gazza for this essential review and, well, I’m sorry, Gila.

  13. The sort of difficulty level I’d like more often for a (mid-week)Toughie – the big city was somewhere else recently and it stuck in my mind

    Thanks to Gazza and Gila

  14. As I commented to a friend – I think Gila must be far more ‘down with the kids’ than I am ever likely to be! I detest that non-word ‘meh’ and had never heard of 13d. I presume that the latter is in the same league as ‘friends with benefits’ which I have heard one of my girls use – accompanied by a large wink.
    Got into a real pickle with 8a having ‘flipped’ LA and then added EC for city area. I did wonder what ‘Alec’ had to do with anything!
    Made it in the end, apart from my random Alec, and my top pick was 13a.

    Thanks to ‘young’ Gila and to Gazza for his much-needed advice.

  15. I liked the hot soup, the animals, and the oversized but still useful interface. I also struggled on 8a as my last one in.

    I also didn’t know the strictly platonic arrangement, had the answer, thought it was meaningless, then found it in chambers.

    Many thanks Gila and Gazza

  16. There was a lot of this that I really liked, I found it quite ‘fresh and breezy’
    I struggled on 17a because I spelt 15d incorrectly (I’ve done that before) and hadn’t heard of 2d or 25a. I think 24a came up very recently in a back pager, which helped.
    Big ticks go to the qualifiers at 23a, the gutless slugger at 10d, and the extrmely clever 13d where the anagram indicator fits so perfectly into surface. 4d made me smile too. All in all very enjoyable.
    Many thanks Gila and to Gazza for a top review

  17. I struggled with this puzzle which took me a long time to complete, agreed with Gazza on the ‘pesky’ clues.
    Going for a ****/** as there were too many iffy clues.
    Is there such a state of pH zero?, is there an abbreviation-my pet hates-of TMI, 29a and 8a were obscure.
    Thanks Gazza for the parsing of 25a which eluded me.
    Liked 24a and 13a.

  18. First puzzle for a while I haven’t been able to finish, even by guessing a few. Had trouble with the short words. Never heard of the big city, the soup, the fashion or the platonic relationship (although the clever surface reading explains it). Remembered the 60s definitions – Paul McCartney’s brother used the word in its second sense (or maybe it was the first) as part of his stage name. A bit frustrating , but certainly enjoyable. Some clever constructs which are hard to work out if you don’t know the building words. Thanks to Gila and particularly Gazza for clearing the mist.

  19. Struggled with the pesky four letter answers and eventually revealed letters to get 8a but still failed to parse it.
    Thanks Gila and Gazza.

  20. Failed on 8a and 2d.
    Mare’s nest was new to me. I shall try to remember it.
    Liked the soup too.
    Thanks to Gila and to Gazza

  21. This was a real slog and not much fun. Too much stuff I didn’t know (city in 8a, the hair in 4( two words for me), 13d (which I got, but didn’t believe), 25a (we have rats for that). And some I just don’t like. 2d really?? Fudge and Fake? Not a good week so far after being trounced by Elgar yesterday. Got a lot of catching up to do.

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