Toughie No 2519 by Serpent
Hints and tips by Gazza
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BD Rating – Difficulty ***/**** – Enjoyment ***
There’s some complicated wordplay here (which I enjoyed winkling out). There are two clues (1a and 14a) where the definition can only be the whole clue but the whole clue doesn’t really match up with the answer. I’m also a bit puzzled by the ‘land’ in 26a – I’ve provided my best shot at an explanation but any better reasoning would be welcome.
Thanks to Serpent.
Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.
1a Elite cops ordered to arrest most members of gang? (6,6)
SECRET POLICE: an anagram (ordered) of ELITE COPS contains a type of gang without its final W. I’ve underlined the whole clue as the definition but I don’t think it works terribly well.
8a What finally made Lake Geneva empty out? (7)
LEAKAGE: an anagram (out) of [mad]E LAKE G[enev]A.
9a Tolerant attitude initially overlooked in books on the French (7)
LENIENT: a French definite article and the abbreviation for some Biblical books contain a synonym of attitude or demeanour without its leading M.
11a Long sharp object allowed this to be toasted in fire (7)
PIKELET: stick together a long pointed weapon from years ago and a past participle meaning allowed.
12a Woollen fabric requiring soft soap (7)
FLANNEL: double definition – soft soap means flattery.
13a Part of database processed after moving base away from Germany (5)
FIELD: start with a verb meaning processed in the sense of ‘added to a database’ then move the letter used for the base in logarithms one letter away from the IVR code for Germany.
14a Article not used in stabbing? (9)
IMPLEMENT: remove an indefinite article from a word meaning stabbing or transfixing. Once again, the answer doesn’t really correspond very well with the whole clue.
16a Skinhead perhaps said ‘race means to cross country’s boundaries’ (9)
HAIRSTYLE: join together two homophones (said) – a) a verb to race (like a fast animal) and b) a structure used to cross boundaries between fields in the countryside.
19a Go up steps that may go up or down (5)
SCALE: double definition, the second related to musical notes.
21a Lead completely secures home game (7)
PINBALL: assemble the chemical symbol for lead and a synonym for completely then insert an adverb meaning (at) home.
23a Preview film about storyteller close to Marxist revolutionary (7)
TRAILER: concatenate a prefix meaning about or concerning, a teller of false stories and the last letter of Marxist then reverse the lot.
24a Took in bits of a course writer ran (7)
NIBBLED: charade of a writing implement and a verb meaning ran or oozed.
25a This extremely artificial spread makes less fat (7)
FALSEST: if you make an anagram (spread) of the answer you’ll end up with LESS FAT.
26a Land heralded by guiding star? (7,5)
I was puzzled by land here but Collins tells me the answer is an alternate name for a navigation aid which is fixed ashore to help ships manoeuvre through narrow channels (to reach land?) at night. Let me know if you have a better explanation.
The definition is star (a leading performer). A verb to land or come down is preceded by a synonym of guiding. Thanks to Rinteff for putting me on the right track.
1d Odds on champion horse showing winning quality? (7)
SPARKLE: fix together an abbreviation for betting odds and the name of a champion steeplechaser from the 1960s (ARKLE). I knew the horse which was very famous in its heyday but that was a long time ago!
2d Dashed off without son and behaved abjectly (7)
CRAWLED: a verb meaning dashed off or wrote hastily loses the abbreviation for son.
3d Return to office as long as railway guards supply power (9)
ELECTRIFY: glue together a verb to return (a politician) to office and the abbreviation for railway containing a conjunction meaning ‘as long as’.
4d What could be eaten off a fine plate after cooking? (5)
PILAF: remove the jumbled letters of ‘eaten’ from A FINE PLATE and make an anagram (after cooking) of what you have left.
5d Older family members get on after row (7)
LINEAGE: a verb to get on (in years) follows a synonym of row.
6d Purge lists screened by religious establishment (7)
CLEANSE: if you’ve done today’s back-pager you may have a sense of déjà vu – not only the answer but almost identical wordplay features there. A verb meaning lists or tilts goes inside the abbreviation for the established church in England.
7d Enclosure’s scrap of paper reveals author’s mistake (4,2,3,3)
SLIP OF THE PEN: cryptically this could be an animal enclosure’s scrap of paper.
10d Two articles, mainly about dreary routine supporting order, are honest (4,3,5)
TELL THE TRUTH: two occurrences of the definite article (the second truncated) contain a word for a dreary routine. That all follows a verb to order or direct.
15d Fill net up at sea when fish are thus? (9)
PLENTIFUL: an anagram (at sea) of FILL NET UP.
17d Base is possible to overlook without artist’s contribution (7)
IGNOBLE: start with an adjective meaning possible to overlook or “doesn’t have to be taken into account” then remove the abbreviation for our usual recognised artist.
18d Raced over in vehicle with runners caught fast (7)
SNARLED: reverse a verb meaning raced and insert it into a vehicle having runners.
19d Witness reported small bear being seen underwater (3,4)
SEA SLUG: start with a homophone of a verb to witness and add the abbreviation for small and a verb to bear or carry.
20d Drink intended for audience gets cold? (7)
AILMENT: combine two homophones, the first of an alcoholic drink and the second of a verb meaning intended.
22d Charged young man with case of extortion (5)
LADEN: a young man followed by the outer letters of extortion.
My ticks today went to 2d and 19d. Which clue(s) hit the spot for you?