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Toughie 2539

Toughie No 2539 by Serpent

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Thanks to Serpent for an enjoyable and not too tricky puzzle. When I blogged Serpent’s last Toughie the setter left a comment telling us that every answer in the grid contained the letter L to match the patterns of the black squares in the grid (which I and all those commenting had totally missed). I’ve examined today’s grid and all I can see is a three-word phrase running down column six which may (or probably may not) have something to do with the mathematical operators in the black squares. Any further thoughts would be most welcome.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Ignoring record about avoiding clubs (12)
DISREGARDING: stick together a type of record and a preposition meaning about or concerning then take away the abbreviation for the card suit clubs.

9a Quite upset by unrestrained character’s manners (9)
ETIQUETTE: an anagram (upset) of QUITE followed by a written character without its outer letters.

10a Jar that may contain ashes (5)
GRATE: double definition, the first a verb.

11a Grape from California in new wine (6)
MUSCAT: the 2-letter abbreviation for California goes inside a word for new wine.

12a Accommodation units for policemen (4-4)
FLAT-FEET: join together a type of living accommodation and units of imperial measurement. The answer is a derogatory term for policemen (I don’t remember ever having seen this form of the plural used and it seems ungainly).

13a What could be blooming trouble kept coming back (6)
DAHLIA: glue together a verb to trouble and a verb meaning kept or owned and reverse the lot.

15a Another lead character in iconoclastic novel? (4-4)
ANTI-HERO: a very clever all-in-one clue. We need an anagram (novel) of ANOTHER and the first character of I[conoclastic].

18a Test includes core elements of medieval books from the east (8)
ORIENTAL: a verbal test includes the central letters of medieval and the abbreviation for some Biblical books.

19a Lock follows leader of scrum to apply pressure (6)
STRESS: one of the meanings of lock follows the leading letter of scrum.

21a Lied about rewriting opening of each speech (8)
DELIVERY: start with a 5-letter synonym of ‘each’ then exchange (rewriting) its opening letter for an anagram (about) of LIED.

23a What could be made by wine producer almost every year? (6)
GRAPPA: what’s used to make wine without its last letter is followed by the abbreviation for ‘every year’.

26a In the middle of exam on geological features (5)
AMONG: hidden in the clue.

27a Where one might record hit music for film character? (9)
SCORECARD: the hit recorded could possibly be a four or a six. Knit together a word for the music of a film and an odd or amusing character.

28a Kindly relative finally lent novel by comic (12)
BENEVOLENTLY: an anagram (comic?) of [relative]E LENT NOVEL BY.

Down Clues

1d Experienced visions of soldiers mainly consumed by fear (7)
DREAMED: insert a truncated word for ordinary soldiers into another word for fear.

2d Executives find out about computerised systems (5)
SUITS: a slang verb to find out or investigate contains the abbreviation for computerised systems.

3d I’m not sure about stopping Joy copying (9)
EMULATION: the reversal of an exclamation indicating indecision goes inside a synonym for joy.

4d Reporter’s not in favour of advance payment (4)
ANTE: homophone of a preposition meaning ‘not in favour of’.

5d Fighting to resolve dispute with wife for university accommodation (8)
DWELLING: start with fighting to resolve a dispute or settle a point of honour then replace the abbreviation for university with that for wife.

6d Time accompanying near darkness (5)
NIGHT: the abbreviation for time follows an old word meaning near.

7d Viewer plainly hinting at end of story? (5,3)
NAKED EYE: if you apply the first word of the answer to the second word you should end up with the last letter of story.

8d Man with two ducks and a penguin (6)
GENTOO: a posh man and two of the letters that resemble a duck at cricket.

14d What’s passed down line when person in possession passes? (8)
HEIRLOOM: cryptic definition of a treasured possession that’s passed down through the generations.

16d Get involved in free event the Queen puts on (9)
INTERVENE: start with IN and add the Queen’s cipher clothed in an anagram (free) of EVENT.

17d Scores goal, after losing first half, to change game (8)
LACROSSE: an anagram (to change) of SCORES [go]AL.

18d Trial one undergoes as alternative to plea bargain? (6)
ORDEAL: stick together a conjunction meaning ‘as alternative to’ and what a plea bargain is an example of.

20d Do nothing as substitute (5-2)
STAND-BY: with a space rather than hyphen this could be a phrasal verb meaning to be a passive witness.

22d Obscure magazine gets article for nothing (5)
VAGUE: a fashion magazine with an indefinite article replacing the letter that resembles zero.

24d Depression grips city and part of Barnet (5)
PLAIT: a depression or excavation contains the abbreviation for a US city. Barnet is Cockney rhyming slang (from Barnet Fair).

25d Can clothing lead to great company image? (4)
LOGO: an informal word for what can is a slang term for contains the first letter of great.

I ticked 13a, 27a and 7d but my favourite was the excellent 15a. Which clue(s) scored with you?


25 comments on “Toughie 2539

  1. Despite our Meghan, 2d was my last in and I couldn’t parse 25d which was a bung in.
    Nothing stood out as particularly worthy of a COTD. Sorry! Just a pleasant solve.

  2. I had quite a lot to do this morning so must admit that when I’d finished this gentle Serpent (more of a grass snake than a cobra) I didn’t stop to look for anything hidden. I think, however, that Gazza must be on the right lines with this

    12a was my favourite because I smiled as to whether policemen suffered with this problem any more now that they no longer have to tread the beat ;)

    Thanks to Serpent and Gazza

    1. When the term was in use I’m pretty sure that two police officers together would have been referred to a flat-foots rather than the answer.

    2. I think you are right about the police, CS. They are more likely to suffer from RSI these days through overuse of computers when filling in forms and reports.

      1. I read somewhere that the term originated from the fact that men with flat feet were not allowed to join the army so joined the police instead.

  3. I found this nicely challenging and mostly enjoyable, although I was disappointed to come across an unindicated American word right at the end in 25d and sorry to find that the BRB doesn’t indicate this (Collins though does agree with me).

    My joint favourites were 27a & 7d.

    Many thanks to Serpent and to Gazza.

  4. I thought this was excellent: clever and funny. I agree with Gazza that 12a is a tad contrived but there are several gems here: 15a is one of the best anagram all-in-ones for some time; 21a is cunning in its use of “rewriting”; 16d is similar [puts on] but my favourite is the other all-in-one at 23a – perfect wordplay and a lovely smooth surface [and the answer is generally pretty good too].

    Many thanks to Serpent and to Gazza for the blog. Wherever did the subway sign come from? Maybe somebody was doing their toenails!

  5. Had a bit of trouble sorting out the right anagram fodder in a couple and took a long time to see how 7d worked (silly girl!) but all sorted eventually.
    The simple 10a plus 16d get my votes.

    Thanks to Serpent and to Gazza for the review.

  6. I usually groan when I read that Gazza has declared something that I’ve just laboured over as not too tricky. On this occasion I’d agree & not sure it was that much more difficult than Jay’s excellent back pager (loved CS’s more grass snake than cobra). I do hope Brian was minded to repeat yesterday’s triumphant debut excursion. While it may not have been overly taxing I thought it very entertaining with plenty of clues to raise a smile. Mr G was required to confirm the penguin & my last in was 25d, which took a while to twig & therefore joins 15&23a on the podium. All parsed correctly so a rare full marks.
    Many thanks Serpent & to Gazza for the review – loved the 9a pic (thanks heavens I no longer have to endure the tube) but thought you’d have gone for a pic of Alan Arkin at 15a as Cap’t John Yossarian

  7. I managed to finish this enjoyable Serpent Toughie with a bit of electronic help at the end, with 25d and 24d (forgot about Barnet Fair = Hair again), and needed Gazza’s help to parse 7d (how clever is that?). Podium stars: 5d, 7d, & the simple but tricky 22d. Thanks to Gazza and to Serpent.

  8. A slow and steady solve which I did not find terribly easy but which was fairly clued throughout so no complaints. 10a was my favourite. Good fun.

    Thanks to Serpent and Gazza.

  9. Managed more than half of this without help. Then with Gaza’s help all except 7d. Used the reveal for that.
    Good day for me. Thanks Serpent and Gazza.

  10. Failed on 7d as I was desperately looking for the first word to end with W to give us the weye sound. Clever clue.
    Couldn’t parse 21a. Another clever clue.
    The penguin was new to me.
    Thanks to Serpent and to Gazza.

  11. Our last one in was 27a where, even with all the checkers in place, the penny was slow to drop. Imagined a golf rather than cricket one but either work.
    Enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Serpent and Gazza.

  12. Many thanks to Gazza for the excellent blog. And thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to comment. There is a seasonal message hidden in the grid… (The phrase in the sixth column is pure coincidence!)

    1. Thanks, Serpent. I’ve had another look at the grid – still no joy so I’ll have to wait for someone to enlighten me.

  13. All good fun apart from 7d, which defeated me. I had the last word (easy enough either the checkers) but couldn’t sort out the first one. Thrown by the “plainly”, which I feel is superfluous. And I’ll have to check in tomorrow to see the message. Never can see them! Thanks Serpent & Gazza

    1. Well, well, well. Well spotted, Retiefus, and thank you for putting me out of my misery. I spent ages looking at the grid and couldn’t see anything other than RING backwards and WING.

      “Seasonal message” indeed! Very clever, Serpent.

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