Toughie No 2563 by Serpent
Hints and tips by Gazza
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BD Rating – Difficulty *** – Enjoyment ****
Serpent always gives us something extra and today he’s excelled by providing a pangram without the single most common letter in English (although its shape does make a few appearances in the grid). To achieve this without resorting to obscurities is a real feat. Thanks to him for a very enjoyable puzzle.
Since this is my last blog before the festivities may I wish everybody a Happy Christmas and a safe New Year.
Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.
1a Partial information in support programme using American not English (10)
PROPAGANDA: string together a verb to support or bolster and a programme or schedule with its abbreviation for English replaced by that of American.
6a Spirits finally crushed by curse (4)
JINX: some supernatural beings in Muslim theology without their final N followed by the character used in multiplications to mean ‘by’.
8a Rule allowing several matches in school yard introduced by old institution (8)
POLYGAMY: a school of whales and the abbreviation for yard are preceded by an old educational institution.
9a Article in paper that’s reinforced fake news? (6)
CANARD: insert one of our indefinite articles into a type of reinforced paper.
10a Letter from two boys around New Year (8)
LANDLADY: two occurrences of the same word for a boy with the abbreviation for new inserted. Finish with the abbreviation for year.
11a Its broadcast leads to convulsions of mirth (6)
SITCOM: an anagram (broadcast) of ITS and the leading letters of the final three words.
12a Maintenance precluding any cover for vehicle (4)
LIMO: remove the letters of ‘any’ from the outside of a maintenance payment.
14a Dictator’s related to military officer in court (7)
MARSHAL: an officer in a royal household sounds like an adjective meaning ‘relating to the military’.
18a In the middle of brief period beset by anxiety (7)
AMONGST: a brief period is contained in a word for anxiety.
20a British member of parliament’s vessel (4)
BOWL: an abbreviation for British and a feathered member of a parliament.
23a Shape stone drinking vessel, holding end of chisel? (6)
SCULPT: the abbreviation for a stone in weight contains a vessel holding the end letter of chisel.
24a Quoting farewell chorus to the audience (8)
ADDUCING: homophones of a) a word for farewell and b) a verb to chorus or warble.
25a Condition motor with group of drivers providing new exterior (6)
ANGINA: start with a word for motor and replace the outer letters with the identity of a motoring support group.
26a Opening feature reviewed book about king getting cross (8)
DOORKNOB: assemble the abbreviation for book, a preposition meaning about, the chess abbreviation for king and a type of cross seen in church. Now reverse the lot.
27a I’m surprised adding two variables is ill-defined (4)
HAZY: concatenate an exclamation of surprise and two of the mathematical variables which are so useful to crossword setters.
28a Sack lousy tutor using over-complicated approach (10)
TORTUOUSLY: an anagram (sack) of LOUSY TUTOR.
1d Work around ‘Liberal Elite’ essentially blocking prime minister’s appealing strategy? (8)
POPULISM: a 4-letter artistic work contains the abbreviation for Liberal and the central letter of elite. All that is contained inside the abbreviation for prime minister. This was my last clue to parse because I was thinking initially that ‘work around’ had to be the first two letters of the answer reversed.
2d Tomb regularly made use of pine box (6)
OBLONG: use regular letters from ‘tomb’ and append a verb to pine. I’m not totally convinced by the definition.
3d Non-governmental organisation left in Africa after evacuation here? (6)
ANGOLA: insert the abbreviations for a non-governmental organisation and left into the outer letters of Africa to get a country there.
4d Member has trouble nursing sick creature (9)
ARMADILLO: knit together a bodily member and a word meaning trouble or fuss containing a synonym of sick.
5d Condition agitated mouse, scratching tail close to domestic cat (8)
ACCUSTOM: condition here is a verb. We need an anagram (agitated) of MOUS[e] without its tail, the closing letter of [domesti]C and CAT.
6d Order to avoid popular meeting place (8)
JUNCTION: a judicial order without the two-letter adjective meaning popular.
7d Nitrogen and oxygen being present in bends is causing drowsiness (8)
NARCOSIS: start with the chemical symbol for nitrogen and follow that with bends or curves containing the chemical symbol for oxygen. Finally append IS.
13d Radio broadcast island briefly receives is prone to gaffes (9)
MALADROIT: a Mediterranean island without its last letter contains an anagram (broadcast) of RADIO.
15d Serpent is working in Canada following reshuffle (8)
ANACONDA: insert an adverb meaning working into an anagram (following reshuffle) of CANADA.
16d Dull university officer provided dons beastly accommodation (8)
STULTIFY: abbreviations for university and a military officer together with a conjunction meaning provided are contained in beastly accommodation.
17d Remove summary having little practical use (8)
ABSTRACT: triple definition.
19d Beat giant up — lady will lose heart in a discernible way (8)
TANGIBLY: rivet together a verb to beat or wallop, the reversal of an adjective meaning giant and the outer letters of lady.
21d Volume associated with circle equals size associated with volume (6)
QUARTO: an imperial volume of liquid and the circular letter.
22d Fare also included in travel pass avoiding terminal (6)
VIANDS: put a conjunction meaning also inside a travel pass without its terminating letter.
My ticks today went to 1a (for the subtle use of ‘partial’), 8a and 15d (for the misdirection) with the excellent all-in-one at 11a being my favourite. Which clue(s) sat atop your tree?