Toughie No 2771 by Giovanni
Hints and tips by Gazza
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BD Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment ***
Giovanni is in benevolent mood today and although I didn’t know the 21a plant name it could be established once the checkers were in place.
Thanks to Giovanni and Season’s Greetings to him, to all other setters, to our bloggers and all who comment here. Greetings also to the many people who read our blogs but do not comment – now would be a good time to introduce yourselves.
Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.
1a See addict transformed, without minimal cocaine, totally dried out (10)
DESICCATED: an anagram (transformed) of SEE ADDICT containing (without, i.e. around) the first letter of Cocaine.
6a Spring maiden to send out unwanted message? (4)
SPAM: a mineral spring and the cricket abbreviation for maiden.
9a Monster bird — a number of times it crowed — hard to forget (10)
COCKATRICE: start with a male bird and add A and the number of times it crowed (I think this is a reference to a Biblical story) dropping the pencil abbreviation for hard.
10a Swimmer in river down below (4)
SWAN: double definition – ‘down below’ doesn’t mean in the Netherworld but in the Antipodes (in Western Australia to be precise).
12a Flower to fade, one fading with a small lump inside (6)
DANUBE: a verb to fade or come to an end loses its Roman numeral for one and what remains contains A and a small lump.
13a Sailor with someone wise circling in the distance (8)
SEAFARER: a wise person contains an adverb meaning ‘in the distance’.
15a Forcefully introduce facility for hungry travellers? (12)
DRIVETHROUGH: split 5,7 the answer means to introduce (new policies, for example) forcefully.
18a Ram is halting, in trouble — what is called upon to stop the beast suffering? (6,6)
ANIMAL RIGHTS: an anagram (in trouble) of RAM IS HALTING.
21a Plant providing nectar, I’d fancy (8)
DICENTRA: an anagram (fancy) of NECTAR ID is the name of a plant better known as bleeding heart.
22a Kind to waste time and quarrel that could make you weep (6)
SORROW: splice together a synonym of kind or type without the abbreviation for time and a quarrel.
24a Hold on to final message by the side of grave (4)
GRIP: an inscription often seen on gravestones follows the first letter of grave.
25a Being swindled, as pet-shop customer might be? (6,1,3)
BUYING A PUP: what a pet-shop customer may doing at this time of year, preferably knowing that such a decision is for life not just for Christmas.
26a Eggy drink with extra egg not allowed (2-2)
NO-GO: the second syllable of an eggy drink is followed by the egg-shaped letter.
27a Skill of a GP? Nothing to it, Bill! (10)
ADROITNESS: assemble A, another abbreviation for a GP, the letter resembling zero, IT and what Bill (as in Portland Bill, for example) is.
1d End of ten years going round India, abandoning Dhaka finally (6)
DECIDE: start with a word meaning ten years then insert what India stands for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet and remove the last letter of Dhaka.
2d Line in article probing religious group (6)
SECANT: one of our indefinite articles goes inside a religious group.
3d Officials organising lesbian march (12)
CHAMBERLAINS: an anagram (organising) of LESBIAN MARCH.
4d Hairstyle upset some poor father (4)
AFRO: hidden in reverse.
5d Eastern guru includes talk about drug confiscation of yesteryear (10)
ESCHEATAGE: a Russian doll clue – the abbreviation for eastern and a guru or wise person include a synonym of talk which includes our usual abbreviated drug. The answer is an old practice whereby property was confiscated by the state or a feudal lord if its owner died without heirs.
7d Superior group capsized, stuck in vessel — it could suggest an emergency (5,3)
POWER CUT: the letter meaning superior and a group of workers are reversed inside a cooking vessel.
8d Our state perhaps gets wealth, English being cunning (8)
MONARCHY: a word for wealth or fortune with the single-letter abbreviation for English being replaced by an adjective meaning cunning or sly.
11d Hero fought at clashes, as planned in advance (12)
AFORETHOUGHT: an anagram (clashes) of HERO FOUGHT AT.
14d Like cross-country train during good regular trip (10)
OVERGROUND: knit together a preposition meaning during, the abbreviation for good and a regular trip.
16d Character, one with worry getting upset — buttoned-up type? (8)
CARDIGAN: charade of an amusing character, the Roman numeral for one and the reversal of a verb to worry or pester.
17d Crooner with suppressed longing is complaining (8)
BITCHING: the first name of an old American crooner contains a synonym of longing.
19d Journey ends in hotel — ‘The Peal of Bells‘ (6)
TRIPLE: a journey followed by the end letters of hoteL and thE.
20d Wild cricket shots or nicks? (6)
SWIPES: double definition, the second another informal verb meaning nicks or pinches.
23d Painter of optical illusions offering nothing for a long time (4)
MIRÓ: start with some optical illusions often seen in a desert and replace a word for a long time with the zero-resembling letter. You can read about the painter here and below is his “Painting-poem” which was sold for £16.6 million in 2012 – yes, that’s what I thought too.
The clues I liked best were 25a and 16d. Which one(s) gave you a warm feeling?