Toughie No 2917 by Serpent
Hints and tips by StephenL
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BD Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment ****
Hello everyone from a blustery South Devon coast.
Serpent kicks off the Toughie week with a super puzzle that was just the ticket for a Tuesday. I completed it quite swiftly but one or two of the parsings took a little longer. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.
1a Old college about to introduce programmes involving several language units (12)
POLYSYLLABIC: Start with an informal name for an old polytechnic college. Add an abbreviation for about and insert into the result some educational courses or programmes.
8a Do awful things to note on instrument (7)
VIOLATE: Append one of the notes of the So-Fa scale to a stringed instrument
9a Having removed source of anxiety, doctor clears up doubt (7)
SCRUPLE: Anagram (doctor) of CLE(A)RS UP after the removal of the initial letter of Anxiety.
11a Dependent on article found in literature (7)
RELIANT: A preposition meaning on or regarding plus a shortened form of the word literature which incorporates an indefinite article.
12a Spin doctor ultimately abandons threatening piece? (7)
REVOLVE: Remove the ultimate letter of doctoR from a “threatening piece”, the piece being a weapon.
13a Become confused backing up some field data (5)
ADDLE: Hidden and reversed in the clue as indicated by “some” and “backing up”
14a Brilliant deputy head obtains the highest degree, except for one student (9)
REFULGENT: Someone appointed to administer a state in the absence of a monarch “obtains” or goes around a synonym of complete (to the highest degree) minus one abbreviation for a student.
16a Foolish lady swallows dubious ruses without question (9)
ASSUREDLY: An anagram (foolish) of LADY “swallows’ or contains an anagram of (dubious) RUSES.
19a Battery connected to trace of optical instrument (5)
CELLO: Append the initial letter (trace of) Optical to a type of battery.
21a Pick up leads for ecstasy criminals trafficked on county lines (7)
COLLECT: Append the initial letters of (leads for) Ecstasy, Criminals and Trafficked to the abbreviations for COunty and two Lines.
23a Closely examine report of newspaper delivery (7)
EYEBALL: A homophone (report of) a national newspaper and a cricket delivery. This made me smile.
24a Spooner’s storyteller embellished form of language (7)
DIALECT: The emergence of the dreaded Reverend. All I can do here is …start with a story teller, the stories being untruths. Add a synonym of embellished or decorated and then say them as Spooner would.
25a Elegant letter incorporates overlapping lines (7)
GANTLET: Hidden in the clue (incorporates)
26a Whisky drinks deal with staff bullying (12)
MALTREATMENT: A type of whisky “drinks” or goes around synonyms of deal with and staff.
1d Skulked around before inspiring member of parliament departs (7)
PROWLED: The member of parliament here has nothing to do with politics. Start with the usual prefix for before, which goes around said member. Add the abbreviation for Departs.
2d Discharge rates oddly ignored in contamination of Great Lakes (7)
LEAKAGE: Anagram of (contamination of) GREAT LAKES after the odd letters of RaTeS have been removed.
3d Her eldest could be mistaken for Lee (9)
SHELTERED: Anagram (could be mistaken for) the preceding two words. Ignore the false capitalisation.
4d Disheartened partner accepts second hopeless case (5)
LOSER: Remove the central letter from a partner or paramour and replace it with the abbreviation for Second
5d Emergence of main competitor outside of China (7)
ARRIVAL: Start with two words (4,5) that describe a main competitor, a number one foe perhaps. The solution is the letters that go around (outside) the abbreviation for CHina within that phrase. Thanks to Gazza for parsing help on this one but great clue.
6d Urge two universities to support Independent politician (7)
IMPULSE: Abbreviations for University and the London School of Economics support (go below) the abbreviations for Independent and Member of Parliament.
7d Perhaps became prone to compensate too much for daughter (12)
OVERBALANCED: A prefix meaning too much, a synonym of compensate for and the abbreviation for Daughter.
10d Having chosen tight top and flares with no jacket, put on thin coat (12)
ELECTROPLATE: Start with a word meaning having chosen, maybe in a political sense and append an anagram (tight) of TOP and the inner letters (with no jacket) of fLAREs. Great clue.
15d Smart wife had picked up fighter (9)
FLYWEIGHT: A synonym of smart in the sense of cocky and the abbreviation for Wife are followed by a homophone (picked up) of a synonym of had in the sense of consumed.
17d Suspect Saul is occupied by what one might do to hide concubine (7)
SULTANA: An Anagram (suspect) of SAUL goes around (is occupied by) what one may do to hide where hide is a noun. Another that made me smile
18d Put back in part of degree lectures (2-5)
RE-ELECT: Hidden in the clue.
19d Purge has a tendency to divide religious establishment (7)
CLEANSE: Insert a word (to divide) meaning “has a tendency” into the abbreviation for the Church of England
20d Bill for developing part of plant (7)
LEAFLET: Double definition.
22d Part of wall-to-wall coverage includes start of tennis championship (5)
TITLE: Insert the initial letter of Tennis into something used in part to cover a wall, often in a bathroom or kitchen.
A clever and fun puzzle, as we’ve come to expect from a top setter, my ticks have gone to 12a (great surface) and 23a plus 1,10&17d. Thanks Serpent.