Toughie 1817 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1817

Toughie No 1817 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment *****

I lived in Greater Manchester for many years and know very well the area where the dreadful outrage happened so I was devastated by the events of Monday evening. All my sympathy goes to the friends and relatives of those killed together with wishes for a full recovery for all the injured.

Micawber is on top form today (and it’s a pangram).

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

Across Clues

1a Eat quickly before piano, keeping back straight (4,7)
BOLT UPRIGHT – a verb to eat quickly or gobble precedes a type of piano.

7a In West and East Germany I found religion dry (7)
WIZENED – I is found together with an Eastern religion inside abbreviations for West and East and the IVR code for Germany.

8a Rowers invading Birmingham centre from the east lower tone (7)
COARSEN – another word for rowers goes inside the reversal of a large exhibition centre near Birmingham.

10a Gambolling not at first sight like gambling? (5)
RISKY – start with an adjective meaning gambolling or bouncy and drop its first letter.

11a Cheerful former taxi firm worker (9)
EXUBERANT – join together a prefix meaning former, a controversial taxi company and a worker insect.

12a Near sign in hospital? (7)
TOWARDS – split the answer 2,5 for what could be a direction sign in a hospital.

14a 1000 euros after tax about right for old boat (7)
TRIREME – the Roman numeral for 1,000 and the letter that resembles the euro sign follow a verb to tax or fatigue containing the abbreviation for right.

15a Sick pay’s retained to preserve what one’s invested in for retirement? (7)
PYJAMAS – an anagram (sick) of PAY’S contains a verb meaning ‘to make into a preserve’.

18a Worrying, having lines on neck? (7)
FRETFUL – cryptically this could describe a stringed instrument having multiple lines or ridges on its neck.

20a Start teasing it out (9)
INSTIGATE – an anagram (out) of TEASING IT.

21a Southern man’s offspring (5)
SPAWN – the abbreviation for Southern and a ‘man on board’.

22a Pan debut in Guardian puzzle (7)
GRIDDLE – the first letter of Guardian is followed by a type of puzzle. Pan is actually the pseudonym of a Guardian crossword setter.

23a Chides those creating a buzz around traitor (7)
BERATES – things that buzz contain an informal word for a traitor.

24a Strasbourg parliament’s habitual response after change of course for Brexiteer? (11)
EUROSCEPTIC – Strasbourg is the official home of the European parliament (though in a typical and costly Eurofudge it only convenes there a few times a year and meets more often in Brussels). Put the abbreviation for the parliament and a habitual and involuntary response after an anagram (change) of COURSE.

Down Clues

1d Astronaut informally observed orbiting tool? (4,3)
BUZZ SAW – charade of the nickname of an astronaut who walked on the moon and a verb meaning observed. Presumably the question mark is there because this is a North American term for what we normally call a circular saw.

2d Thin song about leaders of North Korea (5)
LANKY – a word for a song or ballad contains the leading letters of North and Korea.

3d Strip of red sun’s set (7)
UNDRESS – an anagram (set) of RED SUN’S.

4d No end to competition, still I must leave service provider (7)
RACQUET – a competition without its last letter is followed by an adjective meaning still or calm without the letter I.

5d Dementedly raving about games on electronic social network (9)
GRAPEVINE – an anagram (dementedly) of RAVING contains the abbreviation for games or drill. Finish with the letter used as a prefix to mean electronic.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

6d Willing to experiment, tucked in (7)
TESTATE – a verb to experiment or try out followed by another verb meaning ‘tucked in’.

7d Republican mangled tape during erasing of secret recording (11)
WIRETAPPING – put the abbreviation for Republican and an anagram (mangled) of TAPE inside a present participle meaning erasing (data from magnetic media, for example).

9d State to gain control of territory belonging to woman (11)
NETHERLANDS – string together a verb to gain control of or capture and ‘territory belonging to a woman’ (3,5).

13d What’s left beginning to do to interrupt opponent of 24? (9)
REMAINDER – the first letter of ‘do’ goes inside what a person who opposes the views of a 24a is now called.

16d No mixer? That’s right (7)
JUSTICE – as 4,3 this could be your response to someone asking if you want a mixer with your drink.

17d Aquatic mammal with roe — half-hearted adaptation to marine environment (3,4)
SEA LEGS – an aquatic mammal with flippers is followed by another word for roe without one of its middle letters.

18d ‘That’s outrageous,’ (holds drink up), ‘you can’t charge for this!’ (7)
FREEBIE – an old exclamation of outrage or disgust contains the reversal of an alcoholic drink.

19d Crazy French caper (7)
FRANTIC – the abbreviation for French followed by another word for caper or escapade.

21d Waterproof sheets brought up for tiddler (5)
SPRAT – reverse an abbreviation for heavy-duty waterproof sheets.

15a, 18a, 22a, 24a, 13d, 16d and 17d all featured in my ‘likes’ but my favourite has to be 18d. Which ones cheered you up?

20 comments on “Toughie 1817

  1. Very enjoyable – I marked 15a as my top ‘like’

    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza too

  2. 18d, of course, is the winner. I do enjoy a humorous clue, all too rarely seen

  3. Highly enjoyable. I ticked 11A, 7D and 16D, but my favorite of the three has to be 7D. Thanks to Gazza and Micawber.

  4. Very nice puzzle – missed the pangram.

    Some great definitions – social network, what one’s invested in for retirement, adaptation to marine environment, and (especially) service provider.

    I liked the cheerful taxi worker (11a), Pan (22a), trumpgate(7d), and the straight drink(16d).

    Many thanks macabre and Gazza

  5. That was simply brilliant – thank you so much, Micawber. 6* at least for enjoyment.
    Favourite? Most of them!

    What a great puzzle for you to blog, Gazza – and many thanks for the Marvin Gaye clip and the interesting info’ about 14a.

  6. Being a great Marvin Gaye fan – Thank you Gazza. As for the puzzle – loved it – Thanks Micawber!

  7. I can count the number of times I have finished a toughie on the fingers of one hand and that too only with electronic help. Today I finally managed to complete it on my own.

  8. 3.5*/3.5*, a fine romp.

    Favourites were 11a and 7d.

    Mr Sheffieldsy is from Greater Manchester and a Manchester United fan. Tonight is difficult.

    Thanks to Gazza and Micawber.

  9. Excellent fun and a completed grid smothered in ticks. Still needing a Q for the pangram was a help in sorting out 4d.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  10. Absolutely wonderful. I’m not even going to try to make a shortlist as I’d just end up listing two thirds of the clues.

    It took me ages to see 4d but 17d was my last in.

    Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  11. P.S. If anyone is interested, this is the limerick Mick Twister penned for me:

    A crosswording blogger named Kitty
    Likes clues that are clever and witty
    But faced with a Toughie
    That’s turgid and stuffy,
    She’ll show the compiler no pity.

    The last bit isn’t actually true – I like to be a generous as possible in my reviews, which are written as a crossword lover not a critic – but even if it were, he’d have had nothing to fear from a Kitty review of this one.

  12. So enjoyable to do, so many thanks Mr Micawber – and also Gazza, who kindly showed me why my answer to 18a was correct after all, and that 5d did not concern anything resembling the side of a tomb. (I knew 5d was wrong but simply could not ‘see’ the right word: having once thought of the wrong one, despite spotting the anagram I was stuck.)

  13. Needed the hints for 15a and 4d, but l was just being too lazy to really concentrate on the clues. I suppose 3*/3.5* is about right. I enjoyed 11a. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  14. Really enjoyed this. Favourites were 4d, 18a, 17d & 16d.
    Excellent Micawber, thanks to you and to Gazza for the extra amusement.

  15. Thanks Gazza, and to all of you for your kind comments, and nice to catch up with some of you at the George last week – Kitty, I know my alternative ending ‘some pity’ would have been more accurate, but thanks for allowing me some poetic licence!

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