Toughie 764

Toughie No 764 by Micawber

National Elf Service

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I feel very privileged to be allowed to blog a puzzle of this quality. Humour, clever wordplay and a distinct lack of very obscure words – I loved it – thanks to Micawber for making my day. How did you get on?

Across Clues

1a  Breaking news recently decreased, perhaps (3,3,3,5)
{ HOT OFF THE PRESS } – a phrase meaning breaking news in the world of newspapers (which was more meaningful in the old days of typesetting) could also mean still warm after being ironed.

10a  Using internet, managed to back up externally when out of order? (3-6)
{ NON-LINEAR } – a word (6) for currently using the internet has a synonym for managed reversed (back up) around it (externally).

11a  Look after round peg in square hole? (3,2)
{ SEE TO } – a phrasal verb meaning look after or take care of comes from reversing (round) a peg and placing it between S(quare) and the letter that looks like a hole.

12a  Might infirm pearly queen complain about this individual? (7)
{ ONESELF } – LOL – a pearly queen (coming from the East End) might complain about her poor physical wellbeing in these terms (3’1, ‘3) and, of course, being “royal” she wouldn’t use the word “my”. The straight definition is individual.

13a  Attach crushed petals (6)
{ STAPLE } – an anagram (crushed) of PETALS.

15a  Balls giving nothing to state-owned bank (4)
{ ORBS } – the surface is presumably referring to the shadow chancellor’s policy of imposing higher taxes on the banks. The definition is balls – start with the letter that resembles zero and add the abbreviation for the bank brought low by the activities of Fred the Shred.

17a  One creating a scene in a prom and flipping out? (5,5)
{ PRIMA DONNA } – the definition is one creating a scene (i.e. a temperamental person with an inflated view of their own importance). It’s an anagram (flipping out) of IN A PROM AND.

18a  Hammer a nail in the bust (10)
{ ANNIHILATE } – a verb meaning to hammer or overwhelm is an anagram (bust) of A NAIL IN THE.

20a  Voting system coming from academic (4)
{ PROF } – an abbreviated academic comes from a voting system followed by another word for “from”.

22a  They may enjoy new-found freedom — divorcee does (2-4)
{ EX-CONS } – these have finished their porridge. The short word used for a divorcee is followed by a verb meaning does or hoaxes.

23a  Screen online video excerpts on ecstasy (7)
{ ECLIPSE } – a verb meaning to screen or obscure is how you might refer to online video excerpts (1-5) followed by E(cstasy).

26a  Stuff the Yorkshire order (5)
{ TWILL } – this stuff is a type of woven fabric. The contracted form of ‘the’ used in Yorkshire is followed by an order or decree.

27a  Religious observance and instruction held in Conservative rule (9)
{ CRITERION } – the definition is a rule or standard. Insert a religious observance and the abbreviation for religious instruction inside an abbreviation for Conservative.

28a  Afghan saga? (6,3,5)
{ SHAGGY DOG STORY } – cryptic definition of what Chambers describes as ‘a whimsically long-drawn-out story, humorous because of its length and the inconsequence of its ending’.

Down Clues

2d  Use trampoline, perhaps, losing breadth and weight (5)
{ OUNCE } – what you might do on a trampoline without the B(readth).

3d  Believed love wasted (6)
{ OPINED } – a verb meaning believed or formed an opinion comes from the letter resembling zero or love followed by a verb meaning wasted away or languished.

4d  Soldiers in rapid descent into brawl (4-3-3)
{ FREE-FOR-ALL } – put the abbreviation for ordinary soldiers inside the type of rapid descent achieved without benefit of parachute.

5d  Mass held by Father Dougal (4)
{ HERD } – a mass or large group is concealed (held) in the clue.

6d  Put forward stewed topside (7)
{ POSITED } – an anagram (stewed) of TOPSIDE produces a verb meaning put forward or proposed for the sake of argument.

7d  Calm spot amid storm, beyond poetic setting for writer’s sudden enlightenment (3-6)
{ EYE-OPENER } – this is a sudden enlightenment. Start with the calm spot at the heart of a hurricane, then insert a writing implement inside (setting for) a poetic term for beyond.

8d  Southern resort hotel where boy meets girl for old gambling game (5-9)
{ SHOVE-HALFPENNY } – this is an old gambling game (still played in some pubs) involving the propulsion by hand of very shiny coins. S(outhern) and a resort close to Brighton are followed by the letter for which hotel is used in the Nato phonetic alphabet and names for a boy and girl.

9d  A licit person, no delinquent, given juvenile custody (2,4,8)
{ IN LOCO PARENTIS } – this is a phrase, from latin, describing the role of someone given the responsibility for the custody and well-being of a child. It’s an anagram (delinquent) of A LICIT PERSON NO.

14d  Spill the beans about affair a bit (10)
{ SMATTERING } – an informal verb meaning to spill the beans or tell tales goes round an affair or occurrence to make a small amount.

16d  Good example of Australian mammal, no date, in porcelain (4,5)
{ BONE CHINA } – the definition here is porcelain. Start with an adjective, from French, meaning good and add the name of the Australian mammal also known as the spiny anteater without its D (no date).

19d  Member leaving equine body after extremely long speech? (7)
{ HINDLEG } – cryptic definition of what a donkey may lose as a result (so the saying goes) of someone’s verbosity.

21d  Able to have a good time and suffer alternately (6)
{ FLUENT } – this is an adjective meaning able or coherent. Think of two 3-letter words, the first meaning a good time or enjoyment and the second a verb to suffer or allow. Now filter in one letter from each in turn (alternately) to make the answer.

24d  He’s a habit-former (5)
{ PRIOR } – double definition, the first being ‘he has a habit’.

25d  Seven years almost up, perhaps, served in exemplary fashion (4)
{ ACED } – the definition is served in exemplary fashion (on the tennis court). A word meaning ten years has to be reversed (up) but we only need two-thirds of it, so that’s 6.67 years (i.e. almost seven) of the ten.

If I had to pick out just a few of the ones I enjoyed I’d go for 19d, 24d and 25d, but my very favourite clue is 12a. Let us know what you liked.

10 Comments

  1. Posted May 2, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I am very jealous that Gazza gets to blog Micawber Toughies – they are such fun to solve it must be wonderful to be able to enjoy them twice over. 2.5* difficulty but definitely 5*+ entertainment. I always put dots by clues I like and the paper is very spotty today – 19d being my top favourite of all of them, closely followed by 24d. Thanks to Micawber for the superb puzzle – I do hope we don’t have to wait too long for the next one. Thanks to Gazza as always to the lucky Gazza too.

  2. Jezza
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle. Thanks to Micawber for the enjoyment, and to gazza for the explanations (there is always something I miss). Now gazza has explained 12a to me I think it is a cracking clue! :)

  3. BigBoab
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Super crossword, thanks to Micawber and Gazza, I didn’t understand 12a until I read the hints.

  4. Pegasus
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Excellent stuff from todays setter, favourites were 10a 19d and 21d thanks to Micawbur and to Gazza for the review. My wife and I are going to Spain tomorrow to celebrate our Sapphire wedding anniversary, back in 10 days adios.

    • Posted May 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Congratulations to you and Mrs P. Enjoy your trip.

  5. DAVID BAUDAINS
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Unusually wizzed through this apart from 21 down for which I needed the hint before completing the puzzle. V Enjoyable

  6. Franco
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Micawber ! Managed about 2/3 then resorted to blatant cheating.

    Also, many thanks to gazza, himself, for explaining 12a.

  7. Addicted
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Almost unheard of for me to even attempt a Toughie but I did to-day and, amazingly, solved 15 clues before having to resort to the hints, after which I got a few more without actually having to look at the solutions. That was fun- thank you setter and hinter. I might even try another one now!

  8. Kath
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Like Addicted I don’t attempt the Toughies very often, although it’s becoming more frequent since the “drought” really got going! I managed the four long clues round the outside and most of the top half – far less in the bottom half – and then resorted to the hints. What I did I really enjoyed. Too many good clues to put them all down. 12a (one of the many that I needed the hint for) was wonderful and 9d made me laugh as it reminded me of some schoolboy latin translations that were around a while ago – “My father’s a train driver”! With thanks to Micawber and gazza.

  9. Posted June 4, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Maybe a bit late to post on here but it was one of those while I was in the UK. Done it this pm along with Gazza’s NTSPP after dropping pommette at airport> Absolutely brill :grin: :grin: ,the puzzle, not the fact pommette’s gone to the UK for 6 days leaving me and the cats to play :lol:

    Agree with your favourites Dave but also think 28a is worth a mention – 10 letter clue for a 14 letter answer, made me smile a lot :grin:

    Thanks Micawber and BD.

%d bloggers like this: