Toughie No 111

Toughie No 111 by Citrus

Harder than yesterday, but then they all are!

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****

This one is not all that tough as long as your copy of Chambers is not far away!  I enjoyed the puzzle,  and I learned a few new words, and a poem by Wordsworth.


7a First class dealer trained terrier (8)
{AIREDALE} – AI (first class) then an anagram (trained) of DEALER gives a type of terrier dog

9a Gene, everybody else has lost (6)
{ALLELE} – ALL (everybody) then EL(s)E (else has lost / without the “s”, as in he’s for he has) giving any one of the two or more possible forms of a gene isn’t this taking “as long as it is in Chambers” a bit too far, particularly when the answer is a lesser-know word

10a Make one’s home on border (6)
{RESIDE} – RE (on) and SIDE (border) giving a word meaning to make one’s home

11a Foolish prodigals drop their sixth approach to motorway (4,4)
{SLIP ROAD} – a clever anagram (foolish) of PRODI(g)ALS (prodigals drop their sixth letter) give an approach to a motorway

12a Afters at No. 10 (7,7)
{CABINET PUDDING} – I liked this cryptic definition of a dessert, which is a posh version of bread-and butter pudding, made with cake instead of bread

15a Exorcist forgetting his last prayer for Wordsworth (4)
{BENE} – BENE(t) (benet / exorcist forgetting his last letter) giving a prayer written by Wordsworth:

“What is good for a bootless bene?”
With these dark words begins my Tale;
And their meaning is, whence can comfort spring
When Prayer is of no avail?”

17a Island starting to sell Scots shirts (5)
{SARKS} – a small Channel Island then S(ell) gives a Scottish word for shirts

19a Wait for time to close (4)
{TEND) – T(ime) then END (close) give a synonym for wait, as in “to wait on”

20a Christening in Transylvania (7,2,5)
{BAPTISM OF BLOOD} – a strong taste of Dracula about this cryptic definition of what Chambers describes as the martyrdom of the unbaptized Christian

23a Tie great complex feathery ornament (8)
{AIGRETTE} – an anagram (complex) of TIE GREAT gives an old-fashioned feathery ornament

25a Earl leaves position behind City seldom (6)
{RARELY} – E(arl) is taken away from (leaves) REAR (position) then a city in Cambridgeshire giving a synonym for seldom

27a Rule about new ordnance (6)
{CANNON} – a rule in ecclesiastical matters around N(ew) gives a very large gun (ordnance)

28a Keep prisoner to wait at table (8)
{CONSERVE} – that ubiquitous prisoner precedes a word meaning to wait at a table to give a synonym for keep


1d Assistant paediatrician shows up (4)
{AIDE} – this assistant is hidden (shows) reversed (up) in paEDIAtrician

2d Goddess with little twins (6)
{GEMINI} – GE (Greek Goddess of the Earth, also called Gaea or Gaia then MINI (little)  gives the heavenly twins

3d Gulls shed feathers at start of September (4)
{MEWS} – MEW (shed feathers) then S(eptember) gives some gulls

4d Arab staked outside is changed (6)
{VARIED} – AR(ab) with VIED (staked) outside gives a synonym for changed

5d Weapon the French installed is beginning to terrify one easily scared (8)
{ALARMIST} – ARM (weapon) with LA (the, French) inside (installed) then T(errify) gives one easily scared

6d Largo and a bit of lento modified becoming largo (10)
{ALLARGANDO} – an anagram (modified) of LARGO AND A L (bit of Lento) for a musical term that means slowing and broadening, which is becoming largo (slow and broad)

8d Adult for example brought up minor like Peter Pan (7)
{AGELESS} – A(dult – former film classification, now PG) then EG (for example) reversed (brought up) then LESS (minor) to be like Peter Pan

13d A zebra shot on New Year’s Day in Asian state (10)
{AZERBAIJAN} – an anagram (shot) of A ZEBRA the I JAN (New Year’s Day / 1st January) gives a state which was formerly part of the USSR state and is actually partly in Eastern Europe and partly in Asia

14d Acceptable in stiffly formal Jewish feast (5)
{PURIM} – U (acceptable) inside PRIM (stiffly formal) giving a Jewish feast (which is in the Hebrew / Jewish calendar in The Mine)

16d Someone dying examined by doctor in part (8)
{EXPIRANT} – EX(amined – an abbreviation that is in you know where!) then an anagram (doctor) of IN PART gives a little-used word for someone who is dying

18d Colour’s very loud in Nora’s dressing (7)
{SAFFRON} – FF (very loud) inside an anagram (dressing) of NORA’S gives a colour and an expensive spicewould it not have been better if it had said “dressing up”?

21d Diligently applied in camp (6)
{INTENT} – IN  then TENT (camp) giving a word meaning diligently applied

22d Conducted vessel inside and had fun (6)
{LARKED} – LED (conducted) with Noah’s boat (vessel) inside  giving a word meaning had fun

24d Fruit cut for every one individually (4)
{EACH} – (P)EACH (fruit, cut) giving every one individually

26d Escape death in operation (4)
{LIVE} – a double definition

A bit of a limp finish to an otherwise good puzzle.

Have your say, via the comments.  It can take anything from two to five hours to develop one of these reviews, so all feedback is appreciated, particularly your own experiences.  Where did you have problems? What did you learn?  For me: 9a, 16a, 6d and 16d introduced new words, and 15a introduced a new word and a new poem.


  1. Harry Shipley
    Posted March 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Didn’t like 15a. Even with the checked letters right, and working out that an exorcist had lost his last letter to give a Wordsworth reference to prayer, unless you either knew BENET, or the Wordsworth quotation, you were lost. It’s not in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (as far as I can see). I think it’s a bit like the “four mini-croswords” problem, too easy to make things difficult that way, and when you get or read the answer, you don’t get the “God, I should have known that” kick where you acknowledge the setter has got you fairly and squarely.

    Harry Shipley

  2. Posted March 13, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink | Reply


    I know what you are saying, but enjoyment was to be gained from the introduction to the poem.

    Perhaps there should be an unwritten rule that two uncommom references should not be made in the same clue. For example, I did not know BARRIO from yesterday’s puzzle, but the wordplay led me by the hand to the answer.

  3. Posted March 13, 2009 at 11:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Also stumped by 15A. The Wordsworth seems like the bad old days of the Times puzzle when considerable lit knowledge was assumed, combined with an obscure answer and unhelpful checkers, which are the clincher in favour of your unwritten rule here. Quick test by Google search: “heard the loud bassoon” – snippet from the depths of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, which caused a bit of a stir when referred to in the Times puzzle a few years ago: 1650 hits on Google. “What is good for a bootless bene”: 250.

    Not worried about 9 or 17 – in COED as well as Chambers (unlike benet). 16D isn’t but is just a familiar word plus a suffix.

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