Toughie No 117 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie No 117

Toughie No 117 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

I thought that this Toughie was somewhat easier than usual. Of course these views are totally subjective, and if you think differently please let us know via a comment.


7a  Artist, hero of the French first (7)
{DUCHAMP} – hero is CHAMP and this is preceded (first) by the French for “of the” to produce one of the leading spirits of 20th century art who once exhibited a photograph of the Mona Lisa complete with moustache and goatee beard.

8a  Sense of style rustic god shows before long (7)
{PANACHE} – firstly a Greek god who haunted the high hills and played his pipes (from whom the word panic is derived), and secondly a synonym for long or yearn, come together to form a word meaning flamboyant style.

10a  A little money taking steps in a plague (10)
{PESTILENCE} – the name of the lowest-denominated coins of the realm (a little money) surrounds (taking) a set of steps which might allow you to climb from one field to another to form a fatal disease, especially bubonic plague.

11a  Topless lady’s distinctive character (4)
{AURA} – a word for a distinctive atmosphere or quality is also a female name without the leading L (topless).

12a  Formal link following boycott (5-3)
{BLACK-TIE} – a word meaning to link or connect follows a verb meaning to boycott or refuse to deal with – together they form a description of formal dress or a function where such is required.

14a  Holiday North – it’s invigorating (6)
{LEAVEN} – formal permission to be off work (holiday) is followed by N (north) to form a substance, such as yeast, which causes dough to rise or, figuratively speaking, transforms  something for the better (invigorating).

15a  Mountain railways reorganise defence (11)
{SWITCHBACKS} – what a football manager might do if his current defence is letting in too many goals is also a term for mountain railways with alternate sharp ascents and descents.

19a  Gamekeeper’s beginning to flush out … this? (6)
{GROUSE} – G (beginning of gamekeeper) and a word meaning to stir up or flush out give a game bird (which is what the gamekeeper is trying to flush out!).

20a  Fail to work due to imaginary bug – a gremlin possibly (8 )
{MALINGER} – an anagram of “a gremlin” produces a verb meaning to pretend to be ill in order to get off work.

22a  Some extensive picture (4)
{EPIC} – this is an “all-in-one” clue where the clue as a whole can be read in two different ways, once as a literal definition of the answer and once as a cryptic indication of it. The answer is hidden (some) in “extensive picture”.

23a  Frenchman holds assignation here? (4-1-5)
{PIED-A-TERRRE} – this is a cryptic description of a French term for a small flat or room kept for occasional use such as an assignation.

25a  Bridge manoeuvre punishes opponents (7)
{FINESSE} – the answer is a bridge manoeuvre designed to win a trick with a card which is not a certain winner. It is made up of a word for punishes (by levying a financial penalty) followed by the designations of two players at the bridge table who are on opposing sides.

26a  Shake rattles to take by surprise (7)
{STARTLE} – a pleasing anagram (shake) of “rattles” to produce a word meaning to take someone by surprise.


1d  Polish girl’s rash (7)
{RUBELLA} – a synonym for the verb to polish is followed by yet another girl’s name to get the medical term for German Measles (rash).

2d  Scrap old Bank Holiday (4)
{WHIT} – double definition – a small amount (scrap) and once a Bank Holiday celebrating the time when early converts to the Christian church wore white robes.

3d  Charm a cross opponent finally (6)
{AMULET} – A cross between a male donkey and a female horse is followed by T (final letter of opponent) to form a small piece of jewellery thought to ward off evil (charm).

4d  Appeared sick turning up with a flower (8 )
{CAMELLIA} – first a synonym for appeared or arrived, then a word meaning sick backwards (turning up) and finally A – put together they make the name of an evergreen shrub (flower).

5d  Crazy family a possible source of embarrassment (6,4)
{BANANA SKIN} – a fruity colloquial term for crazy is followed by a synonym for relatives (family) to make something which a slapstick comedian would certainly slip up on (possible source of embarrassment) if it were left lying around.

6d  Drink fixed containing mint, say (7)
{SHERBET} – I learnt from QI that this three-letter word (a synonym here for fixed) has the longest definition in most dictionaries. It includes (containing) a plant used for flavouring, of which mint is an example (say) to make a fruit-juice drink (or a sweet powder which we used to buy in a small bag for an old penny, when I started school!).

9d  Lobby one college with sign of caution (11)
{ANTECHAMBER} – this is a word for lobby and it comprises three parts in a charade-type clue; firstly AN (one), then a type of college where useful skills and trades are taught, and finally a cautionary sign on the road, coming between red and green.

13d  Ranch worker to show fear taking blow (10)
{COWPUNCHER} – a word meaning someone who rides a horse on a ranch and herds cattle (there were a lot of these in the TV series Rawhide – a term which I now realise means a rope or whip, and not, as I assumed at the time, that the workers found it painful to sit down after a hard day’s riding!). The word is made up of a verb to intimidate (to show someone fear) and a person who hits out (taking a blow or a swing at someone).

16d  Intrude on Special Protection Area breaking lock (8 )
{TRESPASS} – I eventually found a dictionary which defined SPA as a special protection area and this goes inside (breaking) a word for lock (think hair rather than padlock here!) to form a verb meaning to enter someone’s property unlawfully (intrude).

17d  Help with homework settled in advance (7)
{PREPAID} – an abbreviation meaning homework is followed by (with) a synonym for help, and together these make a word meaning that an invoice has been settled prior to the delivery of the goods.

18d  Piece of camping kit to cause amusement (3-4)
{BED-ROLL} – a cryptic definition of to be amusing also means, with a punctuation change, what you might sleep on in a tent.

21d  Shed one of TV pair among group of stars (4-2)
{LEAN-TO} – a large constellation (group of stars), which is also a sign of the zodiac, contains the name of one of the pair of TV presenters who seem to haunt the Saturday evening schedules to form a word meaning a shed.

24d  Aristocrat to give attention to leader of lords (4)
{EARL} – think of what Mark Antony asked for a loan of in his eulogy to Julius Caesar, take off the S and add an L (leader of Lords) to get the title of a nobleman ranking below a marquess and above a viscount.

If anyone is doing this puzzle from the paper, rather than on-line, could they please let me know the name of the compiler via a comment? [STOP PRESS – got it now, thanks]

7 comments on “Toughie No 117

  1. Thank you so much for this fantastic website which I have only recently discovered. As a moderately successful enthusiast it makes my daily dose of cryptic medicine much more enjoyable and satisfying.

  2. Thanks for the comment Bill. It’s gratifying to know that our efforts in writing these reviews are helpful.

  3. It’s interesting to compare today’s 3 down with 21 down from DT 25851:

    “A cross that’s primarily a lucky charm (6)”

  4. Don’t know about easy, I found some of the clues quite obscure and some really easy, I could not have finished it without your help. Thank you all very much and I would endorse Bills’ words totally.

  5. Thanks bigboab. Having done both the Toughie and the Cryptic today, I found the latter a bit trickier than the former (a view with which libellule concurs), but, as usual, it all comes down to whether you can tune in to the compiler’s thought processes.
    Thank you for your words of encouragement.

  6. Very enjoyable today – we only needed help with the bridge question!! Thanks yet again!

Comments are closed.