Toughie 149 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 149

Toughie No 149 by MynoT

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

I got 1a and 1d immediately and thought that the whole thing was going to be a doddle – how wrong can you be? Nearly every clue after that needed to be winkled out, and even after getting the solution to some of them (notably 7d) I struggled to work out the wordplay. But it was an enjoyable challenge, with some nice surface readings.

Across Clues

1a  Pieces of luggage used for long-distance calls (6)
{TRUNKS} – large containers with hinged lids for packing your luggage is also the word that was once used, before the days of STD codes, for telephone calls to destinations outside your local area.

4a  Two parts of pen or one? (5-3)
{QUILL-NIB} – both parts of this composite word relate to pens – the first is a feather sharpened and used as a pen; the second is the point of a pen. Together they form a word meaning a small pen made to be used with a holder.

10a  Quiet religious instruction with new introduction to eternity in death is held sacred (9)
{ENSHRINED} – this term meaning preserved and respected (held sacred) is made up of SH (quiet!) and RI (religious instruction) plus N(ew) and E (introduction, i.e. first letter, to Eternity), all included in END (death).

11a  Places in control of section in ex-servicemen (5)
{VESTS} – this verb meaning confers power on (places in control) is constructed by placing S (section) inside VETS (short for veterans, ex-soldiers).

12a  Take over story in dream of Paris (7)
{RELIEVE} – put LIE (story) inside REVE (dream in French, signalled by “of Paris”) to form a verb meaning to take over from another person at the end of their shift.

13a  Poem or music of Dane injured in game (7)
{RONDEAU} – a poem of ten, thirteen or 15 lines or a medieval French song with a two-part refrain is constructed from RU (Rugby Union) containing O (of) and an anagram (injured) of Dane.

14a  God starts to try swimming and gasps for breath (5)
{PANTS} – the god of flocks and herds, PAN, is followed by the starts (initial letters) of Try Swimming to get a synonym for gasps for breath.

15a  Set of customs associated with the use of symbols of betting system is embraced by Frenchmen (8 )
{TOTEMISM} – the betting system is the TOTE which is followed by an M (Frenchman, monsieur) at either end of IS, to form a word meaning the use of totems (symbols) as the foundation of a social system.

18a  Migration is terribly sporadic one without the least bit of comfort (8 )
{DIASPORA} – an anagram (terribly) of SPORADIC and A (one) without the C (least bit of Comfort) gives us the term for the dispersion or spread of a people away from their homeland, used mainly of the Jews.

20a  Move his feet: it’s time for work (5)
{SHIFT} – an anagram (move) of HIS is followed by FT (feet) to form a word for a period of time worked.

23a  Do have a drink with god as above … (2,5)
{UT SUPRA} – put together UT (the first and eighth note in tonic sol-fa, nowadays normally represented by doh or do),  SUP (drink) and  RA (the Sun God in Egyptian mythology)  to get a latin expression meaning “as above”.

25a  … magic drink needs a strainer, we hear (7)
{PHILTER} – “we hear” indicates that we want a sound-alike of “filter” (strainer) to get a word for love potion or magic drink. What is required is the American spelling of this with the –er ending rather than the British with –re. I, of course, initially chose the wrong one, and then, not surprisingly, struggled with 17d.

26a  Old President could bear it! (5)
{TEDDY} – President Theodore Roosevelt (known as Teddy) went on a bear hunt in 1902 and then…, well you can read the story for yourselves, but it resulted in the invention of the cuddly toy named after him.

27a  Lend grain produced for city for some years (9)
{LENINGRAD} – an anagram (produced) of “lend grain” gives us the previous name of the city now once more known as St. Petersburg.

28a  River is returning to loch providing simplicity (8 )
{EASINESS} – In the Basque country in Northern Spain is a river called EA (I wonder if the compiler came across this whilst researching 8d?) – add IS reversed (returning) and the Scottish loch famous for its monster to get a synonym for simplicity.

29a  Documents in folio about cheeses? On the contrary (6)
{BRIEFS} – “On the contrary” indicates that, rather than putting folio about cheeses, we should put cheeses about folio. So put BRIES (cheeses) around F(olio) to get documents, especially those used by barristers.

Down Clues

1d  Lecturer abandons Telegraph getting drunk on this (3,5)
{THE GRAPE} – take the L (lecturer abandons) out of Telegraph and form an anagram (getting drunk) of the remainder to get a traditional synonym for wine. This is halfway towards an all-in-one clue since “getting drunk” is part of both the definition and the wordplay.

2d  Letter increases capital 50% to secure a bit of interest (7)
{UPSILON} – increases is UPS and capital 50% is half of LONdon. Insert an I between the two (secure a bit of interest) to get the twentieth letter of the Greek alphabet.

3d  Fairs having dishes of sloppy food after an aperitif (9)
{KIRMESSES} – an obscure word for fairs in the Netherlands and Belgium is constructed from MESSES (dishes of sloppy food) which is put after KIR (an aperitif made from dry white wine and crème de cassis).

5d  Subordinate could be covered in colourful clothes if soprano got promoted (14)
{UNDERSTRAPPING} – this is an old word for being a junior official (subordinate) – if you move the S to the end (if soprano got promoted) you could get a phrase meaning under (covered) by trappings (colourful clothes). I’m slightly bothered by the use of “promoted” here – in a down clue, where the S is being moved to the bottom, I would have thought “demoted” would be more appropriate – leave a comment if you have a view on this!

6d  Stimulate Ben! (5)
{LIVEN} – the answer is a verb meaning to stimulate. To get it you have to deconstruct Ben into LIVE (be) and N. I think the exclamation mark is very appropriate here, since I let out an exclamation when I got the wordplay after having spent some time looking for a mountain with this name!

7d  Kosher restaurant not unknown to Southern consumers (7)
{NOSHERS} – A Kosher restaurant might be known as a NOSHERY (a Yiddish word) – remove the Y (not unknown, Y being an unknown in an algebraic expression) and add an S (Southern) to get a word meaning people eating (consumers).

8d  French stockings that may be found among these people (6)
{BASQUE} – here we have two more French words (libellule will be in his element!) – BAS (stockings) and QUE (that). Put together they form the name of a people living in the western Pyrenees in Spain and France.

9d  Once trousers, now generally hidden — not to be spoken of before start of sales (14)
{UNMENTIONABLES} – a word which used to mean trousers but now means underwear (now generally hidden) is made from UNMENTIONABLE (not to be spoken of) before S (start of sales).

16d  Young lady in on beginnings of excavation rings Livingstone perhaps (9)
{MISSIONER} – put together MISS, I(n), ON and the start letters (beginnings) of Excavation Rings to get a synonym for missionary, thus describing Dr. David (rather than Ken) Livingstone. Note the attempt at misdirection here – rings normally means surrounds or Os.

17d  Press church to take sides about the bank rate (2,6)
{ST BRIDES} – take the word SIDES and insert in it T(he) and BR (bank rate) to get the name of the church in Fleet Street which is the traditional place of worship of the press (although most of them have quite a long way to go for a quick prayer now that they work in Wapping!).

19d  In Iceland diners without recipe cooked giblets (7)
{INSIDES} – the International Vehicle registration Code for Iceland is IS – include within this an anagram (cooked) of DINERS without the R (without recipe) to get a word describing giblets.

21d  One after another called for trainee (7)
{INTERNE} – a sound-alike (called) of “in turn” (one after another) gives the variant spelling of a trainee hospital doctor. Compare this clue with the one which appeared in DT 25905 about a month ago: “One after the other reported junior American doctor (7)”.

22d  Time’s moved back in vehicle allowed to hasten unceremoniously (6)
{BUSTLE} – “vehicle allowed” is BUS LET – move the T to the end (time’s moved back) to get a verb meaning to hasten unceremoniously.

24d  Endlessly neutering to put money in the bank (3,2)
{PAY IN} – neutering is sPAYINg – remove the two end letters (endlessly) to get a phrase meaning to put money in the bank.

My favourite clues today were 9d and 17d – how about you? Leave us a comment.

10 comments on “Toughie 149

  1. I think this was the hardest toughie for a long time. Even after reading your explanations for some of the clues I couldn’t get them. Just when I thought I was beginning to understand crosswords one like this comes along and brings me down to earth. I bow to you and BD and the rest of the bloggers, you are in a different league.

    1. bigboab
      Don’t despair. I found it difficult, and I suspect most people will be in the same boat. We shouldn’t complain about it being tough, because that’s what it’s supposed to be, as long as it’s fair, which I think this one is, on the whole.
      Do you have a view on the point libellule raises (below) ?

      1. Hi Gazza, sorry if it sounded like a moan, I certainly didn’t intend it as such, I enjoy crosswords that stretch me to my limit (not that far really). Re libellules’ point about obscure or difficult French, and indeed any other language, clues, I don’t really mind them, I quite enjoy trying to find them, but my wife does have a moan about the table top being covered in books. Once again thank you for your help.

  2. Gazza, do you think the use of more complicated French words such as reve and bas are fair in an English cryptic crossword? It doesn’t bother me, but I wonder what other people think….

  3. libellule
    I think that rêve is ok, because people should know it via reverie, but I’m not sure about bas. I suppose you could say that anyone doing a cryptic crossword should be capable of looking up the French for stockings ?
    I’d be interested to hear what other people think.

  4. I don’t but then I am not a fan of MynoT’s puzzles. They seem to exude pretentiousness.

  5. Thanks for the derivation of UT in 23A. But shouldn’t the derivation of SUPRA be SUP (drink) and RA (god)

    1. maagran
      Thanks very much for pointing that out – you’re absolutely right! In my defence I had noted it down correctly, but when I came to write up the review I must have had a moment of madness. I’ve corrected it now – so thanks again.

  6. I noticed an awful lot of words that can mean underwear.


    Maybe there are some more that I missed.

    1. Good spot Rollo. There’s also Teddy and Bustle. Perhaps we’re going to get themed crosswords in the Telegraph now?

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