Toughie 169

Toughie No 169 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

We’re having an easy week (so far) with the Toughies. This one is not quite as easy as yesterday’s but is still pretty straightforward, and it offers some entertaining clues.

As usual the answers are hidden inside the curly brackets – select the white space if you want to reveal them.

Across Clues

1a  Rock that sets one sailor spinning around another (6)
{BASALT} – put together two terms for a sailor with the first one reversed (spinning around) to get a dark volcanic rock.

5a  Is brown beast deprived of tail to be seen in the capital? (8 )
{ISTANBUL} – a charade ending with a fierce farm animal with its last letter missing (deprived of tail) gives us a Turkish city (but not the capital since 1923!).

9a  Status of lowly worker one German in small community (10)
{VILLEINAGE} – put the German for one inside VILLAGE (small community) to get the status of a medieval tenant in the feudal system.

10a  International agreement established by former England cricketer briefly (4)
{GATT} – the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is also a shortened form of the name of a former England cricket captain, most famous for being bowled round his legs by Shane Warne’s first ball in Ashes cricket.

11a  Town badly needing a change of direction, a girl admitted (8 )
{LLANELLI} – a South Wales town is constructed by reversing ILL (badly) and including A and the name of the little girl in the Old Curiosity Shop, of whom Oscar Wilde is supposed to have said ‘One would have to have a heart of stone to read of [her] death …. without dissolving into tears…of laughter‘.

12a  Commotion produced when warning goes round old city (6)
{FURORE} – put a warning on the golf course around the usual old biblical city to get a synonym for commotion.

13a  Duke, before anyone else, losing heart (4)
{FIST} – What is your position in a race if you are in front of the other competitors? Remove the middle letter (losing heart) to leave a word for which duke is a slang term.

15a  A bishop, against tango dancing, may be haughty (8 )
{ARROGANT} – a synonym for haughty is produced by combining A RR (right reverend) and an anagram (dancing) of TANGO.

18a  Bird that’s black lying in grass in town (5,3)
{HERNE BAY} – the bird required is a sea eagle and the town is on the coast in Kent.

19a  Move uncontrollably, getting killed (4)
{SLEW} – double definition – the present tense of a verb meaning to slide uncontrollably and the past tense of a verb meaning to kill violently.

21a  Engineer briefly attracted to one oil-rich area (6)
{BRUNEI} – the engineer is the one with the magnificent forenames of Isambard Kingdom (I wonder whether he would have been as famous if he had been called Joe Smith?) – remove the last letter of his surname (briefly) and add I to get an oil-rich sultanate.

23a  Any lured astray may finish flat out on the floor (8 )
{UNDERLAY} – an anagram (astray) of ANY LURED that ends up flat out under the carpet.

25a  Red stains reported (4)
{MARX} – double definition – a Communist (Red) who wrote Das Kapital and a sound-alike (reported) of a synonym for stains.

26a  Story about bishop wanting kiss and cuddle – often sits by dish! (10)
{TABLESPOON} – an old verb meaning to kiss and cuddle is SPOON.

27a  Wild animal — one needs restriction by river, right? (8 )
{REINDEER} – a charade leads us to this animal known as caribou in North America.

28a  Hound runs behind Mark (6)
{BADGER} – another charade produces this verb meaning to harass or hound.

Down Clues

2d  Satellite ‘in the air’, as you might say (5)
{ARIEL} – a sound-alike (as you might say) of an adjective meaning in the air gives us this satellite of Uranus.

3d  Five hundred leaving NE town for US county (9)
{ARLINGTON} – take off the initial D (Roman numeral for five hundred) from the town in North-East England which was one end of the first passenger railway route in the world to leave a county in Virginia which is home to both the Pentagon and the U.S. National Cemetery.

4d  Sweet nothing? (6)
{TRIFLE} – double definition.

5d  I’m brainy man with urge to work out something in advanced maths (9,6)
{IMAGINARY NUMBER} – an anagram (to work out) of I’M BRAINY MAN and URGE gives us this mathematical term meaning “a number in the form bi where b is a real number and i is the square root of minus one”. I hope that this means more to you than it does to me!

6d  Plant illegal fag in empty tin (4,4)
{TREE FERN} – we had this large plant as recently as Toughie 161 where the clue was fairly similar except that the outside two letters were the abbreviation for Tennessee rather than an empty tin.

7d  Reverse of fashionable country, with many leaving country (5)
{NIGER} – fashionable is IN – reverse the letters and add the name of a European country without MANY to get a landlocked country in West Africa.

8d  Complete a new church with this remark (9)
{UTTERANCE} – a charade starting with an adjective meaning total or complete builds to a synonym for remark.

14d  Drunk? I ain’t drunk with beer (9)
{INEBRIATE} – a adjective meaning drunk is produced from an anagram (drunk) of I AIN’T and BEER. I’m not keen on the anagram indicator being in the middle of the words being processed.

16d  Food-oriented inn changes its last two items, offering snail maybe! (9)
{GASTROPOD} – an inn which specialises in serving high-quality food is a gastropub (a word which only came into existence in the 1990s). Change the last two letters (items) to get a class of molluscs which includes the snail.

17d  Strong drink disposed of in the basin (8 )
{ABSINTHE} – an anagram (disposed) of THE BASIN produces a drink so strong that it used to be banned in many countries.

20d  A city stopping short around five possibly? Possibly! (6)
{ADVERB} – a very nice clue – put the name of A Midlands city without its final Y around V (five in Roman numerals) to get a part of speech of which POSSIBLY is an example.

22d  Statesman who got into trouble with nothing on (5)
{NIXON} – the trouble that this statesman got into was called Watergate.

24d  12 about to worship (5)
{ADORE} – put together a synonym of the answer to 12d and RE (about) to get a verb meaning worship.

My favourite clues included 13a, 21a, 23a, 25a and 28a, but my clue of the day is 20d. What about you? – leave us a comment!



  1. Libellule
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly enough the same answer to 12a also occurs in todays cryptic 25963 at 9a where the clue is “Craze in front part around old city”

  2. bigboab
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I found this quite hard today, liked 2d best. Seemed strange having the same answer in both DT crosswords.

  3. Rollo
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I don’t mind the odd place name, or person’s name, in a cryptic crossword, but this one contains 8 proper nouns – 6 places and 2 names – out of a total of 29 lights.

    That’s far too many in my opinion.

    • Libellule
      Posted June 24, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Rollo, although I would complain about this in a normal cryptic, I believe in a Toughie, so long as the clues conform to the “rules” just about anything goes.

    • gazza
      Posted June 24, 2009 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Proper names do not worry me too much as long as they are not too obscure and the wordplay is good enough to allow you to get them. I thought that all those in this puzzle were ok.

      • Rollo
        Posted June 24, 2009 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        Ah well, we will have to agree to differ.

  4. Giovanni
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what the ratio is of proper names to other words. I’ve always thought proper names were a bit underused — think of all those characters in Walter Scott and the runners in the 2.30 at Ayr (only joking!). Sadly there isn’t a really good proper-names only dictionary, though there are lots of reference books and online entries of course

    • Posted June 24, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink


      My dislike of proper nouns is well-known, but I am happy to accept them if the two conditions that Gazza gave earlier are both met. Sleaford readily comes to mind as an example of the obscure (my apologies to anyone who lives there!).

      I can always tell the ones that are causing grief from the clues that are used as search arguments to find this blog. Top of the list at the moment is “Soldier back in Portuguese port is rascally French hero “, closely followed by last Saturday’s “Polly fragments” with “Lady not one on piano started exercises” in third place.

  5. Mister Sting
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    This was pure heaven compared to the disastrous mess over at the Guardian.
    I particularly enjoyed the appearance of ‘spoon’.

    • Posted June 25, 2009 at 12:08 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the site Mister Sting

      You intrigued me enough to go and look at 15squared. I haven’t done that puzzle, but Enigmatist is known on the Telegraph as Elgar – and if recent form is maintained, he will be with us on Friday!

      • gazza
        Posted June 25, 2009 at 12:15 am | Permalink

        I did that Enigmatist puzzle and it rates 7 or 8 stars for difficulty !!!

  6. Posted June 27, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Carry on with the proper nouns! I don’t think I’ve ever come across Herne Bay as an answer before, so its clue was guaranteed to be original. I thought Giovanni was on good form here.