Toughie 173 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 173

Toughie No 173 by Mynot

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

There’s a saying “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it”, so all of us who complained yesterday that the Toughie was far too easy and that we wanted something tougher, have had our wish granted today. This one was a struggle from start to finish, with some obscure words and tricky wordplay. I really enjoyed the challenge.

Across Clues

7a  Lie out: shall I wear trousers? (7)
{SHALWAR} – from the phrase SHALL I WEAR remove LIE (lie out) to leave a word (originally from Persian) for loose-fitting trousers worn by both sexes in many parts of South Asia.

8a  Father gets squeeze as something for the night (7)
{PAJAMAS} – a charade gives us some nightwear.

10a  Eccentric people have Henry behind main rotating rod (10)
{CRANKSHAFT} – another charade leads us to the main rotating rod of an engine.

11a  Crop that’s cold and uncooked (4)
{CRAW} – a synonym for crop (the pouch in a bird’s gullet where food is stored and prepared for digestion) is produced by another charade.

12a  In this year Mary and Albert are in Jamaica to find screenwriter (8 )
{JHABVALA} – we have some heavy-duty wordplay in this one! Start with JA (the international vehicle registration code for Jamaica) and inside this put HA (in this year, hoc anno), BV (Blessed Virgin, Mary) and AL (Albert) to get the surname of the lady screenwriter for the Merchant-Ivory film production partnership whose credits include A Room with a View and Howards End.

14a  Incarnation in the Bible’s a sailor (6)
{AVATAR} – a charade starting with AV (Authorised Version of the Bible) gives us the manifestation of a Hindu god in visible form or an image or icon of someone in cyberspace. Everyone leaving a comment on this site will have one of these.

15a  It’s magic for bounder going from one woman’s undergarment to another (11)
{ABRACADABRA} – the standard magic word associated with all conjuring tricks is made by taking CAD (bounder) and putting a woman’s undergarment on each side of it.

19a  Hat for parents in North America? On the contrary (6)
{PANAMA} – On the contrary means that we need a reversal – so, instead of parents in North America, we want NA (North America) inside parents to get a type of wide-brimmed straw hat.

20a  Dance after some go west for old game (8 )
{TRAPBALL} – the name of this old English game is constructed from BALL (dance) after PART (some) which has been reversed (go west, an across only construct).

22a  Cry ‘Ball!’ (4)
{BAWL} – a sound-alike of ball.

23a  Unruly beggar, maybe mad actor, losing head is embraced by a high-caste Indian (7-3)
{ABRAHAM-MAN} – the wordplay is tricky here – “mad” is very often an anagram indicator, but here it is a straight description. What we want is an old name for an unruly beggar who feigned insanity (maybe mad) – it’s made up of A BRAHMAN (a high-caste Hindu) containing hAM (actor losing head).

25a  And was Hamlet at first troubled to tell it from a hawk? (7)
{HANDSAW} – a splendid cryptic definition and half-way to an all-in-one clue – an anagram (troubled) of AND WAS and H (Hamlet at first) gives us what Hamlet said he could distinguish from a hawk:
“ I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.” (Hamlet, Act II, scene II).
As with many things Shakespearean there are different interpretations of the meaning – one is that handsaw is a misprint for hernshaw (a young heron), and another that hawk is a plasterer’s tool. Take your pick!

26a  Procession with one vehicle after another (7)
{CARAVAN} – a word which once meant a group of traders or pilgrims travelling together (procession) across a desert now means a mobile house on wheels.

Down Clues

1d  Spinning-wheel in inn mostly used after tea (7)
{CHARKHA} – KHAn is an Arabic word for inn or hostel (where a 26a might have stopped for the night, in fact) – it has its last letter removed (mostly) and the remainder is placed after CHAR (tea) to form a Hindi word for a spinning-wheel.

2d  Flourished with a new tart (4)
{FLAN} – this was the last clue I got, because I did not know that FL is a standard abbreviation for flourished. Just add A and N(ew) to get a tart.

3d  Planet almost has girl (6)
{MARSHA} – put together the red planet and HAs (almost has) to get a girl’s name.

4d  Between South America and North America a tan can be made by hot wind (5,3)
{SANTA ANA} – put an anagram (can be made) of A TAN between SA (South America) and NA (North America) to get the name of a hot dry offshore wind in Southern California.

5d  For oarsman to make error is way to get dinner (5,1,4)
{CATCH A CRAB} – double definition – to make a faulty stroke in rowing in which the oar misses the water completely, and to trap a crustacean.

6d  Road surface in Scotland created by Seth, perhaps (7)
{MACADAM} – a delightful clue – a method of road construction pioneered by John McAdam (later refined with the addition of tar to form tarmac) could be (perhaps) a description of Seth (son of Adam) because MAC is a Scottish prefix meaning Son Of.

9d  Fanfare for girl, brown girl (11)
{TARATANTARA} – an extremely obscure (though in Chambers) word for a trumpet fanfare is constructed from TAN (brown) with TARA (girl) on either side of it.

13d  Gilbert’s work arranged as bald blab (3,7)
{BAB BALLADS} – an anagram (arranged) of AS BALD BLAB produces the name of a collection of light verse by W.E. Gilbert.

16d  Jelly covering a fish and mushroom but lacking rice essentially (4-4)
{AGAR-AGAR} – a jelly prepared from seaweeds is constructed from A GAR (pike-like fish) and AGARic (a fungus without the middle bits of rICe).

17d  Fast time of goat with a level of proficiency (7)
{RAMADAN} – the Muslim month of fasting (fast time) is a charade of a male goat and a level of proficiency in Japanese combative sports. Chambers does not mention goats in its definition of ram, but it is apparently an alternative name for billy.

18d  Calendar graduate found in turbulent canal (7)
{ALMANAC} – an anagram (turbulent) of CANAL contains a master’s degree.

21d  Beside the world tree god creates squared stone (6)
{ASHLAR} – just when you thought the clues seemed to be getting a bit easier you get presented with this one! In Norse mythology Yggdrasil is the world tree (an immense ASH tree) – add LAR (the god of a house) to get a word meaning a squared or dressed stone.

24d  Address to Queen delivered by mother in the morning (4)
{MAAM} – we end with the easiest clue of the lot. The way the Queen is addressed is a charade.

I enjoyed some of the clues, such as 12a and 21d, because of the challenge involved in getting the solution and/or wordplay, but my clue of the day, by a mile, is 6d. What did you think of the puzzle? – leave us a comment!

11 comments on “Toughie 173

  1. Indeed there are some quite obscure words Gazza.

    A very good Toughie I thought.

    Did you notice that the only vowel in the grid is A.

    1. Rollo
      Thanks for that. I totally missed the lack of any other vowels – no wonder the setter had to find some obscure words to fit his theme!!

  2. Which is why it was called “A puzzle”. I spotted it after 4 answers. Very satisfying to finish, using every aid available to do so as many words were unfamiliar – favourtie SHALWAR.

    1. NMS
      If I’d been as on the ball as Rollo and you I would probably have finished it quicker! I wonder how long it takes a setter to compile a puzzle under that self-imposed constraint?
      I agree that 7a is good – but my favourite is still 6d.

  3. 12a
    The answer given has not enough letters, and I still don’t understand it. It must be the heat.

    1. Bellringer
      The answer is the 8-letter name of the screenwriter.
      It’s made up with JA (Jamaica) as the outside letters with HA (in this year), BV (Mary) and AL (Albert) inside. (2 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 8 )

  4. Started off really well getting 15a, 5d and 6d, then it was all downhill after that – mainly because we didn’t know a lot of the words. Thank goodness for you all!!

  5. What a stinker!
    I would never have got ‘charkha’ or ‘Jhabvala’ and I didn’t know the term ‘Abraham man’.
    My favourite clue was 22a ‘bawl’

    1. Hi Anna
      Like you I’d never heard of quite a few of the answers, and even though I knew of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala I didn’t know how to spell her name (I was trying to spell it without the H !!).
      I still prefer a challenging puzzle like this to one which is no more difficult than the same day’s Cryptic.

    2. Anna

      Unlike Gazza, I had never heard of the lady screenwriter, but google is very good at finding things like this. I guessed that J and A were the outide letters and made up a name. Google did the rest!

      screenwriter jhabmala

Comments are closed.