Toughie 181

Toughie No 181 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

This is a good solid Toughie with a few bits of complicated wordplay. If you were writing this review how many stars would you give it for difficulty and enjoyment? – let me know via a comment!

Across Clues

1a  I use up almost all of income to become this? (11)
{IMPECUNIOUS} – an attempt at an all-in-one clue involves an anagram (to become) of I USE UP and INCOMe (almost all).

9a  Snag with energy enquiry (5)
{PROBE} – put together PROB (informal word for a problem, snag) and E(nergy).

10a  Two reports of actual wedding preparation (9)
{TROUSSEAU} – we need to find homophones (reports, sound-alikes) of two words which can both mean “actual” – TRUE and SO.

11a  Public facility heading off druggie with bad habit (7)
{SERVICE} – a druggie is a uSER (heading off) – add VICE (bad habit).

12a  Shunning relations like brothers and sisters? (8 )
{CELIBATE} – a cryptic description of abstaining from sexual relations like monks and nuns.

14a  Commerce functions subsumed by public transport (8 )
{BUSINESS} – put SINES (mathematical functions) inside (subsumed by) a form of public transport to get a synonym for commerce.

15a  Fright’s not the first worry (4)
{CARE} – remove the first letter of sCARE.

17a  City address’s first in attempt to establish home (7)
{SEATTLE} – attempt to establish a home is SETTLE – include the first letter of address to get a city which is home to Microsoft and Frasier Crane. I thought that Boeing also had its HQ here, but apparently they have flown off to Chicago.

19a  Returning without leader, saw mercy! (4)
{EGAD} – we want a word for a saw or proverb – remove the first letter (without leader) and then reverse the rest (returning) to get a dated exclamation of surprise.

20a  Having lost blood externally, pain faded (8 )
{BLEACHED} – a synonym for faded is produced by putting a type of pain inside “lost blood”.

21a  Show English immorality centred on illicit meeting-place (8 )
{EVIDENCE} – an illicit meeting-place is a DEN (as in den of iniquity) – put E(nglish) and VICE (immorality) round this to get a verb meaning to show or prove.

23a  Extra water source included in rent (2,5)
{TO SPARE} – put SPA (water source) inside TORE (rent) to get more than enough (extra).

25a  Car oiled ineptly by oil worker (9)
{DELACROIX} – an anagram (ineptly) of CAR OILED precedes X (by, as in 3 x 2) to form the French artist whose most famous painting was his depiction of the revolution in “Liberty leading the people”. I love “oil worker” for artist.

26a  Produce some Sarajevo kerbstones (5)
{EVOKE} – hidden word.

27a  Book mostly in stages, having got a plane back (11)
{STEPPENWOLF} – the title of a novel (a name later adopted by a rock band) by the German Swiss author Hermann Hesse, whose works were banned by the Nazis, is assembled from STEPPEd (in stages, mostly) and FLOWN (got a plane) reversed (back).

Down Clues

2d  Combine gallons in lake (5)
{MERGE} – put G(allons) inside a word for lake to get a verb meaning combine.

3d  Learned of criminal EU tried (7)
{ERUDITE} – an anagram (criminal) of EU TRIED means showing great learning.

4d  Shaky relative with heart lost to sharp pain (8 )
{UNSTABLE} – a synonym for shaky is constructed by replacing the central letter (heart) of UNCLE with STAB (sharp pain).

5d  Work briefly to depose, seizing power (4)
{OPUS} – to depose is OUSt – remove the final letter (briefly) and include a P (power) to get an artistic work.

6d  Playful eccentric tips over (8 )
{SPORTIVE} – an anagram (eccentric) of TIPS OVER.

7d  My handler may well be following a lead (6,3)
{POLICE DOG} – this is a pretty weak cryptic definition of an animal trained to assist in the detection of drugs, for example.

8d  Soldier on exercise eyes invader (5,3,3)
{NEVER SAY DIE} – an anagram (exercise) of EYES INVADER produces a resilient attitude meaning keep going or soldier on. Nice surface reading – I thought for a while that the definition was “soldier” (confusing me no end) before the penny dropped that it is “soldier on”.

12d  Cosmetic ingredient from Chanel, say, possessor of touching property (5,6)
{COCOA BUTTER} – a charade of the nickname of the French fashion designer Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel and a clumsy word for someone whose property has a common boundary with another produces a cosmetic ingredient.

13d  Revise book to represent upturns: it’s going out … (3,4)
{EBB TIDE } – revise book is EDIT B – add BE (represent) and then reverse the whole lot to get what occurs on our beaches twice a day.

16d  … which is this, technically a downturn (9)
{RECESSION} – double definition – a description of what’s happening to the sea in the previous answer and the economic condition that we are currently enjoying.

17d  Society has a high opinion of ethical pioneer (8 )
{SOCRATES} – a charade produces the name of this wise old Greek who was one of the first to define ethical concepts.

18d  Brute standing on turtle’s shell split into layers (8 )
{LAMINATE} – a verb meaning to split into layers is produced by reversing (standing) ANIMAL (brute) on the outside letters (shell) of TurtlE.

19d  Welsh river brought up on verges of Spanish one? Raising it may show surprise (7)
{EYEBROW} – put the Welsh river (WYE) reversed around the longest river in Spain (EBRO) to get the part of the body with which Roger Moore did most of his acting (allegedly!).

22d  Cold-hot sickness? (5)
{CHILL} – an all-in-one description of a feverish cold.

24d  By way of illustration of Parisian’s mounting keenness (4)
{EDGE} – by way of illustration is EG and “of” in Paris is DE – reverse the lot (mounting) to get a synonym for keenness.

My favourite clue of the day is 8d – what do you think? – leave us a comment!


  1. tilsit
    Posted July 15, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    A great many times better than yesterday’s offering. Elegant and at times amusing cluing.

    I think your grading is correct.

  2. bigboab
    Posted July 15, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Really quite difficult in places(I would not have got 8d without your hint), unlike you though I liked 7d.

    • Libellule
      Posted July 15, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      I’m with bigboab on this one 7d was the clue that gave me the biggest smile factor. But in general a good solid crossword.

    • gazza
      Posted July 15, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps it’s just me, but I thought that “handler” in 7d made it a bit too obvious.

      • Libbellule
        Posted July 15, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        Gazza, I don’t think I was commenting on how hard or easy it was. Just simply, that it made me smile. :-)

  3. Posted July 15, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Difficult tp pick a winner when there are so many from which to choose, but my vote goes to 25 across – a definite “Toughie only” clue.

    An excellent puzzle from an excellent setter – I would have given it one more star!

    • Libellule
      Posted July 15, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Ahh, that too was an excellent clue, but far too easy for me. We have just covered him recently in one of our French lessons :-)

  4. Kram
    Posted July 15, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    As my first attempt at solving a Toughie, I am suprised at the selection of 7d and 8d as being the better of the clues as these were the easiest for me!. I see even names of people and places do not escape the compilers usage in this type of crossword. However I did enjoy solving it ,although it did take me a long time to complete. As a novice to the Toughie crossword my vote has to go to clue 10a!.

    • gazza
      Posted July 15, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Well done on solving your first Toughie.
      Clue of the Day is very subjective, and, at least in my case, is not dependent on the ease or difficulty of the clue. I choose one which amused me or had a good surface reading.

      • Kram
        Posted July 15, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

        My sense of euphoria at solving a Toughie has died down now Gazza, I see what you mean regarding the amusement and surface reading of 8d, but I got the same from 10a, surely everyone has their own idea of a good clue, the same as rating puzzels for enjoyment and difficulty?.

        • gazza
          Posted July 15, 2009 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

          Absolutely – there are no right answers, and every solver can get something different from a good puzzle (and 10a is amusing!).