Toughie 196

Toughie No 196 by Messinae

A bit of a mixed bag

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

A mixture of a number of good clues and some that are no longer in the first flush of youth!  It must be increasingly difficult to find new clues for four-letter words, and you won’t find many here, which is a shame as the rest of the puzzle was very enjoyable.  I know that there is always going to be someone to whom a clue is new, but most of you will have seen these before progressing to Toughies.

1a What the Poet Laureate did when tired (and emotional?) (3,3,4)
{HIT THE SACK} – the traditional salary for the Poet Laureate is a butt of sack, the 600 bottles of sherry – the current Poet Laureate, on discovering that the previous incumbent had yet to receive his, asked for hers to be delivered up front!

6a Dull poet returned (4)
{DRAB} – BARD reversed

9a Easy terms certainly not found in SF writer, the opposite (5-5)
{NEVER-NEVER} – not NEVER (certainly not) inside Jules VERNE (SF writer) but the opposite

10a Astound and turn heads (4)
{STUN} – NUTS (head) reversed – as Tilsit would say, another outing for this old chestnut

12a Flower one teacher rejected (4)
{IRIS} – I (one) followed by SIR (teacher) reversed

13a Go separately in to limit swine flu? (9)
{CONTAGION} – G and O (go) are separately inserted into CONTAIN (to limit) – I liked the idea of the letters of the word being individually inserted, particularly as this was clearly indicated

15a Mars is source of deposits especially fossil fuels (8)
{DESPOILS} – a word meaning mars comes from the initial letters (source of) Deposits and Especially followed by material cast out in the excavation or mining of fossil fuels – it needs a bit of licence to have spoils as fossil fuels rather than as the waste product
a word meaning mars comes from the initial letter (source of) Deposits followed by ESP(ecially) and OILS (fossil fuels)

16a Slough put soldiers in service (6)
{MORASS} – the soldiers are the Other Ranks, and the service they go inside is MASS

18a Spike one legislator’s drink (6)
{IMPALE} – a charade of I (one) MP (legislator) and ALE (drink) gives good surface reading to this clue

20a Smoked beef dish Italian restaurant serves me is about right (8)
{PASTRAMI} – this type of smoked beef comes from PASTA (dish Italian restaurant serves) and MI (me) around R(ight) – what do you think of MI replacing ME?

23a Return by car to emphasise a point (5,4)
{DRIVE HOME} – a rather nice double definition

24a Midshipman and Queen’s departed feeling sick (4)
{EASY} – easy for me, having been brought up on a diet of Captain Marryat and Captain WE Johns (Biggles) – the former was the author of Mr Midshipman EASY, which is derived by removing QU(een) from (QU)EASY

26a Old friend, a gem (4)
{OPAL} – old clue and not a gem! – O(ld) PAL

27a Taking recreation at sea, independent in avoiding work (4-6)
{SKIN-DIVING} – put IND(ependent) inside SKIVING (avoiding work) to get this nautical recreation

28a Exploit both ways (4)
{DEED} – a palindromic exploit

29a Vigilance we certainly applied round that place (7,3)
{WEATHER EYE} – put WE and AYE (certainly) around THERE (that place) to get an eye watchful for developments, as in the saying to keep one’s weather eye open

1d Consent to marry Chinese daughter (4)
{HAND} – to ask for someone’s HAND in marriage comes from a charade of HAN (the Han Chinese are the largest single ethnic group in the world)

2d Bars employing servant (7)
{TAVERNS} – an anagram of SERVANT, indicated by employing, but these bars seem to have only one employee!

3d Ought to get in more concrete for road in case of emergency (4,8)
{HARD SHOULDER} – SHOULD (ought) inside HARDER (more concrete) for a road that should only be used in case of emergency

4d Subject of research to stop terrorist group (4,4)
{STEM CELL} – a simple charade of STEM (stop) and CELL (terrorist group)

5d Does for English beset by groups of Scots (6)
{CLEANS} – the wordplay is easy: E(nglish) inside (beset by) CLANS (groups of Scots, but was the definition meant to be does for in the sense of cleans out, or more likely, in the sense of how a daily cleaner does for you

7d Flavoured wine — what could be nastier? (7)
{RETSINA} – I think flavoured is a bit of an understatement for this Greek resinated wine that is an anagram (could be) of NASTIER

8d Crazy family a possible source of embarrassment (6,4)
{BANANA SKIN} – this source of embarrassment is a charade of BANANAS (crazy) and KIN (family)

11d Speak firmly as Anna Karenina did finally (3,2,3,4)
{LAY ON THE LINE} – the cryptic part of this double definition is truly wonderful

And all at once she thought of the man crushed by the train the day she had first met Vronsky, and she knew what she had to do. With a rapid, light step she went down the steps that led from the tank to the rails and stopped quite near the approaching train.

She looked at the lower part of the carriages, at the screws and chains and the tall cast-iron wheel of the first carriage slowly moving up, and trying to measure the middle between the front and back wheels, and the very minute when that middle point would be opposite her.

“There,” she said to herself, looking into the shadow of the carriage, at the sand and coal dust which covered the sleepers– “there, in the very middle, and I will punish him and escape from everyone and from myself.”

She tried to fling herself below the wheels of the first carriage as it reached her; but the red bag which she tried to drop out of her hand delayed her, and she was too late; she missed the moment. She had to wait for the next carriage. A feeling such as she had known when about to take the first plunge in bathing came upon her, and she crossed herself. That familiar gesture brought back into her soul a whole series of girlish and childish memories, and suddenly the darkness that had covered everything for her was torn apart, and life rose up before her for an instant with all its bright past joys. But she did not take her eyes from the wheels of the second carriage. And exactly at the moment when the space between the wheels came opposite her, she dropped the red bag, and drawing her head back into her shoulders, fell on her hands under the carriage, and lightly, as though she would rise again at once, dropped on to her knees. And at the same instant she was terror-stricken at what she was doing. “Where am I? What am I doing? What for?” she tried to get up, to drop backwards; but something huge and merciless struck her on the head and rolled her on her back. “Lord, forgive me all!” she said, feeling it impossible to struggle. A peasant muttering something was working at the iron above her. And the light by which she had read the book filled with troubles, falsehoods, sorrow, and evil, flared up more brightly than ever before, lighted up for her all that had been in darkness, flickered, began to grow dim, and was quenched forever.

14d See writer’s boss storm, cross as novel not finished (5,5)
{EDWIN DROOD} – an excellent charade of ED(itor) (writer’s boss) WIND (storm) and ROOD (cross) leads you to the incomplete title of Dickens’ unfinished novel

17d Wine — one Scotsman tosses ten back (8)
{CABERNET} – this wind comes from CABER (one a Scotsman tosses) and TEN reversed

19d Bishop to talk endlessly about one Master (7)
{PRIMATE} – funny how bishops and apes should share this name! – put PRATE (talk endlessly) around I (one) and M(aster)

21d One American Indian’s money once a good sign (7)
{AUSPICE} – a charade of A (one) US (American) and PICE (a former unit of currency in India, one quarter 4 of an anna / Indian’s money once) gives a good sign

22d Man that is a newcomer (6)
{ROOKIE} – combine ROOK (chessman) and IE (that is) to get a newcomer, particularly in sports like motor racing

25d One’s monstrous and so upsetting (4)
{OGRE} – this monster is ERGO (therefore / and so) reversed

Favourite clue – it has to be 11 down.  What did you like?

Don’t forget your own assessment of the puzzle by clicking one of the stars below.


  1. gazza
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    15a. I think that ESP is especially and OILS are the fossil fuels.

    • Kram
      Posted August 11, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      With source of deposits added to the start I have to agree with you Gazza

    • Posted August 11, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      So do I! – It’s now amended.

  2. Libellule
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Re 20a I think you could argue that MI is valid. At first I thought it might be a continuation of the Italian theme, but mio, is me in Italian. However on closer checking, mi is an alternative spelling for me in sol-fa notation, and is in Chambers, This is meant to be a Toughie after all.

    • Posted August 11, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      I did realise that, it’s just that I didn’t like using an alternate spelling without an indicator to that effect.

    • Kram
      Posted August 11, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      You could have fooled me about this being a Toughie with 26a Libellule!

      • Libellule
        Posted August 11, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t say this Toughie was particularly different, its just – as I have said before, I personally allow more license in the Toughies than I would normally allow in the normal cryptic. For example Big Dave would appreciate an indicator of some sort for the alternative spelling, wheras I would suggest it’s not necessary.

        • Posted August 11, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          Just to clarify, the clue caused me absolutely no trouble to solve,and I was keying in the answer almost as soon as I read “smoked beef”. I just don’t like words being keyed on their alternate spellings rather than from synonyms. This would apply whether it was a Toughie or any other puzzle. Being a Toughie allows the setter to use clues that are more difficult, but not that are incorrect.

          • Libellule
            Posted August 11, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

            Can we therefore 26004:17a ?

            • Posted August 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

              I was looking for the clue to which the answer was “not on your life”, then realised it was 4 down in yesterday’s Times (24300)

        • Kram
          Posted August 11, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

          Couldn’t agree more, but I think a Toughie should be as it says hard throughout, by the way how are those wild strawberry tartlets over there, or have they finished?.

          • Libellule
            Posted August 11, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

            You can still get the tartlets, but I doubt that the strawberries are wild :-)

  3. Harry Shipley
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    A straightforward puzzle, I thought. And 1A had me smiling – “Boom, boom”. Loved it.


  4. bigboab
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Only the banality of a few clues prevented me from voting this as 5*. I loved 3,11 &14d and 1 & 13a. Great fun!

  5. gazza
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    11d is very good but my favourite has to be 1a.

  6. kate amwy
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    I try this crossword on a wing and a prayer,but
    thanks to this site I’m getting better at the ordinary telegraph crossword and I am in awe of you all at your ability. I got and liked

    • gazza
      Posted August 11, 2009 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      Hi kate and welcome to the site.
      Thanks for your kind words.

  7. newtocryptic
    Posted August 12, 2009 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Only the second time I have finished the toughie and then only because my ‘better read’ wife told me how Anna Karenina killed herself. Great clue

  8. Posted August 12, 2009 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Gave up with 13 and 4 unsolved (solved just after 197 – I should have known something in 197 would annoy me and done this first – both answer shortages here were my fault). Forgot about the Laureate’s sack ration but got that answer – nice to continue with another poet at 6. Credit to the setter for clueing a repeated word answer (NEVER-NEVER) by wordplay that doesn’t mention the repetition. Thought “employing” was poor as an anag indicator at 2 – off the top of my head, “Servant working in bars” seems fairer.

    I’d forgotten about the pice – a rather small unit now that there are about 100 rupees to the pound (an anna was a sixteenth of a rupee).