Toughie 197 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 197

Toughie No 197 by Excalibur
Put through the Mangle

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

There are some good clues in this puzzle, but the overall effect is spoilt, for me, by the way the word order in many clues is mangled in an attempt to improve the surface reading. Also there are many (too many?) very short answers, a lot of them double definitions; too many of any one type of clue can make the whole puzzle unbalanced. I’d love to hear your views on it, and please take the time to cast your vote for the enjoyment factor by clicking on one of the stars at the bottom of the review.

Across Clues

1a  Take to be suitable (11)
{APPROPRIATE} – double definition – a verb meaning to take something without the owner’s permission, and an adjective meaning suitable or proper.

9a  Received and understood (4)
{SEEN} – double definition.

10a  Oo! Look at it from all aspects! (6,5)
{CIRCLE ROUND} – what we want are two different descriptions of “O” which, when put together, make a phrase meaning circumnavigate.

11a  Note deep in pitch to sound on a brass instrument (4)
{BLOW} – put together B (musical note) and LOW (deep in pitch).

14a  Not touched: left just where it was (7)
{UNMOVED} – double definition – one a figurative term meaning unaffected by emotion, the other a literal meaning.

16a  Shifts out of gear (7)
{STREAKS} – a cryptic description of what somebody who disrupts a sporting event by running around naked, does. I spent a lot of time searching the web for a suitable picture, but it was a sacrifice I was prepared to make.

18a  Decreases the medication (5)
{DROPS} – double definition.

19a  Fun the cat would like to put an end to (4)
{LARK} – double definition – an amusing escapade (fun) is also a type of bird.

20a  A number one retirement island (4)
{IONA} – this mystical Scottish island’s name comes from A NO I reversed (retirement).

21a  Checks back and sees (5)
{SPOTS} – a verb meaning sees, which when reversed would mean checks or brings to a halt.

23a  Make, for having miscued (7)
{PRODUCE} – a verb meaning to make or manufacture is formed from PRO (for) followed by an anagram (mis) of CUED. I quite like this way of signalling an anagram – what do you think?

24a  A shadow of one’s former self (7)
{SPECTRE} – cryptic definition of a ghost.

25a  Run out and tell people the news (4)
{LEAK} – double definition – what water does if your pipes have a loose joint, and to make an unauthorised disclosure of information.

30a  Lounge you buy drinks in (5,6)
{STAND AROUND} – double definition – the second meaning to buy a drink for everyone in your group.

31a  Happy to be touring Donegal without one (4)
{GLAD} – remove ONE from DoneGAL and make an anagram (touring) of what’s left.

32a  Having the top flat is sensible (5-6)
{LEVEL-HEADED} – this is my favourite clue. If the top of your skull were perfectly flat this is what you would be!

Down Clues

2d  Going back to sleep, I am in discomfort (4)
{PAIN} – the word order here is convoluted, but what you need to do is reverse (going back) NAP (to sleep) and insert an I.

3d  Stun with a stone (4)
{ROCK} – another 4-letter double definition.

4d  Got everything in order for the flight (7)
{PREENED} – cryptic definition of how a bird tidied and cleaned its feathers.

5d  In turning gold into base metal (4)
{IRON} – reverse (turning) OR (gold) and put it inside IN to get a base metal. The word order is once again mangled in an attempt to improve the surface reading.

6d  A few workers who live in (7)
{TENANTS} – a few in this case is TEN and workers are the usual ANTS.

7d  Inside-out, good gracious! (4)
{WELL} – double definition – if you know something inside-out you know it thoroughly, and an exclamation of surprise.

8d  How entry was made into the Ark by fishes – quickly (2,3,6)
{IN TWO SHAKES} – the animals went into the Ark IN TWOS – follow this with types of fish to get a phrase meaning in a very short time (literally the time it takes a lamb to shake its tail twice).

12d  “Sorry, but there’s no room”? (4,7)
{FULL APOLOGY} – cryptic description of how an expression of regret might be phrased.

13d  Where by hypnotism I found myself regressed, or by trickery? (6)
{EMBRYO} – an attempt at a semi-all-in-one clue – the state to which you might be taken back though hypnosis is formed from ME (I) reversed (regressed) followed by an anagram (trickery) of OR BY.

15d  Hang about, prepared to alter last section (5)
{DRAPE} – a verb meaning to arrange clothing or fabric casually is produced from an anagram (to alter) of the last section of the word prePARED.

16d  Brushes the man’s garments (5)
{SPATS} – double definition – quarrels or skirmishes (brushes), and the short gaiters which I always associate with American gangsters of the prohibition era.

17d  A disease I got from a wild animal (6)
{AGOUTI} – the disease is GOUT – put it between A and I to get a small South American rodent.

21d  Make a dash for the vessel (7)
{SCUTTLE} – double definition – the vessel is what your granny used to keep the coal in.

22d  Food panic that’s absurd — don’t speak about it (7)
{SPINACH} – put SH (don’t speak, keep quiet!) around an anagram (that’s absurd) of PANIC to get Popeye’s favourite food.

26d  Being alone for a while in the garden (4)
{ADAM} – well, this being was alone there for a while until the first rib transplant occurred (then his troubles started!).

27d  As soon as love is given half a chance (4)
{ONCE} – the definition is “as soon as” – put O (love) in front of half of chaNCE.

28d  List that doesn’t go up to S (4)
{ROTA} – a list that ranges from A TO R is reversed (up). The word order is again awkward with the “up” either misplaced or used twice.

29d  Anemones arranged, with some missed, for her (4)
{ANNE} – an anagram (arranged) of ANemoNEs without the letters of some produces a girl’s name.

I liked 12d and 26d, but my clue of the day is 32a – agree or disagree? Please leave a comment and don’t forget to vote below.

15 comments on “Toughie 197

  1. I found this easy in parts and difficult in parts but on the whole I quite enjoyed it, My favourites were 8d and 26d.

    1. Agreed; its a ‘duff’ grid that leads to many of the problems, a grid that is seldom if ever used by the Times. Also agree 8d was a hoot!

      1. Certainly never used for the Times puzzle, and pretty certainly not for the Sunday Times either (unlike the Telegraph, the Sunday Times puzzle has a different edtor and different team of setters, only one of whom is also a Times setter).

  2. I know we have commented about the “surface reading” of Excalibur’s clues before… but ignoring that and the number of double definitions, some of which I thought were awful. There were indeed high points in this puzzle, something I don’t think we have seen before. For example 10a 8d, 30a, 32a, 17d, 6d and 23a for example. In my opinion this was one of Excalibur’s better crosswords. Thanks for the write up Gazza.

    1. libellule
      I agree, and would add 12d and 26d to your list. It’s just a pity that you tend to get exasperated by the flaws in the wordplay and thus forget the good clues.
      Although I don’t normally worry too much about the grid, I tend to agree with CastorFool above that poor grid selection led to some of the problems with the number of short double definitions – any grid that has 14 x 4-letter answers in it is going to make it more difficult to set a variety of clues.

      1. Gazza,
        I saw that, and thought it was a very interesting point. I do believe Peter has commented (how many times?) about how bad some of the grids used on the Telegraph are, compared to the grids on the Times. In simple terms bad grids have been banned on the Times, yet the Telegraph still seems to continue to use them.

        1. I’ve lost count! The crucial point is that although the Times grids have had a couple of revisions since, the main revolution in grid design at the Times took place before Alf Ramsey’s England team won the World Cup.

  3. This was a strange mixture of quite clever clues (like 32a) and some rather iffy ones. I put WELL for 7d without spotting the other meaning of ‘inside out’. Although 30a has good surface reading, I question whether ‘standing around’ is ‘lounging’, which I think implies lying or sitting down.

  4. Another welcome for Jetdoc (assuming you’re who I think you are). I gave up on this one with 4D, 10A and 7D unsolved. I liked some of the clues, like the fish hurrying into the ark at 8D (ignoring the question of whether fish needed to board!), but didn’t like others, like the notion that “where” belongs in a definition of embryo.

    I counted about 18 clues lacking “construction kit” wordplay – double defs or cryptic definitions, excluding 28D which although a cryptic def has construction wordplay in the answer. This seems a high proportion, though I know “Excalibur” has been setting for a long time and doubtless can remember puzzles with even less construction wordplay.

    To be clear, “construction kit wordplay” includes anagrams, charades, containers, subtractions, letter swaps, hidden words, reversals, etc.

      1. Mary, see Big Daves excellent ‘Crossword Guide’ in the right hand side index, I always have the printed copy to hand.

Comments are closed.