Toughie 205

Toughie No 205 by Giovanni
Sounds Unusual

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

I thought that this one was quite tricky and Giovanni, as always, is good at using unusual meanings of common words (like ‘sound’ in 5a). There are a few queries that I have, and these are highlighted in the review. I’d be delighted to get your comments on these or any other matters.
Please take the time to click on one of the stars at the bottom to indicate how entertaining you found the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a  Setback when there’s commercial break — it could be interrupting play (3,5)
{BAD LIGHT} – the setback is a BLIGHT – put AD (commercial) inside (break) to get a condition which often causes a cricket match to be suspended.

5a  Make sense of sound (6)
{FATHOM} – double definition – sound here means ‘measure the depth of water’.

9a  Sequence of four notes from past (8 )
{SOMETIME} – string together four notes from tonic sol-fa to get this unspecified point in the past (which can also mean an unspecified point in the future!).

10a  Female subordinate’s bloomer (6)
{FLOWER} – put together F(emale) and LOWER to get this bloomer. A rare easy one which was my way in to the puzzle.

12a  I bond almost entirely with professional killers (3,3)
{ICE MEN} – combine I and most of CEMENt (bond) to get this US slang term for professional killers.

13a  Country falling short repeatedly in respect of good health! (4-4)
{CHIN-CHIN} – an interjection once used as a toast is made from CHINa (most of country) repeated.

15a  Blandishments from elder maybe to get a class enthralled (7)
{TREACLE} – elder here (signalled by maybe) is a TREE – put A CL(ass) inside (enthralled) to get a word which means blandishments. I’d never heard of this meaning of the answer, but Chambers as always is invaluable.

16a  Document with wiggle he ignored (4)
{WRIT} – wriggle is WRITHE – take off the he.

20a  Oxford college without love or money (4)
{RIEL} – the Oxford college is ORIEL – take off the O (love) to leave the Cambodian currency.

21a  Sculptures, say, suitable for putting around close (4,3)
{FINE ART} – put FIT (suitable) around NEAR (close).

25a/26a   Argue or maybe sound joyful in the course of puzzles (8,6)
{CROSSING SWORDS} – I think that the definition here should be arguing rather than argue [See comment from Giovanni below]. The phrase is made by putting SING (maybe sound joyful) inside the sort of puzzles that we all like doing.

26a  See 25a

28a  Sort of plant to stick in the shade (6)
{LEGUME} – LEE means shelter, but it is shelter from the wind rather than shelter from light or heat which is what shade is. Put GUM (to stick) inside to get a plant of the pea or bean family.

29a  Relationship through paternal line in a good country (8 )
{AGNATION} – the definition is relationship through the paternal line, and to get it string together A, G(ood) and NATION.

30a  Case of person living in country wanting new leader (6)
{DATIVE} – those of us who studied Latin or German at school will remember this as a grammatical case indicating an indirect object or recipient. A person living in a country is a NATIVE – change the first letter (leader) to a D.

31a  Don’t get hold of THIS old group (4,4)
{TAKE THAT} – Giovanni has kindly capitalised THIS to emphasise that we need to get hold of THAT to get the name of an old group which somebody, somewhere must like.

Down Clues

1d  Playin’ in the street with a boot (6)
{BUSKIN} – playing in the street is BUSKING – drop the final G to match the way playin’ is presented and you get an old boot.

2d  It’s not so dry? Check (6)
{DAMPER} – double definition.

3d  The irony that’s funny on paper (2,6)
{IN THEORY} – an anagram (that’s funny) of THE IRONY gives a term meaning on paper.

4d/14d  Man moans — hope is abandoned (4,7)
{HOMO SAPIENS} – the definition is man, and it’s an anagram (abandoned) of MOANS HOPE IS.

6d  Breaking down when female’s gone, languishing (6)
{AILING} – breaking down is FAILING – just take the F(emale) away.

7d  What unusual outgrowth may be seen in tree? (8 )
{HAWTHORN} – the name of the tree is constructed from an anagram (unusual) of WHAT followed by HORN (outgrowth).

8d  Mark meeting pouring rain had to get soaked (8 )
{MARINATE} – put together M (mark, former German currency), an anagram (pouring) of RAIN and ATE (had) to form a verb meaning to soak food prior to cooking in order to improve its flavour. I’m not sure in what sense ‘pouring’ can signal an anagram – any views?

11d  Rebel taking on board a golfer and a football team (7)
{CHELSEA} – the rebel is the traditional South American revolutionary – insert (Ernie) ELS (South African golfer) and add A to get this well-funded football team, which does not seem to be doing so well since the special one left.

14d  See 4d

17d  Ploy was first to get leaked (8 )
{TRICKLED} – a charade of TRICK (ploy) and LED (was first).

18d  Begged to have existence as escaped prisoner (8 )
{BESOUGHT} – double definition, the second semi-cryptic – for begged we want the past tense of the verb to beseech.

19d  Below summit dash up for a drink (5,3)
{BROWN ALE} – summit is BROW – below this put ELAN (dash) which has to be reversed (up) to form an alcoholic drink which is not as popular as it used to be.

22d  Writer is a revolutionary wanting endless progress (6)
{ASIMOV} – start with an anagram (revolutionary) of IS A and add MOVe (progress without the final letter) to get my favourite science fiction writer who coined the three laws of robotics.

23d  Wight is island around which there’s anger (6)
{WRAITH} – wight is an obsolete word for a supernatural being or ghost. Form a synonym by putting WRATH (anger) around I(sland). Neat surface reading!

24d  See nut’s ridiculous computer collection (6)
{USENET} – an Internet service consisting of a huge collection of newsgroups is formed from an anagram (ridiculous) of SEE NUT.

27d  It has ace tomb, not very English! (4)
{AGRA} – a good attempt at an all-in-one clue produces a city in Uttar Pradesh which is the site of the Taj Mahal. Put together A(ce) and GRAVE without the VE (not very English).

I liked 5a, 30a and 27d, but my clue of the day is 18d. What about you? – leave us a comment and please don’t forget to vote below!



  1. Ranger
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    8d. I’ve seen it before but only in connection with liquids which seems fair enough.

  2. Giovanni
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Hands up (again!) For 25A read ‘Arguing? Maybe …’ My mistake, very sorry.

    • gazza
      Posted August 26, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that. It’s great to get feedback from the setter. I’ll be reviewing the Friday Cryptic this week so perhaps we’ll speak again!

    • Libellule
      Posted August 26, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      25a works for me as is e.g.
      “”Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words” = argue.

      • gazza
        Posted August 26, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        … but because the first word of the answer is a present participle the definition needs to be a present participle as well.

        • Libellule
          Posted August 26, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink


      • Libellule
        Posted August 26, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Well blow me down. Clued up for Toughie 205 now reads for 25 and 26a
        “25 & 26 Arguing? Maybe sound joyful in the course of puzzles (8)”
        They have just replaced the puzzle.

        • gazza
          Posted August 26, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

          Giovanni obviously has a hot line to Clued Up! I presume that the paper has the old clue – could someone please let us know?

          • Giovanni
            Posted August 26, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            Yes, indeed. When I know of a definite error I try (painful though it is) to own up so that future solvers (in a book, say) can have an unblemished puzzle. In addition to the apology, my thanks to the blogger for pointing out the mistake! Now I’d like to forget it asap please!

          • Harry Shipley
            Posted August 26, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            The paper has “argue”; and the emphasis in 31A is in italics, which might have helped me a bit more. I’m afraid I didn’t get it, partly because pop music is a big black hole in my life. Lots of other things make up for the loss…

            Harry Shipley

          • bigboab
            Posted August 26, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

            Yes it has, this does not detract from the great enjoyment Giovannis’ crossword gives to us, a true master!

  3. mary
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    love 9a :)