Toughie 257

Toughie No 257 by Kcit

Under False Colours

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

So you’ve raced through today’s Cryptic in record time and you’re looking for something a bit more challenging, but you’re wary of trying the Toughie because you think it will be beyond you? Think again, today’s puzzle is a pussycat, certainly no more difficult than an average Telegraph Cryptic, and easier, in my opinion, than yesterday’s Cryptic. If you’ve never tried a Toughie this is the one to start with.

It’s a perfectly good puzzle with some well-constructed and entertaining clues, but I do feel that the Telegraph is verging on a contravention of the Trades Description Act in describing it as the toughest puzzle on Fleet Street and “our most devious cryptic puzzle ever”. Certainly some Toughies fall into that category, but this one? – no.

Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave a comment.

Across Clues

1a  You’re apprehended — the consequence of a beating? (3,4,2,2)
{THE GAME IS UP} – double definition, the second cryptic – a phrase meaning that capture has put an end to your exploits is also the situation after the beaters have disturbed the game birds and driven them towards the guns. A good attempt at misdirection with “beating”.

7a  Deployment of line or a gun shows weakness (7)
{LANGUOR} – an anagram (deployment) of L(ine) OR A GUN.

8a  Scripture lessons given by Father in modern Scots town (7)
{RENFREW} – string together RE (scripture lessons) and NEW (modern) and put FR (Father) inside.

10a  Description of sprinter consuming energy meal (5)
{FEAST} – is this really a Toughie clue?

11a  Spiteful, throttling one King instead of another (9)
{VICARIOUS} – the definition is “instead of another” – put VICIOUS (spiteful) around A R(ex).

12a  Prince and Queen featuring in part of movie (earlier instalment) (7)
{PREQUEL} – start with P(rince) and then put QU(een) inside REEL.

14a  Ban doctor probing part of head and leave (7)
{EMBARGO} – part of head is EAR – put MB (doctor) inside and add GO.

15a  Flexible shop transaction, backed to take less than a second (7)
{ELASTIC} – shop transaction is SALE – reverse this and add TIC(k).

18a  Old navigational tool, special and still in use (7)
{SEXTANT} – combine S(pecial) and EXTANT (still in use).

20a  Many cheer Rocky’s opponent (4-5)
{ARCH-ENEMY} – an anagram (rocky) of MANY CHEER. Nice surface reading.

21a  Film star contributing to many a good house? (5)
{GABLE} – double definition – the surname of a film star is part of the structure of a house.

22a  Take up level position, being still unconscious (4,3)
{EVEN OUT}- double definition.

23a  Old car journey hard? Little hesitation getting on board (7)
{TRIUMPH} – the definition is old car – start with TRIP (journey), add H(ard) and put UM (little hesitation) inside (on board).

Triumph Spitfire

24a  Film bloke in field chasing most of them (3,5,3)
{THE THIRD MAN} – the name of a famous film starring Orson Welles is constructed from a fielding position at cricket which follows THE(m).

Down Clues

1d  Bible translator foremost in Tewkesbury and Ely, possibly (7)
{TYNDALE} – the name of the Protestant reformer and bible translator who came to a grisly end starts with T (foremost letter of Tewkesbury) and this is followed by an anagram (possibly) of AND ELY.

2d  Become very angry, being clean upset over end of it (5)
{ERUPT} – clean is PURE – reverse this (upset) and add the last letter of iT.

3d  A Queen looking down on opponent’s appearance (7)
{ARRIVAL} – A R(egina) precedes (looks down on, in a down clue) RIVAL (opponent).

4d  Each girl getting cut exhibits pain (7)
{EARACHE} – start with EA(ch) and add most of RACHE(L).

5d  Military position: to fight after second incursion (6,3)
{SENTRY BOX} – shelter for the guardsman – put BOX (fight) after S(econd) and ENTRY (incursion).

6d  Room’s dangerous, missing end, right? (7)
{PARLOUR} – dangerous is PARLOUS – remove the last letter and add R(ight).

7d  Long sentence always found in part of book indicating national honour (4,7)
{LIFE PEERAGE} – a long sentence in prison is LIFE – add PAGE (part of book) with E’ER (poetic form of ever, always) inside.

9d  Dentist’s targets: modest, white, drilled (6,5)
{WISDOM TEETH} – an anagram (drilled) of MODEST WHITE.

13d  In trouble? That’s the standard position! (2,3,4)
{UP THE POLE} – I’ve never heard this phrase used, but it apparently means in a predicament and it derives from the difficulties faced by a sailor having to climb the mast. Cryptically it’s where you would fly a flag (standard).

16d  Pistol, say — nice shot — carried by soldier (7)
{ANCIENT} – an anagram (shot) of NICE inside (carried by) ANT. The reference is not to a firearm but to the character Pistol who appeared as an ancient (meaning ensign in Elizabethan English) in Henry IV Part 2.

17d  A fast runner, he gets ahead of Greek character entering church (7)
{CHEETAH} – the fastest land animal is made from HE and ETA inside CH(urch).

18d  Shifty lawyer, mostly unrelenting after trial (7)
{SHYSTER} – a trial or a shot is a SHY – add most of STER(n).

19d  Source of protein — meal dished up with bun (7)
{ALBUMEN} – an anagram (dished up) of MEAL and BUN.

21d  Author audiobook confuses with Sterne? (5)
{GRIMM} – the surname of the brothers who produced those gruesome fairy tales sounds like (audiobook confuses) a synonym for a word that sounds like (Laurence) Sterne. The use of audiobook is certainly a novel way of indicating this somewhat complicated homophone!

I liked 11a, 20a and 16d today, but my favourite clue is 1a. How about you? – leave us a comment and please remember to vote by clicking on one of the stars below.


  1. Jezza
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:06 am | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe not a Toughie… but a thoroughly enjoyable cryptic!

    • Libellule
      Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:17 am | Permalink | Reply

      Have to agree, this would have been perfectly at home on the back page…. if anything I would have preferred doing this than the normal cryptic today. At least it wasn’t full of “strange” girls names.

      • Jezza
        Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink | Reply

        …2d was the last one I entered into the cryptic… guessed at NERISSA..

        • gnomethang
          Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink | Reply

          I got the answer from the wordplay but its pretty damned obscure as a girl’s name!

  2. Prolixic
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:28 am | Permalink | Reply

    Spot on with the review – today was one of those rare days when I had polished off the Daily, the Toughie and the Quick Crosswords before reaching Waterloo. Kcit can produce some really good Toughies but this and his previous outing have been below his usual standard of difficulty.

    It was an enjoyable puzzle and well clued but it simply lacked any meat to get your teeth into.

  3. gnomethang
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink | Reply

    Agree with everything Above. Same as Prolixic – DT, Toughie and Sudoku complete before London Bridge.
    Still a good puzzle albeit not Toughie.
    Favourites were 23a, 14a, 16a but 21d was top of the shop for me – Loved the homophone indication and the way it contributed to the surface reading.

    Thanks for the review, gazza.

  4. gazza
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    For those who feel that today’s Cryptic and Toughie offerings have left them wanting more, there’s a far more substantial puzzle in the Guardian by our friend Giovanni (aka Pasquale).

    • Prolixic
      Posted November 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Brilliant – journey home sorted!

      • Prolixic
        Posted November 25, 2009 at 6:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Or 2/3rds of it anyway! Excellent puzzle and lots more to chew on.

        • gnomethang
          Posted November 25, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Failing on 26a (slack) and most of SE corner (fish scientist sermon fortune)
          I am assuming 3d is doom.
          Despite all this, enjoyable but I suspect I am on the wrong ‘blog!!!

          • gazza
            Posted November 25, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

            As you say we’re on the wrong blog, but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.
            3d is DOOM (DO + OM) (I was held up in this corner for some time time by putting “put one’s foot down” for 9a instead of “put your foot down”)
            26a is STACK – S(ale) + TACK
            21a is BARB – double definition
            22d is BOYLE – sounds like (reported) boil
            27a is DISCOURSE (DISCO + anag of SURE)
            24d is LUDO – LU(ck) + DO

            • gnomethang
              Posted November 25, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Thanks for that! I had just got stack (for the wrong reasons and also ludo.
              Should really have got the others in SE. I was looking at Do not Disco!
              I had the same problem in NW but doom was unknown as ” the last trump”
              my apologies for hijacking the blog – there is no real equivalent for the Grauniad!

              • gazza
                Posted November 25, 2009 at 8:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

                Guardian puzzles do get reviewed in fifteensquared (see link in the side panel under Crossword Blogs).

    • gnomethang
      Posted November 25, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Nice one!
      Printed off and in my pocket!
      Thanks for the heads up.

  5. nanaglugglug
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Loved 23a as reminded me of an old Vitesse convertible we had years ago, which had a hole in the floor an made motorway travelling very exciting!! Sorry to digress – nice puzzle but couldn’t do it justice as we are in the middle of moving house, after 32 years in the same place and I think I am having trouble concentrating. Hope Tilsit is OK?

  6. Touchwood
    Posted November 26, 2009 at 10:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    Completed this morning as a busy day yesterday – thanks for the review, spot on. Favourite would have been 1a had I seen the “beating” reference but I missed it totally – thought that the game was over when one was beat was the meaning – so I missed the enjoyment of getting a very nice clue for the right reasons!!

  7. Posted November 28, 2009 at 10:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    Perfectly good puzzle, but as stated, not really a Toughie.

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