Toughie 291 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 291

Toughie No 291 by Giovanni

Well, I enjoyed it!

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

Sorry for the delay, but it’s been a busy day today.  I like my Toughies to be tough and this one certainly was.  While you may not like some of the constructs, all of the clues were, as ever with Giovanni, fair.


9a           Firm established by shoemaker, not at home (5)
{CRISP} – a trap for the unwary here in that firm is an adjective not a noun! – you get there by removing IN (not at home) from the name of the patron saint of cobblers, tanners and leather workers – there are two such patrons with similar names, but only one of them fits the bill

10a         Spooner’s beautiful maiden sounded like a cow swelling inside the body (5,4)
{LYMPH NODE} – this swelling inside the body could have been described by the Rev Spooner as a nymph lowed (beautiful maiden sounded like a cow) – I’m not a great fan of artificial spoonerisms, what  do you think?

11a         Trendy seaside place British avoided (5,2)
{RIGHT ON} – an expression meaning trendy is created by removing the B (British avoided) from a famous seaside resort

12a         Ray, a boy said to smile (7)
{SUNBEAM} – this ray of light sounds like son (boy, said) and beam (smile)

13a         Woman with worry about being short (5)
{SARAH} – this woman’s name comes from reversing (about) after truncating (being short) HARAS(S) (worry)

14a         Leader that is getting newspaper into row (9)
{CHIEFTAIN} – put IE (Id Est / that is) and FT (newspaper) inside a row, as in a row of mountains, and the result is a leader of men

16a         Team of potential world-beaters? Non! (6,9)
{BOLTON WANDERERS} – a big smile when you get this Premiership football team by solving the anagram of WORLD-BEATERS NON

19a         Author in cutter in Scottish water (9)
{THACKERAY} – the author of Vanity Fair, to name but one, is built up from HACKER (cutter) inside the Scottish river with the bridge best known for falling down

21a         Scotsman in endless pain? Not I (5)
{ANGUS} – still in Scotland – this name comes from ANGU(I)S(H) – endless and without the I

23a         The man put in new robot for old instrument (7)
{THEORBO} – put HE (the man) inside an anagram of ROBOT and you get one of those instruments that is known to hardly anybody (except, perhaps, crossword setters)

25a         Showing more emotion when there’s little support (7)
{WEEPIER} – a word meaning crying more (showing more emotion) is built up from WEE (little in guess where?) and a support (like the one in the seaside resort from 11a?)

27a         Giving away too much with respect to children (9)
{OVERISSUE} – a word meaning giving away too much is a charade of OVER (with respect to) and a synonym for children

28a         Weak son must first get the muscular strength (5)
{THEWS} – this was a tough one – W (weak – in particle physics a W particle or W boson is a hypothetical positively or negatively charged subatomic particle of large mass, responsible in theory for weak interaction between particles) and S(on) are preceded by THE to get a word meaning muscular strength – I was surprised that W was allowed as an abbreviation for weak, but unusually Chambers actually explained why


1d           Some space reserved for tree (4)
{ACER} – it’s always nice when the setter presents you with a gift like this at the beginning of the puzzle – the tree is hidden inside the second and third words

2d           Large fish found in Scottish town (6)
{BIGGAR} – then it’s not so nice when the following clue involves one of those towns that most of us had never, before today, heard of – according to Wikipedia it has a population of around 2,000 so it’s not much biggar (sic) than a village – a charade of a word meaning large and a fish will find it

3d           This chicken’s a goner — hit when going round area at maximum velocity (10)
{SPATCHCOCK} – this chicken has been slit lengthways, opened out, and cooked (usually  grilled) flat so it’s not surprising that it’s a goner – put SOCK (hit) around PATCH (area) and C (the speed of light / maximum velocity)

4d           Medical establishment? Class one ‘less than wholly pleasant’ (6)
{CLINIC} – a medical establishment that is built up from CL(ass) I (one) and NIC(E) (less than wholly pleasant)

5d           Round trip perhaps getting cut (8)
{OMISSION} – add together O (round) and a trip, as in a trip into outer space, and you get something that has been cut or left out

6d           Fine intelligent king got rid of (4)
{THIN} – to get a word meaning fine, in the sense of slender, you need to remove king (king got rid of) from THIN(KING) (intelligent)

7d           Adore material produced by poet (8)
{LOVELACE} – a word meaning to adore and another which is a fancy type of material combine to get a seventeenth century English poet

8d           Preaches in Home Counties, more sins being about (10)
{SERMONISES} – a word meaning preaches is derived from SE (South East of England / Home Counties) followed by an anagram (being about) of MORE SINS

13d         A place noted for its transforming power? (10)
{SUBSTATION} – a cryptic definition of a place where electricity is transformed for low-tension distribution

15d         People who do what they like to make a toilet available again? (4,6)
{FREE AGENTS} – another smile as these people who do what they like are built up from FREE A GENTS (make a toilet available again)

17d         Withdraw from young hooligan getting pepped up (8)
{LEAVENED} – put together a word meaning to withdraw from and NED (a young hooligan) and you get a word meaning pepped up in some dictionaries – Chambers has inspired or stimulated among the available synonyms

18d         It could be Copenhagen’s well-loved piece of music (8)
{WARHORSE} – a section in The Mine for famous horses and riders was suggested some time ago and I haven’t forgotten it;  I have yet to decide where to draw the line as currently I have about 750 entries to verify. Why do I mention this?  Because Copenhagen was the famous steed of the Duke of Wellington.  BTW this word also means any standard, familiar, reliable, much-performed piece of music.

20d         Leaders of expedition desperately trapped under boat screamed (6)
{YAWLED} – this one gave me a lot of problems; yelled and yelped looked to be good candidates, but they have nothing to do with boats – put ED (leaders of Expedition Desperately) underneath (since this is a down clue) YAWL (a small fishing-boat) to get a word meaning screamed or howled

22d         Physicist finding gravitational constant on top of mountain (6)
{GEIGER} –Wikipedia’s list of physicists whose name starts with G has left this gentleman out – G (gravitational constant) on top of (once again, this works because it is a down clue) EIGER (mountain) finds him

24d         It’s right for a prince, as you may say, to be boisterous (4)
{ROIL} – you might say Your Royal Highness to a prince, and Royal sounds a bit like this word meaning to be boisterous

26d         Recruit losing heart is put down (4)
{RASE} – to RAISE means to recruit and if you drop the middle letter (losing heart) you get a word meaning to put down – you probably needed both of the checking letters (R?S?)  to get this one!

Once again Giovanni proves that he can make his puzzles as hard or as easy as he wants.  Brink it on Don, we can cope!

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27 comments on “Toughie 291

  1. Dave, Awaiting your comments, I liked the clue for 16A. Particularly as a Yorkshireman, but also because it doesn’t appear in the Anagram Solvers that I sometimes “cheat” and use in dire emergency!!

    1. Oh ye of little faith!

      It is finished, but it takes time to write it up. I did come close, but not too close, to losing my bonus on CluedUp.

  2. 23A and 28A new to me. Liked 18D and the silly 25A.

    Is it a Thackeray anniversary? Cropped up here and Times 13A on Monday 25th.

    I agree with your rating BD. Very enjoyable.

  3. Maybe it was me, but except for a couple of clues, e.g. 16a I thought this was a bit humourless for a Giovanni.

  4. The Clued Up folk giving me a one-smile rating seem to agree with Lib (though I never did understand what that was all about!). Very few solvers there, so maybe it was just too tough this time?

    1. I gave you five smiles on CluedUp!

      I guess a lot of “solvers” are waiting for the blog. When I published the answers 31 (including me) had completed the puzzle.

    2. Hmm not sure about the too tough, I thought it was about right. By that, it took me a few hours to get through it. Unlike BD I do this and work at the same time, so its a dip in dip out. Usually I can spot one of your crosswords a mile away, usually because of the surface reading, fairness of clues, but also because of the underlying humour, but not this one, I had to check who wrote it.
      Anyway apologies Giovanni, it’s still an excellent crossword :-)

    3. Great fun and a challenging work-out. This got five stars from me on BD’s rating. As its nice to have a Toughie you can really get your teeth into, I would not worry about being too tough. Many thanks for the puzzle.

  5. I probably gave up too easily and maybe was just having an off day, but I stopped with 10, 5, 6, 17, 20, 22 unsolved or (20) with a duff guess (TONUS – muscle tone, so not really right even for the def.) Also had a wrong RAIN (desperate guess from vaguely connected “reign” at 24).
    But 16 raised a laugh. Wondered a bit about wordplay at 21, first seeing ANG(st)+US = “not I”, then saw the light with a bit of the general ANGU(i)S(h). Leavened = “pepped up” seemed a bit woolly but Collins has the key word “enliven” in both defs. w=weak was unfamiliar but is in Chambers.

  6. Thoroughly enjoyable, though i initially had BARKED for 20d, which seemed to fit the clue perfectly.

  7. Too tough for me. Made a start but then ground to total halt. Well done Giovanni, because it does make sense when explained (thanks to BD) but while some seemed obvious eg 1d 12ac 14ac 19ac 23ac + 7and 8d, so many were unfathomable without the blog.
    biggar roil thews spatchcock yawled …all show what a sheltered life it has been!

  8. Doing fine until i put in ‘Waterloo’ for 18d. Seems like a better answer other than the fact that it doesn’t fit with the rest of the
    SW corner.!

    1. Welcome to the blog Dingo

      Waterloo was by a Swedish group!

      Horses to remember are Wellington’s Copenhagen, Napoleon’s Marengo and Comanche, the sole survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn,

  9. Unfair to theorbos! This conspicuous instrument turns up quite often in “original instrument” performances of baroque music. Here it is in the first Youtube clip I found for the Monteverdi vespers.

  10. Hi—I don’t usually attempt the Toughie (too difficult!!) but thought I would work backwards using the answers to help me with following clues as that is how one learns.

    I was a bit confused about the above answer to 18d (given as ‘Copenhagen’ but realise it should be ‘warhorse’

    23a ‘Theorbo’ was interesting as I saw three of these in a recent classical concert, and read up about them.

    Enjoyed doing this crossword and learning at the same time!

  11. I failed miserably with this one, completed about half. Even after seeing the answers there weren’t many “I should have got that ” moments either. I didn’t think it unfair just couldn’t get on the wavelength !

  12. I once passed through 2d on the way to Edinburgh. I wouldn’t have got the clue otherwise. It’s certainly a lot smaller than the place I live which is classified as a village.

  13. So out of sync – only just did this. Good but tough – brain drained! Worked out 2d from the clue but needed to verify its existence via Google.

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