Toughie 292

Toughie No 292 by Campbell

Smoke and Mirrors

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

There’s nothing really wrong with this puzzle (if you disregard a couple of dodgy anagram indicators) except that it’s not really a Toughie. All the clues, with the possible exception of 12a, could have appeared in a daily cryptic, and not one of the harder ones at that. So, what’s going on? Surely, with the luxury of having two cryptic puzzles in the paper, it should be possible to arrange it such that there are two distinct ranges of difficulty?

Let us know what you think! – please leave a comment.

Across Clues

7a  Soul singer’s two boys (8 )
{ROBINSON} – what we want is the surname of a soul singer who is known as Smokey. This is made up of a common boy’s forename (think of the legendary outlaw) and a male child.

9a  A gun each (6)
{APIECE} – double definition, the first (1,5) a term for a firearm in North America.

10a  Lively fellow, hairy (6)
{FRISKY} – the definition is lively. Start with F(ellow) and add a synonym for hairy or dangerous.

11a  Abrupt dramatist, eccentric and unpredictable type (4,4)
{WILD CARD} – put together the surname of an Irish dramatist minus its last letter (abrupt) and an eccentric person to get someone whose influence is unpredictable.

12a  What can make G-man spit in favourite haunt? (8-6)
{STAMPING-GROUND} – this is one of those clever reverse clues. The definition is favourite haunt and the answer can be read as a clue to an anagram which will lead to (can make) G-MAN SPIT.

15a  Box blows over (4)
{SPAR} – think of box as a verb rather than a noun.

17a  Animal seen in many a land (5)
{NYALA} – a type of antelope is hidden (seen) in the clue.

19a  Instant credit (4)
{TICK} – double definition.

20a  As well as bagging game, sailor attends club for midnight meeting (7,7)
{WITCHES’ SABBATH} – as well as is WITH, and inside this put in turn a) a board game, b) an abbreviation for a sailor, and c) a club used for hitting. You should end up with a midnight meeting of the coven (and the subject of a Goya painting).

23a  Left home, adopted by nun (8 )
{SINISTER} – the definition is left. Put IN (home) inside (adopted by) a synonym for nun.

25a  Unhappy about everyone suffering a setback in oil centre (6)
{DALLAS} – put a synonym for unhappy around a word meaning everyone and reverse the lot (suffering a setback) to get a Texas city, centre of the oil industry (and one-time soap opera – who can forget the turbulent relationship of JR and Swellin’ ?).

27a  Forms army officer left out (6)
{GENERA} – remove the L (left out) from the rank of a senior army officer to get a plural word meaning groups or species (forms). I was unaware that form had this meaning but Chambers does give it as meaning species or kind.

28a  A dram inn served bureaucrat (8 )
{MANDARIN} – an anagram (served?) of A DRAM INN.

Down Clues

1d  Excursion from French city cut short (4)
{TOUR} – remove the final letter (cut short) from a city in central France to leave an excursion.

2d  Turn down quantity of filled dumplings (3,3)
{DIM SUM} – a charade of a verb meaning to turn down the lights and a quantity or total produces a dish of steamed or fried Chinese dumplings.

3d  Interference to broadcast around the north (4)
{SNOW} – specks on the TV screen caused by electrical interference used to be commonplace. Put a verb meaning to broadcast or scatter around N(orth).

4d  Snip scut of rabbit, initially (6)
{TAILOR} – a worker for whom snip is a slang term is assembled from a synonym for scut followed by the initial letters of O(f) R(abbit).

5d  Take no notice of cut (8 )
{DISCOUNT} – double definition.

6d  Cry as cadet condemned coward (7-3)
{SCAREDY-CAT} – an anagram (condemned?) of CRY AS CADET.

8d  Gloomy, staying unsettled (7)
{STYGIAN} – an anagram (unsettled) of STAYING gives an adjective meaning gloomy, relating to one of the rivers of Hades.

13d  Machine, pretty faulty having loose wire inside (10)
{TYPEWRITER} – this machine, now largely superseded, is formed from an anagram (faulty) of PRETTY with another anagram (loose) of WIRE inside.

14d  See head of glamour girl in mirror (5)
{GLASS} – the first letter (head) of G(lamour) is followed by a synonym of girl.

16d  Advance payment for servant (8 )
{RETAINER} – double definition.

18d  A gang working in desert (7)
{ABANDON} – a charade leads to a verb meaning to desert.

21d  Killer in bestseller by husband (6)
{HITMAN} – the definition is a professional killer. Put an informal word for a bestseller in front of how a wife may refer to her husband.

22d  A couple of lines in poor song (6)
{BALLAD} – put A and a pair of L(ines) inside a synonym for poor.

24d  Frost’s poem, reportedly (4)
{RIME} – this is a word meaning frost which sounds like (reportedly) a poem. It’s nothing to do with Robert Frost, although he did write about snowy conditions in one of my favourite poems:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

26d  Song from Callas needing no introduction (4)
{ARIA} – take off the initial letter (needing no introduction) of the Callas forename to leave a song which she might have sung.

The clues I liked included 20a and 2d, but my favourite was 12a. Let us know what you thought of it via a comment.



  1. gnomethang
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Have to agree with you gazza. 12a was favourite and nothing else there was particularly Toughie. I thought that 10a and 20a were pretty good as well.

  2. Prolixic
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know what has happened to Campbell’s puzzles. Some of his earlier puzzles were worthy of the name Toughie. The last couple have not lived up to his earlier promise. Favourites were 11a and 12a.

  3. Jezza
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Not very tricky.. my only stupid mistake was trying to fit MORISSON into 7a. (Apart from misspelling his name, I don’t think he’d take too kindly to being described as a soul singer!)

  4. Libellule
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    After yesterday’s – this was a walk in the park! Certainly a Toughie that everybody should have a go at. Favourite has to 1d, for other reasons.

  5. Chris
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Compared with yesterday this seemed much more up my street. For non toughie regulars its good to be able to (almost) finish one!
    I didn’t like 21 down and had not heard of 2d.

    the latin genus is fourth declension neuter and has genera as nom,voc and acc plural.

    Where is the blog for today’s cryptic? (which was a bit basic but had some super clues…great fun)

    • John McKie
      Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      third declension

      • Chris
        Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        sorry not wanting to mislead
        45 years of memory …tut..tut

      • Furius
        Posted January 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        As in ‘sui generis’ which is genitive singular.

  6. Chris
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Its just appeared…

  7. nanaglugglug
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Must have been easier than usual as we had it solved in no time, but then, I like it like that – good for the ego!! Loved 25a

  8. Uptodat
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Elated to finish a Toughie in less than hour then I find everyone found it easy-peasy, so a bit deflated now. On my first run through I only got 3 d and wasn’t even sure about that.
    Hadn’t heard of 17a. 7a last in after working through the alphabet. Note well up on soul singers so I had Morisson at one point and even Peterson before that.