Toughie 332

Toughie No 332 by Giovanni

A Blast from the Past

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

You need to be of a certain age to remember some of the references in this puzzle. We have a U.S. statesman from the 1960s and a cricketer who played his last test match in 1961. This certainly qualified as a Toughie in terms of difficulty, but it was a bit disappointing for a Giovanni, with a scarcity of “Aha” moments and some less than smooth surface readings.
As always we like to hear your views – please take the time to leave a comment.

Across Clues

1a  Instrument with groan grabbed by second man able to have a good look (5-7)
{SHARP-SIGHTED} – the definition is able to have a good look, i.e. having keen vision. Put a stringed musical instrument and SIGH (groan) between S(econd) and an abbreviated male name. The surface reading is pretty poor.

9a/12a   With money, see fantastic seaside all around islands (4,6)
{EAST INDIES} – we need a slang word for money, around which goes an anagram (fantastic) of SEASIDE to get a loose term, which is not well defined but which can be taken to refer to all the islands between Australia and South-East Asia.

10a  What’s visible from flight? Look thoroughly when you hear (9)
{STAIRWELL} – the flight being referred to is what you use to go up or down inside a building and what’s visible is what you see if you look around you when you’re going up or down it. The word sounds like (when you hear) look fixedly and thoroughly.

13a  May, being cricketer back in the pavilion, fade away (5,3)
{PETER OUT} – the word order in this double definition is a bit awkward because the setter had to put May at the start to disguise the fact that it is someone’s name. In fact it’s the surname of the England cricket captain of the late 1950s, and we want his first name followed by what he’s been given by the umpire when he’s back in the pavilion. The answer is also a phrasal verb meaning to dwindle or fade away.

15a  Don’t rush making statement about midshipman’s action (4,4,2)
{EASY DOES IT} – a double definition – firstly an exhortation to take your time and do something slowly and carefully (don’t rush!), and secondly a statement relating to the action of the midshipman hero of Captain Maryatt’s novel set in the Napoleonic Wars.

16a  Panic when one edge disappears on the wing (4)
{ALAR} – start with a word meaning a state of fear or panic and remove the final M (one edge disappears) to leave an adjective meaning relating to a wing.

18a  Mathematical point English academic put across the wrong way (4)
{NODE} – a mathematical term for a point at which a curve intersects itself is a reversal (put across the wrong way) of E(nglish) and a member of the teaching staff at a university (academic).

20a  Maid out helping gains approval (10)
{ADMIRATION} – an anagram (out) of MAID is followed by a helping or allotment.

23a  Group about to meet the stars moves in ‘moony’ fashion (8 )
{LIBRATES} – group is SET – reverse this (about) and put it after (to meet) a constellation (the stars) which has given its name to one of the signs of the zodiac to get a verb meaning to oscillate (as the moon does).

24a  Jar, in essence very large (6)
{PITHOS} – a large Greek storage jar is to be found in a charade of a word meaning the central and most important part of something (essence) and the clothing size abbreviation for outsize (very large).

26a  Very small handout about to be given to city for sports facility (9)
{VELODROME} – start with V(ery) and follow this with a payment to unemployed people from the state (small handout) which has to be reversed and the name of a European capital city. You should end up with a type of stadium (sports facility) for a sport at which Team GB is doing rather well at the moment.

27a  Places I pass on the way back (4)
{LOCI} – a word (from latin) for places is I and a mountain pass all reversed (on the way back).

28a  See Methodist err badly and survive tumultuous experience (4,3,5)
{RIDE THE STORM} – an anagram (badly) of METHODIST ERR gives us a phrase (which is more often seen with “out” in it) which has nautical derivations (although it’s also used figuratively) and which means to come safely through bad weather or a difficult situation.

Down Clues

2d  Loonies in house facing terrible deaths (8 )
{HOTHEADS} – These loonies are made from an abbreviation of house followed by an anagram (terrible) of DEATHS.

3d  Dean beginning to row on Welsh river (4)
{RUSK} – the first letter (beginning) of R(ow) is followed by a Welsh river which rises in mid-Wales and flows through Newport on its way to the Severn estuary to get the surname of the U.S. Secretary of State (first name Dean) who served in the 1960s under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

4d  Occasion for red carpet, say — one to come in sight shortly (5,5)
{STATE VISIT} – the arrival of the head of a foreign country (occasion for red carpet) is made from a synonym for to say followed by a word for sight or view with its final A dropped (shortly) and with an I (one) inserted (to come in).

5d  Composer entering Greek store (6)
{GARNER} – put the surname of the composer who wrote Rule Brittania! inside (entering) GR (IVR code for Greece) to get a verb meaning to gather and store.

6d  Loftier ground suits plant (7)
{TREFOIL} – an anagram (ground) of LOFTIER furnishes us with a small European plant with three-lobed clover-like leaves.

7d  Oldster is in a muddle, not knowing which course to take? (12)
{DILATORINESS} – a noun meaning procrastination or loitering is an anagram (muddle) of OLDSTER IS IN A.

8d  Immature insect behaving badly, losing tail (6)
{CADDIS} – the larva (immature insect) of a particular type of fly is made from an adjective meaning behaving like an absolute bounder (badly) without its final H (losing tail).

11d  Cohabiting partner catching cold gets to sit back in luxury (4,2,6)
{LIVE IN CLOVER} – a description of a sexual partner who has moved in with you (4-2,5) has C(old) inserted (catching) to get a phrase meaning to have a luxurious existence.

14d  What sounds like gong — thus this person is prying (10)
{MEDDLESOME} – a homophone (what sounds like) of medal (gong) is followed by SO (thus) and a pronoun identifying the person writing to get an adjective describing someone who is given to interfering in another’s business (prying). I can’t make any sense out of the surface reading.

17d  Underground explorer keeps ailing, one with gripes (8 )
{CAVILLER} – someone who explores underground hollows has a synonym for ailing or sick included (keeps) to get a nit-picker (one with gripes).

19d  Expert was injured — acted like an amateur? (7)
{DABBLED} – a charade of an expert person and a verb meaning was injured (and possibly needed a transfusion) gives us a verb meaning applied oneself to something in a superficial and less than whole-hearted way (acted like an amateur).

21d  Greek island with a castle not entirely visible (6)
{ITHACA} – the name of the Greek island is hidden (visible) across more than one word (not entirely) in the clue.

22d  Violent robber heading off to pursue quiet scholar (6)
{PANDIT} – start with a word for an outlaw or violent robber and remove the initial B (heading off). Then put what remains after (pursue) P (piano, quiet) to get a Hindu scholar learned in philosophy and culture. This word has come into English from Hindu and is used to mean (as Chambers wittily puts it) someone who considers himself or herself an authority (but it is normally spelt with a U instead of the A).

25d  Opening payment (4)
{RENT} – double definition.
The clues I liked today included 15a, 4d and 22d, but my clue of the day is 26a. Let us know what you thought!


  1. Posted April 7, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Fortunately for me I did this puzzle on CluedUp soon after midnight and was unaware of the name of the setter – consequently my hopes had not been raised by the prospect of an excellent puzzle from Giovanni. Several of the clues look like they were written fifty years ago and are being recycled. For me this was **** / *. not **** / ***

    Here is a video to play while solving this one.


    Thanks for the review, Gazza

  2. BigBoab
    Posted April 7, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I quite enjoyed this offering from Giovanni, not one of his best however. My favourite clues were 15a and 11d.

  3. Jezza
    Posted April 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I spent too much time on this, and gave up in the end with half a dozen unsolved. I cannot find much criticism with this puzzle, although maybe a little unexciting. Thanks to Gazza for the comprehensive explanations.

  4. Mike (Touchwood)
    Posted April 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Somewhat unremarkable, but a decent puzzle. Needed all the cluedup letter hints to finish it – not to mention some Googling for 24a. I couldn’t find 8d defined as “an immature form” but rather as a species.

    Many thanks for the review.

    • Mike (Touchwood)
      Posted April 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Actually, Trichoptera, a family of around 3000 species.

      • gazza
        Posted April 7, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

        According to Chambers Caddis is the larva of the caddis fly and lives in water in a caddis-case which is a silken sheath. So it’s an immature form.

  5. Digby
    Posted April 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Not one of Mr G’s best, and only saved for me by arousing memories of Peter May & Colin Cowdery flaying the West Indian pace attack all over the Oval – and not a helmet in sight.

  6. Prolixic
    Posted April 7, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Back in Blighty so am catching up on Sunday to Wednesday’s puzzles. I thought this was a solid if not spectacular puzzle. 3d was a little too obscure. Although the wordplay was easy, I could not see any link between Dean and the answer.

  7. Posted April 7, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Second clue I got was 13a, and it was good enough to make up for a medium puzzle otherwise.

    Harry Shipley

  8. Derek
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A very late comment from me – I started the puzzle this morning but other commitments meant I had to finish it late this afternoon.
    I liked 13a, 16a, 23a & 26a. 3d,11d & 21d best. I remember Dean Rusk and Peter May very .well from my younger days.
    Incidentally Gazza, “usk” is the same root as Gaelic “uisge” which made 3d easy for me!
    Uisge beatha – water of life. Pass me the malt!

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