Toughie 349

Toughie No 349 by Messinae

Hints and Tips by Tilsit

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I’d have probably said this was a 2 ½ for difficulty, absolutely right down the middle.  Delightfully exact cluing in a similar way to Giovanni and a few to make you smile as you solve.

As usual, have your say after the blog and tell us how you rated the puzzle with the star system.  New visitors should know that the answers to the clues are hidden between the squiggly brackets and you should highlight the space to see the solution.

Off we go.


1a  Funny ship from an opera’s central part (3,8)
{HMS PINAFORE}  We start today with an anagram clue, but the whole thing provides the definition.  You need to untangle an anagram of SHIP FROM AN + E (The central part of opera) to find a famous work by Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan.  A nice clue to start with.

10a  Tory leader captivated by Lord Mandelson perhaps (5)
{PETER}  Another word for a lord has T (Tory leader) inside to give Lord Mandelson’s first name.

11a  Fish in the sea’s spread (9)
{MARGARINE}        A pike-like fish goes inside a word meaning the sea (MARINE) to give something to put on your sandwiches….

12a  Sunday Telegraph initially to keep control of latest news (4,5)
{STOP PRESS}  A word sum.  ST (The initials of Sunday Telegraph) + OPPRESS (to keep control of) = A phrase meaning the latest news in a paper.

13a  Enjoying taking in right song’s first part (5)
{INTRO}  If you enjoy something you are said to be INTO it.  Insert an R (right) inside, to get the opening bars of a song.

14a  See Elizabeth’s player put in place (6)
{LOCATE}  Clever clue.  See = LO! Add to this the first name of the actress who won a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination for her role in Elizabeth.

16a  Man of the cloth to tear around always (8)
{REVEREND}  EVER =  always, with REND (to tear) around it to give the name associated with a vicar.

18a  Gangster stole one (8)
{SCARFACE}  A stole worn round the neck may be described as this.  Add to it what the one of something in playing cards is called.  This will lead you to the name of a gangster and one of Robert de Niro’s finest roles.

20a  Virgin Atlantic finally gets urgency (6)
{CHASTE}  Another amusing clue.   C (The final letter of Atlantic) + HASTE (Urgency) = an adjective meaning Virgin or pure.

23a  Old hooligan not caught in old football ground (5)
{ROKER}  Think of the hooligans who fought the Mods in the sixties and take out C for caught.  This leads you to the old name for Sunderland’s ground, now called the Stadium of Light.

24a  One Nottingham Forest playmaker of old (9)
{ISHERWOOD}  Another football clue?  Not this time, chum!  It’s a very clever clue, though.  One = I and to this is added the name of the famous forest in Nottingham.  This gives you the name of a famous playwright and author whose works included I am a Camera (about which one reviewer said “Me no Leica”!) and Goodbye to Berlin, which became the film Cabaret.

26a  Isometric exercises being sexy (9)
{EROTICISM}  An anagram (indicated by “exercises”) of ISOMETRIC gives you a word meaning sexy.

27a  Poet from university tucking into port (5)
{AUDEN}  U for university goes inside a famous Middle Eastern port (and British army base) to give a poet whose first names were Wystan Hugh.

28a  Revolutionary guard gets further education in gambling game (6,2,3)
{CHEMIN DE FER}  CHE (Guevara – a revolutionary) + MINDER (guard) around FE (further education).


2d  Transport system provided by some trolleybuses (5)
{METRO}  A hidden answer. Hidden in “some trolleybuses”

3d  Pilot’s first craft about to take off and bank (7)
{PARAPET}  P (Pilot’s first} + ART (craft) with APE (to take off) inside.  This leads to the word for a bank or ledge.

4d  One song in performance with less feeling (6)
{NUMBER}   Double definition.  A song in a musical may be said to be this, and if you have less feeling or your mouth is full of anaesthetic, it may be said to be this!

5d  Who’s employed with respect to trees at work (8)
{FORESTER}  FOR (With respect to) + an anagram of TREES gives this nice appropriate clue.

6d  Make pounds in easier dealing (7)
{REALISE}  L (pounds) goes inside an anagram (dealing) of EASIER leads you another clue where the whole sentence can provide a definition.

7d  Job beset by drink writing at length religious statement (8,5)
{APOSTLES CREED}  POST (job) inside ALE (drink) + SCREED (writing) =  a type of writing from the New Testament.

8d  Teacher: I put emphasis on marks first of all (8)
{MISTRESS}  I + STRESS (put emphasis on) with M (marks first of all) going before to give the name for a teacher.

9d  Home Counties Tory in fear of Parliamentary procedure (6,7)
{SECOND READING} A sort of topical clue.  It’s a word sum.  SE (Home Counties) + CON (TORY)

15d  Fruitcake containing two drugs (8)
{CRACKPOT}   Slang words for cocaine and cannabis when put together make the name of a nutter.

17d  Radioactive element favoured in naval battle (8)
{ACTINIUM}  IN (favoured) goes inside a famous Roman naval battle (ACTIUM}

19d  Vessel taking catch around deck (7)
{FURNISH}  URN (vessel) goes inside FISH (catch) to give a word meaning deck, or adorn.  Good surface reading.

21d  Plants ecstasy under woman’s accessory (7)
{HERBAGE}  E (rapidly becoming tiresome) for the drug Ecstasy goes below  HER BAG (woman’s accessory), which will lead you to greenery.

22d  Charmer giving pretence of being a knight (6)
{SHAMAN}  SHAM (Pretence} + A N  (A knight, in chess notation) gives a word meaning a charmer/fakir.

25d  Veteran serviceman extremely deprived (5)
{OLDIE}  A word for a trooper minus its first and last letter (“extremely deprived”) gives a slang word for a veteran, or the magazine founded by Richard Ingrams.

Thanks to Messinae for a lovely puzzle and I’ll see you soon.


  1. BigBoab
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Bit of a disappointing toughie I thought, it was a bit too simple although quite good fun in parts.

  2. mark
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Well, I enjoyed this. It must be a fairly easy one because my mother-in-law and I finished it. I think this is the first time we have competed a Toughie!
    I thought several of the clues were really good – eg 1a and 17d. I wwould never have got 23a without my mother-in-law as I know nothing about football.
    Nice to see Auden and Isherwood in one puzzle!
    Thanks for the review, Tilsit.

  3. nanaglugglug
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Favourite clue for me was 10a – got a bit stuck on 18a but got there in the end. Thanks Messinae for a relatively solve-able puzzle for us!

  4. Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure why, having completed, that I had so much trouble in the SE corner. I had 28a in my head for ages before getting the wordplay, was lost on Isherwood (had INF…. for the start for ages!) and 22d, 25d were blind to me!.
    It took a while to convince myself of 23a (I had the wordplay but had to look it up).
    I thought that 9d was clue of the day – excellent surface reading.
    Thanks to Tilsit (hope to see you Saturday) and to Messinae for the puzzle.

  5. Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Is it just me, or is anyone else getting rritated by ‘ number=more numb than’ (or worse, ‘something which makes you numb’)?

    This usage seems to crop up with increasing frequency, and is becoming a crossword cliché, much like ‘flower=river’.

    OK, so it is quite clever the first time you see it, but we’ve seen it, so let’s have a different clue instead.

  6. NMS
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Great puzzle, which I found quite easy, actually did it faster than the daily Tel cryptic. Great to see Roker in a puzzle, that’s a first, I think. It’s a different ground, Tilsit, to the Stadium of Light, much more than just a renaming! Houses now built where Roker Park stood.

    • gazza
      Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Hi NMS – welcome to the blog.

  7. Dim Dave
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Yes this was a toughie which did not live up to it’s name. Did it with half an eye on the election. Must object though to the clue 1a. Surely, it should have been presented as (1.1.1.,8) as it is H.M.S. not HMS.

  8. Spindrift
    Posted May 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Hate to be picky but for the record I’m pretty sure that it was probably Al Pacino’s finest role in 18a