Toughie 357

Toughie No 357 by MynoT

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

It was down to earth after last week’s gentle introduction. I gave up on this after half-an-hour’s hard slog with 3 answers missing and several others not fully understood. I then filled the gaps with the aid of TEA and Chambers but was still left with 2 or 3 answers for which I need enlightenment. I am sure that someone will oblige. I found the top half more difficult than the bottom half.

The puzzle contains several clues that contain no wordplay. This means that you stand no chance if you don’t happen to be familiar with the answer. For instance I couldn’t remember the answer to 14 across and so I had no alternative to looking it up. I also didn’t like the fact that there are also several answers (or part answers) that appear only in Chambers and not in the COD or Collins.

I have taken note of last week’s comments about not revealing the answers in my hints.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a     Time for student to explore the 2? (3,4)
{GAP YEAR} The first of the clues with no wordplay. “2” refers to 2 down so you need to solve that first. The answer is something that it’s now fashionable for students to take.

5a    It’s all right for the French (7)
{D’ACCORD} The second of the clues with no wordplay. The answer is a French expression defined in Chambers as “agreed, in tune”. The answer is (1,6) rather than (7). This was one of the ones I had to look up.

9a    Soup ladles regularly used to find stones (5)
{OPALS} Regularly means “take every other letter”

10a    Seed of young accountant with little honour in prison (5,4)
{CACAO BEAN} Seed is the definition. I assume that the young accountant is an Associate Chartered Accountant. The little honour is a well-used abbreviation for an honour as in the New Year’s Honours List. The accountant and the honour are then put inside a word for prison.

11a    Irritates Christopher, perhaps, without having to (10)
{NEEDLESSLY} A word meaning “irritates” is followed by the surname of a fictional Christopher (Shakespeare) to give a word meaning “without having to”

12a    Caesar at first was still for Cassius, maybe (4)
{CLAY} The first letter of Caesar and a word meaning “was still” gives the surname of a well-known Cassius.

14a    Location of French art (7,5)
{LASCAUX CAVES} Another no-wordplay clue. It’s somewhere in France where Paleolithic paintings can be seen. I had forgotten the name and so there was no way for me to get this answer except by looking it up.

18a    Setting type in advance of publicity for daughter breaking down (12)
{PRECOMPOSING} The answer is a word meaning “setting type in advance”. It’s a prefixed form that appears in Chambers but not in COD or Collins. The wordplay is a little tortuous. Take a word meaning “breaking down” and replace D (daughter) by PR (publicity)

21a    Spot special lubricant (4)
{SOIL} The abbreviation for “special” with a word meaning “lubricant”

22a    Livers are chopped about with this (10)
{SILVERWARE} An anagram (chopped) of LIVERS ARE about W (with)

25a    Carmen’s patron? (5-4)
{OPERA-GOER} Simply someone who might go to see Carmen

26a    A lecturer is after play in the country (5)
{RURAL} The definition is “in the country”. Put A L after the name of a play. This play is only remembered because it introduced the word “robot” into the language.

27a    Board of hospital department taking shower (7)
{ENTRAIN} In crossword clues, hospital department is usually ENT (ear, nose & throat). Add a word meaning “shower” and you get “board” (in the sense of getting on a means of transportation)

28a    More than one player is wearing repaired boots (7)
{OBOISTS} IS wearing (i.e. inside) and anagram of BOOTS


1d    Go and get worn down? (6)
{GROUND} HELP NEEDED! I can see that this is a word meaning “worn down”. I don’t understand the “Go and get” part.

2d    Body going round thoroughfare in part (6)
{PLANET} A thoroughfare is put inside an abbreviation for “part” to give a body that goes round something.

3d    Location of French art (2,8)
{EL SALVADOR} HELP NEEDED. I filled in the only thing I could see that fitted but I don’t understand it at all.

4d    Sways to and fro in river with wharfs (not Dee) (5)
{ROCKS} R (for river) is followed by a word meaning “wharfs” with the letter D missing.

5d    Bleaches coloureds when boiled (9)
{DECOLOURS} This is one of the most unsatisfactory anagrams I have ever seen. It’s an anagram of COLOUREDS.

6d    Stop endless returning of stupid fellow (4)
{CLOD} I hope I’ve got the right answer here but I’ll be quite happy if someone comes up with a better one. My answer is a word meaning “stupid fellow”. You get it by taking a word defined in Chambers as an organ-stop, removing the last letter and then reversing it. But I cannot see what the word “of” is doing in the clue.

7d    Survive evil? (8)
{OVERLIVE} The answer is a word I’ve never met before which is in Chambers but not COD or Collins. It means “survive”. If you parse the answer in the right way you get EVIL (by reversing LIVE)

8d    Boat is hot and quite smart (8)
{DANDYISH} The answer meaning “quite smart” is derived from a type of boat + IS H (hot). It is not a well-known type of boat and I needed Chambers to confirm it.

13d    It’s the opposite in Rome (1,9)
{E CONTRARIO} This is merely an Italian phrase meaning “on the contrary”. I guessed the first letter wrongly.

15d    Tropic island’s grain (9)
{CAPRICORN} You only have two tropics to choose from and only one of them is made up from “island” + “grain”

16d    Device for projecting images of bishop with drug’s not criminal (8)
{EPISCOPE} Take a word meaning “of bishop” and add E (for Ecstasy). Then remove AL (Capone presumably) to get a device for projecting images.

17d    Forward socialist’s anger at Court (8)
{REDIRECT}. The definition is “forward” as in forwarding mail. It is made up of socialist + anger + court (abbreviation)

19d    Ulster Unionist playing with star or stars (6)
{TAURUS} An anagram (playing) of UU STAR. The answer is related to 15 down and 23 down.

20d    Fields of study of genuine writing (6)
{REALMS} The writing is a manuscript (MS). Put this after a word meaning “genuine” to give fields of study.

23d    Sign for Queen Victoria to depart (5)
{VIRGO} A sign (like 15 down and 19 down) mad up of an abbreviation for the Latin form of “Victoria, Empress and Queen” and a word meaning “to depart”.

24d    Gravitas oddly needed for goddess (4)
{GAIA} Take the odd letters of GRAVITAS for one spelling of the Greek goddess of Earth

All in all I found it a very unsatisfactory solve.


  1. gazza
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    1d is breaking GO into G and ROUND (O).
    3d the IVR code for this place is the French word for art (as in “thou art”).

  2. BigBoab
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Too hard for me today, I needed assistance with 14a, 10a and 13d also struggled with 25a till the penny dropped. Thanks bufo for the help and thanks to MynoT for stretching me way beyond my limit.

  3. HBW
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    1d o = ’round’, hence Go = G + round

  4. Sue
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness for this blog. I needed help with loads of these today although I did get 14a quite early on which was satisfying. With regard to 6d I thought the last three letters were formed by a four letter word for a stupid person with the last letter removed and reversed but I still don’t really understand the clue or answerr.

    • Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      You can no longer visit 14a – when we went we had to look round Lascaux 2 which is a replica of the main cave – it is closed due to the deterioration caused by people breathing out moist air, if my memory serves me right.

  5. Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    A Curate’s Egg today. Some dreadful clues. I needed help here to finish. No idea what 3d is all about. I only know that your guess is correct from entering it on CluedUp…..

    • Sue
      Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      A very remote link with Salvador Dali????? Who knows?

      • Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Just got it – French art = es, abbreviation for El Salvador.

        • Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          Oops – hadn’t latched onto Gazza’s comment above – sorry, friend, you were there ahead of me.

    • Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      See comment #1 – Gazza was first out of the starting gate today.

    • Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Gazza’s explanation must be right for 3d. Seriously obscure clueing for me. Similarly 14a, even though I’ve been there.

  6. Sue
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Seriously obscure sums the whole thing up really. Let’s hope for better tomorrow.

  7. digby
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Above my threshold too. Inked in “a droite” for 5a, which set me off at a tangent from which I never recovered!

    • Jezza
      Posted May 20, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      5a, I had *driving* for a while, before the correction fluid came out! Apart from a couple of real horrors (which I didn’t get), I quite enjoyed it.

    • pollythecat
      Posted May 21, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      I too had droite for 5a. A better answer I think. Rest was rubbish. Not enjoyable even when you work it out. A good cryptic should make you feel satisfied that you have got the answer.

  8. Libellule
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Well I am going to rock the boat and say I enjoyed it. Although I have only just finished it. A good challenge after the Cryptic. I especially liked all the French references :-)

  9. Posted May 20, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Count me among the dislikers. A truly dreadful puzzle with 22a its nadir.

  10. Dave
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Pretty unfair. It is supposed to be cryptic not a general knowledge crossword! I can’t help with 1 and 3 down. I have the same answers but can’t see why!

    • Posted May 20, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Dave

      I might have to move the apostrophe and make it Big Daves’ Blog soon!

      • Posted May 20, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

        Nope, I think you are still OK. No other Dave has suggested that they are the same size or bigger than you so you still have your mantle (with aplomb). If this changes we will have to have a ‘Big Dave Off’ to see who keeps the name.

  11. woffy
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Another stupidly obscure toughie – an utter waste of time and devoid of any enjoyment whatsoever.

  12. moonstruckminx
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Definitely needed the blog today to complete the puzzle.

  13. gnomethang
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Needed the blog for about 50%
    really wasn’t too fussed with some of the clues.
    Thanks to Bufo and MynoT – he has put me in my place again!

  14. Prolixic
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Strewth – four of five of the obscurer clues eluded me at the last. Thanks for the hints/

  15. Posted May 21, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Managed everything except 6d (I put CLOT, for no good reason), but disliked the general knowledge clues and 5d (rubbish anagram).

    Enjoyed 1d and 18a though.

    Is my copy of the Telegraph printed differently from everyone else’s? Because 5a is not a (1,6) nor a (7), but is clearly identified as (1’6), which makes it very easy.

    • Posted May 21, 2010 at 12:16 am | Permalink

      CluedUp definitely shows the enumeration as (7). I didn’t get to see today’s newspaper.

    • Posted May 21, 2010 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Roger, my paper was as yours.

  16. BillyBusker
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Bufo admits he can’t justify 1dn and 3dn and it seems no-one else can either, so why can’t the setter be approached with a demand for explanations? Great site – keep up the good work!

    • Posted May 21, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Billy Busker

      • BillyBusker
        Posted May 21, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Big Dave. As you are in charge of the site, can you answer the question as to why the setter cannot be brought to book to justify these answers.

        • Posted May 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

          It’s not for me to make such requests. I have met MynoT a couple of times, and he has left a comment on the blog. He is more than welcome to respond, but as the wordplay was explained by Gazza in Comment #1 there’s not much more he can add. A lot of setters do take notice of any comments that are made here, particularly by people other than the reviewers, but this can only affect future puzzles, not current ones.

          • BillyBusker
            Posted May 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

            Sorry Dave I missed Gazza’s explanation. It’s very rare I don’t complete these toughies and did indeed get the answer but not the explanation. Now I’ve seen it I feel totally inadequate. I wonder how many others put in el Salvador, just because it fit, and couldn’t justify it.

            • Posted May 21, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

              Well, let me say that as an experienced setter I should have latched onto the old “French art” trick much sooner – it’s been used elsewhere often enough! So don’t feel inadequate; even the so-called experts can suffer temporary blindness.

              The G/ROUND = G/O trick was far more devious, no doubt exacerbated by the misleading (dare I say unnecessary) “and get” filling.

  17. mark
    Posted May 23, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    This was hard! I managed a few of the easier ones, and I enjoyed them – eg 9a, 5a, 12a, 24d, 20d. However, I have to say that it was way too difficult for this member of the Clueless Club. I will have a look at Friday’s Toughie next – hopefully that wasn’t as tough.
    Thanks Bufo for your review!