Toughie 385

Toughie No 385 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I enjoyed this puzzle and thought it was the right standard for a toughie. Although there were a lot of less common words used I didn’t find any of them overly obscure and I finished it without recourse to dictionaries, etc. However, I didn’t care for the grid with its four poorly-connected corners. I had problems with the bottom right but this was caused by my carelessly writing the author’s name in at 23 down and thence being unable to solve the acrosses.

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1a    Arabian woman about a hundred? Unlikely to be this! (3,5)
{ARM CANDY} An abbreviation for Arabian followed by a woman’s name round C (a hundred) gives (according to Chambers) someone who is invited as a partner to a social event more to add to the glamour of the occasion than for her sparkling conversational skills

5a    Fine cake containing cream primarily (6)
{SCONCE} A type of flattish cake (sometimes cooked on a girdle) contains C (the first letter of cream) to give (again according to Chambers) a fine imposed for some breach of university rules or etiquette at Oxford (paid in ale or in attempting to drink a large amount of ale without taking a breath, or otherwise)

9a    False exploitation traps four (8)
{ILLUSIVE} A term for exploitation (3,3) goes round IV (four) to give a word meaning “false”

10a    Wilde right to be seen as sufferer for a cause? (6)
{MARTYR} The Wilde in question is not Oscar but a late-1950’s pop star whose daughter had a string of hits in the 1980’s. Add R (right) to his first name to give the sufferer for a cause

12a    Like our Parliament Blair came to wreck (9)
{BICAMERAL} An anagram (to wreck) of BLAIR CAME gives a word meaning “having two chambers”

13a    City couples getting a bit twisted inside (5)
{PARIS} Take a word meaning “couples” and transpose two of its internal letters to give a European capital city

14a    Ray’s nearest neighbours in the building (4)
{DOME} This was the last one I did. “Ray” is an alternative spelling of “re” (the note). Take the two notes either side of “re” and put them together

16a    Member of family has vermouth with a watery ice (7)
{GRANITA} The member of the family is an aged female. Put IT (Italian vermouth) A after her to give a grainy-textured flavoured water ice

19a    Travelled on unlikely flier, we hear — one making the journey difficult (4,3)
{ROAD HOG} Pigs might fly! Put another word for a pig after a word that sounds like travelled to give a swinishly selfish or boorishly reckless motorist or other user of the road. (That’s according to Chambers again)

21a    Not getting runs, old-fashioned rabbit (4)
{CONY} Remove R (runs) from a word for old-fashioned (that’s often used to describe a feeble joke) to get another name for a rabbit

24a    Black Country not particularly interesting? (5)
{BLAND} B (black) + a synonym of country gives a word meaning “without distinctive characteristics”

25a    Impetuosity and ire somehow limited by endless tact (9)
{FIERINESS} An anagram (somehow) of IRE inside a word for tact without its last letter gives impetuosity. The word for tact is also a word used in bridge (the card game)

27a    I keep quiet, absorbing excellent article in book (6)
{ISAIAH} The answer is a book of the Bible. I + “keep quiet!” goes round excellent (or first-class) A (article)

28a    Island with nothing had to be developed? Definitely not! (8)
[INCHOATE} A Scottish/Irish word for an island (but not necessarily a very short one!) is followed by O (nothing) and a synonym for “had” in the sense of “had food”, The answer means “rudimentary”

29a    Jaunty artist with drunkard’s way of expressing affection? (6)
{RAKISH} A Royal Academician is followed by how a drunkard might pronounce “kiss” to give a word meaning “jaunty”

30a    Element from the North diminished and re-expanded (8)
{NITROGEN} Take the one-letter abbreviation for North and pretend it’s an atomic symbol


1d    A Kipling lad, short boy having a sort of posture (6)
{AKIMBO} A character in Kipling is followed by BO (short boy) gives “with hand on hip and elbow out”

2d    Spite of one cold inside, masculine on the outside (6)
{MALICE} I C (one cold) goes inside a word for masculine

3d    State in line with America’s avuncular image? (5)
{ASSAM} the state is in India and is famous for tea. The last three letters form America’s uncle

4d    Monster in den creating rupture (7)
{DIVORCE} A mythological sea monster (or a killer-whale) goes inside a den (a disreputable place)

6d    French explorer wants cold meat without any embellishments (9)
{CHAMPLAIN} I only know this explorer through his providing the name of a lake between Vermont and New York state. Apparently he founded Quebec (1608) and was governor of New France (1633-1635). His name is fomed from C (cold) + pig meat + without any embellishments

7d    Bird not flying north, in roost having flown (8)
{NOTORNIS} This flightless bird, long thought extinct, was found surviving in New Zealand in 1948. An anagram (having flown) of N (north) IN ROOST

8d    A tourer’s abroad — having used this? (8)
{EUROSTAR} An anagram (abroad) of A TOURER’S gives something you can board at St Pancras

11d    Criticise young ladies needing to grow up (4)
{SLAG} Reverse a word for young ladies (or girls) to give a word meaning “criticise”

15d    Snakes etc. from India shop flogged (9)
{OPHIDIANS} An anagram of INDIA SHOP gives a generic term for snakes. I’m not sure what the “etc.” is doing in the clue

17d    Being held in little credit makes Scottish poet more bad-tempered (8)
{CRABBIER} Take a form of the first name of the best-known Scottish poet and put it inside CR (little credit)

18d    A master keeps hold of dog? Quite the opposite if there’s a tree (8)
{TAMARACK} A MA (Master of Arts) is put inside a verb meaning “to dog” to give the American or black larch

20d    Humbug comes from manager with no hesitation (4)
{GAFF} Remove ER (hesitation) from a British term for a foreman or boss to give a word meaning “humbug”. I wasn’t familiar with this meaning of the answer

21d    Greek character holding princess up in Indian city (7)
{CHENNAI} We old timers still know this city as Madras. A Greek letter holds a reversal of a current princess’s name

22d    Writer with fury wanting rid of Queen and State (6)
{PENANG} The state this time is in Malaysia. Take the usual crossword equivalent of writer and add a word for fury without ER (Queen) at the end

23d    It sounds like a novelist of the eighteenth century’s back (6)
{ASTERN} The novelist is best known for “Tristram Shandy”. A + a word that sounds like his surname gives a nautical term

26d    Special fluid gets one menial task cut short (5)
{ICHOR}The ethereal juice in the veins of the gods is derived form I (one) + a routine (household) task missing its last letter

Easily the best toughie that I’ve blogged to date.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    A proper cogitator toughie and no mistake. As explained elsewhere, today I did need the dictionary to check that the words I got eg 7d and 18d were real words and not what I had worked them out to be! Thanks to Giovanni for a good brain work out and Bufo for the explanations.

  2. Jezza
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    This took me a few visits during the day, and gave up with 1a and 14a left unsolved. Thanks to Bufo for the review and the explanations, and to Giovanni for a most enjoyable struggle! Looking forward to the next Giovanni in the morning.

  3. gnomethang
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    I missed a few in the NW including 1a which I thought was great!. I needed dictionary confirmation for some of the unknown (to me) words but happily I was correct
    thanks to Bufo and Giovanni.

  4. BigBoab
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    As usual from the Maestro, a great crossword. I loved 1a, 14a and 4d in particular, I thought it worth 4* for both difficulty and enjoyment, just shows how differently we all think. Thanks Giovanni and thanks Bufo for the review.

  5. Digby
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Almost gave up, but with a bit of help from Bufo, for which VMT, I persevered and got there in the end. Also put in the 18th C author, but on reflection, the word-play is clever and correct. 10a also got me to Oscar before my 60s teenage memories surfaced. Liked 12a, but not from polical motivation! And BD’s clue for 21d certainly helped. Thanks Giovanni – a rest is now called for to recharge the brain!

    • Posted July 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      BTW the hint was in the DT 26287 review, if any of you were wondering.

      • Digby
        Posted July 8, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Good point, well made. And thanks for correcting my spelin!

  6. Nubian
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    That was heavy but very entertaining

  7. Posted July 8, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Can’t say I enjoyed this one much. Ten words I’d not heard before (eleven, if you include ‘avuncular’).

  8. nanaglugglug
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    as they say…One mans meat…, or in my case womans! Didn’t really gel with this one at all, which is disappointing, having managed to tackle all the Toughies this week without too much help from The Blog. Hey Ho!

  9. Posted July 9, 2010 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    Didn’t have time to have a proper go at this one, but read the clues down in the blog – cheers, Bufo. After Virgilius on a Sunday, Giovanni is my favourite DT ‘normal’ crossword on a Friday, and I should have made time for this Toughie on reflection………………….