Toughie 405 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 405

Toughie No 405 by Busman

Mon Goose is Cooked

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

The Toughie provides a range of styles and difficulty levels that cater for many tastes and solving abilities. With a Busman puzzle, you know you will get some very fair clues and usually a gentle introduction to the world of the Telegraph Toughie. Today is no exception. But for 10a and 28a, there is nothing here that would not be out of place in one of the more difficult back page cryptic crosswords.


1a Assets and liabilities of London with 100% employment? (7,7)
{WORKING CAPITAL} – An accounting term for “assets and liabilities” is how London may be described if everyone were in employment. I am not sure that 100% employment would be a precondition to describing London as this, but the sense is clear from the clue.

10a Mongoose chewing coati’s tail with one munch (9)
{ICHNEUMON} – The genus to which the mongoose belongs is made up from an anagram (chewing) of the letter I (coati’s tail) and “one munch”. This is one of those clues where, unless you know the answer, you have to rely on the checking letters and plug the remaining letters of the anagram fodder in and cross-check until you have found the answer.


11a German painter formerly without name (5)
{ERNST} – A prolific German painter (first name Max) is found by putting another word for “formerly” around (without) the letter N (name).

The Couple

12a He is one (7)
{ELEMENT} – He here is not the pronoun but the chemical symbol for helium, which is one example of the answer.

13a Showy decoration that’s not new (6)
{GARISH} – A word for showy comes from a word meaning decoration (that may be found on food) after taking away the letter N (not new).

15a Country take-away? (4)
{TOGO} – A word meaning take-away (2,2) reads as the name of a West African country. Hands up anyone who, like me, toyed with the answer being Thai?

17a Flowers and antelope in these French surroundings (10)
{CELANDINES} – The answer is “flowers” in the botanical sense rather than a cryptic sense of rivers. Put a French word for “these” around another word for an antelope and the word “in”.


18a Nothing confines walks here (4,6)
{OPEN SPACES} – A mild cryptic definition of the countryside where you may walk. A charade of a letter signifying nothing, a word for confines and a word for walks gives a description of where you may walk. Thanks to BD and Gazza for pointing out my word blindness here.

20a Is he attractive to half the undergraduates? (4)
{STUD} – A word that may mean undergraduates (or indeed anyone in any form of education) is reduced by half to give a word that may describe an attractive young man. Makes mental note to find a suitable picture for Crypticsue.

For the ladies in the audience

22a Warming effect of 1-0 disaster (2,4)
{EL NINO} – This is almost an indirect anagram but I like this clue. Spell out the score 1-0 (ignoring the hyphen) and make an anagram of the letters to produce the name of a weather system that is responsible for warming certain parts of the world.

23a Sure! Doc ordered and obtained goods (7)
{SOURCED} – A anagram of “sure doc” (don’t be misled by the punctuation here), gives a word meaning obtained goods.

26a Native American round oracle (5)
{OSAGE} – A new word for me. The answer is one of the indigenous Native American peoples. It is made up from the letter O and another word for an oracle (or wise person).

27a Conservation area by pub that’s above criticism (6,3)
{SACRED COW} – A word to describe something that it above criticism comes from an abbreviation for a Special Area of Conservation plus a popular pub name.

28a Holidaymaker requests river by deer, we’re told (8,6)
{PLEASURE SEEKER} – The answer is a word meaning holidaymaker. It can be found by a charade of words for requests and a river by a homophone for “Sika” (a type of deer). I had to consult Bradford’s to find the correct homophone fodder for this clue. You can now get Bradford’s on the iPhone but until the price is reduced significantly, I think I will rely on my hardcopy version.


2d Pigment with touch of red in ridge (5)
{OCHRE} – A type of pale brownish-yellow pigment is made up from a word meaning the ridge on the floor where darts players stand with the first letter of “red” inside.

3d More competitive mourner (6)
{KEENER} – Double definition. A word that might describe someone who is more competitive is also a term used to describe a professional mourner.

4d Announce with a hymn and date – 4th of June, as arranged (4,3,3)
{NAME THE DAY} – A word meaning to announce (as in the date on which you get married), isfound from an anagram of HYMN, DATE and the fourth letter of the word “June”.

5d Is incapacitated? Humbug! (4)
{CANT} – Double definition. A word that might (hence the question mark) describe someone who is unable to do something (incapacitated) also (without the apostrophe) means humbug.

6d Horse is bipedal unusually (7)
{PIEBALD} – A type of horse colouration is also an anagram (unusually) of “bipedal”.


7d It may cause an interruption to services (6,3)
{TENNIS NET} – Cryptic definition of what might interrupt the service of a ball served by Andy Murray.

8d Disappoint the team, when whistle denoted foul (3,3,4,4)
{LET THE SIDE DOWN} – Another anagram, denoted by foul. A phrase meaning to disappoint the team comes from jumbling the letters of “whistle denoted”.

9d Monsieur Peston serving starter (10,4)
{MINESTRONE SOUP} – This starter on the menu appeared as part of the clue in 27a in yesterday’s Toughie. The answer is an anagram (serving) of “Monsieur Peston”. I felt that the anagram fodder here was a little contrived. What do you think?

14d Packs waffles full of old wine (10)
{HAVERSACKS} – A word meaning packs (that may be worn on the back) comes from a word meaning waffles with an old word for wine inside.

16d Fruit and raw egg — a disaster (9)
{GREENGAGE} – Denizens of COW will remember that the answer to this clue featured in one of the weekly clue setting competitions. The answer is a type of fruit. It comes from a word meaning raw with an anagram (disaster) of “egg a”.

19d Abrasive tools for Indian wood (7)
{SANDERS} – These abrasive tools, used to smooth things, are also the name of an Indian tree.

21d An objection even for hydrocarbon (6)
{BUTENE} – The answer here is a hydrocarbon. It is made up from a charade of a word for an objection and an alternative spelling for the poetic contraction “een” for even.

24d Hoard of notes and coins, reportedly (5)
{CACHE} – A word to describe notes and coins is supposed to sound like a word meaning hoard, but only if you pronounce the word for hoard with a short “a” sound rather than long “a” sound.

25d Drug addict having rifle mother took away (4)
{USER} – A type of German rifle minus the first two letters (a word for mother) gives a description of a drug addict.


My favourite clue today was 12a.

I think that this is the ideal sort of crossword to introduce solvers to the Telegraph Toughie. None of the wordplay elements or clue constructions are ones that would not be found in a regular cryptic crossword – there are a few new words to stretch you and the clues are fair.

Back soon with some pictures!

19 comments on “Toughie 405

  1. I enjoyed this puzzle too. Again solved on a freezing beach so I did have to wait until I got home to resort to Chambers to check that what I had for 10a and 21d were actual words. Definitely a Toughie for beginners as you say, but none the less interesting to solve for that. I liked 9d and 14d best. Thanks to Busman for the puzzle and Prolixic for the review.

  2. Very enjoyable, esp 12a and 22a. Had to scour wiki entry on mongoose to help with 10a.
    Thank you Busman and Prolixic

  3. Most of it done quite quickly. Short on time today so had to resort to hints for the last few.

    Definitely considered writing in Thai for 15a. Answer to 26a have definitely seen in a crossword earlier this year, maybe a Times?

  4. Thanks to Busman and Prolixic. I think that Busman’s puzzles have definitely improved (and got slightly harder) since his early Toughies.
    I believe that 18a is meant to be a semi-all-in-one with a charade of nothing/confines/walks.

  5. I echo the sentiments of others. I crunched the mongoose anagram and had to check up on the Indian clues although the wordplay was clear.
    Thanks for the great review, Prolixic, it confirmed my suspicions on the deer homophone.
    Thanks also to Busman for a very pleasant stroll.

  6. A relatively easy Toughie, if that isn’t an oxymoron. I thought 28a was a bit tenuous – the Sika / deer connection. What with 10a, 17a and 6d, Busman seems have a bit of an animal bent.

  7. I decided to see what the review for the toughie was like – I must do it with such a lovely picture for 20a. Will see how I do but that is good incentive. Thanks Prolixic.

  8. For 25d Drug addict having rifle mother took away (4)
    A type of German rifle minus the first two letters (a word for mother) gives a description of a drug addict.
    Why do we have a picture of an automatic pistol? I know the company made pistols, but I assumed the reference in the clue was probably to the rifle used by the German Infantry in WWI and WWII
    e.g. or
    I will now go and get my coat!

        1. Looks like Libellule knows what he is talking about – and has the arsenal to back up his threats!

  9. Far too easy for a Toughie, though I briefly fell into the “pronoun” trap in 12a.

    Liked 22a, but thought 19d, 25d and 28a were very poor – answers obvious from the definitions, but the wordplay is based on obscure words

  10. Cryptic standard toughie but enjoyable nevertheless, thanks Busman and thanks prolixic.

  11. Just had a go at this – don’t very often look, and even less often try to make a start, but raining in Oxford, husband still at work and supper ready so a bit of time. I probably did nearly half which isn’t bad for someone still banging on the door of the CC just to be allowed in, let alone someone who might be allowed out soon! Managed 28a (without understanding why – the relevance of the deer completely escaped me until I read the hints). There were quite a few which I should have got without needing to resort to the hints but the mind set said “This is the toughie, so don’t expect to get far!” I suppose that having a go at it regularly, doing what I can do and then using the hints is how you learn! One day I’ll be able to do them without the hints. Thanks to Busman and Prolixic.

    1. Think I might have a look at this later–like you, I don’t usually try the Toughie but all the comments are in favour! I shan’t get far tonight but there’s always tomorrow–and the hints!

      1. I did it so it couldn’t have been that difficult. Give it a go Sarah – takes a bit of thinking but it is doable. My favourite clue was 27a. I put the wrong word in for 23a and so got stuck in that corner for a long time until I realised I was using a word with two e’s – duh….

    2. Good luck – the hints are great, and they are how we learn. The comments are always fun – love reading them.

  12. Most of it straightforward, but got stuck on a couple, due to a wrong answer. Not keen on 21d, but liked 22a.

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