Toughie 408

Toughie No 408 by Giovanni

Drunk and Drunk Again

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

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle which is a proper Toughie and has some cracking clues, although I think that there’s an error in 3d.
Let us have your opinion of it in a comment, and please don’t forget to click on one of the stars below to indicate how well you liked it.

Across Clues

1a  With two people drinking heavily over time, communications facilitator is needed (6-6)
{WALKIE-TALKIE} – the communications facilitator is a portable two-way radio. Start with W(ith) and follow with an informal word for an alcoholic, then the same again (because there are two heavy drinkers) and finally insert (over) T(ime).

9a  Drugs agent is approaching suspect, good-looking youngster (9)
{NARCISSUS} – the good-looking youngster is a beautiful youth in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own reflection. Start with an informal word, mainly used in the U.S., for a narcotics agent and add IS and a slang word for someone suspected of having committed a crime.

10a  Goddess — a help when things are taking a wrong turn? (5)
{DIANA} – put together an indefinite article and a synonym for help, then reverse the lot (taking a wrong turn) to reveal the Roman goddess associated with hunting.

11a  School English assigned to this person in timetable? (6)
{SCHEME} – the definition is timetable. It’s a charade of the abbreviation for school, E(nglish) and a pronoun relating to this person.

12a  Old-fashioned faith one’s found in a female enthusiast going to church (8)
{AFFIANCE} – an obsolete (old-fashioned) word for faith is constructed from A, F(emale), a synonym for enthusiast with I inside (one’s found in) and finally an abbreviation for church.

13a  OB not saying much to others? (6)
{REMOTE} – double definition. This is a term used in the U.S. for what we call an outside broadcast (OB) and it also describes someone who is aloof.

15a  Bones cause pal to get creaky (8)
{SCAPULAE} – an anagram (get creaky) of CAUSE PAL produces the technical term for shoulder blades (bones).

18a  Perception of a community of the over-50s? (8)
{SAGACITY} – double definition – a synonym for perception could also be, if redefined as 4,4, a cryptic description of what a community of the over-50s might be called. Very amusing.

19a  Superb advice beginning to transform work (6)
{TIPTOP} – an adjective meaning superb is made from a hint (advice), the first letter (beginning) of T(ransform) and the abbreviation for a musical or literary work.

21a  Release men — they must have this legal right (8)
{EASEMENT} – hidden (must have) in the clue is a legal right given to the owner of some land allowing him or her to use or cross adjacent land for a specific purpose.

23a  Not the best striker at the golf tournament — but one makes the cut! (6)
{SLICER} – this is a lovely clue. In professional golf tournaments “making the cut” means having a score less than a cut-off point for the first two rounds and thus being allowed to progress to the final two rounds. It’s a double definition – someone whose golf shots move in the air from left to right (for a right-handed player) is also something that cuts (bacon, for example).

26a  Gather one may get tense after prayer (5)
{PLEAT} – a verb meaning to gather into a frill is T(ense) after a synonym for prayer.

27a  Delightful and madly irrational? That’ll get one shut up inside (9)
{RAVISHING} – an adjective meaning delightful is constructed from another adjective meaning madly irrational with I (one) and an admonition to shut up inside.

28a  Rose with others who wanted to protest against war? (6,6)
{FLOWER PEOPLE} – a cryptic definition of the followers of a movement of the 1960s which advocated universal love and peace.

Down Clues

1d  Town house established over 90 years ago (7)
{WINDSOR} – double definition – a town in Berkshire and the name adopted by our royal family in 1917 when their previous name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha didn’t seem such a good idea in the light of certain hostilities going on at the time.

2d  Tree line north of bridge (5)
{LARCH} – this coniferous tree is made from L(ine) which precedes (is north of, in a down clue) something that spans an opening (bridge).

3d  Natural fool in charge, dull inside (9) [clue as in the paper and originally on CluedUp]
Natural fool in charge, arts graduate brought in (9) [clue as amended on CluedUp]
{IDIOMATIC} – we want an adjective that describes something that is natural to a native speaker. However, unless I’ve misread this (it wouldn’t be the first time), there is an error in the wordplay which appears to require two Ts. My reading of this is a synonym for fool followed by IC (in charge) with an adjective meaning dull or without a shine inside. If you have a better explanation which doesn’t require the double T, then please let me know! [See Giovanni’s comment below. The revised clue on CluedUp requires just two letters to be inserted rather than three.]

4d  A drunkard knocked over dog (4)
{TOSA} – reverse (knocked over) A and a synonym for drunkard to get a heavy mastiff-like dog, originally from Japan, once bred for fighting.

5d  Feel so bad about performance being inadequate? (4,4)
{LOSE FACE} – this is an all-in-one clue and the answer is a phrase meaning to feel humiliated or inadequate. It’s an anagram (bad) of FEEL SO around a stage performance which is short of its final T (being inadequate).

6d  Lemur in Asian country losing tail crossing river (5)
{INDRI} – remove the last letter (losing tail) from a large Asian country and insert (crossing) R(iver) to get the name of a short-tailed lemur. The name is a corruption of the Malagasy word meaning “look!” which was taken by visiting naturalists to be the animal’s name.

7d  Punishment making one thin — deadly, not half! (8)
{GAUNTLET} – this is a word for an old form of military punishment which involved having to run through a lane of sailors or soldiers receiving a strike from each. It is made from an adjective meaning thin or haggard followed by the first half of a synonym for deadly.

8d  Place where you’ll find horses, say, covered in hair (6)
{MANÈGE} – this is a word, from French, meaning a riding school. Put the abbreviation of for example (say) inside the hair that’s found on the neck of a horse or lion.

14d  Common bloke collecting silver, a scholar formerly (8)
{MAGISTER} – once more latin O-level proves its worth. A title given to scholars or teachers in medieval universities is a common male title (i.e. that used by a commoner) with the chemical symbol for silver inside (collecting).

16d  Alas, I slept without the ultimate in comfort — lousy mattress! (9)
{PAILLASSE} – this is the less common spelling of a word for a straw mattress. Unfortunately I initially wrote in the more common spelling, which was the only one I knew, and this caused me problems with 19a and 23a until I resorted to Chambers. Both spellings are an anagram (lousy) of ALAS I SLEP(t) without the final (ultimate) letter of comforT. Cunning or what?

17d  Ollie’s chum was an artist, one of a dozen specially chosen (2,6)
{ST ANDREW} – Ollie’s chum is, of course, Mr Laurel. Start with his abbreviated forename, then add what someone who was an artist did to get one of the twelve. Beautiful clue!

18d  Plain course of action from what we hear (6)
{STEPPE} – a large area of flat, treeless land (plain) in central Europe or Asia sounds like (from what we hear) a course of action that we may take.

20d  Closest point out in space where you’ll see fairy — gosh! (7)
{PERIGEE} – the point in the orbit of any satellite (including the Moon) when it is nearest to the Earth is a charade of a fairy and an exclamation of surprise (gosh!).

22d  What offers accommodation with second phone (5)
{MOTEL} – put together a short period of time and an abbreviation for phone.

24d  Firm quiet after potential catastrophe is averted (5)
{CRISP} – a word meaning firm (like an apple, say) is P (piano, quiet) after a potential catastrophe from which IS has been removed (averted).

25d  State with head off, tail off (4)
{AVER} – start with a verb meaning to head off or turn aside and remove the final T (tail off) to leave a verb meaning to state. It’s quite strange that the wordplay here should use a word that is prominent in the previous clue.

There are some excellent clues today. I particularly like 1a, 23a, 1d and 5d, but my joint clues of the day are 18a and 17d. Let us know what you liked in a comment!


  1. Giovanni
    Posted August 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh dear — yes there was a T too many in the subsidiary indication for IDIOMATIC. Now corrected online on behalf of this IDIOT. Glad the rest was OK. Sorry about that!

    • gazza
      Posted August 18, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for clearing that up.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted August 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Had Gnomethang not been out hitting a little white ball around a golf course, I am sure this puzzle would have been the subject of many an email between us this morning. Without him, however, I fought to the end. Some very good clues. I too was thrown by the alternative spelling of 16d and I did originally put Delia in 10a! (well she is a goddess who comes to the aid of people whose cooking has gone wrong!). I also marked 18a and 17d as favourites. Thanks Giovanni for an excellent workout for my cryptic brain cells and Gazza for the explanations.

    • gazza
      Posted August 18, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Let’s hope that Gnomey is not a 23a !!

      • crypticsue
        Posted August 18, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

        The amount of practice he seems to get, one would sincerely hope not!!!!!

      • gnomethang
        Posted August 18, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I prefer to call it an ‘aggressive fade’!
        Didn’t play well today and am just getting into this puzzle. Checked here to look at the 3d clue after checking your correspondence.

  3. ChrisH
    Posted August 18, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this really tough. Didn’t help that I got 1d wrong, which made 11a & 13a impossibly difficult! Liked 18a but struggled with 8d.

    I, too, was abit puzzled by the extra ‘t’. Only needed the blog for the top right corner, for the reasons mentioned, so Elgar’s brain therapy is definitely working!

  4. BigBoab
    Posted August 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Other than my mis-spelling of 16d I really enjoyed this, a true toughie by a true Maestro. Loved 17d. thanks Gazza for the great review.

  5. Prolixic
    Posted August 18, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very enjoyable crossword from Giovanni – many thanks to him for the workout. Favourite clues were 1a, 21a, 17d and by a short margin, 18a. Thanks too to Gazza for the notes.

  6. Hertsgnome
    Posted August 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Enjoyable? About as much fun as an evening with Gordon Brown. But I’m sure I can’t be the first to have spotted that”Giovanni” is an anagram of “Go in vain”.

    • tilly
      Posted August 18, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Maybe you would be better to “Go Via Inn” unless you are “Agin Vino”.

      • Hertsgnome
        Posted August 18, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Vino? A gin! (Methinks)

        • tilly
          Posted August 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I go in van – see you there!

          • tilly
            Posted August 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.

  7. brendam
    Posted August 18, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Clever stuff! Too clever for me even with Gazza’s tips. Just didn’t click today. Thank you Giovanni for an excellent puzzle, even if I couldn’t solve it!!

  8. Sludgebucket
    Posted August 18, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent toughie today , I actually got 25d by default , I took the head off ‘tail off”- (w)aver. Learnt a couple of new animals, 4d & 6d , but able to get both through the wordplay , Fave clue by a mile 17d. Thanks to Gazza for his wonderful review as per usual.

  9. Nubian
    Posted August 19, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great puzzle. Thanks Giovanni and Gazza

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