Toughie 432

Toughie No 432 by Notabilis

This Nick was no Saint

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

We have a real treat today from Notabilis. It’s not as difficult as some of his can be, but it’s a good challenge which provides a real sense of satisfaction when you finish, and it has a whole host of excellent clues.
Let us know how you saw it, and please remember to click on one of the stars below to register how much you enjoyed it.

Across Clues

1a  Swig anything on drive (7)
{DRAUGHT} – swig, as a noun, means a large intake of drink. We want another word for this, which is formed from an old word for anything after the abbreviation of drive.

5a  Tenacious person holding broken doll, to be annoying (7)
{BULLDOG} – the definition is tenacious person and we want an animal which is often used as a metaphor for British spirit and defiance in times of difficulty. Put a verb meaning to be annoying around (holding) an anagram (broken) of DOLL. The word order in the clue is odd with the subject of holding coming at the end.

9a  European president stops hoarding uranium and copper … (9)
{CEAUSESCU} – put the chemical symbol for uranium inside a synonym for stops and finish with the chemical symbol for copper to get the name of a former president of a European country (and a nasty old dictator) …

10a  … or backing away from his country’s obsession (5)
{MANIA} – … and this is the country where the nasty old dictator did his dictating, without the OR reversed (backing) at the start.

11a  Good in travel on top of the range? (5)
{RIDGE} – a feature that may be seen at the top of a range of hills or mountains is G(ood) inside a synonym for travel.

12a  I have no trouble waking editor to catch mobile library (5,4)
{EARLY BIRD} – put the abbreviation for editor around (to catch) an anagram (mobile) of LIBRARY to get someone who has no trouble waking.

13a  Heavy celebrity left constant amount over (9)
{MUSCLEMAN} – the definition is heavy, as a noun, i.e. a large strong man often employed as an enforcer or minder. It’s a charade of a synonym for a celebrity, L(eft), C(onstant) and an amount. The whole lot then has to be reversed (over).

16a  Get down off small bear (5)
{SHAVE} – this was the last answer I got because the definition is brilliantly disguised. We want a verb meaning to get down off or remove down. Start with S(mall) and add a verb meaning to give birth to (bear).

17a  Possible shock follows Conservative meeting leader (5)
{CHAIR} – the definition is meeting leader and it’s how the leader of a council, say, may be addressed at a meeting in these PC-times. After C(onservative) put what a shock often means in Crosswordland.

18a  Level of proficiency that can’t be built on? (5,4)
{GREEN BELT} – double definition – a fastener identifying a participant’s proficiency in certain martial arts also describes land that can’t be built on.

20a  Irresponsible flits she’s organised (9)
{SHIFTLESS} – an anagram (organised) of FLITS SHE’S.

23a  Religious opinion fleshed out with answer (5)
{FATWA} – this is a ruling on a point of Islamic law by a recognised legal authority. Start with a blunter way of describing someone who is ‘fleshed out’ and add W(ith) A(nswer).

25a  Slapper covering second song? (5)
{PSALM} – put the part of the body used to slap around (covering) S(econd). Very amusing!

26a  Outraged Goan extremely absorbed by his country’s temperature (9)
{INDIGNANT} – the outer letters (extremely) of GoaN go inside (absorbed by) a Goan’s nationality and T(emperature).

27a  Lad struggling with poet’s immature form (7)
{TADPOLE} – an anagram (struggling) of LAD and POET.

28a  Brother retaining current queen’s name (7)
{MONIKER} – a religious brother has the symbol for electric current inserted, then we have to add the abbreviation for Elizabeth Regina to make a slang word for someone’s name.

Down Clues

1d  Bang on about Italian novelist’s good form (7)
{DECORUM} – a word meaning good form or etiquette is a verb meaning to bang on a musical instrument around the surname of an Italian novelist and philosopher.

2d  A contest ending in grand prize (5)
{AWARD} – string together A, a rather extreme form of contest and the last letter (ending) of granD.

3d  Mark possibly encouraging cheer for bee competitor? (9)
{GOSPELLER} – Mark is one of four of these in the New Testament. Combine a word used to cheer sportsmen on and what a competitor in a bee might be.

4d  The aesthetic sense that’s evident in the vanguard? (5)
{TASTE} – an all-in-one clue with the answer being the initial letters (vanguard) of the first five words.

5d  Bun relies on changing hair colour (4,5)
{BLUE RINSE} – a hair colour that may be much in evidence at the Conservative party conference next week is an anagram (changing) of BUN RELIES.

6d  Learner, nervous, losing head like a clot (5)
{LUMPY} – the definition is like a clot (of blood, for example). Put together the letter used to designate a learner driver and an adjective meaning nervous which has lost its initial J.

7d  Brown’s foolish location for Scottish castle (9)
{DUNSINANE} – the location of a castle in Shakespeare’s Scottish play requires a dull greyish-brown colour, the ‘S from the clue and a synonym for foolish.

8d  European mostly touring with big cheese (7)
{GRANDEE} – put the nationality of a Southern European without the final K (mostly) around (touring) a connecting word like with, to end up with a big cheese.

14d  African country unknown amid outcry in desert matter (9)
{SWAZILAND} – to get the name of this landlocked African country put the third unknown quantity in an algebraic expression inside a synonym for outcry and then put the lot inside what you find in large quantities in some deserts.

15d  To make attractive catch is occupying wise man (9)
{MAGNETISE} – a verb meaning to instil attractive qualities into something is made by putting a verb to catch plus IS inside (occupying) an old word for a learned person.

16d  Rogue whose dad keeps getting fired? (3,2,1,3)
{SON OF A GUN} – cryptic definition of a phrase meaning a rascal.

17d  Rubbish dumps dry up where sewage collects (7)
{CESSPIT} – a charade of rubbish dumps and an adjective meaning dry (as a description of wine) is reversed to make places where sewage is stored.

19d  Renegade and coach in a dilemma, both ultimately nameless (7)
{TRAITOR} – the definition is renegade. Put together a verb meaning to coach and a description of how you might be if you were in a dilemma as to which to choose from two options. Now remove the final N (ultimately nameless) from both words.

21d  Satisfied over rising work rate (5)
{TEMPO} – start with a verb meaning satisfied or fulfilled and reverse it (over), then add the usual abbreviation for work which also needs to be reversed (rising).

22d  City of plain, capricious moods (5)
{SODOM} – this place, together with its twin city and three other towns, are described as ‘cities of the plain’ in the Old Testament (although their inhabitants were perhaps colourful rather than plain!). It’s name is an anagram (capricious) of MOODS.

24d  Course of time subject to distortion (5)
{TRACK} – this course or racing circuit is T(ime) followed by a verb meaning to stretch someone beyond his limits (subject to distortion).

Some of the many clues which I enjoyed were 12a, 23a, 25a, 7d, 15d, 16d and 19d. My favourite, for its simplicity and brilliant deception, is 16a. Let us know your opinion in a comment.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Could this be the perfect Toughie, tough but not impossible and with lots of really entertaining clues from which it’s really hard to single out a favourite. Thanks Notabilis and Gazza.

  2. Jezza
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Another splendiferous puzzle from Notabalis, which I found relatively straightforward. I agree that there are many super clues, and I think my favourite is 25a for the chuckle that it produced. Thanks to N and G.

  3. BigBoab
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Best crossword of the week so far, loved 7d and 16d especially, thanks Notablis, I don’t often finish one of yours, thanks Gazza for the super review.

  4. tilly
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Really pleased I had some time to do the crosswords today. This one was really enjoyable and my favourite clue was 16a.

    interesting to see how two different setters clue the same answer as in 1d here and 18d in the Cryptic.

    Thanks Notabliis for a great workout and Gazza for the excellent review.

  5. Franco
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    A bit too difficult for me but got there in the end with lots of assistance. Thanks to Notabilis! And Gazza – without the review I would never have been able to explain the wordplay in 13a! Never heard of Signor Umberto Eco (1d). Favourite – without doubt – 16a!

    Still puzzled by the sub-title – “This Nick was no Saint”.

    • gazza
      Posted September 29, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Ceausescu’s first name was Nicolae.

      • Franco
        Posted September 29, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

        Multe mulţumiri – Many Thanks.

  6. gnomethang
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Stunningly good puzzle! I gave up putting stars against favourites but they included all of gazza’s plus a couple more with 16a being a runaway winner.
    Many thanks to Notabilis and to gazza for the review

  7. brendam
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Managed the bottom half well, but needed Gazza’s hints to finish. Not the most enjoyable for me, but thamks to Notabilis and Gazza

  8. Posted September 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    What a difference a day makes! This one was at the opposite end of the scale to yesterday’s

  9. Digby
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    I go with the flow – great fun. As SHOCK = HAIR, is not the “Possible” superfluous in 17a?