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Toughie 467

Toughie No 467 by Giovanni

Speak proper like what I do!

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment *

Once upon a time I used to look forward to Giovanni puzzles, but I did not enjoy this one. It was not helped by two poor homophones, one of which was the worst I have seen in a long time.  I’m sure some of you will disagree – feel free to comment

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    A pictorial club maybe for a game of cards (9)
{BLACKJACK} – this pictorial playing card could have been a club or a spade – the definition is a game of cards also called vingt-et-un or pontoon

9a    Vehicle outside university impinges on Head of Arabic — injury results (6)
{TRAUMA} – but a public service vehicle outside U(niversity) and follow it with A (Head of Arabic) — injury is the definition

10a    Food for pet tucked into by after end of binge (9)
{FORCEMEAT} – this mixture of meat or vegetables chopped and seasoned for use as a stuffing or garnish is derived by putting FOR and a domestic pet aound ME (this person) preceded by E (end of bingE)

11a    Deficient Philby protected by one of his coleagues? (6)
{SKIMPY} – a word meaning deficient is constructed by putting the first name of Philby inside (protected by) one of his colleagues, Guy Burgess or Donald Maclean perhaps – was “colleagues” spelt incorrectly in the newspaper as well?

12a    Lead maybe with a Beatles melody — just the first bit played (4,5)
{BASE METAL} – a member of the group of elements of which lead is one is an anagram (played) of A BEATLES M(elody)

13a    The gun he shot is a toy (6)
{TRIFLE} – a charade of T(HE) and a gun without HE (he shot) gives a toy

17a    Canny pilot (3)
{FLY} – a double definition = canny and to pilot an aircraft

19a    The old man in old bar supplied with glass (7)
{OPALINE} – put a word for the old man (2) in between O(ld) and a bar or stripe to get a glass

20a    Lager is awful — you want port (7)
{ALGIERS} – an anagram (awful) of LAGER IS gives a port in North Africa

21a    Mail difficult to understand — writing perhaps invisible (3)
{DAK} – this Indian word for mail is a word meaning difficult to understand without one of the three Rs (writing perhaps invisible)

23a    Antelope knocking two little ones over (3-3)
{DIK-DIK} – this very small E African antelope is a young antelope reversed and repeated

27a    Look, sound fourth-rate and lower (9)
{DEMEANOUR} – a look or air sounds like the fourth and fifth rate and a word meaning lower – does this homophone work for you?

28a    Tax demanded by foreign king at end of month (6)
{OCTROI} – to get this tax levied at the gates of a city put the French word for a king after the short form of the tenth month

29a    This wader in trouble will get washed away (9)
{DISHWATER} – an anagram (in trouble) of THIS WADER gives something that gets washed away

30a    Scruffy person with tin collecting nothing (6)
{SLOVEN} – a scruffy person is created by putting the chemical symbol for tin around a score of nothing in tennis

31a    Lawn being so bare gets left (9)
{BEARDLESS} – I’m sure this is very clever but I had lost interest by the time I got to it – explanations welcome [thanks to Anax – if you take awn away from lawn you get L(eft) – I don’t think I wanted to know]


2d           Sponge half cooked (two eggs in it) (6)
{LOOFAH} – this sponge-like plant is an anagram (cooked) of HALF around O and O (two eggs) – ouch

3d           Prestige of a revolutionary infiltrating court (6)
{CACHET} – a word meaning prestige or reputation is derived by putting A and everyone’s favourite revolutionary inside (infiltrating) the abbreviation for court

4d           Perhaps like bread at mealtime getting stuck (6)
{JAMMED} – a double definition

5d           Artist demands drink, something bitter (7)
{CHAGALL} – an artist is a charade of a drink and something bitter

6d           Financial business bankrupt? Anger will follow (9)
{BROKERAGE} – a financial business is a charade of bankrupt and anger

7d           Quiet maiden is stifling word of dismay — dries up (9)
{MUMMIFIES} – a word meaning to be quiet is followed by M(aiden) and then IS is placed around a word of dismay to get a word meaning dries up a body in order to preserve it

8d           Say yes possibly when bit of food is brought in? That’s certainly not difficult (4-5)
{EASY-PEASY} – put an anagram ()possibly of SAY YES around a small item of food to get a word meaning not difficult

14d         Spooner’s unwelcoming spectre heard in the old country (4,5)
{GOLD COAST} – reverse the initial letters of the two words forming the old name for Ghana and you get synonyms for unwelcoming and a spectre

15d         Salvationists receiving request to go to Newcastle and Canadian city (9)
{SASKATOON} – put the Salvation Army around a verb meaning to request, add a term associated with Newcastle and the result is a Canadian city

16d         Organic compounds that could make soils nice (9)
{SILICONES} – these organic compounds are an anagram (that could make) of SOILS NICE

17d         Bank notes in sequence turning up (3)
{FED} – the short name of an American bank is formed from three consecutive notes, reversed

18d         Beast talking — that’s silly! (3)
{YAK} – a double definition – a beast and a trivial conversation – yes, it is a silly clue

22d         Woman overcome by drink — a ‘fish’ (7)
{ALEWIFE} – a charade of a woman preceded by a drink gives a fish related to the herring

24d         Ineffectual, this male? Right! (6)
{WETHER} – a charade of ineffectual, as in the Blessed Margaret’s ineffectual critics, a male pronoun and R(ight) gives a castrated ram, sort of defined by the whole clue

25d         Doctor turning up with great speed, completely available in emergency (2,4)
{ON CALL} – reverse the Doctor who was James Bond’s adversary in the first Bond film (but not the first Bond book) then add the speed of light and a word meaning completely to get a phrase meaning available in emergency

26d         Scholars munch meals audibly (6)
{TUTEES} – these scholars don’t sound like chew (munch) teas (meals) to me – a new low in attempted homophones

Favourite clues – I didn’t have any.  Better luck tomorrow.

39 comments on “Toughie 467

  1. Please – anyone – I’m totally bewildered by 31a even though I’d come to the conclusion this was the answer. Also stuck on 14d & 24d. Thanks BD & Giovanni for todays offering, but like BD I usually love Giovanni but several answers elude my comprehension at the mo.
    Re 27a – the “de” is just a sounds like for “D” – no need for 5th at all

    1. Thanks for that – when I was originally solving it I was thinking that E was lower than D, but didn’t need it in the end. I usually enjoy writing these reviews, but not this time.

      14d is the old name for Ghana
      24d is meant to be an all-in-one – the wordplay is a charade of ineffectual, as in Margaret Thatcher’s critics, a male pronoun and R(ight)

      1. Thanks for those BD, I see them now.
        Rather thought 26d would turn out to be the horrible homophone, yuk!
        Thanks also to Giovanni but I think I’ll stick to his normal Friday offerings in future as I usually enjoy them muchly.

  2. 31a. An AWN is a —– of barley, so if you take AWN away from LAWN your left with ‘left’. The only problem I see here is that the result of the wordplay is a tad too abstruse to qualify as an &Lit although I can see where Mr G is coming from.

  3. I finished the top of this puzzle without difficulty and the bottom left with a bit more effort. Then I really got stuck on the bottom right. I have the same answer for 31a as BD but I don’t really know why and I got 27a completely wrong which meant I couldn’t do 26d (and still can’t). And I haven’t been able to see how 25d is made up even though I think I probably have the right answer.

    However overall I did enjoy the exercise and particularly liked 24d and 30a.

    1. 26d keep saying an alternative word for munch out loud, add a plural word for a meal and then you will eventually cotton on and groan and groan!

  4. I was getting on quite well with this until I got to 21a which I had the letters but couldn’t find the word anywhere I looked. I also struggled and had to use the hints and Anax’s post to get 31a. It’s a long time since I needed the hints but having diced with ice and slush and snow, I just gave up.

    Colleagues is spelt incorrectly in the paper too. I have also to agree that the homophone to which you refer is in my view the worst homophone in the history of homophones.

    Thanks to Giovanni for the three quarters of the puzzle I enjoyed (the SE corner was a struggle) and to BD for the comments.

  5. Finally completed it! But I am still not convinced that I have the right answer for 26d. I’ll hope that it makes sense when Big Dave explains the down clues. I quite liked 24d.

    1. I did. I saw it this morning after I saw the flag on the Google website. I then remembered the ‘tweaks’ you make on the homepage on memorable days.

    2. Oh yes! As one conceived in Edinburgh I applaud yout attention to detail. And your honest review of a puzzle that The Don must have been tempted to throw out with the 29a.

      1. Digby, presumably you were born in Yorkshire? A requirement of being able to play for Yorkshire CCC until 1992. I didn’t know we had a famous sportsman in out midst. (Ref: your comment #15 – 26,411)

        1. Hi Franco, Yes “made” in Scotland, but produced in Yorkshire. I’m being slightly economical with the truth, however. I turned out for North Yorkshire U15s – Chris Old was in the same team. He went onto greater things, but off-spinners who could bat a bit were in plentiful supply, so my career peaked about then. A pity we ever opened our borders to “foreigners”, but needs must!

  6. Erm, can I just offer a small note of bewilderment? Just reading through the clues above… and somehow this doesn’t feel like Don’s work. The majority of the clues seem fine, but there also seems to be far more Libertarianism than the usually very Ximenean master offers.

    Is it possible this one’s been credited to the wrong setter by mistake?

  7. The very unusually heard of solution to 28a appeared in a recent crossword – was that one of Giovanni’s?? The all-knowing BD will know.

  8. I must agree on the homophome at 26d but I quite enjoyed a number of other clues. Thanks to BD and to Giovanni.

  9. I found it a pleasant solve but cringed at the homophone. I was surprised at it being one of Giovanni’s – there’s usually a religious reference in there somewhere normally!

  10. After spending all afterrnoon trying to do this charade of a crossword I have finally given up. Having read the hints with regard to 18 21 24 26 27 and 31 I can now understand why! This is the worst DT crossword that I can remember. All bur the SE corner was OK but I would never have solved the rest in a month of Sundays. I cannot imagine that this is a Giovanni. Nil points!!!!

    1. Horses for courses I suppose but I dont think it was that bad. Strangely enough, two regular solvers (and bloggers) as well as myself had more trouble in the SE corner than elsewhere!.

  11. Got to this late today and have only just completed it. Totally agree about the sheer awfulness of the homophones but other than that I found it a fairly standard solve. I do agree that it does not have the feel of a Giovanni somehow but I suppose we are all allowed the occasional off day. needed your assistance with 26d, possibly the very worst homophone I have come across.

  12. I have no problems with the homophone at 26d, but then I’m often out of step with everyone else when it comes to homophones

  13. Tulips and tutees sound the same according to Collins – with a tju sound. Listen to Max Bygraves singing his Amsterdam song — sure sounds like chew-lips to me. All that bile is misguided, my friends! Funny how folk jump on a bandwagon with three wheels, ain’t it? Life’s too short to answer all the rest of the stuff, though — sorry!

    1. Chambers doesn’t give the pronunciation for tutee, but for tutor it gives /tūˈtər/ and for chew /choo/, which is how I pronounce them.

      Perhaps the clue should have read “Scholars munch meals as sung by Max Bygraves”, that well-known expert on the pronunciation of the English language

  14. Finally finished but with some help from the blog – thanks BD!

    I have no particular problem with the homophone at 26d – I always enjoy this type of clue – normally adds a bit of humour.

    I wish it was “Spring again…” It will be nice to see some tulips again.

  15. I got about 80% of this puzzle done last night and then had to put it down and get some sleep. Back on the job early this morning but got flummoxed with the SE corner (apart from alewife).
    For 27a I put in “seediness” and that finished me off so I read BDs hints.

    I concur that this is not what we expect from Giovanni.

    Alewife is a terminal station on the Boston MA “T” – transport system – so I never forget the fish!

  16. Whilst I was really peeved with the SE corner, on reflection the rest of it was pretty good. Liked 1 10 11 12 and 19 but 4 was the best. Hope that makes you feel better Mr G!!

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