Toughie 580

Toughie No 580 by Giovanni

Hey Donny, Donny

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Giovanni’s Toughies are not normally that much harder than his back-page puzzles and that applies today. This is pretty much on a par with his Cryptic last Friday, largely because even if you don’t know a word (as I didn’t 22d) the wordplay will normally lead you unerringly to it. It does have some very clever and enjoyable clues.
Let us know how you fared with it in a comment and please click on one of the stars below to show how you rated it.

Across Clues

8a  Feature of hare — it hides in plant (8)
{CELERITY} – a feature of the hare is its speed. Hide IT inside a salad plant to get a synonym for speed.

9a  Six with regret about wait ultimately showing patience? (6)
{VIRTUE} – the question mark indicates that patience is a definition by example and it’s an example of the seven heavenly qualities. Start with the Roman numeral for six and add a verb to regret containing (wai)T.

10a  Music request made when No.1’s slipped to No.3 (3)
{SKA} – take the first letter of a verb to request and demote it to third place to make a style of Jamaican music.

11a  A judge in one shoe, lacking a pair of them (8)
{BAREFOOT} – put A and the abbreviation of a judge in a sporting arena inside a strong shoe (such as may be worn in the same sporting arena).

12a  Inflammable liquid bringing destruction ultimately to a tree (6)
{NAPALM} – this is an inflammable liquid used as a horrible anti-personnel weapon in warfare. Start with the last letter of (destructio)N and add A and a tree found in warm climates. A variety of the liquid was also used as a defoliant by the US during the Vietnam war (in order to expose the positions of the enemy) so this is a semi-all-in-one clue. When this “tree” appeared in a Giovanni back-page puzzle a couple of weeks ago a commenter told us that it’s not a tree, but he didn’t tell us what it is!

13a  Chorister’s grant arranged by a group of musicians (6,9)
{STRING ORCHESTRA} – an anagram (arranged) of CHORISTER’S GRANT.

15a  Traveller in plane to get very angry (7)
{MIGRANT} – a charade of a Russian fighter plane and a verb meaning to get very angry produces someone who travels, often to find work.

18a  Place I picked out for having gold and silver — in this! (7)
{STORAGE} – this is a semi-all-in-one. Start with a 4-letter place or spot and remove the I (picked out). Then, inside what’s left insert the heraldic term for gold and the chemical symbol of silver.

21a  Team of cattle transporters blocking one’s cart awkwardly (9,6)
{DONCASTER ROVERS} – put people employed to herd and transport cattle around (blocking) an anagram (awkwardly) of ONE’S CART to get a South Yorkshire football team nicknamed Donny.

24a  Boy’s beginning to want girl back? One may be barking (6)
{BASSET} – B(oy) is followed by a girl’s name reversed to make a breed of hound.

25a  A legal right takes time — foreigner is in such a state (8)
{ALIENAGE} – this word means the state of not being from around these parts. It’s a charade of A, a legal right to possession of some property and a time.

26a  Particle of metal first bit of rubbing removed (3)
{ION} – start with a hard, silvery-grey metal and remove the R(ubbing) to leave an electrically-charged particle.

27a  Smooth ambassador ditching English love (6)
{LEGATO} – an ambassador, especially a Papal one, loses his final E (ditching English). Then O (love) is added to make an adjective used in music to mean smooth.

28a  Procrastinating, I had turned Liberal — subsequently a member of another party (8)
{DILATORY} – this is a synonym for procrastinating. Reverse (turned) the contracted form of I had, then add the abbreviation for Liberal, A and a member of another, temporarily connected, political party.

Down Clues

1d  Change one’s mind about slang (6)
{RECANT} – this is a verb meaning to change one’s mind (often used during times of religious persecution to mean renounce one’s previously stated beliefs, especially after the application of a couple of painful implements). Start with a preposition meaning about or concerning and add a word used as a modifier to describe a slang word or catchphrase currently in fashion (the ODE gives the use of ‘herstories’ instead of ‘histories’ as an example of such a word).

2d  Arab enemy to be destroyed before independence can begin (6)
{YEMENI} – a very topical clue. A citizen of a country at the southern end of the Arabian peninsula is an anagram (to be destroyed) of ENEMY followed by I(ndependence).

3d  Chaos and hell (men start to grumble) is entering a country (15)
{DISORGANISATION} – the definition is chaos. String together the name of the city which occupies the sixth through the ninth circles of hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy, the abbreviation for ordinary soldiers and G(rumble). Then insert IS inside A and a synonym for country.

4d  The writer’s tale given a new middle section — detective story? (7)
{MYSTERY} – start with the possessive adjective (the writer’s) and add a synonym for tale with its middle O replaced by A to get something of which a detective story is an example.

5d  Ruler of yesteryear — I haven’t the answer to this clue? (4,3,8)
{IVAN THE TERRIBLE} – the ruler of yesteryear was a rather nasty Russian tsar. The wordplay employs a reverse anagram, i.e. the answer can be seen as anagram fodder followed by indicator which when solved results in I HAVEN’T. I always find it quite difficult to explain this type of clue.

6d  Very big hesitation follows support for one suggesting idea (8)
{PROPOSER} – the abbreviation for a very big clothing size and a hesitation follow a support.

7d  Running full, river in swampy area suits amphibian (8)
{BULLFROG} – this amphibian is formed from an anagram (running) of FULL followed by R(iver) inside a swampy area.

14d  Music events to raise money (3)
{RAG} – double definition – a form of jazz music and what Chambers rather disapprovingly calls ‘riotous festivity’ undertaken by undergraduates to raise money for charity.

16d  Is ancient mischief-maker being imprisoned, unable to see others? (8)
{ISOLATED} – string together IS and a synonym for ancient then insert (being imprisoned) the Greek goddess of mischief.

17d  Cart bringing fruit, heaps on top (8)
{RICKSHAW} – this is an Eastern form of personal transport (sometimes advertised by its driver to Westerners as “sit down, go walkies”). Put heaps (of hay, normally) on top of a fruit.

19d  Get rid of brilliant performer when intrinsic value is reduced by 90% (3)
{AXE} – start with a brilliant performer and (we’re dealing in Roman numerals here) reduce the value of the middle letter (intrinsic value) by 90% to make a verb meaning to get rid of.

20d  Porch with royal inscription in London museum (7)
{VERANDA} – put the inscription used by our current Queen inside an abbreviated way of referring to a London museum (1,3,1).

22d  Canticle? Archdeacon wants it before end of service (6)
{VENITE} – it’s a lot easier to solve this from the wordplay than to understand what it means. Put the abbreviation of the title of an archdeacon ahead of IT and E(nglish) and you get a song used in a church service, named after the latin phrase at the beginning of psalm 95 ‘O come let us rejoice’.

23d  Observe fish drowning in wine (6)
{REGARD} – one of Crosswordland’s favourite fish, similar to a pike, goes inside (drowning in) a type of wine (not the colour that you’re traditionally supposed to have with fish).

The clues I liked included 11a, 12a and 19d but my favourite was 5d. Let us know what you liked in a comment.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted June 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I found this easier and quicker to solve than quite a few of Giovanni’s Friday puzzles. Just hoping that they haven’t muddled this one up with Friday’s and so we are in for a tough challenge then! 5d was my favourite too. Thanks to the Gs.

  2. Franco
    Posted June 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Must be an easy Toughie as I managed it! However, I needed Gazza’s explanation of the wordplay for 16d – never heard of this Greek God before. Also, I would never, ever have been able to explain 19d without the review. Favourites – 11a + 21a. Thanks G&G.

  3. pommers
    Posted June 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Having warmed the brain up on Jay’s back pager and writing the blog I actually finished this one slighlty quicker! Strange!
    Agree with Gazza about 5d but also liked 3d and 19d.
    Thanks to Govanni and Gazza.

    • crypticsue
      Posted June 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      I was quicker with this one too, not by much but I think I spent a bit more time laughing at some of the Cryptics clues/solutions.

      • pommers
        Posted June 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        In my case it was probably because pommette had left for the airport and wasn’t talking to me all the time while I was trying to solve the puzzle. She’s just phoned from Manchester so a pretty good journey, just over 5 hours from here to her Mother’s place!

  4. pegasus
    Posted June 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Pretty straightforward today but most enjoyable favourites for me were 11a 5d and 7d thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for his comments.

  5. andy
    Posted June 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, am out on a limb here – whilst I got there I did struggle quite a bit on the way, and no fault of the setter , just not getting on the wavelength today. That said, it was a fun struggle particularly 5d, 8a and 21a. Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza

  6. Posted June 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    My usual struggle with Giovanni Toughies, I much prefer the back page. I certanly didn’t find it as wasy as some – the NW corner held me up eventually but no real issues, just a late start which doesn’t help.
    Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza for the review.

  7. Peter
    Posted June 15, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi gazza
    Thanks for a comprehensive review. I have to confess that I do not really understand the rationale behind 5d. I assume that the words – I haven’t – are anagrammed to give you the first 2 words, beyond that………?
    Sorry to be so thick

    • gazza
      Posted June 15, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      You’re not being thick. It’s quite difficult to explain clues like this with a hint. It’s a reverse anagram where the fodder and indicator are in the solution and the “answer” is in the clue. What the clue is saying is “I haven’t” is the answer to this clue. If you take Ivan The Terrible and treat it as requiring an anagram (terrible) of IVAN THE you get the answer, i.e. I HAVEN’T.

      • Peter
        Posted June 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        Thanks gazza
        Got it – sorted

      • pommers
        Posted June 15, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        Hope Giovanni doesn’t come up with one of these on Friday! Got this one but it’s a type of clue construction I usually miss!

        • Qix
          Posted June 15, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

          It’s rare to see these on the back pages – they’re usually considered to be Toughie territory.

  8. Prolixic
    Posted June 15, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable although I too found this at the easy end of Giovanni’s Toughie Crosswords. 24a and 5d were my favourites. Many thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza.

  9. Lostboy
    Posted June 15, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Rats! Rats! Rats!
    Turns out I can’t do divison in Roman Numerals, so I’ve still got “aCe” as the answer.

    Other than that, I enjoyed it, lots of penny drop moments, got there in the end.