Toughie 596

Toughie No 596 by Excalibur

C’est la Vie

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment **

This was a game of two halves for me, with the bottom half going in fairly quickly but the top half holding out for some time. Excalibur’s puzzles tend to polarise opinions – although this one has some clues which I don’t like much (15a and 23a, for example) others are fine.
Let us know your views on the puzzle and please remember to click on one of the stars below to indicate your enjoyment factor.

Across Clues

7a  It rhymes with ‘two-time’ (7)
{COUPLET} – a pair of rhyming lines comes from a word for two followed by T(ime).

8a  Wound up being compromised no end (7)
{ANGERED} – remove END from the start of a past participle meaning compromised or exposed to risk.

10a  Very embarrassed look? (5,5)
{STONY STARE} – cryptic definition of the look you might have if you were completely broke (very embarrassed).

11a  Concept of life, according to Monsieur, taken by women (4)
{VIEW} – the French word for life is followed by W(omen) to make a concept.

12a  In paler ensemble, everything matching (8)
{PARALLEL} – put a synonym for everything inside an anagram (ensemble) of PALER to make an adjective meaning matching, e.g. in the description of an existence or universe.

14a  Right-leaning political grouping losing short election (6)
{ITALIC} – make an anagram (grouping?) of (pol)ITICAL having first removed POL(L) to make something leaning to the right.

15a  With ‘Drat! An express train!’ get angry (4,4,3)
{BLOW ONE’S TOP} – we want a phrase meaning to get angry. Start with a mild expletive (drat!) and add what could conceivably be a description of an express train (3-4). Surely an express train is non-stop, not one-stop?

19a  Note maths error, making complaint (6)
{ASTHMA} – this is a medical complaint which is formed from a musical note followed by an anagram (error) of MATHS.

20a  Hence rent, or let out, in an Italian resort (8)
{SORRENTO} – this is an Italian resort close to Naples (with seagulls above it, according to a 1950s Boulting Brothers film). Start with a synonym for hence and add an anagram (let out) of RENT OR.

22a  Regrettably, I entered with false name (4)
{ALAS} – a word meaning regrettably would, if “I” were inserted, be a false name.

23a  Gun aimed, not as good as one used to be (5,2,3)
{GOING TO POT} – this is a phrase meaning deteriorating. Cryptically it could describe someone on the point of firing a shot (gun aimed). The surface is not great.

25a  Puzzled out (7)
{STUMPED} – double definition, the second being a means of dismissal at cricket.

26a  Scrap cut to give to dog? (7)
{SNIPPET} – a charade of a verb to cut and what a dog may be an example of.

Down Clues

1d  Left on light to show (7)
{PORTRAY} – a verb meaning to show is a charade of left (at sea) and a light or beam.

2d  Turn, retreating from shots (4)
{SPIN} – a verb meaning to turn or rotate is the reversal (retreating) of small quantities of spririts (shots).

3d  Stand at waterfront to see animal (6)
{WEASEL} – the sort of stand used by an artist comes after (at) the first letter (front) of W(ater).

4d  Is left in its case for her (8)
{INHERITS} – the definition here is “is left” (in a will, say). IN ITS is a container (case) for HER.

5d  Tell in writing to give waiter good tip (5,1,4)
{LEAVE A NOTE} – double definition.

6d  Having been terribly healthy gives advantage (7)
{BENEFIT} – an anagram (terribly) of BEEN is followed by a synonym of healthy.

9d  It needs a good blow to drive it home (7,4)
{SAILING SHIP} – cryptic definition of what will get back to port quicker if there’s a fair wind (good blow) behind it. Since Pommers isn’t blogging today I feel the need to step into the breach with a nautical picture!

13d  However perfectly matched (3,3,4)
{ALL THE SAME} – a phrase meaning however also means perfectly matched (very similar to 12a).

16d  Had altercation, somehow managed to get run in (8)
{WRANGLED} – put R (run in cricket) inside an informal verb meaning obtained by guile (somehow managed to get).

17d  Separate. Is love dead? (7)
{ISOLATE} – a verb meaning to separate or set apart is a charade of IS, O (love) and a synonym for dead.

18d  Ran to catch, also crouching (7)
{STOOPED} – the definition is crouching. Put a synonym for also inside (to catch) another word for ran.

21d  Furious kid has been allowed to imbibe spirit (6)
{RAGING} – a verb to kid goes round (to imbibe) a spirit (the alcoholic sort). “Has been allowed” is just padding to improve the surface.

24d  Dear me, I’ve slipped up, duplicating a nought on the addition (4)
{OOPS} – an exclamation indicating that you’ve dropped a clanger (dear me, I’ve slipped up!) is made by putting double O (duplicating a nought) before (on, in a down clue) the afterthought at the bottom of a letter.

The clues I liked best were 25a, 4d and 16d. Let us know what you liked.



  1. Posted July 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    After yesterday’s disappointment I will be giving this one a very wide berth!

  2. BigBoab
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I found the back pager from Jay more difficult than this, I quite enjoyed it however. Thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for the review.

  3. pegasus
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Everything seemed to be going in fine until I came to a shuddering halt in n/w corner but perseverance prevailed, favourites were 14a 4d and 25a thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for the review.

  4. crypticsue
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I struggled quite a bit with the NE corner, but really shouldn’t have done as the solutions were obvious. I think it may have something to do with the fact that i know that Gnome’s law isn’t going to work as well now that he has his new job. I quite liked 15a because it reminded me of Prolixic and the way he measures difficulty of crosswords in stops. Thanks to Excalibur and Gazza.

  5. Prolixic
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyed this Excalibur crossword. Many thanks to her for the challenge and to Gazza for the review. Favourite clues were 4d when the penny dropped and 15a.

  6. Qix
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    10a took me almost as long as the rest of the puzzle, and I’m still struggling to see a definition in the clue.

    I liked 4d a lot, though.

    • Digby
      Posted July 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Needed G’s help with 10a – not a familiar term to me, and not a great clue. Compensated by 4d and 9d. Not sure about your picture at 25a, Gazza – I think his back foot may just be on the line!

  7. AtH1900
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    At the risk of being told I’ve got it wrong, an express train has to stop at least once, unless it’s on the (old) Circle Line ;) … if it didn’t it wouldn’t be much use to passengers.