Toughie 625 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 625

Toughie No 625 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +<

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

Trickier than many a Giovanni Toughie (but none the worse for that). The northeast corner eluded me for a time when I had to think hard about 4 down and 6 down.

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8a    Bird box in front of terraced houses? (7)
{SPARROW} A common bird (house or hedge) is formed from “to box” + a word that describes a group of terraced houses

10a    Say, a cleric getting old, bent over, in twilight years? (4-3)
{OVER-AGE} A reversal (bent over) of “say” + A + cleric + O (old) gives “too old”

11a    Trained ventriloquist once given a sort of monkey (7,2)
{BROUGHT UP} “Trained” is made up of the surname of the ventriloquist associated with Archie Andrews + a pile-driving monkey

12a    The man with plot of ground is a serf (5)
{HELOT} “The man” + a plot of ground = a serf

13a    Praise formerly accompanied by endless peal (5)
{EXTOL} “To praise” = formerly + “to peal” with the last letter removed

14a    Leave horrible people as soon as there’s nothing to lose (7)
{LICENCE} Leave (permission) = horrible people + “as soon as” with an O (nothing) omitted

17a    Greek character facing obvious fix, keeping on in place devoid of particular reaction (7-4,4)
{NUCLEAR-FREE ZONE} A letter of the Greek alphabet + obvious + fix round ON gives an area where certain weapons and certain waste are prohibited

19a    Bluff ruler that gets cold-hearted, appearing to be calm (7)
{HALCYON} Bluff King Henry VIII + “that” goes round C (cold) to give “calm”

21a    This massage is said to be requirement (5)
{KNEAD} “To massage” is a homophone of “to be requirement”

24a    A part of Edinburgh Castle, I think — only a part (5)
{LEITH} The port of Edinburgh is hidden in CastLE I THink

26a    Fee rather bad — when to expect proper reward?! (9)
{HEREAFTER} An anagram (bad) of FEE RATHER gives the afterlife (when you might get your proper reward)

27a    Tops on radio vehicles (7)
{SLEIGHS} A homophone of “tops (kills)” = vehicles with runners

28a    Something in suet that’s nastier when chewed (7)
{STEARIN} An anagram (chewed) of NASTIER gives a glyceryl ester found in suet


1d    Functional line penned by American President of yesteryear (6)
{USABLE} “Functional” = L (line) inside US + a former president

2d    Viewing all aspects brings alarm — choose to hide (8)
{PANOPTIC} “Viewing all aspects” = alarm round “choose”

3d    Walker in Liverpool, say, creating hostility when blocking main road (3,7)
{ART GALLERY} The Walker in Liverpool is an example of this. Put “hostility” inside a main road

4d    People who fulfil your wishes, a bit twisted inside? (9)
{COMPILERS} Take a word meaning “people who fulfil your wishes” and transpose the 5th and 6th letters. This then gives people with twisted minds who fulfil your wishes by setting devious crossword puzzles

5d    Hebrew character right out of bed (4)
{BETH} The second letter of the Hebrew alphabet is obtained by removing R (right) from a bed (on board a ship)

6d    Dress to sag (4,2)
{FALL IN} 2 meanings: dress (come into line in a military sense)/sag

7d    One appreciates the beautiful article following Society in a summer abroad (8)
{AESTHETE} One who appreciates the beautiful = S (Society) + the definite article inside A + the French word for summer

9d    Man of power, wouldn’t you say, in speech? (4)
{WATT} The engineer who gave his name to the derived SI unit of power sounds like “wouldn’t you say”

15d    Keep an eye on the old woman and man in a doomed situation (10)
{CHECKMATED} “Keep an eye on” + the old woman (mother) + a man’s name = “In a doomed situation (on the chess board)”

16d    Country hospital is to be included in business arrangement (9)
{FRANCHISE} Put H (hospital) IS inside a European country to get a business arrangement

17d    Something must be denied by this philosopher (8)
{NIHILIST} A cryptic definition of someone who believes human existence has no objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value

18d    Certain society giving way to allow for public opening (8)
{OVERTURE} Take a four-letter word meaning “certain” and replace the first letter with a word meaning “public” to get an opening (of a musical work)

20d    Wreath laid on earth in European city (6)
{LEIDEN} A wreath (in Hawaii) + an earth (where an animal lives) = a Dutch city

22d    Fearless lover spending pounds (6)
{DARING} “Fearless” = a lover with L (pounds) omitted

23d    Supports made from alloy crumbling away at the bottom (4)
{BRAS} Supports for part of the female anatomy = an alloy with the last letter removed

25d    Going off on a trip? (4)
{HIGH} 2 meanings: going off (as food)/on a trip (using drugs)

I enjoyed it

21 comments on “Toughie 625

  1. I can’t remember when a Toughie last took me as long as this one to get sorted – I had to keep putting it down and doing some work to allow the subconscious cryptic cells to do their work, and that will never do. Thanks to Giovanni for the extreme brain stretching – some very tricky clues, my faovurite of which was 27a. Thanks to Bufo for the explanations too, particularly the ‘monkey’ in 11a – I am, sadly, old enough to remember the ventriloquist :).

  2. Entertaining fare from Giovanni N/E put up a brave fight favourite for me was 4d. Thanks to Giovanni and to Bufo for the comments.

    1. Peter Brough was a ” famous ” radio ventriloquist with a dummy called Archie Andrews sometimes known as the little monkey.

      1. Three definitions of tup from Chambers:

        *A paving rammer
        *A pile-driving monkey
        *The striking-face of a steam hammer

        I think the allusion made by Bigboab is part of the surface reading rather than the definition.

        1. Dave, as usual I probably have it wrong but I took tup to mean sheep a North of England dialect word I think and I remember the” little monkey”on a Sunday morning radio programme called Educating Archie.

    2. Hi WBGeddes, I too struggled with that, but a tup can also be defined as a heavy metal body, especially the head of a power hammer – which is known as a monkey or a ram. New to me too!

          1. 11a – I would never have understood this without the blog, thanks! “Radio ventriloquist” – Did anyone see his lips move?

  3. The toughest for me so far this week; I needed some help to finish the last couple. Thanks to Giovanni, and to Bufo for the notes.

  4. 17A always makes me laugh as a concept. Manchester used to advertise this point of view around its environs in the 80s and 90s (don’t think they still do) and I used to wonder if the proverbial balloon went up would I be safer in Chorlton-cum-Hardy rather than in (say) Sale because of it.

  5. The NE was a sinker. I got stuck on 10a because, as “over” was in the clue, convention says it won’t be in the answer. I was wrong! and, yes, to me a tup is a sheep.

  6. Very enjoyable Toughie, although I didn’t think it was particularly tricky.

    My favourite clue was 26a; I wonder if that was a message to the crossword editor?


  7. Giovanni turned up the heat on this one, I thought. Lots of nice D’oh moments when the solutions dawned on me so thanks to the setter for stirring the grey cells and to Bufo for the review.

  8. Thanks for all recent comments (I’ve been away). I was aware that this was a bit tougher than usual. The clue that pleased me most was 3d – I made my maiden viist to the Walker last year and was pleased to use an unusual definition tied to a subsidiary indication that made some sort of sense. Till tomorrow, then.

  9. Bit of a curate’s egg. Some really nice clues, 3 4 15 16 and 27. Some far fetched ones, 10 11 and who’s ever heard of 20?

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