Toughie 656 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 656

Toughie No 656 by Excalibur

Bob’s Your Uncle

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

Well, there’s one example of a weird surface (22a) and a couple of cryptic definitions which don’t work very well in my opinion, but on the whole I thought this one was pretty reasonable if not too stimulating. It’s not terribly difficult – I completed three-quarters of it in almost record time but then slowed down in the NW corner, so I think this setter definitely belongs to Tuesdays rather than Wednesdays (Puzzles Editor please note) – perhaps a swap with Beam would be in order? :D

Let us know how you got on and please take the time to record your enjoyment of it by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Bob, or who got him pass to see air display? (10)
{PALINDROME} – Bob is an example of this and he might get a pass to an air display from a 3-2-5.

6a  Almost lower a boat (4)
{SCOW} – drop (almost) the final L from a verb meaning to lower or look sullen to leave a flat-bottomed boat.

9a  Man cleaned windows on the inside (5)
{EDWIN} – concealed (on the inside) in the clue is a man’s forename.

10a  Cheerfully, having left one’s affairs in order (4,1,4)
{WITH A WILL} – double definition.

12a  Better half has a purpose for screen: that’s plain (7)
{AUSTERE} – the definition here is plain or spartan. Half of the word better is contained in (has … for screen) A and a purpose or value.

13a  Removing head, open up fish (5)
{ROACH} – take off the initial B (removing head) from a verb meaning to open up or break into to leave a freshwater fish of the carp family.

15a  Cardinal point missing, requiring change that’s fundamental (7)
{RADICAL} – an adjective meaning fundamental is an anagram (requiring change) of CARDI(n)AL without one of the four main points of the compass.

17a  After second drink, produce work that’s spotty (7)
{STIPPLE} – S(econd) is followed by an alcoholic drink to make a verb meaning to paint or draw in dots.

19a  Nobody rich in France (7)
{PARVENU} – this is a word, from French, for a nobody who has now become rich.

21a  Forgive cheat that’s cheated (7)
{CONDONE} – a verb to forgive is a charade of a verb to cheat and a past participle meaning cheated or swindled.

22a  Sending back, write within ‘Article unskilled’ (5)
{INEPT} – an adjective meaning unskilled comes from reversing (sending back) a verb to write inside a pronoun used to refer to an unspecific article. The surface doesn’t inspire.

24a  Mermaid’s pet? (7)
{CATFISH} – cryptic definition of a sea-dwelling creature that could (just conceivably) be a mermaid’s pet. Does this work?

27a  Experience, as you look at each in turn (2,7)
{GO THROUGH} – double definition.

28a  Painting a room (5)
{STUDY} – another double definition, the first a painting done for practice or as an experiment.

29a  I vetoed unattractive design (4)
{PLAN} – remove (vetoed) the I from an adjective meaning unattractive or ordinary-looking to leave a design.

30a  Always the same — lacking the means for a tip (10)
{CHANGELESS} – double definition, the second a cryptic description of someone without the wherewithal to give a gratuity.

Down Clues

1d  On return, continue to see (4)
{PEEK} – reverse (on return) a verb meaning to continue (as in “continue taking the tablets”).

2d  Scot who touched down in the valley? (9)
{LOWLANDER} – cryptic definition of a Scot who, roughly speaking, lives south of the Highland Boundary Fault.

3d  At least eighteen pennies change, to end with (5)
{NINES} – since the answer is in the plural there must be at least two of them so the smallest number that this can result in is 18. Make an anagram (to change) of the last (to end with) five letters of pennies.

4d  Unseasoned wood? That’s not fair (3,4)
{RAW DEAL} – double definition.

5d  They get embroiled in things (7)
{MATTERS} – the definition here is things or happenings. Cryptically it could also mean objects that become tangled (get embroiled). Hmm, I’m not convinced.

7d  Tea imbibed at home with mate (5)
{CHINA} – an informal word for tea contains (imbibed) “at home” to make the rhyming slang term for mate.

8d  How surprising! Listed as wealthy (4-6)
{WELL-HEELED} – a charade of an interjection expressing surprise and the past tense of a verb meaning to list or incline produces an informal description of a wealthy person.

11d  Put on trial, as a rule, for speaking out (7)
{ARRAIGN} – this verb meaning to put on trial sounds like (for speaking out) A and rule by a monarch.

14d  Keeping quiet while clinching a deal (8,2)
{WRAPPING UP} – double definition.

16d  Who made us react strangely, in other words (7)
{CREATOR} – the entity who made us (if you believe the theory now dressed up with the pseudo-scientific name of Intelligent Design) is an anagram (strangely) of REACT followed by a conjunction used to introduce an alternative.

18d  Small audience watching ‘Home For the Homeless’ (9)
{POORHOUSE} – this is another name for a place where those without a roof over their head could get board and lodging in return for work prior to the introduction of the Welfare State. If split as (4,5) it could also describe a sparse audience watching a theatrical production.

20d  Very Scottish — South not so boorish (7)
{UNCOUTH} – this adjective meaning boorish is a Scottish adverb meaning very followed by (so)UTH (not so).

21d  Understand the safe way to carry firearm (5,2)
{CATCH ON} – a phrasal verb meaning to understand or take in is also how you’d be advised to carry a firearm safely.

23d  From painting, stands to make more (5)
{EXTRA} – a preposition, from Latin, meaning from is followed by a reversal (stands, in a down clue) of a synonym for painting.

25d  Family is sure right away (5)
{ISSUE} – if you remove the R (right away) from “is sure” what you’re left with is the offspring of a family.

26d  Sees what put an end to Pompeii, so to speak (4)
{EYES} – what do the last two letters of Pompeii sound like (so to speak)?

The clues I liked best were 19a and 20d. How about you?

29 comments on “Toughie 656

  1. I raced through this initially and then slowed to a halt with about about 3 or 4 to go which took a while for the pennies to fall. My only ‘clue I liked dot’ is by 1a. Thanks to Excalibur and Gazza too.

  2. Not a patch on yesterdays far too many double definitions as always seems the case with this setter. Least favourite 3d favourite 20d thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for the comments.

  3. I enjoyed this. Thought 1a was brilliant. Mainly a “do-able” puzzle & not too taxing.I’m having a busy day so appreciated one that was achievable over lunch.

  4. From the sublime of yesterday to the usual fare from my least favourite setter. What are 3 and 5 all about? Also the Scottish word in 20 means ‘strange’ according to Rabbie Burns. Very unco!

  5. Too difficult for me today ; much more than a 2 star for me.
    Oddly, i put curates for 15d as being an anagram of us react ! in fact, I thought that intelligent design was the theory of the anti evolution faction ?
    Thanks for invaluable hints, much needed today.

    1. Intelligent Design is the theory put forward by the Creationists who want to dress up their anti-evolution views in something that sounds (but isn’t) vaguely scientific.

        1. Gazza is no doubt aware of the rise of Pastafarianism and the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a passable alternative to ID (at least in a court of law). The man is actually worthy of respect IMHO. I have been touched by his Noodly Appendage.
          Halfway through today but didnt finish – too busy but thanks to all concerned!

          1. Part of Mr Henderson’s open letter to the Kansas State Board of Education:

            “I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; one third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.
            —Bobby Henderson

            For the uninitiated:


            1. I particulary like the idea that the Pastafarian conception of Heaven includes a beer volcano and a stripper factory whereas Hell is similar, except that the beer is stale and the strippers have sexually transmitted diseases

  6. Oh bloody hell and :sad: AND :oops: !! Well that has just taught me that it is possible to become what my Dad would have called “a bit cocky”!! Having managed well over half of yesterday’s toughie I thought that I’d have a go today – I did six clues! Am off now, with tail well between legs, to have a look at the hints. Yet again, oh dear!! And ANOTHER thing (as it’s called in our family when you really want to let rip) – yesterday’s toughie got 4* for difficulty and today’s got 2*. Again :sad:

    1. Kath,
      It’s probably all about wavelength – you’re used to Ray T’s style. If you keep having a go at the Toughies you’ll be amazed how quickly you improve.

      1. Thanks Gazza and Pommers – I WILL keep having a go – I WILL get to grips with these toughies! :grin: I have to say, yet again, I do love the Ray T/Beam crosswords – for some reason I seem to find them “do-able”!

        1. I also have favourite setters, Jay (obviously), Giovanni and Virgilius but I always struggle a bit with RayT. Although I really like his puzzles I can’t seem to ‘click’ with him! ‘Horses for courses’ I guess!

          I actually like Elgar Toughies! I’m a bit of a masochist I think as they usually take me all day before I finally give up with about three quarters done but they are usually very elegant puzzles, and i did actually finish one once – he was probably in benign mood that day!

          Keep at it – nice to see you on the Toughie blog!

    2. Hi Kath
      Re-read what I wrote yesterday – it proves you do get better with persevation!
      I can’t really get to grips with this setter – I think she’s on AM when the other setters are on FM!

  7. Have now been through all the hints and filled in all my gaps – ie most of the crossword. I still only understand about half of them. I would NEVER manage this kind of thing on my own! However, I will keep “perservating”, particularly in the cold and dark winter months ahead of us when gardening is not terribly appealing. :sad:
    Now for a very non pc joke which 1a reminded me of:-
    Q – What do you call a man with no arms and no legs who can swim?
    A – Bob

    Q – What do you call a man with no arms and no legs who can swim the channel?
    A – Clever Dick

    Good night all …

    1. LOL
      I must have failed if you don’t understand some answers even with the hints. Which ones are they?

      1. No – you absolutely haven’t failed – I’m being dim! :sad: In general I do find that the toughies are WAY beyond me – not quite sure why but I think that the clues are constructed in a far more convoluted way – I have yet to work out how to go about them. I still don’t really understand 12a and 5 and 20d. SO sorry to be such a pain in the proverbial …

        1. 12a is (bet)TER inside A USE (a purpose)
          5d Matters are things and people who mat get things in a tangle (as in matted fur)
          20d UNCO is a Scottish word meaning very or extremely – add (so)UTH (south without “so”).

          1. OK and thank you for taking the trouble to reply YET again, and so late. I do now understand the ones that had beaten me. :smile:
            I have just thought about what would happen if I tried the “toughie” at the time when I usually do the back page puzzle – I am very much a “creature of habit” – something that should probably be guarded against or I will turn into my Mum, who is nearly ninety ….! Thanks again, and sleep well.

  8. Can’t say I enjoyed this one too much. I was thrown by putting BRINGING IN for 14d. RINGING in the BIN seemed so good for ‘keeping quiet’ that just it had to be right, ultimately rendering the NW corner impossible for me. I also found 3d and 22d a bit iffy; IT is not an article in my world.

  9. Started this yesterday afternoon and got 75% done but had to go to friends for dinner so finished it this morning.
    Faves : 1a, 17a, 18a, 24a, 4d, 14d & 19d.

  10. I did not have the time to get around to looking at this one, so had to make do with reading the review.
    Thanks to gazza for the detailed analysis.
    I don’t fully get 24a.

    1. Nor do I. I think it’s meant to work along the lines:
      a) a cat is a pet
      b) if a mermaid had a pet it would have to live underwater
      c) a catfish is something that lives underwater and has a pet (cat) in its name
      d) a mermaid’s pet might be a catfish.
      Not very good, is it?

Comments are closed.