Toughie 657

Toughie No 657 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I had no real problems with this one. I stalled briefly on the top half but soon got moving again.

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.


7a    Dashed-off sketch in black is plagiarism, not amateur (8)
{SCRIBBLE} A dashed-off sketch is derived from a plagiarism inside the heraldic word for “black” with an A (amateur) omitted

9a    There’s a point in using wasted talent (6)
{GENIUS} A point of the compass goes inside an anagram (wasted) of USING to give talent

10a    Very quick recipe? Italian sauce bottles! (6)
{PRESTO} “Very quick” comes from R (recipe) inside (bottles) an Italian sauce

11a    Front and back ends of horse in ‘Mother Goose’ at National visible in the gods (8)
{PANTHEON} HE (first and last letters of HorsE) goes inside a type of entertainment of which Mother Goose is an example. This is followed by N (National) to give a temple of all the gods

12a    Drunk creases La Scala VIP invitation (6,3,5)
{ACCESS ALL AREAS} An anagram (drunk) of CREASES LA SCALA gives an expression commonly used on backstage passes where the bearer has unrestricted access to all areas of the venue

15a    Making a comeback, ex-PM’s seen oddly with date lacking sparkle (4)
{DRAB} Reverse the odd letters of the surname of a former PM (the last but one) and D (date) to get “lacking sparkle”

17a    It’s all go where Douglas is in charge (5)
{MANIC} It’s all go (i.e. ludicrously busy or energetic) = the name of the island where the town of Douglas is + IC (in charge)

19a    See 18 down

20d    Anxieties stilt free thinker (14)
{EXISTENTIALIST} An anagram (free) of ANXIETIES STILT gives a type of philosopher

23d    A-ha’s unreleased album ‘Live At Trondheim’ — opening for ABC (8)
{ALPHABET} AHA round an album (a vinyl one) + “live” + T (first letter of Trondheim) gives the ABC

25d    Mischievous Presley sounded drunk (6)
{ELVISH} How a drunken person might pronounce Presley’s first name = “mischievous”

27d    Make popular outcome attention-grabbing (6)
{ENDEAR} “To make popular” = outcome + what you hear with

28d    Comments that might put one off winter sport (8)
{SLEDGING} 2 meanings: offensive remarks intended to put a batsman off/a winter activity


1d & 2dHide damage caused by video connection problem (4,6)
{SCAR TISSUE} What forms over a healed wound on the skin (i.e. hide damage) = a plug used to connect parts of a video system + a problem

2d    See 1 down

3d    In the know about medicine’s foremost narcotic (4)
{HEMP} “In the know” goes round M (first letter of medicine) to give a narcotic drug

4d    Computer language gathering information for things to be done (6)
{AGENDA} A computer-programming language (apparently named after Byron’s daughter) goes round information to give things to be done

5d    Affected by current recession (2,3,3)
{ON THE EBB} A cryptic definition where the current recession is the tide going out

6d    Publicises facts about embarrassed Frost containing nothing off-colour (3,2,5)
{OUT OF SORTS} “Publishes facts” (i.e. “makes public”) goes round an anagram (embarrassed) of FROST containing O (nothing) to give “off-colour”

8d    Spring flowers in over-the-top Mafia wreath for bereavement (7)
{BLOSSOM} Spring flowers (usually on trees) are derived from a reversal (over-the-top) of the Mafia round (wreath for) a bereavement

13d    Blimey, flashy stuff framing the Spanish brickwork (10)
{CORBELLING} Blimey! + jewellery of a large and conspicuous type going round EL (the Spanish) gives brickwork projecting from the face of a wall

14d    New range is superior underwear (5)
{LINEN} N (new) goes after a range to give a generic term for underwear

16d    Day in bed ruined (8)
{BLIGHTED} Day (not the dark) goes in BED to give “ruined”

18d & 19a    Cruel twist in feature on mostly new Rebus mystery (7,4)
{CHINESE BURN} The cruel twist is a school prank which causes a victim pain. It is derived from a facial feature + an anagram (mystery) of NE(W) REBUS

21d    Costume with little covering flimsy bra (6)
{TABARD} A coat or tunic = a small amount (originally from North America) round an anagram (flimsy) of BRA

22d    Herb Alpert’s opening note in unimpressive score (6)
{LOVAGE} A herb = A (first letter of Alpert) + a one-letter note in a score of zero at tennis

24d    Tripe and borscht regularly below temperature (4)
{TOSH} Tripe (claptrap) = every other letter of borscht after T (temperature)

26d    Stable entering Derby’s a newcomer (4)
{SANE} Stable is hidden in Derb’S A NEwcomer

I found this to be a rather unexciting puzzle



  1. Posted October 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I quite enjoyed this and probbably broke my record for Toughie solving!
    18d was favourite for its definition.

    Thanks to Petitjean and Bufo.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed it too and probably equalled my Toughie solving record. I liked 25a and 18/19d . THanks to Petitjean and Bufo too.

  3. pegasus
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I must disagree with Bufo on this one, I thought this was a really good fun puzzle, Favourites were 1/2d 18/19a and 23a thanks to Petitjean and to Bufo for the comments.

  4. andy
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I too enjoyed this and found it quite amusing. Loved 23a for its inventiveness and 9a . Many thanks to Petitjean and Bufo

  5. Jezza
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I liked it – thanks to Petitjean, and to Bufo for the notes.
    Favourite clue 11a.

    I am hoping to see Myops tomorrow!

    • crypticsue
      Posted October 27, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      It’s Notabilis tomorrow.

      • Posted October 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

        Ouch! I’ll give it a go but I don’t expect a good result, but what I can do will be fun!

      • Jezza
        Posted October 27, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        If anyone finds that elusive Myops, rugby tackle him, get him to the floor, and drag him over here… his last puzzle was top notch! :)

  6. JB
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Being ignorant. Why is “hep “in the know”?

    • Jezza
      Posted October 27, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      It is an alternative for ‘hip’

  7. JB
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Thank you. “hip” I did know though I thought it meant more “up to date” and “modern” in the fashion sense rather than “savvy”. We live and learn!

  8. Kath
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Managed most of this one until it all went wrong in the top left corner ie I couldn’t do any of them!! Gave in and used the hints at that point. I couldn’t do 12a which might have helped a bit – never heard of that expression. Thought I might have invented a word (13d) but looked it up and there it was – quite pleased with myself!! :smile: I liked 11, 20 and 23a and 16, 22 and 24d. Will carry on “perservating” with these toughies but sounds as if I should avoid tomorrow in case the toughie cryptic confidence is damaged beyond repair!! With thanks to Petitjean and Bufo.

    • crypticsue
      Posted October 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Well done Kath. Perservate on! I will give you my usual Toughie tip tomorrow so you will know how tough the Friday toughie is likely to be.

      • Kath
        Posted October 27, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        Thanks yet again, pommers and crypticsue, for encouragement. I would love a tip tomorrow on whether or not an attempt at the toughie would be a good or bad idea. If weather is any better I might be doing more jungle warfare – really CAN’T allow myself to become totally addicted to doing a second crossword!

    • Posted October 27, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Nice one Kath! The NW corner was my big difficulty as well! The 2 linked clues being next to eachother in the same corner didn’t help.

  9. Derek
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I think this is the worst crossword that I ever tried to solve – I got a lot of it done and then I ran out of ability and enthusiasm.
    Sorry to the setter – but I am an old hand at this game!!!

    • Derek
      Posted October 27, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      Today I had my flu shot – normally this does not bother me but this time it was different – after all I am nearly 90 years old.
      I shall continue solving crosswords until I finally stop!
      I enjoy it and it is my way to keep my English up-to-date.

      • birdie
        Posted October 27, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

        I can’t imagine giving up the crossword either, Derek, so I just hope I’ll still be pen in hand at the kitchen table of a morning when I’m your age. Early felicitations for your ninetieth and many more years to come:)

    • Posted October 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

      Hi Derek

      Sorry to disagree but I thought it was pretty good and quite witty in places.
      Just as a matter of interest have a look at this about the setter.

      Note the last line, which I’m pretty sure came from gnomethang, and with which I heartily agree.

      ‘According to one contributor to Big Dave’s Crossword Blog, “I always consider that I need to put a ‘slightly mad’ hat on in order to solve a Petitjean crossword’

      Once the ‘slightly mad hat’ is in place I really enjoy them – and he did a rather splendid back pager a couple of months ago.

      • Derek
        Posted October 28, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        Thanks for sending me the article about Petitjean.
        I had a good night’s rest and have now recovered my equanimity!

  10. Derek
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Comment number 9 above.
    Sorry spelling error.

  11. Warren
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Surprised this rated 3* for difficulty. Did this quicker than the back pager, probably the second quickest I’ve ever done a Toughie.

  12. birdie
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this puzzle. Not overly tough but I find Petitjean’s puzzles very entertaining. I also like the fact that his/her surface readings are excellent. Thanks to Bufo for the review.

    • Posted October 27, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      If you want to know more about the setter see my reply to #9 above.

      • birdie
        Posted October 27, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Pommers. I’ll have a look – this setter is one of my favourites.