Toughie 657 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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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

25 comments on “Toughie 657

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

    Thanks to Petitjean and Bufo.

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

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

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

    I am hoping to see Myops tomorrow!

      1. 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. 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!

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

    2. 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.

  8. 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!!!

    1. 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.

      1. 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:)

    2. 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.

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

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

  10. 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.

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