Toughie 659 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 659

Toughie No 659 by Giovanni

After the Lord Mayor’s Show …

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

Last Friday’s outstanding Toughie from Notabilis was a hard act to follow. Today we have a puzzle that is only marginally more difficult than a typical back-page offering and my blue highlighter wasn’t required. On a positive note, it is better than the last Giovanni puzzle that I reviewed.

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.


1a    He could sing and break a glass; I croon and saucer cracks! (6,6)
{ENRICO CARUSO} – this well-known Italian tenor is a rather obvious anagram of I CROON with SAUCER

8a    Vehicle with maybe the two back bits falling off (5)
{ARTIC} – to get this lorry with the front section flexibly attached drop the final two letters (two back bits falling off) from the grammatical term of which “the” is an example

9a    Prisoners gathered round end of the gym, privileged types given a vote (4,5)
{LIFE PEERS} – put these long-term prisoners (6) around the final letter (end) of thE and the abbreviation of used for gym practice to get privileged types who can vote in the upper chamber

11a    Maiden certainly not fast, initially so sluggish (9)
(SOMNOLENT} – start with a charade of M(aiden), an emphatic denial and a fast or abstinence the put SO in front to get a word meaning sluggish

12a    The first thing to come out of an old Oxford car plant (5)
{ORRIS} – drop the initial letter (first thing to come out) from the company that manufactured the Oxford model of car to get the Florentine iris

13a    Mother going round Greek province is able to gauge the pressure (9)
{MANOMETER} – put the Latin for mother around a general name for a province in Greec to get a device that is able to gauge the pressure of fluids

16a    Generous politician has the drink brought round (5)
{AMPLE} – to get this word meaning generously proportioned take Crosswordland’s usual politician and put a drink of beer around him

18a    Attractive person that is put down by insult (5)
{CUTIE} – this attractive young lady is created by putting the abbreviation of the Latin for “that is” after (by) an insult or snub

19a    A horse gets dry — thus returning, drinks (9)
{AMARETTOS} – a charade of A from the clue, a female horse, the abbreviation for dry or abstinent and a word meaning thus reversed (returning) gives these almond-flavoured alcoholic drinks

20a    Disappointment with no duck seen in these pools (5)
{BATHS} – drop the O (duck) from a word meaning a disappointment or anti-climax to get these swimming-pools

22a    Something non-standard I love — name for tot (9)
{SUMMATION} – a non-standard or dialect form of the word “something” is followed by I, O(love) and N(ame) to get a tot or aggregate

25a    Bars with variety of ‘mega-sober’ characters (9)
{EMBARGOES} – these bars or prohibitions are (another) rather obvious anagram (variety of … characters) of MEGA-SOBER

26a    Learner emerging from country house clutching old instrument (5)
{VIOLA} – remove the L(earner) from a country house and replace it with O(ld) to get a stringed instrument

27a    Space traveller coming in across the universe in a gratuitous manner (12)
{COSMETICALLY} – put Crosswordland’s usual space traveller inside an adverb meaning across the universe to get a different adverb meaning in a gratuitous or superficial manner


1d    Foreign 4 offering unusual taste — dig in! (9)
{ESTAMINET} – this small French 4 down selling alcoholic drinks is created from an anagram (unusual) of TASTE into which a word meaning to dig for coal is inserted

2d    Page? Someone at church wedding possibly falling short (5)
{RECTO} – the right-hand page of an open book is derived by dropping the final letter (falling short) from a member of the clergy who may possibly officiate at a wedding

3d    Companion’s affection denied very small girl (5)
{CHLOE} – start with the abbreviation of Companion of Honour and add affection or fondness without (denied) the V(ery) to get one of my pet hates in crosswords – a girl’s name

Gratuitous illustration added especially for Giovanni!

4d    Summer for Jacques in wild Africa will offer refreshment (9)
{CAFETERIA} – put the French for (how Jacques might say) summer inside an anagram (wild) of AFRICA to get an establishment that will offer refreshment

5d    Rogue in respect of legal proof (9)
{REPROBATE} – this rogue is a charade or a word meaning in respect of and the legal proof of a will

6d    Vegetables served up no good? Look disparagingly (5)
{SNEER} – take some vegetables, reverse them (served up) and drop the G(ood) to get a verb meaning to look disparagingly

7d    Medieval depiction of march to grave as end, we may infer (5,7)
{DANSE MACABRE} – in this dance of death the second word acts as an anagram indicator for AS END

10d    Family members? Stupid brainless twits — off with their heads! (7-2-3)
{SISTERS-IN-LAW} – these family members are an anagram (stupid) of (B)RAINLESS and (T)WITS without their initial letters (off with their heads)

14d    One goes round creating big trouble (9)
{MAELSTROM} – this word for a powerful whirlpool can also mean a confused state of affairs

15d    Managed in first bit of the game to bring delight (9)
{TRANSPORT} – put a word meaning managed or administered between the initial letter (first bit) of The and a game or recreation to get a word meaning to bring delight

17d    Twenty-five pounds? Therein lies a slim sort of inheritance (9)
{PATRIMONY} – put the gambling slang for £25 around A and a word meaning slim or svelte to get this inheritance from a father

21d    Time to show disapproval, to introduce a ban (5)
{TABOO} – take T(ime) and a way to show disapproval and then insert (introduce) A to get a ban or prohibition

23d    Entertainment set out in the bars? (5)
{MUSIC} – this form of entertainment can be broken down into rhythmic units called bars

24d    Small component of skull buried in African village (5)
{ANVIL} – this small component of the skull in general or the ear in particular is hidden inside the last two words of the clue

If you want to see why today’s setter is a legend in his own lunchtime – see comment #5 in this post on fifteensquared, which unsuccessfully attempts to take a swipe at both Times for the Times and this blog!

Thought for the day: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt (Abraham Lincoln)

26 comments on “Toughie 659

  1. For me this was a fairly average Giovanni and it didn’t take me much longer than one of his back page Friday puzzles. The clue for 10d did raise a slight smile but apart from that I had no favourites. Thanks to BD for the review and the lovely picture of Cyril :)

  2. A gentle start to the week – favourite clue, 10d.
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to BD for the review, and the ‘laddie picture’.

  3. Moderate fare from todays setter compared to last Tuesdays Ray T thanks to Giovanni and to Big Dave for the comments.

  4. Not really a oughie apart from 7d perhaps. Really about the same difficulty as his back pagers on Friday but I quite enjoyed it all the same.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to BD for the gratuitous picture!

  5. Thanks to Giovanni & Big Dave, I really needed the hints. 11 in all, 4 of which I had to look up. It was an enjoyable puzzle, but too tough for me.

  6. I supposed I asked for trouble with my comments on Fifteen Squared. This site too can be excellent. Quite often the comments are very sensible and I enjoy many of the links attached to the clues ( esp. the good old pop stuff of yesteryear). However, some of the silly pictures spoil it for me and I am surprised that there haven’t been more complaints about the laddie pictures of female flesh. There is no need to sink to David Cameron’s level of male chauvinism just because the Daily Telegraph tends towards Conservatism. Come off it chaps — this isn’t the Sun! (And where are the ladies to compalin when you need them?)

    1. As Big Dave implied on fifteensquared, welcome to the most popular crossword blog. I’m sure the skin-pic was reaction to his aversion to names. Anyway, I enjoyed your challenge – perhaps at the easier end of the Toughie spectrum?

    2. I know that crypticsue will occasionally throw in ‘one for the ladies’ and to be fair BD has been asking for more bloggers from the fairer sex to volunteer to blog. I know someone complained once because their Nan read the blog. For myself, I suspect that the most racy picture I published was Marge Simpson in a Baby Doll wooing Homer with Donuts and a can of Duff Beer.

    3. This is a much friendlier site than 225, and off topic conversations are not outlawed but encouraged!
      Full marks to BD for creating an atmosphere where people can make friends and talk about things outside the small world of crosswords! We all have other lives to live.
      As to the pictures, as gnomey says, there are many posted for the ladies and nobody, as far as I know, has complained. Not even about my racing cars and boats. It’s all a bit of fun, which is sadly missing on 225 and T for the T.
      Don’t take it all so seriously – it’s may be a profession to you but it’s a game to us solvers!

      BTW – today’s was pretty good but not really any harder than your normal back pager – thanks for the diversion from what I should have probably been doing!

    4. I like Dave’s blog, silly pictures and all, it’s a lot of fun to read and take part in, educational too, without being too serious.

    5. I’m a lady member here and find no need to complain in the slightest.
      I find the “racy” pictures of the fairer sex no more offensive than adverts on TV or the London Underground. I’m certainly a big supporter of equality, in all it;s forms, and really cannot see the problem here. The pictures liven up the day, create chatter among the bloggers and bloggees and I’m sure that if the ladies found them truly offensive they would not keep coming back.
      As the t’other half of the pommers, I even encourage him to find a good piccie to make everyone smile. And as a lover of equality too we’ve even had pictures of scantily clad males to brighten up the day!
      I love the banter on BD’s blog. I also like that fact that we can “go off topic” on the daily thread. Otherwise the cold analytical dissection of the crossword, and the cold analytical replies as often found on fifteen squared would be seriously boring.
      As pommers said, we all come here because we enjoy doing crosswords and belonging to a community of like minded individuals. To us it is fun – not how we earn our living.

        1. If Giovanni hasn’t realised then I think he’s just been well & truly handbagged by your better half. This blog is by far the best site available to us solvers whose pate is not fully inserted into our own fundamentals. More power to the elbows of BD & our own Queen Boudicca, Pommette!

  7. I certainly enjoyed the surface reading at 1 across – it made me laugh on the train. I enjoyed this one, just getting bogged down on a couple of the more obscure words for a time. Thanks to Giovanni and to BD for the review.

    1. I’ll add my vote for 1a too. Not the trickiest clue but a wonderful image and alliteration.

      1. BD. completely disagree with your opinion on this crossword!

        If this had been put on the back page there would have been many, many complaints.

        (Yes – I could’nt do it!)

        1. I agree. Personally I don’t think that this could sit fairly on the back page due to some of the wordplay elements. Having said that it wasn’t the hardest Toughie (although there have been easier ones in the last month). Shall I get off the fence?.

  8. I did it! I jolly did it! It only took me two days (but then I do still work full-time) but I’m delighted. Came here to verify that my answers were correct and, hooray, they were. I feel a huge sense of achievement. It spurs me on to try harder to tackle more toughies (most, mostly defeat me), but it’s encouraging to complete even one with just my own brain, a dictionary and a thesaurus.

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