Toughie 688

Toughie No 688 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

In terms of difficulty I think that this is pretty much spot on for a Wednesday Toughie, i.e. it makes you think but it’s not mind-blowingly tricky. I enjoyed the tussle with it (and it’s also a pangram).
Let us know how you liked it and please take the time to click on one of the stars below to record your assessment of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a  Soldiers I join as one in a humble role (8)
{ MENIALLY } – a charade of soldiers (not including officers), I and a verb to join or combine with makes an adverb meaning behaving as one in a humble role.

5a  One who studied the presentation of food — dessert mostly (6)
{ PAVLOV } – this is a Russian scientist who found that dogs could associate the ringing of a bell with the arrival of food. It’s also a meringue-based dessert without its final A (mostly).

9a  Male visible to all before game as a beast (8)
{ MUSQUASH } – this is a large North American rodent, valued for its fur. String together M(ale), the letter used to classify films that anyone may see and a sport played on a court.

10a  Material presented by very angry artists (6)
{ MADRAS } – a light patterned cotton or silk fabric used primarily for Summer clothing comes from an adjective meaning furious followed by Royal Academicians.

12a  Loveless individual with attempt to be passionate (6)
{ SULTRY } – a word for a person loses its O (loveless) then this is followed by an attempt. The whole thing is an adjective meaning passionate and sexy.

13a  Ludwig II of Bavaria showing off (8)
{ SWANKING } – this present participle means showing off, but if split as (4,4) it’s the description used for the eccentric Ludwig II of Bavaria .

15a  The eldest of five children to manufacture a chemical compound? (7)
{ QUINONE } – if you had five children all pretty much at the same time you might be hard pressed to tell them apart so you might resort to numbers, in which case the first born might be called this (4,3). More realistically it’s a golden-yellow crystalline compound.

16a  Clue a success with any number getting stuck? (4)
{ HINT } – a success, in the music charts perhaps, has a letter used to stand for an indefinite number stuck inside it.

20a  Troublesome, being cunning, quiet rather than loud (4)
{ POXY } – start with an adjective meaning cunning and replace the letter used in music to mean loud with the one used to mean quiet. The result is an informal description of something unpleasant or troublesome.

21a  Help to cover mark made by parasite (7)
{ ASCARID } – a synonym for help goes round (to cover) a mark left by an old wound to make a parasitic worm which typically lives in the intestines of invertebrates.

25a/26d  Maybe one could associate Cumberland with rain possibly (8,6)
{ CARDINAL NUMBER } – the definition by example here is “one”. We want an anagram (could associate … possibly) of CUMBERLAND and RAIN.

26a  See 25a

28a  Rising at home, put on old dress (6)
{ ORIGIN } – the definition here is rising or first existence. The word used for at home is appended to (put on) O(ld) and a verb meaning to fit out or dress.

29a  One who thinks what will be will be is big among the top people (8)
{ FATALIST } – this is someone who believes that all events are predetermined and inevitable. A description of someone who is big or overweight is followed by those who are among the top group of celebrities (1-4) (e.g. a Meryl Streep rather than an Alan Titchmarsh).

30a  What might set a ‘riser’ into action? (6)
{ SIERRA } – I think that this is meant to be a semi all-in-one with a ‘riser’ being presumably a mountaineer. It’s an anagram (might set … into action) of A RISER. I don’t think that this works very well .

31a  Ada being such a sexually active type becomes another woman! (3-5)
{ MAN-EATER } – this is one of those clues which is quite difficult to explain. The definition, which is, unusually, in the middle of the clue, is a sexually active type ( Chambers defines her as a woman given to acquiring and dispatching male admirers). If you take the last bit of the answer as a containment indicator, then ADA swallows the first bit of the answer to make another female name (another woman).

Down Clues

1d  When given order I am to climb plant (6)
{ MIMOSA } – bring together a) another word for when, b) the abbreviation for an award which is in the personal gift of the sovereign and c) the contraction of ‘I am’, then reverse the lot (to climb, in a down clue) to make a plant having clusters of yellow flowers.

2d  Settle comfortably — I can provide the coffee (6)
{ NESTLE } – double definition, the second being a Swiss company which makes a popular brand of instant coffee.

3d  Sign of a heretic skirting round question (8)
{ AQUARIUS } – A and an early Christian who had heretical views on the nature of the trinity skirt the abbreviation of question to make a star sign.

4d/14d  Suffer maybe when paper is accidentally chucked out and turn very irate (4,4,3)
{ LOSE ONES RAG } – a phrase meaning to turn very irate could literally mean to mislay a trashy newspaper.

6d  A very little woman offering advice: Move on! (6)
{ AVAUNT } – an old interjection meaning move on! or begone! is built from A, a little form of V(ery) and the type of columnist on a newspaper or magazine who offers advice to Worried of Worthing or Desperate of Deeside.

7d  Aussie lout arrives, enjoyin’ being seen around (8)
{ LARRIKIN } – the abbreviation for arrives (as you’d see on a timetable) is surrounded by a synonym of enjoyin’ (with the final G dropped as in the clue) to make a lout down under.

8d  Go to hospital carrying game ‘Invader’ (8)
{ VISIGOTH } – these were people from Germany who invaded swathes of Europe in the fourth and fifth centuries AD, including Rome itself. Put a verb meaning to go to or drop by followed by H(ospital) around (carrying) a Japanese board game where you have to surround and capture your opponent’s counters. It’s a bit odd that the word that has to be inserted is also the first word of the clue .

11d  African managed to seize rod of authority (7)
{ RWANDAN } – I had to think again, having failed to come up with an African containing the word ‘mace’. Another word for managed contains (to seize) the sort of rod which is a symbol of office (and is also used by a magician or wizard) to make a native of an African country .

14d  See 4d

17d  Showy glasses presented with note enclosed (8)
{ SPECIOUS } – a description of something which looks good on the surface (showy) but is actually incorrect comes from putting an informal word for glasses around (with … enclosed) a promissory note.

18d  Get rid of customs duty, allowing gold in (8)
{ EXORCISE } – customs duty (a tax by any other name) contains (allowing … in) the heraldic tincture of gold.

19d  Put on mule, I sat awkwardly (8)
{ SIMULATE } – an anagram (awkwardly) of MULE I SAT.

22d  Namely, one ruler’s foreign minister (6)
{ VIZIER } – a minister in the Ottoman (hence foreign) government is a charade of a) the abbreviation of the latin word videlicet meaning namely, b) I (one) and c) the initials used to identify our current ruler.

23d  Person lacking ‘ome needs one good fellow who can raise the wind? (6)
{ OBOIST } – start with a tramp or homeless person and drop the initial H to match ‘ome in the clue. Then add I (one) and the abbreviation for a good or holy person to make the player of a woodwind instrument.

24d  Case placed on middle of earth in hole (6)
{ CRATER } – a large case precedes (placed on, in a down clue) the middle letter of eaRth.

27d  Island language that’s not spoken (4)
{ JAVA } – double definition – an island which is part of Indonesia and a computer language which is used extensively (but not spoken, unless you’re a real nerd :D ).

My favourite clues today were 13a, 31a and 6d. Let us know yours.


  1. Posted December 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gazza and thanks for explaining 31a. Guessed the answer eventually but could I work out why it is what it is?

    Apart from that I actually solved this one quicker than I did The Don’s offering in today’s Grauniad!

    Thanks and a Merry Christmas to Giovanni and also to Gazza.

  2. andy
    Posted December 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    similarly with 11d was thinking of mace. Last in but only because i couldn’t parse them were 30 and 31a. Thanks and a happy Christmas to Giovanni and Gazza.

  3. BigBoab
    Posted December 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Giovanni for a most enjoyable crossword and to Gazza for an excellent review. I was grateful for your explanation of 31a as I had guessed the answer without really understanding it.

  4. pegasus
    Posted December 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable fare from The Don ditto re 31a favourites among many were 13a 15a 7d and 22d thanks to Giovanni for the challenge and to Gazza for a fine review.

  5. Posted December 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    As Gazza says, the perfect Wednesday, took just the right time to solve and so enjoyable although for a rare occasion I liked different clues to Gazza. I did think given the Nancy Dell Olio (or however you spell her name) court case reported in the paper today that 31a was particularly topical :) Thank you and Happy Christmas to Giovanni. Thank you to Gazza too.

  6. Derek
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Late input from me – I started this puzzle this morning and solved it!
    Faves : 9a, 25/25a, 31a, 7d, 8d, 11d, 18d, 23d & 27d.
    Guessed 31a but didn’t quite appreciate the clue – thanks Gazza for your remark.

    • Derek
      Posted December 22, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Correction 25/26a!!

  7. Posted December 22, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I’m late tackling this one but I enjoyed it, though I failed to solve 5a, 8a, 10a 28a, 6d and 7d. Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.

  8. Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    As usual I got this one late. Some enjoyable clues BUT
    I thought that 30A was a rubbish clue and 31A was far too convaluted. Still don’t understand where the “EATER” came from the clue.

    Loved 20A (POXY) but my favourite (as a medic.) was PAVLOV (5A). A clever clue.

    • Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      31a A sexually active type is a man-eater. If ADA eats (i.e. contains) MAN then she becomes AMANDA.

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