Toughie 692

Toughie No 692 by Petitjean

He’s back and he’s cool, tight, wicked, sick, sweet, nice, bad and chill!

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

Afternoon All!. Gazza is taking another break and kindly asked me if I would like to blog today – I was happy to oblige and delighted to get a fine puzzle from Petitjean. The usual trademarks are there: Food, contemporary music references, a bit of slang, some very well disguised definitions with great penny drop satisfaction plus a couple of clues where one might possibly gripe on the lack of definition by example!. I gave this 3 stars for difficulty and have highlighted my favourites in BLUE.

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           Children put on a show that’s rhapsodised at Twickenham (7)
{CHARIOT} – To kick off we have the name of the conveyance that is sung (rhapsodized) at Twickenham by the English supporters. It is a charade of the abbreviation for child and a show, or according to Chambers, “a wildly enjoyable or amusing event”. Perhaps just ‘a show’ isn’t quite strong enough.

5a           Supporter in waterproof or elegant clothing (7)
{FORELEG} – Either of two things that support a quadruped is hidden in the clue.

9a           Dordogne’s oddities attract English bore (5)
{DRONE} – The odd letters in DORDOGNE get (attract) E for English to give a boring or monotonous speaker.

10a         Bad ‘un attending house-warming party grabs first item of food (6,3)
{CHILLI DOG} – At this point I threw away my new copy of Chambers and reached for the second entry in the ‘Urban Dictionary’ for the first 5 letters of the answer:
2. cool, tight, wicked, sick, sweet, nice, etc. Bad is also a synonym and the ‘un gives us I for One. Follow this with a short synonym for a (house-warming) party and the first letter of Grabs to get a food beloved of Americans including Homer Simpson. Petitjean does like a bit of slang and rhyming slang! (Note: after all my waffling above gazza has given the correct parsing of C(entral) H(eating) with ILL and I followed by DO and G(rabs) – my explanation does not include any  reference to House-warming)

11a         Go ahead with cruel death in the French manner (4,3,3)
{LEAD THE WAY} – A surface reading that makes one think of Mme La Guillotine. In fact placing an anagram (cruel) of DEATH inside a French definite article and then a synonym for manner gives a phrase meaning ‘Go Ahead’ or ‘be in the vanguard’

12a         Britpop darlings ousting Queen for British No.1 makes you weep (4)
{BLUB} – The Britpop darlings in question were not Oasis but the southern lot (and so much better in my opinion!). Replace the Abbreviation or Regina with the first letter (No 1) of Britain to find a verb meaning cry/sob. (Here’s an excuse for an ace song and video!)

14a         Irritating noise from Sharapova or her highly-strung companion? (6,6)
{TENNIS RACKET} – A cryptic definition and definition. A word for a din that Ms Sharapova might make at Wimbledon say and also the equipment she uses (which has taut strings).

18a         Current inactivity gets the nod (12)
{ACQUIESCENCE} – A charade of Alternating Current and a noun meaning inactivity. The definition is ‘the nod’, assent or submission.

21a         The answer is not to overthrow Indian prince (4)
{AJAR} – A lovely clue. It took me forever to spot the definition (the answer!) but it is ‘not to’ (think doors!). Reverse the word for an Indian Prince.

22a         Draw a veil over where French fleur-de-lis came about (10)
{CAMOUFLAGE} – Another excellent clue. We need a verb meaning disguise or draw a veil over. Place the French word for ‘where’ and the ensign of which fleur-de-lis can be an example and place this inside ‘came’ that is in the clue. I have checked to see whether or not fleur-de-lis is an exact synonym for the answer and although it is referenced as a design in things like ‘Camo Tank Tops’ I can’t find a direct reference.

25a         Working sketch in the wood (2,7)
{ON DRAUGHT} – A description of cask beer is a charade of a short word for working and a preliminary sketch.

26a         See 23 Down
{See 23 Down!}

27a         Animal seen in intermittent rain near lakes in part of India (7)
{GORILLA} – This large animal won’t be seen anywhere near the hippy resort in India. In any case place every other letter in ‘rain’ alongside two Lakes and place the lot inside said hippy resort!.

28a         Following bout of excessive indulgence around Spain rector identified as phoney (7)
{FORGERY} – A fake or phoney piece of art can be found by placing the abbreviation for ‘Following’ and a Saturnalia outside the IVR code for Spain and R for rector (thanks to Stephum Meldrum for pointing out the omission).


1d           Pamper Cheryl, hugging date with diamonds (6)
{CODDLE} – We need Cheryl the Girls Aloud “singer” (should there be an indication of definition by example here?). Her surname contains (is hugging) two abbreviations, one for Date and one for Diamonds, and the definition is the first word.

2d           Legislation overturned after a very ordinary confession (6)
{AVOWAL} – A confession or vocal profession. Reverse an act or piece of legislation and place it after A and the abbreviations for Very and Ordinary.

3d           At the last gasp I then may come over almost negligent (2,8)
{IN EXTREMIS} – A Latin phrase for ‘at the point of death’ or ‘at the last gasp’. I and a word for ‘then’ may (in fact DO!) come above (over in a down clue) almost all of a word meaning negligent.

4d           In playlet — a Chekhov — certain characters get one of these (5)
{TACHE} – Hidden in ‘playleT A CHEkhov’ is a shortened word for a facial feature that some people may sport.

5d           Idiot previously in charge stopping lavish food (9)
{FRICASSEE} – More food!. This meat dish (often of chicken or rabbit) can be created by placing an idiot and before that the abbreviation for In Charge, all inside (stopping) a word meaning lavish.

6d           Shrimplike creatures head off into small brook (4)
{RILL} – Remove the first letter from plankton that most whales eat to find a small brook or stream.

7d           ‘Likely Lads’ endlessly rehashed and refined (8)
{LADYLIKE} – A fairly straightforward instruction to remove the last letter from LIKELY LADS and make an anagram (rehashed) leads to an adjective applicable to a woman of refinement.

8d           Idle talk unknown in French holiday accommodation unit that’s capacious (8)
{GIGABYTE} – A well concealed definition (unit that’s capacious). The unit in question is a unit of computer memory and we can find it by placing a slang word for idle talk and one of the usual Crosswordland unknown variables inside the French word for a cottage which is now commonly used as a rustic holiday home.

13d         Tango-Foxtrot-Lima-Oscar or twisting may occur here (10)
{DANCEFLOOR} – Plenty of possibilities for wordplay here! It took me a while to get this as ‘twisting’ suggested an anagram, but of what?. In fact ‘twisting may occur here’ is the definition. We need a charade of what Tango is an example of followed by the letters denoted by Foxtrot, Lima and Oscar in the NATO phonetic alphabet and finally the OR from the clue.

15d         After drama on the outskirts of Sandhurst Algeria’s exiled king gets homesickness (9)
{NOSTAGLIA} – Another charade.  A piece of Japanese theatre, the external characters (outskirts) os SandhursT then ALGERIA after the ER (Edward Rex, king) has been removed or exiled.

16d         Follow lass in wild tango (3,5)
{TAG ALONG} – A phrase meaning follow (usually with not much enthusiasm). An old fashioned word for girl inside a wild anagram of TANGO.

17d         Blue is smoother without question (8)
{SQUANDER} – This is the second definition in Chambers for ‘Blue’ and was unknown to me but the wordplay is clear – put QU(estion) inside a tool that you would use to smooth wood.

19d         With onset of downpour in valley make slow progress (6)
{DAWDLE} – To make slow progress or dilly-dally. The abbreviation for With and laso the first letter (onset) of Downpour go inside a valley or hill.

20d         Pay ministry before end of January (6)
{DEFRAY} – In 2001 in the UK two government ministries, the MAFF and the DETR, merged to create this one. Put it in front of the end of JanuarY to get a verb meaning pay, settle or satisfy.

23d         and 26 Across: Unacceptable, like 4 letters applied to cheat (3,2,5)
{OUT OF ORDER} – It helps to have solved 4d here!. You may see that CHEAT is a cryptic description of the letters of 4D having been rearranged.

24d         Train bird (4)
{RAIL} – A simple double meaning to finish with although the bird may not be so well known to those outside Crosswordland who don’t tweet!.

Merry Christmas and many thanks to Petitjean for today’s entertainment. I will see you all on Friday for the review of ST2619.


  1. gazza
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Petitjean for the entertaining puzzle and to Gnomey for giving me a morning off and producing a fine review.
    My take on 10a was that ‘bad’ was ILL and ‘un was I with the CH coming from house-warming (i.e. Central Heating).

    • Posted December 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      I was racking my brains for CH but couldn’t get Central Heating – On balance I think that you are certainly right gazza – perhaps I was just looking for the slang due to the petitjean’s predelictions.

      • Posted December 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        Kind of makes a mockery of my strapline!

  2. pegasus
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Loads and loads of fun and entertainment in this one, favourites among many 10a 21a 22a and 20d thanks to Petitjean for a cracking puzzle and to Gnomey for a great review.

  3. crypticsue
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    We usually get an entertaining Toughie from Petitjean and this one was no exception. Thank you and Merry Christmas to him. Thanks to Gnomey too for an excellent review.

  4. Posted December 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this, but I think that Americanisms like the chilli dog should be indicated as such. Yesterday we had a similar situation with “down south” meaning the south of the USA.

  5. Posted December 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Highly entertaining puzzle so many thanks to Petitjean.
    Too many good clues to pick out favourites but 14a is worth a mention!
    Also thanks to gnomey for the review and for confirming my parsing of 21a.

    • upthecreek
      Posted December 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Slightly mad hat????? I needed my completely bonkers hat!

      • Posted December 28, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        Look up John Pidgeon (Petitjean) in Wiki and you’ll find the quote at the end of the article. I hesitate to say who the contributor to this blog is!

        • upthecreek
          Posted December 28, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

          I can’t think who that might be but I think I am nearer the truth!

          • Posted December 28, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

            The link, currently numbered 17, on the Wiki page will take you to the post in question.

  6. BigBoab
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Super crossword and excellent review, I too have reservations about Americanisms so I did struggle a bit with 10a ( I have never watched the Simpsons ), I also got held up a little by the spelling of the 2nd word an 14a as I’ve always used cqu but I see in the big red bible it is an alternative spelling. Many thanks to Petitjean and to Gnomethang.

  7. MYOPS
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    22a: Chambers gives: fleur-de-lis – the iris; flag – an iris.

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      fleur-de-lis meaning flag was in one of the myriad other cryptics I have solved over the last week or so which meant that I had no problem identifying the word required here.

    • Posted December 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Myops – I wasn’t worried about the fleur-de-lis as a flag or ensign – I did mention that in the clue. I had a niggling doubt in the back of my head as to whether or not the fleur-de-lis was a particular design of camouflage which would have meant extra point sfor the setter in my book!.
      Interestingly, my Chambers 12th edition does not give that definition either, it gives “The Iris, an ornament or heraldic design of disputed origin (an iris, three lilies, etc) borne by the kings of France.

  8. upthecreek
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    I have finally cracked this one after much cogitation. Got stuck in SE corner and also 4 and 10. 4 gave me one of those great aaaggghhh moments as I looked at it for hours before it clicked. I had not heard of 10 and nor had Onelook so I suppose its an Americanism. Solving 4 was the answer to the SE corner. Favourites, among many, were 7 and 21 – another pennydrop. Thanks to Petitjean for a great contest and now for a lie down!

  9. Stephen Meldrum
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    28A {A fake or phoney piece of art can be found by placing the abbreviation for ‘Following’ and a Saturnalia outside the IVR code for Spain}
    I added “R” for rector after the IVR code for Spain (E)

    • Posted December 28, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Stephen – so did I but omitted it in the review! I have added that!.

  10. Heno
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Petitjean for the puzzle & to Gnomethang for the review & hints. Wonders will never cease, I only needed 2 hints to finish. I think I must have found Pommers “mad hat”, I got quite a lot of answers, then had to think about how to parse them. Very entertaining, favourites were 10& 18a.

  11. jdr
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    If I remember correctly Petitjean was the creator of the SLOP PAIL clue which is where this puzzle also belongs. The answer to 10a is a slang reference to an obscene sexual act. Get another setter please, this one is a dog!

    • Posted December 30, 2011 at 1:03 am | Permalink

      Blimus!. I can’t find the reference, apart from in one of your previous unsubstantiated comments to another puzzle so perhaps you are not remembering correctly.
      Mrs Whitehouse would be proud of your spot in 10a and no doubt would be suitably outraged were she alive and solving crosswords.

    • Posted December 30, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      The puzzle to which you refer is T 666 by Osmosis