Toughie 709 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 709

Toughie No 709 by Petitjean

Please wear your “slightly mad” hat today!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This was quite a tough Toughie where a fair amount of thought was needed to unravel some of the wordplay.

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    20 possibly dismissing Liberal toady (5,6)
{CURRY FAVOUR} Remove L (Liberal) from a possible definition (5,7) for the answer to 20 across to get ‘to toady’

9a    Applause is genuine when last of Spanish succumbs to the French (5)
{ÉCLAT} ‘Applause’ is derived from a 4-letter word of German origin meaning ‘genuine’ by replacing H (last letter of Spanish) by LA (‘the’ in French)

10a    Churchman in a state at fault for wallflower (3,3,3)
{ODD MAN OUT} A 2-letter abbreviation denoting a churchman goes inside a state located in SE Arabia. This is followed by ‘at fault’ to give a wallflower (one with no partner)

11a    Idiot is surprising success given unfortunate flaw (7)
{HALFWIT} An idiot is derived from a surprising success going round an anagram (unfortunate) of FLAW

12a    In short maybe Rosko broadcast below par (8)
{IMPAIRED} An abbreviation (3) derived from the Latin form of the title adopted by the radio DJ named Rosko goes with ‘broadcast’ to gibe ‘below par’

14a    Limousine with Tina Turner in it is cause for excitement (8)
{IRRITANT} An abbreviation (2) for a make of posh car (limousine) + an anagram (turner) of TINA are put inside IT to give a cause for excitement

15a    Exhaust limits of lament for 11 (4)
{DOLT} ‘To exhaust’ + the first and last letters of LamenT gives a synonym of the answer to 11 across

17a    Screech coming from backing singer was worrying (7)
{ULULATE} ‘To screech’ = a reversal of the name of a female Scottish singer + ‘was worrying’

19a    Be off school now and again over nothing (4)
{SHOO} ‘Be off!’ = alternate letters of ScHoOl + O (nothing)

20a    Time curry dish leaving out ultimate in fiery spice (8)
{TURMERIC} An anagram (dish) of TIME CURRY without the Y (last letter of fiery) gives a spice

21a    Monkee hosting quiz awarded point for ‘Job worth doing’? (8)
{TASKWORK} Put the surname of one of the Monkees round ‘to quiz’ + a point of the compass to give ‘job worth doing?’.

23a    Retinue greeting Royal Coach (7)
{TRAINER} A retinue + the 2-letter abbreviation for The Queen gives a coach

25a    Crushing a flea if it’s one attached to a body (9)
{AFFILIATE} An anagram (crushing) of A FLEA IF IT gives one attached to a body

26a    Report of offensiveness in theatre (5)
(ODEUM} A homophone of a word meaning offensiveness is a theatre in ancient Greece or Rome

27a    Ascribe to outside causes England XI’s eternal failure (11)
{EXTERNALISE} ‘To ascribe to outside causes’ is E (England) + an anagram (failure) of XI’S ETERNAL


2d    Open floodgates with style of bowling eliminating margins of error and runs (5)
{UNDAM} ‘To open floodgates’ is derived from a style of bowling at cricket which was superseded in the early-19th century by separately removing ER (first and last letters of error) and R (runs)

3d    Fierce storm surrounding a politician (7)
{RAMPANT} ‘Fierce’ = ‘to storm with great anger’ round A MP (politician)

4d    Dismal entertainment with ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’ absolute bottom of barrel (8)
{FUNEREAL} ‘Dismal’ = ‘entertainment’ + the last letters of ThE SummeR WinE + A (absolute) + the last letter of barreL

5d    Curse return of right and proper conduct getting hard (4)
{OATH} A curse = a reversal of right and proper conduct (in Confucianism) + H (hard)

6d    Appearing as it happens material is disseminated without a note (8)
{REALTIME} ‘Appearing as it happens’ is an anagram (disseminated) of MATERIAL with the letter A missing + E (note)

7d    Month that drags by with ponderous air (4,5)
{SLOW MARCH} A ponderous air (piece of music) appears to be a month of the year that drags by

8d    Register distinct sounds of disapproval cutting into rare steak (7,4)
{STATUTE BOOK} A register (of enacted laws) is made up of two separate sounds of disapproval (both 3 letters) inside an anagram (rare) of STEAK

12d    Study where we’re told Cannes is during spell in recess (11)
{INDENTATION} Take a word meaning ‘a spell’ and replace CAN (homophone of Cannes) by a study (3). This gives a recess

13d    Media lecture covers vernacular (7)
{DIALECT} ‘Vernacular’ is hidden in meDIA LECTure

16d    One who keeps an eye on what’s said in editorial about rip-off (3-6)
{LIP READER} Someone who works out what someone else is saying without actually hearing them is an editorial round an anagram (off) of RIP

17d    Complicated measure involving new ID for log-on (8)
{USERNAME} An anagram (complicated) of MEASURE goes round N (new) to give ID for log-on

18d    ‘Actor’s stunning debut in The Deep End’ (Scotsman) (8)
{THESPIAN} An actor = S (the first letter of Stunning) inside THE P (last letter of deeP) + a Scotsman

19d    Timber under door about a metre width over where it could have been cut (7)
{SAWMILL} ‘Timber under door’ goes round A M (meter) W (width) to give somewhere timber is cut

22d    Assesses property tax (5)
{RATES} 2 meanings: assesses/property tax

24d    Wholly engrossed with what Tupac did on record (4)
{RAPT} ‘Wholly engrossed’ is a homophone of what the recording artist Tupac Shakur (aka 2Pac) did

Good stuff.

17 comments on “Toughie 709

  1. Brilliant offering from todays setter favourites 8d 17d 17a but the stand out is surely 1a thanks to Petitjean and to Bufo for the dissection.

  2. A most enjoyable puzzle, which I appreciated even more on reading the review. I managed to solve it without too much difficulty, but I did miss a couple of the intricacies at the time (now explained by Bufo).
    Thanks to Petitjean for another enjoyable puzzle this week (assuming the Tuesday puzzle was his), and to Bufo for the notes.

  3. Managed about half of this one!!! Sigh – needed the excellent hints and tips to get through the rest. Learnt a few things along the way. Thanks to Bufo for the great explanations and to Petitjean for what was for me a real mind bender!!

  4. I know I said on Tuesday that we should have more of Petitjean but I was only joking, honest! By the time I’d managed no more than ½ dozen answers my ears were bleeding & even my bum had a headache. Time for a liedown in the darkened room. Nurse! The screens if you will!

    Joking apart thanks to Petitjean & to Bufo for the review which no doubt I shall be referring to over the next few days as I continue to cogitate.

  5. Having struggled with Tuesday’s cryptic, I approached this with some trepidation, but I needn’t have worried as it all fell into place in a straightforward manner, my only problem coming from originally having GE instead of NT at the end of 3d. I really enjoyed this one which I solved in exactly the same time as the Tuesday puzzle, a reasonable 3* toughie time which only confirms my views about the fact that the Tuesday puzzle was in the wrong part of the paper. What does it say about me I wonder that i knew all the singers, even the Monkee, without looking them up. Thanks to Petitjean for an excellent Toughie and to Bufo for an equally excellent review.

  6. Completed more than half, then needed Bufo’s help. After the hints I managed to get it finished with difficulty. Now for my lie down with a glass of single malt medicine.

  7. Managed to do the right hand side and about half of the left before giving up and resorting to the hints. I also needed the hints to understand at least half of the answers that I’d got. Oh well – it’s a start! I had “rampage” for 3d which didn’t help much with 12a. I really liked lots of these, particularly a couple of the little four letter answers that I so often find difficult – 19a and 24d. With thanks to Petitjean and Bufo.

  8. Did someone say – on the other page – that this was “much more straightforward than this Tuesday’s backpager”?

    I managed the Tuesday back-pager but I am struggling with this one!

    I’m going to revert to the days before this blog and try to complete it unaided – it may take a long, long time!

    Petitjean / Bufo, “I’ll be back” !

    1. Sorry, Franco! I think it might have been me, on the other page!! I found this one quicker to get into but then ground to a complete halt and ended up screaming for help from here. Don’t forget that I’m a real novice as far as the toughies go so felt irrationally pleased with myself having done as much as I did. I also managed the Tuesday one, not without a struggle but without the hints, but felt justified in coming for hints with this, just because it’s a toughie.

      1. Kath, you’re innocent! Now – who else actually said that it was “much more straightforward than this Tuesday’s backpager”?

        Pleased to see that Bufo gave it a 4* difficulty!!

        I think I have a problem – if the crossword has the title “Toughie”, it doesn’t matter if it’s easy, middling or difficult – I am always intimidated by the “T” word!

  9. Petitjean as usual completely defeated me, I needed assistance with half a dozen then kicked myself at the answers. My thanks to Petitjean for once again stretching me beyond my limits and my gratitude and admiration to Bufo for the hints and review.

  10. I must admit I had 4 clues penned in lightly at the end and although they were correct I was flommoxed on parsing the wordplay so thanks to Bufo. I’m not sure that I like TUT and BOO being separate in an anagram of STEAK – it jars a little with me.
    In any case Petitjean is entertaining as ever so thanks to him too.

  11. Well done to Kath for managing to do the right-hand side, because the NE corner is what floored me. I managed the rest (once I’d checked out Bufo’s explanation of 12d – I’d guessed the answer but didn’t understand it), but 9a, 14a, 19a, 6d, 7d and 8d defeated me. Once I understood the thinking behind 9a (which I didn’t know could be applied to applause) and 8d the rest fell into place, but I’d never have got there with Bufo’s help. Favourite clue, without a doubt, was 1a – absolutely brilliant! Many thanks to Petitjean for setting this excellent puzzle and to Bufo for explaining it.

  12. Sorry, have just reread my post and ‘but I’d never have got there with Bufo’s help’ should read ‘but I’d never have got there withOUT Bufo’s help’. Obvious, I know, but just wanted to clear that up.

  13. Having finally completed this with Bufo’s assistance several words spring to mind – outré, obscure & downright bizarre. Beyond this humble blogger’s abilities I’m afraid but I’ve learnt a few new words such as taskwork which I’d never heard of in all my chuff!

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