Toughie 721

Toughie No 721 by Petitjean

Simply the Best?

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

I thought this was another pleasant puzzle of genuine Toughie standard. I did struggle on the bottom half because the long answer wasn’t obvious and I decided to wait until I had a fair number of intersecting letters before attempting to solve the anagram.

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    The Mexican spread out taco dough first to form a thick covering (6,4)
{DUFFEL COAT} The Spanish (or Mexican) word for ‘the’ + an anagram (spread out) of TACO follows dough to give a garment (a thick covering) favoured by Michael Foot and Paddington Bear

6a    Good articles about government can become unbalanced (4)
{GAGA} G(ood) + two articles about G(overnment) gives ‘unbalanced’

10a    Occasionally bolt a snack in a sec? (5)
{BLANC} Alternate letters of BoLt A sNaCk gives an alcoholic drink that might be a sec

11a    It’s well-known common sense takes over with riot erupting (9)
{NOTORIOUS} ‘Well-known’ is formed from common sense round O (over) and an anagram (erupting) of RIOT

12a    Warm weather Malta enjoys (7)
{THERMAL} ‘Warm’ is hidden in weaTHER MALta

13a    Kettle in action controversially before end of demonstration (7)
{CONTAIN} ‘To kettle’ = an anagram (controversially) of CONTAIN + N (last letter of demonstration). This definition of ‘kettle’ didn’t make it into the new edition of Chambers

14a    General well-being resulting from the chill BUPA treated (6,6)
{PUBLIC HEALTH} ‘General well-being’ is an anagram (treated) of THE CHILL BUPA

18a, 22d & 20d    ‘Tricky Belfast kid scores into empty net’ — about time to reveal this description of Keegan (3,3,2,4,5,6)
{NOT FIT TO LACE BEST’S DRINKS} This description of Kevin Keegan by football writer John Roberts is a parody of a quote by a footballer from Belfast. It is an anagram (tricky) of BELFAST KID SCORES INTO NT (empty net) round T (time)

21a    Sickness returns tucking into rum baba for din-dins perhaps (3-4)
{BAA-LAMB} A reversal of sickness inside an anagram (rum) of BABA gives a child’s word for an animal that might be served for din-dins (dinner)

23a    Celebrity’s first to get more pretentious make of watch (7)
{CARTIER} C (first letter of celebrity) + ‘more pretentious’ gives the name of a French luxury jeweller and watch manufacturer

24a    A comedian ‘espousing’ women’s clothing — it’s his delivery (9)
{ADDRESSEE} A + the surname of Jack, a British comedian who was the first winner of Celebrity Big Brother, goes round an item of women’s clothing gives the person to whom a letter is delivered

25a    Alliance exposed by small number in U-turn (5)
{UNION} An alliance is given by a reversal (turn) of an abbreviation for ‘number’ IN U

26a    Leak head of state’s energy record (4)
{SEEP} ‘To leak’ = S (first letter of state) + E (energy) + an abbreviation for a 7-inch gramophone record

27a    Exercise regime several critics start off confused about (10)
{ISOMETRICS} An exercise regime = ‘several’ inside an anagram (confused) of RITICS (critics with the start removed)


1d    Argue about humble doctor sacked to make way for graduate (6)
{DEBATE} ‘To argue about’ = ‘to humble’ with MO (doctor) replaced by BA (graduate)

2d    Notable Romeo arrested and facing trumped-up charges (6)
{FRAMED} ‘Notable’ goes round R (Romeo) to give ‘facing trumped-up charges’

3d    Unable to attend church, old flame got in touch (14)
{EXCOMMUNICATED} ‘Unable to go to church’ = an old flame (2) + ‘got in touch’ (12)

4d    Dance till jiggered by romantic glow (9)
{CANDLELIT} An anagram (jiggered) of DANCE TILL gives ‘illuminated in a romantic manner’

5d    ‘Room At The Top’ is at the core of narrative Fifties fiction and genuinely parochial (5)
{ATTIC} A room at the top of a house is made up of the middle letters of narrAtive FifTies ficTion and genuInely paroChial

7d    Winning horse wrapping up finish before half mile (8)
{ADORABLE} ‘Winning’ = a breed of horse (4) round ‘to finish’ (2) + the last two letters of mile

8d    Black Sabbath are not commonly without hot Ovaltine for the last drink (8)
{ABSINTHE} B (Black) + S (Sabbath) inside ‘are not’ as commonly spoken + H (hot) + the last letter of Ovaltine gives an aniseed-flavoured liqueur

9d    Newspaper editor on track to produce current layout (7,7)
{PRINTED CIRCUIT} ‘Newspaper’ + the abbreviation for editor + a track (e.g. for motor racing) gives something through which electric current flows

15d    Calm decor designed to be emollient (4,5)
{COLD CREAM} An anagram (designed) of CALM DÉCOR gives an emollient

16d    Toothless creatures displaying stomachs after a half-pint (8)
{ANTBEARS} South American mammals without any teeth = ‘stomachs (puts up with)’ after A + half of the word pint

17d    Oddly satire and adult entertainment first for high jump (8)
{STRADDLE} The odd letters of SaTiRe AnD aDuLt + the first letter of entertainment gives a style of high jumping

19d    Part of September I’m in Ibizan resort (6)
{RIMINI} A resort in NE Italy is hidden in SeptembeR I’M IN Ibizan

20d    See 18 across

22d    See 18 across

Petitjean Toughies may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I rather enjoy them


  1. Tilsit
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I am having a day oh hospital check-ups and completed this while having a long cup of coffee. Like m’learned friend Bufo I took ages to get the long answer as I hadn’t heard of the quote in that particular style.

    Some really good stuff though I wasn’t keen on the definition at 3 down, and a couple others also seemed a bit weak. However very enjoyable and a worthy puzzle for the slot.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I would say 2.5 – 3* difficulty for me today – I didn’t need to borrow Gnomey’s hat at all. My main hold up was with the long quotation and not being a football fan, I did visit Google to make sure that my sorting out of the anagram was correct. I quite liked 21a but that might just be the mood I am in today. Thanks to Petitjean and Bufo too.

  3. Dickiedot
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    wooooo hooo I did a Petitjean!!! Lots of Mary’s electronic help, granted, but I got there in the end without the hints. Thanks BD and Petitjean

  4. BigBoab
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Petitjean for a very enjoyable and yet untaxing toughie and to Bufo for the hints/review.

  5. Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Certainly a bit less off the wall than some Petitjean Toughies but I really enjoyed this. Love the Keegan quote! Thanks to Bufo and to Petitjean.

  6. SpikeyMikey
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Pottered through this – not to bad – laughed at 21a! An enjoyable puzzle – thanks to Bufo for the H&T’s

  7. Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Like others I’d not heard of the football quote (last one in) and I wasn’t helped by thinking it was going to be NOT FIT TO LICK BEST’S ?R?N?S but couldn’t make any sense of the remaining letters. Then the penny dropped and bit of Google confirmed!

    Otherwise a tad easier than usual for a Petitjean I thought and not one where the slightly mad hat was required.

    Many thanks to Petitjean and Bufo.

    • gazza
      Posted February 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      I had exactly the same difficulty with the quote, Pommers, the K in the fodder seeming to make “lick” correct. I went through a lot of possibilities for the last word, even considering Uranus at one point (though that didn’t seem very likely :D ).
      I agree that it was, that apart, easier than usual for Petitjean.
      Thanks to him for the entertainment and Bufo for the review.

    • Posted February 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Enjoyed that and thank goodness I didn’t need the slightly mad hat as I left it with notabilis in yesterday’s toughie which for me was the most difficult and one of the cleverest puzzles of the year thus far.

  8. pegasus
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Great fun really enjoyed this, I love Petitjean puzzles always very entertaining, favourites were 3d 21a and 24a thanks to setter and to Bufo for the review.

  9. Posted February 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Going well until I managed to create a whole new anagram of 15d, which Bufo helped me to resolve. 21s !!
    Not familiar with the KK quote, so had to resort to Mr Google.
    Did we ever come to a conclusion as to whether this kind of clue should be enumerated as 4’1? (It wasn’t in the paper)

  10. Don Pedro
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Definitely needed help with the quote. No way would I have got that. (What is a Keagan anyway?) And I had to give up on the toothless creature (edentate didn’t get me anywhere). Thanks for the help, Bufo.

  11. gazza
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Myops tomorrow – Jezza will be happy!

    • Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      and me!

    • Jezza
      Posted February 17, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      If I ever ask for a Myops Toughie again, someone please shoot me! :)

  12. Kath
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    I had a go at this one – managed perhaps a quarter then went for the hints. SO many of these I would NEVER have got and I really think that I probably NEVER will! It feels a bit like a whole new language but I suppose that when I first started doing the back page puzzles I felt the same and I can usually do them now. I’ll keep trying …. With thanks to Petitjean and to Bufo.

  13. JB
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    The Keegan qoute was a stinker. How are we expected to solve it ? A search of Google gave me lots of Keegan Malapropisms but they didn’t help. This sort of clue gives the toughie a bad name. Why should we waste our time with it?

    • jdr
      Posted February 17, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      I agree, Petitjean for me is a waste of space. You have 18a which is just too obscure and then 3d which is the other extreme but equally awful.

      • Posted February 17, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Calm down dear! It’s only a crossword. If every puzzle was easy and we could all complete them then how would we learn anything new? That quote will stick with me for a long time and if I never see it again then it’s still not wasted IMHO.

  14. Wozzey
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Being a football fan I liked the keegan quote being familiar with ‘not fit to lace your boots’ helped plus the Belfast clue helped link it to Best. Had the ‘mal’ for 21a but still struggled with the baby talk, is that really a word? A nice puzzle I thought and one I didn’t need days to do like a not to be mentioned recent toughie??