Toughie 727

Toughie No 727 by Giovanni

Geography Lesson

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment **

What could have been a very enjoyable puzzle was spoiled, for me, by the inclusion of a Japanese city that rightly belongs in a General Knowledge puzzle. The majority of the clues were up to the usual high standard that we expect from Giovanni.

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.


7a    Being laid up as the result of something ropy in flavouring (7)
{STOWAGE} – the state of being laid up is derived by putting prepared fibres of flax, hemp or jute (something ropy) inside a herb used for flavouring

8a    Part of building in a sorry state about to be stuffed with old paper (7)
{ROOFTOP} – part of a building is contracted by reversing (about) a word meaning in a sorry state and then inserting (to be stuffed) with O(ld) and a business-oriented newspaper

10a    What Cockney arsonist does in a cloak? (9)
{BURNOUSES} – split as (4,’5) this could be what a Cockney arsonist does but it’s actually hooded cloaks worn by Arabs – surely the definition should be plural?

11a    Light man, one hugged as young lover (5)
{SWAIN} – put the surname of the inventor of the electric light bulb (but not of the of ‘strike-anywhere’ matches!) around (hugged) I (one) to get a young lover

12a    Foreign character’s appeal to nameless Welsh girl (5)
{OMEGA} – the final letter of the Greek alphabet (foreign character) sounds like an appeal to a Welsh girl without her final N (name-less)

13a    Mexican city making tin, not half horrible to enter (9)
{MONTERREY} – this Mexican city is rather better known in the UK than the Japanese one in 2 down – start with some tin or cash and then insert (to enter) a word meaning horrible without the final “ible” (not half)

15a    Page in fancy armlet provided by knight (7)
{TEMPLAR} – put P(age) inside an anagram (fancy) of ARMLET to get a knight who is a member of a religious and military order founded in 1119 for the protection of the Holy Sepulchre and pilgrims going there

17a    Fighter beginning to bomb warship that’s caught out (7)
{BRUISER} – to get this fighter start with the initial letter of (beginning to) Bomb and then add a warship without its initial C (caught out)

18a    Pardons may make saint seem crazy (9)
{AMNESTIES} – these pardons are an anagram (crazy) of SAINT SEEM

20a    Eastern country maiden yielding to king? One facilitates a big cover-up (5)
{BURKA} – start with the old name for an Eastern country (it was changed in 1989 although some countries still use the old version) and replace the M(aiden) with a K(ing) to get this loose garment covering the whole body, worn in public by some Muslim women

21a    Sort of gravestone unlikely to collapse when chipped at one side (5)
{TABLE} – a flat gravestone supported on pillars is created when the initial S is dropped (when chipped at one side) from an adjective meaning unlikely to collapse

23a    Person with suit in flat got by pet (9)
{PLAINTIFF} – this person who commences a lawsuit against another is a charade of an adjective meaning flat and a pet or argument

24a    Three with nothing to lose in genuine legal procedure (7)
{RETRIAL} – start with a group of three, drop the final O (with nothing to lose) and insert what’s left inside an adjective meaning genuine to get a legal procedure

25a    Penny found in badly soiled sack (7)
{DESPOIL} – put P(enny) inside an anagram (badly) of SOILED to get a verb meaning to sack or plunder


1d           Old city marshal, male entertained by saintly female worker doing a competent job (10)
{JOURNEYMAN} – put the usual two-letter old city, a former French marshal and M(ale) inside a famous female saint to get a worker doing a competent job

2d           Name a painter from somewhere in Japan (6)
{NAGOYA} – combine N(ame), A from the clue and a Spanish artist to get this Japanese city – if I want to learn about geography then I’ll solve General Knowledge puzzles!

3d           Little female engineers upset industrial inventor (8)
{BESSEMER} – start with a shortened (little) female name and then add a corps of engineers reversed (upset) to get the inventor of the first successful method of making steel in quantity at low cost

4d           Group of stars receiving son’s petition (6)
{ORISON} – start with a well-known constellation (group of stars) and insert S(on) to get a petition

5d           With what bride needs to get ready there’s no time for one philosophising (8)
{ROUSSEAU} – drop the T (no Time) from the linen collected by a bride for her marriage to get this  French philosopher

6d           Walkway in which small mammal loses its tail (4)
{STOA} – a walkway or colonnade is created when the final T (loses tail) is removed from a small carnivorous mammal of the weasel family

7d           True ‘stamp boss’ may give me order? (3-10)
{SUB-POSTMASTER} – an anagram (may give me order) of TRUE STAMP BOSS gives someone who may give, in exchange for money, an order for the payment of a specified sum to a named payee

9d    Comic company nephew keeps (5,8)
{PENNY DREADFUL} – the definition is a cheap sensational comic – it looks to me that the wordplay is that the answer could act as an instruction to create an anagram of the internal letters (keeps) of compaNY NEPhew – but I do hope that it’s something better!

14d         Corners treated with oil and chemical compound (10)
{RESORCINOL} – an anagram () of treated of CORNERS with OIL gives the kind of chemical only seen in a crossword when the setter has boxed himself into a corner – if you’re still interested it’s a crystalline compound originally obtained from galbanum resin, used in the production of dyes, resins, and cosmetics

16d         A threat to health — it is real unfortunately (8)
{LISTERIA} – this threat to health is an anagram (unfortunately) of IT IS REAL

17d         Celebrity has daughter in alcove — outcome when there’s no hubby around? (8)
{BASTARDY} – put a celebrity and D(aughter) inside an alcove to get “the outcome when there’s no hubby around”

19d         Puncture? I look washed out (6)
{IMPALE} – a verb meaning to puncture , if split (1’1,4), could mean “I look washed out”

20d         Exile returning home enters party (6)
{BANISH} – to get this verb meaning to exile reverse the two-letter word meaning home inside a party

22d         Little woman, character taking second place (4)
{BETH} – the name of one of the March children in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is also the second letter in the Hebrew alphabet (see The Mine)

I found little in this to enjoy, although 17 down did stand out.


  1. pegasus
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Nice start to Toughie week a couple of new words for me, favourites 1d 3d and 9d thanks to Giovanni and to Big Dave for the comments.

  2. Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I think the darkened room is about to get crowded…Giovanni’s puzzles remain mostly impenetrable to me while Ray T’s are positively benign in comparison.

  3. Jezza
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I found this very tough today. I had a lucky guess at the Japanese city (the 4-letter painter was the first that came to my mind), but struggled on other parts of the puzzle. I did not understand 9d at all.
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to BD for the explanations.

  4. Chris
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Always like Giovanni’s.
    Awaiting the 22d explanation ?literary.
    2d seemed OK to me.
    Thanks in advance BD.

  5. Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t find this too bad, apart from 9d which I guessed from the checkers! Do hope BD’s right about the wordplay being something better but that’s all I can see.

    I’m sure the Japanese city has come up somewhere else quite recently as I got it immediately. Can’t remember where and it may have been in a Grauniad puzzle.

    No real favourites but thanks to Giovanni and BD.

    • gazza
      Posted February 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      I agree. I didn’t find this too difficult although I don’t think 10a works and 9d is dodgy. The 2d city is one of the largest in Japan so I can’t see why that’s a problem. The clue I had most problems with was 14d. Favourite clue was 17d which made me laugh.
      Thanks to G and BD.

      • Posted February 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        Hi Gazza, agree 14d probably a bit tricky but I was an organic chemist so probably found it a bit easier than most! I looked at the anagam fodder and decided if it was to be a chemical then the most likely ending would be ‘INOL’ and from what was left something stated ringing a bell. :smile:

        I’d forgotten 17d – made me smile as well – and 16d is quite clever (love apposite anagrams) :grin:

  6. crypticsue
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Definitely agree with the BD ratings for this one. Had it been any other than a Telegraph puzzle*, I would probably have given up half way through as the struggle wasn’t particularly enjoyable. I agree with all you say about 9d. * I have a rule with all the other non-Telegraph cryptics that if I can’t do a reasonable amount in a set time, they go into the recycling as there are other things to do rather than struggle with the impenetrable. Thanks to Giovanni and BD.

    If it is this tough on a Tuesday, what does the rest of the week have in store?

  7. wbgeddes
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Disagree about 2D. Was second answer filled in.

  8. Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Nice enjoyable puzzle, quite Tough for a Tuesday. I too had no problem with the Japanese place. Gary Lineker played soccer there and it’s quite well-known. In standard crossword practice it’s a fairly easy clue for the place.

  9. Mike in Amble
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Quite a struggle but pleasurable nevertheless. BRB needed for 14d. I did like 17 d. Last in 2d. Thanks setter and BD

  10. Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    A very enjoyable puzzle which I’ve only just completed, finding it harder than the usual Tuesday Toughie. I disagree over 2d, nothing to do with Geography. It’s a valid cryptic clue, though somewhat simple for a Toughie.

  11. Franco
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I had no problem with the GK required for the Japanese city…on the other hand I’ve never heard of the “Light man” (11a), the “industrial inventor” (3d) or the “chemical compound” (14d). Thanks to Giovanni and to BD for the explanations.

  12. Halcyon
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Nice puzzle, but agree 10ac seems to need a plural definition. Surprised to see a faulty [but still amusing] clue from the Don. 2d fine by me.

  13. Heno
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Big Dave for the review & hints. Enjoyed this one, managed to do the bottom half bar 14 & 17d, but needed lots of hints for the top. Didn’t like the geography clues or the obscure 14d.

  14. BigBoab
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I found this on the easy side for Giovanni but very enjoyable, 2*diff. and 4*enj., my only complaint was the plurality (is there such a word? ) of 10a. Many thanks to Giovanni and to BD for the hints.

  15. Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m with BD on his italicised comments. I failed to finish on the way to work and then moved on to the Times which I enjoyed more. I’ve said it before but I so much prefer Don’s Friday (and other paper’s) puzzles to his Toughies and I don’t know why.
    In any case thanks to him and to BD for the review.

  16. upthecreek
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    I was a bit disappointed with this one as most of the clues were run of the mill. Probably saved from oblivion by 9d which I thought was great.