Toughie 741 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 741

Toughie No 741 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This was definitely a puzzle of two halves as far as I was concerned. I breezed through the bottom half with no problems whatsoever and it looked as though I was on the way to a very fast time. Then I got totally becalmed on the top half and had to fight for every single answer. In the end my time was way above average. So thanks to Giovanni for the challenge. It was most enjoyable.

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Across

1a    What about country female becoming a bitch? (6)
{HECUBA} A reversal of ‘What?’ + a country in the Caribbean gives the wife of King Priam of Troy. Legend has it that when she was given to Odysseus as a slave the gods turned her into a dog allowing her to escape.

4a    Give the most convincing cry of pain? (6)
{BESTOW} Split this word for ‘to give’ as 4,2 and you get the most convincing cry of pain

8a    Protests loudly against large ugly buildings? (8)
{BARRACKS} 2 meanings: protests loudly or shouts against (a speaker, etc.)/large ugly buildings, e.g. for military personnel

10a    What suits lord or monarch — source of wealth (6)
{ERMINE} Fur used in the robes of lords = the current monarch + a source of wealth

11a    Female overweight must lose a bit in the middle (4)
{LADY} A female (with refined manners and instincts) is obtained from ‘overweight’ with the middle letter omitted

12a    Awful food given to the French servants (10)
{LAMENTABLE} ‘Awful’ = ‘the’ in French (female version) + servants + a supply of food

13a    Mature version of cricketer and commentator in court? (3,3,6)
{THE OLD BAILEY} This is what a former Essex all-rounder and stalwart of Test Match Special might have been called in his later years. It is also the name of a court building in central London

16a    Achievement with plant by the wet flibbertigibbet (7-5)
{FEATHER-BRAIN} An achievement + a plant + the wet (weather) = a flibbertigibbet

20a    How Spain turns into Sweden briefly without any trouble (10)
{PAINLESSLY} This word suggests that you remove the last four letters of Spain to get S (the IVR for Sweden). It means ‘without any trouble’

21a    Type of good person protecting soldiers (4)
{SORT} A type = a good person (who’s been canonised) round soldiers not holding commissions

22a    One vehicle covered in very black powder (6)
{BICARB} I (one) + a vehicle inside the abbreviation for very black used on pencils = a powder used in baking

23a    Hesitation about diplomat lower in status (8)
{RELEGATE} A reversal of ‘hesitation’ + a delegate = ‘to lower in status’

24a    Italian journalist is cut off near a Greek island (6)
{ITHACA} An abbreviation for Italian + a journalistic drudge with the last letter removed + A = an island in the Ionian Sea

25a    Energetic person has Monday working (6)
{DYNAMO} An energetic person is an anagram (working) of MONDAY

Down

1d    Laugh about woman getting cold — and what comes with it? (8)
{HEADACHE} A laugh (2-2) goes round a woman’s name and C (cold) to give a symptom of a cold

2d    It’s hard being old-fashioned (5)
{CORNY} 2 meanings: hard (as a growth on the foot)/old-fashioned

3d    Twisted male governed (7)
{BUCKLED} ‘Twisted’ = a male (deer, goat, hare or rabbit) + ‘governed’

5d    Always abiding with outward sign of love invisible (7)
{ETERNAL} ‘Always abiding’ = ‘outward’ with an X (kiss, i.e. sign of love) removed

6d    You were spotted by eavesdropper, we hear — lad seeking adventure (3,6)
{TOM SAWYER} A homophone of ‘You were spotted by eavesdropper’ = a lad who’s adventures were related by Mark Twain. I am not sure why *** = eavesdropper [ I think the eavesdropper’s name is usually preceded by “Peeping”, but I thought he was the one who looked when Lady Godiva rode past and was a voyeur rather than an eavesdropper. BD]

7d    Manipulate piece of laundry equipment, inverting piece at the top (6)
{WANGLE} Take a piece of laundry equipment (for squeezing water out of wet washing) and write the first letter upside-down to give another letter. You end up with ‘manipulate’

9d    Paths strewn with misery? I could be the answer! (11)
{SYMPATHISER} An anagram (strewn) of PATHS MISERY gives someone who might show you compassion

14d    One composer bringing endless distress to another (9)
{OFFENBACH} A German-born French composer = ‘to distress’ with the last letter missing + the name of one or more German composers

15d    Text from old politician, revolutionary beast making a splash? (8)
{LIBRETTO} The text of an opera = an politician from a party which merged with the SDP + a reversal of an aquatic animal

17d    Lab involved with mice still (7)
{ALEMBIC} An anagram (involved) of LAB MICE gives an old-fashioned type of distilling apparatus

18d    Comic hero and friend sparing no expense? (7)
{ROYALLY} A comic hero who played for Melchester Rovers + friend = ‘sparing no expense’

19d    Animal, the thing with one foot for climbing (6)
{WAPITI} A North American deer = a reversal of ‘the thing’ + I + an animal’s foot

21d    Foreign character’s scar dermatologist finally removed (5)
{SIGMA} A letter of the Greek alphabet = a scar with T (last letter of dermatologist) removed

Good stuff

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14 comments on “Toughie 741

  1. Very tough this one, especially N/W corner favourites 4a 6d and 16a thanks to Giovanni and to Bufo for the exptanations.

  2. This is one of those weeks where the level of difficulty appears to be increasing as the week goes on, which I suppose is the general idea!
    I struggled immensely with this one, and the NW took me quite a while to unravel.
    All good stuff – favourite clues 4a, and 7d.
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to Bufo.

  3. Like Bufo, the top went in very easily. Then I had to leave the crossword to work etc and returning to the top some six hours later, found that cogitation had done the trick, although I was very close to giving up and looking at the hints. Thanks to Giovanni for an extremely tough Tuesday Toughie and to Bufo for the explanations. After yesterday and today’s Toughies, I dread to think what tomorrow will bring in the way of toughness.

      1. I have had a very trying fortnight and had just got back from a lovely afternoon in Canterbury when I typed that – you wait till you are as old as me, you won’t know what day it is either :D

        1. tee hee, though Tuesday Back pager and todays Toughie have me seriously doubting if I know what day of the week it is!

  4. Thank you Bufo and Giovanni, I found this difficult but I was able to do it (eventually, sans hints) unlike yesterdays and probably tomorrows. I liked 7d, never seen that ‘inversion’ used before, what fun!

  5. I really like tough crosswords, but some of the clue structures in this puzzle were just 12a … including 12a … making it an unenjoyable experience to find out what some of my missing answers were supposed to be, and more importantly, why.

  6. Thanks to Giovanni for a thoroughly entertaining and reasonably tough crossword and to Bufo for the review.

  7. I spent way too much of today languishing in a car park at NEC, so had my first serious attempt at a Toughie. Took a while to get going, but the bottom half eventually came together except for 19d. Got dreadfully muddled in the top right though, owing to an imperfect memory of Treasure Island (as in didn’t Jim something-or-other get ‘spotted’, given the Spot, by some blind bloke) leading to a J in the top row, and somehow persuading myself that ORMOLU was what went in 10a! That lot eventually got sorted out, but was by then (a) brain dead and (b) on the M42 – had to rely on Bufo for the top left as I could not face any more.

    Might try again another day though.

  8. Very satisfying crossword to have finished. Like others the bottom half went in with a modicum of head scratching followed by the top left and finally the top right. Lots of well disguised definitions and subsidiary indicators added to the fun.

    Many thank to Giovanni and to Bufo for the review.

  9. Blimey, these toughires get more convulated by the day. Top left was a pig!!!! What !!! Eh!!!!

  10. Found this a real toughie. Not helped by putting “Bacharach” in 14 down. [Bach plus EarachE]. Fits the clue well enough but slows one’s progress considerably.
    Thanks to The Don for the contest and to Bufo.

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