Toughie 756 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 756

Toughie No 756 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I thought that this was a fairly standard Toughie from Giovanni, with perhaps a higher than usual contribution of names (both mythical and real) and places. Let us know how you fared.

Across Clues

1a  Outline of a stupid speech with no lead being offered (11)
{ADUMBRATION} – string together A, a synonym for stupid and a speech without its leading O to make a faint outline.

7a  Poet while penning a superior dream, wasting much paper (1,1,5)
{W H AUDEN} – the name (including initials) of an Anglo-American poet (who said of himself “My face looks like a wedding-cake left out in the rain”) comes from a synonym for while containing (penning) A, the letter used for superior or upper-class and D(ream) without a quantity of paper.

8a  The old woman seizing the crown maybe as a wise person (7)
{MAHATMA} – a childish name for mother (the old woman) contains (seizing) what a crown is an example of (maybe) to make the title given to a wise person in India.

10a  Stony female from outlying part of UK given high honour (5)
{NIOBE} – This is a female from Greek mythology who was turned into stone. Start with the abbreviation for an outlying province of the UK and add an honour.

11a  Foreign city hotels, second-rate, fold (9)
{INNSBRUCK} – a charade of hotels, the letter used for second-rate and a fold or crease produces a city and winter sports centre in Austria.

12a  One church composer creating a floaty sort of mass (7)
{ICEBERG} – this was the first answer I wrote in and I did briefly wonder whether we were going to get another themed puzzle like Sunday’s. The floaty mass that caused such problems a century ago comes from assembling I (one), an abbreviation for church and the surname of an Austrian composer.

14a  Hunter, one running minutes earlier (7)
{ACTAEON} – this is a hunter in Greek mythology who was turned into a stag and killed by his own hounds. An anagram (running) of ONE is preceded (earlier) by a word, from latin, meaning the official minutes of proceedings.

15a  Heartless fellow, thought highly of, was involved in spin (7)
{GYRATED} – a word meaning fellow or chap loses its central U (heartless) and this is followed by a past participle meaning esteemed or thought highly of.

18a  Journey to catch fish in turbulent sea (4,3)
{TIDE RIP} – this is an area of turbulent sea. Put a journey or excursion around (to catch) a fish related to the chub.

20a  A lovebird cavorting in a shade of green (5,4)
{OLIVE DRAB} – an anagram (cavorting) of A LOVEBIRD produces a dull shade of green, as favoured by the American military.

21a  Holiday location to surpass an American state (5)
{CAPRI} – a holiday island off the west coast of Italy comes from a verb to surpass followed by the abbreviation for a small state on the east coast of the USA.

22a  Capital city — endlessly bad is one in the wake of disease? (7)
{TBILISI} – the capital of Georgia (the country, not the US state) is made from a synonym of bad or sick without its final L (endlessly) followed by IS and I (one), then all that is placed after (in the wake of) the abbreviation for an infectious bacterial disease.

23a  Go bingeing? Leave vehicle by front of ‘ome maybe! (7)
{CAROUSE} – this is a verb meaning to go bingeing and paint the town red. Leave a vehicle ahead of a synonym of home (without its leading H to match the clue).

24a  Do retire, eat freely, and go to pot! (11)
{DETERIORATE} – an anagram (freely) of DO RETIRE EAT.

Down Clues

1d  Old Duke wearing a fabric that’s fashionable (1,2,4)
{A LA MODE} – put the abbreviations for O(ld) and D(uke) inside (wearing) A and a fabric with interwoven gold or silver threads.

2d  And for Merkel her Community going the wrong way would be inappropriate (5)
{UNDUE} – how Frau Merkel (and all Germans) would say “and” is followed by a reversal (going the wrong way) of the abbreviation for the Community that she belongs to.

3d  Eject top man from a troublesome sector of the economy? (7)
{BANKING} – this is a troublesome (and costly, to the taxpayers) sector of the economy. If you split it (3,4) it means to eject the top man (in a monarchy, say). Alternatively it may be referring to Sir Mervyn who could be regarded as the top man in this sector of the economy.

4d  Country stadium with a thousand and one accommodated separately (7)
{ARMENIA} – Giovanni is punctilious in telling us that the abbreviation for thousand and I (one) have to be inserted separately in the stadium to make a country which was formerly part of the Soviet Union.

5d  Kept back at home, went into concealment eating snack (9)
{INHIBITED} – a past participle meaning kept back or restrained is formed from the usual word for at home, then a verb meaning went into concealment containing (eating) a light snack.

6d  Ornament in unusual set collected by cook (7)
{NETSUKE} – this is a Japanese button-like ornament (which I remember from the Antiques Road Show). An anagram (unusual) of SET goes inside (collected by) a verb (slang, mainly American) meaning to cook in a microwave oven.

7d  Attractive job that a hack finally gets to? (7,4)
{WINNING POST} – hack here is not a journeyman journalist but an inferior horse which may reach this eventually, but some lengths after the first home. We want synonyms for a) attractive or fetching and b) a job or position.

9d  Bread requested for starters (6,5)
{ASKING PRICE} – cryptic definition of what’s written on the label before you get down to the serious business of haggling.

13d  Zealot to be embracing time at school, twisted inside (9)
{EXTREMIST} – this zealot comes from a verb to be or to live around (embracing) part of the school year with the middle letters reversed (twisted).

16d  Poem that is held by revolutionary to be regarded as something material (7)
{REIFIED} – a famous poem by Kipling and the abbreviation for that is are contained in (held by) a revolutionary or Communist to make the past tense of a fairly obscure (at least to me) verb meaning to make something abstract into a material thing.

17d  Row after one on the board briefly gets more dishonest (7)
{DIRTIER} – a row (of seats, perhaps) follows the abbreviation for someone on the board of a company to make a comparative meaning more dishonest or unscrupulous.

18d  What Raleigh found as explorer upset company (7)
{TOBACCO} – Raleigh is famous for finding and bring back two new products from the Americas (and the one we want here is not a potato). Reverse (upset) the surname of an explorer (earlier than Raleigh) who landed on the North American continent, than add the abbreviation for company.

19d  Time to come in clean after game in break (7)
{RUPTURE} – insert T(ime) in a synonym for clean or unblemished and put all that after the abbreviation for the 15-a-side game.

21d  Court in ancient city protected by American agency (5)
{CURIA} – this papal court comes from inserting the usual old Biblical city inside the US spying agency.

The clues I liked best today were 3d and 9d. How about you?

10 comments on “Toughie 756

  1. Quite a few words in here today where the wordplay was clear but… was there such a thing/person? I did know 20a as the lady who sets the Saturday GK puzzle is very fond of that one. Thanks to Giovanni for the crossword and Gazza for the elucidations.

  2. Not very keen on this it has to be said. Too many obscure words. I know it’s a Toughie but I prefer those where the wordplay is the difficult bit, not trying to construct a word you don’t know from more simple wordplay. Just a personal preference.

    Anyway, thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.

  3. A fair amount of thought went into this one. I had to cheat on 22a (in honesty I would never have got it, although the wordplay is perfectly fair), and I was unaware of the minutes referred to in 14a (I did know the Greek hunter). I enjoyed it – thanks to Giovanni, and to Gazza for the explanations.

  4. Many thanks to Giovanni for an excellent toughie and to Gazza for the review/hints, I needed your assistance with16d but should have got it as it is one of my favourite poems.

  5. Enjoyed this one, 16d a new word for me but easily gettable favourites were 6d 7d and 9d thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the review.

  6. I enjoyed this one although the irnament was unknown to me and I took a flier on the wordplay for a couple of others. Thanks to Giovanni and to gazza.

  7. Thanks to Giovanni for the crossword and to Gazza for the review. Made steady progress through this. I do enjoy Giovanni’s ability to clue fairly the more unfamilar words to guide you to the correct solutions.

  8. Thanks to the two G’s. A rare venture for me into Toughieland. I was delighted to complete 8 answers before resorting to Gazza’s excellent hints. Then with some more checkers I solved another 6, giving me a 50% completion rate. I felt that the clues were well constructed & fair, not like some of the obscure ones in other Toughies . Favourite was 1a, and I learnt three new words. Thanks again to Giovanni for an enjoyable puzzle.

    1. Hi johns – thanks for that, now fixed.
      Your comment had to be moderated because you’ve commented before as Honestjohn – both aliases should work from now on.

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