Toughie 781

Toughie No 781 by Petitjean

Hints and Tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I found this to be a puzzle that was enjoyable even though I struggled with it throughout. The design of the grid means that the puzzle is effectively four minipuzzles linked by the four 3-letter words in the centre. I did these minipuzzles in the order NW/SW/SE/NE and none of them were easy. Perhaps I haven’t yet got back into gear having had a week off last week.

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1a           Bury is put first — and second! — of towns to be out of work (3,2,4)
{LAY TO REST} ‘To bury’ = ‘to put’ + the first and second letters of TOwns + ‘to be out of work’

9a           Out of keeping to get away with clue (3-3)
{OFF-KEY} ‘Out of keeping’ = ‘to get away’ + ‘clue’

10a        Prize mongrel male dog chewing ends of lead (4,5)
{GOLD MEDAL} A prize given to winners = an anagram (mongrel) of MALE DOG round the first and last letters of LeaD

11a        Wordplay deemed expert (6)
{PUNDIT} A play on words + a word (from the French) for ‘deemed’ = an expert

12a        Pain getting to grips with weird musical intro playing chords (9)
{STRUMMING} A pain goes round ‘weird’ and the first letter of Musical to give ‘playing chords’

13a        Mushroom in stove; finish off side dish (6)
{AGARIC} A mushroom = a type of stove + a side dish with the last letter removed

17a        Get boomerangs for one-year-old (3)
{TEG} A reversal of GET gives a sheep in its second year

19a        Restaurant’s tax reviewed with half of earnings disguised (7)
{TAVERNA} A Greek restaurant = a reversal (reviewed) of a type of tax + an anagram (disguised) of EARN (half of earnings)

20a        Fiery genius collapsed outside ring (7)
{IGNEOUS} ‘Fiery’ is an anagram (collapsed) of GENIUS round O (ring)

21a        Double back? (3)
{BET} This could be a double (money staked on two horses) and also means ‘to back ( or stake money)’

23a        Retired copper in birthday suit, wanting date, gets hot for palace worker (6)
{EUNUCH} A reversal of the atomic symbol for copper and ‘in birthday suit’ with the letter D (date) omitted goes before H (hot) to give someone who could be a worker in a palace

27a        Question mild being pleasant to drink in large quantities (9)
{QUAFFABLE} An abbreviation for ‘question’ + ‘mild’ = ‘pleasant to drink in large quantities’

28a        Total mistrust way off commonplace (6)
{TRUISM} An anagram (total) of MISTRU (mistrust with ST (street) removed) gives a commonplace. I’m not convinced by ‘total’ as an anagram indicator

29a        Charlie the Rolling Stone penning Devil: The Ultimate In Cool (9)
{SIMPLETON} This is nothing to do with Charlie Watts. A charlie = an anagram (rolling) of STONE round a devil and L (last letter of cooL)

30a        Feisty female is absolute cracker with no heart but close to perfection (6)
{AMAZON} A feisty female = A (absolute) + a cracker eaten during Passover with the middle letter removed + N (last letter of perfectioN)

31a        Impatience shown in sampling single half of the black stuff (9)
{TESTINESS} ‘Impatience’ = a sampling + the second half (last 4 letters) of a drink referred to as the black stuff


2d           A soldier secures means of escape for guinea pig (6)
{AGOUTI} A + the abbreviation for an American soldier) goes round a means of escape to give a South American rodent related to the guinea pig

3d           Latin hymn is very close to monotony (2,4)
{TE DEUM} The name of a Latin hymn expressing praise and thanksgiving becomes ‘monotony’ if one letter is changed

4d           Sounds spacious, but cold and damp (6)
{RHEUMY} A homophone of ‘spacious’ = ‘cold and damp’

5d           Good health entails exercises (7)
{SLAINTE} A Gaelic word for ‘Good health!’ used as a drinking toast is an anagram (exercises) of ENTAILS

6d           ‘Brilliant’ — Government source, following essential change in sewage (9)
{EFFULGENT} ‘Take an 8-letter word for sewage and transpose the middle two letters. Put G (Government) after these transposed letters and you get ‘brilliant’

7d           Non-slip surface of skateboard’s child-resistant (9)
{SKIDPROOF} ‘Non-slip’ = S (first letter of Skateboard) + ‘child-resistant’

8d           One’s small show of nerves happens in anticipation of mass delusional belief (9)
{MYSTICISM} One’s (belonging to one) + S (small) + a nervous twitching + ‘happens’ + M (mass) = delusional belief

14d        Desire for transport? (9)
{STREETCAR} Desire is this transport in the title of a Tennessee Williams play

15d        Genial Lulu losing front end in crash with car and van (9)
{AVUNCULAR} ‘Genial’ is an anagram (in crash) of ULU (Lulu minus the first letter) CAR VAN

16d        Topical jokes prevail with one hitting target (5,4)
{CRACK SHOT} ‘Topical’ is preceded by jokes to give an expert marksman

17d        Cost of cigarette (3)
{TAB} 2 meanings: cost (or the bill)/cigarette

18d        Fool ignoring the French official (3)
{GIT} A fool is obtained by removing LE (the French) from the front of a shortened form of a word meaning ‘official’

22d        Learned after end of college improper sexual activity stops (7)
{ERUDITE} ‘Learned’ = E (last letter of collegE) + ‘improper’ round an informal term for sexual intercourse or activity

24d        Could be postman’s indisposed previously to the letter (3,3)
{OFF PAT} The name of a TV postman follows ‘indisposed’ to give ‘to the letter’

25d        Set to Virginia — that’s popular (4,2)
{WADE IN} ‘To set to’ = the surname of a former tennis player called Virginia + ‘popular’

26d        Book is imminent or is already out (6)
{BLOOMS} B (book) + ‘is imminent’ = ‘is already out’

Thanks to Petitjean for an enjoyable puzzle


  1. crypticsue
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I do agree about the four separate puzzles but my handwriting is quite neat which is always a good sign of the relative struggle I had (sometimes there are lots of crossings out and Tippex too). I think I probably needed some sort of hat, but it was too hot to wear one this morning. Thanks to Petitjean and Bufo too.

  2. pommers
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Phew, what a TOUGHIE! Very enjoyable but really did need the slightly mad hat today :smile:

    Thanks to Bufo for explaining 30a – just couldn’t see where it was coming from!

    Thanks also to Petitjean for giving me brain-ache!

  3. Jezza
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Tough, but enjoyable. I managed to find time to solve this one in between last minute pre-holiday bits and pieces.
    Six clues in the top right took me as long to finish as the remainder of the puzzle.
    Thanks to Petitjean, and Bufo for the review.

    • pommers
      Posted May 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      I was exactly the same in the NE corner. I had 20a but couldn’t find another way in. It was eventually twigging 7d that did it!

  4. pommers
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I quite liked ‘TOTAL’ as an anagram indicator! I’ve ‘totalled’ a car and a motorbike over the years – they were both well wrecked!

  5. BigBoab
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I solved this easily enough but couldn’t explain the reasoning for some (30a for instance ) thanks Petitjean for a very enjoyable toughie and Bufo for the review and explanations.

  6. Pegasus
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely loved it, loads of fun and some cracking clues of which favourites were 7d 14d 23a and 29a. Many thanks to Petitjean and to Bufo for the dissection.

  7. Tilsit
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Difficult grid (I know!) and pleasant enough challenge. Not sure about a couple of anagram indicators, but otherwise helped pass a train journey.

  8. spindrift
    Posted June 1, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    For some reason I got straight into this and had no real problems until 29a where I was convinced it was “HIPPPIEDOM”!

    Most enjoyable so thanks to PJ & Bufo.

  9. Carroll Fountain
    Posted June 1, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    31a) ‘Impatience’ = a sampling + the second half (last 4 letters) of a drink referred to as the black stuff. The second half of GUINNESS certainly is NESS, but it needs the letter I in front of it, which comes from the clue “single”. Managed to finish this crossword, but found it tough going. Many thanks to Petitjean and to Bufo for the explanations.