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Toughie 800

Toughie No 800 by Giovanni

Dancing with Walt, Zing, Matt and Hilda

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I enjoyed this puzzle. It put up a struggle but a bit of persistence worked and the clues fell regularly (last one in being 4a after I realised that resistance wasn’t R). After last Wednesday’s anagram-free puzzle from Beam I thought at one stage that we had another today but it was not to be and we ended up with four.
Let us know what you thought and please take the time to record your assessment of the puzzle by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Strike after firm offers minimal money to Russians (6)
{COPECK} – to strike (with a beak, perhaps) goes after an abbreviated firm to make one-hundredth of a rouble.

4a  Wise man met with expression of surprise and resistance (6)
{OHMAGE} – a word meaning electrical resistance comes from putting an old word for a wise man after an expression of surprise.

8a  Monkey died in tree (8)
{TAMARIND} – a South American monkey followed by the abbreviation for died makes a large tropical tree.

10a  Story about horse gets certain amount of newspaper coverage (6)
{LINAGE} – the story is untrue and the horse is not one in prime condition.

11a  Party with old man rolling over? One can’t stand on feet (4)
{APOD} – this is a word for an animal without feet. A party is followed by an affectionate term for father (old man) then it’s all reversed (rolling over).

12a  One vessel turning back, river location being unsuitable (10)
{INAPPOSITE} – an adjective meaning unsuitable is a charade of a) I (one), b) a kitchen vessel reversed (turning back), c) an Italian river and d) a location.

13a  Musician who is possible generator of groan (5-7)
{ORGAN-GRINDER} – this is a street musician who traditionally has a trained monkey to collect money from passers-by. It’s also a reverse anagram (possible generator) which may make you GROAN.

16a  Poor mechanical device sticky inside? Object when you can’t nail it (12)
{THINGUMMYJIG} – this is an object that you can’t quite put a name to (nail). An adjective meaning poor or sparse is followed by a device for guiding or positioning a tool. Then you have to insert a synonym for sticky.

20a  Swaggering fellows left for controversial pursuit (5,5)
{BLOOD SPORT} – a controversial pursuit where enjoyment is apparently obtained from butchering animals is made up of a word for swaggering dandies followed by what’s left at sea.

21a  Ancient language comes from bloke without hesitation (4)
{GE’EZ} – a Semitic language once used in Ethiopia comes from a slang word for a bloke (especially an old one) without the sound you make when you can’t think of what to say next (hesitation).

22a  Joke about conflict from one who’d always avoid it? (6)
{COWARD} – a slang word for a joke or jest goes around armed conflict.

23a  Poem by mum is full of empty words in a language few of us understand (8)
{MALAGASY} – this is group of dialects forming the language used in Madagascar (according to Wikipedia it’s spoken by about 15 million people so quite a few people do understand it and I don’t get the significance of the last four words of the clue). An affectionate word for mother is followed by a short narrative poem, then a slang word for lengthy but empty talk is inserted.

24a  Pedestrian gets back in time avoiding middle of car (6)
{DREARY} – to make an adjective meaning pedestrian or unexciting insert a synonym of back in a period of time without the middle letter of (c)A(r).

25a  Weak and unwell, coming back into home? (6)
{PALLID} – reverse (coming back) an adjective meaning unwell inside a slang term for your home to make a synonym of weak or insipid.

Down Clues

1d  Vehicles crossing line? We may deal with them! (8)
{CLAMPERS} – these are people who deal with vehicles which have been parked illegally. Large motor vehicles (big enough to sleep in) contain (crossing) L(ine).

2d  Material put down under piano (5)
{PLAID} – a tartan cloth comes from a verb meaning put down after the musical abbreviation for piano.

3d  Maximum waterproofing, as one might say? (7)
{CEILING} – a maximum or upper limit sounds like (as one might say) a process involving coating a surface to make it waterproof.

5d  Hospital notice outside big building set up to show emergency landing spot? (7)
{HELIPAD} – start with H(ospital) and an abbreviated notice and insert a big building which has to be reversed (set up, in a down clue).

6d  Novel gas energy supply (5,4)
{AGNES GREY} – an anagram (supply) of GAS ENERGY is a novel by Anne, the youngest of the Brontë sisters.

7d  Cardinal having great influence, not weak (6)
{EIGHTY} – this is a cardinal number. It appears when you remove the initial W (not weak) from an adjective meaning important or having great influence. I did wonder whether the answer was related to today’s significant Toughie number but if it does it’s passed me by.

9d  Pull in man who must meet wedding guests in reception area (7,4)
{DRAWING ROOM} – a phrasal verb meaning pull in is followed by the man who greets all the guests at a wedding reception. The result is a reception area (and the place, in a posh house, where the diners withdraw to after dinner).

14d  Outside workroom store a broken instrument no longer used (9)
{ASTROLABE} – this is an old scientific instrument (a precursor to the sextant). An anagram (broken) of STORE A goes around an abbreviated workroom.

15d  Discovery when having inner existence manipulated (8)
{FINESSED} – this verb means manipulated in a subtle way (it’s used often to describe a risky way of taking a trick at bridge). A discovery contains (having inner) a word, from latin, meaning existence or essential nature.

17d  One of the gang who knows how you could cook pork, we hear? (7)
{INSIDER} – someone in the inner circle (one in the gang) sounds like (we hear) a way of cooking pork (2,5).

18d  Dull lad awkwardly holding one lass waltzing? (7)
{MATILDA} – a waltzing lass from down under comes from an adjective meaning dull or without shine and an anagram (awkwardly) of LAD enclosing I (one).

19d  First Minister losing his head — a bit of a fruitcake? (6)
{ALMOND} – a very amusing clue. The surname of the First Minister of Scotland (who’s considered to be the cleverest politician in the UK, though the competition for the title is not great) loses its first letter (head) to leave what may be found in a fruitcake.

21d  Huge number losing love somewhere along the line for Russian author (5)
{GOGOL} – a word for an enormous number (one followed by a hundred zeroes) loses one of its Os (not the first, but one later in the word) to leave the surname of a Russian novelist and playwright, perhaps best known for his play The Government Inspector.

The clues I enjoyed included 1a, 13a, 6d and 18d but my stand-out is 19d. Let us know what you liked.

24 comments on “Toughie 800

  1. I quite enjoyed this one!

    Never heard of the footless animal or the Ethiopian language but they both dropped out of the wordplay fairly easily. To be honest I felt a bit foolish when looking up the language as I couldn’t believe it would be right – but, blow me, there it was! :grin:

    Agree with Gazza’s favourites, especially the waltzing girl :lol:

    Many thanks to the two G’s

  2. I would say 3.5* for both difficulty and enjoyment today. Same favourites as Gazza (now there’s a surprise). What I want to know is: should I try and remember the language in 21a in case it ever turns up again. I don’t remember ever seeing it before ever.

    Thanks to the two Gs for the perfect Wednesday combination.

  3. I found this one quite tricky – probably a 4* for me. I made hard work for myself by putting BOB at the end of 16a.
    I got there eventually, with 23a my last to go in.

    Thanks to Giovanni, and to Gazza.

  4. Nice offering from todays setter, favourites were 4a 13a and 19d thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the review.

  5. Great fun with this one, thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza. Never heard of 21a, loved 19d.

  6. I did quite well with this until I was completely defeated by four all in the bottom right corner – both the languages and 15 and 21d. I enjoyed it very much. I spent far too long trying unsuccessfully to fit “WS” (for empty words) into 23a – oh well, never mind. 6d also took ages – I misinterpreted the anagram indicator and thought that it was novel and that the definition was supply!
    I liked 4, 13 and 20a and 6, 17, 18 and 19d. 16a made me laugh.
    With thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.

      1. Thanks for encouragement. I did the top half reasonably easily – it was the rest of it that I found really difficult.

        1. Certainly it wasn’t easy, so well done from me too!
          BTW, I did the same as you with the NOVEL/SUPPLY bit :grin: Held me up for a while until I spotted that it could work the other way round..

          1. Thanks to you too for encouragement, pommers. One day I really will get to grips with these addictive things – so far can do nicotine, caffeine and wine – why should crosswords be left out! :smile:

  7. Thanks to the two G’s, enjoyed it a lot. Managed the centre ok, and was left with 10 clues in the corners. Got 6 via the hints, & looked 4 up. Very educational. Nice puzzle, come on Murray! My first answer was 18d, favourite was 17d.

  8. Great puzzle, but confused on 18d – isn’t dull supposed to be ‘matt’ with a double t? Can’t see where the compiler removes the second t in the clue…

    1. suz,
      Your comment needed moderation because you’ve changed your alias from Susan – both will work from now on.
      Matt and mat are both valid spellings, so there’s no need to remove the second T.

  9. And I’m still a bit confused by the hint for 21d. Having never heard of the huge number or the Russian author I didn’t stand a hope in hell of getting the answer. Why can’t it be the first O that is left out? Really not trying to be difficult – just trying to understand. :smile:

    1. Googol = 1 + 100 zeros.

      Gogol = the Russian Author.

      Maybe true, maybe not, but Google was a misspelling – but I’m sure that they were cleverer than that!

      “…losing love somewhere along the line….” indicates that it could be any “o” you fancy.

    2. I think GOOGLE was always mean’t to be a pun. Perhaps they wanted a GOOGOL of hits, which they’ve probably had!

      As to which O is left out, it’s up to you. There are 3 O’s in GOOGOL and ‘along the line’ indicates any one of them can be omitted – but only one as the LOVE is singular. You have to know the Russian author to know which one to leave out.

    3. Just read gazza’s hint :

      a word for an enormous number (one followed by a hundred zeroes) loses one of its Os (not the first, but one later in the word) to leave the surname of a Russian novelist and playwright, perhaps best known for his play The Government Inspector.

      Why not the first “O”? However, I’m sure that gazza is correct, as usual!

      1. As both of us said in the previous comments it’s the ‘along the line’ bit that indicates it’s not the first. Either of the others would do but only one makes sense.

        BTW, Gazza is right 99.9999999999999999999999% of the time.

      2. Just twigged your point! Perhaps I should have finished my post with ‘it has to be the first or the second’ to get a Russian author..

      3. I don’t know why I wrote ‘not the first’. The O lost coukl of course be either the first or second.

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