Toughie 876

Toughie No 876 by Giovanni

The Iceman Cometh

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Once you’ve got the two long answers and the hub, the grid effectively gives you four separate puzzles today. I started in the NW and proceeded in an anti-clockwise direction, managing to finish each quadrant before moving on to the next. I thought that it was a fairly difficult mid-week Toughie with a few words new to me; what did you think?

Across Clues

1a  Bow from the Parisian, one having hesitation in farewell (9)
{LAVALIERE} – as far as I can make out (never having heard of it) this derives from a French word meaning a loosely-tied bow or necktie, but its more usual English usage seems to be a jewelled pendant worn round the neck on a fine chain. Luckily the wordplay is fairly straightforward – a French definite article is followed by a farewell (from Latin) with I (one) and the usual expression of hesitation inside it.

9a  Sacred text from a part of Scripture fed to backsliding member (6)
{MANTRA} – A (from the clue) and one part of the Bible are contained inside (fed to) a bodily member reversed (backsliding).

10a  One rules, i.e. governs somehow (9)
{SOVEREIGN} – an anagram (somehow) of I.E. GOVERNS.

11a  Brownish drug I injected (6)
{SIENNA} – inject I into a drug used as a laxative.

12a  Images created by artist at the end of new musical (9)
{SIMULACRA} – these are images or superficial likenesses. The usual abbreviation for an artist follows an anagram (new) of MUSICAL. Another word that I didn’t know.

13a  Miserable fellow and wife facing strain (6)
{WRETCH} – W(ife) is followed by a verb meaning to strain or heave.

17a  Regular characters in these taverns (3)
{SET} – … three consecutive characters hidden in the clue.

19a  It’s here you may find dictionary’s content despicable (7,8)
{BENEATH CONTEMPT} – an instruction as to where you may find the word ‘content’ in a dictionary (though not necessarily immediately adjacent).

20a  A long time in school, not a short time (3)
{EON} – the usual public school but without its T(ime).

21a  A single revolutionary that disgusts me — I want no more! (6)
{ENOUGH} – reverse (revolutionary) a single (in cricket, perhaps) and follow this with an exclamation expressing disgust.

25a  Man of 18? (9)
{CENTURION} – this word originally meant a Roman officer commanding the number of men for which 18d is an informal term, but its use has been expanded to mean someone achieving the same number in other areas – runs or years perhaps.

26a  Get ensnarled in seaweed (6)
{TANGLE} – double definition, the second (from a different root) meaning a coarse seaweed.

27a  After drink’s knocked back one gets weak during battle (2,7)
{EL ALAMEIN} – reverse (knocked back) an alcoholic drink and add an adjective meaning weak (an excuse, perhaps) and a synonym for during.

28a  Girl of 15 suffers setback after earlier struggle in the capital (6)
{VIENNA} – reverse (suffers setback) the name of the girl from 15d (where she was a little older) and place it after a verb to struggle.

29a  Man in wicked guise first to relish a naughty foreign city (9)
{HYDERABAD} – start with the name of the evil persona from the strange case of split personality written about by R L Stevenson, then add the first letter of R(elish), A (from the clue) and a synonym for naughty.

Down Clues

2d  An order that is given creating hopelessness (6)
{ANOMIE} – this is a word, derived from Greek, meaning a sense of hopelessness brought about by the breakdown of social standards. It’s a charade of a) AN, b) the abbreviation for an order or award which is in the personal gift of the monarch and c) the abbreviation used for ‘that is’.

3d  Used e.g. a restaurant that could provide tea (3,3)
{ATE OUT} – reversed anagram that should result in TEA. You shouldn’t have any problem with this one if you did the Rufus back-pager on Monday, where there was something very similar.

4d  Killer represented in cinema (3,3)
{ICE MAN} – an informal North American term for a professional killer is an anagram (re-presented) of CINEMA.

5d  Do clergy ever start to exercise or possibly dance? (5,2,8)
{ROGER DE COVERLEY} – this is the name of a country dance (sometimes preceded by Sir). It’s an anagram (possibly) of DO CLERGY EVER E(xercise) OR.

6d  Graduate dumps case outside a library briefly (9)
{CALIBRATE} – graduate here is a verb meaning to mark with a standard scale. Put a packing case round A and the abbreviation for library.

7d  In chorus, in The Good Old Days? (2,3,4)
{AT ONE TIME} – double definition.

8d  The old man has to run around building that may be coming down (9)
{PARACHUTE} – a short word for father or the old man is followed by a verb to run or go quickly round a rudimentary building.

14d  Aim to be dispassionate (9)
{OBJECTIVE} – double definition.

15d  Woman taking men round a French church is one to be listened to (9)
{ANNOUNCER} – a woman’s name is followed by the abbreviation for ordinary soldiers (men) which contains (round) a French indefinite article and one of the abbreviations for church.

16d  Board to board? (9)
{GANGPLANK} – cryptic definition of the means of access to a ship.

17d  The ship to drop with 500 lost (3)
{SHE} – the pronoun traditionally used for a ship comes from a verb to drop or discard without the Roman numeral for 500.

18d  Top of the leg showing? It’s the fashion (3)
{TON} – the top letter of T(he) is followed by another word for the leg-side on a cricket field.

22d  Alloy partially hollowed out on top of aged stones (6)
{STELAE} – these are upright stone slabs often bearing a commemorative inscription. An alloy loses its central E (partially hollowed out) and what’s left precedes (on top of, in a down clue) the abbreviation for the latin phrase anno aetatis suae meaning in his/her nth year or aged n (sometimes seen on these stones).

23d  Part of Ukraine, area with cold and frost to the north of it (6)
{CRIMEA} – the abbreviation for A(rea) is preceded (to the north, in a down clue) by C(old) and a word for hoarfrost.

24d  Saintly woman‘s nickname, as some posh types might say? (6)
{MONICA} – there are so many saints that it’s difficult to find a female name that’s not been used (possibly Kylie?). This one sounds like a word for a nickname (which is derived from the slang term used for the personal mark tramps used to place on buildings to show that they had visited). I’m not sure of the significance of ‘posh’ here.

I liked 21a and 18d today but my favourite clue was 19a. Tell us what you liked.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I think it was an exceedingly difficult midweek toughie, at least a 4* difficulty rating if not more. I did actually contemplate giving up on the NW corner but a combination of perservation/investigoogling got me there in the end. Thanks to Giovanni for making me doubt my ability to solve cryptic clues and to gazza for explaining it all so nicely.

    So one 1*, one 4*+, I wonder what the rest of the week will bring in terms of toughie difficulty?

  2. eXternal
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyable enough crossword. My favourite was 19A. I also liked 21A, Gazza. I imagine the reason for ‘posh’ in 24D is to nail the homophone by ruling out regional variations. Ghastly grid, though.

    • gazza
      Posted November 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, eXternal – that must be it.

    • eXternal
      Posted November 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      and thanks to G&G, of course

  3. Big Boab
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I thoroughly enjoyed this toughie but was beaten in the NW and needed your assistance for 1a and 2d. Many thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the review and for the cricketing picture.

  4. pommers
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Phew! That was a Toughie!

    Enjoyed the clues but not the grid. Hope we don’t see it again for a long time.

    Thanks to the two G’s.

  5. Pegasus
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly enjoyed this one 1a and 12a new to me but fairly clued. Favourites were 8d 19a and 29a thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the comments.

  6. Catherine
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed most of this puzzle but needed the hints for 4 answers and spent way too much time on it! Thought 25a was pretty vague – the connection to 18d seeming a little tenuous to me.
    Loved 19a and 5d (featuring in A Christmas Carol)
    Thanks to G and G

    • gazza
      Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure whether it’s just a UK usage but ton is an informal word for a hundred, so 25a could just be referring to centurion as someone who is 100 years old (i.e. man of a hundred).

      • Catherine
        Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Gazza. Not as obscure as I thought! Definitely a UK usage.

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    We would hate to think how many stars we would have to give this for difficulty if we counted all the time it took us. However, we did get there in the end with the help of Mrs B and Mr G. Agree that we got a bargain today, four puzzles for the price of one with this grid. Lots of good clues and a great challenge.
    Thanks Giovanni and Gazza.

  8. gazza
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Petitjean tomorrow – will the ‘slightly-mad hats’ be needed?

    • Franco
      Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      How do you know that it is Petitjean tomorrow’? Insider trading?

      Où puis-je trouver mon chapeau?

      • gazza
        Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        The setters’ names are published on the on-line website the evening before.

        … sur la table de ma tante?