Toughie 892

Toughie No 892 by Giovanni

It’s all Grist to the Mill

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

We have today a fairly typical midweek Toughie from Giovanni with his usual smooth clueing and very precise wordplay.
Let us know how you got on and please take the time to record your assessment of the puzzle by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Break down in thoroughfare — get energy to start? (6)
{DIGEST} – the abbreviation for a thoroughfare is preceded (to start) by an informal verb to get or understand and E(nergy).

4a  Piece of cloth head man presented to King and Queen (8)
{KERCHIEF} – a head man follows (presented to) the abbreviation for a king on the chessboard and the letters used to identify our current Queen.

9a  Short supply? This person’s wild (6)
{STORMY} – a supply or stock loses its final E (short), then add a possessive adjective from the point of view of the setter (this person’s).

10a  Scope being restricted by a minister? (8)
{PREACHER} – a scope or compass is contained (restricted) inside a word meaning ‘a’ (as in ’50p a pound’).

11a  Military medico has gongs in special cupboards (9)
{WARDROBES} – a cryptic way of describing a military medico (3,2) is followed by gongs or awards. These cupboards are special, presumably, in that they are used for a specific purpose.

13a  Mischievous type removing what’s at front to show boob (5)
{ERROR} – an informal word for a mischievous type, especially an annoying child, loses its first letter (removing what’s at front). Has Giovanni been taking lessons from Ray T?

14a  Stupidity that would lead to the blocking out of all news? (13)
{POINTLESSNESS} – lack of any items to cover in the news bulletins might leave gaps in the schedule. Either this is a fairly weak clue or I’m missing something significant. [Thanks to Physicist for explaining that if you block out the four (main) points of the compass, i.e. you are pointless having no N, E, W or S, then you have no “news”].

17a  Political issue as certain role is scrapped (4,9)
{RACE RELATIONS} – an anagram (is scrapped) of AS CERTAIN ROLE.

21a  What is ground in the middle flooded by river (5)
{GRIST} – the definition here is a word meaning corn for grinding – it’s commonly used in a phrase meaning useful material or anything that can be turned to one’s advantage. A word for the essence or nub (of an argument, say) contains (flooded by) R(iver).

23a  Feature of photographic work to be bland, as Spooner would have had it? (4-5)
{BACK-LIGHT} – Spooner might have said ‘lack bite’.

24a  Numbers gathered round one at end of game — a particular element? (8)
{POLONIUM} – this is a radioactive element named after the native country of Marie Curie who discovered it. The abbreviation for (the Book of) Numbers contains (gathered round) I (one) and all that follows (at end of) an equestrian game. Presumably particular is being used here in the sense of unusual – follow the link to see why it’s unusual.

25a  Attendant, pretentious person, new character at the back (6)
{SQUIRE} – start with a pretentious person, especially a small one, and change its final T to E (new character at the back).

26a  It could suggest I held capital (3,5)
{NEW DELHI} – reverse anagram which could lead to ‘I held’.

27a  Prime requirement for winning crew? (6)
{WEIGHT} – this is an all-in-one clue suggesting that to succeed in competitions on the water you need to have a certain bulk. The initial letter (prime requirement) of W(inning) is followed by a rowing crew.

Down Clues

1d  Drop sluttish woman yelling outside? (6)
{DISOWN} – I’ll give you the Chambers definition of this ‘sluttish woman’: “an abusive term for a fat, lazy, greedy, or sluttish person, especially a woman”. Put a word for yelling or loud noise around it.

2d  Like some plants to go with price reduced (9)
{GEOTROPIC} – an anagram (reduced, presumably in the sense of converted as in ‘Crypticsue reduced grown men to tears’) of TO GO and PRICE. The definition, new to me, describes plants which grow downwards towards the centre of the earth.

3d  Warrior peculiar as revolutionary, ultimately top-notch (7)
{SAMURAI} – a synonym for peculiar is followed by AS, then all that is reversed (revolutionary) and followed by the abbreviation indicating top-notch.

5d  Cup-tie score excited one sort of politician (11)
{EUROSCEPTIC} – an anagram (excited) of CUP-TIE SCORE.

6d  Switzerland has ace accommodation to rent out — these? (7)
{CHALETS} – this is a semi-all-in-one. String together the IVR code for Switzerland, A(ce) and properties available for rent.

7d  In singing group I will come to the fore — I’m juicy and divine! (5)
{ICHOR} – according to the old Greeks this was the juice that ran through the veins of their gods. A group of singers has its I promoted to the front.

8d  One offers a defence in favour of long hair (8)
{FORTRESS} – a charade of a preposition meaning in favour of and a long lock of hair.

12d  Kitchen cleaner will get it in the neck (11)
{BOTTLEBRUSH} – this is a cryptic definition of what someone cleaning in the kitchen might insert in the neck of a dirty container.

15d  Placid Queen is queasy with this (4-5)
{EASY-GOING} – if you apply the answer to the word queasy you end up with an abbreviation for queen.

16d  Pheasant shows skill on the up journey — shoot down at the end (8)
{TRAGOPAN} – this (another word I’ve learnt today) is a brightly-coloured pheasant from the highland forests of Asia. Reverse (on the up, in a down clue) a synonym for skill, then add a verb to journey. Finish off (at the end) with an informal verb to criticise harshly or shoot down (in flames).

18d  Train mutineer to be orderly after leader has been deposed (7)
{RETINUE} – an anagram (to be orderly) of (m)UTINEER without its leading letter.

19d  Old Oxbridge player hiding intelligence, being underhand (7)
{OBLIQUE} – O(ld) is followed by a description of someone who has represented Oxford or Cambridge University in a sporting match between the two with the abbreviation for the measure of a person’s intelligence inside it (hiding).

20d  Place that may offer shopping opportunities  somewhere in Somerset (6)
{STREET} – double definition – a) a place, possibly with shops where fewer of us are going to do our Christmas shopping and b) the name of a town near Glastonbury.

22d  Like a barrister  who may attend family party? (2-3)
{IN-LAW} – another double definition.

My favourite clues today were 26a, 6d and 15d. How about you?


  1. tracker
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    perhaps re 14ac “news” refers to the four points of the compass-block them out and you’d have no points? bit of a stretch I agree- otherwise very enjoyable Weds offering

    • gazza
      Posted December 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      I did try taking out all the Ns but I couldn’t make anything of what I had left.

    • Physicist
      Posted December 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Or, looking at it the other way round, if you blocked out the four (main) points of the compass, you’d have no “news”.

      • gazza
        Posted December 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        I think that’s it – thanks.

  2. Pegasus
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this one 2d and 16d also new to me but fairly clued. Favourites for me 1a 15d and 19d thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the review.

    • andy
      Posted December 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Permalink


  3. Big Boab
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable toughie from Giovanni, my thanks to him and to Gazza for the review.

  4. spindrift
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    When I were a lad growing up in Yorkshire it were Tragopan every Sunday and with bubble n squeak on Mondays! In fact my mother has declared that if we’re not having Tragopan & all of the trimmings at Christmas then she’s not leaving home – she’d probably prefer to tend her geotropic plants anyway.

    Too obscure for me but thanks anyway to Giovanni & Gazza.

  5. crypticsue
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Notabilis tomorrow.

  6. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    The Don had us scrolling through the Wikipedia list of place names again, this time to confirm the one we had guessed for 20d. We are sure he thinks “Here’s one for the Kiwis” as he writes these clues. Mrs B was able to help us with the pheasant, a new word for us too but quite findable with the checkers. A challenging, fun puzzle, elegant as usual.
    Thank Giovanni and Gazza.

    • Franco
      Posted December 12, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kiwis x 2,

      Not much consolation but when I read the clue to 20d – I thought of you!

      (I only knew because I’ve been there – Strange name for a town!)

      • steve_the_beard
        Posted December 13, 2012 at 12:00 am | Permalink

        Surely you see the name of that town and shout “shoes”!

        No? Really?

        Clarks Village was the first purpose-built factory outlet in the UK… it even has a museum… it’s all really quite nice…

        No? OK, go to Glastonbury then, that’s just up the road :-)

  7. Only fools
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Was going to submit to defeat but after having something to eat revisited .the time away and haddock and parsley sauce seemed to help together with a more disciplined read of the clues enabling me to finish .Would never have got 2d or 16 d without the checking letters .I read 14a as Tracker did above .The NE corner was my finishing point .
    Thanks once again

  8. steve_the_beard
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    A new personal record!

    I do know that it is de rigeur not to mention personal times on this wonderful website, but I do hope that you will all tolerate my poor behaviour, just this once…


    Thanks, I feel better now.

    I haven’t been attempting the Toughies for very long, but this does stand out as a very different level of performance.

  9. steve_the_beard
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Gazza, re 13A – I’m not sure that the picture helps, but I did like it! More of a little madam, I’d have thought…

    Thanks to Gazza and Giovanni both :-)

  10. halcyon
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Does anyone else think that Height could be another answer to 27a? Height = Prime [as in… at its height the Mogul empire…] And height is a more useful requirement for successful rowers [longer arms = longer stroke]

    Many thanks to the Don and Gazza.

    • gazza
      Posted December 13, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      But if you take ‘crew’ to give you ‘eight’ then H has to be ‘prime requirement for winning’ and I can’t see how that works.

  11. halcyon
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Think of it as a double definition clue “Prime” and “requirement for winning crew?”. The 2nd def is slightly cryptic, so the ? is appropriate.