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Toughie 919

Toughie No 919 by Giovanni

Time for a do-si-do??

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

A medium level toughie from Giovanni today, with a couple of nice surface readings, and at least one clue  where  explaining the wordplay took longer than the solving process.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


7a           Rake endlessly in need of minister of religion as close pal (8)
{COMPADRE}  A male friend or companion –  remove the final letter (endlessly) from a word meaning to search or clean with a toothed implement  and then follow with a minister of religion usually found in the armed forces.

9a           Ambassador and an academic confronting each other (4-2)
{HEAD-ON}   The two letter abbreviation for the title given to an ambassador followed by A (an) and the formal way of referring to a fellow of a college or university.

10a         Rushed around province, a magical place (6)
{NARNIA}  The magical place found in books by CS Lewis.   A reversal  (around) of a word mean rushed, followed by the abbreviation for the two letters used to refer to a province of the United Kingdom and finally A (from the clue).

11a         Top money shelled out for printer’s old system (8)
{MONOTYPE} A printing system that casts and sets type letter by letter can be obtained from an anagram (shelled out) of TOP MONEY.

12a         See smooth chap lope around — one to look into your eyes? (14)
{OPHTHALMOSCOPE}   An anagram (around) of SMOOTH CHAP LOPE.   No problems with this one (a) because I have been examined with these pieces of equipment  a lot lately, and (b) because my sister is an optician and by the time I had finished typing her university dissertation, I certainly knew how to spell this word.


15a         Special ticket will be out of date shortly (4)
{PASS} The name of a ticket provided as a concession could also mean to elapse or be out of date.  is a word meaning out of date or past one’s best with its last letter removed (shortly).  (Thanks Pegasus)

17a        Day maybe that gets men into a hellish situation (5)
{DORISI did smile at the surface reading of this one as I couldn’t imagine this American actress and singer behaving in such a fashion!!    Insert the abbreviation for ordinary ranks (men) in the army into another name for hell or the infernal world.

Doris Day

19a         Ships move slowly heading off north (4)
{SAIL}  A term used to refer to ships collectively.   Remove N (the heading or first letter of north) from a verb meaning to crawl or go very slowly.

20a         Party activity that could make you turn coy (7,7)
{COUNTRY DANCING} Another nice surface reading.   This is one of those clues where an anagram indicator is the second word of the solution, the first word being obtained by rearranging TURN COY.

country dancing

23a         Bit of money put into top-floor flat’s architectural feature (8)
{PEDIMENT} A triangular structure crowning the front of a building.   Insert an American ten cent coin into a shorter way of referring to a luxury flat at the top of a building.

25a         What you get with heat finally when sitting by fireside? (6)
{TINGLE}  A thrilling sensation obtained by following the final letter of heaT  with a type of fireplace.

27a         Adjust and change to nature, wasting nothing, right? (6)
{ATTUNE}  To adjust or acclimatise – remove the O and R (wasting nothing and right) from TO NATURE and then make an anagram (change) of the remaining letters.

28a         Figure colleague may be standing on ceremony? (8)
{FORMALLY}  Follow a figure or shape with another way of saying colleague or supporter.



1d           Two notes found in item of furniture (4)
{SOFA}  Two musical notes combine to produce a comfy piece of furniture usually found in your sitting room.


2d           Instrument needs tuning peg put in place (6)
{SPINET}  A musical instrument similar to a small harpsichord.    Insert a small peg or nail into a verb meaning to put in place.

3d           Statue housed in another museum (4)
{HERM}  The statue was very obviously hidden (housed in) anotHER Museum but I did have to check in the BRB to confirm that it is a head or bust on a square base, apparently usually double-faced.  

4d           Small child in huge trousers (6)
{CHINOS}  The abbreviation for child, IN from the clue, and the two-letters used to denote huge or of exceptionally large size.


5d           Defenders of inverted snob drinking champagne substitute (8)
{BASTIONS}  Towers at the corners of fortifications which also give their name figuratively to defences.   Reverse (inverted) the letters of SNOB and insert that Italian white wine used at celebrations when champagne is deemed too expensive.

6d           Finish with place in contest, not exactly what is looked for (10)  Now edited to remove error (see below)
{COMPLETION}  Firstly, not exactly instructs that we  remove  IT (that which answers what is looked for) from a contest or trial of ability.   You are then told to insert the two letter abbreviation for place into the remaining letters.  Trouble is that doing this means you end up with too many Ps!   [Discussions with fellow bloggers were followed by an email to the  DT Crossword Editor,   who confirms our view that there is an error in this clue.  See Giovanni’s comment @1 below]

The clue has now been edited to read: Finish last of all in contest, not exactly what is looked for (10) So the wordplay is now that you still have to remove the IT from a contest and then insert the final (last of) letter of alL.

8d           Sound device should be loud and very good not working outside (4,3)
{DEAF AID}   Something to aid hearing –   Insert the single letter used in musical notation to mean loud and the two letters meaning first class (very good) into a word meaning no longer alive or inanimate, splitting the result 4,3.

13d         One supposedly helping to spell message from above in rickety chapel tent (10)
{PLANCHETTE}  A board used as a medium for automatic writing and supposed spirit messages  is an anagram (rickety) of CHAPEL TENT.

14d         Element abandoning old city? Pity (5)
{MERCY}  Remove the two letter Old Testament city beloved of crossword setters from a silvery metallic element and you are left with another word for pity or compassion .

16d         Forged note received by football team (8)
{SPURIOUS}  An adjective meaning not genuine, sham or forged is obtained by inserting a note acknowledging a debt of money into the informal way one might refer our leader’s favourite football team.


18d         Society person to have unconventional tea break (7)
{SHATTER} Follow the abbreviation for Society with the name of the person who hosted the unconventional tea party in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Mad Hatter

21d         Recurrent ideas edge into paper for teachers (6)
{THEMES}  Recurrent ideas in music or art – insert an edge or border, usually one doubled down and sewn, into the three letters by which a periodical read by teachers in usually known.

22d         Material in tin vessel (6)
{CANVAS}  A coarse material used for sails and tents – another word for a tin followed by a vessel or duct carrying liquid.

24d         Time to get behind US President (4)
{TAFT}  The 27th President of the United States is simply obtained by following the abbreviation for time with an adjective meaning behind (normally associated with ships or planes).

26d         Impressive person has John doubled up, we hear (4)
{LULU}   ‘John’ is one way of referring to a lavatory.   To get an outstandingly  bad or impressive person, we need two (doubled up) homophones of another informal way of referring to the lavatory.

Thank you to Gazza for giving me the opportunity to blog a Toughie.   We usually agree on our favourite clues – I wonder if he liked 17a  and 20a too?


38 comments on “Toughie 919

  1. I grovel. Far from getting a place in 6D I finish ‘last of all’. for accuracy. Sincere apologies.

  2. Yes, I liked 17a (though I kept trying to make Robin work there) and 20a as well as 18d. Thanks to Giovanni and CS.

  3. I really enjoyed crosswords years ago when there was no internet and you had no way to get the answer except to persevere until the following day. This site has actually ruined that enjoyment. Actually I suspect that without help most of your fans would have to wait until the solution came out the following day. I really wish you would just close the site down. Have you nothing better to do? Try gardening or drugs…just go away. My last Telegraph…..always hated the paper anyway. End of rant. Bye bye.

    1. You don’t have to read the reviews on the day itself, you could always look at them the following day to find out where you went wrong.

        1. Poppy – it’s not always like this! In fact it’s probably the first one that I have seen on the Toughie blog.

    2. 4 years old & how many hits was it the other day? 2 years ago I could do the back page 50% of the time now with the aid of BD & the rest of the bloggers & sloggers I finish it most days. I can even get through most of the Toughies with a little nudge now & again. I think no more needs to be said.

      What a rum cove..

    3. Hi Joe (iq) 90, I did enjoy reading your inane comment.

      I do hope that the response is, as you required.

    4. How rude – I admire BD’s elegant and restrained response to you. That is, of course, just what all of us who have been his loyal followers for a long time would expect from him. However, I do occasionally wonder how he keeps his temper!

  4. Very enjoyable toughie from Giovanni and an excellent review from Sue, many thanks to both.

  5. Very enjoyable. Favs 17a,26d and 16d .Needed explanation for 21d .

    Thanks CS and setter

  6. Enjoyed this one favourites 5d 17a and 25d thanks to Giovanni and to CrypticSue for the comments.Sue I read 15a as a five letter word with it’s final e missing (shortly).

      1. I looked at that clue for some time and missed that one altogether (or should I say ‘it passed me by’ :). Apologies for any confusion

  7. My very first attempt at a Toughie, and found it a bit intimidating (not helped by the grumpy comment at 3 – don’t understand that at all. No-one forces us to come to this marvellous site – do they? Or is there some very clever software gazing deep into my eyes saying ” visit the BD site, visit the BD site” … ) Anyway, my thanks to Mary for introducing me to this, to the setter for a real brain work-out, and to CS for much appreciated hints. Do hope you’re continuing well with recovery, Sue. :-)

    1. Totally agree with everything you say. A year or so ago I would take a look at the Toughie and think no chance but after following the blogger’s reviews and then going through a process of back solving I now approach them with much less trepidation.

      More power to BD & the rest of the team who gain no remuneration for contributing to such a bloody brilliant site!

  8. A PM rather than an AM solve for me today, and I struggled to the finishing line of this one, with the bottom half taking considerably longer than the top. I think my brain functions better in the morning when it comes to crosswords.
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to Crypticsue.

  9. So glad that it was not our fault that we found parsing 6d difficult. In the end decided that “L” must be the place as in left or right, but somehow that lacked the Don’s elegance. Thanks for the explanation, forgiven already. Enjoyed the puzzle very much.
    Thanks Giovanni and CS.

  10. Slightly off topic, but…. I sometimes use an on-line anagram solver or crossword dictionary to help solve cryptic puzzles. Does anyone else do this? Or is anyone willing to admit it? What do others think? Is it cheating?

    1. Welcome to the blog megaculpa.
      It’s all a matter of personal preference – if it’s cheating the only person you’re cheating is yourself, so does it matter to you? The important thing is that solving is an enjoyable experience, however you do it. Personally I sometimes use an anagram solver for long anagrams which I don’t really like.

      1. As a relatively new commenter, megaculpa, I agree with Gazza. I use an electronic anagram solver from time to time – on the basis that I’ve worked out what words make up the anagram, but don’t want to spend ages in manipulating the letters… I also use a Thesaurus. And there are some very helpful lists inc. in this site which I appreciate as well. All depends how much time I’ve got. :-)

      2. Thanks for your thoughts — and the welcome. I’m afraid I won’t be posting much, because I get the cryptic in the National Post newspaper in Canada. And there is a 10 week delay from when they’re published in Britain.

  11. Encouraged by crypticsue in ‘the other place’ I did have a go at this one. I managed most of the top half and then the garden hijacked me. I didn’t come in until about 5.30 – it’s SO much lighter – anyway that’s my excuse. If I’m entirely honest I think I probably wouldn’t have got much further anyway.
    I did enjoy what I managed – I loved 26d – it made me laugh. We had a cat called Matilda whose name was very quickly changed by our daughters to Lulu.
    With many thanks to Giovanni and crypticsue.

  12. Don’t feel guilty Megaculpa! Who cares if you “cheat” so long as you enjoy the solving. I’d be lost without a crossword synonym dictionary which compensates for my awful powers of recall. [Probably all the gardening and drugs].

    Enjoyed this, especially 17ac, 20ac and 18d – but can anyone help further with 19ac? I still don’t see how the N is to be removed. My parsing of the clue results in NAILN!!

    Thanks to the Don and to CSue.

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