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Toughie 998

Toughie No 998 by Giovanni


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

When I arranged to swap this week’s Toughie blogging duties with BD I was anticipating the usual Tuesday stroll in the park. Instead Giovanni has apparently taken it upon himself to expand my vocabulary – there are half-a-dozen words in this one that I didn’t know. It makes one fear for the rest of the week. Amongst all the new words there are a number of good and enjoyable clues.

Do let us know how you got on and please take the time to record your enjoyment factor by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

5a  Wood — in retrospect, master conductor (7)
{BEECHAM} – a hard wood followed by a reversal (in retrospect) of someone with a master’s degree.

7a  Walk a mile in journey? Not I (5)
{TRAMP} – insert A and M(ile) in a journey having first removed the I.

9a  Airborne group stop operating (4,2)
{PACK UP} – cryptically this could be a group, of cub scouts say, in the air.

10a  VIP and old sweetheart making you peer (8)
{NOBLEMAN} – an informal word for a VIP followed by an old word for a sweetheart.

11a  Male with an attempt to limit one cunning woman wearing the trousers in this? (10)
{MATRIARCHY} – M(ale) is followed by A and an attempt with I (one) and an adjective meaning cunning or sly inserted.

13a  One requiring no effort to succeed (4)
{HEIR} – … all he or she has to do is sit back and wait for the grim reaper to do his worst.

14a  Glum mother and son suffering in a period of unrest in the Sixties (4,3,6)
{LONG HOT SUMMER} – this is something that we can only dream about this year but it’s actually a reference to the middle months of 1967 when race riots erupted across the USA. It’s an anagram (suffering) of GLUM MOTHER SON.

16a  Little woman — Liberal or Radical? (4)
{AMYL} – one of Louisa M Alcott’s Little Women followed by L(iberal).

17a  Fella dines extravagantly — no sign of this? (4-6)
{SELF-DENIAL} – a semi-all-in-one. It’s an anagram (extravagantly) of FELLA DINES.

19a  Occupied like camp able to accommodate a number (8)
{TENANTED} – how a camp may be described with A and N(umber) inserted.

20a  Composer making hit disc for us to hear? (6)
{RAMEAU} – this is an eighteenth century French composer (not one of whom I’d heard). His name is a charade of a verb to hit or smash into followed by what sounds like O (disc).

22a  Old aristocrat in Ghent wandering around (5)
{THEGN} – an anagram (wandering around) of GHENT gives us an old word for an English aristocrat. According to the ODE this word was invented to distinguish the English use of thane from the usage in Scotland (where it means a clan chief, familiar to us from Macbeth).

23a  Worms in nests before being captured (7)
{NEREIDS} – a poetic word for before is contained (captured) in an old word for pheasants’ nests.

Down Clues

1d  Call with little flower (4)
{BECK} – double definition – a gesture requiring attention (mainly seen these days in the phrase “at someone’s **** and call”) and a stream in the North of England.

2d  Physical injury? Get joint loosening initially in watery mixture (8)
{WHIPLASH} – this is the sort of injury that’s easily faked by insurance fraudsters. Insert a bodily joint and the initial letter of L(oosening) inside a watery mixture.

3d  Little son, dull-sounding — and not tall and handsome (6)
{STUBBY} – it took me ages to work out the wordplay here. The initial S (little son) was ok, but then I thought we needed a homophone of an adjective meaning dull – wrong! Eventually I looked up the last 5 letters and there it was – dull in sound, sounding like an empty tub.

4d  Christian Union chaps outside a college making new convert? (10)
{CATECHUMEN} – when I solved the puzzle the name of the setter had not yet appeared on the Telegraph website and it was this clue that persuaded me that it was Giovanni. This is a new convert being taught the basics of Christianity (another new word for me, although the first half is familiar). Put the abbreviation for Christian Union and a synonym for chaps around A and a type of college.

5d  Bishop of pale complexion, a respected white man once? (5)
{BWANA} – string together the chess abbreviation for bishop, an adjective meaning pale of complexion and A (from the clue).

6d  Type of plant in old economy, not new (13)
{MONOCOTYLEDON} – I’m not going to try to explain what sort of plant this is, because what’s written in the BRB might as well be in Serbo-Croat for all it means to me. I was misdirected here once more, thinking that ‘not new’ meant the removal of an N from something, but it’s actually a straightforward anagram (new) of OLD ECONOMY NOT.

8d  Vegetable row with more fertiliser in? (7)
{PEATIER} – a charade of a green vegetable and a row (of seats, say).

12d  Person in church maybe pinching stuff from roof? Number one villain (10)
{RINGLEADER} – the person in church is a campanologist – insert (pinching) what’s on the church roof (if it hasn’t already been nicked).

14d  Making escape from police criminal is brilliant (7)
{LAMBENT} – a charade of a US slang noun (or verb) meaning escape from the police and an informal adjective meaning criminal or crooked.

15d  Like some deliveries coming by hand  in the pit? (8)
{UNDERARM} – double definition. A type of ball being delivered and a cryptic description of where you’d find a pit or axilla.

17d  Lustrous metal state imports (6)
{SATINY} – a metal is contained (imports) inside a verb to state.

18d  Number one man’s here? One of two such in USA (5)
{ADAMS} – the first man and the ‘S give us the name of two early US presidents.

21d  Illness gripping one? This would give body protection (4)
{MAIL} – a word, from French, for illness containing I (one).

Those clues which I liked best were 12d, 15d and 18d. Which ones grabbed your attention?

24 comments on “Toughie 998

  1. A proper toughie on a Tuesday? When I opened up the paper outside the newsagents to see who the setter was, I thought Giovanni, that’ll be OK then. Parts of it were fairly straightforward but the NE corner in particular kept me muttering for a good 4* time. I didn’t know 23a were worms, they are usually in the Saturday GK puzzle as minor goddesses.

    Thanks to both the Gs. I have to say I am glad this particular Giovanni was put in the correct envelope before posting to the Editor!!

  2. Blimey.. not the expected start to the toughie week! This took me a few visits this morning to complete.
    A few words I’d never heard of before, and unlikely to bring into everyday conversation.
    It’s been a while since we last saw the old sweetheart in 10a (I think that might have appeared in a Giovanni puzzle too).
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to Gazza.

  3. Gosh, what a lot of new words for me today! Thank goodness I already knew 6d and 23a or would have felt too ignorant to finish! Favourite clues were 8d, 15d and 17d also 2d but am confused by Gazza’s illustration accompanying this – surely someone in a neck brace would be more appropriate? Thanks to setter and Gazza for review.

  4. Very tough start to the Toughie week.15d evoked memories of Trevor Chappell bowling one in a ODI at the behest of his elder brother Greg. Favourites for me today were 10a 12d and 17a thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the review.

    1. That ball is now a significant part of NZ history. Every Kiwi knows chapter and verse of that incident.

  5. Many thanks to Giovanni for a real and proper toughie, thoroughly enjoyable! Many thanks also to Gazza for a splendid review.

  6. I solved precisely 8 clues before giving up in despair. Never mind. Tomorrow is another day. At least I did get 18D. T’would have been embarrassing had I not. Obeissance and respect to Giovanni and a million thanks to Gazza for the review.

  7. Thanks to the two G’s. I gave this a good look at, and managed to solve 9 clues unaided, then started looking at the hints. More checking letters gave me 2 more answers. The hints gave me 2 more, but I had to look up 13, couldn’t even get them with the hints. There were 5 obscure words I’d never heard of. I won’t let this type of puzzle put me off trying the Toughies. Was 100*/ 1* for me !!

  8. I am sorry that some of you gave up, but there is more to life than struggling all day, I agree. I am always likely to introduce a few obscurities in the Toughie, but they are there to test and develop solving skills. The clueing is aimed to be precise and lead you to the answer even if you have never heard of the word. I can now sometimes solve Azed in The Observer without using Chambers and fill in quite a lot of words I’ve never heard of, and that gives me quite a kick, but then I’ve been at it a long time. Maybe my next Toughie will be easier — but not too easy I hope. Toughies ought to be a bit tough! I won’t always pass by, but thanks to everyone for the moment.

    1. Hi Don, please do not make them easier, you’re clueing is great but I’m with Gazza that 6 new words, on a Tuesday might be considered a tad much. But cap Doffed, the day I solve an Azed without any sort of help is a long time away. Cheers

  9. We solved this one without knowing who the setter was, but from the vocabulary used and 4d made a guess that proved to be correct. We did give both BRB and Mrs B a bit of a work out and it stretched into 4* time. 6d was a matter of writing straight in, thanks to a degree in Botany many, many years ago. We did end up solving and parsing everything correctly and enjoyed very much the process.
    Thanks Giovanni and Gazza.

  10. Really slow start but once we got into it had a bit of a roll. Good fun and the wife got 6 down really quickly so sent her to her room!

  11. Micawber tomorrow, then on Thursday:
    For our 1,000th Telegraph Toughie, we thought we should try something a bit different. So we asked every Toughie compiler to contribute a clue (a slightly grander version of Toughie 500, in fact). Not wishing to leave anyone out, we also invited the Daily Cryptic setters who don’t compile Toughies. Clues were allocated at random and four setters had two clues each to set. The cast list is: Beam, Busman, Campbell, Cephas, Dada, Elgar, Elkamere, Excalibur, Firefly, Giovanni, Jed, Kcit, Messinae, Micawber, Jeremy Mutch, MynoT, Myops, Notabilis, Osmosis, Petitjean, Anthony Plumb, Shamus, Roger Squires, Warbler. You are invited to play Spot The Setter. After the solution is released, we’ll list who did what.

    1. That sounds really amazing. My problem will be how do I fit in golf and Bridge which are part of my regular Thursday programme. Perhaps the forecast rain will arrive to save the day.

  12. Normally dislike puzzles with obscurities but not this one although took a punt on 20a .
    The last 5 or 6 took an eternity compared to the rest .
    Have limited acces to wi-fi for a while but thankfully will have access on Thursday which should be very interesting .
    Very very enjoyable .
    Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.

  13. That was a bit tasty for a Tuesday Toughie. Failed to get 9a & 1d and that’s despite me spending half my childhood catching sticklebacks in Tang Hall Beck in York!
    Thanks to the Don & to Gazza without whom…

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