Toughie 1154 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1154

Toughie No 1154 by Petitjean

A pact with the Devil

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

I needed my “slightly mad” hat today as Petitjean returns to the Toughie fold after an absence of nearly six months. My clue of the day was the elegant 17 down with its superb definition – “like a reckless bargain-hunter”.

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.


1a    Times of qualifications (5)
{TERMS} – two definitions – periods of time, particularly in academia, and qualifications or conditions in a contract

4a    Governess‘s time wasted in opening pages of book (9)
{CHAPERONE} – start with two words which describe the opening pages of a book (7,3) and drop (wasted) the T(ime)

9a    Notes made by yours truly on drama’s cast (9)
{MEMORANDA} – the first person objective pronoun (yours truly) followed by an anagram (cast) of ON DRAMA

10a    Women may wear light brown golf brogue (5)
{TWANG} – W(omen) inside (may wear) a light brown colour and followed by the letter represented by Golf in the NATO Phonetic alphabet

11a    Unscrupulous lawyer fakes hysteria to make case (7)
{SHYSTER} – hidden (make case) inside the clue

12a    Thing to put right later on (7)
{TONIGHT} – an anagram (put right) of THING TO

13a    Unsophisticated sporty type heading into fifth place (6)
{EARTHY} – start with someone who goes in for sports and outdoor pursuits and move his initial letter (heading) to fifth place

15a    British international and one of tournament favourites accepting court may be split (8)
{BISECTED} – B(ritish) and I(nternational) followed by one of the favourites in a tournament around (accepting) C(our)T

18a    Disapproval voiced over retrogressive atmosphere with fifty in class (8)
{TUTORIAL} – a vocal expression of disapproval followed by O(ver), the reversal (retrogressive) of a three-letter word meaning atmosphere and the Roman numeral for fifty

20a    Norm? That is a spiteful person! (6)
{MEANIE} – a word meaning the norm followed by Latin abbreviation for that is

23a    Work close to home — it’s not primarily for convenience (7)
{TOILETS} – a four-letter verb meaning to work followed by the final letter (close) of homE and (I)T’S without its initial letter (not primarily)

24a    Writer’s block previously related to exercise (7)
{AEROBIC} – a writer or ball-point pen preceded by a block or bar of chocolate

26a    Well-spoken voice put across author’s last words (5)
{ENVOI} – hidden (put across) inside the clue

27a    Look up about half of this or wing it (9)
{IMPROVISE} – a verb meaning to look up or get better around the second half of (TH)IS

28a    Diva rubbish? Could be — had Spooner been a Scouser! (9)
{PERCHANCE} – I don’t like Spoonerisms at the best of times, but to get this one you need to pronounce the answer in an alleged Scouse accent – take a well-known pop diva and a colloquial term for rubbish and exchange the first two letters of one with the initial letter of the other

29a    Prompt or late restaurant reviewer consumes gargantuan starter (3,2)
{EGG ON} – to get this phrasal verb meaning to prompt or encourage put the first name of a restaurant critic who died in 2010 around (consumes) the initial letter (starter) of Gargantuan


1d    Record occasion on film (4,5)
{TIME SHEET} – an occasion followed by a film or covering

2d    Cat with no tail — or half of it? (5)
{RUMPY} – another word for a Manx cat could also be an adjective meaning with half a tail is the first half of a hyphenated word meaning lovemaking or “it” (thanks Gazza for pointing “it” out!)

3d    Strain to heave stone first (7)
{STRETCH} – a cm to heave or vomit preceded by ST(one)

4d    False rumour in article in Knave? (6)
{CANARD} – a two-letter indefinite article inside a knave or scoundrel any of 52 in a pack (thanks Milvus)

5d    Butchery is a racket to taxman (8)
{ABATTOIR} – the A from the clue followed by a racket used to hit a ball, TO, and the former taxman – see The Pedant’s Guide to Crosswords

6d    Understanding interminable 10… 10… 10… (7)
{ENTENTE} – write down 10… 10… 10… in words and then drop the outer letters (interminable)

7d    ‘King of the swingers’ in love published heartfelt article (5-4)
{ORANG-UTAN} – this ‘King of the Swingers’ from Disney’s version of the Jungle Book is derived from O (love), a three-letter verb meaning published, an adjective meaning heartfelt and the indefinite article

ARVE Error: need id and provider

8d    Team involved in row enjoyed a meal reportedly (5)
{EIGHT} – one of the two teams in the Boat race sounds like (reportedly) a verb meaning enjoyed a meal

14d    Temperature having been taken, vet checks sick terrier dog (9)
{RETRIEVER} – drop (having been taken) the T(emperature) from VE(T) and put what remains inside (checks) an anagram (sick) of TERRIER

16d    Need place refurbished to make absolutely spotless (4-5)
{DEEP-CLEAN} – an anagram (refurbished) of NEED PLACE

17d    Like a reckless bargain-hunter given Armani top in moleskin or the like (8)
{FAUSTIAN} – this adjective meaning like the protagonist of a classic German legend who bargained his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures is derived by inserting the initial letter (top) of Armani inside a kind of coarse twilled cotton fabric of which moleskin is an example (or the like)

19d    Fleet ferrying ambassador is hours from German river (7)
{RHENISH} – the two-letter abbreviation of the National fleet around the abbreviated form of address for an ambassador and followed by IS and H(ours)

21d    Peer at gong that could have a ring to it (7)
{EARLOBE} – a member of the peerage followed by an award (gong)

22d    Wise men keeping quiet over drug taker … (6)
{MAGPIE} – the biblical wise men around (keeping) the musical notation for quiet and followed by the usual drug

23d    … contrarily parted with odd bits of dope (5)
{TWERP} – the reversal (contrarily) of the odd letters from two words in the clue

25d    Jazzy vocalist making a meal of line (5)
{BLING} – the first name of The Old Groaner around (making a meal of) L(ine)

Welcome back.

24 comments on “Toughie 1154

  1. Loved it – thanks to PJ & BD. My only worry is that if Tuesday’s is this difficult what are we going to get on Friday?
    I think that 2d is referring to the answer being half of rumpy-pumpy (it).

  2. Most of this went in without too much trouble, except for a few in the bottom left, which took me most of the morning to finish off, in between work duties. Apart from the Spoonerism clue, I enjoyed the puzzle immensely.
    Many thanks to Petitjean, and to BD for the review. More of the same please!

  3. Excellent return from todays setter, it felt more like a Friday puzzle to me, favourites among many were 7d 17d (last one in) 22d and 24a thanks to Petitjean and to Big Dave for the review.

  4. Great toughie from Petitjean today and thoroughly enjoyable, I personally loved 7d. Many thanks to Petitjean and to Big Dave for the superb review.

  5. Had a bit of spare time today , so attempted the toughie , managed all but the SW corner when I reverted to hints, thanks BD , last in 17d,which was a brilliant clue-if you knew the moleskin connection-which I didn’t, before the devil connection clicked from BD’S blog can’t disagree with a ****/****.

  6. I didn’t finish this by quite a long way – let down by general knowledge, or lack of it.
    I enjoyed what I did very much but I’m glad that BD gave it 4* for difficulty.
    I liked 27a and 21d. My favourite was 14d.
    With thanks to Petitjean, and to BD for explaining all the many bits that defeated me.

    1. Welcome to the blog Burgundy

      I changed that one, just before you left your comment, in response to Gazza’s comment at #1, but thanks anyway.

  7. Enjoyable solve from Petitjean and nice to see him back in the Toughie fold.

    Liked 2d and 17d particularly, but lots of good stuff here.

  8. Blimey! I managed threequarters and came totally unstuck in the southwest corner. Many thanks to BD for the much needed hints and to Petitjean. I enjoyed the struggle…well, most of it. Off for a lie-down to recover.

  9. After a lot of effort eventually got completion, even the chocolate bar in 24a. Was a bit doubtful about the clue for 28a as the definition is in the middle of the clue but decided it must be right. Favourite 17d when the penny dropped. Good challenge, satisfying solve.
    Thanks Petitjean and BD.

  10. A stiff toughie, but rewarding nonetheless. Thanks to Petitjean, and to BD for the hints which allowed me to complete the hitherto impenetrable SW corner.

  11. Similar difficulties faced as previous comments but got myself in a real headspin with the definition in 13a. Answer obvious but just couldn’t see why hearty ….
    17d brilliant, 6 and 7d honourable mentions. Thank you Petitjean and BD, echoing Gazzas comments if this is Tuesday then this is going to be a superb week

  12. Many thanks for the warm welcome back, Dave – and you solvers I put through the mill! JP.

  13. Thanks Petitjean for the enjoyable puzzle the SW corner of which occupied some considerable time and to BD for the explanation ,
    Personal favourite 7d which with many others made up for 28a .Cheers .

  14. I had a look at this as I had about ten minutes to spare. 9ac. 20ac and 16 ac went in. Then time ran out and my work took over. I have just had a sneaky look and seen that 17d is a superb clue. I had to try and work out why. It took me an age despite having studied Dr Faustus last year. A blinking brilliant clue but sadly impossible for me for me to solve. Well done Petijean. Well done Big Dave. I will be quite happy to blog a toughie provided you supply the answers in advance and promise to hold my hand all the way through.

  15. In 4dn, doesn’t the definition of knave need to be a playing-card rather than a scoundrel, to give you card rather than cad?

    1. Welcome to the blog Milvus

      I think you are right – I probably stretched the definition of a card as an eccentric person a bit too far.

  16. With time to spare after the standard puzzle I decided to have a crack at this. I completed the right hand side but really struggled on the left. Thanks to Petitjean for the enjoyable challenge and BD for the much needed hints which got me going again after I ground to a halt.

  17. Started this on Tuesday night but was too tired and put it aside for later. Am most delighted that I did because I loved this puzzle. ***** for enjoyment.

    My reasoning was the same as Big Dave’s for 2d. That aside, there was no problems and I had all the parsing. It took a while before I worked out the Spoonerism in 29a.

    Fave clue was definitely the brilliant 17d. (I love Gounod’s opera.) Other clues I singled out were 23a, 7d, 21d, and 23d.

    Very many thanks to Petitjean for a superb puzzle. And very many thanks to Big for the excellent explanations.

    1. Oops! Brain filled in what the eye didn’t see! My appreciative thanks to Big Dave, of course, for the excellent explanations.

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