Toughie 1206

Toughie No 1206 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Toro

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

I really liked this – lots of vivid and witty surfaces and inventive wordplay. I’ve picked out a few favourites at the end of the post and look forward to hearing yours. Four stars for enjoyment and, in the end, for difficulty too after I ground to a complete halt before mopping up 19a and four clues in the NW corner. But that may just be me. [EDIT: Evidently it was, so I have moderated it to 3* difficulty.]

Definitions are underlined. Highlight between the braces {LIKE THIS} to reveal the answer to each clue. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought and add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Manage to perform baker’s task without expression of disgust (4,2)
{MAKE DO} – To do something a baker does when starting to prepare bread minus (without) a three-letter expression of disgust.

5a    Swearing 19 Downs are members of ENSA by the sound of it (8)
{TROOPERS} – A kind of 19d (in the plural) proverbially associated with foul language, which is also a homophone of members of a group of entertainers. (ENSA was the Entertainments National Service Association set up to provide entertainment for British armed forces personnel during World War II.)

9a    Unpleasant smell in empty tub associated with swill, okay? (6-2)
{THUMBS-UP} – A word for a bad smell inside the outer letters of (empty) TuB, plus a verb meaning to swill or quaff.

10a    Loony South Korean dancer taps alongside duck (6)
{PSYCHO} – The performer of the Internet hit Gangnam Style followed by two letters that often appear on the taps of a washbasin and the letter so often indicated by duck (from cricket).

11a    How one might see TT that could set a precedent (4,4)
{TEST CASE} – …a matter taken to court that could establish new legal precedent. An “inverted wordplay” clue in which the solution reads like a cryptic indication of a given part of the clue, here TT.  Specifically, think of a word beginning and ending with T and another word that a crossword setter might use to tell us to pick those outer letters.

12a    Work for Snow White’s companions? (6)
{SEPTET} – A musical or choral work for the same number of performers as there are dwarves in the movie.

13a    WAGs eyed foul obliquely (8)
{EDGEWAYS} – An anagram (foul) of WAGSEYED.

15a    Does narcotism strike only odd characters? (4)
{ACTS} – Delete the odd letters (strike only odd characters) of nArCoTiSm.

17a    Belt or hit cutting side of mouth (4)
{SASH} – A kind of waistband is given by a word for to hit or punch minus (cutting) the first letter (side) of Mouth.

19a    Singer and song that could blind one to reality (8)
{STARDUST} – A word for glitz is both the stage (sur)name of the singer formerly known as Shane Fenton, and the title of a Hoagy Carmichael song sung by Nat King Cole (see clip).

20a    Seldom far from burnt ludicrously after vacation (6)
{RARELY} – A culinary word meaning the opposite of burnt or well done is followed by the outer letters of (after vacation) LudicrouslY.

21a    Fighting dog — essentially wild — is male (8)
{PUGILISM} – … of the pictured kind. A breed of dog is followed by the inner letters (essentially) of wILd, IS from the clue and the single-letter abbreviation for Male.


22a    Heading off from area in north-west part of Italy (6)
{UMBRIA} – Remove the first letter (heading off) from the county in the far north-west of England.

23a    Stirring up resistance in advance of eviction (8)
{ROUSTING} – The abbreviation in physics of Resistance goes before (in advance of) a word meaning evicting or booting out.

24a    Depressingly sad conclusion: one in 20 having ecstasy earlier (8)
{DREARILY} – The last letter (conclusion) of saD followed by the solution to 20a into which we must insert the Roman numeral one and move the abbreviation for the drug Ecstasy forward a bit (earlier).

25a    Clever dicks wanting 50% of wage rises (6)
{KNOLLS} – … little grassy hills. A word for clever dicks or smart alecs minus (wanting) the first half (50%) of WAge.


2d    He pinches girl’s bottom in Room At The Top and it’s sporting? (8)
{ATHLETIC} – HE from clue goes round (pinches) the last letter (bottom) of girL and all of this is put inside the word for the top room of a house.

3d    Hates things where time is wasted for minutes (8)
{ENMITIES} – … in the sense of hatreds. A word for things in a rather abstract or philosophical sense, but where the abbreviation for Time is dropped in favour of (wasted for) the abbreviation for Minutes.

4d    Performing’s first way to enjoy comedian being offensive (9)
{ONSLAUGHT} – … a major military offensive. A two-letter word meaning in mid-performance begins the solution (‘s first), and is followed by an abbreviation for a type of way or road which goes round (to enjoy) a word for a comedian or someone who’s a bit of wag. (I’m not at all certain about this breakdown, which is not very satisfactory, so please chip in if you have a more sensible explanation.) [edit: Of the two solvers who commented, both read it in the same way. “To enjoy” as a container indicator seems rather dubious.]

5d    Turnover initially higher with a salesman supported by creative form of direct marketing (10,5)
{TUPPERWARE PARTY} – A six-part (!) charade of the first letter (initially) of Turnover, a synonym for higher or increased, the abbreviation for With, A from the clue, a three-letter word for salesman, plus (supported by) a colloquial word for creatively inclined.


6d    Run out of Revels — they get eaten by the dozen (7)
{OYSTERS} – Remove the abbrevation for Run from (out of) a synonym for revels or carouses. (I like this much more than last Tuesday’s clue for the same word in the singular.)

7d    On time about to be captured by aliens and the like (8)
{ETCETERA} – The one-letter abbreviation for about or approximately goes inside (to be captured by) two occurrences of the abbreviation for an alien being, all of which goes on top of (on) a word for a historical time or age.

8d    Unexpected costs hit northern folk (8)
{SCOTTISH} – An anagram (unexpected) of COSTS HIT.


14d    Gouty drunk departs wanting rum — impetuous individual (5,4)
{YOUNG TURK} – An anagram (rum) of GOUTY DRUNK minus (wanting) the abbreviation for Departs.

15d    More or less making a case for fifties affecting everyone (3-5)
{ALL-ROUND} – A word meaning more or less or about goes round (making a case for) two instances of the Roman numeral for fifty.

16d    What precedes twos and follows child in France is frightful (8)
{TERRIBLE} – A word that can come before twos or after the French word for child to make two recognised phrases.

17d    Have a stab at steps to tango first (8)
{STILETTO} – … to stab with a particular type of small dagger. A form of steps (pictured) is followed first by the letter indicated by tango in the NATO phonetic alphabet and then by TO from the clue.


18d    Alas one’s unfortunately not always available (8)
{SEASONAL} – An anagram (unfortunately) of ALAS ONES.

19d    Identity reflected in more reliable fighter (7)
{SOLDIER} – A synonym for more reliable in which the two-letter abbreviation for identity is flipped (reflected).

This felt like a puzzle that a lot of thought and skill had gone into. Tops for me included 5d (for being a six-part charade that hangs together beautifully), 6d (so much better than last Tuesday’s clue for the same word in the singular), and 8d (for topicality). But there were many other good ‘uns too.

Over to you!


  1. BigBoab
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant toughie, I had difficulty getting started, but when the pennies started to drop, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. I loved the old chestnut at 1a. Many thanks to Petitjean and to Toro for a super review.

  2. Pegasus
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Cracking start to the Toughie week, favourites among a plethora of others were 5a 6d 21a and 25a thanks to Petitjean and to Toro for the review.

  3. Jezza
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle! A slow solve where I relished every moment, finishing up with 11a.

    Many thanks to Petitjean, and to Toro for the write-up (I parsed 4d in exactly the same way).

  4. gazza
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Petitjean is one of my favourite setters and I thoroughly enjoyed this one – thanks to him and Toro. My top clue was 25a for the deceptive definition.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Wow! A 4-star Peitijean that I completed in less time than the cryptic. Now I feel good! Have to say, though, that unraveling the word play for some took as long as filling in the entire grid. I didn’t get them all and needed the hints to understand11A and 10A. I’ve heard of Gangnam but not the name. I liked 7D, 16D, 19A and 25A particularly. Many thanks to Petitjean and to Toro. My reasoning for 4D was the same as yours.

  6. wahoo
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    A great and very enjoyable challenge after lunch today – but despite all, I still couldn’t get 3 d without the hint, so thanks for that Toro. For me a perfect mix of clues and the prize for the biggest grin has to go to 16d. Thanks to Petitjean and Toro. Now to try the cryptic, if I have time before the call to chores!

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    We are surprised to see the difficulty rating as it took us about the same time as the back-pager. Last in and favourite for us was 11a. We had all the checkers but there were many possible options to work through until the penny dropped for the wordplay. Satisfying and enjoyable.
    Thanks Petitjean and Toro.

    • Toro
      Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      In deference to your and others’ faster solving time, I’ve changed the difficulty rating to 3*!

      • Only fools
        Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

        In deference to a duffer could you return it to the original rating ?

        • Posted June 18, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink


        • Toro
          Posted June 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, Only Fools, you and I may not have differed but greater minds thought alike!

  8. halcyon
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Witty and enjoyable as always – but agree that 4d’s “enjoy” is a tad suspect.
    Greatly entertained by 24a and 2d and impressed by the steely logic of 5d & 17d.
    Many thanks to PJ and Toro.

  9. Only fools
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Smashing Tuesday puzzle ,personal favourite 5d amongst a host of super and entertaining clues .
    Thanks Toro for an excellent review and to Petitjean yet again

  10. Reggie
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    First petitjean I’ve attempted and didn’t do too badly. Enjoyed much of the word play. Three had me totally stumped until I used Toro’s hints- 10a,12a,25a. I might have got the first 2 if I’d had more time but I think 25a would have beaten me.
    Great crossword requiring some GK as well as wordplay to solve. Thanks to Toro and compiler

  11. Catnap
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    What a super Petitjean puzzle! Thoroughly enjoyed it ***/****. Joint faves were 12a and 16d, followed closely by 19a, 25a, and 7d amongst others.

    Had no problems. I parsed 4d the same way as you did, Toro. My only error was in not realising that 12a is an all-in-one clue.

    Thanks and appreciation to Petitjean for the excellent challenge, and to Toro for a most excellent review.