Toughie 1220 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1220

Toughie No 1220 by Petitjean

Normal Thursday Service is Resumed

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Most of this puzzle was straightforward but I slowed down a little towards the end and had difficulty in working out some of the wordplay. It just about got into the 3* difficulty zone. I think the last couple of Thursdays have spoilt me for today there were too many easy clues for my liking and I was 14 across by the puzzle

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1a    Cavalry officer’s last to wear flimsy stockings (5,5)
{LIGHT HORSE} R (the last letter of officer) inside ‘flimsy’ and ‘stockings’

6a    Nigel Slater’s filling does set (4)
{GELS} Hidden in NiGEL Slater

10a    It can be mean to tease (3,2)
{GET AT} 2 meanings: an informal term for ‘to mean’/to poke fun at (tease)

11a    N-N-N-Noah? (9)
{ARKWRIGHT} A word that could be taken to mean a builder of a vessel like Noah’s is the surname of the leading character in a BBC sitcom (1976-1985). This character had a stammer (hence N-N-N-Noah)

12a    I caught bird back in the lettuce (7)
{ICEBERG} I + C (caught) + a reversal of a freshwater diving bird

13a    Gatherings from first-class lettuce rejected plus lettuces with no heart (7)
{SOCIALS} A reversal (rejected) of ‘first-class’ (2) and ‘lettuce’ (3) + the first and last letters of LettuceS

14a    Frustrated idiot snapped for a change (12)
{DISAPPOINTED} An anagram (for a change) of IDIOT SNAPPED

18a    Doctor meant I’m better without a spleen (12)
{EMBITTERMENT} An anagram (doctor) of MENT I’M BETTER (MEANT I’M BETTER without the A)

21a    Site of magnificent mausoleum in simple outline (7)
{DIAGRAM} The Indian city which is the site of the Taj Mahal (a magnificent mausoleum) inside ‘simple (weak in intellect)’

23a    Distinguish European news with outside broadcast by the French (7)
{ENNOBLE} Abbreviations for ‘European’, ‘new’, ‘new’ and ‘outside broadcast’ + a French word for ‘the’

24a    Working both sides of one small stock type of paper (5-4)
{ONION SKIN} ‘Working’ + I (one) + ‘working’ + S (small) + stock (family) = a very thin variety of paper

25a    Press with spades and clubs (5)
{IRONS} ‘To press (clothes)’ + S (small) = golf clubs

26a    Dismiss the odds of green weed capsizing vessel (4)
{EWER} Remove the odd letters from GREEN WEED and reverse (capsize) what’s left

27a    You may be moved by this role subtly cast (10)
{TROLLEYBUS} A means of public transport is an anagram (cast) of ROLE SUBTLY


1d    Left with old goods? One answer could be arcade (6)
{LOGGIA} One-letter indications for ‘left’, ‘old’, ‘good’, ‘good’, ‘one’ and ‘answer’ = a covered open arcade

2d    Threaten to go out and groove … (6)
{GUTTER} 2 meanings: (of a flame) threaten to go out/a groove

3d    … until you drop or until only the dregs are left (2,3,6,3)
{TO THE BITTER END} This phrase meaning ‘until you drop’ could also be interpreted as ‘until only the dregs of a pint of beer are left’

4d    A grade one fizzy drink (9)
{ORANGEADE} An anagram (fizzy) of A GRADE ONE

5d    Dictator’s requests to give up religious types (5)
{SIKHS} A homophone (dictator’s) of requests (asks for) = adherents of a particular religion

7d    Joins large numbers following England (8)
{ENGRAFTS} A word for ‘large numbers’ (especially in North America) follows a 3-letter abbreviation of England

8d    Venue for summer show around end of August that’s taken out of production (3-5)
{SET-ASIDE} An area popular as a holiday resort (i.e. a venue for summer show) goes round T (last letter of August)

9d    Draught’s her second new drink and their third — this could be letting off steam (8,6)
{TRACTION ENGINE} Draught (the act of drawing or pulling) + the second letter of hEr + N (new) + an alcoholic drink + E (the third letter of thEir) = a steam-powered vehicle for hauling heavy loads

15d    Wise briefly to check repeated pressure in poor man’s barometer (9)
{PIMPERNEL} I had this answer early on but the wordplay eluded me until the very end. ‘Wise briefly’ = the short form of the first name of a member of a well-known double act. This is put inside P (pressure) and a word meaning ‘to pressure’ to give a flower known as the poor man’s barometer or poor man’s weather glass

16d    Withdraw score? (4,4)
{HEAD HOME} This was the last one I solved and I hope I’ve got it right. ‘To withdraw (and go towards one’s place of residence)’ could also be ‘to score in football without using the feet’

17d    One’s muscles are paramount for hard case? (8)
{ABLATIVE} ‘One has’ is preceded by an abdominal muscle and a muscle in the lower back to give a grammatical case in various languages that is used generally to express motion away from something. It sounds hard to me!

19d    Brothers’ book a reactionary digest (6)
{ABSORB} A reversal (reactionary) of ‘brothers’ + B (book) + A = ‘to digest’

20d    Count appreciation voiced by America (6)
{CENSUS} An official count = a homophone (voiced) of ‘sense’ + US (America)

22d    Creator of Shrek — a massive part in retrospect (5)
{MAKER} Hidden in reverse in ShREK A Massive

Not the greatest Petitjean puzzle I have ever seen

34 comments on “Toughie 1220

  1. Medium level difficulty but the brilliant 11a alone made it worth the solve, even though I admit that both that clue and 15d which I also liked are fairly unfair to overseas solvers.

    Thanks to Petitjean and Bufo.

    1. I worked out 11A finally, but thought it was a character from the Vicar of Dibley!

  2. Well…finished without hints but not without a little electronic help for 7D and 15D. I had the correct answers but needed explanations for 2D, 15D and and17D. I was wrong on 16D (had send home) and on 17D (had abrasive). Loved 3D, 9D and 27A. Didn’t think much of 20D. Overall I enjoyed this. thanks to Petitjean and to Bufo for the unraveling.

  3. No major problems with this, but I thought that the hard ‘case’ of 17dn might be to do with ablative absolute? Any grammarians out there? Thanks to PJ for a nice Thursday toughie and Bufo for enlightenment on a few.

    1. Bufo is right, the ablative case is the form of a noun which (in Latin, anyway) follows the prepositions by, with or from. It is also used in a particular Latin construction, the ablative absolute, in which a noun and participle, in the ablative, occur at the beginning of a sentence to set the scene, e.g. “The Toughie having been solved, the physicist made a cup of tea.”

      1. I have to say that for a “scientist” you’re terribly well up in things non-scientific. I can only wonder what you really are?

      2. Bufo’s account of the ablative case is admirable; in Latin it expresses (according to Ximenes) (1) Instrument, (2) Agent, (3) Separation. Less easy to understand is what “ablative” means when applied to shields on spacecraft.

        1. The word itself comes from the Latin verb “abferre” , to carry away; an ablative heat shield carries the heat away by eroding as the craft descends through the atmosphere.

  4. Good stuff and most enjoyable, favourites were 5d 11a and 16d thanks to Petitjean and to Bufo for the comments.

  5. Agree that this seemed a tad mundane for Petitjean. Didn’t think much of 3d but liked 8d, 15d and the clever 17d. The ablative was always hard when they made me do Latin. I can still recall, by rote, all the prepositions that take it!

    Thanks to PJ and to Bufo.

  6. never heard of a stuttering arkwright (though i guessed that answer) and hadn’t appreciated the weather prediction properties of a pimpernel (guessed the answer too), hadn’t heard light horse used for cavalry and if i ever knew ablative i’ve forgotten, so this puzzle made me feel inadequate in general knowledge, many thanks petitjean and thanks also for the enlightenment bufo

  7. This may not be tough by Toughie standards but it was tough enough for me today.
    I failed on 16 and 17d and needed the hints to explain a couple of others – mainly the stuttering boat builder – no idea what the sitcom was but am just about to ask the fount of all knowledge, Mr Google.
    I liked 1 and 18a and 2 and 3d. I think my favourite was 6a because he’s so lovely – the only “celebrity” cook worth watching, in my opinion anyway.
    With thanks to Petitjean for a very enjoyable crossword, and to bufo for the explanations.

      1. Thanks – haven’t got round to asking my knowledgeable friend yet but this is very clearly something I never watched.

        1. Kath, I believe this was a sitcom called Open All Hours. Never seen it myself.

          1. Yes, it starred the great Ronnie Barker as Arkwright, a miserly corner shopkeeper, and David Jason as his put-upon assistant (and nephew) Granville.

  8. Harking back to Cryptic Sue’s comment about clues like 11A and 15D being a bit unfair to overseas solvers, here’s my take, as one who’s been over the pond since 1979.

    Granted there are clues that are more challenging because they require “local” knowledge, but it’s our choice to tackle British newspaper puzzles so that’s something that we must accept. My hold-ups are place names, people names, and the more modern slang ( I remember being shocked to discover ‘trouser’ used as a verb). For the most part, they can be worked out, and if not….well, I learn something new from the review! And we American-based solvers do get some local-to-us clues that we may find easier than our UK-based friends.

    All in all, I wouldn’t change a thing….except maybe ban cricket clues!!!

    1. agree with almost everything that you’ve said. The only exception to that is the trouser bit – I could be (and probably am) completely wrong about this but I thought that most of the nouns that get turned into verbs came from your side of the pond.
      And yes – ban the blasted cricket!

      1. Nope. To trouser is definitely not an Americanism. We call ’em pants over here!

        1. Of course you do – very silly of me – I give in. If there was a little face holding his hands up in submission that’s what I’d do now.

        2. I may be wrong here but I have a suspicion that “to trouser” as in pinching something may have started with P.G. Wodehouse and Bertie Wooster.

  9. Last check before we set off to catch our ferry.
    Enjoyed the puzzle. Stand out favourite was 11a. As ‘overseas solvers’ we had no problems with any of the allusions in this one. We don’t mind specific UK clues in the Toughie. We see them as part of the “Toughieness”, but they are more of a problem in the Back-pager which appears in newspapers here and other parts of the world.
    Thanks Petitjean and Bufo.

  10. Stuggled to get the last 5 which I woked out with Petitjean hints. 1,16,17,18d gave the most problem

  11. A nice puzzle but sadly didn’t need the slightly mad hat. Favourte by a long way was 1a.

    Thanks to Petitjean and Bufo.

  12. I really enjoyed this one. ****/**** for difficulty and enjoyment. 11ac was great and 16dn raised a smile too. Thanks to Petitjean/Bufo for the crossword/blog.

  13. Smashing summary which duplicates my experience exactly , so thanks Bufo and of course Petitjjean for the challenge (modernisation?)

  14. So pleased to have saved this to do later as I really did enjoy it — but then, I do like Petitjean’s puzzles. ***/**** for me. Fave was 11a. Brilliant!

    I found some clues tricky, and needed the hint for 17d. (I did ponder ‘abrasive’ but as I couldn’t parse it, turned to the hint.) I had 16d wrong (like Expat Chris, had ‘send home’). I had the remainder of the answers correct, but needed the explanation for the wordplay of 15d. I gave 25a as a double definition, and 3d as an all-in-one, which they are not. Otherwise, had the correct parsing.

    Many thanks to Petitjean for a stimulating and enjoyable puzzle, and to Bufo for the excellent enlightenment.

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