Toughie 1303

Toughie No 1303 by Giovanni

100 not out

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

If you get your puzzles from the paper you’ll have noticed that this puzzle marks Giovanni’s century as a Toughie setter – so congratulations to him.
The reason that I’ve given this four stars for difficulty rather than three is due to a) the length of time it took me to see the definition for 1a, although the answer was obvious and b) the NE corner where I didn’t help myself by writing in the wrong answer for 16a. If I’d spotted earlier that we have a pangram I might not have taken so long to get the right answer for 16a.

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.

Across Clues

1a Sailors almost smell the moon above?! (8)
CRESCENT – a company of sailors without its final letter (almost) is followed by a smell or fragrance. I spent a long time wondering about the ‘above?!’ at the end before the penny dropped – the definition is the moon shape at the upper (above) part of a question mark.

5a A fellow crossing a river on a ferry? (6)
ABOARD – A and an informal word for a chap containing A and R(iver).

9a Ring discovered in grass set aside (8)
REPEALED – a verb meaning to ring (of bells) inside a type of grass.

10a Thrones maybe set in an entrance to schloss (6)
ANGELS – a verb to set or become more solid goes between AN and the first letter of schloss. Thrones, apparently, are a category of these imaginary beings ranking between cherubim and Dominations (that’s according to one of the many different hierarchies dreamt up over the years – none of them include Charlie’s!).

12a Song that’s mournful, gloomy, with any number joining in (6)
MONODY – this is a mournful ode sung in Greek tragedy. Insert the symbol for an unspecified number in an adjective meaning gloomy or sullen.

13a Member gets to stick around in open space (8)
CLEARING – a body part with a verb to stick or clasp around it.

15a Fairy Queen with little energy is a weedy type (7)
PERIQUE – this is a strongly-flavoured type of weed (tobacco) from Louisiana according to the BRB. String together a fairy from Persian mythology, a 2-letter abbreviation for queen and E(nergy).

16a Hack  stone (4)
JADE – having crossed out ‘cope’ (it worked for me) when the crossing letter from 7d meant that it had to be wrong I was forced to think again. It’s a double definition with the first being a worn-out horse.

20a Den gone over for a bit of money (4)
RIAL – reverse a wild animal’s den to get the currency of various Middle Eastern countries.

21a Scamper as childminder — kiddiewink finally tucked in (7)
SKITTER – this is a childminder with the final letter of kiddiewink inserted.

25a Cutting out trying to get fit maybe without hesitation (8)
EXCISING – start with a present participle meaning trying to get fit or working out and remove the short expression of hesitation.

26a Composer to a very large extent a god to many Indians (6)
BRAHMA – five-sixths (to a very large extent) of the surname of a nineteenth century German composer is followed by A.

28a This person’s taking excessively long time to get ideas (6)
IMAGES – the contracted form of ‘this person is’ put into the first person and followed by a very long time.

29a Baddie kept outside French town complained (8)
CAVILLED – a baddie or rotter contains the French word for town.

30a Express in symbols message that would disappoint London’s art lovers? (6)
NOTATE – split as 2,4 this would be a message to disappoint art lovers in the capital.

31a US general is very cold dismissing one (8)
PERSHING – This is a US general of WWI, known as ‘Black Jack’. Start with an adjective meaning very cold and take out the first instance of the Roman numeral for one.

Down Clues

1d Feature of bath taps? Two letters on them, see! (6)
CHROME – the two letters that appear on bath taps followed by the see of the Pope.

2d Old lover, criticised audibly, put on weight? (6)
EXPAND – the usual short word for an old lover followed by a homophone of a verb meaning criticised or gave a bad review to.

3d Author‘s name held in little credit (8)
CHANDLER – this is obviously the Toughie word of the week. Put an informal word for a person’s name inside the abbreviation of credit.

4d Adolescent turning up is one regrettably under-occupied? (4)
NEET – reverse an adolescent to get an acronym describing a young person not in education, employment or training.

6d Prohibition — no climbing tree (6)
BANYAN – charade of a prohibition and the reversal of an old negative response.

7d A cinema star’s latest possibly from Hollywood? (8)
AMERICAN – we’ve reached the nineteenth clue before we get our first anagram. The indicator is possibly and the fodder is A CINEMA and the last letter of (sta)R.

8d Planned performance full of offence — little good in it (8)
DESIGNED – a performance or undertaking containing an offence or immoral act which in turn contains the abbreviation of good.

11d Ostentatious relative in hurry (7)
FLAUNTY – this is an unusual adjective. Insert a relative in a verb to hurry.

14d What Nell Gwyn managed to do, sending a cheeky signal? (7)
WINKING – what poor Nelly managed to do was (3,4).

17d Cow is in fear, having been disturbed (8)
FRIESIAN – an anagram (having been disturbed) of IS IN FEAR.

18d Drunk returned shortly to join chorus (8)
BACCHANT – an adverb meaning returned without its final letter is followed by a chorus.

19d Odd bods long restricted by barriers (8)
WEIRDIES – a verb to long (as in “I’m longing for a cuppa”) goes inside barriers or dams.

22d Appearance of Prince gatecrashing a party (6)
ASPECT – the single-letter abbreviation for prince is inserted in a party or school (1,4).

23d A hundred and rising – I must be hot stuff! (6)
CHILLI – Giovanni is modestly celebrating his century! String together the Roman numeral for a hundred, an elevation or rising and I.

24d Pet — one worshipped friend, jumping up (6)
LAPDOG – a charade of a person or thing worshipped and a friend, with the whole lot being reversed.

27d Mist in wood not beginning to lift (4)
HAZE – a type of wood without the beginning letter of L(ift).

My top clues today were 1a, 15a and 23d. Let us know which one(s) you liked.

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16 Comments

  1. Pegasus
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Well I certainly found this a tough nut to crack, but I did enjoy the challenge, favourites were 10a 15a and 19d. Congratulations to Giovanni on reaching your ton and thanks to Gazza for the review.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    . For 1a I was first thinking about abs and scent along the lines of moonlighting but I kept the scent part as I thought of a moon crescent. Good thing too as it was the right answer for the wrong reasons. The ?! made no sense to me. I also had recalled for 9a which made it impossible to sort out the NW corner. 13a was one of my first in and can we really call an ear a member? Didn’t get 15 and 16a. New word and synonym for me. No problems with the South side apart from 19d. Thanks to Giovanni for his hundred grids, although I don’t think I saw them all, and to Gazza for the excellent review.

  3. Framboise
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    After yesterday’s feat today was a debacle! Only managed to get two clues – 1a straight away, a fluke, and 6d – made me think of India where we lived for 9 years… Many thanks to Gazza for the excellent and clear review which I used to complete the puzzle, cheating by clicking for almost every clue. This is a good way to learn after all. Congratulations to Giovanni’s 100 toughie, what a clever man he is!

  4. Expat Chris
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I had assigned for 8D (though I couldn’t justify the first two and last two letters), which made 5A impossible. I also missed out on 18D, another new-to-me word to add to 12A, 15A and 29A, though I was able to work those three out from the clues. I also had to google my correct answer for 4D, a peculiarly British acronym I have never heard of before, and I needed the explanation for my answer to 10A. Fortunately, I saw it was a pangram early on, which helped. Congratulations to Giovanni on the century and thanks for today’s fun. Thanks also to Gazza for the review.

  5. JonP
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Tricky for me and needed a few hints to complete. Very enjoyable – congrats to Giovanni on the ton-up and many thanks to Gazza for being there to sort out the ones I couldn’t.

  6. dutch
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Ah, pangram – though knowing this didn’t help me.

    Was anyone else stupid enough to enter charon for 5a (ch = fellow +a +r(over) + on from clue), leaving some left over words in this apparent &lit?

    Lots of new words for me today, 12a mournful song (though apparently it’s a technically a poem?), weedy tobacco (15a), new word for complained (29a) and new abbreviation for the unemployed (4d).

    I needed a thesaurus for 16a

    Last one in was 27d (mist), partly because i seemed to be working top down, and party because I thought lift was a reversicator and it took me a while to find the right tree.

    a smile for Nell (14d) and quick to recognise the cow(17d), since my mother is one (that is to say, she is from Friesland).

    Tricky one, thanks for the challenge Giovanni and congrats on the centurion, I’m in awe (though i’m not convinced doing crosswords precludes chasing women)

    Thanks Gazza

    oh, and i took the crescent just to be the moon above – names for sections of question marks i think is stretching things a bit..

    • gazza
      Posted December 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      If you take the definition of 1a to be ‘the moon’ there’s no real need for ‘above’, certainly no need for the question mark and definitely no need for the exclamation mark.

      • dutch
        Posted December 4, 2014 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        agreed – and a pioneering clue perhaps, but i’m not sure how enthralled i am entering a cryptic world of shape descriptors for parts of characters. Here, I think the moon=crescent association helped the solver get the answer even if the !-route wasn’t followed, not sure how intentional that was.

    • andy
      Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      15a, great ,unless you are sat on a train without access to a dictionary. Another Giovanni word that I’ll store but never have reason to use. There are other great clues so thanks to Gazza and Giovanni

  7. KiwiColin
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    10a was the last one for me and a new word. I note that it is in Mrs B under angel, but not under throne where I first looked before going to the BRB. Also needed to check the 4d acronym, and meaning of 15a. Totally failed to spot the pangram too. A taxing and enjoyable puzzle.
    Thanks and congratulations Giovanni and Gazza for the review.

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted December 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Would quite like to read the article by Giovanni if anyone is clever enough to be able to give us a link to it.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • Expat Chris
        Posted December 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        Spindrift put a link to the Telegraph article on Giovanni in the Comment blog. Is that what you mean?

        • 2Kiwis
          Posted December 3, 2014 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          Yes, exactly what we wanted. Thanks Chris (and Spindrift).

  8. Chris
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I did manage to finish – without the hints – but this was the longest time I’ve ever spent on a Toughie and needed frequent references to Chambers and Wikipedia. Some of the parsing took a while too having got the answer.
    5* difficulty for me, 5* enjoyment since despite electronic help I really enjoyed it.
    Many congratulations to the Don on his century and thank you Gazza.

  9. spindrift
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I’ll be puffing on a pipe filled with perique while getting bacchant in the pub this weekend as long as the innkeeper does not cavil – I know Giovanni likes his obscure words but when has anyone used these particular ones this side of the Boer War?

  10. Salty Dog
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Well l liked it! I didn’t pick it up again until this morning, and then couldn’t crack 1d/12a, but I’m pleased to have got that far. Certainly 4* (l have never completed this much of a 5*, so this can’t be one) and 4* for satisfaction. Thanks and congratulations to Giovanni, and thanks Gazza for the helping hand.