Toughie 1339 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1339

Toughie No 1339 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I found this puzzle to be straightforward today despite the usual Giovanni sprinkling of less familiar answers (although the only one I needed to research was 22 across). I much prefer a Toughie that is tough because of the setter’s deviousness and misdirection rather than one that relies on unfamiliar words for its toughness.

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    One coming in ousts beggars (10)
SUPPLIANTS: I (one) inside ‘ousts’

6a    What comes out of seaweed? A fish (4)
AGAR: A jelly prepared from seaweed = A + a pike-like fish

9a    Principal lamenter may be seen as such (4-6)
PALL-BEARER: I don’t really get this one. I assume it’s just a cryptic definition for a mourner who helps carry the coffin at a funeral?

10a    Star river reflected (4)
NOVA: A star that suddenly increases in brightness = a reversal of the name of several English rivers

13a    Ship with a hundred and fifty holding a wild party (7)
CARAVEL: A light Mediterranean sailing ship = the Roman numeral for 150 round A and ‘wild party’

15a    Soldiers and sailors outside very English alehouse (6)
TAVERN: Volunteer soldiers + the Royal Navy round V (very) and E (English)

16a    Big noise joining emperor briefly for formal celebration? (6)
DINNER: A loud noise + a Roman emperor with his last letter removed

17a    Noted career girl flirting with chief executive (8-7)

18a    Top lady on old horse or ass (6)
ONAGER: O (old) + a horse + our Queen (top lady) = a wild ass of Central Asia

20a    Point of view of holy person leading an Anglican organisation (6)
STANCE: A holy person + AN + the Church of England

21a    Small room pretty inadequate — look around inside it (7)
RATHOLE: An informal word for a cramped or squalid room = pretty (or somewhat) with the last letter removed round a reversal of ‘Look!’

22a    Novelist‘s item at auction, one making money abroad (4)
LOTI: The wordplay is an item at auction + I. The answer is the surname of Pierre (a French writer) and also the official currency of Lesotho

25a    Foreign capital‘s film beginning with card game (10)
MONTEVIDEO: A South American capital = a Spanish-American gambling card game + a film

26a    What’s sounded for people lost? (4)
TOLL: A cryptic definition for the sound of a bell rung after someone’s death

27a    Professors finding girl in depression having got Second (10)
DECLARANTS: People who profess = a girl’s name inside a depression + S (second)


1d    Juices healthy places served up (4)
SAPS: A reversal of places giving health treatment

2d    President‘s people quiet rather than loud (4)
POLK: The surname of the 11th president of the USA = a word meaning people with F (loud) replaced by P (quiet)

3d    African secure after revolution through hiding (6)
LIBYAN: A native of a North African country = ‘through’ inside a reversal of ‘to secure’

4d    Like some culinary dishes Delilah prepared with amaretto (1,2,6,1’5)
À LA MAÎTRE D’HÔTEL: An anagram (prepared) of DELILAH AMARETTO

5d    Weary, having to conserve energy in rows (6)
TIERED: ‘Weary’ round E (energy)

7d    Result of earth-shattering payment to landowner (6,4)
GROUND RENT: This answer could imply that earth has been shattered

8d    A doctor gets round in a posh car — another vehicle to make way (4,6)
ROAD ROLLER: O (round) + A + an abbreviation for doctor inside an informal word for a posh make of car. The answer is a heavy vehicle used in the construction of thoroughfares

11d    24 will have a loft, I fancy, for what might amount to 21? (6,4)
STUDIO FLAT: A synonym for the answer to 24 down (as a knob) + an anagram (fancy) of A LOFT I

12d    Piece of ornamentation from what could be maiden novelist (10)
OVERMANTEL: What could be a maiden in cricket + the surname of a Booker Prize winning novelist

13d    One’s very good but almost crazy (7)
CRACKER: Remove the last letter from a word meaning ‘crazy’

14d    It may be left to catch fire (7)
LIGNITE: L (left) + ‘to catch fire’. The answer is a form of solid fuel

19d    In foreign capital notice form of protection for equipment (6)
RADOME: A notice inside the capital of Italy = a protective covering for microwave radar antennae

20d    Vessel with cramped accommodation offers cheap ticket for crossing lake (6)
SLAVER: A cheap ticket, especially for train journeys, round L (lake)

23d    Someone once seen in Number Ten‘s garden (4)
EDEN: 2 meanings: a former prime minister/a biblical garden

24d    Control / knob (4)
BOSS: 2 meanings: to control/a knob

It was nice to see so many people at the Bridge House last Saturday. I wish I’d stayed longer!

46 comments on “Toughie 1339

    1. Well spotted, I missed that completely, the only other one I was stumped on was 22ac. Otherwise not too tough and fairly enjoyable. Thanks to you Gazza and Bufo and Giovanni.

  1. 9A is an example of what in the new edition of Chambers Crossword Manual I have termed an ‘inverse’ clue. You’ll find another inverse hidden clue in today’s Times, which foxed the solving bloggers also. Thank you for the feedback.

      1. I liked it too, but will happily admit to not spotting it! I don’t know about the Times one, I only do those at weekends.

  2. A Giovanni done without shedding any tears! Hurrah.

    I started off quite well with 1 and 9a going, in along with the anagram of 17a. The NE corner fell quickly thanks to 6a but I ground to a halt on the SW.

    So I had lunch.

    Mr. Cheval provided a nudge in the right direction for anagramming 4d, however 18 and 22a along with 19d left me flummoxed.

    So I had a cup of tea and did some work.

    Came back and used the M’pops rule, checked in the BRB and they were right. However I have never heard of 18a and I also took a wild guess at 19d and 13a.

    Not once did I find it easy, but compared to other weeks it was doable.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to Bufo for blogging. I had to read it carefully just to ensure that I did things correct. :-)

    1. Well done Hanni, I made it too in the end. I was stuck on the bottom two across and followed the Big Dave’s Blog Golden Rule – when things don’t seem to make sense look for the error, which I duly found in 24d.
      Sometimes it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive; today I was just pleased I got there.

      1. Well done Rick! I must remember that rule.
        I forgot to add that 2d was a ‘guess then look up’, clue.
        Edit..I hope you got the car sorted.

        1. I think so but you never know with these modern things and all their electrical doobries. Give me an old Land Rover any day – if you’ve got a spark and fuel it will run!

  3. I needed to verify 18A and 22A and the author in 12D, and was stuck on 27A. Took me a while to see 4D. I rather liked 8D. Thanks Bufo and Giovanni.

  4. Really enjoyed this puzzle and just realised from the review that I had 9a wrong. I wrote pole bearer.
    Thanks to Bufo for putting me back in the right direction and to the Don for the great crossword.

  5. I rather enjoyed this, but it felt more of a back-pager than a toughie. 2*/3.5* by my reckoning, and l particularly liked the impressively topical 12d (having relished the latest instalment on TV last night). My thanks to the Don, and to Bufo for the review.

  6. We feel clever at having spotted the ‘inverse’ wordplay in 9a. An enjoyable puzzle for us and the dictionary did not have to work too hard. We liked 27a once we had got past trying to find an academic who fitted the checkers but will give top rating to 9a.
    Thanks Giovanni and Bufo.

  7. The usual from Giovanni. Enjoyed 9a and 14d. Needed the hint for the redundant novelist at 22a.

    Fans of They Might Be Giants will be familiar with President Polk. All you need to know can be found [with luck] here

    Thanks to Giovanni and Bufo.

  8. Great puzzle, I liked 9a (principal lamenter) which was indicated nicely, not just with a question mark. I liked the triple definition in 22a (novelist +auction + currency), it always takes me a while to recognise the triple definition nature of a clue, misleading in itself. I enjoyed “very english alehouse” in 15a. Two great long anagrams. 14d (left to catch fire) was nice, but did leave me wondering if it would just catch fire..

    I struggled at the bottom. I hadn’t come across the form of protection in 19d, and stupidly I entered “stud” into 24d having just solved the apartment in 11d, which slowed me down. I must stop making life harder for myself.

    Lovely puzzle,
    thank you Giovanni and Bufo

  9. Finished! I did need to ‘research’ four of them – 6&18a + 2&19d – but managed without the hints.
    The card game was a bung-in but had to be what it was.
    I hadn’t fully parsed the ‘pretty’ element in 21a and, like others, the hidden part of 9a had passed me by.
    My favourite is 7d – really enjoyed the surface reading.

    Many thanks to the Don and to Bufo for the review (+ Gazza for 9a!).

    PLEASE, Hanni, can we have a day off from Toughies tomorrow – my brain hurts!

    1. Well done too Jane. :-)
      Agreed. Tomorrow is big walk day. Let’s stick to the back page.
      I dreamt about the blog the other night. That can’t be a good sign.

      1. Yes – I’ve got a big birding day so will be somewhat weary by the time I get home.
        What’s the bet we save it just in case there’s some free time over the weekend!

        Not only do I dream about it – I’ve started getting up early and pacing the floor waiting for the DT to arrive.
        Actually reading the paper has become something of a secondary occupation………. and sometimes doesn’t happen at all. Guess that makes them pretty expensive crossword puzzles!

        1. hi Jane,
          Same here. Since I took the suscription, I hardly ever make the effort to buy the paper anymore. But I do miss it as love to read all the news from the other side of the channel. It is however a great saving as it used to cost me €4 a day.

    2. The more you do, the easier it gets. Well, that’s the theory. For me, it’s entirely dependent on the setter. There are a couple or three Toughie setters whose brains are wired differently from those of normal people, I think. I don’t dream about the blog, but I do dream about working out clues and solving crosswords, usually after being on the losing end of a particularly strenuous battle.

      1. So how do you feel about Proximal – I see that he’s ‘up’ tomorrow. Frankly, even the name sounds scary!

        1. Don’t know. To be honest, I have difficulty remembering which particular setter gave me palpitations previously. And I mix up Proximal with another one with an X in his name. It’s only when I am ‘in the moment’ that I realize the setter is one of those I can never fathom. I really must keep a log for the future.

  10. ProXimal is a graduate from our very own NTSPP. We usually find him quite tricky.
    Just wait until you start writing the blogs you three. All the symptons you describe just get worse. Every time you read a clue you can’t help thinking, “Now how would I hint that”. And dreaming about them is only half the problem, getting any sleep at all when it is your turn to blog becomes the norm. Just ask Kath. Really good fun though. Cheers.

    1. Oh, I would never make a blogger! I just don’t have the temperament or the patience. I would have to change my name to Granny Grumpy! I do admire those who take on the task for the rest of us.

  11. Hi Jane, I bet we save it and probably have a little look tomorrow. However tomorrow evening will be food and drink o’clock so it will make even less sense than usual.
    I’m not sure commenting whilst ‘merry’ will be a good idea! Hope you enjoy the birding!

    Chris, I’m the same with knowing Toughie setters. Giovanni is an exception. I’ve battled him for years, in the best way. It’s amazing to see the likes of proXimal come through the ranks from NTSPP etc.

    And the thought of blogging terrifies me. I’ve found it quite a useful tool to sometimes imagine that you are writing a blog as a way of explaining clues to yourself. Running the gauntlet here is another matter. And quite frankly BD has put together a first rate blogging team. If it ain’t broke etc.

    Love the bloggers here.

    1. Interesting comment imagine that you are writing a blog as a way of explaining clues to yourself.
      I volunteered to join BD’s team when I realized I had been blogging for about a year for pommette. She and I do the DT back pager over lunch every day and I’d been giving her clues when she was stuck. I thought ” well, may as well do it for the rest of you”. Therein was my downfall

      1. That’s interesting. I do the same for the other half with the quickie (He’s too impatient to wait for checking letters). I will cease forthwith.

      2. Do you now find that you approach clues differently since you started blogging?

        I’ve used it as a solving device from time to time. Start from a null hypothesis and slowly look at what you know and what conclusions can be reached. Then write it down simply.

        I fail at this with alarming regularity.

        1. Blogging has altered how I fill in the grid. Since I became a blogger I very rarely use the Miffypops “bung it in” technique because if it’s wrong it can cause problems. It’s now got to the stage that, if I can’t put a hint together in my mind, then the answer doesn’t go in until I can. At the end of the day I find it makes the whole thing more satisfying because you have to know the answers and where they come from.
          That applies whether I’m in the blog seat or not.

          1. I’m with you on that, pommers. Blogging imposes a discipline which greatly improves the solving process. Since I started blogging I don’t write in an answer unless I can explain it (or at least believe that I can).

          1. That makes sense Pommer’s, though I am loath to give up the MP rule just yet.

            Jane…I usually make Sunday lunch whilst tackling Mephisto. Which never yields, why would it? But I certainly know about the unprintable stuff.
            Then again that happens here too. ;-)

  12. Managed to get there in the end but without everything fully explained. Not too obscure by Giovanni standards. I have a funny feeling I might have spotted the “inverse” clue 9ac if I had thought the setter was Elkamere because I look out for such things with his puzzles. New mental note made – at least for Giovanni toughies. It took me a long long time to get used to spotting Ray T’s hidden words but I am finally getting used to them. Unfortunately the Ray T on the back page seemed to be very much on his easier side (anagrams too) so allowing more time tor the toughie so maybe it seemed a little bit easier than it really was. Thanks to setter and blogger

  13. Be very careful what you say, Hanni – I seem to remember that someone has been offering out Mondays at every given opportunity!

    1. The resident publican/Dylan/Bellowhead/James Blunt/Katy Perry fan will ‘Carry on Blogging’! How else will we know the crib standings and Coventry’s progression in egg chasing.

      I quite like his blogs.

      1. So do I – great fun – but I still think he’s always on the look out for another ‘team player’.

  14. Just grateful to have got to the end with only four clues outstanding. We felt ok about it because the missing words we didn’t know anyway (but we do now) !
    Ratholes and Studio Flats remind us of our youth and then we had to start paying Ground rent…I’m now the Director General but Dulcie will always be the BOSS!!!

    1. Hi guys,
      Didn’t get a chance to tell you how lovely it was to meet you on saturday.
      I remember the concept of ground rent when I first arrived in London. It felt like such an odd idea at the time.
      But in Hyères, we must be one of the few places in France with what we call “Bail emphytéotique”. All the properties on the Tombolo on the road to Giens peninsula are subject to such a lease. But the reason is probably because, one day, they will be washed away by the sea.

  15. I began well but ground to a halt and needed all the help I could get from the hints.thank goodness for this site.

  16. Finally made it to the end Sat morning. Very enjoyable with a few new words although it didn’t help when I marked my (paper) grid for 7d as 4 & 6 letters instead of 6 & 4. This was a ***/**** for me. Now – its time to attempt the dreaded Friday puzzle… Sh-Shoney.

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