Toughie 1389 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1389

Toughie No 1389 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Toro

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BD Rating - Difficulty */** - Enjoyment ***/****

An enjoyable breeze of a puzzle by Giovanni on a rare Tuesday appearance, but can someone explain to me how 12d works! [EDIT: False alarm -- the minute I posted the blog I saw the answer.]

Definitions are underlined. 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.


5a Player knowing only seven of his team-mates? (3,4)
FLY HALF of fifteen positions in a rugby team. Knowing or savvy, plus seven of the other players as a fraction of the whole team.

7a Drain must be cleaner, not black (5)
LEACH A cleaning agent minus B(lack).

9a Many ships girl's seen by inlet (6)
ARMADA A girl's name preceded by small branch of a river.

10a Leaders in Church Times grounded in good sense and holiness (8)
SANCTITY C(hurch) T(imes) inside good sense or reason.

11a Frightful ado and I cry, wanting mother around to show a bit of heart? (10)
MYOCARDIUM A word for mother around an anagram of ADO and I CRY.

13a Mafia boss caught by a river in Italy (4)
CAPO C(aught) + A + an Italian river.


14a Audibly criticising publication? It may be for present content (8,5)
WRAPPING PAPER A sounds-like of criticising or rebuking, plus a journalistic (or academic) publication.

16a Cruel chap ditching old wife (4)
FELL A word for chap minus O(ld) W(ife).

17a China's top sporting event (5,5)
CROWN DERBY Top or crest plus a sporting event, e.g. in horseracing.


19a Number being entertained by employer -- not what you'd get with a fat cat! (8)
BONINESS A particular number inside a word for employer or manager.

20a Not one of our characters to slate the dental establishment (6)
LAMBDA To slate or criticise plus the acronym of the body representing UK dentistry.

22a Volunteers coming with lettuce and Mexican food (5)
TACOS Volunteer reservists plus a type of lettuce.



23a Sigh as American grabbed by one of Oxford's prominent features? (7)
SUSPIRE American inside the type of architectural structure for which Oxford is famous.


1d Some ordinary-looking rising stars (4)
LYRA Hidden backwards inside ORDINARYLOOKING.

2d Plan in which the French publicist is seen as incompetent user of language (8)
MALAPROP A French definite article plus the abbreviation for a purveyor of corporate lies, all inside an area plan.

Not quite a malapropism, but a few years ago my mother was explaining to my Auntie Shirley that my brother and his wife were looking at how expensive it might be to send their daughter to a Montessori school. Auntie Shirley screwed her face up and said: "Why do they want to send her to a multistorey?"

3d Guys with leader absent in cushy group meeting (6)
PLENUM Males, minus the first letter, inside cushy (as in a cushy job).

4d An adjective maybe, one with power in little piece (10)
PARTICIPLE Roman numeral one plus P(ower), all inside a little piece or small item.

5d Assault or battle in which nothing is gained (5)
FORAY O for nothing inside a battle or fight.

6d Design centres do this to give us hose maybe (7,6)
FASHION HOUSES The solution reads like a cryptic instruction to give an anagram of US HOSE, for example.


8d Foremost of people to rush violently? (7)
HOTSPUR Anagram of P(eople) and TO RUSH.

12d Clerical office involving risks, internal note becoming obvious (10)
CHAPLAINCY A word for risky in which the N(ote) is replaced by a word meaning obvious.

14d Identify and get rid of what sounds like small suspicion (4,3)
WEED OUT Split (3,4), a sounds-like of a small suspicion.

15d Pain and defeat for optimistic person (8)
PANGLOSS A sharp pain plus a defeat.

17d An example of one could be 'made up' in crosswords! (6)
CHEESE Metaphorically, something corny or well-worn -- like that dreadful old chestnut and kids' joke that defines one of these in the literal sense.

18d Mark shows animal has lost its tail (5)
BADGE A secretive mammal more often seen as roadkill, minus its final letter.

21d Important location for 9 (4)
MAIN Double definition.


5a and 10a tickled me a lot.

Over to you - please rate and comment on this puzzle below.

27 comments on “Toughie 1389

      1. Sorry – rampant confusion. I DID mean 12d, not 17d that you were referring to!

        1. Indeed , I thought your hint for 17d missed that made up (made reversal) gave the answer. You did have a good day at the Cricket then ;)

          1. Sorry if the explanation is poor, then. Yes, a bit of a Mr Bean day for me, but the beer was nice!

      2. First rate match report Andy. Third X1’s should not be played without occasional breathtaking levels of ineptitude, comical mishaps, kids dragged in to play on the boundary and borrowed kit. Good to read standards are being kept.

        1. Oi! We’re a first XI, albeit a Sunday one, in the second tier of a very decent league! Not that you’d know that from the quality of my captaincy and play last week…

          PS Where do you live and are you available this weekend?

          1. My apologies. I saw Sunday and jumped to thinking ‘thirds’.

            Of which I’ve seen many a resplendent effort, including….

            Storing bottles of beer around the boundary so spectators could pass thirsty fielders drinks. Getting lost driving to a local game because a new Sat Nav took them 40 miles off route. The driver lived 2 miles from the ground and drives past it every day. Attempting to convince an opposing side a player was eligible and league registered despite most of the other team going to school with our young lad. A captain making a dive so late for a ball it could still be going on now and then blaming the umpires watch? The same captain falling over injured and shouting for the non existent physio/TV umpire.

            These are the tame ones.

            I’m much happier watching or trying to get out of making the teas!

            Did you get your car back?

              1. I’m still not sure how the umpires watch comes into play. I’m glad you’ve got your car back and I have to give you credit for a new ‘reason’ for having no kit….

                My car got towed. Outstanding.

  1. I too had a query on the parsing of 12d – but as soon as I saw the intro to this blog the penny dropped!
    A workaday puzzle from who-else but the Don. Nothing to complain about but difficult to identify any favourite clues. I’ll settle [like Toro] for 5a [because I puzzled over where “fly” came from] and 10a [because it’s nice and smooth and a signature Giovanni clue].

    Thanks to the Don and to Toro for the blog.

  2. New words for me in 23A and 15D and a new meaning in 16A. I don’t think I would have got 8D if it hadn’t turned up in a recent puzzle. Otherwise, quite straightforward, though I needed the review to parse 5A fully. Favorite is 14A. Thanks Toro and Giovanni.

  3. I do so wish The Don would be as generous when he has his Mephisto hat on. Though I did enjoy this.

    I didn’t care for 19a and definitely needed help sorting out 17d. Also had to double check 15d.

    Wasn’t the answer to 8d also in recently or am I imagining that?

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to Toro for an excellent blog.

    Edit…bit of smugness from me in that I got the reverse hidden on first pass!

    1. Expat Chris also recalls 8d. It’s obviously a cynical attempt by Telegraph Towers to curry favour with Big Dave, who’s a Tottenham fan.

      1. Ahh I didn’t see what Expat Chris wrote before I commented. But I’m glad you mentioned the BD connection and Telegraph Towers. It actually popped into my head too.

        The power BD wields….

  4. I was pleased to complete Toughie, Cryptic and Quickie without hints but then deflated to see BD’s */** Toughie difficulty rating! Anyway it was fun while it lasted so thank you Giovanni and also Toro for being there in case of need.

  5. What a strange adaptation of ‘soupir’. Learned a new word. And that’s often the case with the Don.
    It took me a while to get it as I wrote Penelope in 15d. I saw somewhere sometimes something that said that this first name meant optimistic. I dread to think what my first name means.
    Anyway. I loved the wee doubt in 14d and the made up in 17d.
    Thanks to the Don and to Toro for the review.

  6. Whew!, that was a bit of a struggle for me today….had to use some of the hints to get a start, but then things started to fall into place. I thought 2d and 20a were good, but my favourite was 11a…… I always enjoy the medical clues. ***/*** today……three for difficulty as I had to use some of the hints. Thanks to setter and Toro for the hints…..couldn’t have managed without them.

  7. I’m quite pleased with myself finishing this correctly without any aids – Giovanni does like unusual and especially religious words which usually means I need a dictionary. I was not familiar with the meaning of “fly” in 5a and also 11a and 23a but managed to construct the words ok. I had only learnt the words in 8d and 16a because they had both appeared in recent crosswords.
    17d made me laugh when the penny dropped and I also liked the wee doubt
    For me – one of limited vocabulary – it would be a definite 2* puzzle for difficulty and also for enjoyment.

  8. 2*/3.5*, l believe. I quite enjoyed this, but would observe that there are 15 players in a rugby (union) side, so l do not quite see how 5a works. Still, ’tis but a minor quibble. 8d, l think, is my favourite – even though he also featured in Toughie 1388 only a few days ago. Thanks to Giovanni for the work-out, and to Toro for the review.

  9. We managed to have a pretty good stab at this one, which made a nice change. We had never heard of 15d but otherwise managed quite well. Thanks to Toro and to Giovanni for a Toughie we could enjoy.

  10. Top half easy but bottom half trickier and I needed hints.
    17a my favorite

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