Toughie 1437 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1437

Toughie No 1437 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment *

Giovanni offers us a Pangram today, though the combination of unusual words and ultra-loose definitions made it hard for me to enjoy this puzzle as much as I did last Friday’s. It took me a while to find all the answers, hence **** for difficulty, but for me this was difficulty for all the wrong reasons. I’m afraid the definitions didn’t ring my bell, and I can’t claim I fell off my chair laughing, hence from my perspective it’s * for enjoyment. I’m hoping there will be others who enjoy this more. Below you’ll find hints and tips for the wordplay, and I’ve also tried to add some clarification to some of the definitions.

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 Something wrong? Give therapy to three successive characters (6)
DEFECT: Three consecutive letters in the alphabet followed by the abbreviation for ElectroConvulsive Therapy

4a BBC man once broadcast item on Remembrance Sunday? (6)
WREATH: A homophone (broadcast) of the man who became DG of the BBC in 1927 gives us a ring of flowers used as a tribute, possibly on Remembrance Sunday.

8a Bit of a log that could be chopped up in Satanism (8)
MANTISSA: An anagram (that could be chopped up) of SATANISM gives us this fractional part of a logarithm

10a Rubbish provided by foreign friend? Cast it on to the floor (6)
TATAMI: A 3-letter palindromic word for rubbish followed by the French word for friend gives us a Japanese mat made from rice stalks.

11a Reluctant bunch, the last of such trailing behind (4)
LOTH: A 3-letter word for bunch, piece of land or fate, followed by (trailing behind) the last letter of (suc)H.

12a Common sense going by car – it keeps little woman independent (10)
AUTONOMOUS: A 4-letter word for common sense or intellect follows (going by) the 4-letter abbreviation for AUTOmobile, and contained inside all of this (it keeps) we have a two-letter abbreviation (little) of the woman’s name MAUREEN (nothing to do with Louisa May Alcott’s book “Little Women)

13a One Leeds gal’s fantastic soprano (2,3,7)
DE LOS ANGELES: Anagram (fantastic) of ONE LEEDS GAL’S gives the name of a Spanish soprano

ARVE Error: need id and provider

16a Giovanni came across half-hearted crowd, including writer hard to make out (12)
IMPENETRABLE: Replace Giovanni with a 1-letter personal pronoun, add a 3-letter verb meaning came across, followed by a 6 letter word for a disorderly crowd or mob from which one of the identical central letters is omitted (half-hearted), all surrounding (including) a 3-letter writing implement gives a word that can mean unyielding or hard to understand.

20a One settling in courtyard — or, for instance, a Paris street (4,1’5)
QUAI D’ORSAY: The Roman numeral for one is placed inside (settling in) a word for courtyard (remember we have a pangram), add OR from the clue and a 3-letter verb meaning for instance, to give us the street in Paris on the left bank where the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is located and many artists come to paint.

21a Filthy place by river (4)
STYX: A filthy place fit for pigs plus a letter denoting “by” as in “multiplied by” gives the mythological river that forms the boundary between earth and the underworld.

22a Broadcaster outside pub in need of a good meal? (6)
SKINNY: A popular satellite TV and Internet broadcasting company written around (outside) another word for pub

23a A kid’s off, having packed his fancy shirts (8)
DASHIKIS: Anagram (off) of A KID’S into which is inserted (having packed) an anagram (fancy) of HIS gives a word for colourful African shirts.

24a I had to get stuck into problem – not hard, going with the flow (6)
TIDING: Think ebb and flow. Take the contraction of I had, and insert (to get stuck into) into a word for problem (or obsession, or object) from which the letter H has been removed (not hard)

25a Devise home with provision for flow of air (6)
INVENT: The usual crossword-land word for home, plus a 4-letter word for opening or a provision for the flow of air


1d Fish escaped? There’s expression of annoyance about that (8)
DRAGONET: A 4-letter past participle meaning escaped or is no longer there (as with money after a night out), surrounded by (about that) a 4-letter expression of annoyance, giving us a tropical fish

2d Female with desire to appear in fur (5)
FITCH: The abbreviation of F(emale) plus a 4-letter word for a desire (the kind you want to scratch) gives us the fur of a polecat

3d Idiot fed to moggy a very cold food (7)
CASSATA: a 3-letter word for idiot or donkey is placed inside (fed to) our favourite kind of pet to give you an Italian type of ice-cream.

5d Membrane’s genuine but reinforced with metal (7)
RETINAL: 4-letter word for genuine surrounds a 3-letter metallic element to give an adjective meaning of the tissue at the back of the eye.

6d Plant needs a bit of music when invaded by nasty mites! (9)
ARTEMISIA: a word for a song in an opera (a bit of music) contains an anagram (nasty) of MITES

7d What you hear from bee and insect is something sweet (6)
HUMBUG: The sound a bee makes and a generic word for insect (or wiretap), gives a sweet that Scrooge precedes with Bah!

9d Provoked worker suffered anguish (11)
ANTAGONISED: a 3-letter social worker of the 6-legged variety followed by an 8-letter word for suffered anguish,

14d Having very strong views or nothing fixed? (9)
OPINIONED: The letter that most resembles zero or nothing, followed by an 8-letter word for fixed as in having restrained someone to the ground by holding their arms and legs.

15d DJ may be given this audible instruction to put on Hungarian composer (8)
PLAYLIST: This refers to a series of requests you might give to a DJ, though these days if you have your own you may not need a DJ at all. Split (4,4) this can be read as homophone (audible) of a request to put on (a record for example) anything by a famous Hungarian composer. Hope that makes sense.

17d Supporting Conservative, that poetic star (7)
PROCYON: 3-letter prefix mean supporting or for, the abbreviation for C(onservative), and a poetic version of that which is a short form of yonder, gives the brightest star in Canis Minor.

18d Message from tempter full of power – it has a bodily effect (7)
TRYPSIN: What a tempter might say to encourage you to attempt something wicked (3,3), surrounding (full of) the abbreviation for P(ower) gives you this digestive enzyme that, apparently, you can take as a supplement,

19d Rubbish film – sweet stuff (6)
JUNKET: 4-letter word for rubbish that could be another man’s treasure, followed by a favourite crossword-land movie by Spielberg, gives a sweetened and flavoured curds and cream mixture – also means a jolly by officials using public funds

21d Get hold of third-rate characters, as you might say? (5)
SEIZE: Homophone (as you might say) of a group of the third letter in the alphabet

The clue that raised a smile initially was 22a (…in need of a good meal), until I realised that many such people would likely be offended at the suggestion. Please let us know what you thought of this puzzle, and do let us know which clues you enjoyed most.

25 comments on “Toughie 1437

  1. I suppose it helps if you know the words which I did apart from 8a and with the checking/anagram letters there wasn’t much else it could have been. I knew the floor covering in 10a and had been reminded of it in a recently repeated Grand Designs episode. The shirt in 23a was in an Elgar Toughie I blogged and you don’t tend to forget stuff learned under scary circumstances.

    3*/3* for me. Thanks to G and D.

    1. yes, i’m unlikely to forget these additions to my vocab. Funnily enough, 8a I did know – I’m trying not to use the word obscurities since it’s subjective – just words I don’t know (yet)….

  2. That’s just gone in the round file! Too many obscure references to single one out on as the most arcane but 13a & 20a are up there. I know it’s a toughie but come on give a bloke a fighting chance.

  3. Gazza was right. I needed my BRB.

    Things I didn’t know. 1d, 20a and 23a. 2d was dragged from the memory banks and then checked. 16a was also bunged in but couldn’t work out the word play.

    Blimey that was difficult. I can’t give a rating yet as I’m just glad I’ve finished the thing.

    Many thanks to the Don and to Dutch for a wonderful and needed blog. Congratulations on the picture for 22a. Made me smile.

  4. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it! I had looked on the DT to see who the setter was before I started so I was definitely apprehensive, but answers started revealing themselves slowly. I needed to verify my answer with the BRB for a couple (10A, 18D, 23A). I did fall short with 13A, though I might have got that had I not put the non-existent Astimeria for 6D, so what I thought was the anagram fodder wasn’t working! Still, I’m very happy with my effort. My favorite is 8A, which I dragged up from the depths of grammar school memory. Thanks Giovanni and Dutch.

  5. Completed at last! Tough but *** for enjoyment. Thanks to the Don and to Dutch for the hints, which for once I did not need. Favourite has to be 19d – my late father’s favourite dessert!

  6. New words for me were 17d and 18d.
    Had to wear a 23a once for a Gabonese wedding. And for 10a, dad is black belt at Judo. I landed more than once on my back on one of those.
    Favourites today are the two homophones in 15d and 21d.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Dutch for the review.

  7. On the first read through I got quite a few answers including 20a which immediately lit up the ‘Pangram’ radar. Also 23a which (as CS said) I remembered from a previous crossword. The rest came slowly with the need to check some of the answers on Google as the wordplay couldn’t be anything else – so I have added quite a few new words to my vocabulary today.

    I have no particular stand out favourite but as I got 20a on the first read through – I’ll plump for that.

    Thanks to Giovanni for the puzzle and Dutch for his review (love the picture for 22a)

    I think I am blogging the Friday back pager this week – so I hope I have an easier ride than today.

        1. I see that now. Its my new tablet with tiny print combined with my duff eyesight

  8. I spent as long on the last few [19d,20d, 24a,25a] as on the rest of it, which was more or less a write-in. 15d raised a chuckle but otherwise not a barrel of laughs. Agree with you Dutch that some of the defs were a bit iffy -worst of all being 18d -but on the other hand how does one write a cryptic def for a digestive enzyme. Love your mandarinfish picture.

    Thanks for the blog and thanks to the Don for the puzzle.

  9. Seven new to me words , which I think a bit heavy in an already tough toughie.
    I had styr for 21a , which I had googled and it is an actual river. Drat !
    Clues I particularly were 1a, 7d, 15d, and 12a.
    Thanks Dutch and Giovanni.

  10. We’re with Expat Chris on this one and thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle. There were three words that were new to us, 1d, 17d and 23a but we were able to work them all out from the unambiguous wordplay and then check them in BRB. A technique that we find totally acceptable. It was not a quick solve for us and we seemed to take ages to get started but gained momentum once we had put in the 13a anagram. We had noted the possibility of a pangram in enough time for it to be useful in completing the SE corner. Much appreciated and enjoyed.
    Thanks Giovanni and Dutch

  11. A very pleasant and fairly gentle stroll with enjoyable word play, only slightly marred by a couple of obscure general knowledge answers. Many thanks to Giovanni and Dutch.

  12. Well, I struggled through without the hints but with a lot of recourse to Mr. Google – so much that it spoilt any real enjoyment.

    Hats off to those of you with superior knowledge and to Dutch for coping most ably with the blog.
    Thanks to DG – at least I tried!

  13. I have mixed feelings about this. I completed well within 2* time, but had recourse to the dictionary three times and a classical music website once (to confirm a guess). I suppose that means l should give it 3* for difficulty. As for enjoyment/satisfaction, l’m torn between 2* and 3*. I loved 9a – one of the non-everyday words l DIDN’T need to look up – but my favourite is 20a. Thanks to Giovanni for the test, and to Dutch for the review.

  14. Nice and easy start to the Toughie week. Never heard of 10 and 23 but they fell into the checking letters quite easily. Favourites were 13 [ wonder if she ever went to Leeds] and 15 which made me smile.

  15. I know, late on parade as usual…had to say, though, since I believe at least the blogger sees all comments, I thought this was tough but fair, if I hadn’t been away from my computer then I’d have probably given up, as it was I completed it solo. I love Giovanni’s puzzles because they are always, IMO, fairly clued. And I learned (or I hope I did) four new words!
    Oh of course, I logged on to say thank you Dutch for your work, I do like your style.

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