Toughie 1477

Toughie No 1477 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Toro

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

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

How on earth I failed to guess this was a Giovanni I do not know! Perhaps I was too busy enjoying some very deft cluemanship to notice the Judaeo-Christian references piling up. Quite challenging for a Tuesday puzzle too, I thought, or was it just that failing to spot that there was an anagram in one corner held me up. Let's hear what you think.

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.


1a Christian caught on the microphone (4)
COPT Soundalike of caught.

3a Two perhaps yet further up the scale of insensitivity (4,6)
EVEN NUMBER The solution could be read as meaning still more desensitised.

9a Square symbolically seen here (4)
NINE A square whose numeric representation is loitering close by...

10a Drug addict half gone, say -- unfortunate fellow preying on youngster? (5,5)
SUGAR DADDY Anagram of DRUG ADD(ict) SAY. (More symbiosis than predator-prey, surely?)

11a Flashy females one spots outside? (7)
RAFFISH F(emale) + F(emale) + Roman numeral one, all inside an outbreak of spots.

13a Simple fare, see -- duck sacrificed to be consumed by heathen god (3,4)
BAR MEAL Location of the Holy See in Catholicism minus the letter for duck, inside a Biblical false god.

14a It could be Oxbridge bag (11)
PORTMANTEAU A travelling bag is also a word coined by fusing two others, as in Oxbridge.

18a Cain? Possibly him (5,6)
THIRD PERSON A grammatical category exemplified by the pronoun him, and a potential description of Cain in Biblical lore .

21a Bumptious official, poor speller given a word of contempt (4-3)
POOH-BAH A notoriously poor speller in classic children's fiction + an exclamation of contempt.

22a A short ordeal involving America or some other country (7)
AUSTRIA Abbreviation of the States inside A + an ordeal or tribulation minus the last letter.

23a Famous person among group of workers in charge of nerve centre (10)
GANGLIONIC Word for a famous person (e.g. an author) inserted between a group of labourers and I(n) C(harge).

24a Singular bigwig who may look down on those deemed inferior? (4)
SNOB S(ingular) + a bigwig.

25a Jean maybe stealing (10)
TROUSERING A word for stealing or pocketing, and part of a garment that might be made of jean or denim.

26a Good listener? Unusually good (4)
GEAR G(ood) + the listening organ. (An easy clue for an obscure piece of antiquated slang.)


1d Mischievous tricks conveyed by hypocrisy with tears (8)
CANTRIPS Hypocrisy or sanctimonious talk + tears or rends.

2d A pro in long dress (8)
PINAFORE A + pro or in favour of, all inside a verb meaning to long.

4d Bear witness giving very short cry of pain (5)
VOUCH V(ery) plus an exclamation of pain.

5d Article taken in arrest registered as food (4,5)
NAAN BREAD Indefinite article inside a word meaning to arrest or collar, then registered or detected.

6d Appear in rags maybe around university, as one unwillingly constrained (5,6)
UNDER DURESS To wear clothing that is too informal around U(niversity).

7d Former enemy of Good Eng.? A beast! (6)
BADGER Taking Eng. to mean England, an equivalent (if rather crude) way of referring to its principal WWII enemy.

8d Revolutionary soldiers rising kill folk in privileged family (6)
ROYALS One of those abbreviations for soldiers, reversed, and followed by a verb meaning to kill, also reversed.

12d Difficult month as bill is put aside for future consideration (2,9)

15d Fellow human being from which no rough sound is heard (9)
NEIGHBOUR A regional word for no + a rough pronunciation of the letter r in some dialects, both in soundalike form.

16d Sitting on mountains, Parisian is cut off (8)
ESTRANGE French for is + a group of mountains.

17d Contrary Scot Roy managed to undermine a new US city (3,5)
ANN ARBOR Outlaw ___ Roy McGregor + managed or administered, all reversed (contrary) and placed under A N(ew).

19d Soldier turning up in place of entertainment gets a plug (6)
SPIGOT US soldier, reversed, inside a place of entertainment or night-time hangout.

20d Island that has suffered in need of love (6)
BORNEO Suffered or endured + love in tennis.

22d Something sung, last bit of hymn, following church regarded as heretical (5)
ARIAN Opera song + hym(N).


Uniformly strong clues and plausible surfaces that I enjoyed solving. Perhaps a special mention for the 'drug addict' fodder in 10a - a nice spot. Top half went in very fast but the lower half was a different matter, and anagram-blindness at 12d deprived me of much-needed checkers in the SW corner.

Sorry for the lack of visuals (which time does not permit) but do please share your thoughts.

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


  1. Gilbert
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I took the sound in 15d to be ‘burr’.

    • Toro
      Posted October 6, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      It is

      • Stone Lee
        Posted October 6, 2015 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        Interesting as I read it as the sound of ‘no rough’ with the rough referring to a rough edge in metal. (same word)

        • Toro
          Posted October 7, 2015 at 1:39 am | Permalink

          I really think it has to be ‘no’ (=nay) ‘rough sound’ (=burr) ‘is heard’ (=soundalike indicator).

          I can’t find any dictionary correspondence between ‘rough’ and ‘burr’ meaning a rough edge of metal, and anyway that would leave ‘sound is heard’ as a nounal soundalike indicator, which I don’t think the Ximenean Don would countenance!

          For ‘rough sound’=burr, here’s the Oxford Dictionary online definition of burr: “A rough pronunciation of the letter r, especially with a uvular trill as in a Northumberland accent”

    • dutch
      Posted October 6, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      ah, I was wondering…

  2. Stone Lee
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I found this really hard to get started but eventually got going in the SE corner and then worked West and North. Unlike Toro my second in was 12d (after 17d). Favourites were 3a and 18a (obvious when you see them but….). 1d and 23a were new to me but the clues led you there. 10a least favourite – had to get the answer and then work out why. Still not sure about 7d having seen the explanation. Overall *** – ****, thanks to setter and Toro.

  3. Hanni
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink


    Gosh. My head wasn’t ready for this Toughie.

    It went to **** difficulty as I couldn’t parse 13a. In fact without the blog I’d have been non the wiser this time tomorrow. 22d had to be dragged from the memory banks. 21a was new and therefore bunged in and checked later.

    Like Toro I too suffered from anagram blindness, (it’s a real thing) for 12d.

    Some lovely clues. Can’t name a favourite.

    Many thanks to the Don and to Toro for blogging.

  4. Shropshirelad
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Yeah – I’ll join the club on 12d. As they say ‘sometimes you can’t see the wood etc’…….. Anyway, thought that this was an unusually difficult puzzle for a Tuesday (not that I’m complaining) but also a well crafted one with lots of good clues and head scratching. Haven’t come across the religious group in 1a before, not sure that I would have associated lion with famous person and I can’t remember the last time I heard 26a used in that context – but all good fun.

    Thanks to Giovanni for the workout and Toro for the review.

  5. Outnumbered
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I don’t usually bother with Giovanni toughies as I find the religious content to be overdone… But I had spare time today so had a bash anyway. ****/*** for me, needed the hint for 7d so thanks Toro for that.

  6. dutch
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m not very good at the religious references, and there were new words or meanings for me in 1a / 1d / 11a / 22d / 26a, although they all look fairly innocent. Despite that, NW was first ( and NE last).

    Proud to be a member of the anagram blindness in 12d – took me ages before I saw it – amazing really – in hindsight….. and now it’s one of my favourite clues.

    I also really liked 3a (two) and 25a (Jean).

    Many thanks toro and Giovanni – good challenge.

  7. Kath
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I don’t very often try Giovanni Toughies – I have enough trouble with his Friday back page crosswords.
    Anyway, pouring with rain on and off all day so had a go – all went surprisingly well until I got to the bottom right corner where it all went very wrong, and I ran out of time.
    Looking at the ones I couldn’t do now I can’t see why I couldn’t do them, but I couldn’t.
    I still don’t get 17d – I know I’m being dim . . .
    I liked 11 and 14a.
    With thanks to Giovanni and to Toro.

  8. JB
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Did not like 15d at all and missed the Holy See in 13a, just thought it fitted. Didn’t realise Giovanni had a reputation for religious references. I had no problem with them , apart of course for 13a.
    1a. was my 1st in and 18a. soon followed. Does anyone know why he does it? A vicar perhaps?

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted October 6, 2015 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      This may answer your question

      • JB
        Posted October 6, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. Not the background I expected. I’d have looked for Downside not a Bristol science degree. Shows a nice range of interests. Between you and me I’d rather field questions on religion than physics or biochemistry!

        • Posted October 6, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          Don was at Bristol one year behind me, but he read Physics while I read Maths so we never met.

          • Hanni
            Posted October 6, 2015 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

            Interesting coincidence! And for you to both end up a huge part of the cruciverbalist world.

            Off to the quiz now where we have neither physicists or mathematicians. Lots of engineers and chemists mind. And they’ll all barmy.

            • Shropshirelad
              Posted October 6, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

              There’s nothing wrong with engineers I’ll have you know

            • Hanni
              Posted October 6, 2015 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

              Sister and BiL are Chem Eng…obsessed with heat exchangers.

              Friends that are chemists…obsessed with organic stuff.

              Engineers…oh boy. Question at the quiz, “How many pods are there on the London Eye?”

              Instead of listening to those of us that have lived in London they start sketching schematics! Who does that? It’s verging on scary if Brunel ever comes up. Barmy. But lovable.

              • Expat Chris
                Posted October 6, 2015 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

                I work with Civil Engineers every day. I know exactly what you mean. Not at all sure about the lovable bit though.

                • Hanni
                  Posted October 6, 2015 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

                  You have my sympathies Chris.

              • Shropshirelad
                Posted October 6, 2015 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

                There are 32 pods but are numbered 1 – 33 (missing out No 13). I am at present working out the total cubic capacity of each pod based on my schematics……..

                I will be back.

                • Hanni
                  Posted October 6, 2015 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

                  I bet it’s all in miniscule handwriting too. With elaborate indecipherable diagrams.

                • Shropshirelad
                  Posted October 6, 2015 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

                  That would be 79.3312 cubic metres per pod each carrying a maximum load of 25 persons……. I’m off to bed now

                  • Hanni
                    Posted October 6, 2015 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

                    Ok that’s quite impressive. No max weight calculations? Still impressive mind.

                    • Shropshirelad
                      Posted October 6, 2015 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

                      Isn’t Google wonderful

          • jean-luc cheval
            Posted October 6, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

            And I have a feeling you regret you ever did.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Got a bit held up by 5d as I thought the first word was “neat”: Net around a, and couldn’t parse 13a.
    Liked 10a and 6d the most.
    I never know who the Tuesday setter is and wasn’t surprised to find out it came from the Don.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Toro for the review.

  10. Kitty
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    I started this having seen Toro’s difficulty rating, and was prepared to come unstuck. So I was amazed when I didn’t have too much trouble with the majority of this. The north all came together well (I did have to look up 1d to verify the word). However, I had to have a sneaky peek at a few hints in the nether regions.

    I’m happy to say I didn’t have any trouble with 12d – but there are quite a few I did struggle with, so can’t be smug.

    Didn’t know pooh-bah. Quite relieved that wasn’t the soundalike clue! I would have been able to construct 23a in the unlikely event that lion had come to mind for the famous person. I thought of the right answer for 25a early on but couldn’t quiiite reconcile it with the first definition. Similarly, I couldn’t see how 26a’s answer fitted the def. Down-wise, 15d defeated me, as did 17d and 22d. Oh well, never mind.

    Thanks to Giovanni and Toro.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    17d was our last one in. One of us worked out from the wordplay what it could possibly be, but it sounded most unlikely. Luckily the other team member had heard of the place so it all came together nicely. Our other new word for the day was 1d but again unambiguous wordplay helped and then a BRB check. We really enjoyed this one.
    Thanks Giovanni and Toro.

  12. Jane
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear – new words at 1& 23a plus 1d and had to consult with Mr. Google about 17&22d, so a good 4* for difficulty and probably a 3* for enjoyment.
    Liked the surface read of 12d but not over keen on 7d.
    Top spots for 3&18a.

    Thanks to DG and also to Toro for the explanations, although I confess to being a bit uneasy about the interpretation of the second part of 12d!

  13. Heinz
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    ****/** no trouble at all with 12d it was just the rest of the crossword that had me foxed.
    I really felt that I was punching above my weight.

  14. Expat Chris
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    I did complete this without hints, but the NE corner put up a fight. I did need to verify some new words, but the cluing was fair….except for perhaps 14A. I had the answer, but no way I would have worked it out without the hint. Also thought 19D was a tap rather than a plug. Well that’s what we call taps over here. 17D was no problem, but 9A was my D’Oh moment. All in all, I enjoyed the tussle, so thanks to Giovanni and to Toro for the review.

  15. andy
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    13a was my bung in and hope, Thanks to Toro and the Don

  16. Salty Dog
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Certainly 4* difficulty, and l’m afraid l needed 4 hints to complete. Lots of very good clues, of which my favourite is the very simple 9a, but 5d and 18a are also worthy of a mention. Thanks to Giovanni, and to Toro.

  17. Chris
    Posted October 7, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Re burr and rough – though not pertinent to this puzzle, one has to ‘take off the burr’ after cutting a piece of metal. Iin Wikipedia:

    ‘A burr is a raised edge or small piece of material remaining attached to a workpiece after a modification process.’

    Not really a rough edge though.

    As for the crossword – started off without a single entry written in – then saw ‘Nine’ – that led to Cantrips (not that I had ever heard of that) and I was off on as set of superb misleading but perfectly fair clues. Loved the two being (an) even number as well. I auditioned to be Pooh Bah at school – didn’t get the role though! Ended up in the chorus.

  18. Posted October 8, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    We’ve got a bit behind but for the record would like to throw in our interpretation of 15d. We heard nay + bore (rough sound = rough water, as you get on the Severn)