Toughie 1554

Toughie No 1554 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Bufo

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This was a typical Giovanni puzzle with some straightforward clues and some unfamiliar words.

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1a    Trading establishments with wages about right in one part of England (10)
SHROPSHIRE: Trading establishments (where you buy things) and wages go round R (right) to give an English county on the Welsh border

6a    Badger meeting a snake (4)
NAGA: ‘To badger (as some people do to their spouses) + A = a snake, especially the cobra

9a    Delightful leader emerging outside Eastern place providing base (10)
DEPLORABLE: ‘Delightful’ with the first letter removed round E (Eastern) PL (place) = ‘base’ or ‘hopelessly bad’

10a    Youngster makes confused sound endlessly (4)
BABE: A very young child = a confused sound (from a Biblical reference) with the last letter removed

12a    Market price being announced (4)
FAIR: A homophone of the price you pay to travel on public transport

13a    Keen wind almost getting to sing (9)
TRENCHANT: Wind with the last letter removed + ‘to sing’

15a    We had to go round passageway squinting (4-4)
WALL-EYED: An abbreviated version of ‘we have’ round a passageway. Not a term that I’ve heard before

16a    Mechanical device turns around, expending energy (6)
STATOR: A reversal of ‘turns around’ with E (energy) removed

18a    It’s mean putting chum to test (6)
PALTRY: A chum + ‘to test’

20a    Animal wanting ground to keep soft (8)
TERRAPIN: A turtle = ground round P (soft)

23a    Sparkle as American chap in central part (9)
CORUSCATE: American and a chap inside a central part

24a    Soup component cook rarely uses (4)
OKRA: Hidden in coOK RArely

26a    Bird that’s poorly hiding head (4)
RAIL: A water bird = ‘poorly’ with the first letter removed

27a    Girl knocked over, having been hemmed in by close cow (10)
INTIMIDATE: A reversal of a girl’s name (2) inside ‘close’ = ‘to cow’

28a    With time passing, great number sound regretful (4)
SIGH: Remove T (time) from a great number

29a    Man soon set out to be skilled worker (10)
STONEMASON: An anagram (out) of MAN SOON SET


1d    Hebrew character unhappy over Exile primarily (4)
SADE: A letter of the Hebrew alphabet = ‘unhappy’ + E (first letter of Exile)

2d    Artist needing help, a troubled painter (7)
RAPHAEL: A 2-letter abbreviation denoting ‘artist’ + an anagram (troubled) of HELP A gives the name of a famous artist

3d    Owner given support tries altering outside of residence, somewhat cut off (12)
PROPRIETRESS: A female owner = a support + an anagram (altering) of TRIES round an abbreviated form of ‘residence’

4d    More enthusiastic Italian standing up is grabbed by one in the audience (8)
HEARTIER: A reversal of IT (Italian) inside someone in the audience

5d    Group of soldiers willingly supplying help to the poor (6)
RELIEF: A regiment in the Army + ‘willingly’

7d    Man in garden, worker for firm (7)
ADAMANT: A man in the Garden of Eden + a worker insect

8d    An undertaking to clad home in glass (10)
AVENTURINE: A + an undertaking round IN (home) = a Venetian glass

11d    Rioters come on the rampage, blocking entrance to reactor — such violence? (12)
ECOTERRORISM: An anagram (on the rampage) of RIOTERS COME round R (first letter of Reactor) = possible violence by greens

14d    Character among thieves finds devices for entering rooms maybe (5,5)
SWIPE CARDS: A character (comical person) round ‘thieves’ (as a verb)

17d    Good essayist enthralled by female follower of philosopher (8)
HEGELIAN: G + the pen name of Charles Lamb inside a female

19d    Roman god looks down on monarch having fun (7)
LARKING: A Roman god + a monarch

21d    Prohibition-buster has drinks provided outside gates (7)
PORTALS: The 2-letter name of an American gangster who busted prohibition goes inside fortified wines

22d    Permit gets vehicle free from all charges (6)
CARNET: A motor vehicle + ‘free of all charges’

25d    Bird in number crossing river (4)
TERN: A 2-digit number goes round R (river)

I’ve had to be quick today because I have other things to do


  1. Gazza
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if I was the only one to write [c]ROOK in for 26a, only to have to backtrack when the answer to 19d became apparent.
    Thanks to Giovanni and Bufo.

    • stanXYZ
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Geez, mate!

      You’re not alone … but I still haven’t solved 19d – thanks for the hint!

    • pommers
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Me too Gazza.

  2. Jane
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Well outside of my pay grade, hence little enjoyment (my fault, not Giovanni’s!).
    Things I didn’t know included the snake, mechanical device, Hebrew character, venetian glass, essayist’s pen name, supporter of philosopher and the permit. 23a was dredged up from the depths and I’m still not sure about the ‘wind’ in 13a – can someone help with that – please?
    The ones I did know were 15a and the two birds!

    Sorry, DG – I’m not averse to looking up new words but it’s very hard when you can’t even see a starting point!
    Many thanks to the busy Bufo whose hints helped with the ones I couldn’t begin to fathom.

    • Jane
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Don’t know what happened there! Tried to edit my comment to add that, with regard to 15a – I only knew it as a term that was used of my Mum’s sheepdog who had one blue and one brown eye. Nothing to do with a squint!

      Umm – undefined? I’ll have to think about that one…….oh no I won’t – I’ve suddenly been defined!

    • andy
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Jane the word trend can be used to describe for example a river that winds of bends in a certain direction if that helps. The river Nene trends eastwards from Peterborough to The Wash

      • Jane
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Andy – another one for memory bank!

  3. Hanni
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink


    New definitions aplenty today, although as always with Giovanni, it was fair. OK new ones are 6a, 15a, 23a (I think although it sort of rang a bell) and 22d.

    I had to double check 1d too, must remember my Hebrew alphabet. It took me ages to spot the hidden in 24a and 26a was an utter guess.

    Even though I didn’t know the definition…and it’s a snake, 6a gets the favourite award.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to Bufo for blogging,

  4. jean-luc cheval
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Totally forgot that CS told us it was Giovanni today.
    And only realised when solving 23a.
    Got a bit help up in the SE corner as I penciled in “patent” in 22d but couldn’t parse it.
    10a was last in.
    Nice mention to SL.
    Thanks to the Don and to Bufo for the review.

  5. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    The Hebrew letter in 1d was the only word that was totally new to us but we did check a couple of other words just to make sure we had our meanings correct. 9a was our last one in. It took us a while to sort out a word that fitted a definition and the checkers and once that was done, more time on sorting out the wordplay. A satisfying level of difficulty and a pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Giovanni and Bufo.

  6. Wolfson Bear
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Failed to get the snake. Even when trying to cheat it did not appear as an option – just maja apparently a type of boa but could not fit the maj bit to badger. A 4* difficulty for me but 1* fun. Not a setter I enjoy in back page or toughie form. Alas RayT, a long standing favourite of mine, opted for his soft mode today on the back page and without the usual RayT cheeky sparkle

    Tomorrow is another day – will start with the Toughie and hope it is a stinker

    • Hanni
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      Oh please don’t say that…do we know who the setter is? I think online solvers get told. It seems like we a due an Elgar.

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Ugh. I needed the hints for 6A, 23A, 8D, 17D and 22D and they were all words I’ve never heard of. I had the core and US in 23A but cat for chap? Really? In the jazz world, maybe. Typical Giovanni …peppered with obscure words that up the frustration level and drop the enjoyment level to zero. Appreciate the blog, Bufo (although I always mentally increase your difficulty rating by one).

    • Jane
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      At least it would seem that you knew 16a, Chris – that makes you one up on me!

      • Expat Chris
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t, but that one I was able to work out and verify on Google.