Toughie 1564

Toughie No 1564 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Toro

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***/****Enjoyment ***

A fairly challenging puzzle for a Tuesday with not too many easy “ins” apart from the fairly obvious clue down the spine of the grid. Strongly clued, as one would expect of a Giovanni, with a smattering of clues requiring general knowledge – also as expected.

I still can’t access the new site (sniff) so again won’t be able to respond to comments or make corrections. Thanks BD for posting on my behalf.


4a Very obscene beast running fast to grab daughter — gosh! (8)
HARDCORE A quick-running animal appropriate for the month around D(aughter) and a slightly less genteel version of gosh


8a Boyish girl wanting home in Rugby, maybe (6)
GAMINE Home or at home inside Rugby, chess or the like

9a Very small ruler confronting spy is a scamp (8)
VAGABOND V(ery) + an eastern ruler + a fictional spy

10a Grumble with energy, having missed a prayer session (8)
COMPLINE To grumble + E(nergy), but minus A

11a Uninhabited city — half of it destroyed, see (6)
LONELY Half of the name of a city (or the City district within it) + that handy see or diocese in Cambridgeshire

12a Long-contested site for development? PM joins argument (8)
HEATHROW A former Prime Minister + an argument or dispute

13a Dated order — only time must be limited (8)
OBSOLETE A New Year’s honour around only or solitary and T(ime)

16a Substance in body supporting rib (8)
PROTEASE Supporting or in favour of + to rib or kid

19a Ancestor transported food, according to Spooner (8)
FOREBEAR A soundalike of carried or transported food with the initial sounds swapped

21a Inconsistent agent keeping too much hidden (6)
SPOTTY Abbreviation meaning too much or excessive inside a secret agent

23a One with anticipation of endless enjoyment — traveller missing nothing (8)
FUTURIST Enjoyment or amusement minus the final letter + a traveller or holidaymaker minus O

24a Show eagerness maybe, making business transaction without one form of tax (8)
SALIVATE Roman numeral one + a form of tax, all inside a business transaction (from the supplier’s point of view)

25a Famous artist — there’s hesitation about his lack of colour (6)
RENOIR An expression of hesitation, reversed + a lack of colour, in the language of the artist in the solution


1d Volunteers shown disrespect? That’s forbidden (7)
TABOOED Former abbreviation for UK army reservists + shown disrespect by an audience or crowd

2d Provoker of controversy rising up, outwardly aloof (9)
DISPUTANT Aloof or detached, around UP reversed

3d Stranger more boozed up, losing head (6)
EERIER More boozed up or ale-filled, minus the first letter

4d Lack the ability to take the right steps, evidently! (4,3,4,4)
HAVE TWO LEFT FEET Cryptic definition of a phrase meaning to lack ability, with a pun on the word right

5d King, say, associated with top people who would support his supremacy? (8)
REGALIST Abbreviation for king or Rex + say or for example + top people or celebrities

6d Island’s copper coming down on outlawry (5)
CUBAN Chemical symbol for copper + outlawry or prohibition

7d Triangle struck to set off a fairy dance (7)
RINGLET Anagram of TRIANGLE minus A

14d Clumsy feller’s job (9)
LUMBERING Double definition: clumsy or troll-like, and what a tree-feller does

15d Rodent quietly hiding in islet upset horse (8)
CAPYBARA … the world’s biggest. Musical symbol for quietly or softly inside an islet, then a kind of horse, reversed


17d One who designed many a madonna and archangel (7)
RAPHAEL Two general knowledge clues in a double definition

18d Oriental garment, very large, with gold lining, housed by university (3-4)
MAO-SUIT Chemical symbol for gold around crosswordese abbreviation meaning very large, all inserted into a famous US university


20d Designation of sea in which sailor is slow (6)
RETARD …as a verb. A well-known sea around a sailor

22d Slim girl’s No.1 obsession (5)
THING Slim or lean + G(irl)

26a Notorious prisoner in loud tirade (8)
FLAGRANT A prisoner or con in-between the musical symbol for loud and a verbal tirade. (Not a word you would necessarily think of as meaning quite notorious, but it’s the first definition in Chambers)

No particular favourites for me this time, but an all-round pleasant solve. I found the left-hand side, especially the lower left, harder than the right.


  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t realise it was a Giovanni.
    Should have guessed really from the new words I learned like the Shakespearean fairy dance in 7d , the substance in 16a and the religious ref in 10a.
    Not forgetting the rodent in 15d along with the synonym of islet.
    Good laugh at 4a.
    Thanks to the Don and to Toro for the review.

  2. Expat Chris
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I think this is the very first time that I have guessed the toughie setter correctly. Sticking points for me were 2D, 10A and 16A. I eventually revealed the first letter of 2D and the answers then fell into place. A couple of new words, too,in 15D and 16A. Challenging but enjoyable. Thanks Giovanni and Toro.

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted March 8, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Chris. We assume you get your puzzles from the Telegraph Puzzles site and the setters are (usually) listed there. You don’t even need to be logged in.
      Sequence is The Knowledge – Inside Puzzles – Telegraph Toughie Compilers – 1400 onwards . Voila, the list is revealed.
      We seem to always appreciate a puzzle more when we know whose mind we are trying to get inside when we are solving.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted March 9, 2016 at 1:04 am | Permalink

        I know the pathway to the setter list and have used it before, but I have come to the conclusion that I really prefer not to know up front because it does impact my mindset, and not necessarily in a positive way.

    • Jane
      Posted March 8, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      One advantage of having access to the ‘paper’ version. The Toughie compilers all have their names printed above the puzzles.
      Shame it isn’t so with the back-pagers.

  3. dutch
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    A new religious reference and a broad biochemical definition – yep, Giovanni. I enjoyed this, I liked 22d (thin girl’s no 1), the russian-doll clue 18d (which i had to parse afterwards) and plenty more.

    Many thanks Giovanni and Toro

  4. halcyon
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Yep – very fair; very Giovanni. Very cornery grid and the SW corner was the most troublesome. Favourites were 12a [very topical] 25a [his lack of colour] and 18d [gold lining].

    Thanks to the Don and Toro.

  5. Kath
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I found this quite tricky but eventually finished apart from the 18d oriental garment.
    Didn’t know the 10a prayer session, that meaning of 7d or the 15d rodent. I’d never have got the rodent without the list of rodents in a thesaurus.
    Spent far too long trying to make 8a ‘tomboy’ which was never going to work and was generally not one of my better ideas.
    I liked 26a and 4d.
    With thanks to Giovanni and to Toro.

    • Una
      Posted March 8, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      I thought it was Tomboy too, for ages.

      • Jane
        Posted March 8, 2016 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        And another!

  6. Hanni
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I agree, typical Giovanni..inevitably fair and inevitably something you’ve never heard of before. Mine was the religious reference. Quite a few that were just bunged in, 18d being the main one, and just sort of hoped they were right. They were.

    Favourite is the really rather clever 12a but 22d gets a mention too.

    Many thanks to the Don and to Toro for great blog!

    Can’t wait for Jane’s explanation about 10a.

  7. Jane
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Invariably find the Don’s Toughies to be more of a slog than an enjoyment, particularly when one comes hard on the heels of a really fun back-pager like the one this morning. Having said that, he did manage to lighten up a little with 4a & 4d and I was only faced with one complete obscurity at 16a, a bit of guesswork over 18d and a previously unknown definition of 7d.
    He does like to include some little used variations of words – who on earth actually uses the word ‘disputant’ in everyday conversation other than perhaps a ‘legal eagle’
    15d should have occurred to me faster than it did – that particular rodent appeared in a recent MPP.
    10a was fine, given that I’ve been following Call the Midwife on TV. The nuns were always nipping off to compline. As for an alternative explanation, Hanni – I’m working along the lines of Complan. Remember the stuff? :smile:

    Thanks to DG for allowing me to achieve a full grid and thanks to Toro for the blog, although I’m a little sceptical about the clip for 25a – was it a TV series?

    • Hanni
      Posted March 8, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Compline/Complan. Yup like it. Think I’ve heard of the stuff before. :yes:

      The Fast Show was popular in the 90’s and spawned quite a few catchphrases and some unusual characters including Rowley Birkin QC!

    • Kitty
      Posted March 8, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the Fast Show was popular when I was at school. I have been known to quote that character too.

      Thanks to Toro for the 15d picture. I would like to be the rodent featured.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted March 8, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        Loved the fast show.
        Can’t remember the QC. Was he the one in the gentleman’s club talking a lot of rhubarb ending with quite quite drunk?

        • Hanni
          Posted March 8, 2016 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

          “The entire thing was made out of matchsticks, in the jungle…but I was very very drunk’ …that’s the one J-L

        • Kitty
          Posted March 8, 2016 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

          Yes, that’s him. I was going to post a clip, but most of them have been removed from YouTube by the BBC and those remaining are a bit meh. Or maybe that’s just my mood. Anyway, you know how to Google :) .

  8. Giovanni
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    For those not familiar with capybaras I recommend a trip to a zoo or wild life park. For instance, Kath could become acquainted with these creatures at Cotwold Wild Life Park near Burford. Compline is a nice way to finiah the day, though I confess I rarely attend it myself.

    • Hanni
      Posted March 8, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      I have a nine year old that is asking to go there, something to do with anacondas. Will look out for the 15d’s if we get there. Thanks for the puzzle.

  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Several bits of GK that we looked up for confirmation but we had vaguely heard of all of them and remnants were still in the back of our minds. A very satisfactory level of challenge and fun for us so much appreciated.
    Thanks Giovanni and Toro.
    PS Not sure if it is an oversight but the definitions do not seem to be underlined in the hints.

  10. elcid
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Tricky but much enjoyment. Finished all but 18d but after reading Toro’s hint a “doh” moment. Thanks to Toro and to The Don!

  11. Jon_S
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    The NE and SW corners (minus the rodent) fell pretty quickly, but the rest took an absolute age. A Toughie that lived up to its name!

  12. Wolfson Bear
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Strange how Giovanni tends to tell solvers where to go! Quite literally this time – a zoo. I wish he would visit another newspaper and educate them on exotic flora and fauna and the lesser know church services. Never my cup of tea but alas he is one of the regular Telegraph compilers.

    • Giovanni
      Posted March 9, 2016 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      If Wolfson Bear tells me which zoo he is in, I might even make a special trip — or of course I might steer well clear. Nice to be loved.

  13. Una
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    I remembered the prayer service and the enzyme , but only after a long teasing out process. I had to abandon royalist for 5d.I also have to look up that rodent every time.
    I can’t quite decide between 12a and 24a or possibly 18d as a favourite.
    Thanks Toro and Giovanni.

  14. Robin Newman
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    4*/3* for me.

    Thanks to Giovanni and Toro.

    Two small quibbles-(1) I cannot see why “small” is in the clue for 9A and (2) for 7D I cannot find this dance in any of my dictionaries(perhaps I should be possessed of the hard copy BRB, but I have checked with on line Chambers).

    • Gazza
      Posted March 9, 2016 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      9a The clue works without the ‘small’ but for the surface a word is needed between ‘Very’ and ‘ruler’ (otherwise it wouldn’t read well) and ‘small’ fits the bill. It just means a small version (i.e. abbreviation) of very.
      7d For ringlet the BRB has ‘a fairy dance in a ring’.

      • Robin Newman
        Posted March 9, 2016 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        9A-of course, small as an abbreviation of very-I was assuming it referred to the importance/size of the ruler !
        7D- Chambers on line has ” a circular pattern or formation, especially a fairy-ring”-I suppose I shall have to invest in the printed version.