Toughie 1573 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1573

Toughie No 1573 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Petitjean is one of my favourite setters and I really enjoyed this puzzle. Usually I’d whinge about the number of anagrams (10) but the whole thing is so enjoyable that I’ll keep quiet about that today. There were two words that were new to me but both were gettable from the wordplay.

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.

Across Clues

7a I crave first taste of southern fried offal (7)
VISCERA – an anagram (fried) of I CRAVE and S(outhern).

8a Checking old lecher is unwell — what you might expect with fish soup (7)
ROUILLE – an adjective meaning unwell has to go inside (checking, in the sense of stopping or interrupting) an old word for a lecher. I didn’t know this word for a Provençal sauce often served with bouillabaisse.

10a Breakwater in sound is coniferous barrier (3,7)
SEA DEFENCE – split the answer 5,5 and it sounds like a coniferous (i.e. having seed-bearing cones) barrier.

11a Rag trade’s missing out in recovery (4)
CURE – start with a posh word for the rag trade (often preceded by haute) and take away the ‘out’.

12a Art lover — he’s Tate mad and English (8)
AESTHETE – an anagram (mad) of HE’S TATE followed by an abbreviation for English.

14a Cover a second replacement for alternative in 21 (6)
ENCASE – the answer to 21d has its ‘alternative’ replaced by A and the abbreviation for second.

15a Saving face, Neil Innes sat out, surplus to requirements (11)
INESSENTIAL – an anagram (out) of [n]EIL INNES SAT.

19a Bitter zealots surrounding European chamber (6)
CAMERA – the acronym of the organisation that’s passionate about proper bitter contains the single-letter abbreviation for European. I love ‘bitter zealots’.

20a Approach open river (8)
OVERTURE – charade of an adjective meaning open or unconcealed and the name of a river in North Yorkshire.

22a About to hold drink (4)
CHUG – an abbreviation meaning about is followed by a verb to hold or clasp.

23a Tail off dace and eels cooked over half heat (2-8)
DE-ESCALATE – an anagram (cooked) of DACE and EELS contains half of the word heat.

25a Flipping nuisance nets northern game fish (7)
GURNARD – an informal word for a nuisance or tedious experience contains N(orthern) and the abbreviation for the 15-a-side game. All that has to be reversed (flipping). I didn’t know this bottom-dwelling fish but it sounds quite interesting. It has six finger-like appendages which it uses to explore the bottom of the sea for food, which make it look as though it’s walking along the bottom.

26a Pair set out for long tiring walk (7)
TRAIPSE – an anagram (out, for the second time) of PAIR SET.

Down Clues

1d Japanese worship refurbished wide screens showing lots of old lines (7)
WIZENED – an anagram (refurbished) of WIDE contains (screens) a type of Japanese worship. Nice surface, albeit the wordplay is a bit Yoda-like.

2d It could be ‘Fatty’ is hurtful (4)
ACID – when preceded by fatty this is something which may be essential to our diet.

3d Flirt? Not only appalling flirt but heart of steel too (6)
TRIFLE – an anagram (appalling) of FLIRT is followed by the letter at the heart of steel.

4d It’s clear flawed hero’s in the money (8)
COHERENT – insert an anagram (flawed) of HERO into the name of a monetary unit in many countries.

5d Magic   broomstick? (10)
WITCHCRAFT – double definition, the second a cryptic definition (5,5) of a broomstick.

6d Dealer in stocks? (7)
FLORIST – cryptic definition. These stocks are not shares or investments.

9d Inexpert engineer pounded lever endlessly (11)
UNDEVELOPED – an anagram (engineer) of POUNDED LEVE[r].

13d Perhaps Thomas Brown gets terribly keen about drink (4,6)
TANK ENGINE – a verb (or noun) meaning brown is followed by an anagram (terribly) of KEEN containing an alcoholic drink. I really wanted to include a picture of Thomas Waldrom, star of the mighty Exeter Chiefs, who uses the answer as his nickname but I reluctantly decided that it would be a bit too ‘niche’.

16d Of regular quality, and advanced in more ways than one? (8)
STANDARD – insert AND and A(dvanced) into two different ways or routes.

17d One in seven workers is retiring (7)
BASHFUL – double definition, the first being the name of a small miner. Heigh-ho!

18d Somewhat dry and lacking in sophistication? (7)
BRUTISH – cryptically this could describe a somewhat dry wine.

21d More demanded from Poulenc or Elgar (6)
ENCORE – hidden in the clue.

24d Great North Road in both directions a safe destination (4)
LAIR – what looks like the designation of the Great North Road (running from London to Edinburgh) goes inside opposite directions.

There were lots of clues I liked, including 1d, 13d and 16d, but I’m presenting today’s hot cross bun to 19a. Which one(s) had you salivating?



42 comments on “Toughie 1573

  1. This is the kind of puzzle I like. Lots of fun with witty cluing, stiff enough to satisfy but still manageable.

    I particularly liked the bitter zealots in 19a, as well as 14a, 13d and 17d.

    Had to look a few things up. Needed help to understand the stocks part of 6d and I hadn’t come across 25a before. I found things considerably harder in the north.

    Many thanks to PJ for the brilliant puzzle, and to Gazza for the review which I shall read now.

  2. Wow – great puzzle! Like Kitty, I found the top harder – very quickly got stuck there and had to solve SW first then SE. Last ones in were 4d (I was misled by the naughty lack of an apostrophe in heros – was it different in the paper?), then got the crossing 8a (brilliantly clued definition!) and eventually worked out the old lines in 1d. I was just about to say that I hadn’t yet parsed Great North Road, but penny dropped as I comment – that seems to happen a lot to me.

    Plenty of fun, especially Tom Brown and the broomstick. A master of disguise, e.g. took me a while to find the right fodder in 23a (Tail off dace and eels..). My favourite has to be the bitter zealots in 19a – but there was loads to enjoy. Many thanks Petitjean! and thanks Gazza as always

    1. “Hero’s” comes complete with apostrophe in my printed copy from the website but I’ve just checked the interactive version and I see that it’s missing there.

  3. by the way, I think that today’s Guardian by Philistine is a great solve as well (though it has a couple of lift-and-separates)

    1. Jean-Luc may enjoy 7d in the Philistine in the Guardian?

      Wonder if it’s on the menu at Le Jardin? Maybe too French?

  4. by the way, I found today’s Guardian by Philistine a great solve as well (though it has a couple of lift-and-separates)

  5. Printed last night and couldn’t put it down as I enjoyed every minute of it.
    Finished this morning 🕗 as I was still missing a couple in the SE.
    Remembered the real ale zealots from last year and “chug” from Dutch at the weekend.
    First thought that the homophone in 10 was Cedar. Glad that Gazza explained.
    Remembered the fish in 25a.
    18d was my last one. Took a while for the penny to drop.
    Favourite 16d.
    Thanks to Petitjean and to Gazza.

    1. It is cedar! sorry missed that Gazza – I went the seed way first cringing all the way until I realised it was cedar.

      1. You (and Jean-Luc) could be right but the answer sounds more like ‘seedy fence’ to me than ‘cedar fence’ (because I do pronounce the letter R in cedar). If PJ meant cedar wouldn’t he have clued it as ‘conifer barrier’? I hope that PJ looks in to tell us what he intended.

        1. Yes, I just thought many things have seeds that aren’t conifers
          and cedar as an adjective – a cedar fence – fence made of cedar – a coniferous barrier – a barrier made out of conifer. but would be good if PJ dropped in.

          1. I’m about 50:50 on it now. If only ‘cedar fence’ sounded more like the answer I’d be with you all the way.

      2. I just thought it was seed fence and persuaded myself that I’d read the term in a gardening book.

    2. I’ve only just spotted this thread – it didn’t occur to me that it was anything other than ‘cedar’. Now I don’t know . . .

  6. Another lovely solve and not too ‘mad’…that or I’m just getting PJ’s wavelength.

    Certainly no complaints about the amount of anagrams from me. 21d was bunged in as I missed the hidden but for ages and it took me such a long time to figure out why 11a was correct.

    Really stuck as to which is my favourite clue but at a push I would go for 12a but 19a is pretty exceptional too.

    Many thanks to PJ and to Gazza for a great blog.

  7. Loved it – two out of two so far this week – things are looking up on the Toughie front – my success rate, I mean, not the standard of the crosswords.
    Missed the anagram indicator in 7a so that one and 1 and 2d were my last answers.
    Lots of these made me laugh, especially 18d as I’m an absolute sucker for anything ending in ‘ish – don’t know why.
    I needed the hints to understand 11 and 14a.
    I liked most of them but particularly 10 and 19a and 5, 6 and 17d. My favourite was, as I’ve already said, 18d.
    With thanks to Petitjean and to gazza.

  8. Absolutely lovely puzzle – a joy from beginning to end. Nothing to add as it’s all been said in previous comments. I take my hat off to you sir (my slightly mad hat that is).

    Thanks to Petitjean for the puzzle and smiles and to Gazza for a splendid review.

  9. Home now so able to comment at last.

    Hero’s has the apostrophe in the paper version.

    I knew Gazza’s two unknowns – I expect Jean-Luc uses both in his fish stew.

    Splendid stuff thanks PJ and Gazza.

    Fans of a good tussle with Elgar will enjoy his IO in the FT

    1. On a scale of 1 to much of a tussle is it? I do like his puzzles quite a lot. But if you say it’s a tussle it could be really tough.

      1. Its definitely a tussle but several laugh out loud moments. See how far you can get and then turn to the explanations on fifteen squared

    2. Absolutly.
      We serve Rouille with our Octopus stew or Daube de Poulpe as we call it.
      We use the Rouget Grondin in Bouillabaisse also. Too many small bones for my liking.

        1. Glad to hear it – but how is “Rouile” pronounced?

          Answers on a carte-postale, s’il vous plaît?

          1. Roo – as in Kanga’s baby in Winnie the Pooh and eeee is as close as I can get. It’s Rouille – two L’s not one and very yummy on toasted French bread with a decent bouillabaisse, preferably home made.
            Sorry about the lack of the carte-postale . . .

  10. Another boozy lunch today but can’t pass up a PJ toughie. And tough it was! Really struggled with the NW corner owing to delays in twigging either the anagram at 7a or the Japanese worship in 1d. But lots of trademark chuckles, the best of which was the zealots of 19a closely followed by 5d and 23a [tail off]. Not impressed by 10a which is either a rotten homophone or a rotten synonym for seedy.

    Thanks to PJ and to Gazza for the blog [?No Bonzos clip at 15a?]

  11. I just hate it when work interferes with my crossword solving. I had 3 clues to go when I got slammed at just after 8 AM with “Gotta have this today” projects. So I’m just getting back to this before the next wave hits. The three I had left (1D, 2D and 7A) sadly remained unsolved. I worked out 7A and 2D from the hints, but was left in the dark on 1D so had to take a look. I don’t think I would ever have worked that one out. So much to love here…11A, 5D, 13D and 17D all got two thumbs up from me. Also in the running were 19A and 24D. 8A and 25A were new words but solvable. Many thanks to Petitjean and Gazza.

  12. Fell at the last few hurdles and needed Gazza’s assistance to sort out 8a (new one for me), 11a and 1d.
    Thoroughly enjoyed it though – always do with a PJ – and have plenty of ticks to acknowledge. – 10,14&19a plus 5,6,13&17d.
    Without a shadow of a doubt, the laurel wreath goes to 10a – my contender for clue of the year thus far.

    Many thanks PJ and gratitude to Gazza for the helping hand.

  13. My first attempt at a Toughie was rewarded with a bit of a struggle, and four clues for which I needed Gazza’s helping hand. Altogether an enjoyable if chastening experience after the backpager (which was actually inside the back page). Ah well, back to the iPad tomorrow so no Toughie. Thanks PJ and Gazza for digging me out of a modest hole.

  14. I thought there were some great clues in this puzzle. 12, 13 and 19 were outstanding. Also 25 which was last in after much cogitation. I had not heard of 8 but it was obvious from the clue.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Sheepskully.
      It’s a problem which some (but by no means all) people are experiencing. BD is investigating it.

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