Toughie 1636

Toughie 1636 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Greetings from London Town where your Kitty is enjoying good food, good drink and good company.  Unlike ShropshireLad’s cottage our accommodation has internet, enabling me to bring you a review as normal.  It is my pleasure.

This offering from Giovanni seemed very friendly to begin with, but had a sting in the tail.  Still, with only a few little bits that were new to me, I wonder if my rating this week might be a little high. 

The definitions are underlined in the clues below.  The answers are hidden under the Error 404: answer not found boxes.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all.

Do leave a comment telling us how you found it and what you thought.



1a    Get angry when you see that is being such an animal exterminator (3-7)
RAT-CATCHER: We kick off with a clue that was a bit tricky to parse and even more so to hint.  One to be solved from the definition and then examined.  When the abbreviation for that is contains – or acts as a [second word] of – the first word of the answer, the result is a word meaning angry

6a    Any number taken in by wicked gang (4)
BAND: The letter which is frequently used to stand for any number in algebra inside wicked

9a    No amateur toff leading soldiers, one held to be a forefather (10)
PROGENITOR: No amateur (the very opposite) and then an upper class chap and some soldiers, with the Roman numeral one inside (one held)

10a    Contest that has millions excited (4)
WARM: A hostile contest and then the letter for millions.  Quite excited, but things could get more heated

12a    Sport  a flower in the north (4)
WEAR: The first definition here is a verb; the second relies on flower having its crosswordy meaning of something that flows

13a    Wand perhaps giving deceptive appearance (5,4)
FALSE DAWN: A backwards anagram: the first word of the answer could signify that the second is to be anagrammed to produce WAND

15a    Good manners in group game suffering setback – get reticent about that (8)
COURTESY: A group and the two letter abbreviation for a game played by men with funny shaped balls all reversed; around this, a word meaning reticent or modest

16a    Conspicuous church plate on middle of altar (6)
PATENT: A church plate (the plate used to hold the bread during the Eucharist) followed by the middle letter of altar.  I’m pretty sure that the convention is that A on B means BA not AB, so I spent a while trying to find a solution that began with T

18a    See leader dance, having drunk his rum (6)
BISHOP: A nice definition.  Dance (noun or verb) containing (having drunk) an anagram (rum) of HIS

20a    One helping animal needing to get round by foreign river (2-6)
DO-GOODER: One helping, or at least intending to help.  The animal is not a cat and is followed by the round letter and a river in Central Europe

23a    For new set-up, it’s a dream colour (9)
DRAMATISE: An anagram, lavishly indicated by “for new set-up,” of IT’S A DREAM. Embellish or exaggerate, as a storyteller might

24a    Sport to make a profit – pounds coming in (4)
PLAY: Sport appears for the second time as a definition but this time it means leisure or recreation.  (Or if you like, it’s a verb: to romp or frolic.)  Make a profit (in the way crime is said not to) with the letter for pounds inserted (coming in)

26a    Very short story brought back for screen (4)
VEIL: The abbreviation (short) of very and then the reversal (brought back) of a piece of fiction presented as fact

27a    Soldier upset by gory moment (10)
MONTGOMERY: The soldier is an anagram (upset) of GORY MOMENT




28a    Jelly set about establishing one form of music (4)
RAGA: A jelly-like substance obtained from seaweed reversed (set about) is a traditional Hindu musical form

29a    To get race trophy involves torture still (5,5)
TRACK EVENT: The abbreviation for Tourist Trophy contains (involves) a torture device and flat or level



1d    Bad, being stranded? (4)
ROPY: Bad or iffy.  The answer as an adjective could imply being made up of strands

2d    Versed in books no end? You must get hold of that American author (7)
THOREAU: Start with a four letter word meaning versed in books (usually preceded by well-) and dock its final letter (no end).  This is the “that” which “you” must get hold of: an old-fashioned word for you contains it.  The author wrote Walden

3d    Ex-President right and judicious or diverging from normality? (12)
ABERRATIONAL: A charade of the shortened first name of the sixteenth president of the USA, R(ight) and judicious or reasonable

4d    Most important shift, EEC becoming something else (8)
CHIEFEST: The letters in SHIFT EEC are anagrammed (becoming something else)

5d    Painting displayed in the Louvre’s season shows Parisian star (6)
ÉTOILE: A French season containing a type of painting gives the French word for star

7d    A servant collects an allowance for looking after children? (7)
APANAGE: A, from the clue, and a boy attendant contains (collects) AN, also from the clue. I didn’t know this word: it’s a grant (by a sovereign or a legislative body) of resources to maintain a dependent member of a ruling family

8d    Rulers cheat, endlessly threatening society (10)
DOMINATORS: Cheat or con, then all but the last letter (endlessly) of a word meaning threatening (MINATORY), tailed by S(ociety)

11d    Change takes bit of time in tricky atmosphere (12)
METAMORPHOSE: A small bit of time inside an anagram (tricky) of ATMOSPHERE


14d    Awkward drives around country – one moves through water (5,5)
SCUBA DIVER: An anagram (awkward) of DRIVES surrounding (around) a Caribbean island nation

17d    Doctor keeps strange times, creating row at home (8)
DOMESTIC: One of our favourite doctors contains (keeps) an anagram (strange) of TIMES


19d    Thus a man on board may get very wet (7)
SOAKING: A two letter word meaning thus, A from the clue and a chessman

21d    Great shot has you almost mute at first (7)
DEADEYE: We’ve had an old-fashioned word for your, and now we have one for you.  Before this (at first) is almost all of a verb meaning mute or muffle

22d    Meticulousness of person working on ship being reported (6)
RIGOUR: This word for meticulousness or exactness sounds like (being reported) one who works putting up sails or masts on a ship

25d    Some tacky attempt to make money abroad (4)
KYAT: Lurking in the clue is the currency of Myanmar


Thanks to Giovanni.  My favourite clue today is 13a.  I also very much liked 1a and 18a.  Which clue(s) did you have a soft spot for?



  1. beery hiker

    A curious mixture of the straightforward and the obscure, but the obscure stuff is clued fairly enough so no complaints. 7d was unfamiliar to me, as was 25d. Liked 13a and 29a.

    Thanks to Kitty and Giovanni

  2. jean-luc cheval

    Was held up by 20a as I wanted the animal to be a cow and ended up with a co-worder which means absolutely nothing.
    Thanks to Kitty for putting it straight.
    Favourite was also 13a along with 14d.
    Thanks to the Don.

  3. dutch

    The top left half went in much quicker than the bottom right.

    I enjoyed 18a (see leader dance, having drunk his rum) and I liked 13a (wand perhaps).

    Took me a long time to see the soldier, then as soon as I did 22d was the last one in.

    1a confused me – many thanks for the correct parsing kitty. On reading the review I realised I’d bunged in the American author without parsing, so thanks for that too.

    I didn’t know threatening, the child allowance or the currency, but all could be fairly deduced.

    Thanks Kitty for the usual fun of the Tuesday club and thank you Giovanni

  4. Jane

    Giovanni on a Tuesday – sometimes life just isn’t fair……..
    Almost completed the grid with the exception of 10a which earned a ‘yuck’ from me and 8d because I’d never heard of the word for threatening.
    Had to ask Mr. G about the music, the allowance, the church plate and the currency.
    1a was bunged in from the definition – had to rely on Kitty for the parsing. Well done that girl!
    18a was my favourite with a smile for 17d.

    Thanks to DG for the brain strain and to our Tuesday girl for taking time out of her hols to bring us the review. Loved the clip of the emerging butterfly.

  5. Verlaine

    I actually found this much harder than any other Toughie in recent memory that wasn’t a deliberately arduous Friday job. Some very unfriendly vocabulary, plus count me as another held up by trying to force CO-WORKER or similar into 20a. Eventually in exasperation I threw in 1a and 2d unparsed and came here for the full explanations, for which many thanks Kitty. And Giovanni too of course! My favourite was 16a just for reminding me of beating Josie Long in a game of public Boggle at a Latitude festival years ago with PATE, PATEN, PATENS being among my words. I won a stuffed pterodactyl for clearly being the best Boggle player in the audience, which I proceeded to lose after getting very, very drunk. Story of my life.

  6. LetterboxRoy

    I found this one quite taxing, lots of hesitant ‘guess and check’-ing. The filling of 8d is new to me, as is 9a, 21d & 2d.

    I still don’t really get 1a, 13a is about as far as my mind will bend!

    11d I think could have been improved as ‘tricky’ is a give-away indicator when ‘awkward’ or ‘bad’ would have worked better with ‘atmosphere’. Enjoyable all the same.

    Didn’t think 4d was a proper word – ‘most important’ is just the first five letters of the answer isn’t it? Does anyone fancy looking up ‘paramountest’ or ‘ultimatest’ (or ‘worstest’ for that matter)?

    Anyway, I’m with Kitty on the ratings front. Thanks to all as ever.

      • Verlaine

        I’ve seen “chiefest”, odd though it seems, used many a time in the English corpus. Though I couldn’t swear that it’s ever used outside of the Bible.

  7. JB

    This was an absolute stinker! Are we sure today isn’t Friday? I still cannot make head or tail of the parsing of 1 a. Care to have another try at explaining it? I am overcome with admiration for anyone who managed to finish this – and that includes, of course, Kitty.

    • Kitty

      Hi, JB. When you see IE (that is) being a rat catcher (catching, or containing RAT) you get IRATE.

      Is that a bit clearer? The trouble with hints is that you don’t want to give everything away – at the same time, you do want to explain things fully. Trying to give both a hint and an explanation in the same place can be a delicate balance.

  8. Expat Chris

    I thought this was very tricky indeed in places. I failed to solve 7D, 8D and the second word of 13A (couldn’t get flag out of my mind). I did not like 4D one bit and I didn’t warm to 10A either. On the plus side, I enjoyed 18A and 26A. Thanks Giovanni, and thanks to Kitty, especially for the parsing of 1A.

  9. KiwiColin

    Parsing 1a, 5d and then 13a were the last pieces to sort out in this one. A couple of new words in 7d and 25d. Eventually it all came together and by my timing you did get the ratings right Kitty. I enjoyed it.
    Thanks Giovanni and Kitty.

  10. Gazza

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Kitty for the very entertaining blog. My chiefest problem was with 16a which, like Kitty, I presumed had to start with a T.

    • Jane

      Hi Gazza, finally – score one for those of us who still think that’s a somewhat ridiculous convention. No problems here with 16a – once I’d asked Mr. G about the church plate!

  11. Kath

    Wow – and Kitty was doubting her 3* difficulty – at least a 4* for me so well done to her for untangling it all.
    There are still a few that I don’t get but that’s just me being dim.
    My main problem was that my 20a animal was a ‘cow’.
    I enjoyed this one but it makes me wonder what the rest of the Toughie week is going to be like.
    Oh dear – back later to see what others have made of this one.
    In the meantime thanks to Giovanni and yet again a big :yahoo: and a :rose: for Kitty.

    • Kitty

      Giving it 3* doesn’t mean I found it easy, Kath! Just that I find others more difficult. I think overall this took me about average time/cogitation for a Toughie, but as you know, it’s hard to gauge when blogging. I should also add – though I hope you know – that you are far from dim.

      Anyway, thanks for my flower – I shall put it into a vase. :yahoo:

  12. Jon_S

    I found this slow to get into, then reasonably accessible for quite a while, and slow to finish. The SE corner held out until the end, though looking back a few could be put down to late night weariness. Some very nicely disguised definitions, 23ac being my favourite. Not what I was expecting from a Tuesday Toughie, though entertaining all the same.

  13. hoofityoudonkey

    Many thanks for the hints Kitty 🐱, great explanations.
    I still have no idea what 1a is all about!!
    Hope you are enjoying London’s lovely weather!!


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