Toughie 1672 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1672

Toughie 1672 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


Hi everyone.  If Crypticsue’s comments over on the other side haven’t put you off, then welcome to today’s Tuesday Toughie Club, which comes to you once again from Surrey.  There’s still a tropical feel to things in this part of the world.  Next week I’m back up in town, then after that normal service is resumed.  (Or what passes for normal.)

Giovanni has supplied us with an educational crossword today.  This was a bit of a struggle for me, and I made good use of my reference materials.  I’m sure the setter would prefer you to battle through the wordplay, which admittedly isn’t too fiendish, but my recommendation is to cheat blithely and post-parse.  Your approach is entirely up to you, of course.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the 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.



8a    Gee – wonderful army’s beaten, suffering after conflict (4,3,8)
GULF WAR SYNDROME: A nice straightforward one to get us started: an anagram (beaten) of G[ee] WONDERFUL ARMY’S.  The answer’s even something you will have heard of.  Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security

9a    Physics unit within campus (3)
AMP: This unit of electrical current is hidden within the clue

10a    This writer long opposing high-ranking expert devoted to past era (11)
MEDIEVALIST: A charade in four parts: a personal pronoun the setter would use to refer to himself, long or be very eager (for), an abbreviation for the Latin meaning opposed to, and a term for high-ranking often applied to celebrities

11a    Nervous and unpleasant couples (two of them) swapping round (5)
ANTSY: Take a word meaning very unpleasant and swap the first two pairs of letters around (within themselves, not with each other).  If you have trouble thinking of the source word, maybe look at the next clue and then come back to this one …

12a    Troubled home leads to nasty chatter (2,3,4)
IN THE CART: The usual synonym for home followed by an anagram (nasty) of CHATTER leads to a slang phrase (hitherto unfamiliar to me) which has its origin in the practice of taking prisoners for punishment or to their execution in carts

15a    Bodily fold in stomach – an initial sign (7)
OMENTUM: An informal or childish word for stomach preceded by a sign or portent.  The answer is a fold of peritoneum connecting the stomach with other abdominal organs.  Not one to illustrate, you might think, but The Twisted ******* is an internet cartoonist/animator, so in fact, I’m spoilt for choice

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

17a    Fuss when there’s evidence of cats around fields (7)
MEADOWS: Fuss with audible evidence of cats around it.  Purr!  (But not purr!)

19a    Trees in lanes enthralling a fellow no end (9)
TAMARACKS: Lanes or rough trails around A from the clue and chap or guy without the final letter (no end).  I didn’t know these trees either

20a    Housemate gives call to attract attention, having returned in taxi (5)
COHAB: The reversal (having returned) of an attention-seeking shout inside a taxi generates a shortened form of a word (which I didn’t know could be shortened in this way) meaning one who lives with another

21a    Clouds in Britain most unusual (11)
NIMBOSTRATI: To find these rainclouds make an anagram of BRITAIN MOST

24a    Cruel person wasting good money (3)
ORE: An ugly or cruel person (or a lovable green cartoon character) without (wasting) G(ood) is a monetary unit of Denmark and Norway (øre), or of Sweden (öre)

25a    Member of religious sect coming out with ‘Pish!’ in cathedral (15)
CHRISTADELPHIAN: Form an anagram of PISH IN CATHEDRAL to find a member of a small millenarian Christian sect, founded in the USA in 1848, which bases its teaching and practice on literal interpretation of the Bible and holds that only the just will enter eternal life, that the wicked will be annihilated, and that the ignorant, the unconverted, and infants will not be raised from the dead.  My education continues …



1d    Escapes bicycle finally going into vehicle – what made cyclist go close? (10)
SLIPSTREAM: Escapes, then the final letter (finally) of bicycle inside a public electrically-powered vehicle

2d    Very wet politician with external influence (6)
SWAMPY: An honourable member inside influence or power

3d    Having arrived with idea half-formed, the German female revolutionised US corporation (7,3)
FREDDIE MAC: We need a word meaning arrived, half of ID(ea), a German definite article and F(emale).  All of this is reversed (revolutionised) to give the answer, which is the name by which the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC) is also known

4d    Rye you dumped in extra farm building (4)
BYRE: The first word of the clue without an old form of you (you dumped) inside a cricketing extra

5d    Celebrity hugging party host, a name on the up in capital city (8)
NDJAMENA: The word for a celebrity also features unmasked in the clue; it contains someone who spins discs, or the digital equivalent, and is followed by the reversal of A N(ame) to give an African capital

6d    Time off work, day off for spring festival (4)
HOLI: Some time off work, minus day (day off).  This Hindu spring festival, also known as the festival of colours or the festival of sharing love, is characterised by boisterous revelry.  Sounds great!

7d    Two similar groups interlocking to form musical ensemble (6)
SESTET: Take a three letter group and repeat it, but with the central letters swapped so they overlap or interlock

8d    Wild animal dung for manure Bill’s imported (7)
GUANACO: Some dung used for manure containing an abbreviation for bill.  This is a camelid native to South America, who I am pleased to meet

13d    Assesses the speed of fast movers offering holiday accommodation? (10)
TIMESHARES: Assesses the speed by using a stopwatch perhaps.  The fast movers are not tortoises.  The holiday accommodation is yours for a certain period

14d    Model taking a drug, explosive old girl (10)
APOTHEOSIS: A charade, a perfect example of its type.  A from the clue, one of the many names for cannabis, a couple of abbreviations: for high explosive and for old, then a female relation

16d    Hat sailor laid on bunk, having eaten nothing (8)
TARBOOSH: A sailor and a word for bunk or nonsense containing (having eaten) the letter which denotes zero.  This hat is similar to a fez.  I wasn’t familiar with the nonsense word, nor did I know the hat.  Furthermore, I made things even harder on myself by misreading the first word of the clue as hot!

18d    Cleric and theology graduate, each featured in tabloid (7)
SUBDEAN: A cleric below the head of the chapter of a cathedral or collegiate church.  Insert a theologian (not a doctor, but one with a first degree) and EC(ch) into a certain tabloid

19d    Keys to get contents of medicine cupboards (6)
TONICS: Think musically for the first definition.  The keys are of the first note of the scale.  The second may feature in medicine or drinks cabinets

20d    One of two eating oysters in a fish restaurant? (6)
CHIPPY: This is an eatery which serves fish and the form of potato which gives it its name.  For the first part you need to know your Lewis Carroll, and the slang term for the friend of the walrus

Click for more!

The Walrus and the Carpenter
By Lewis Carroll

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done —
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun.”

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead —
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
“If this were only cleared away,”
They said, “it would be grand!”

“If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
“Do you suppose,” the Walrus said,
“That they could get it clear?”
“I doubt it,” said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head —
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more —
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, 
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
“Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed —
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”

“But not on us!” the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
“After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!”
“The night is fine,” the Walrus said.
“Do you admire the view?

“It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf —
I’ve had to ask you twice!”

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said: 
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?”
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.


22d    Star in the first half of amazing events (4)
MIRA: The first half of some unbelievable events is also a red giant star (actually a red giant with a white dwarf companion) in the constellation of Cetus

23d    Bird in tree noted for its leaves overlooking lake (4)
TEAL: A tree whose dried leaves many of us like to infuse in hot water to make a drink followed by (overlooking, in a down clue) the abbreviation for lake


Thanks to Giovanni.  Predictably, I liked the evidence of cats in 17a, and I also ticked 11a, 2d and 23d.  Which clues did you mark?


A final bonus video for you:

65 comments on “Toughie 1672

  1. I had a proper fight with this one and didn’t think Giovanni’s wordplay was quite as helpful as he usually is when he uses obscure words so I’ll have to give it 5*/2* the latter mark being awarded because I was quite grumpy by the end, even though I did like 20d. I don’t often mark clues I don’t like but I’d have to select 4d for that dubious honour today.

    Thanks Giovanni (I think this should have been published on a Friday) and to Kitty too.

    An email to me this morning suggested that we form a raiding party to seek out and destroy Mr Manley’s Book of Obscure Words for Crossword Setters – anyone want to join us?

  2. I really enjoyed this, I have to say, mainly because the Don gives the best vocabulary in all of crosswordland, and I’m an enthusiast. Although I did know it vaguely, 4dn was a very stern test of even my word knowledge… likewise 19ac, which I got from wordplay, but only after agonising over the two more familiar plants beginning with those first five letters. Anyway, best Toughie of the last fortnight in my book!

    1. I too am a fan of lovely vocabulary and indeed knew most of the obscure words in this crossword – I just thought Mr M had made it more difficult than usual for us to use the clue to ferret out the words lurking at the back of our memory banks.

      1. Having looked over the puzzle once again, I guess it *could* be deemed a bit strong for a Tuesday. But perhaps the difficulty level will just ramp up through the week from here (to everyone else’s horror, and my own masochistic huzzahs)

          1. You’bve got to be cruel to yourself to be kind to yourself! I’m sorry everone else had such a bad time with this one though.

    2. Strangely enough, I didn’t have any problems at all with 4d, although I was glad of yesterday’s cricket terminology refresher.

  3. This may be a very well put together puzzle, but I don’t think it fits the category of newspaper crossword. I’m all for the odd new or difficult word but surely the ultimate test of a newspaper puzzle is that you can take it anywhere (on the bus, to the park or down the garden) and know the battle between you and the setter won’t require multi referrals to dictionary, smartphone or tablet to check if the answer suggested by the wordplay actually exists!
    I did complete this as I didn’t have to leave the house but I was left wondering for whose benefit was this puzzle compiled?
    I will still give thanks to Giovanni, but I just think this belongs elsewhere. Thanks to Kitty for the typically entertaining review and honest preamble. I didn’t think Tuesdays were supposed to be like this.

      1. You’re putting ‘Ug’ in front of your email address, which is sending your comments into moderation.

      2. It was one of the US institutions which were bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis, together with its rival, which is called (I think) Fanny May (no relation to our PM).

        1. Yes. I only knew (or vaguely retained in the depths of memory) 3d from it being in the news then. The other one is Fannie Mae, and I seem to recall that they were quite good sources of satirical comedy (which, if I’m honest, is probably the only reason I’ve remembered them).

  4. Well, sunshine has gone already and I’m not sure if these are 21a, but they look pretty threatening

    wasn’t hard to guess 17a would be kitty’s favourite
    I liked 23d once I recognised the leaves
    also 16 & 19d were satisfying (maybe because I knew the answers)

    Do you need “for manure” in 8d?

    does 11a need to be so complicated, since it’s just an anagram? I first thought we were swapping bridge partners twice (N to S, and S to N). With the review, I now realise the first two letters as well as the next two letters are swapped. Thanks kitty. Overly complicated, I say.

    Thanks also for 4d, where I was trying to add BY to R(y)E for some reason and not making sense of the word order

    I wasn’t keen on name in both clue and answer in 5d

    3d was my last one in, when I finally saw how to build it backwards – had never heard of this and about 5 other answers: the obscurity level was a tad high for my taste

    Many thanks Kitty for the excellent review, and thanks Giovanni for the education

    1. Without the swapping device, 11a would be an indirect anagram. (The word is in the clue, but it’s the next clue along!) There would be (even more!) howls of protest.

      I agree about the twice-named 5d.

      1. yes of course, I wasn’t intending to suggest an indirect anagram – you’d have to use nasty in the clue – but that would be too simple.

  5. I found this a real slog and rather tedious, I’m afraid. Even after working out what an answer might be from the wordplay I had, too often, to check it out in the BRB or via Google. I also had to consult someone who’s better read than I am to understand the oyster reference in 20d.
    I’ll nominate 16d as my favourite, purely because it’s one of the few ‘obscure’ words that I did know. Thanks to Giovanni and to Kitty for untangling it all.

    1. Apologies if it’s a dumb question, but do you get the filled-in grid and so ‘only’ (as if that’s a doddle…) have to hint it, or do you have to actually solve the thing as well? If it’s the latter, what happens if you can’t do it!?

      Respect to you and the other ‘blogger-superiors’, thanks.

      1. We solve. We have been known to collaborate. It has been a long time since I asked anybody though. I would namecheck whoever helped.

      2. As Miffypops has said – we have no prior knowledge of the answers to each puzzle – so they are approached the same way as any other member of the general public. I don’t know how the electronic version works but I would imagine it’s the same as the paper version.

        We all have the chance to ’email a friend’ for a hint / tip or indeed confirmation of the parsing. Come and join us LBR we’ll all help you find your feet. :yes:

        1. Good for you re the “phone a friend”.
          Here we have a saying:
          If you don’t need anything, ask me!

        2. Thanks SL. That’s impressive; I fear for the poor soul who has to decrypt tomorrow’s offering (let alone Kitty, today).

          Would love to join you :smile:

          Thanks again

      3. Not a dumb question at all, LBRoy. We solve like any other solver, and it’s the support network of other lovely bloggers that is the safety net without which I for one would never have had the courage to blog. It’s surprising how a deadline can focus the mind though.

        I think it’s a good thing that we solve “normally” but if I had a time machine the second thing I’d do with it is go and get advance copies of the puzzles. I like to take the time to produce something half-decent, but I’m also rather keen on sleep.

        1. Deadlines focus the mind but they do not allow time for edits and rewrites. As for not having the courage to blog Kitty, you didn’t even have the courage to ask to blog. Now look at you with an Elgar under your belt.

  6. I’m afraid to say that this was a bit of a slog and lacked a bit of sparkle. I’m always up for learning (and trying to remember) new words and I thank Giovanni for that over the years. I got there in the end with a little help from my trusty ‘Chambers Crossword Dictionary’ but if I’d done it in the pub with a beer I would have finished it not knowing if I was right or not.

    Sorry, I have no favourite clue today but thank you to Giovanni for the tussle (I think) and to Kitty for sticking with it to bring us her usual professional review – well done.

  7. Oh yes, it’s Giovanni time folks.
    A real mixture of straightforward and stinkers.
    Like Verlaine I struggled for ages with the other two trees for 19a, trying to find a lane without success, before solving it the correct way [from the wordplay]. 3d was a struggle because I assumed the german female must be “die” fitted around the I from 12a. Eventually the penny dropped once I realised it had to be freddie something [those US housing funds were in the news a while ago]. Totally unable to account for the oyster eaters in 20d so thanks to Kitty for the enlightenment.
    I thought 25a was the worst of the stinkers [coming out with pish – really!] But I did like 11a and 7d.

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Kitty for a particularly nicely illustrated blog.

  8. Pretty tough for a Tuesday – so much so that I decided my time limit was up and gave up trying to solve it properly after doing about two thirds.

    Thanks to Kitty (must have been a bit of a challenge to blog) and Giovanni

  9. This put me in mind of the comment made by No. 1 daughter to her English teacher, who was always criticising her spelling and telling her to use a dictionary. ‘How can I look it up when I don’t know how to spell it?’ asked the small girl.

    Quite happy to admit that there were, for me, a dozen or so unknown or only vaguely heard of answers today and that was enough to spoil the enjoyment. Mr. Google had to work overtime to help me out.
    From amongst the ones I did know, I would give podium places to 17a plus 13,20&23d. 20d provided the best penny-drop moment.

    Thanks to Giovanni, whose vocabulary astounds me, and to our Girl Tuesday for making sense of it all! I’ll pop back in later to catch up with the pics., vids. & poem.

  10. I found this to be everything I don’t like in a cryptic crossword. References to names/religion, endless obscurities, overly convoluted clues and absolutelty no fun at all to solve. I’m happy to learn a little something but there’s nothing in there that I find interesting or memorable. Very nearly gave up on this several times.

    *****/- For the first time ever.

    However, thanks to all as ever – especially Kitty; I think I would have lost the will to live!

  11. I gave up. If I can’t solve the majority of a puzzle with pure brain power, I refuse to resort to electronic cheating, there’s no fun in that for me.

    Well done to anybody who did complete it.

  12. It was the “Impossiblie” for me as I felt a bit like I was in the Isle of Man TT on a moped.
    It was educational, I guess but having had BD say Friday was tough Toughie day I think I’ll steer clear for the rest of this week.
    My respect to all who can sort this type of puzzle out and to the setter for testing their ability.
    To Kitty, thank you for the hints too many were sorely needed. Milky Way * for difficulty for me.

  13. Didn’t get anything passed 12 for the across clues and 8 for the downs apart from 20a which stood all alone in the bottom half until I had to look at the blog.
    Don’t think I could have done better really.
    Couldn’t even sort out the anagrams in 21 and 25a.
    Thanks to the Don and thanks a lot to Kitty for working everything out.

  14. Just for the record I knew all the vocab in this one except for the trees and the idiom at 12ac – both of which had very forgiving wordplay, I thought.

    A Tuesday slot may not have been right for it but I wouldn’t have thought Don M would have been sitting there cackling, thinking “those poor solvers won’t know what hit ’em with this impossible beast of a puzzle”. Certainly I don’t think this was anywhere near as hard as many recent Friday offerings!

    1. I imagined that was exactly what he was doing, but that’s doubtless sour grapes on my part!
      Strangely enough, 12a was one of the ones I did know.

    1. Oh dear, I’m in trouble too then… my ‘stupidly difficult’ pigeonhole is named after that setter! Last one took four days.

  15. 20a took us ages to sort out and was a roar of laughter when the penny eventually dropped. Our favourite without any doubt. Several that have already been mentioned where references were needed and we always have these close to hand when we tackle a Giovanni Toughie. We enjoyed it all.
    Thanks Giovanni and Kitty.

    1. You’re not antipodean for nothing. Your last clue was my first.
      By the way. Congrats to Liam Malone. Saw it live last night when I got home.

  16. Personally , I consider the inclusion of , in my case , 7 obscure words is a vice no setter should have without seeking suitable therapy.
    I liked 13d.
    My musical choice for 1d :
    A smallish thanks to Giovanni and a heartfelt one for Kitty.

    1. Thanks for the clip.
      Forgot that Van the man was young once.
      Doesn’t surprise me that MP likes him so much. He sounds a bit like Bob Dylan to me.

  17. Slog and tedious are the words that come to mind. I belong firmly in the camp of liking crosswords to use everyday words rather than obscure things. I did manage 4d without any difficulty though – an obscure word I have met in crosswords before and I do speak cricket. I think it was 4*/2* for me

  18. Very enjoyable blog, Kitty…
    Question…1a…why drop the “EE” from “GEE” for the anagram?? I can see no indicator as such.

      1. Thanks, another one for the memory banks…
        Having read all the comments, this sounded like a good one to avoid…

  19. Got there in the end, but needed 3 of Kitty’s hints. This was right at my service ceiling, so getting pretty close to 5* difficulty, but there was lots to enjoy therein. 16d was my favourite. Thanks to Giovanni, and to Kitty for getting me across the finishing line.

      1. No, the stubborn little b#gger is refusing to make an appearance & his dad (my eldest son) is a bag of nerves while my daughter-in-law is as cool as cucumber.

  20. Over the years, I’ve done a crossword while attending rehearsals of the HK Phil Chorus. I don’t think I’m being too immodest when I say that I have impressed my fellow choristers with my solving powers. Until it came to this one, that is. I was thoroughly undonned. Well, at least it has helped my Scrabble.

    CHIPPY is a thing of beauty. And there was I trying to stick ‘owl’ in it somewhere.

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