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Toughie 1704

Toughie 1704 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hi everyone.  Some people are apparently making some choice or other today.  Over here in Toughieland, the only decisions to be made concern which letters fill which squares and why.  It’s a simpler, sweeter world. Today’s grid is filled with all the letters of the alphabet, some more than once, but never more than one to a square.  This isn’t York!

I didn’t find this too bad for unfamiliar words, but still struggled to get a foothold.  Because the grid has five little-connected parts, this difficulty was repeated four times.  My biggest problems were in the NE but eventually I squashed them, with 5a my last in.

It’s a puzzle full of charades, insertions and deletions, anagram-light and word-heavy. I seem to have followed suit by being more verbose than usual in my hints. There are a couple of support(er)s (but not the usual one) in the clues, and pairs too of nuisances and drunks (with an extra drink), and a trio of fellows.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the ***WARNING*** If you can see this (and you didn’t “Click Here!”) then your answers won’t be hidden. Click this link to reload the page. See the FAQs for further details. 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    Most gorgeous nuisance, drunk coming in (8)
PLUSHEST: Most sumptuous: a drunk goes inside (coming in) a nuisance

5a    Conservative in country gives one something to chew on (6)
CHICLE: An abbreviation for Conservative in a South American country gives us a natural gum made from the sap of the sapodilla tree.  This was the main ingredient of chewing gum before butadiene-based synthetic rubber (and doesn’t that just sound like something you want to put in your mouth?) took over

9a    In favour of, say, individual of yore (8)
FOREGONE: A charade of in favour of, say, and individual

10a    German state company concealing a sign of something wrong (6)
SAXONY: A Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation containing (concealing) the A from the clue and a symbol marking an error (or sometimes affection)

12a    Certainly not like a hotel properly organised (6)
LOATHE: This is an anagram (properly organised) of A HOTEL

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

13a    Funds being cut will need university worker in agreement (8)
PURSUANT: Taking a five letter word meaning funds and removing the final letter (being cut) then adding an abbreviation for university and a worker insect gives a legal term for in accordance with

15a    Junior boy at public school finishes last bits and pieces (3,4)
FAG ENDS: Start with a junior boy at public school (for tales of such, I recommend Stephen Fry’s Moab is my Washpot), add a synonym for finishes, and the bits and pieces will be in place

16a    A little nuisance flying round? (4)
FLEA: This blood-sucking parasite is certainly a little nuisance, but it is wingless and jumps rather than flies.  For the rest of the clue to make sense you have to know that the Flying **** or Pou-du-Ciel (Louse of the Sky) is the nickname of the Mignet HM.14 aircraft and its family.  I know that now

20a    Cuckoos disappear, wings moving away (4)
ANIS: Some birds of the cuckoo family are found by removing a letter from each end (wings moving away) of a word meaning disappear.  These cuckoos are not brood parasites but nest communally, and go drinking together in a club on Swallow Street, London. (Ok, maybe not that last part

21a    A social occasion receiving very little money up front (7)
ADVANCE: A from the clue and the kind of social occasion where people move in time with music containing (receiving) the abbreviation (little) of very

25a    I’d worry a tiny bit, being positive or negative in thought process (8)
IDEATION: I’D from the clue and a verb meaning worry [away at] followed by a charged particle (a tiny bit) which may be positive or negative.  I like the positive ones for reasons I have given before and will repeat: ()

26a    Path around front of garden, say (6)
ALLEGE: A French word for an avenue, walk or garden path (allée) around the initial letter (front) of garden

28a    Novelist and extreme characters left in taxi heading west (6)
BALZAC: The extreme characters of the English alphabet (other alphabets are available) and L(eft), both inside a taxi and all reversed (heading west)

29a    Turncoat who, across the Channel, gets support (8)
QUISLING: Another French word (across the Channel), this time for who, followed by a support for part of the body (not that one)

30a    Man perhaps heading off one day to get drunk (6)
SLEWED: Something which Man is an example of without its first letter (heading off) and an abbreviated day of the week gets us to a slang term for drunk

31a    Classical scholar is sitting with fellow in temporary accommodation (8)
HUMANIST: IS from the clue next to (sitting with) – in this case after – a fellow or chap, both inside a small building. In the Renaissance, this was a scholar of Greek and Roman literature



1d    Worthless talk from fine fellow coming into fortune (6)
PIFFLE: Construct this drivel from abbreviations for fine and fellow inside (coming into, rather similar to the coming in used in 1a) fortune (as in make a fortune).  Prefix with “Balderdash &” for a brilliant TV series and tie-in book.  (Well, I’m making assumptions about the book, having read only the intro of Jane’s copy when I was there, before putting it down and resuming the moderate quaffing of wine and chatting)

2d    As king once was falsely supposed to be, mostly ignorant (6)
UNREAD: I was helped here by having solved the back pager first.  The epithet applied to an old king of the English (Æthelred.  From Wikipedia: ‘”Unready” is a mistranslation of the Old English word unræd (meaning bad-counselled), a twist on his name “Æthelred”, meaning noble-counselled.  It should not be “unprepared”, but rather “ill-advised”‘) without its last letter (mostly)

3d    A lot of drink may get one rooting in the ground possibly (8)
HOGSHEAD: This large drinks container could also, split (3’1,4), possibly describe part of an animal rooting in the ground.  Firkin?  A little more than that, but not quite a butt.  Nicely evocative surface here which made me laugh.  I doubt the setter intended quite the image this brought to my mind

4d    Dynasty‘s anthem? (4)
SONG: One of the spellings of a Chinese dynasty is a word for an anthem.  I didn’t know this spelling of the dynasty.  (Okay, I admit it, I didn’t remember the other one (Sung) either, though I’ve surely heard of it)

6d    The fellow to come into view, one leaving vehicle (6)
HEARSE: A word meaning the man, and another meaning appear minus I (one leaving) lead us to a vehicle for someone late

7d    How 4 may be rendered, endless work needing supporter (8)
CHORALLY: How a 4d might be arranged, for many voices: put together most of the letters of (endless) an onerous task with a friend or supporter

8d    African agent, I spy leader going out a different way (8)
EGYPTIAN: An anagram (a different way) of AGENT I [s]PY (leader going out)

11d    One identifies the enemy casting a shadow (7)
SUNDIAL: A cryptic definition which is much easier when you remember what the enemy is in crosswordland (time).  It’s also easier if you have looked at the other crossword, for it’s there in clue 4a

14d    Powder beginning to disappear, dissolving in small amount of water (7)
DEWDROP: POWDER and the first letter of (beginning to) Disappear anagrammed (dissolving)

17d    Percussion instruments spoil this person’s party – hard to forget (8)
MARIMBAS: Spoil, three letters, and “this person is” followed by a four letter party without H(ard)

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

18d    Person facing charge in story about lovely lady? (8)
LIBELLEE: A fiction around a feminine beauty … who has been defamed

19d    Northern town erected excellent institution for democracy (8)
ECCLESIA: Start with a Northern town (taken as the name of one of our very own Rookies now he’s fully fledged and in The Independent).  Add the reversal (erected, in a down clue) of two letters denoting excellent.  A popular assembly, especially that of ancient Athens

22d    Hull may have this street with dissolute character (6)
STRAKE: It’s a line of planking or plating in a ship, running the length of the hull.  An abbreviation for street and a degenerate

23d    Earth goddess comes with little sign (6)
GEMINI: The personification of Earth in Greek mythology (a less usual variant of her name, but one I do now remember from crosswords past) and a word for small together make a zodiacal sign

24d    Women’s crew showing power (6)
WEIGHT: W(omen) is next to a rowing crew

27d    Charm in martial art? It’s lacking (4)
JUJU: A martial art without (lacking) its from the centre is a West African charm


Thanks to Giovanni, for the education and for the work-out.  My favourite is 3d, obviously.  Which clue(s) would you root for?


31 comments on “Toughie 1704

  1. Thanks to Giovanni and to Kitty for the very entertaining and informative blog. Top clues for me were 12a and 29a. Well done on finding the little aircraft for 16a – I’d assumed it was just a reversal of A + elf.

  2. After criticising Giovanni for his previous two Tuesday Toughie’s, I have to say that this puzzle is a vast improvement. The difficulty (or not) derives from the ingenuity of the wordplay and not ,as before, from the obscurity of the vocabulary; so credit where credit’s due to the setter for an enjoyable Tuesday solve. Thanks also to Kitty for a typically entertaining blog which was the normal barrel of laughs.

  3. I am nowhere near finishing this – it is a particularly unhelpful grid! Will try and find time for another go later

    Thanks to Kitty and Giovanni

  4. i’m struggling too – I managed NW, a few in SE then nada – so i started looking at kitty’s blog for a few hints to keep me going – well done kitty for managing to do this. i’ll keep trying for a bit, but i’m sorely tempted just to read the hints – life’s too short.

    1. Dutch, I had to rescue you from moderation. I’m guessing you made your comment without being signed in (as the clever BD worked out, that’s the root of that particular problem). It’s ok – I like feeling useful.

      1. i didn’t used to have to be signed in – but nothing is nicer than being rescued from moderation by you kitty.

      2. I have been commenting on this site for years … I have never signed in.

        How does one sign in and why should one sign in?

        1. BD explained it yesterday, here. It’s only a problem for those who can be logged in but aren’t. I haven’t been affected because I use a different email address for commenting (which I do so that I can chop and change my avatar while keeping the one that sits atop my blogs constant).

    2. ok, did a few more but then threw in the towel and looked at kitty’s amazing hints. I’m impressed, kitty.

      i don’t know if i’m having a bad day or not, but it’s pretty unusual for me to give up on a toughie – i think that i did not enjoy the synonym search game.

      i can’t imagine anyone complaining this wasn’t hard enough – well done giovanni, and well done Kitty!

      i’m going to have a look at the back-pager now in an attempt to restore some self-belief

      1. I agree Dutch. I did just over half, but wasn’t enjoying it enough – sorry Don and full credit to Kitty for blogging it…

  5. Apologies for the slight delay posting the blog. I had some trouble logging in. In the absence of evidence otherwise, I shall say it was a full half an hour’s worth of trouble. :whistle:

  6. I thought this was difficult but all Toughies are difficult to me.
    I failed on 31a and there were, for me anyway, quite a few new words.
    As I looked up 5a I thought, “Don’t be silly, Kath” but blow me down there it was.
    I made a right royal pig’s ear of 1a – my answer was ‘prettiest’ which I did manage to justify but I’m not admitting how. :roll:
    I particularly liked 28 and 29a.
    With thanks to Giovanni and to Kitty, and well done too. :rose:

  7. We enjoyed this one. A few words that had us reaching for BRB such as the birds in 20a but we were always looking in the right place for confirmation after working out the probable answer from wordplay. We had parsed 16a in the same way as Gazza, well done on researching the alternative Kitty. A nice level of challenge and enjoyable to solve.
    Thanks Giovanni and Kitty.

  8. Way too hard for me, but I did enjoy some of the clues. 29a was my first in.
    Thanks to Kitty for the great hints and to Giovanni.

  9. Excuses for absence have been registered on the other side, Kitty. I’ve just made a start on this one but so far only have the NW corner sorted out. Will perservate for a while!

    Sorry – you’ll probably have to rescue me. The site seems to mistrust me just as much as my PC mistrusts the site!

  10. I thought this was a very good puzzle, a solid challenge with many classical flourishes… where I ran aground in the NE for a while before finally rallying and making it over the finish line. Many thanks to the splendid Giovanni and of course the delightful Kitty.

  11. I think that the ‘person facing charge’ in 18 down would be a libeller, not a libellee – if indeed the latter word exists. I’m not very impressed.

    1. I don’t agree.
      Surely the person bringing the charge would be the libeller and the person accused i.e. the person facing the charge would be the answer. I do confess that I’ve never heard of either.

  12. Failed on 11d as I wrote ” persuant” in 13a.
    Only saw my mistake after giving up and reading the blog.
    Took Kitty’s advice and had the BRB at hand and needed to check no less than 7 plausible answers from the parsing.
    Didn’t find 25a though but remembered it from other crosswords.
    Didn’t need to check the French writer in 20a but the parsing brought me to Bazlac at first which made me laugh. Think I am really getting dyslexic sometimes.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Kitty for the very thorough and informative review.

    1. Yes, Jean-Loo – Ethelred, with a sundial. And pangram is what I meant when I said, “Today’s grid is filled with all the letters of the alphabet.” Sometimes I use different words just to make sure you’re paying attention. :)

      1. Sorry Kitty,
        I had such a long day at work that my brain is totally mashed up.
        Just ignore me.
        As Kitty played by Patricia Routledge once said: I speak as I find.

        1. I would reply to you to say that it’s totally fine. My own brain is rather mashed up too (after a short night’s sleep as well as, I fear, in general). But you’ve asked me to ignore you, so I won’t. :)

          1. Didn’t mean it literally of course.
            Don’t ignore me but I allow you to ignore anything stupid I might say now or in the future.
            Found that footage and for once I did get it right:

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