Toughie 1720 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1720

Toughie 1720 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Kitty

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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment **


Hi all, from a murky grey Surrey.  I hope you are well.

Those of you who think you know what to expect from today’s puzzle given the name of the compiler … are right.  This is one to give pleasure to Manley lovers.  For me it was quite a tussle.  Sometimes it can be fun to fight with a crossword, but I have to admit I was not in the mood today.  I struggled so that you don’t have to: I hope that my hints are useful should you need or wish to use them.  Pictures are cancelled due to fog.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the none 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    Somehow stop  illegal incentive (4)
BUNG: A double definition: to stop the flow by blocking, or a bribe

3a    Symbolic guitar played in quintet (10)
FIGURATIVE: Put an anagram (played) of GUITAR inside the number of a quintet

8a    Emotional shock about retrogressive times in London’s place of death (6)
TYBURN: An old-fashioned word for an emotional shock around the reversal of a two letter word that can mean times (in a multiplicative sense).  The principal site for execution of London’s criminals in times past.  These days we give our criminals honours and positions of high office instead

9a    Dreadful, in the manner of king of an ancient dynasty (8)
ALARMING: A charade of “in the manner of” (1,2), an abbreviation for king and an ancient Chinese dynasty

10a    Civilised state of affairs with big town keeping order (6)
COMITY: A big town containing (keeping) the abbreviation of an honour

11a    We hear gentleman point the finger at NY city (8)
SYRACUSE: A homophone (we hear) of both a gentleman’s title and a verb to bring a charge against

12a    Experience involves sailor joining men, any number, to be this? (8)
SEABORNE: Start with three letters meaning experience, as in the experience the world.  Into these insert a usual crosswordland sailor, some usual crosswordland men and the mathematical “any number”

14a    Grazing land river destroyed, making one tense (4)
PAST: Take some grazing land and remove from the end a three letter North Yorkshire river.  The tense is not perfect, much like most things

16a    Colour of tin with unknown content (4)
CYAN: A container contains a mathematical unknown

18a    Publicity about French physicist being indulgent type (8)
PAMPERER: Two letters which mean publicity surround the French physicist who gave his name to the SI unit of electrical current

19a    King Charles, dog held to be superior? (8)
CLASSIER: Not cavalier.  The regnal cipher of King Charles contains the fictional dog you would most like to encounter if you were stuck in a well.  (Although, come to think of it, you’d probably prefer a real one)

20a    Lodge army next to railroad (6)
HOSTEL: A great number (army) is followed by an elevated railroad which the dictionary says is US informal but in these parts is pure crosswordese

21a    Country abandoned ultimately – sail from shore to reach island (8)
DJIBOUTI: Sail to this African country thus: take the final letter (ultimately) of abandoned then add a sail, the direction you’d be going if you were heading away from the shore, and I(sland)

22a    Primate repeated expression of agreement (3-3)
AYE-AYE: This lemur with an extended middle finger (for digging out grubs, not to signal dissent) is formed of two words of assent

23a    It’s different there today from a very long time ago (3,4,3)
THE YEAR DOT: An anagram (different) of THERE TODAY

24a    Man who gave others a ‘distressing’ experience in more ways than one (4)
TODD: As a barber, this fictional character could have been said to dis-tress his clients, his grisly actions certainly distressing people.  Anyone for a meat pie?



1d    Somerset fellow is a bit of a pig (4,4)
BATH CHAP: This could be a man from a Somerset city, and is also some meat from a pig’s cheek or a jaw.  Not very appetising to my mind, but horses for courses.  (Or in this case, pigs)

2d    Most flashy car gets bashed outside (8)
GAUDIEST: A make of car which (together with the Mini) dominates crosswordland’s streets inside an anagram (bashed) of GETS

3d    Peculiar landscape feature making you laugh? (5,2-2)
FUNNY HA-HA: Odd or peculiar and a hidden boundary wall or ditch.  At the time of writing, the enumeration online is wrongly given as (5,5)

4d    Reason for lack of concentration associated with something like cricket (11,4)
GRASSHOPPER MIND: An insect a bit like a cricket has hopped into my head and distracted me from finishing this hint

5d    Hurricanes may come from this atmosphere getting foul (7)
AIRBASE: The Hurricanes are aircraft.  A charade of atmosphere and foul or rank

6d    Sin that’s petty with leader going, penning personal resignation (8)
INIQUITY: A four letter word for small without its first letter (with leader going) containing (penning) the words with which someone might declare themself to be resigning (1,4)

7d    Bore in suit, last one to be promoted to top position (5)
EAGRE: Suit or match with the last letter moved to the beginning (promoted to top position, in a down clue).  It’s a tidal bore, not a dullard in any attire

13d    Bearing taken by mariner (5-4)
NORTH-EAST: Despite having a clear bearing, I was directionless for a long time until I finally navigated my way to the Northeast Passage, the Arctic ocean shipping route  Gazza and Dutch pointed out that this bearing is contained in (taken by) mariNEr.  Thanks guys

15d    Mineral accompaniment to whisky with few calories (8)
SODALITE: This mineral could be a name given to a reduced calorie mixer, with the first four letters being a drink and the following four often used to denote low calorie

16d    Shape of society embraced by Conservative that’s modern (8)
CRESCENT: S(ociety) inside (embraced by) C(onservative) and a synonym for modern

17d    Ornament that may come under the hammer (8)
NAILHEAD: Chambers gives this as (4-4).  It’s an ornament shaped like the part of a fastener which would be struck by a hammer when it is banged into place

18d    What highwayman held up, beginning to extract bit of gold (7)
PISTOLE: One of various old gold coins, here minted from: a weapon used by highwaymen and the first letter of (beginning to) extract

19d    One taking instructions from baddie gets fleeced (5)
CADET: A rogue and the inner letters (fleeced, i.e. removal of the outer layer) of gets


Thanks to Giovanni for a stretching puzzle with a bit of a sailing/maritime feel to it.  My favourite clue, beating its neighbours, is 6d.  Which ones floated your boat?


17 comments on “Toughie 1720

  1. One of those puzzles where there is nothing very difficult about the wordplay, but plenty of the usual obscure words – there were certainly a few I didn’t know or wasn’t entirely sure of, including my last in 17d.

    Thanks to Kitty and Giovanni

  2. 13d, i thought maybe the bearing was taken by mariNEr

    The double unches and useless enumeration for 3d were a bit off-putting, but steady progress resulted in an enjoyable solve, even with the bits of education.

    I liked 3a, 9a (which took me a while), and the 11a NY town (though I don’t think I pronounce it like a gentleman).

    I thought the landscape feature (3d) would be hard to see and hence not a landscape feature

    Chambers has 17d hyphenated but Collins does not

    Many thanks Kitty and Giovanni

  3. Thanks to Giovanni and Kitty for the amusing review. I didn’t know the ornament or the primate or the mineral but the wordplay produced the correct solutions in all cases. I’m so used to finding NInas hidden in the double unches in Toughies that I spent some time looking for them here (with no success).
    I presume that 13d is cryptic because the abbreviation for the answer is found in ‘mariner’, otherwise it’s just general knowledge.

  4. Six new words plus the ‘bore’ that I always forget but, unlike Kitty, I quite enjoyed the solve. In some instances I actually thought that Giovanni had discovered his sense of humour and my top three come from amongst those in the shape of 3,4&5d.

    Went down the same route as Kitty with the ‘passage’ for 13d – I think Dutch and Gazza have probably come up with a more viable explanation.

    Thanks to DG and to our Girl Tuesday – I’m so sad that the fog scuppered the pictures……………

  5. I didn’t like this grid! And rolled my eyes a lot at the SE corner accordingly – never heard of the ornament and wasn’t able to think of anyone who cut hair distressingly despite working out that that was what was required early on.
    A few more checkers would have helped a lot.

    Still, some rather good clues in here too, and of course some high quality vocab as I would expect from Giovanni. Thanks to him and Kitty!

    My favourite clue was 13d for the penny-drop.

  6. For the second time today :phew: and now I really have completely had it.
    I failed on the piggy bit of 1d and the rather grim sounding London place of death in 8a.
    What with 8a and the little charmer at 24a I didn’t find this the most cheerful of crosswords.
    I also failed with the 17d ornament.
    If someone had asked me to spell the 21a country I wouldn’t have been able to but managed to get it from the clue.
    I liked 3, 9 and 23a and 3d. My favourite was 4d although I’ve only ever heard of a ‘butterfly brain’ which it clearly wasn’t.
    With thanks to Giovanni and thanks and appreciation, not to mention admiration, to Kitty.

  7. This setter has a propensity for terming an agricultural earth-turning hand tool anything other than that.

    No perpetration of terminological inexactitude, nor erroneous nomenclature… just that the finished article tends to look a bit like the letters fell out of the Scrabble bag.

    Only 24a raised a penny-dropping groan; otherwise mostly a cryptic exam. Satisfying rather than enjoyable for me.

    Thanks to all as ever.

  8. Giovanni. I should have guessed from all the obscure words. The BRB was well-thumbed today. Spent a long time laboring over 12A, my last one in. 13D was a bung-in and I went the North East route, too. No favorites, but no grumbles either. Thanks Giovanni and Kitty.

  9. Did anyone else fall foul of 20 across?
    Having decided army could be host, I added the usual railroad (Ry) and having arrived at a possible word, looked it up in chambers on line . It gives hostry as lodging, noun, (Spenser) I put it in without further hesitation. Coupled to a lack of hyphen on 17 down, I was completely lost !

  10. Pretty sure that the 16 double unches helped to make this one more difficult than usual and we seem to have had to go to references for most of those mentioned above, We lacked geographical knowledge for the London area or what county the 1d place is in, despite having been there. Like Kitty we failed to spot the lurking letters in the 13d clue.
    Thanks Giovanni and Kitty.

  11. Made a little mess of this one.
    Thought 1a was “plug” and 1d had to be “pork chop”. Didn’t have access to outside help all day so I just imagined that pork chop was a character in one of Somerset Maugham’ s book. Like “Of Human Bondage” for example. “Oh my poor little pork chop, that’s a funny club foot you have here”.
    Didn’t get 8a of course. Nor 24a.
    For 3d, I just assumed that the enumeration was going to be 5,4 and again came up with “Funny bone”. Not that a bone is a landscape feature or even if it was extended with a fifth letter.
    The checkers in 12a and 18a finally proved me wrong.
    Was looking forward to Andy commenting on the double unches. I’m sure he is not far.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Kitty for the review.

  12. A tough toughie. It was lucky I was solving online, otherwise the paper copy would have been a right mess of corrections and over-writes. As others have noted the poor grid didn’t help, especially in the NW corner where I came badly unstuck.

  13. I wondered what was illegal about a plug, and now that I come to think of it I wonder what’s ‘incentivey’ about it too! This made the Somerset fellow a pork chop like Jean-Luc, and – I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb – even when I got Tyburn, I failed to sort it all out.

    Thanks to The Don and to Kitty and the gang for sorting out north-east for me.

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