Toughie 1736 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1736

Toughie 1736 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hi everyone, and a very warm welcome to a new year of Toughies.  Quite apart from crosswords, I wish you all the best for this coming year.  Looking back briefly, I will share with you Mr Kitty’s word cloud for the 2016 Toughie.  As with the one for the back page, it features words used three times or more.  As you can see, there are many fewer repeated words here on the dark side, which is as you might expect.  Giovanni certainly does his bit to give us a diversity of answers! 

Click on the image for the cloud expanded to include words used twice.

Giovanni has been gentle of late on the back page, but I found this quite testing.  The wordplay isn’t complicated, but I found myself checking references rather frequently.  All of which meant that although I didn’t know the identity of the setter when I started, it wasn’t long before I was left without a shadow of a doubt.  I still haven’t been able to check this at the time of posting, so there will be egg on my face indeed if I am wrong!

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the Happy New Year! 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    Kind of box that’s kept without its top facing up? (11)
CONSIDERATE: A large container containing (that’s kept) two words (2,4) which could mean not facing up

8a    Drug cupboard – guess sailor will go to that (4,7)
BETA BLOCKER: Start with a speculation and one of our usual abbreviations for a type of sailor.  This precedes (will go to) a cupboard which can be secured

11a    What is poisonous, completely? Arsenic (4)
UPAS: A poison from the tree of the same name, formed of an adverb meaning completely and the chemical symbol for arsenic

12a    Mythological female in terrible danger (4)
LEDA: She is lurking in the clue, the Greek mythological figure who was seduced by Zeus in the guise of a swan (because what woman could resist that ? …)

13a    Swiss company had finally got into a comfortable position (7)
NESTLED: A Swiss transnational food and drink company followed by the final letter of had


15a    One sip’s disastrous – it’s spiked! (7)
SPINOSE: It’s an anagram (disastrous) of ONE SIP’S

16a    Short tunic seen around African city (5)
RABAT: A sleeveless tunic missing its last letter (short) is written backwards (seen around)

17a    By no means religious, from what we hear (4)
NONE: This sounds like a member of a religious order

18a    Biblical pop group (4)
ABBA: A 70s pop group is also a biblical word for father

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

19a    The heartless abuse goes round – it must be suppressed (5)
MUTED: Outer letters of the (the heartless) are contained in a kind of defamatory abuse that might be slung

21a    Where travellers may get off and dance around American street (3,4)
BUS STOP: Dance around abbreviations for American and street

22a    Expecting to lose power as monarch (7)
REGNANT: Expecting (kittens perhaps) loses P(ower)

23a    Petition for character behind all others in a situation suggesting crisis (4)
SUEZ: Petition legally followed by the letter found at the end of the list of all letters, when ordered conventionally

26a    Music-maker needs key, nothing extra (4)
ALTO: One of the keys on a computer plus zero

27a    Notice dried crumbs – fatal attraction for mice? (11)
RODENTICIDE: An anagram (crumbs) of NOTICE DRIED

28a    Always be right in tirade, making noise that echoes around (11)
REVERBERANT: Always or perpetually, BE from the clue and R(ight), all inside a harangue



2d    Celebrations in verse? Ways to put maiden off! (4)
ODES: Ways or manners with M(aiden) removed (to put maiden off)

3d    Stir created by one leaping into crowd (7)
SLAMMER: A double definition, the second being one who leaps in the air and crashes into others in a crowd (slam dancer)

4d    Famous expert on cancer offers model (4)
DOLL: Another twofer, definition-wise.  The cancer expert was the foremost epidemiologist of the 20th century, credited with being the first to prove that smoking caused lung cancer

5d    Acknowledgement of order, not the first I received (7)
RECEIPT: A rule of action minus its first letter (not the first), enclosing I (I received)

6d    Some exceptional eating – up will go that weight! (4)
TAEL: Contained in (some) the clue, backwards (up) is a Far Eastern weight

7d    Ardent President once giving sign to prophet (7,4)
BURNING BUSH: A charade of ardent or passionate and one of the former US presidents

8d    Indication of illegitimacy given by arbiters troubled about offence (3-8)
BAR-SINISTER: Put an anagram (troubled) of ARBITERS around a (usually religious) wrongdoing.  I didn’t know what one of these was, so to the dictionary again.  It’s an erroneous term for a baton-sinister (Chambers has these terms hyphenated, though Oxford does not), a heraldic indication supposed to signify illegitimacy

9d    Awe-inspiring fortification on island to the north (11)
REDOUBTABLE: An enclosed fortification precedes the reversal of a Mediterranean island

10d    Two lots of soldiers going to party, with loss of concentration (11)
RAREFACTION: Abbreviations for some military artillerymen and engineers plus a group of people.  Concentration here means density

14d    Block to keep water back? That would be mad (3,2)
DAM UP: With the definition underlined, the answer should be divinable.  Then we see that the this could clue “mad,” the second word being taken as an instruction to do something to the first

15d    Carpenter unusually had same experience as cat in London? (5)
SAWER: This rare term for a carpenter, split (3,2), is (paraphrased) what a certain pussycat of rhyme did on a visit to London.  Your Kitty has different things planned for her stays in the capital later this month.

19d    Story covered by English humanist and French dramatist (7)
MOLIÈRE: A fictitious tale contained within (covered by) an English Renaissance humanist, the writer of Utopia.  This gives us a French comedic playwright and actor

20d    Socialist outside restaurant, revolutionary vandal (7)
DEFACER: Wrap our usual socialist around an eatery and reverse the lot

24d    Ball maybe entertaining any number in the area (4)
ZONE: The name of Johnny Ball’s daughter enveloping the mathematical shorthand for any number

25d    This remnant has raised objections (4)
STUB: Objections, often paired with ifs, written upwards (raised)

26d    Port with a lot of cargo left dumped (4)
ADEN: Take a word meaning burdened and leave (dump) the abbreviation for left (which is also the left hand letter)


Thanks and Happy New Year to Giovanni.  I think my favourite clue has to be 15d.  How was your experience?


23 comments on “Toughie 1736

  1. Wot, no comments so far? I don’t do the toughie, but I just had to say something to thank you, Kitty, for the fun blog today!

    1. Thanks, Merusa. I felt a little bit of pressure to come up with some good pictures today, after all the nice comments yesterday!

  2. I didn’t have to do any looking up of some of the more less-used words in this crossword, but decided fairly early on given the quantity of such words, that this must be a Giovanni Toughie*. 3.5*/3* from me.

    Happy New Year to setter and blogger too

    *It is so blooming cold here and I didn’t need anything else from ‘the shops’ so decided not to bother with driving 2.5 miles on frosty roads to buy the paper just to find out whether my guess was correct. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow as I have to go back to work :sob:

    1. I wondered why you didn’t email this morning, but rather than send out the enquiry, thought I’d take the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is.

  3. Very Giovanni and a bit of a slog. 1a is pretty good though.
    Thanks to The Don and to Kitty.

  4. I thought that this was somewhat trickier than our normal Tuesday Toughies and I enjoyed it – thanks to Giovanni and Kitty. I liked 1a and 27a (particularly ‘crumbs’ as an anagram indicator) but my favourite was 15d.

  5. That was a fight! 6 new words, a complete fail on 3d and Kitty aid needed to parse 19a & 5d.
    Still can’t believe that 15d is a ‘real’ word although I think we encountered it a little while ago – likewise, we’ve met 17a before today and I continue to maintain that it is not a homophone!

    13a gets my nomination for the laurel wreath, both for the clue and the illustration.

    Thanks to Giovanni and to our Girl Tuesday whose help I needed with this one. Brilliantly illustrated review as always – what an amazing 21a! Thanks also to Mr. K for another fascinating word cloud.

    1. I actually found the 13a picture while searching for some nestling nesting birds for you, Jane – but when I saw that, I could look no further!

  6. greetings from Brecon (visiting the in-laws)

    surprised to see the 17a homophone given as an adjective, does that really work? can’t imagine Giovanni would err there…

    the usual bits of education – though perhaps i should have known the cancer expert. last one in was 3d, i was desperately trying to fit in an ‘I’.

    agree with 15d as favourite

    many thanks giovanni and many thanks Kitty

  7. I always struggle with Giovanni and this was no exception. Too many new words and references to things about which I know nothing.
    Only managed about half unaided, then resorted to the hints, then got fed up and cheated the last few. Just as well I did having seen 8d!

    1a & 3d both had me slapping my forehead. I’m sure we’ve seen 26a before, but I still like it so it gets my vote.
    Illustration for 5d is brilliant and raised a chuckle, thanks Kitty – oh and for sorting this one out!

    Thanks to all.

  8. We had no idea when we were solving who the setter was and our tentative guesses were way off target. When we had come across 11a, 8d and particularly 4d we started to think that perhaps Kate Mepham had strayed from her regular Saturday spot to set a cryptic puzzle. We struck a real log jam at the top of the puzzle, mainly by failing to correctly identify the definition for 1a for some time. Eventually we got it all sorted but it did take quite a lot longer than we expect on Tuesdays. We have to go with 1a as favourite because of the fight it put up for us.
    Thanks Giovanni and Kitty.

  9. Giovanni , so that explains it.

    I really liked 7d 17a and 23a and 8a. I really did not like 11a , 6d and 15d.

    1a was one of the last clues in for me too.

    Thanks to Kitty and Giovanni.

  10. The on-line site is now showing that today’s setter (1736) is Shamus – I suspect a bit of a cock-up and that Shamus is on tomorrow for 1737.

  11. We needed Kitty’s blog for 1a and 4d. We had 3d but couldn’t parse it – we’ve never heard of the dancer but, having looked it up we see that this practice is also known as moshing, so we’ll expect that to turn up some time. New to us also were 11a, 15a, and 8d although we got them all from the excellent wordplay. 6d we knew vaguely having lived in Hong Kong for some time.

    We’ve worked on the physical Telegraph today and that says it’s a Giovanni.

    Overall, then, 4*/4*. COTD was 8a and the surface of 22a was top notch.

    Thanks Kitty and Giovanni.

  12. :phew: Giovanni lots and Kath not many – oh dear – this does not bode well for 2017 Toughies.
    I always find Friday back page Giovanni’s tricky so tend to steer clear of his Toughies but decided to have a go.
    I ended up with several that I couldn’t do but managed more than I expected to be able to so that’s a plus.
    I would never have got 3d so thanks to Kitty for that one.
    I think that clues like 14d are beginning to be a Giovanni trademark.
    I liked 1 and 23a. My favourite was 27a – a brilliant anagram and a brilliant anagram indicator – a pity about the mice. :sad:
    With thanks to Giovanni for the crossword and thanks and admiration to Kitty for all of it. :smile:

  13. I worked this one from the bottom up and made fairly steady progress until I had three left…1A, 3D and 4D. And then it all fell apart. I diligently tried to make ‘facing up’ the definition for 1A for far too long until I resorted to revealing a couple of letters and saw the error of my ways. That gave me a way in to 3D, which I solved but didn’t like at all. And I totally failed on 4 D. I’ve never heard of the person. I also needed the hints to parse 5D. I did like 8A and 14D, but 15D is my top pick. Thanks Giovanni and Miss Kitty.

  14. Confess I needed 6 hints to complete (although some were new words to me, so l don’t feel so bad at not knowing them). Certainly 4* difficulty for me, but some nice clueing (8a, 1a) so the same for enjoyment. Thanks to the Don, and to Kitty for the invaluable hints.

  15. I managed it all except 3d, despite racking my brain for an appropriate synonym for prison. I’ve been in several prisons in my time. At least it got me out of the office.
    Thank you setter and Kitty.

  16. Spending some time at my dad’s in the middle of nowhere. Luxeuil les Bains if anyone wants to know.
    Took me well over 8h to get there from Clermont.
    Only had sparse connection while crossing the French countryside so was only able to check 6d and 8d as possible answers from the parsing.
    Didn’t get 4d and the two 15s.
    7d wasn’t a problem as in France it’s called the Buisson Ardent.
    Liked 5d and 22a and favourite is 27a.
    Thanks to the Don for the good mental workout and to Kitty for helping me pass the finishing line.

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