Toughie 1768 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1768

Toughie 1768 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Welcome one and all to Big Dave’s Crossword Blog, Toughie Corner.  It’s another feast day: one with religious significance for some, but for heathens like me a thin excuse to scarf down some extra food while conveniently choosing not to observe the fast it precedes.  An e can make all the difference.  You can have your [pan]cake and eat it, but it may not be good for the soul.  Not to mention the waistline …

Crosswords are like pancakes: flat, made of a simple base, variously topped, delicious … and fattening if enjoyed to excess.  (Who was it who said that the best things in life are all either illegal, immoral or fattening?)  Today’s chef du jour, Don Manley, has provided a Blumenthalian offering, containing some unusual combinations of familiar ingredients which may divide opinion.  Some may wish for more standard fare, others will enjoy the new tastes.  I say, if somebody else took the trouble to concoct, prepare and cook it, it would be rude not to eat everything, enjoy it, and ask for seconds.

I made a good start on this, and most of the bottom and a little higher up fell with me believing this to be the more of the gentle pussycat Don we’ve seen of late.  Then I came back to earth (or whichever planet I inhabit: opinions are divided, and even our esteemed host recently enquired as to what colour the sky might be in my world) with a bump.  So I ended up struggling about four stars’ worth, but with the feeling that I really should have done better.

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.



7a    Vehicle takes lots, almost the whole lot? (8)
CABOODLE: Take a vehicle you might hail and and add heaps or lashings, but not quite all of their letters (almost).  I think this word for lots is uber nice.  Picture: a kitten xxxxxxxx?

9a    An aggressive female gets a fellow cross inside (6)
AMAZON: To get this female warrior, take the A from the clue then a chap and insert into him a cross.  No, not an X or similar, but a kind of hybrid domestic cattle found in parts of the Himalayas, said to be a cross between the male yak and the common horned cow.  I struggled mightily, for I was convinced that there’d be at least one F in the mix, furthermore my knowledge of Himalayan cattle would appear to be lacking

10a    Pro has turned into a leading light (6)
PHAROS: It’s a lighthouse or beacon and an anagram (turned) of PRO HAS

11a    Artist covered in a certain chemical mixture (4,4)
SODA LIME: A surrealist artist inside (covered in) an adjective meaning a certain

12a    Big flapper agitating men in peer group (7,7)
EMPEROR PENGUIN: A pleasing surface and slightly offbeat definition of a winged creature which doesn’t fly, but a straightforward anagram (agitating) of MEN IN PEER GROUP.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s favourite animal

15a    Learner put off bits of crossword? Offer hints (4)
CUES: Remove (put off) L(earner) from the bits of a crossword which guide you towards the answers

17a    Sort of plant that’s died out in town with power station (5)
DICOT: Start from an Oxfordshire town known for its railway heritage and power stations and remove D(ied) (died out).  It’s a kind of plant, but I can’t tell you more than that.  Wikipedia can though

19a    For Americans, quarterdeck attire (4)
SUIT: This “got” me because I was not expecting (not in The Telegraph) to have to separate quarter and deck.  Anyway, do this separation and find a quarter of a deck of cards – which is also some clothing.  (This is an occasion where the American indication hindered rather than helped me, as though it’s given as a US usage in Chambers, I wouldn’t necessarily have thunk it thus)

20a    Foe has strategy set out in series of books (3,7,4)
THE FORSYTE SAGA: A series of books by John Galsworthy is an anagram (set out) of FOE HAS STRATEGY

23a    Man on board and what he did reportedly – went down rope (8)
ABSEILED: Take one of our abbreviated sailors (man on board – and I have to say I was relieved to find he wasn’t a chessman!) and add a homophone of what people on a certain type of ship have done after they’ve moved a distance

25a    About to get weary – and do this? (6)
RETIRE: What a weary person will typically do at the end of the day is a charade of about (2) and fatigue or flag (4)

27a    Be adamant at home, confronting relation without hesitation (6)
INSIST: Our usual at home plus a relative missing (without) a two letter hesitation

28a    Like a schoolmaster punishing inept cad (8)
PEDANTIC: An anagram (punishing) of INEPT CAD.  One for our resident Rabbit, and more than enough excuse for a bunny picture:



1d    Strike creating confrontation about to be abandoned (4)
LASH: A confrontation missing its first letter, which is an abbreviation for about (about to be abandoned)

2d    What sounds like rough plan (6)
COURSE: This plan of action is a homophone of rough or unrefined

3d    All but the last of the birds moves on (4)
GEES: Moves a horse on.  Formed of all but the last letter of some birds which I quite often say “boo” to when I’m taking a lap of the Serpentine

4d    Custodian in nuclear shelter? (6)
WARDEN: Start with something of which nuclear is a type and add a shelter or hideout to find our keeper or guardian.  I suppose for the question mark to apply properly (i.e. to include the definition by example part), the wordplay has to be taken as one entity, with the answer split (3,3) meaning a possible nuclear shelter

5d    Rooms facing danger with river invading (8)
PARLOURS: A word meaning perilous has R(iver) put inside it (invading)

6d    Applauding approach to secure repair (10)
COMMENDING: Applauding, with words rather than hands.  A word meaning approach or arrival containing (to secure) repair or fix

8d    Danced in girl’s school, not just with girls (7)
DISCOED: Join together a two letter abbreviated female name, the ‘S from the clue and an abbreviation for a school for those of all genders

13d    One taken for a ride, English money-holder being a charlatan (10)
MOUNTEBANK: A horse, etc. that is ridden followed by E(nglish) and an institution which holds (and does various other things with) money

14d    Something tiny, first to last, creating little strikes (5)
PECKS: A tiny mote with its first letter moved to the end of the word (first to last)

16d    Pour forth wickedness? One might well! (3-5)
SHE-DEVIL: Pour fourth or emit plus wickedness or sin.  The answer is a female who may well do what the wordplay part of the clue suggests, making this a wicked semi-all-in-one

18d    Female, one lacking in fortitude, rotten as a university student? (7)
TUTORED: The letters of fORTiTUDE missing (lacking) F(emale) and I (one), anagrammed (rotten)

21d    Old bishop recently seen as dedicated person (6)
OBLATE: Concatenate abbreviations for old and bishop with recently seen

22d    One really bad dog ultimately making money in the Far East (6)
SATANG: “Really bad” is perhaps a bit of an understatement for this fallen angel (or perhaps he is simply misunderstood?); he is followed by the end (ultimately) of dog to give a monetary unity of Thailand.  I can add currencies to the long list of things I should know more of

24d    Fool as expected seizing power (4)
DUPE: Expected or owed containing (seizing) the abbreviation for power

26d    Fall in school – time must be taken out (4)
RAIN: Some precipitation falling from a verb to school having had its letter T removed (time must be taken out)


Many thanks to Giovanni.  It’s a toss-up between two acrosses to decide my favourite clue.  I liked 9a (even if the cross made me cross) and the 12a big flapper made me smile.  Going down, 3d gave me more trouble than it should, and there was more devilishness to come (16d, 22d), which I enjoyed although 22d was another that impaled me on its horns.

How was it for you?  Are you feeling battered by the flipping experience or did you find it a savoury treat?  Perhaps a sweet delight.

I’m off now to make some snail porridge pancakes.  Perhaps sans snails.  Or porridge.  I have yet to decide, but I think I’ll give anything French-inspired a miss.  French pancakes give me the crêpes.


23 comments on “Toughie 1768

  1. I enjoyed that – the obscure solutions were well signposted, and my last in were familiar words (5 and 19). It definitely helped to be familiar with the power station – I remember walks on Wittenham Clumps (little hills between the said town and Oxford) as a toddler, and my grandfather used to point it out and describe it as “an elephant upside down”. 17 and 22 were unfamiliar solutions and 21 was used in an unfamiliar sense, so as usual Don is educating us…

    Thanks to Kitty and Giovanni

  2. Enjoyable stuff with no obscure religious terms in sight – thanks to Giovanni. Thanks also to Kitty for the customary Tuesday entertainment. The 9a cross is pretty well known to Scrabble players.
    I can’t decide between 19a and 4d as my favourite.

    1. Re the 9a cross – I suspected that might be the case. I also wondered if it might also be one of those words oft seen in these grids, but I’d waffled on enough already so didn’t pose the question.

  3. As is always the way for me with a Giovanni Toughie, there were new words to take on board – five in total if I include the chemical mixture. Thought that was a reversal of a rather a refreshing drink!
    Not many issues to report apart from stupidly misspelling 23d which left 16d as my last one to go in.

    I particularly liked the big flapper and the crossword ‘hints’ – my favourite was 7a.

    Thanks to DG and to our Girl Tuesday for some lovely Kitty pics and also the one of the dexterous Bluetit!

  4. The usual dictionary work-out I have come to expect from G, but I stuck with it this time and got there eventually.
    No barrel of laughs, 4d providing the only smile and 8d the only penny-drop moment. ****/*** for me.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Kitty for some pointers.

  5. Much as I am the Don’s staunchest advocate I’m not sure I’d have gone beyond *** for enjoyment here. Quite fun but argh, so many of those fiddly four-letter words!

    I too was going to point out that every Scrabble player knows the Himalayan cross, but of course I’ve been beaten to it.

  6. Just finished and managed without e-help (except to verify). NE corner was the last to fall. 19A took me a long time to solve and parse…longer than it should have. I wouldn’t have thought that ‘suit’ itself was an Americanism (but I’ve been away from the UK a long time), though we do use ‘pack’ rather than ‘deck’ to describe the whole. Anyhoo, my favorites are 10A, 19A, 4D and 13D. Thanks Giovanni ( I guessed it was you) and Kitty.

      1. Really? Oh well. Can’t say I play cards with any Americans so perhaps I’m making an assumption, but now I’ll have to ask around! On to Facebook for me!

      2. Well it seems that I’m not playing with a full deck! That very American expression should have been a dead giveaway but I’m also bedeviled by brain fog courtesy of a filthy cold and now bronchitis that won’t go away. That’s my pitiful excuse, anyway. So, I offer my apologies and hang my head in shame. Must pay attention to my own work rules: write, verify, edit.

  7. Always interesting to learn new words.
    A chemical compound, a charlatan, some Thai money and of course an Himalayan beast were added to my memory. Tried google for the latter but a certain Zoe Cross was blocking my search.
    Learned all about the decommissioning of the power station in 17a but didn’t have time to read all of 20a.
    The solving process was very straightforward and can only award this crossword 2 stars for difficultly and 3 for enjoyment.
    16d reminded me of that wonderful series.
    Thanks to the Don and to Kitty for the review.

  8. I needed to muster up some energy to get into this when I saw it was a Giovanni toughie, but hey guess what, once I I started I was hooked.

    There were some look-ups and the usual frustration at the broad “chemical mixture” (hm, should we try and enumerate the number of possibilities? birds x plants – my nightmare – to which power?) but as always with a fair subsidiary indication.

    Thanks Kitty, I hadn’t seen the split for quarterdeck. (I think I remember “deck of cards” was a song where some guy justified playing cards in church by indicating the religious significance). Quarterdeck is also a US navy term for formal attire, so quite a good clue really.

    I liked the nuclear shelter, the dancing in a girls school (i mean not just girls school), and the crossword one.

    It helped knowing DIDCOT, near Rutherford laboratories, where I have spent too many hours at the Diamond synchrotron.

    Many thanks Kitty and Giovanni

  9. It was 17a that gave us problems in the other puzzle and 17a that caused problems here too. Imagine that it is pretty straightforward if one happens to live in Oxford but…………….. Many years ago one of us did a couple of amazing trekking trips in the Himalayas and the 9a cross is still remembered.
    Like Kitty we did wonder why the Americanism mention in 19a but we did twig it eventually.
    A pleasant solve for us.
    Thanks Giovanni and Kitty.

    1. Even though the town with the power station is within spitting distance of us it was still my last answer.

    2. My daughter is going trekking in the Himalayas next month, so will have the opportunity of seeing the 9a cross she is fond of using in scrabble.

    3. I applied for and got offered a job in that Oxon town once. How different my life might have been if I’d taken it…

  10. :phew: That’s finished me off for the day.
    As Gazza has already said Scrabble players will know the ‘cross’ in 9a – there are several others like that – the Indian humped ox (which always sounds a bit rude to me but I suppose it just means he has a hump) and the three toed sloth – I could go on . . .
    I thought the top half was much trickier than the bottom – the top left corner nearly put paid to my ‘perservation’.
    I didn’t know the Thai currency or the charlatan.
    I failed on 19a – there’s always one but I enjoyed it all anyway.
    I liked 9 and 12a and 8 and 16d. My favourite was 7a – maybe because of the pic.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Kitty – lovely pictures.

  11. As befits a Giovanni Toughie this was definitely on the tough side, the top half more so than the bottom. The cross in question is definitely going to come in useful the next time I play scrabble. Thanks. :-)

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