Toughie 1781 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1781

Toughie No 1781 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

How lovely to get another very enjoyable Toughie from the much-missed Petitjean – let’s hope that he left plenty more for us to enjoy. This one is typically quirky and has a theme relating to defensive tactics.

My main difficulty with this one was deciding exactly what to underline in some of the clues (e.g. 27a, 2d and 3d) where the definition seemed to overlap with the wordplay.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared with the puzzle and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a/9a Currency with which origami enthusiasts fund their hobby? (7,5)
FOLDING MONEY – cryptic definition based on what’s involved in origami.

5a Used to be hot but back then it got clothes clean (7)
WASHTUB – string together ‘used to be’, the abbreviation for hot and the reversal of ‘but’.

9a See 1a

10a Suspect inmates of making programme (9)
MANIFESTO – an anagram (suspect) of INMATES OF.

11a Close outcome with time giving way to pressure in the end — synonymous with 12 and 25 (4,2,4)
SHUT UP SHOP – a verb to close is followed by a synonym of outcome with T(ime) changed to P(ressure) at the end.

12a/19d Team coach’s defence drill? (4,3,3)
PARK THE BUS – this is a disparaging description (usually by the opposition’s manager) of a football team’s negative tactics in not being interested in scoring goals but purely in keeping a clean sheet. It’s meant to paint a picture of the team’s transport being stationed in front of their own goal.

14a Between you and me where many B-sides should have been left? (3,3,6)
OFF THE RECORD – very amusing suggestion that many B-sides should have been left on the cutting room floor.

18a Local youths divided by internet poll in area around capital (4,8)
HOME COUNTIES – a slang term (mainly US) for youths from one’s neighbourhood contains the prefix denoting the internet and another word for a poll or tally.

21a Odd characters in cell ain’t family (4)
CLAN – the odd letters from two words in the clue.

22a Sounds like where to buy Mac in Afghanistan, for instance — there’s quite a range (10)
APPALACHIA – it took me a while to realise that Mac here is a computer rather than a beefburger. What we need is a sound-alike of this computer manufacturer’s sales region (5,4) which would include Afghanistan (and most other countries between Turkey and Japan).

25a/20d Defence strategy of western teams? (6,3,6)
CIRCLE THE WAGONS – a defensive strategy named after the tactics employed by groups of pioneers moving west in the USA to combat attacks by the natives. Teams can mean sets of animals together with the vehicle to which they are attached.

26a Some get a bootleg issue — that’s unacceptable (5)
TABOO – hidden in the clue.

27a It’s found in combination with Cognac, Triple Sec, etc (7)
SIDECAR – what can be found in combination with a motorcycle can also be a cocktail.

28a Forces hospital hampered by NHS authorities (7)
THRUSTS – the abbreviation for hospital is contained inside the word for authorities charged with running local NHS amenities.

Down Clues

1d Starve following religious sect (6)
FAMISH – the abbreviation for ‘following’ and a strict Protestant sect in the USA.

2d Musical personnel featuring the usual suspects? (4-2)
LINE-UP – this list of personnel can also mean an identity parade.

3d Where temerity is hard to conceal? (2,4,4)
IN YOUR FACE – cryptic definition of an informal phrase meaning aggressive or impossible to ignore. The BRB has the phrase hyphenated.

4d Good regularly harmless sporting event (5)
GAMES – the abbreviation for good followed by regular letters from ‘harmless’.

5d Most likely to turn heads and secure certain empty seat (9)
WINSOMEST – join together a verb to secure or gain, an adjective meaning certain and the outer letters of seat.

6d Seating‘s length out of scale (4)
SOFA – remove the abbreviation for length from a musical scale.

7d One’s been involved in willing protest at organisation’s cases (8)
TESTATOR – hidden (cases) in the clue.

8d Prevent use of jam with permanent mark on tablecloth there for good (8)
BLOCKADE – start with a jam or obstruction and change the G(ood) to the letter marked on the cloth of a snooker table.

13d Japanese boxed meal keeping cafe turning over right for supporter (10)
BENEFACTOR – a Japanese word for a packed lunch (new for me) contains a reversal of ‘café’. We finish with an abbreviation for right.

15d Musician, one of the Proclaimers? (9)
TRUMPETER – definition and cryptic definition, the second (falsely capitalised) meaning someone who proclaims or celebrates.

16d Selections involving cold desserts (4-4)
CHOC-ICES – selections containing the abbreviation for cold. A really old chestnut.

17d I am a twin, hence held back (8)
IMPAIRED – split the answer 1’1,6 to mean that I am one of a set of two.

19d See 12a

20d See 25a

23d Ace cuppa to be served up — insert pennies separately (5)
ADEPT – reverse another word for cuppa and insert different abbreviations for a penny separately into it.

24d Second-rate forward putting thousand off in league (4)
BLOC – a prefix meaning second-rate followed by a second-row rugby forward without the abbreviation for thousand.

I liked 12a, 14a, 22a and 25a but my favourite is 8d. Which one(s) had you on your feet clapping?

20 comments on “Toughie 1781

  1. I really enjoyed this one and thought as I solved that it is sad that PJ is no longer here to see that we are awarding him 4* for entertainment. As well as the clues Gazza mentions, I’d also marked 27a and 23d. I’m wondering whether I should add 12/19 to the list of football terms I’m only ever likely to encounter in crosswords.

    Thanks to Gazza and to Petitjean too – just because he isn’t ‘here’ doesn’t mean we shouldn’t thank him.

  2. Also enjoyed this one, DNK the Japanese food box, corral stuck in my head till the obvious hit home.Thanks G & P

  3. As CS said – how sad that PJ isn’t here to read how much we enjoyed yet another of his puzzles.
    Some new things for me to learn here – the 12/19 phrase, the US slang in 18a and the Japanese meal, but they all had to be what they were which makes them fair enough in my book.
    Needed Gazza to explain the workings of 8d – I was only using the first five letters of the answer for the ‘jam’ and got into rather a pickle over the ‘tablecloth’!

    Many thanks to PJ and those who have preserved his crosswords for us and thanks to Gazza not only for the explanations but also for the great 15d clip. That tune always makes me feel good – loved the Peter Kay version for Children in Need as well.

    1. Ditto from me.

      I would rate this 4*/4*. Normally I would question the use of US slang in 18a & 25a, but it would sadly be pointless today, and, in any event, it certainly didn’t spoil a wonderful “mad hat” puzzle.

      5d raised a smile. It is a bizarre word which really only PJ could get away with. 22a was my favourite.

      1. I wonder how many of us had to check the spelling of 22a before committing it to paper? I certainly did, particularly once the ‘Mac’ was in my mind!

  4. Wonderful surprise indeed to have another posthumous puzzle from Petitjean.

    I didn’t know the youths or the football tactics, and thank you Gazza for the parsing of 8d.

    All very nice, I liked 14a for the smile and 28a for NHS story

    Many thanks Petitjean and thanks Gazza

    hope there are some more left

  5. Lots of fun and lots of thought required to finish this. Thanks to Gazza for explaining what I couldn’t and thanks to the late PJ

  6. Wonderful stuff and, for once, we found this less challenging than some of Petitjean’s earlier offerings, to the stage where we thought it came in as 1.5*/3.5*.

    After completion we needed Gazza’s explanation to fully understand 8d. The footballing terms came easily to Mr Sheffieldsy (a Manchester United season ticket holder), thankfully.

    We picked out 22a, 25a/20d and 5d as favourites, with the overall honour going to 5d.

    Thanks Gazza and PJ (sorely missed).

  7. Same here for 8d. Although I knew we had to change the G for D, I didn’t have a clue where this came from.
    Had to look at my idioms dictionary to get 12/19 knowing what the last word was.
    The one in 25/20 was last after having dismissed “cowboy and Indian” on first read and not helped by writing Appalaches in 22a.
    11a and 27 were very clever.
    Really enjoyed.
    Favourite 14a. Made me laugh.
    Thanks to PJ and to Gazza.

  8. Very enjoyable indeed , apart from the three I couldn’t do , 13d 23d, and 27a.
    It’s difficult to pick just one cotd , however I’ll opt for 5a.
    With thanks to Gazza and our late PJ.

  9. PJ beat me on 12/19. I was fixated on “pack the box” which means the same thing. That made 28A impossible. He also beat me on 25/20, though in retrospect I should have got that. And I had Opec for 24D, which was all I could think of that would fit. I did need some help with some parsing, too. Oh, dear,as Kath would say. Still, I’m not too disheartened because there was so much to like, 11A and 27A in particular.

    Thanks as ever to PJ and the wonderful Gazza.

    By the way, “Homies” ( which I incidentally missed (though I did get the correct answer) is a slang word for a slang word. Homeboys is the full thing and I believe started out as ghetto slang but it’s crept into mainstream teen talk.

  10. The football tactics, the Japanese food and the youths in 18a were all new to us but we managed to get them all sorted and then Google checked.
    We find it strange that although we read lots of books, listen to music, watch plays etc from people who have passed on, none of these things give us the same spine-tingling feeling we get when we solve these posthumous Petitjean puzzles. We feel very privileged to be able to still solve and enjoy them.
    Thanks Petitjean and Gazza.

  11. Ok, hands up – I thought I could spell 22a so lobbed it in. Major error. The 25a phrase is new to me, and 27a was met with a long, blank stare.
    Lost to like for different reasons, but the simple 16d has a wonderfully succinct surface so gets my vote.
    Thanks to PJ and to Gazza for helping me over the line.

  12. Didn’t understand what was going on with 8d at all, so many thanks to Gazza for the parsing, and to the late great setter (his hat worn at the craziest of jaunty angles and then some). Would give this a ***/*** myself – some rather good clues and then many that were largely baffling to me. But perhaps it’s just that I don’t care about sport!

  13. I’d not come across the footballing expression in 12A before and so in my ignorance I entered Pack the Box. That was the only hint I needed to complete what was otherwise an ejoyable and most entertaining puzzle from PJ. Wholeheartedly agree with CS in mourning the fact that PJ is no longer with us. Hoping there are a few more unpublished offerings to test the grey matter in the future.

  14. Maybe *** for difficulty, but only just, for a thoroughly enjoyable solve. 12/19 went in on a bit of a wing and a prayer, odd sporting terminology not being my strong point. 22ac was also a bit of a lucky guess. There’s a theme forming here…

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