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Toughie 1816

Toughie No 1816 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Kitty

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BD Rating  – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***


Hello and welcome to today’s Toughie blog, which I’m declaring a Real Life Free Zone.*

I was slow to get going but once I did I made smooth progress until the very end where the last few stragglers had me pondering (and reaching for the 6d at the last).  I’m too tired to know if I enjoyed it, but I think I did.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the 11 buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all



1a    Fashions universal rather than English for one in the groove? (6)
STYLUS:  Take fashions or designs and replace E(nglish) with U(niversal) to get something that might run in the groove of a record

5a    Thus maiden in open space would be happy, as of old (8)
GLADSOME:  Thus (2) and M(aiden) inside an open space in a wood

9a    Papers describing fellow in cunning ceremony who’s in charge of monastery? (13)
ARCHIMANDRITE:  The abbreviation for some identification papers around (describing) a chap, all sandwiched between cunning or shrewd and a ceremony.  This is the superior of an abbey of monks, a word which I didn’t know and which I was amazed to construct and find that it fit

10a   Hurry to secure a prohibition that should keep some parasites away (4-4)
FLEA-BANE :  Hurry (away from) containing the A from the clue and a prohibition.  It’s a plant, but not one actually likely to repel parasites.  The enumeration here agrees with Chambers but Oxford and the entire internet as far as I can see seem to think it one word

11a   Army caterer working in Ulster (6)
SUTLER:  An anagram (working) of ULSTER.  I didn’t know this one.  Also, cryptics have affected my brain to the extent that I immediately thought of an octopus serving food and drinks.  A squid butler, perhaps.  So I googled, and  …

12a   Moggy perhaps needing inside residence organised in advance (6)
PRESET:  The kind of creature that may (perhaps) be a kitty needs to have inserted into it an abbreviation for residence

14a   Remove hair from part of the face with energy, about to be hugged by boyfriend? (8)
DEPILATE:  A facial feature and the abbreviation for energy are reversed (about) and inserted into (hugged by) a romantic engagement who may be (indicated by the ?) a boyfriend

16a   It’s less tricky to keep children very quiet in different places — awkward folk! (8)
SCHLEPPS:  This is an anagram (tricky) of LESS containing, separately (in different places), an abbreviation for children and the musical notation for pianissimo (very quiet).  My last in, and not without help, because I wasn’t familiar with this word as a noun.  It also wasn’t an instant parse, but I liked it when I saw it

19a   Join again? You actually mean that? (6)
REALLY:  The answer, posed as a question, means: seriously?  Honestly?  Split (2-5) it would mean to once again join together as friends, partners or associates

21a   Vulgar guy meets naughty lad (6)
RIBALD:  Guy in the sense of tease and an anagram (naughty) of LAD.  Simple but effective

23a   Sound of dissatisfaction increasing — first indication of liberty being restricted (8)
GROWLING:  The sound made by me and other animals when feeling threatened or uncomfortable is made by taking a word for increasing and including the first letter of liberty

25a   Old mum wrapped in pricy cloth, magically displaying range of colours (13)
POLYCHROMATIC:  Wrap up O(ld) and an informal term for mother in the letters of PRICY CLOTH, anagrammed, or written strangely (magically)

26a   Piece of armour made of alloy gets difficult with the face covered (8)
BRASSARD:  An alloy of copper and zinc followed by difficult or stiff without its first letter (face covered).  It’s a piece of armour for the arm (so true ARMour then?) which I didn’t know, but fortunately the common alloy and checkers made it readily soluble

27a   Animals that hop across street to find resting places (6)
ROOSTS:  Some hopping animals found down under around (across) the abbreviation for street.  For the illustration I shall take my inspiration from the wordplay



2d    One behind  attempt to entice cinemagoers (7)
TRAILER:  Two definitions, one illustrated, and I don’t think you’ll need any further help

3d    What many cyclists wear as part of silly craze (5)
LYCRA:  The answer is hidden in plain sight as part of the clue.  Speaking of things hidden in plain sight, those of a sensitive disposition should not click here or on the picture below

4d    Something sharp penetrating sailor given a gentle medical puncture (6,3)
SPINAL TAP:  A sharp implement which is not a needle inside (penetrating) one of our usual sailors is followed by the A from the clue and the musical notation for soft (cf 16a )

5d    Hairy Greek troublemaker taking Ecstasy nabbed by police animal turning up (7)
GOATEED:  This Greek troublemaker is ancient: the goddess of mischief, delusion, ruin, and folly.  She has E inside her (taking Ecstasy) – or if you prefer you can just put them side to side as I think either way works – and is further contained in the reversal (turning up, in a down clue) of an animal used by police.  Hairy like this guy

6d    A time of the month for Roman auxiliaries (5)
AIDES:  The A from the clue followed by a day in the ancient Roman calendar which marked the approximate middle of the month

7d    Black overwhelms interior after hint of sun just a bit (9)
SCINTILLA:  This Black was an entertainer and here she contains an abbreviation for interior, all of which follows the first letter of (hint of) sun

8d    Sheep tucked into pig’s food supplied by actress (3,4)
MAE WEST:  A female sheep inside (tucked into) some food for pigs derived from the fruit of forest trees

13d   Lass, belly out of order, giving bits of sound we can understand (9)
SYLLABLES:  An anagram (out of order) of LASS BELLY

15d   Actor in theatre upsetting for this person — little right (9)
PERFORMER:  Join together: the shortened form of a type of theatre reversed (upsetting), a word lifted straight from the clue, a pronoun indicating this person and an abbreviation (little) of right

17d   Well, Dubliners might get hot food from here (7)
CHIPPER:  An adjective meaning upbeat is also an Irish name for a type fast food establishment.  Not one I knew, but it had to be.  Searching for examples of these, I was certainly spoilt for choice.  Aside from the classic The Codfather, I also want to share: Fishcotheque, Codrophenia, Rock ‘n’ Roe, The Rock & Sole Plaice, Good Frydays, Fryer Tuck, The Frying Squad and The Frying Scotsman (actually in Devon, run by a Turkish woman).  Finally, some punning plays on local plaice names: Battersea Cod’s Home, The Batter of Bosworth and Chip in Dales.  Wow

18d   Sweet paper being picked up used to be chucked (7)
SUGARED:  A derogatory or jocular term for a newspaper reversed and contained in (being picked up) an anagram (to be chucked) of USED

20d   Print shows ring, copper, covered in protective material (7)
LINOCUT:  The ring-shaped letter and the chemical symbol for copper inside (covered in) a fabric used to dress wounds

22d   Located in Ireland, a charming country house (5)
DACHA:  Lurking in the clue, this cottage is actually Russian

24d   It’s dry inside small room for gambling game (5)
LOTTO:  The abbreviation for a synonym of dry or sober inside the part of the house sometimes euphemistically described as a small room


Thanks to Giovanni.  Unsurprisingly I’m always happy to see a moggy in a crossword so 12a gets the paws up from me, and 23a also feels appropriate.  I liked the idea behind 16a but thought it was a shame it could not have been made a little smoother.  Speaking of which, I appreciated the image created by 14a, whose smooth face contrasts nicely with the hairy Greek of 5d.  27a and 3d produced big smiles, as did 4d.  So it seems I did enjoy it after all!  Which made you 5a and which had you 23a?

*The comments are yours – please feel free to say whatever you like there.  Within reason, of course.


28 comments on “Toughie 1816

  1. The Dictionary of Obscure Words for Crossword Setters has been taken down from the shelf again – I did know some of them and the rest were all clued fairly.

    Thanks to Giovanni and Kitty for their parts in today’s Toughie production

  2. Found this one pretty tough, and must admit to using a few hints to finish it – I got a bit stuck in the SW corner. I can’t say there was anything particularly enjoyable to compensate.

    Thanks to Kitty and Giovanni

  3. Afraid I enjoyed the review more than the crossword. Sorry Giovanni and thanks Kitty

  4. I think this one was too clever by half! I got there without the hints but needed to resort to a word search to see if my guesses were right. The dictionary of obscure words can now go back on the shelf. Kitty, I’m impressed by your efforts!

  5. Exactly the same ‘new’ words for me as for Kitty and, like her, I managed to work out 9a before consulting the oracle for confirmation.
    I also haven’t seen 10a hyphenated before today.
    Have fond recollections of a hairy Greek – but that’s a story for another day!

    Top three here were 19&21a plus 2d.

    Thanks to Giovanni and to our super Girl Tuesday – loved the 27a caption!

  6. What, pray, is this absurd Dictionary of Obscure Words that I am supposed to possess? . ARCHIMANDRITE (for example) is in all my dictionaries, big and small, and the word was clued to lead to the answer. Toughies surely should test solving skills, as well as knowledge of vocabulary, so that one has the satisafction of decoding the wordpaly and arriving at a satisfactory answer for a word hitherto unknown. Didn’t some of you learn new words in your youth by solving crosswords? I certainly did and was grateful to those who went before me to give me that pleasure! Thanks for the feedback.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, I’m still learning new words through this medium, though youth is but a distant memory, it’s one of the joys of being a cruciverbalist. Enjoyed this and entering 2 new words in my personal lexicon of ‘unknowns’ .

    2. Our favourite was 9a. Having mulled over the components and put them together we were left with a couple of suggestions for fellow, which resulted in possible words. At that point we feel it’s not cheating to refer to BRApp. And what satisfaction when you find the word there.
      Still not quite understanding 18d logic though.
      G: (paraphrasing JFK) We choose to do toughies not because they are easy….

    3. Thanks for dropping in Giovanni (and TT). I have no problem with learning new words; I love words and wordplay. I regularly drop pantopragmatic and such like into conversation just for fun. Can’t imagine I’ll ever get much fun out of ‘archimandrite’. Just saying… :smile:

      I do admire and appreciate the challenges though, and the education (sometimes), so hats off and thank you.

  7. I wasn’t really in the mood for trying to work out words I had never heard used .
    However I liked 8d , 1a, 19a, 10a, 6d, and 23a.
    I hear the word in 16a quite frequently , but only as a verb.
    17d very familiar , but I was thrown by “Dubliners ” as I didn’t know it was only us.
    Thanks to kitty and Giovanni.
    And no Giovanni , I never did a crossword in my youth ( I am long past that now.) I learn new words by reading them in context and only then resort to a dictionary , or Dr Google to make sure of their exact meaning. I have never just thumbed through a dictionary just to hunt out new words. But I have a feeling that you do.

    1. My lasts remarks are a bit uncalled for.I can the see the point from a setters perspective of finding new words for use in crosswords , just to keep things stimulating.

        1. I thought Una meant that they refer to fish and chip outlets as chippers in Ireland – I was giving our alternative.
          No, you’re quite right – it’s more likely to be a bad day if one felt ‘chippy’!

          1. Yes, I understood Una and was agreeing with your response – just thought I’d mention the difference in the adjectival meanings of the two words.

            1. Yes Jane and Kitty , we do call the local Fish n Chips outlets the Chipper, and I thought everyone else did too.

              1. … and I had no idea the Irish don’t call them chippies. Of all today’s new words, I think that may be the one with the highest chance of sticking in my memory!

                1. When you go into a chipper, remember to ask for fish and a chip not fish and chips like we would over here

                    1. You really will get a whole portion – my son’s father-in-law couldn’t understand why I thought it was funny to ask for ‘a chip’;

  8. A couple of new words in 9A AND 11a and a 16a noun I only knew as a verb, but all “doable”. I did rather like 7D. Thanks Giovanni and Kitty.

  9. A few bits of general knowledge that we needed to confirm but, as has already been said, the wordplay always pointed us towards the answer, A pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Giovanni and Kitty.

  10. I enjoyed this and it seemed to go fairly smoothly, with the usual bit of education along the way (well, only 9a & 11a).

    The clue that made me laugh most was 3d. I also liked 19a.

    there’s something not quite right about 18d

    i stupidly had band in 10a until I got 5d, and I wanted a moggy to be an example of a cat.

    Many thanks Giovanni, good to meet you at last in London, and thank you kitty for a superb, more than superb blog. I loved the barking cat.

  11. Most enjoyable with several educational treasures but each reasonably clearly signposted by the clueing giving an overall 4*/4* rating for us.

    5a, 9a, 10a, 11a and 17d in the Irish sense were all new to us, as was 16a (although we’ve come across the verb often). We think we vaguely remember the pig food in 8d but had subsequently forgotten it, as we had to “rediscover” it.

    Liked 10a but best was 7d for having stared at the word for at least half a minute before getting the reference to Cilla – great penny-drop moment.

    Thanks to Kitty for the review and Giovanni for such an erudite offering.

  12. I needed 4 hints (but 2 I don’t feel at all bad about, because I’d never heard of the solutions), so something between 3* and 4* for me. 7d was the pick of the clues, I think. Thanks to the Don, and to Kitty.

  13. I am sorry we hit Giovanni on the raw with our dig about obscure words. Like everyone else here I love words and like to learn new ones. However, it would be good to be able to use them. I really do not see me dropping archimandrite into any casual conversation I’m likely to have in the near future…..however, I bet I won’t forget it in a hurry!

    1. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with giving opinions, which is what you did. I read the comments to see how everyone found the puzzle (as well as for the entertaining diversions). Yes, keep things civil and be considerate – but if people are too careful not to offend all we may be left with is platitudes which nobody will bother to read.

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