Toughie 1897

Toughie No 1897 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

This is the fourth posthumous Petitjean Toughie in a row that’s fallen to me to blog – I don’t want to deny other bloggers the pleasure (I do really!) but long may that trend continue since there’s been no notification that this is the last one.

This one is as enjoyable and quirky as ever (who else but Petitjean could have written the 12d clue?) but there are a couple of clues which I don’t fully understand, so any help you can provide will be most welcome.

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

Across Clues

1a Drove through pothole backed into gubbins’s Italian sports car (4,7)
GRAN TURISMO – a verb meaning ‘drove through’ (a red light, perhaps) and the reversal of a pothole or furrow go inside a gubbins or gadget.

9a Northern predator turned and fled (5)
FLOWN – the abbreviation for northern and a four-legged predator all reversed.

10a Say correct weight’s fluid, which is clear (3,6)
EGG WHITES – the abbreviation for ‘say’ followed by an anagram (correct) of WEIGHT’S.

11a No turning over prop approaching land (7)
ONSHORE – reverse ‘no’ and add a prop or buttress.

12a Member with makeshift team protecting new weaponry (8)
ARMAMENT – a bodily member is followed by an anagram (makeshift) of TEAM containing N(ew).

14a Pioneer and popular star pushing boundaries of theatre (8)
INNOVATE – an adjective meaning popular or trendy and a type of celestial star precede (pushing) the outer letters of theatre.

15a Snaffle now and then to render harmless (4)
SAFE – extract alternate letters from ‘snaffle’. I originally underlined just the last word of the clue treating ‘render’ as a link word but the BRB reveals that the answer can be a transitive, though obsolete, verb.

17a Yours truly prattling Information Technology, much computerese (7)
MEGABIT – string together a pronoun meaning ‘yours truly’, a word meaning prattling or idle talk (often used in conjunction with ‘gift’) and the abbreviation for Information Technology. The answer is some computerese used, when quoting broadband speeds for example, to quantify how much data can be transferred in a specified period of time. The definition seems woolly to me, unless I’ve missed something – what do you think?

19a Criticise involving one showing discomfort (4)
PAIN – a verb to criticise containing the Roman numeral for one.

20a Plea for peace and mercy is unusual idea sung (5,3)
AGNUS DEI – an anagram (unusual) of IDEA SUNG.

21a Burns composes end of poem inside (8)
CREMATES – a verb meaning composes or originates has the end letter of poem contained inside it.

23a Given time spuds will be in shreds (7)
TATTERS – introduce an extra T(ime) into another informal word for spuds.

25a Tarzan’s home dismantled to use here? (4,5)
TREE HOUSE – an anagram (dismantled) of TO USE HERE.

26a In-country Subaru rally entertains (5)
RURAL – hidden in the clue.

27a Her neat gin fizzes laced with smallest splash of tonic — ominous! (11)
THREATENING – insert the first letter (smallest splash) of tonic into an anagram (fizzes) of HER NEAT GIN.

Down Clues

2d Received what could be jolly? (5)
ROGER – when qualified by ‘jolly’ the answer is something a ship’s captain doesn’t want to see on the horizon. If you’ve done the back-pager today you’ll have a head start with this one.

3d Kind of Eighties record breaker, latest in (3,4)
NEW WAVE – breaker, here, is something that breaks on the sea shore.

4d All note French wine going up in value (8)
UNIVERSE – a note from tonic sol-fa and the French word for wine are reversed inside a word meaning value (as in “What’s the *** of that?”).

5d The start of something big coming to nothing is tolerable (2-2)
SO-SO – string together the first letter of something, an abbreviation meaning big and the letter that resembles zero.

6d ‘On your way! Scarper!’ Reinforce with sole of boot to get result (8)
OFFSHOOT – join together two verbal instructions to go away and follow up with the bottom letter (sole) of boot.

7d Old record collector’s obsession? (9)
MONOMANIA – cryptic definition of a record collector’s obsession before the availability of stereo.

8d Acrobatic act needs net — there’s previous form (11)
ANTECEDENTS – this is the legal term for an accused person’s previous convictions. It’s an anagram (acrobatic) of ACT NEEDS NET.

12d Unrepresentative movement welcoming miscellaneous drips? (8,3)
ABSTRACT ART – hilarious cryptic definition of a movement in which people and objects are not represented faithfully and in which various types of stuff may be dripped on to a canvas.

13d Backing music in a title sequence for epic film (7)
TITANIC – hidden in reverse.

16d Resistance by Northern Ireland in times to come may be bunk (9)
FURNITURE – insert the abbreviations for electrical resistance and Northern Ireland into ‘times to come’.

17d Kent coastal town shrouded in fog that’s distributed unevenly (8)
MISDEALT – a coastal town in Kent is contained inside a light fog.

18d Off colour and on the decline with no obvious solution (8)
INDECENT – we have to begin with a phrase (2,7) meaning on the decline and remove the S. My problem is that I can’t see how the last bit works. It could be 1) that S is meant to be an abbreviation for solution (but I can’t find that listed anywhere), or 2) that the S is the first letter of solution (but I can’t see how obvious means the first letter), or 3) that the S is the last letter of obvious (but how does solution mean the last letter?). Any thoughts are very welcome.

19d Dish, largely duck, available in company (7)
PLATOON – concatenate a flattish dish without its last letter, the letter that resembles a cricket duck and an adverb meaning available.

22d German city centre without church (5)
ESSEN – there’s only one 5-letter German city known in Crosswordland. Start with a word meaning centre or core and remove a 2-letter abbreviation for church.

24d Instruction for porridge? (4)
STIR – you should do this to your porridge if you don’t like it too lumpy and the answer and porridge are both informal words that have the same meaning.

I’ll propose 23a, 3d, 6d and 16d as top clues but my magnificent favourite is 12d. Which one(s) got you going?

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36 Comments

  1. Posted October 11, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I really enjoyed this. I’ll be happy if there are many more Wednesdays like this one.

    If Gazza has missed anything in 17a, so too have I. As for 18d, I assumed s=solution and, not having to don my explainy hat, didn’t look it up. I’ll have a ponder – but think it’s quite fitting that there’s no obvious solution! Speaking of 18d, I had a stupid-hat moment with that one, utterly convinced it would start with ILL.

    My favourites are 3d, 6d and 12d.

    Many thanks and hats off to PJ and Gazza.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I wonder for how much longer I’ll stand outside the local shop in trepidation wondering if this time when I look at the Petitjean Toughie, there’ll be a message to say it is the last one – I hope there are many more occasions when I can email Gazza to tell him ‘there is no message’.

    If I had one complaint, it would be about the grid, because you know when even I, as a non-noticer of grids, are held up by a double unch, you know it isn’t good

    Thanks to the late lamented slightly-mad hatter and Gazza too

  3. Senf
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Even with completing the back pager first (for 2d), I was totally defeated by the NW corner. But I found the rest very enjoyable.

    Favourite, for its simplicity, 24d.

    Thanks to the dear departed PJ and Gazza.

  4. Jezza
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this great fun, but quite difficult in places; my last three had me cogitating for quite some time.

    Re 18d, I went for the third of Gazza’s options, assuming that solution implied the ending, or the conclusion (of obvious).

    Thanks to PJ and to Gazza.

  5. jane
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Rushed in to get guidance from my shining knight over the parsing of 17a&18d only to find that he’s not much wiser than I am! Oh dear – where’s PJ when you need him………

    So nice to discover that the mad hat left so many puzzles for us to savour – let’s hope that there are still several more to come.

    No contest for favourite today – 12d by a country mile.

    Many thanks to PJ’s family for continuing to share his legacy and thanks to Gazza for (almost!) making sense of everything.

  6. Rabbit Dave
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great fun as ever. Like Jane I hurried in vain to look for Gazza’s explanations for 17a & 18d. Like Kitty I was convinced that 18d had to start “ill” and I can’t even understand how the definition “off colour” leads to the answer. I’m also puzzled by 10a – how does “fluid, which is clear” lead to a plural answer?

    Those minor concerns did not detract from the enjoyment, and my page is littered with ticks. Special mentions go to: 27a, 3d, 6d, 7d, & 24d with 12d in first place.

    Many thanks to PJ and to Gazza.

    • Gazza
      Posted October 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      One of the meanings for ‘off colour’ in the BRB is ‘slightly indecent’.

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted October 11, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

        How strange! But thanks very much for the information, Gazza.

      • jane
        Posted October 11, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Gazza. As RD said – how strange!

      • Sheffieldsy
        Posted October 11, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yes. I would never use off colour humour in front of my mother!

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted October 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      P.S. I think Gazza’s explanation 2 is the most likely for the wordplay for 18d, with obvious (=”easily discovered”) indicating the first letter.

      • LetterboxRoy
        Posted October 11, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I thought other way round – ‘no obvious’ = the s is hidden so cannot be seen in the answer.

        • Gazza
          Posted October 11, 2017 at 7:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Yes – but what specifies that it is the S that is hidden, given that S doesn’t stand for solution?

    • Gazza
      Posted October 11, 2017 at 3:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      On the 10a question ‘egg whites’ seems to be sold as a product so I think you can say ‘egg whites is a fluid which is clear’ in the same way that you might say ‘Cornflakes is a cereal which is crunchy’. That’s the best I can do!

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted October 11, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

        It’s better than I could do! Thanks again, Italian Magpie :wink: (ack. Kitty)

    • dutch
      Posted October 11, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I just thought if you crack & separate a bunch of 10a into a bowl, you will have a fluid.

      • jane
        Posted October 11, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

        A bunch of 10a? I’m rather curious about where you do your shopping, Dutch!

      • Dutch
        Posted October 11, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Tesco’s

  7. Una
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    12d is a brilliant clue ,as is 3d and many other clues.
    I have always thought the 20a is spelled Agnes , but then spelling is not exactly my strong point.
    I needed some help.
    Thanks to Gazza and Petitjean.

  8. Tony
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this another hugely enjoyable puzzle. I had no idea of its author until I turned to the blog. I think I would have tried to savour it a little more on the way through had I known. The NW corner was the last in for me – I hadn’t heard of the sports car (I lead a very sheltered life). However, correctly identifying the reversed pothole, and all the checkers, were just sufficient for Professor Google to be able to offer it up for me. Many thanks to all.

    • Gazza
      Posted October 11, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Gran Turismo isn’t a specific brand of car. Many car manufacturers label their top models ‘GT’ which is the short form.

      • Tony
        Posted October 11, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Gazza, – I had no idea. Top models of cars and I have never crossed paths!

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Surprised to see that it was a PJ.
    Found it very straightforward for a toughie except 7d which was a bit iffy for my liking.
    Thanks to Petitjean and to Gazza.

    • Robin Hill
      Posted October 11, 2017 at 8:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yes, great to have another posthumous Petitjean Toughie, but I agree with Jean-Luc that 7d is troublesome. I had ‘logomania,’ which means verbal diarrhoea, having assumed that ‘record’ meant ‘log,’ and that ‘old’ is represented by ‘o.’ Monomania seems to be an obsolete term in psychiatry which I hadn’t encountered before.

      I particularly liked 16d and 25a.

  10. dutch
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 4:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good grief how many puzzles did PJ leave? Many more I hope.

    Loved this, the mad hat 10a, 14a, 21a, the silly 23a, 25a, the gentleman from the back pager (2d)

    I guess PJ was no fan of 12d, great clue – also 13d.

    I interpreted the much computerese as Gazza did, though yes, woolly. I didn’t like obvious solution, thought it was a first letter indicator as in “in your face” to “at the front” – but the other ideas might have been the intention, dunno.

    Many thanks PJ and thanks Gazza

  11. Gazza
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Firefly tomorrow.

  12. Sheffieldsy
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Wonderful stuff from beyond the grave. Let’s hope there are more to come.

    We used explanation (2) for 18d and thought no more about it! The last part (“much computerese”) in 17a is a bit woolly, we agree, but probably what somebody with little IT knowledge would think of such a word. Those of us who worked in the industry use these words effortlessly, but those who didn’t would naturally find them all rather inaccessible. In a similar way, not being a doctor and hearing two medics talking is often like listening to another language.

    Favourites were 12d and 23a.

    Thanks Gazza and the marvellous PJ.

  13. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Such a pleasure to have another PJ puzzle to enjoy. We both had a shiver go down our spines when we solved 21a. We agree that 13d is the pick of the crop amongst many good fun clues.
    Thanks PJ and Gazza.

  14. Mac
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 8:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    8d and 24d lead me to question I have pondered for a long time: is there among the setters a lawyer or someone connected with the law? I have often noticed legal terminology, formal and informal, in both the back-pagers and the toughies. That being so, I think that 8d was my favourite.

  15. Salty Dog
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 9:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A typically interesting puzzle from this much-missed setter: 2*/4*. So many cracking clues, but my favourite was 16d. Thanks to the shade of PJ, and to Gazza.

  16. BasingstokeTougher
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 10:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    18d – thinking “on the decline” gives “in descent” and, losing the ‘S’ indicated(?) by “obvious solution” gives INDECENT (somehow meaning “off colour”).

    Not very confident, though.

    • Gazza
      Posted October 11, 2017 at 10:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Welcome to the blog, Basingstoke Tougher.
      Yes – that’s the way it works, but the main query is how the S comes from ‘obvious solution’ or just ‘solution’.

  17. Lesley
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink | Reply

    Great puzzle. 18d was my favourite – don’t see why others didn’t get it. The solution, or last letter of obvious is obviously “s”. Only stuck on 7d, which I got from your clue, Gazza. I couldn’t get Black Sabbath (Paranoia) or The Who (Quadrophenia) out of my head. What a way to start the day!

  18. Joehorn
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Re 18D, the chemistry term Normal Solution is made by taking the atomic weight of a substance in grams and making it up to 1000 grams of solution.
    EG; Hydrochloric Acid HCl. Hydrogen is AW 1 and Chlorine is 17 thus 18 grams in 1 litre of solution.
    This would be a 1 Normal Solution or 1NS.
    A 2NS would be 36 grams/litre and so on.
    So a normal solution could be an obvious solution, maybe!

    • Gazza
      Posted October 13, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for that though it is beyond my feeble grasp of chemistry to understand it and I’m not sure how it gets us to a single ‘S’.

      • Joehorn
        Posted October 13, 2017 at 7:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

        No I think I lost the thread there! I was trying to get to 1NS as INS. Adding the IN to and removing the S from DESCENT.
        I think Petit Jean will be laughing at this scrabbling around in vain😀😁😂

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