Toughie 1908

Toughie No 1908 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


Hellooo-ooo-oooo!  Welcome to the spooky side of the blog hosted by Scaredy Kitty and featuring a Terrifying Toughie Teaser by Giovanni.  I’ve let loose a few spirits: do come to the party!

I was slow to get started on this, but then made steady progress.  When writing the review I noticed an awful lot of removing letters from things.  There are a few bits of potentially scary vocab, but I actually has less trouble with those than in other places.  I found it about averagely fiendish for a Toughie — maybe a shade more, but not as diabolical as these:

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

As usual, you may click on pictures to enlarge them or uncover hidden extras    .



1a    Stylish student victim keeping very quiet (6)
PREPPY:  The victim of a predator containing (keeping) the musical abbreviation for very quiet

4a    Bill subjected to financial analysis and met with aggressively? (8)
ACCOSTED:  A charade of the abbreviation for account and a word meaning having had the price estimated

9a    Too old, truly the first person to miss out (6)
OVERLY:  O(ld) followed by an old-fashioned word meaning truly or really without I (the first person to miss out)

10a   Worms in tops of jars found by woman (8)
ANNELIDS:  Take some covers for receptacles such as jars and place them after a feminine name

11a   Rock making comeback — one perhaps described as ‘skinny’ stars (3,6)
BIG DIPPER:  An informal abbreviation of a rock on the Iberian Peninsula, reversed (making a comeback), and the second part of “skinny ******”, one having a liberated kind of swim

13a   A run — notice missing tree (5)
ALDER:  The A from the clue and the kind of run that ruins stockings or tights, without (missing) a publicity notice (abbreviated).  Until late morning today, the puzzles site had a wrong solution here (ADDER) but this has now been corrected

14a   Boy, silly fellow, fools around with maiden in that celebration of love (4,2,7)
SONG OF SOLOMON:  Boy or lad, then a silly person (4); containing (with … in that) an anagram (silly) of FOOLS and M(aiden).  This biblical book celebrates sexual love.  I knew of the book, but I didn’t know about its contents, and assumed until I looked it up that the love celebrated would be purely spiritual.  Here’s the lolcat version

17a   What Michaelmas term is seen to do for man in charge of the port? (13)
HARBOURMASTER:  A reverse clue:  there is something lurking in “Michaelmas term” and our solution consists of a hidden word indicator (7) followed by that hidden word

21a   Note written by American without others around (5)
SOLUS:  A musical note next to (written by) an abbreviation for the States

23a   Crackle from record, the thing found stored in box (9)
CREPITATE:  A type of music record and “the thing” inside (stored in) a strong container.  A cracking onomatopoeic word

24a   Exist as a fantastic sin-avoiding divine (8)
BEATIFIC:  Exist (2), the A from the clue, and a synonym of fantastic or marvellous missing a three-letter verb to sin (sin-avoiding)

25a   Encouragement to singer, one barely famous (6)
GODIVA:  For the definition, we want to think cryptically and travel to 12th century Coventry on horseback.  Split (2,4!) this would be a shout of encouragement to a prima donna

26a   Greet men in battle coming to the front? (8)
EMERGENT:  An anagram (in battle) of GREET MEN

27a   Return from war, ever thankful (6)
REVERT:  More things lurking.  Extract the solution from the last three words of the clue



1d    Catcher of flies could also make bee hop (6)
PHOEBE:  This bird is an anagram of (could also make) BEE HOP

2d    Provider of power is greener, using recycling (9)
ENERGISER:  An anagram (using recycling) of IS GREENER

3d    Seat very good to get on, but with bad stuffing (7)
PILLION:  Very good, or goody-goody and the ON from the clue containing (with … stuffing) bad (3)

5d    Time to go after money, joining others in prominent position (6,5)
CENTRE STAGE:  A time or era after a small quantity of money in many countries together with (joining) the others or remainder

6d    Finished room except for ceiling coat? (7)
OVERALL:  Finished or done and a large room without (except for) its first letter (ceiling, in a down clue)

7d    In this I must be in a medal position (5)
THIRD:  The position of “I” within “this” gives us a position in a competition which would lead to a place on the podium.  The clue works with the conventional wordplay/definition split but the whole also defines the answer.  Awesome!

8d    Losing hope? The old man’s abandoned craving (8)
DESIRING:  A word for losing hope from which “the old man” has been dropped (abandoned)

12d   Favouring attempt to cut short hostilities going on and on (11)
PROTRACTION:  Join together favouring (3), an attempt minus its last letter (cut short), and some warfare

15d   Mineral found in refuse on a building location? (9)
MARCASITE:  Some refuse from wine making, the A from the clue and a construction area

16d   Church with a delicate timeless garment in the vestry? (8)
CHASUBLE:  An abbreviation for church followed by the A from the clue and delicate or understated from which T(ime) has been removed (timeless)

18d   Getting rid of tournament competition when first of judges is unavailable (7)
OUSTING:  A contest between two lance-bearers on horseback when the first letter of judges is left out (when … is unavailable)

19d   Performing in dull musical interval (7)
TRITONE:  Performing (2) inside dull or hackneyed

20d   Gold coin from borders of Zambia pocketed by criminal (6)
BEZANT:  The outer letters of (borders of) Zambia inside (pocketed by) an adjective meaning criminal.  The gold coin was either new to me or had slipped out of my memory bank

22d   Landlord’s beginning to make easier his contract? (5)
LEASE:  The first letter (beginning) of Landlord and a verb to make easier (using the same root as the word in the clue, which makes it easier to solve!).  The definition requires you to refer back to the wordplay, as the “his” refers to the Landlord used therein


Thanks to Giovanni.  I enjoyed untangling 11a and 17a and liked 3d, but 7d was my favourite.  Were you left in high spirits by any frightfully good clues?



  1. beery hiker
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I can’t say I enjoyed this too much – found it more difficult than his Guardian puzzle today and might have appreciated it more without the double dose. As always both puzzles contained a few educational and obscure words. I did like 17 because for those of us who went to universities with Michaelmas terms the misdirection was clever. 8 was last in but no excuses for that.

    Thanks to Kitty and Giovanni

  2. Bellerophon
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well that was a real struggle for me which took up most of the morning whilst waiting for deliveries and repairmen. If this is a Tuesday, does not bode well for me on Friday!

    Some words new to me in there, but I liked 11a best.

    Thanks to Kitty and Giovanni

  3. Gazza
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Quite tricky for a Tuesday Toughie I thought, with several words I didn’t know and had to check in the BRB (before today I thought that 16d was just a character in The Importance of Being Earnest). Thanks to Giovanni and Scary Kitty.
    I thought that 22d was rather weak but 11a and 3d were very good. My favourite clue was 17a.

  4. Goblinski
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well, the trend around town seems to be that no GK or Classics knowledge should be necessary to compete a puzzle were its cryptic/ wordplay elements to be removed. I have seen setters slated recently for perfectly good puzzles that feature a bit of vocab from a bygone era, or from the depths of Chambers, and it seems to boil down to ‘words used in grid’. And it’s real hatred!

    I started out solving Guardian, and that was often littered with words and phrases of which I’d never heard, so it’s not really a problem for me (and I don’t mind Don’s ‘educative’ stance) but I guess I sympathise to an extent with the other POV.

    What do you all think?

    • stanXYZ
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I also started with today’s Guardian – I thought that two Don puzzles in one day might stretch my vocabulary and GK to the very limits – I was right.

      Ps. What’s a POV?

    • Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m happy to see some variation — I think there’s room for that — but in general I wouldn’t want to see much esoterica in daily crosswords. There are plenty of harder puzzles out there for that. I only really mind if there’s double trouble, with obscure wordplay used in the clueing of an obscure word.

  5. Dutch
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was also surprised by the wrong answer ar 13a – doesn’t happen often.

    New words for me at 14a, 21a, 23a, 1d, 16d (ok maybe I’ve see it), 19d and 20d. May seem a lot for one puzzle, but I was ready with my brb app so it didn’t seem to bad..

    My favourites were 9a and 25a.

    Just bought a tesco scary wolf mask that I can frighten any visitors with.

    And a pasquale in the guardian….

    Many thanks giovanni and kitty

    • Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I should get a scary mask. I could then frighten visitors by taking it off. :)

    • Gazza
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I didn’t know 23a either – I thought it meant a rather poor art gallery.

      • Posted October 31, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Permalink | Reply


        I really don’t know if I knew it or not. All I know is that when I constructed the word I had no doubt of its existence or meaning. It just had to be.

    • Dutch
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m not quite getting the reaction to my scary wolf mask that I had hoped

      • Posted October 31, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Are people finding it funny or cute?

        • LetterboxRoy
          Posted October 31, 2017 at 8:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Maybe they just think it’s a bit lupey? (sorry, lupine). Probably should have just grown a beard and worn a Steppenwolf t-shirt, Dutch!

  6. Tony
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m afraid I was left with a sense of disappointment by this. After spending longer than I enjoy searching Google and elsewhere for things I hadn’t met before, I was ultimately only defeated by 15d in which I had heard of neither the mineral nor the refuse.

    • Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I was lucky because I remembered the refuse. So I was able to have that nice feeling when you build a word, then check and find that it does exist. I can sympathise with your experience though — it’s certainly not one unfamiliar to me!

    • dutch
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I still find the refuse meaning a little harsh, since it is used to create excellent distilled spirits of the same name!

      • Posted October 31, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yes — spirits which you just can’t refuse!

  7. Posted October 31, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Tomorrow’s Toughie is looking promising.

  8. Expat Chris
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    For once I guessed the setter correctly! I managed to work out all the very obscure words and then checked them on line. I failed to parsed 15D completely though….thought Marc was just a name for brandy. Just too many obscurities to say that I enjoyed the solve, but as always with Giovanni in this frame of mind I did encounter a few new things (promptly to be forgotten, no doubt). Thanks anyway Giovanni and thanks to Kitty for another entertaining blog.

  9. Lesley
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 6:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Couldn’t justify 7d, even after reading the hint. Then the penny dropped. Otherwise pretty straightforward. Thanks guys. Oh, I didn’t know 16d, but my husband did. He is gradually being weaned onto Toughies, having been too scared previously. He wasn’t scared today, but we did do it in daylight before the onslaught of ghosties and ghoulies!

  10. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Failed miserably in the SE corner.
    Had “Progression” in 12d (pro aggression kind of parsing) and thought the mineral in 15d was “ore” into a word for refuse and so on.
    Didn’t know the gold coin in 20d nor the interval in 19d.
    25a is a great clue but I didn’t get it either unfortunately.
    Liked 17a also.
    Thanks to the Don and to Kitty for the much needed hints.

  11. Jon_S
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 10:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A few unknowns I felt the need to check in the dictionary (Ok, well Google), but this wasn’t as fearsome as some Giovanni Toughies can be. *** for difficulty then about right, and an enjoyable one to start with.

  12. Salty Dog
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 10:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Cracking puzzle. Just short of 3* difficulty; 4* enjoyment. I particularly enjoyed 17a, 16d and 25a. Thanks to the Don and Kitty.

  13. JB
    Posted November 1, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink | Reply

    Having commentated yesterday on a GK clue in a cryptic crossword I really appreciated 25a. Don’t forget the “coven” in Coventry either. Most appropriate!

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