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Toughie 1989

Toughie No 1989 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

I enjoyed this puzzle where what difficulties there were came from clever misdirections rather than obscure vocabulary (good). I wonder whether Donnybrook has decided to adopt Ray T’s style because all the clues are succinct with none straying over eight words, all the answers are single words and the Queen makes an appearance (no innuendo as far as I can see, though). 

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

Across Clues

7a Rejected ruling? (9)
ABDICATED: cryptic definition of what Edward VIII, for example, did. This was my last answer as I spent some time looking for a double definition.

8a Wicked spirit was rebuffed (5)
DEVIL: a verb meaning ‘was’ or existed gets reversed.

10a Italian river joins lake with country (6)
POLAND: it’s not the Tiber so it must be the other Italian river that we all know. Follow it with the abbreviation for lake plus a conjunction meaning ‘with’.

11a Supporter‘s position backing celebrity golf (8)
LIEGEMAN: start with a position (of a ball on the fairway, for example) then reverse another word for a celebrity and what golf stands for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

12a For greeting bow to each side (6)
BEHIND: an informal greeting is inserted into a verb to bow or lean over.

14a Peninsula in Russian region son must leave (6)
IBERIA: remove the abbreviation for son from a Russian region. Rather an old chestnut.

16a Ready to complain having missed starter (4)
RIPE: an informal verb to complain or whinge loses its first letter.

17a Unmarried woman’s criminal language (5)
ARGOT: a woman’s forename without its leading letter which is the abbreviation for married.

18a Transport proceeds of robbery (4)
HAUL: double definition, the first a verb meaning to transport goods by road.

19a Seafood — have most of mine (6)
SCAMPI: a verb to have or deceive followed by two-thirds of another word for a mine.

21a Might one be tickled pink? (6)
SALMON: double definition, the first something that can be caught by tickling.

24a An idea if seal be broken (8)
FEASIBLE: an anagram (broken) of IF SEAL BE. “It’s an idea” in response to a suggestion indicates that it seems to be a possibility.

26a Undercoat for each skirting edge (6)
PRIMER: a preposition meaning ‘for each’ contains a synonym for edge.

27a Energy-fuelled blast in Hell (5)
BELOW: another word for a blast or gust contains the abbreviation for energy.

28a Organism spreads to devour upper-class twit (9)
IGNORAMUS: an anagram (spreads) of ORGANISM eats the letter used for upper-class.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

Down Clues

1d Injurious assault soldiers reject (5)
ABHOR: join together an abbreviation used in the criminal justice system for an assault causing a non-grievous injury and the abbreviation for rank-and-file soldiers.

2d Italian enamel is used imaginatively (8)
MILANESE: an anagram (used imaginatively) of ENAMEL IS. Lovely anagram indicator!

3d Spiritual leader from Ealing and Hillingdon (6)
GANDHI: hidden in the clue.

4d Went down hill (4)
FELL: double definition, the second being a hill or high moorland in Northern England.

5d Hard to endure cut close to bone (6)
SEVERE: a verb to cut followed by the closing letter of bone.

6d Cruel to involve rising artist’s surrogate (9)
VICARIOUS: an adjective meaning cruel or ferocious contains the reversal of the standard abbreviation for a recognised artist.

9d Widow caught with priest after introduction to religion (6)
RELICT: this is an old word for a widow. The cricket abbreviation for caught is appended to our usual Old Testament priest and that’s all preceded by the first letter of religion.

13d Beginning to draw for example like impressionist (5)
DEGAS: assemble the first letter of draw, the abbreviation meaning ‘for example’ and a preposition meaning like.

15d Earl, King and Queen crossing Hampshire river (9)
KITCHENER: the chess abbreviation for king and the cipher of our current Queen contain the name of a river that flows through Southampton.

17d Seaman Oscar welcomes written work with open arms (6)
AKIMBO: one of the abbreviations for a seaman and the letter that Oscar is used for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet contain the name of a Kipling novel.

18d Ruffian who loses head playing in goal (8)
HOOLIGAN: ‘who’ without its first letter is followed by an anagram (playing) of IN GOAL.

20d Maiden on course to show charming presence (6)
MASCOT: the crickety abbreviation for a maiden over and the name of an English racecourse.

22d Friend set up better mobile device (6)
LAPTOP: reverse a synonym for friend and add a verb to better.

23d Upright character excused from master class (5)
GENUS: remove the perpendicular letter from a master or someone of great intellect.

25d Experience one French duke avoided for this reason (4)
ERGO: start with a verb to experience or live through and remove the French word for one and the abbreviation for duke.

I liked 8a and 16a (for their excellent surfaces) but my favourite was 7a. Which one(s) gained your approbation?

31 comments on “Toughie 1989

  1. I have real trouble getting on Donnybrook’s wavelength – I even had to resort to a bit of Gnome’s Law in order to finish off the solving process which took me into proper Toughie solving time.

    Don’t know how Gnomey is going to cope with being told that the river in 10a is in Italy ;)

    Thanks to Donnybrook and Gazza too

  2. I struggled mightily today. I did not catch on to many of the indicators such as ‘rebuffed’ Then as usual had no idea about the novel in17d. I always struggle too with clues that contain references to people’s names as there are just so many.
    Ah, well. Try again tomorrow!

  3. Pretty much as CS said, but I will add that this is one of my least favourite grids with 60% answers unchecked first, and added to that 3 of the 6 five letter words only had vowels as crossers.

    However was a fun solve, so thanks to D&G

    1. As is usually the case with me I didn’t notice the grid at all until I’d got it full. Then I did spot that it was suitable for a Nina but I couldn’t see anything.

  4. I enjoyed this very much even though I found parts of it very tough (the clue is in the name Toughie, I guess). I loved the brevity of the cluing which has been achieved without compromising the surfaces.

    9d was a new meaning for me, and I needed Gazza’s help to parse 19a & 25d both of which I bunged in.

    7a was brilliant but 18d gets my vote as favourite.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and to Gazza.

    P.S. Gazza the bottom few down clues in your review are labelled with an “a”.

    1. Thanks RD – now fixed.
      I do hate the term ‘bung in’. Even if you get the answer right it shouldn’t count as solving the clue (a bit like maths tests at school where you didn’t get a tick if you didn’t show your workings).

      1. More politely – I could see what the answer must be from the definition and checking letters but I could not unravel the rest of the wordplay and so needed Gazza’s help. Bunged is, I agree, coarse, but it is very much briefer :wink:

      2. Using that analogy, I count a ‘bung in’, wild guess, wing and a prayer etc that turns out to be correct as deserving of half a mark.
        Some of us lesser mortals will happily clutch at any straw in extremis, Gazza!

      3. Sometimes the workings of a clue only reveals its mystery when the answer is seen written out. A bung in May be all that is needed to see the reasoning. Likewise down clues that cannot be parsed often show themselves when written horizontally.

      4. I have to agree with you, Gazza, though it’s not the term I mind so much as the implication that an answer bunged in is a clue solved. (A little pet hate of mine is when people talk about having solved a clue or crossword and then go on to say they neglected some of the parsing.)

        1. In my book, a “bung in” is far from satisfactory and I can never rest until I have an explanation even if that means on some occasions seeking the assistance of one of BD’s wonderful bloggers. I do agree with you, an unparsed clue (and even a half-parsed clue) is an unsolved clue.

          1. But what about our beginners who feel so proud of their first completed grid and grin all day long because they have a correct letter in every square. Surely we can give some leeway there. I am glad this thread isn’t on the back pager bit.

        2. I agree with you in every detail, Kitty. I regard a crossword as 30 or so little puzzles which the setter has given us and you haven’t finished it until you’ve explained (as least to your own satisfaction) every one of them. There’s nothing wrong with not understanding all the clues of course (especially for those learning the cryptic arts) but that shouldn’t be confused with finishing it.

        3. Totally agree. the parsing is the fun bit, not the filling of the grid, particularly if, like me, you solve on paper.

          Incidentally, the quickie takes me longer than the cryptics, because often I cannot be sure of a correct answer until I’ve done the entire puzzle mentally.
          With a cryptic, the parsing is the proof.

  5. I struggled very much with this, and almost gave up with only a handful in. Like andy, I found the grid to be very unfriendly, and added significantly to the difficulty. I found the bottom half went in much more easily than the top half. In the end the only mistake I made was in 8a. I had ‘genie’ whose spirit appeared when the lamp was rebuffed! Way more than **/*** in difficulty for me. As soon as a got into the bottom half my enjoyment level increased significantly! Many thanks to all.

  6. 7a was my first one in – always happy to accept the obvious! – but I found much of this extremely hard work to the point that the enjoyment diminished.
    17a & 9d were new to me (the distinction between the answer to the latter and ‘widow’ is quite complex when you look into it) and I’m only familiar with 15d as a Lord.

    I needed help from Gazza to parse 12&19a along with 25d but fortune finally shone with 3d being a lurker – I always dither over where to put the ‘H’ in that one.

    Tops for me were 16a & 18d and I’m now heading off to the darkened room.

    Apologies to Donnybrook for not quite making his grade and many thanks to Gazza for the invaluable input.

  7. The master of the smooth surface returns, with quite a few not sounding like crossword clues at all. That’s some feat, and I think that may be why Donnybrook is, or can be, quite tough. Once the ideas unravelled however, I couldn’t really see why I’d been so foxed! And of course this is ‘the Toughie’.

    Some brilliant stuff here, with 19a and 21a really doing it for me.

    Thanks Donny and Gazza.

  8. Defeated by 11a,too complicated, and 8a who I always consider more solid than a spirit. I liked 10a but feel having to guess a lady’s name and then behead her, as in 17a, is a backwards clue. I solved the answer and then worked out why. I so wanted “scant” – single plus thieve’s talk but it just wouldn’t work!

  9. I enjoyed this, in particular 12a with an unexpected definition, 2a which I first thought was a cd, 2d for surface, 4d as a good double definition, 23d for quirkiness and the ‘master class’, 25d for clever wordplay.

    I wasn’t particularly taken with the definitions for 24a and 17a, but they had to be.

    Many thanks Donnybrook for the entertainment, and thanks as always Gazza

  10. I do notice grids but reserve judgement until I’ve studied the clues too. I’ve a bit of a thing against _(vowel)_(vowel)_ which may explain why I ended up doing some word searching to finish today. After spending some time on the last few I can’t quite remember how I found the rest of the puzzle.

    As for favourites, 16a strikes a chord with me, and 21a tickled my fancy too.

    Thanks Donnybrook and Gazza.

  11. The river in 15d proved a real challenge for someone on this side of the world but eventually sorted it out. The widow was also new. I found it quite hard work and agree with Andy at comment 3 on why this was so.
    I had not noticed that the setter seems to have adopted RayT’s self-imposed rules but looks like the case as I would not think it was accidental. I might have to extend my word counting duties.
    Thanks Donnybrook and Gazza.

  12. Is that really true? RayT will not write a clue in any more than 8 words? Wow!

    I’m late to the fray so won’t delay by picking out the same little masterpieces that others have done, but I will chime in to agree about the VERY pleasing surfaces. This is very neat indeed, such that one could not really get a cigarette paper into the constructions very easily.

    Thank you Donnybrook, well done Gazza for your lovely blogging.

  13. Really enjoyed the challenge.
    Some very interesting constructions and great misdirections.
    Had to check internet for the Hampshire river in 15d but knew the peer. Thought he was only a Lord though.
    Remembered the hill too in 4d.
    Didn’t realise that argot was criminal.
    Ticked 12a.
    Thanks to Donnybrook and to Gazza.

    1. Personally I know little of honours (and I’d scrap them all) but as I understand it ‘lord’ is an informal title given to a marquess, earl or viscount.

  14. I was odds-on for a 2* completion but failed to crack 15 and 23d. The former was too good a clue for me, although l would probably have teased it out had l resorted to a map of Hampshire. 25d was my favourite. Thanks to Donnybrook and Gazza.

  15. A *** for difficulty here, so on the tricky side, as expected really. 11ac and 15d I was pleased to tease out from the wordplay. I wondered if we needed some sort of indication at 9d that the answer was pretty archaic, but the answer was clear enough so I suppose it doesn’t really matter.

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