Toughie 2375 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2375

Toughie No 2375 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

I thought that this was more akin to the back-pagers that Giovanni used to give us on Fridays than his usual Toughies. There are no obscurities from the Old Testament or classical times and it’s all the better for that. Thanks to him.

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

Across Clues

1a Peach (not a nice girl!) is so very cruel (5-7)
STONY-HEARTED: this is how a peach (the fruity sort) could be described. The bit in brackets is not necessary for the wordplay but clarifies what sort of peach we need and improves the surface reading.

9a HQ in European city left abandoned (4)
BASE: remove the abbreviation for left from a Swiss city.

10a Writer, one engaged by gentleman, is person benefiting from fund (9)
PENSIONER: start with a writing implement and then insert ‘one’ into the title of a gentleman.

12a Suffers at home with beastly types (6)
INCURS: charade of an adverb meaning ‘at home’ and some dogs.

13a Nasty comedian revealing an evil nature (8)
DEMONIAC: an anagram (nasty) of COMEDIAN.

15a They provide drink in bash ahead of game on green (10)
PUNCHBOWLS: join together a verb to bash or thump and a game normally played on a green.

16a Enthusiasm of AB abandoning a port (4)
BRIO: remove the A from ‘AB’ and append a South American port. Hmm.

18a Top dog, from what we hear (4)
PEAK: this sounds like an informal word for a breed of small dogs.

20a They don’t make a prison — delays (10)
STONEWALLS: split the answer 5,5 to get what the English poet Richard Lovelace described in his poem ‘To Althea, from prison‘:

***** ***** do not a Prison make,
Nor Iron bars a Cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an Hermitage.
If I have freedom in my Love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above,
Enjoy such Liberty.

23a Home for Cockney thieves? (3,5)
TEA CADDY: cryptic definition of where you’d store the Cockney rhyming slang term for thieves.

24a Doughnuts to get rid of before lunchtime? (6)
ANNULI: a verb to get rid of or cancel is followed by the letter that resembles the hour of the day when you might take lunch.

26a Short time with one male friend — taking least time possible? (9)
MINIMALLY: knit together the abbreviation for a period of time, the Roman numeral for one, the abbreviation for male and a synonym for friend or comrade.

27a Stars bathed in lovely radiance (4)
LYRA: hidden in the clue. I like ‘bathed in’.

28a Meet to entertain performer, all right? (12)
SATISFACTORY: a verb to meet or fulfil contains a word for a performer or luvvy.

Down Clues

2d Divine rule from those people restricting what is wicked? (8)
THEARCHY: the pronoun used for ‘those people’ contains an adjective meaning wicked or sly.

3d Refusal to offer work in former shipbuilding region? (4)
NOPE: the abbreviation for an artistic work goes inside the abbreviation for Tyneside.

4d Worker that has put down line in distant territory (10)
HINTERLAND: a manual worker with inside it a verb to put down or bury and the abbreviation for line. It occurred to me when writing this that the answer could be a cryptic definition for Big Dave’s blog.

5d Friends disappear in a fog, finally invisible (6)
AMIGOS: insert a verb to disappear into ‘a fog’ (1,4) with its final letter suppressed.

6d Cheaper pub involved in row (7)
TINNIER: a synonym of pub goes inside a row or rank.

7d Female minister’s in top role (12)
DIRECTORSHIP: glue together a short female name, a church minister (with the ‘S) and an adjective meaning in or trendy.

8d John repeatedly offering music-hall entertainment (6)
CANCAN: repeat another informal name for a john.

11d Water animal with a hump — it’s moving round river repeatedly (12)
HIPPOPOTAMUS: I think that this is meant to be a semi-all-in-one although the answer’s hump is not that pronounced. It’s an anagram (moving) of A HUMP IT’S containing a double helping of our favourite Italian river.

14d Lo, lard and meat made into a sausage! (10)
MORTADELLA: an anagram (made into) of LO LARD MEAT.

17d Crook and second twister getting outside jail finally (8)
SWINDLER: assemble the abbreviation for second and another word for a twister or turner containing the final letter of jail.

19d In contact with a good person to secure win (7)
AGAINST: A and the abbreviation for a good or holy person contain a verb to win or attain.

21d Stories about radiation detected in Parisian building (6)
LOUVRE: a word for stories traditionally passed by word of mouth contains the abbreviation used for a type of electromagnetic radiation.

22d Letters provided by classics teachers maybe after school (6)
GAMMAS: the degrees that classics teachers may have follow a word for a school of whales.

25d Feature of river at Chiswick had to be broadcast (4)
EYOT: this word for a small island sounds like a verb meaning had or consumed. I first heard the term Chiswick **** when listening to John Snagge’s radio commentary on the University Boat Race in the early fifties. I had no idea what he meant when he spoke of the crews passing this place and assumed that the boats were going past eight spectators on the riverbank.

The clues I liked best were 1a, 23a and 27a. Which one(s) hit the spot for you?


22 comments on “Toughie 2375

  1. I found this Toughie closer in degree of difficulty to a standard back page cryptic. I had to resort to Chambers for GAM, the collective noun for whales, having never encountered it before, used in 22D.

    1. The same for except I needed the hint to parse it. Any road up I’ve heard of it now.

  2. This is the sort of Toughie that should start the Toughie week as it was on the border between a back pager and an easy Toughie. I did like 23a and 11d – two lots of Gnomethang’s river in a clue for one of my favourite animals had to make me smile. Like Gazza, the word at 25d always makes me think of the Boat Race.

    Thanks to the 2 Gs

  3. Having recently been deprived of my Friday tussles with Don Manley, I thoroughly enjoyed this little battle. This time I am more than happy to to say that I won. A very satisfying solve indeed. My thanks to both Giovanni and and Gazza.

  4. Less a walk in the park, more a stroll through dense-ish undergrowth with occasional enlightening flashes. Not sure about equating doughnuts with the answer to 24a, and I’ve never been a fan of the final letter meaning lunchtime, but maybe that’s just me? 3*/2*. Thanks G & G.

  5. Agree with our esteemed blogger’s preamble and I enjoyed the solve, though I didn’t exactly race through it
    16a seems rather strange, perhaps I’m missing something in the relevance of AB
    Many thanks to Giovanni and Gazza

  6. This was progressing well until I came to the right hand edge. I’m not sure I’m a fan of 16a, and it took me a good while to track down the doughnuts in 24a. However it was the river feature in 25d where I met my Waterloo – never heard of it, and it took me several times reading Gazza’s hint to realize how it must be pronounced, and so I never stood a chance from the wordplay. I seem to be in a minority, but it spoiled an otherwise enjoyable solve. Thanks anyway to Giovanni and Gazza.

  7. Think I’d probably qualify CS’s ‘entry level to Toughies’ comment as ‘entry level to Giovanni’s Toughies’ – the likes of 24a & 2d don’t exactly trip off the tongue!
    Unusually for me when faced with a DG puzzle, I did find a couple worthy of a tick – 20&23a both hit the mark here.

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the review. That card must have been created by a frustrated participant!

  8. I have been doing the backpager for 25 years and have always fought shy of the Toughie, with good cause when you look at some of the stinkers that appear quite regularly.

    But now – two “Doable” Toughies in a row! Just what is needed to get newbies like me to feel we stand a chance of rising to the challenge and moving our skills up a level

    Doubtless we shall be faced with something less solvable by mere mortals over the next few days but these two puzzles have been quite inspiring without having to rely too heavily on obscure general knowledge, apart from “gam” in 22d today which I have never come across before.

    Good to be stretched but get over the line, so thanks to Giovanni and Gazza

    1. Agree! It’s good to have a chance of solving at least some of the clues! Wish there were more cryptic crosswords that were faintly doable in this paper.

  9. I agree that 25d was rather obscure. No problem for me having followed the Boat Race regularly but I’d say impossible to anyone who hadn’t.

    I did like 20a. Again no problem because I knew the poem by Richard Lovelace. Perhaps his words on honour will follow.

    2 favourites ( can you have more than one in these pedantic times?) 15a and 23a.

    I’m finding the back page heavy going.

      1. . . . but unusually I did just ‘pop in’ to see what people had said and then I came across this so thought I should give it a definite :negative: even though I’ve more or less given up my unequal struggle about plural ‘favourites’.
        Perhaps it’s time to start waving my big stick around again.

  10. I haven’t attempted a Giovanni Toughie for many moons, but Gazza’s comment earlier today prompted me to try this one. I’m pleased to say I found it reasonably enjoyable with accurate cluing and some good humour. In fact this would have made a suitable candidate for a Friday back-pager!

    At least the female in 7d is the Don’s favourite and the first one that comes to mind when solving his puzzles. My BRB came into play as I learnt two new words: the answer to 2d and the school in 22d. I was initially puzzled by the parsing of 25d as I had only ever seen it written and not heard it pronounced. What a wonderful thing Google is in these circumstances.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza, especially for his comment for 4d.

    1. * I’ve come across the 25d answer hundreds of times over the decades, but never knew it was pronounced that way. You’re certainly never too old to learn!

  11. Held up in the SE by writing 24a with two L rather than two N. Soon sorted.
    The whales in 22d were new to me too.
    Favourite 11d also.
    Thanks to the Don and to Gazza.

  12. We took some time with 25a. We did know the word and guessed it correctly but did not realise how it is pronounced so struggled with the wordplay.
    An enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks Giovanni and Gazza.

  13. I am familiar with Ravens Ait but not Chiswick Eyot. Both pronounced Eight and both meaning Small Island. Never mind.

    My vote goes to the supremely elegant surface of 7 down

  14. Blurgh, I managed far less of this by myself than I typically do when I try a Toughie (and I’ve occasionally completed one without hints) — made more disappointing by this one being widely reckoned to be easier than most.

    On my first pass through I filled in just 3 answers — one of which I hadn’t heard of and had to check actually was a word, and one of which turned out to be wrong! So I resorted to the hints, in the end reading all of them, and still had fewer than half the answers after another pass.

    For 13a I had ‘daemonic’, which seems to fit both the definition and the wordplay, but completely stuffs up three of the down answers. It was only when giving up on 6d and pressing ‘reveal’, over a day later, that I discovered I’d got 13a wrong.

    What am I missing which means 13a has to be what it is and not what I put? Nobody else has mentioned it, so I presume you all got it right first time. Similarly for 1a where my ‘stone-hearted’ seems equally valid (but at least that doesn’t affect crossing answers).

    I hadn’t heard of the 14d sausage, among other things, and there are a bunch of bits I didn’t understand even with the answer, but I lost the will to track them.

    My favourite clue was Gazza’s use of 4d as a cryptic definition — that really made me smile! And thank you for the hints, explanations, and answers which at least meant I eventually ended up with a full grid.

  15. 3*/4*………..
    liked 8D ” John repeatedly offering music-hall entertainment (6) “

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