Toughie 2427 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2427

Toughie No 2427 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

Last week I commended Serpent for giving us a Toughie where the difficulties came from tricky wordplay rather than obscure vocabulary but this week we have just the opposite. The wordplay is pretty straightforward but the puzzle is laced with obscurities. To be honest the constant need to check things meant that I found it difficult to work up much enthusiasm for it.

Thanks to Giovanni for the puzzle.

Do leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a What’s not good about novel being hit? (6)
BASHED: the opposite of good contains the name of a novel by Rider Haggard.

5a Support good queen going about old city keeping dry (8)
BUTTRESS: the ‘good queen ****’ of Tudor times contains our usual old Biblical city which in turn holds the abbreviation for dry or abstaining from alcohol.

9a Spoil charlady naughtily, rendering love songs maybe (13)
RHAPSODICALLY: an anagram (naughtily) of SPOIL CHARLADY. I can’t see how the answer (an adverb) matches the definition grammatically.

10a Explosive claim of someone who has annexed territory? (4,4)
LAND MINE: this could be a laconic statement of success by someone who has annexed a territory. The explosive is normally a single 8-letter word.

11a Very little desire in these people losing heart completely (6)
TITCHY: a desire or longing goes inside a pronoun identifying ‘these people’ without its inner letters.

12a Record kept aboard ship — one’s showing presence of deadly bacteria (6)
SEPSIS: put an old record format inside the abbreviation of a steamship then append the Roman numeral for one and the ‘S.

14a Number joining bishop in time to join eastern ritual before Easter (8)
TENEBRAE: start with a two-digit number and add the chess abbreviation for bishop inside a long period of time. Finish with the abbreviation for eastern. The answer, apparently, is what Roman Catholics do with candles just before Easter.

16a Was glitzy snow vehicle seen outside recreation area? (8)
SPARKLED: a vehicle for use in snow contains a recreation area in which we’re currently allowed to exercise but not congregate.

19a Erotic little woman at end of street meeting male finally (6)
STEAMY: the name of one of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women follows the abbreviation for street and the final letter of ‘male’.

21a Previously travelling nowhere without husband (3,3)
ERE NOW: an anagram (travelling, in the sense of ‘moving around’) of NOW[h]ERE without the abbreviation for husband. The answer could also be obtained by ‘cycling’ but I think that Giovanni intended it to be an anagram.

23a Complaining about parking becomes addictive (8)
GRIPPING: a present participle meaning complaining or whingeing contains the abbreviation for parking.

25a Few OK, struggling with hard time? That’s far from the truth (4,2,3,4)
WIDE OF THE MARK: an anagram (struggling) of FEW OK and HARD TIME.

26a Gelatinous substance from a fish? A fish! (4-4)
AGAR-AGAR: stick together A and a freshwater fish then repeat the exercise.

27a Ecclesiastical offence is about cash — curate finally put away (6)
SIMONY: reverse IS and append a synonym of cash having deleted the last letter of curate.

Down Clues

2d One destined to succeed, just as reported? There’s a price for being on the up! (7)
AIRFARE: bolt together two homophones (as reported) – the first of a person due to succeed or inherit and the second of an adjective meaning just or equitable.

3d To compile difficult? Nothing in it! (5)
HOARD: a synonym of difficult containing the letter that resembles zero.

4d Rejection upset boy — is girl hiding? (9)
DISMISSAL: reverse another word for boy and insert IS and the title of a girl.

5d Lying as the solution to one sort of problem? (3,4)
BED REST: rather weak cryptic definition of what a doctor may recommend to one suffering from an illness.


6d Church involved in something tacky gives request for silence (5)
TACET: one of the usual abbreviations for church goes inside something that’s tacky or shoddy to make a musical instruction to be silent (new to me).

7d Story in the Spanish inn that’s uplifting and that can be told (9)
RELATABLE: string together a Spanish definite article and a type of inn with a synonym of story inserted. Reverse the lot.

8d Yacht is at sea in ancient region (7)
SCYTHIA: an anagram (at sea) of YACHT IS gives us the name of an ancient region of SE Europe and Asia (another answer I’d never heard of).

13d Dear seen to be excited by player finally — has he succeeded? (9)
SERENADER: a semi-all-in-one. It’s an anagram (to be excited) of DEAR SEEN followed by the final letter of player.

15d Unpleasant quality of wine going to the head after end of luncheon (9)
NASTINESS: Crosswordland’s favourite sparkling wine and a synonym of head or cape follow the last letter of luncheon.

17d Beautiful female, wife with one good hairpiece (7)
PERIWIG: knit together a beautiful fairy from Persian mythology, the abbreviation for wife, the Roman numeral for one and the abbreviation of good.

18d Bad person’s object of worship set up as one outshining the rest (3,4)
DOG STAR: rivet together the slang word for a bad or contemptible person, the ‘S and something that’s worshipped then reverse the lot.

20d Bird with supposedly supernatural power over family (7)
MANAKIN: charade of a word (from Polynesia and other places) for a supernatural power which can supposedly be inherited and a term for family produces a small, brightly-coloured bird from Central and South America. Needless to say I didn’t know either the supernatural power or the bird.

22d What rowing may become when ego is let loose! (5)
WRONG: remove the pronoun corresponding to the Latin word ego from ROW[i]NG and make an anagram (what … may become) of what remains. I don’t really understand the definition or why there’s an exclamation mark.

24d Note Mahler maybe failing to finish song (5)
PSALM: start with the abbreviation for a note or afterthought and add the forename of Mahler (that’s Frau, not Herr, Mahler) without her last letter. The lady led rather a racy life and here’s what the great Tom Lehrer had to say about her:


My favourite clue was 2d. Which one(s) 16a in your eyes?

25 comments on “Toughie 2427
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  1. Interestingly I was just thinking to myself that this was going well because I did know all the ‘obscure’ words when I came up against 6d and 20d where the wordplay was clear but I did have to check that the words existed. You don’t realise how many words are filed away in your memory until you meet a Giovanni crossword!

    Even allowing for checking the two words I didn’t know (but have filed away for future use), I solved this in what I’d consider to be a 5* Giovanni back page time. Thanks to him for the crossword and Gazza for the blog

  2. Solved in a reasonable time but had to check several of the more obscure answers (14a, 26a, 8d, and 20d); I still don’t get supernatural power in 20d. Largely enjoyable other than these, which I was expecting and at least provided learning opportunities. Thanks to Gazza and Giovanni.

  3. Not too difficult a puzzle. I was helped by the fact that I knew of 14a. Both 8d and 20d needed checking. The latter was new to me on both counts while, re 24d, Frau Mahler was unknown despite being a fan of the brilliant Tom Lehrer. So pleased to find he is still with us.

  4. This is a perfect Toughie, plenty of solvable but complex clues, a few easy ones to get some markers in and some new words to stretch knowledge.

    Never heard of 8d, 14a, 17d or 20d so needed some digital help there and some insight on the parsing from the hints.

    5a took me down a false start with me assuming it was the usual support followed by some of the wordplay, oops!

    Very enjoyable so thanks Giovanni and Gazza for the explanations.

  5. Who else could it be. Like Crypticsue I find words I don’t even know the meaning of [14a] and bits of ancient history from the 2nd form [8d] emerging from somewhere deep in the cortex. I’d heard of the 20d bird but not the foreign power. Quite liked 15d and vaguely remember drinking some. And I was pleased with myself for remembering Alma [24d] and the wonderful Tom Lehrer song.

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the blog and especially the song. I’m sure more TL numbers could easily be slipped in.

  6. We certainly got our dose of religious references in today’s Giovanni.
    Failed on 5d as I wanted the answer to be God Sent.
    That corner was the hardest for me and in 6d, I searched for interjections in all sort of languages thinking that the church would be CH.
    Finally managed to solved 5a and decided to stop there.
    Thanks to Giovanni for the workout and to Gazza for the review.

  7. Totally agree with Gazza.
    A test of obscure ‘general’ knowledge (I have no interest in religion – never mind its obscurities) rather than a cryptic toughie.
    I always think its a weakness in compilation to have to use obscurities, but then they no doubt delight others.
    Thanks to Giovanni (I still marvel at the craft), but not my cup of tea.
    As Gazza does, I much prefer the last Serpent type of offering.

  8. Going for a **/** today, mainly straight forward for a toughie ,I thought that there was some obscure cluing and agree with Gazza on 5d-I had bad debt originally! Thanks to Gazza for the Mahler explanation which was a good example of ‘iffy’ in my opinion, I did not like 22d either.
    Is it just me or are the toughies generally not as demanding as they once were ? there are of course the odd 5* puzzles.
    27a was new to me-or I had forgotten it.
    Anyway its stopped raining.

  9. Almost gave up when I met the third unknown answer but am so pleased that I battled on – if only for the perverse pleasure I took from reading on the blog that there were a couple of obscurities that even CS didn’t know!
    I rather liked the addiction in 23a and my favourite was the input from Mr Lehrer.

    Thanks to DG and to Gazza for confirming that my ‘made up’ words existed.

  10. Fortunately, I knew some of the religious references. However, I knew neither the intersecting ecclesiastical offense in 27a nor the bird in 20d which, together with the word play in the song in 24d, held me up the SE corner for a good while. I did enjoy the puzzle, with 7d as my favourite. Many thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.

  11. Giovanni in fairly benevolent mood I thought, finished in almost exactly the same time as today’s back pager. Of the oddities only the bird in the SE corner was new to me, so perhaps I was just fortunate with the vocabulary.

  12. Don’t mind the obscurities (happy to learn new words) as long as I’ve got internet access to find / check them. 2d really nice clue. Always hard work for me the Toughie, but enjoy it when I can commit the time.

  13. Loved this Toughie, a proper one to be sure. I didn’t know the bird but did know ‘mana’, and that was it for the so-called ‘obscurities’. I’m a Giovanni fan and have missed him on Fridays but glad he has moved on to his real element. Finished without help in *** time because it just took that much time to decipher the brilliant clueing. The adjective ‘tenebrous’ helped me recall the pre-Easter festival, and that was my next-last one in, the last being 11a, hardly an obscure word but not one that I’ve seen much (and certainly ‘foreign’ to my American ears). Podium stars: 5a, 10a,12a, with special stars to 6d and 14a. Many thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza. *** / *****

    1. Oh joy! I just listened to TL’s hilarious ode to Alma, and I cracked up. He was so brilliant, and as an undergrad, back in the 50s, I listened to him in my dorm room, along with my Eisenhower-Era cronies. We even sang along with him, sadly, about those poor “pigeons in the park” and other madcap but wonderfully surreal stuff. Thanks, Gazza, for the sheer wonderment (on this grim day in April, with more storms on the way in the Carolinas. Sheesh).

  14. The bird in 20d was the one that really had us head scratching. The Maori word MANA means honour, respect and status rather than supernatural powers but maybe it has different connotations in other Polynesian languages. Our BRB only mentions the Maori meaning though.
    We know we have to keep our references handy with this setter and we did enjoy the solve.
    Thanks Giovanni and Gazza.

    1. I did notice the BRB definition of mana but the ODE has:
      “(in Polynesian, Melanesian and Maori belief) an impersonal supernatural power which can be transmitted or inherited”.

  15. I think you are being a bit hard. Nothing really that obscure and the ones that were (apart from the bird, perhaps) easily gettable from wordplay. I’ve been attempting a few lockdown Mephistos, so not really fazed by this…

  16. Many thanks but I have run out of time today I will take it to bed with me and come back for the hints when I have done a few more.
    Especially thankful for the Tom Lehrer clip. I have the box set but had almost forgotten that one.
    Thanks to G and G

  17. This was OK and I enjoyed looking up the obscure words. However, stuck for a while as I had ‘cloven’ for 1a. C for about, then an anagram of novel (hit). Cloven being a sign of the devil (what’s not good)! Anyone else do that??

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