Toughie 2962 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2962

Toughie No 2962 by Giovanni

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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

I found this to be a particularly tough Wednesday Toughie from Giovanni. As usual, all the unknowns were fairly clued, and I am usually delighted to find that I do know the words he includes, but this time he gave us a fish, an African and a group of stars that were all new to me.

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1a    Fish making old boy churn over in Lancaster? (6)
BURBOT A reversal (churn over) of the abbreviation for Old Boy inserted into the name of Mr Lancaster, the American actor. So who else had a fish with a different first letter until they realised they couldn’t parse the clue?  I had heard of a couple of the many names given to this fish, but not the one in the solution

5a    Men about to penetrate hard stuff to produce ground stuff (8)
CORNMEAL An anagram (about) of MEN is inserted into (penetrate) a rocklike substance found in the sea (hard stuff)

9a    Working in the garden is raising the spirits? Anything but! (13)
DISHEARTENING An anagram (working) of IN THE GARDEN IS

10a    Smart man delving into a set of books, a literary collection (8)
ANALECTA A (from the clue) and a set of books in the Bible into which is inserted a man’s name associated with a person too clever for their own good, the result followed by the second A (from the clue)

11a    Meditation of Greek character sitting by grass (6)
MUSING A Greek letter and a verb meaning to grass or inform on

12a    African wasn’t a criminal (6)
TSWANA An anagram (criminal) of WASN’T A – the area of Southern Africa this person comes from, will be fairly obvious once you’ve rearranged the letters

14a    Frustrated husband and daughter grasping electrical unit (8)
HAMPERED The abbreviations for Husband and Daughter ‘grasping’ the SI Unit of Electrical Current

16a    I mostly adhere to written account, following reasoning (8)
LOGISTIC I and most of a synonym for a adhere go after a written record or account

19a    Number wait, losing heart, for official (6)
NOTARY The abbreviation for number and a verb meaning to wait without the middle letter (losing heart)

21a    Pub drink much colder than room temperature? (6)
BITTER A pub drink or an adjective meaning extremely and painfully cold

23a    Expecting niece, ten, to be naughty (8)
ENCEINTE An anagram (to be naughty) of NEICE TEN

25a    Incapacitated soldiers shelter inside, past being rescued? (13)
UNRECOVERABLE Take a way of saying incapacitated and insert (inside) the abbreviation for the Royal Engineers (soldiers) and a shelter

26a    Possibly select male lacking a bit of energy as basis for life-sciences research (4,4)
STEM CELL An anagram (possibly) of SELECT MaLe, lacking both the A (from the clue) and the E (bit of energy) 

27a    Hints of sun everywhere, day being calm (6)
SEDATE The first letters (hints) of Sun and Everywhere and a day


2d    A Parisian eats out, maybe provided spirits (7)
UNDINES The French (as used in Paris) indefinite article and part of a verb meaning eats out. I had only heard of the one water nymph with this name but apparently these were elemental beings associated with water before she alone was given that name

3d    Station north of large city (5)
BASEL A station or headquarters goes north or on top of (in a Down solution) the abbreviation for Large

4d    Keen, having bent mostly to sing (9)
TRENCHANT Almost all of a general tendency (bent mostly) and a verb meaning to recite in a singing manner

5d    One facilitates a cleaner mode of transport (3-4)
CAR-WASH A cryptic definition of somewhere that makes it easier to keep your mode of transport clean

6d    The fellow probing odd discharge (5)
RHEUM The masculine third person pronoun (the fellow) probing or going inside a synonym for odd

7d    Maiden in the sea in trouble — one helps manipulate the ship (9)
MAINSHEET The abbreviation for maiden inserted into an anagram (in trouble) of IN THE SEA

8d    Forest area half destroyed and dead in which knight is buried (7)
ARGONNE The first half of ARea, the second half having been ‘destroyed’, and the chess abbreviation for knight ‘buried’ in another way of saying dead

13d    Maid working outside Bury for the time being (2,7)
AD INTERIM An anagram (working) of MAID goes outside a verb meaning to bury

15d    Group of stars once performing in dreadful rooms (9)
MONOCEROS An anagram (performing) of ONCE inserted into another (dreadful) of ROOMS I thought this word related to one-horned animals such as swordfish, narwhals, and unicorns, but apparently it is also the name of a faint constellation on the celestial equator

17d    Old transport structure high up, not a tube (7)
OVIDUCT The abbreviation for Old and a high up structure carrying transport over a valley without the A (not a)

18d    Herb provided when little child ill (bit of rumble inside) (7)
CHERVIL An abbreviated (little) child and an adjective meaning wicked (ill) with the first letter (a bit) of Rumble inserted (inside)

20d    Once again deal with bad situation for army (7)
RETREAT A way of saying deal once again, without the hyphen, would result in a bad situation for an army

22d    What dog turned up in bit of lace? (5)
RUCHE An interjection of surprise (what?) and a worthless dog

24d    Plant one gong on soldier ‘heartily’ (5)
IMBED The letter representing one, an abbreviated honour (gong being slang for such an award) and the letter at the heart of solDier


24 comments on “Toughie 2962
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  1. Apart from 1a, the least said if which the better, very enjoyable. You know what you’re going to get with a Giovanni puzzle (always good to have Mr G and a touch of E help at hand) but the (to me obscure) solutions were obtainable from wordplay and checkers so no complaints on that score.
    Plenty of ticks but I’ll highlight 10,11&25a
    Many thanks to The Don and Sue.

  2. Well I am amazed. CS always gives toughies that I struggle with */**. I finished this today without too much problem. Yes I learnt about four new words but they presented themselves from the clueing. I’m not sure whether to congratulate myself or commiserate with CS as she must be ailing with something.
    I enjoyed it. Just tough enough to keep me busy on a rainy morning
    Thanks to Giovanni and to CS.
    Get well soon.

    1. Of the six cryptic crosswords I’ve solved today – DT Cryptic, DT Toughie, Independent, FT, Times and a tester – this Giovanni Toughie was by a very long way, the most difficult of the lot

      1. Wow then I apologise. The toughie is enough for my day. On Monday I will be doing the Sunday T or the Monday back page. If I did six it would take me six days. Well done.

  3. Thanks to Giovanni for the puzzle and CS for the review.
    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one trying to work out what a turt is and how it relates to Lancaster – the penny eventually dropped with a loud clang.
    I do admire Giovanni’s ability to construct very precise wordplay – I just wish that the wordplay didn’t lead to so many potential answers that had to be checked via the BRB or Google before being written in.
    The clues I liked best were 11a and 5d.

  4. I must admit I fell into the 1a trap. I didn’t bother to check as I had a perfectly good fish.
    Luckily my son’s word searcher contained the obscure 8d
    My COTD is 9a as it so accurately describes my feelings about that depressing occupation!

    1. A steady solve, although I had not previously come across the 3 words that were new to CS. Thank you to her and the Don.

    1. My trouble is that I can’t read the scribble on my piece of paper. I would agree that it does really need the word ‘and’ but then the sentence wouldn’t read correctly

        1. I guess it’s a very small slip up?

          Enjoyed the puzzle overall, despite having to check some of the Don’s obscurities. Then again he included quite a few gimmes that might have appeared in an easy backpager. Thanks to He and Sue.

  5. As well as the fish , group of stars, the Africans I also didn’t know the book collection nor the pregnancy.
    So it was tough and the pleasure from solving difficult clues is greater than solving easy ones.
    I liked 16a and 13d among others.
    Thanks to CS and Giovanni.

  6. Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one who found this tricky for a Wednesday. I always enjoy Giovanni and this was no exception, but like others I was a bit stumped by 1a. Obviously I initially thought it started with a ‘t’, but I do it online and the internet told me ‘no’, plus I couldn’t parse it (obviously). I confess that even after resorting to my crossword solvers’ dictionary’s list of fish, I still couldn’t parse because I had completely forgotten the existence of the film star. So I suppose I must give it 4* for difficulty, but I think 5* for enjoyment for the smugness I felt in knowing some of the more obscure words…

    As ever, many thanks to Giovanni for the fun, and CS for her hard work. My admiration for our regular bloggers ever increases.

  7. A proper Toughie and no mistake. Had this appeared on a Friday it would easily have justified its placement. It is always good to meet new words, and a Giovanni puzzle generally sets that challenge; fairly and concisely clued so no moaning from me. 10a was my favourite, although I did like the misdirection at 1a which has thrown so many of us.

    My thanks to The Don and CS.

  8. 5 new words for me in 10a, 12a, 23a, 2d and 15d plus I needed the hint to parse 18d. I also fell into the 1a trap. Lots of ehelp required so not my finest hour. Favourite was 5d. Thanks to Giovanni and CS.

  9. There were two things I absolutely did not know–the fish, the stars–but perfectly accessible from the clues. The rest I managed with a bit of e-help and CS’s hints, and so I now have a completely-filled-in grid. I did know the African (doesn’t Alexander McC. Smith in his Botswana series mention them?) but can’t remember just how or why. This was indeed vintage Giovanni, and I enjoyed the mighty tussle last night and again this morning. No particular favourite though I do like the way the 9a anagram answers ‘Anything but!’ Thanks to CS and The Don.

  10. One always gets exercise from Gio – both the grey matter and the biceps from lifting the BRB. But his clueing is so precise that the obscurities just need confirming in said volume. Anyway I found this one a bit of a doddle [I even thought of the B fish before the T fish] so it doesn’t surprise me to see it awarded 4-5 by CS – tis often thus – we must have completely different solving skills.
    Fave clues were 9a and 17d.
    Thanks to The Don and to CS for the blog.

  11. Jeez Louise! Is this Friday come early ? Finally completed the top half & losing count of the number of confirmations required – the fish (yes Turbot yummy for me too until I saw Burt), the literary collection, the spirits & the African but at least I vaguely remembered the forest. Think I’ll declare for now & save the south for later if it’s anything like the upper reaches.
    Ta to G & CS

    1. 15d & last in 23a two further unfamiliar words down south though hadn’t realised embed could be alternatively spelt. A sense of satisfaction in completing a puzzle & without a letter reveal that our reviewer deems worthy of a ****/***** difficulty rating but not sure it was much fun – assault courses rarely are in my experience.
      Thanks anyway to Giovanni & to CS

  12. An odd puzzle; many clues very straightforward but some very obscure – 1a, 10a, 8d,17d. Happy up to a point , but then less so with 4 blanks .

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