Toughie 3134 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3134

Toughie No 3134 by Giovanni

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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

Giovanni’s September Toughie wouldn’t have been out of place in the Friday spot. The possibly unknown words were all fairly clued, but they and several other clues/solutions required a considerable amount of time reading the BRB

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1a    Disciple at back of church with a new piece to sing (7)
CHANSON A disciple goes after (at the back of) an abbreviated church, A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for New

5a    Belligerent husband and wife outside a very old city (7)
HAWKISH The abbreviations go ‘outside’ A (from the clue), the result followed by an ancient Babylonian city

9a    Fear of deity in charge (5)
PANIC The Greek God of pastures, flocks and woods followed by the abbreviation for in charge

10a    Up and about, crying like a frenzied animal (9)
REBELLING The usual two-letter about, on the subject of, and making a noise like a frenzied animal, eg a stag at rutting time

11a    Mistress shifted cheat, one getting in the way (10)
CHATELAINE An anagram (shifted) of CHEAT followed by I (one) inserted into a road (way)

12a    Spots what sounds like East End carriage? (4)
ACNE A homophone (what sounds like) the way someone from the East End would say the name of a particular carriage

14a    Observe as oil splashed round in artistic style (5-7)
BASSO-RELIEVO An anagram (splashed around) of OBSERVE AS OIL

18a    Consequence of engineers attending noisy instruments? (12)
REPERCUSSION The Royal Engineers and some noisy instruments

21a    Something extremely small and round implanted into leg (4)
PION The ’round’ letter ‘implanted’ into an informal name for a leg

22a    Legal officer favouring region that’s kept for top people (10)
PROSECUTOR A preposition meaning for (favouring) and a region into which is inserted the letter used to indicate upper-class (for top people)

25a    Second criminal isn’t being imprisoned, showing such good character (9)
SAINTHOOD The abbreviation for Second and a slang violent criminal between which is inserted (being imprisoned) another way of saying ‘isn’t’

26a    Like some language that’s horrible mostly and preposterous mostly (5)
UGRIC Most of an interjection indicating that something is horrible and most of an informal synonym for preposterous

27a    Plates of a meal scattered about at home (7)
LAMINAE An anagram (scattered) of A MEAL goes ‘about’ the usual ‘at home’

28a    Den in city that’s defaced in part (7)
RATHOLE A city in Somerset without its first letter (defaced)  inserted into a part  [Thanks Gazza]


1d    Joining firm, Gregory perhaps makes a bit of money (6)
COPECK The surname of an American actor (Gregory perhaps) joining or going after an abbreviated company

2d    A slippery character said to have temper (6)
ANNEAL A homophone (said) of a slippery fish , temper here referring to the treatment of glass or metal

3d    Flower under hidden desk (10)
SECRETAIRE A Yorkshire river (flower) goes under a synonym for hidden

4d    Set up a metal device helping irrigation (5)
NORIA A reversal (set up) of A (from the clue) and a type of metal

5d    Hotel with a bar has times for dances (9)
HABANERAS The letter represented by Hotel in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, A (from the clue), a prohibition (bar) and some periods of time

6d    Open country with earth, no river (4)
WOLD Another way of referring to the Earth without (no) the abbreviation for River

7d    Daft things I see, briefly going round island (8)
IDIOCIES I (from the clue) and an ecclesiastical see without its final letter (briefly) into which is inserted (going round) the abbreviation for Island

8d    Protestant suffering enough, but without hint of bitterness (8)
HUGUENOT An anagram (suffering) of ENOUGH bUT (without a ‘hint’ of bitterness telling you to omit the B)

13d    Twisted colon? Doubt doctor will make a note of this (5,5)
BLOOD COUNT An anagram (twisted) of COLON DOUBT

15d    Fuddy-duddy individual in revisited starting place? (6,3)
SQUARE ONE An informal term for a person of boringly traditional outlook and opinions (fuddy-duddy) and a synonym for individual

16d    Offer of support given to very big gangster? (8)
PROPOSAL A support, an abbreviation meaning very big and the informal name of crosswordland’s favourite American gangster

17d    Saying a solid figure should be put outside small house (8)
APHORISM A (from the clue) and a solid figure put ‘outside’ an abbreviated (small) house

19d    Volume measurement of reduced sound from all sides? (6)
STEREO A measurement of the volume of timber and the first (reduced) letter of Of

20d    Cared-for children initially here possibly? (6)
CRECHE An anagram (possibly) of the initial letters of Cared and Children and HERE

23d    Speedier cooking with no unusual pie for special meal (5)
SEDER The ceremonial meal eaten on the first night of the Passover – Remove the letters PIE (unusual telling you that they aren’t next to each other) from SpeEDiER

24d    One half of double act was bad; missing sidekick, ultimately (4)
STAN Smelt terribly (was bad) missing the ultimate letter of sidekicK


19 comments on “Toughie 3134
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  1. At least you’ve given it ***** for difficulty. Am stuck after 14answers but it’s hosing it down outside so I’ll soldier on more in hope than expectation

  2. I suffered my customary frustration of having to make excessive use of the BRB and Google when solving a Giovanni Toughie – thanks to him and to CS.
    I think that the de-faced city required in 28a is one of the two in Somerset.
    The clues I liked best were 22a, 1d and 15d.

  3. Yes, it was tough – but I don’t think it was that tough! There was the usual Gio quota of obscurities but more and more the difficulty in his puzzles is because the clues are more cunning. The ones I liked best were 7d [“I see” is pretty cunning] 20d [a great all-in one] 19d [“sound from all sides” was the last thing I thought might be the definition] and sneakiest of all was 6d [how many solvers thought that “with” must signal a W especially after solving 5a, and so get led up the wrong path entirely?] Clever stuff.
    Thanks to Giovanni and CS.

  4. Most went in early but NE corner caused some head scratching. Enjoyed it though as it is raining here and don’t need an excuse to sit and grind it out. Thanks to CS and to Giovanni

  5. I have just started tackling the Toughies. Cripes, that was difficult but I nearly got there. Quite rewarding, despite the obscurities. Definitely ‘A-Level’ compared with the back page.
    Btw, what is a “guzzle” that Commenters often refer to?

  6. Mr Manley still turns them out. Challenging, needed help 14a and 26a (never heard of either i don’t think). A little like last Thursday when it felt like a Friday, but, with greatest respect, some of the surfaces let it down.

    Hugh Sawyer : “guzzle” is a new thing some back pager commentators have come up with. Odd.

  7. I really, really miss The Don on the backpage. Yes, sometimes you felt you had gone back to school – and today’s Toughie was more like going back to university – but his clues are so very clever and (even if only in retrospect) utterly fair, regardless of how much Obscure Knowledge was requried, that complaints were always rather unfair in my view.

    28a is not I feel exclusive to a city, but could have been little else. Completed with much reference to the BRB and some googling of presumed answers before writing them in, and I don’t regard any of that as cheating! One goes to school to learn, and the same is true of a Giovanni puzzle. Defeated however in the SE, as expected – I biffed an unparsable Urdic for “like some language” and in consequence Studio for 19d (well, you get sound from all sides in a studio …).

    Cracking puzzle, thank you Giovanni. Thanks also to Sue.

    1. Well said about the Don’s back pagers. He was, and remains, an “educator”.

      re 28a, the den can be anywhere. The city is part of the fodder.

  8. Well, that was indeed a grind. If it hadn’t been for the weather, I would have probably given up. But I’m glad I didn’t as it sped up considerably after half-time. Yes, some of the GK is borderline obscure but that’s just this setter’s style. And it all read beautifully. My only v minor quibble is with 19d. Sound from “all” sides? Surely not.

  9. Tough going indeed from Giovanni. Plenty of research required but the clues were all fair. Still needed Sue’s help with a couple of parsings. I agree with Halcyon in that a lot of the battle is the cunning misdirection, and I for one would not complain about such clever stuff – it is all part of the game.

    Well played Giovanni and thank you CS for the explanations.

  10. Tough but very enjoyable challenge. Didn’t quite finish it without checking the hints above. Thanks to setter, *****/**** for me

  11. Just goes to show. It’s all about what wavelength you’re on. The consensus in this house was 3-star, 4-star at a push. Whereas a couple of recent 2-stars ………..

  12. Gordon Bennett that was hard, I’ve got 11 question marks on my paper which denote either can’t parse or never heard of. Couldn’t fully parse 1a, disciple? 19d and 22a. Never heard of’s were 10a, 2nd part, 11a, 14a, 21a, 26a, 4d, 5d and 28d. I did finish it without taking recourse to the hints but needed lots of electronic help, always a bit of a downer. Favourite was 15d. Thanks to Giovanni for the mental thrashing and CS.

  13. My first 5 star, only because I started before the review appeared.
    Otherwise, I would have left it alone.
    Only had help with 4, so pleased with myself.
    Would say it isn’t a five star because I got so far with it, and I understand the parsings.

  14. Didn’t realise it was Giovanni until too late. Too many obscurities to be much fun for me, and hints needed for several parsings. Thanks.

  15. Came back to it this morning having declared yesterday at 22 answers in. Gave it 10mins then turned to Sue to guide me home. Reckon there were 8 answers that were either completely unfamiliar or wouldn’t have been confident of defining if I saw them written down & that’s not including bits of the wordplay (ie kish & stere).
    Like Outnumbered just too many obscurities for me – if only I could retain them
    Thanks anyway to Giovanni & of course to CS

  16. That was hard. 10a & 26a beat me. Couldn’t parse 13d & 20d, so thanks for the explanation.
    Learnt quite a few new words, although I’m not sure they’ll stick.

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