Toughie No 116 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 116

Toughie No 116 by Firefly

Another very enjoyable Toughie

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

I had a strong start, getting both 1a and 1d immediately, and I thought I was on a roll.  I got a bit lost in the middle and then it all fell into place towards the end.


1a Happy place for Hillary? (2,3,2,3,5)
{ON TOP OF THE WORLD} – a delightful cryptic definition of how Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing must have felt on the 29th May 1953

9a Retrain inelegant plant (9)
{EGLANTINE} – retrain here signals an anagram of INELEGANT to give a rather inelegant name for the wild rose (plant) – a true anagram is a word formed from the same letters as another word, like this one – crossword setters frequently stretch the definition

10a Swiftly make an approach (3-2)
{RUN-UP} – a cryptic definition of, for example, a bowler’s approach to the wicket

11a “September’s child’s a-roving, a-roving” (7)
{VIRGOAN} – A-ROVING here signals an anagram of itself to give a person whose star sign covers the greater part of September – Zodiac signs are in The Mine

12a & 24a Queen and Empress infinitely old-fashioned when wearing that headgear (7,3)
{TRICORN HAT} – RI is an abbreviation for Regina et Imperatrix, a title that was bestowed on Queen Victoria when she became Empress of India, then add CORN(y) (corny / old-fashioned, infinitely / not finished) and put them all inside (wearing) THAT and you have an old-fashioned type of headgear that was hard work; once again you probably need to find the answer first and then resolve the wordplay

13a Nearly burn the tea (3)
{CHA} – take a synonym for burn, or scorch, and drop off the last latter(nearly) and you have a colloquial word for tea

14a Renew hiring for film, perhaps (7)
{RELEASE} – a neat double definition – to hire again; to make available for sale or viewing

17a Criticism gives writer twitches (7)
{POETICS} – the writer of Tales of Mystery and Imagination is followed by the crossword setters favourite twitches to give the branch of criticism that relates to poetry – if it was new to you, you won’t be surprised that it was for me as well

19a It’s hard with company to be remote (7)
{HANDSET} – another well constructed clue – H(ard) AND (with) and SET (company) all combine to give a remote control for the TV or, more usually, the main part of a telephone

22a “On The Beach” is where to spot this nameless film star (3,4)
{SEA BEAN} – take “N” away (nameless) from the name of this film star, best known in his role as Richard Sharpe, and you get a seed that is dispersed by the ocean

24a See 12a

25a Navy leaves unexpectedly to put down … (7)
{ENSLAVE} – unexpectedly signals an anagram of N(avy) LEAVES to give a word meaning to subject to a dominating influence (put down) – this time you are more likely to get it from the anagram than the definition

26a … beginnings of armed revolt on island without extremes of language (7)
{ARAMAIC} – A(rmed) R(evolt) (beginnings of armed revolt) is not too difficult to spot, but quite a leap is needed to get (J)AMAIC(a) (island without extremes) and all put together it gives a word meaning belonging to a group of languages which include that once spoken by Christ

28a Understanding oddities of German spelling (5)
{GRASP} – this is a combination of the odd letters in GeRmAn and an abbreviation for SP(elling) and it means understanding – like getting the wordplay for this clue!

29a Specialised sleuth given bit of change in USA, we hear (9)
{TECHNICAL} – here we have a pair of homophones (word which sound like / we hear) – tec (sleuth) and nickel (bit of change in USA) – say them together and you have a word meaning specialised

30a Internee has better treatment when chasing the authorities (3,6,4,2)
{THE POWERS THAT BE} – this internee is a prisoner of war and treatment signals that an anagram of HAS BETTER follows (when chasing) to give an expression that means the authorities – this, and 12a/24a, gave me problems unravelling the wordplay, but it was worth the effort

Following lunch (french bread and stilton cheese – a marriage made in heaven) the down clues:


1d Is 12.5% too much alcohol? (3,4,3,5)
{ONE OVER THE EIGHT} – a tiny bit of licence in this cryptic definition, which  suggests that you have drunk nine pints

2d He may repair the floor where line of girl dancers tumbles (5)
{TILER) – a bit easier for the senior solvers this one – a famous group of girl dancers that once featured Betty Boothroyd, later to become Speaker of the House of Commons, loses an “L” (line … tumbles) to become someone who could repair your floor

3d The first Greek woman to criticize another (7)
{PANDORA} – she who opened her box and unleashed all the evils on to mankind is made up from PAN meaning to criticise (or even to criticize) and yet another woman’s name

4d Pots of nice stew eaten by ancient fairyfolk (7)
{FAIENCE} – an anagram (this time the indicator is stew) of NICE inside (eaten by) FAE (ancient fairyfolk) gives the kind of pots that you might see on the Antiques Roadshow

5d Sound of footstep — and the final drop? (7)
{HEELTAP} – tye answer to this double definition appeared as recently as DT 25863, so this name for the small quantity of liquor left in the glass after drinking should, by now, be familiar

6d Send out the inexperienced for call-up in 1914, perhaps? (7)
{WARTIME} – here call-up points to a reversal of EMIT (send out) and RAW (the inexperienced) to give a period of which 1914 was part – hands up those who thought at first that WWI was going to come into the wordplay

7d Set irregular pattern for internal security in managed millennium building (9)
{RANDOMISE} – put IS, an abbreviation of internal security, inside RAN (managed) and DOME (millennium building) and you get a word meaning to set an irregular pattern – I’m thinking about setting up AAAAA (Anti Acronyms And Abbreviations Association)

8d Lovers, holding hands, pace about with no end of rejoicing … (7,3,5)
{DAPHNIS AND CHLOE} – these famous Greek lovers are formed from an anagram (about) of HOLDIN(g) HANDS PACE without the “G” (no end of rejoicing)

15d … and student paces about among the scenery (9)
{LANDSCAPE} – cleverly worded to make you think this is a follow on from the previous clue, L (learner / student) then AND with an anagram (about) of PACES give you the scenery for a painting

16d Meet in city (3)
{SEE} – double definitions of three letter words are difficult to achieve, but we have one here – to meet, as in go to the Doctor, on the one hand and a word that means diocese or city on the other (originally a city was always had a cathedral and was the centre of a diocese)

18d Some modern poetry (3)
{ODE} – this piece of poetry is a gimme, and “some” indicates that it is hidden in mODErn

20d Actor in brief send-up for detergent? (7)
{SHAMPOO} – on seeing send-up, I looked here in vain for a reversal; instead it’s an actor who overacts inside a word for a send-up, like Airplane!, with the last letter missing (brief) and the result is the kind of detergent that you would use to wash your hair

21d Note about earth-shattering drama (7)
{THEATRE} – this drama is created by putting the note you drink with jam and bread around an anagram (shattering) of EARTH

22d Groups worked up about Mandela’s party policies (7)
{STANCES} – the groups are SETS, and they are reversed (worked up) around the African National Congress (Mandela’s party) to give policies

23d To the French, names initially appear hard – like this girl’s? (7)
{ALANNAH} – it’s one of those girl’s names again – it’s formed by a charade of A LA (to the, French) N N (Names) and A H (Appear Hard, initially)

27d Regularly carsick over time going to the races (5)
{ASCOT} – regularly indicates the even numbered letters (but sometimes the odd ones) of cArSiCk, follow that with OT (Over Time) and you have a posh place to go and see the horse races

Firefly’s puzzles may take a bit of effort to solve, but it is worth it when you get there.  Difficult to pick favourite clues when you enjoy the whole puzzle, but for me 12/24 and 30 in the across clues, and the delightfully simple 16 down stand out.  Firefly has been known to visit the blog, so this is an excellent chance to tell him what you think of this particular crossword.

If you want to see Firefly’s (or any other setter’s) earlier puzzles, just select his name from the drop-down box of categories in the side panel.

7 comments on “Toughie No 116

  1. Thanks for that Bellringer – but I have to go to the village shop anyway on a Tuesday as they have a delivery of french bread from
    Le Delice in Malvern, and then I have to cut a chunk off one end as it won’t fit in the bread bin, and then ….

    As I solved it, Firefly (known elsewhere as Glow-worm) was the name that kept coming into my mind.

    A plea to those running the CluedUp site – please can we have the name of the Toughie setter, it can’t be that difficult to do.

  2. Bellringer, that explains things quite nicely. As I worked my way through this, I found myself enjoying it as Dave did, and that’s usually an indication that it “might” be Firefly. I started with some of the anagrams e.g 9a and 15d (sort of) and then 1a and 1d fell into place, after that it was an enjoyable stroll through the rest. BTW Dave – I can get French bread anytime :-)

  3. I’d put ON TOP OF THE WORLD pretty high on a list of clichéd multi-word phrases in xwds, probably equal first with MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. But with help from Hillary Clinton, the clue disguised the answer well enough for this not to matter.

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