Toughie No 123

Toughie No 123 by Excalibur

Toughies don’t come Tougher than this!

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

Was because it was the morning after the night before, or was it really tough, let me know?  I struggled with this and after half an hour had managed about four clues.  I did get to the end without calling on the CluedUp letter hints, but it was heavy going.


7a Near as possible to the left side (7)
{ARSENAL} – I should have got football side which is anagram (possible) of NEAR AS and L(eft) a lot earlier than I did

8a Clutching a large coil, undoes the knots (7)
{NODULES} – coil is an unusal signal for the anagram of UNDOES which is then around (clutching) L(arge) to give these knotty swellingshere I was thrown by trying to fit in A L (a large)

10a Are not there when you arrive and won’t pay up (4,2,4)
{FAIL TO MEET} – this double definition for a single phrase is the kind you either get straightaway, or it’s a struggle

11a Heads turn in surprise (4)
{NUTS} – I had this simple reversal in the wrong way round for some time

12a Cheer up but not with one’s physical presence (8)
{INSPIRIT} – a double definition that is partially cryptic

14a Mum agreed (6)
{NODDED} – this cryptic definition of silently assented (mum agreed) was another one that became easy when you knew the answer

15a Having children personally, doesn’t want to believe (4,7)
{KIDS ONESELF} – a very clever cryptic definition that I found hard to get, but easy to understand when I got there

19a Fulminate about one hole amid the eighteen (6)
{COURSE} – CURSE (fulminate) around (about) O (one hole) amid the eighteen on a round of golfthis is one of the “must get ” clues in a puzzle like this

20a To repeat, is involved in light entertainment (8)
{OPERETTA } – is involved signals this anagram of TO REPEAT which gives the kind of light entertainment for which Gilbert & Sullivan were famous – another of those “must get ” clues

22a Either yielded to the temptation or declined (4)
{FELL} – a simple, but clever, double definition

23a Being lectured by an upset pater about did hurt (8,2)
{PREACHED AT} – get this synonym for being lectured by first and then resolve the wordplay of an anagram (upset) of PATER around ACHED (did hurt)

25a The jewel of the Dior collection, dear, for the cover (7)
{PERIDOT} – an anagram of DIOR (collection) inside (for the cover) PET (dear) giving a green olivine used in jewellery (and it’s the birthstone for August) – and a gem of a clue

26a A tense “Hand it over” (7)
{PRESENT} – tense often indicates time in grammar, and the second part of the clue indicates which one – and one of the easier clues, for which I was exceedingly grateful!


1d Rules that the roads wind round in (7)
{ORDAINS) – an anagram (wind) of ROADS around IN for a verb meaning rules

2d Incline to stay close to (4)
{HEEL} – a short but tricky double definition

3d Prefer a numeral – a Roman numeral – in (6)
{FAVOUR} – this word meaning to prefer comes from FOUR (a numeral) around A V (a Roman numeral for five)

4d Tells fortunes from wine dregs? (8)
{PORTENDS} – a clever charade of PORT (wine) and ENDS (dregs) gives a word meaning tells fortunes

5d Became very cold – towards the Labour party? (6,4)
{TURNED BLUE} – I liked this cryptic definition which suggests that if you became cold towards the Labour party you would have converted to the Conservatives

6d The external erosion is due to climate (7)
{WEATHER} – THE with WEAR (erosion) around (external) leads us to the climate

9d Recovering from a bout of netting services? (7,4)
{GETTING OVER} – what you should be doing with the ball in tennis! – and my favourite clue, but there were so many from which to choose today

13d Right in front of the others (5,5)
{PRIOR CLAIM} – a very cryptic definition of having a right that was before that of the others

16d Would a pet grievance have one bleating? (8)
{SHEEPDOG} –  confusingly cryptic definition which has a DOG sounding like a SHEEP when aggrieved  – I can see all the various parts of this wordplay, but for me it just didn’t work: perhaps you know better

17d Anyway, who’s wrong always? (7)
{HOWEVER} – an anagram (wrong) of WHO is followed by a word meaning always t give a synonym for anyway

18d Endeavours to make notes (7)
{STRAINS} – yet her clever double definition

21d Turn over again (6)
{ENCORE} – a request to have a repeat of a performance (turn)

24d As the cockney said, he’s no trouble (4)
{EASE} – this word meaning no trouble sounds like how an East Ender would say (as the cockney said) ee’s (he’s without the “h”)

I looked back at Excalibur’s last Toughie , No 108, and found that this one was as difficult to solve, but the wordplay was a lot less tenuous.  Only 16 down caused me any real problems.  How did you get on today?  Use the comments below to tell me!

Here are all the answers!


  1. bigboab
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 7:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Got nowhere till I checked a couple of your clues, thanks again BD, hardest one this week.

  2. nanaglugglug
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 7:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’d love to blame your struggle on your excesses, but we needed a lot of help (whats new?) too. 16 down was not very clever, agreed.
    Happy to hear the nuptials went well – everyone needs a day off!

  3. Posted April 5, 2009 at 12:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Didn’t finish – had TEND as a weakish answer for 2D so didn’t get 10, missed 16 and 25 too. I don’t get 16 either. My best guess is that the setter is trying to get us to think of some lind of hybrid creature, otherwise a sheepdog can’t bleat.

    Also had 11A the wrong way round.

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