Toughie 143 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 143

Toughie No 143 by Excalibur

A good puzzle, spoiled

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

There was much to enjoy in this puzzle, but, for me, it was totally spoiled by the silly phrases and by wordplay in which so much is sacrificed to achieve good  surface reading.  I fail to see how A B on C means A on B is C, but once you get used to the silliness of the construct the puzzle is not that difficult.


1a Help a ship. It’s in trouble (6)
{ASSIST} – this word meaning to help is built from A SS (a ship) and an anagram (in trouble) of IT’S – a good start to the puzzle, with excellent surface reading

4a Cut back severely on fish (8)
{PILCHARD} – CLIP (cut) reversed (back) and HARD (severely) gives us this fish – one of those back-to front hate ‘em or hate ‘em constructs

9a One of the rules of cricket? (3-3)
{BYE-LAW} – good cryptic definition playing on a BYE being an extra in cricket

10a Quickly gets out a game to amuse the children (8)
{SKITTLES} – staying with cricket theme, this is a word meaning gets a team out quickly; it is also a game – Mrs BD plays this in a local league and was not amused by the suggestion that it is only for children

11a The colours in stock (8)
{STANDARD} – this word meaning the regimental colours can also mean conventionally used (stock)

13a Refuse to act and that’s just not good enough (4,2)
{WON’T DO} – WON’T (refuse) and DO (to act) combine to give a phrase meaning that’s just not good enough – and it really is just not good enough

15a A romance that was meant to be (10,3)
{DELIBERATE LIE} – a cryptic definition of an intentional falsehood

18a Is a paper knife used to get them? (5,8)
{PRESS CUTTINGS} – another cryptic definition about removing interesting items from a newspaper

22a Speaking French, you study Italian (6)
{TUSCAN} – TU (you, French) and SCAN (study) give an Italian from the region which includes Florence

24a Have a cry about being forced to leave (5,3)
{SHOWN OUT} – OWN (have) inside SHOUT (a cry) gives a phrase meaning being forced to leave – here we go again – by now I want to stick my pencil into an effigy of the setter, just like I used to do on Sundays

26a Using as perches loops in the knotted string (8)
{ROOSTING} – this synonym for using as perches comes from OO (loops – yuk!) inside an anagram (knotted) of STRING

27a Passage that has a dreadfully sharp note (6)
{PHRASE} – a passage of prose or music which is an anagram (dreadfully) of SHARP followed by E (musical note)

28a What’s unexpected is to find certain rips mended in (8)
{SURPRISE} – this unexpected event comes from SURE (certain) around an anagram (mended) of RIPS – what more can I say?

29a The viewpoints of some of our ancestors (6)
{ANGLES} – a nice double definition to wind-up the across clue


1d A doctor got us to hospital for the attack (6)
{AMBUSH} – nicely built up from A MB (a doctor – Medicinae Baccalaureus) US and H(ospital) to give an attack

2d The desk-bound go off – make themselves scarce (9)
{SKEDADDLE} – more nice wordplay – an anagram (bound) of DESK then ADDLE (go off) to give a word meaning to make themselves scarce

3d And in Southern California the gutter press loves it (7)
{SCANDAL} – put AND inside S(outhern) CAL(ifornia) and you get something the gutter press loves – just to prove that you can combine good surface reading with accuracy

5d In pink, yellow and black (4)
{INKY} – hidden inside pINK, Yellow you get something black

6d Eliminates the commission given to us corruptly (4,3)
{CUTS OUT} – a phrasal verb meaning eliminates comes from CUT (commission) and an anagram (corruptly) of TO US

7d Give a ring back (5)
{ALLOT} – a word meaning to give is derived from A and TOLL (ring, as in to toll a bell) reversed (back)

8d Find five hundred is a hundred too many (8)
{DISCOVER} – a synonym for find comes very cleverly from D (five hundred in Roman numerals) IS C (a hundred in Roman numerals) and OVER (too many)

12d Kill and destroy the written evidence (3,3)
{RUB OUT} – a double definition

14d The poor devil threw off the cold caught (6)
{WRETCH} – this poor devil is an anagram (off) of  THREW around (caught) C(old) – here we go again!

16d Finally drop onto a slot that’s moulded (4,2,3)
{LAST OF ALL} – a phrase meaning finally that is FALL (drop) after an anagram (that’s moulded) of A SLOT – is it just me that hates this type of construct?

17d Sour puss going off about rich nobodies (8)
{UPSTARTS} – TART (sour) with an anagram (going off) of PUSS around the outside (about) – by now you must be used to reading the clues backwards!

19d Break that’s knitted up again (7)
{SHATTER} – a word meaning to break comes from an anagram (knitted) of THAT’S followed by RE (again) reversed (UP)

20d Won’t carve the bird? Come, come! (3,4)
{NOW THEN} – an anagram (carve) of WON’T is followed by HEN (the bird) to give another silly phrase meaning come, come

21d Summons up courage when the bad weather’s returning (6)
{STEELS} – this word meaning summons up courage comes from SLEETS (bad weather’s) reversed (returning)

23d Seek to clean thoroughly (5)
{SCOUR} – a double definition

25d Stops and repairs, removing the top (4)
{ENDS} – this synonym for stops is (M)ENDS (repairs, removing the top / first letter)

A mixed bag if ever I saw one with some excellent clues in the northeast corner.  What do you think of this puzzle?  Love it or hate it I’d like to hear from you.

4 comments on “Toughie 143

  1. Liked this one!! Maybe because we could actually do it without any help!!

  2. Didn’t seem to fit the description “Toughie” to me very much.
    But then everyone has different ideas and it wouldn’t do for us all to be the same.

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