Toughie 151 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 151

Toughie No 151 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment *

After yesterday’s brilliant Toughie we come down to earth with a bump today. This is the 151st Toughie and I’ve done nearly all of them, and this is my least favourite of the lot. There are a few nice clues but these are overwhelmed by many with poor wordplay and/or surface reading.

Across Clues

5a  Admits strangling, cutting the head up (6)
{GRANTS} – take the first 6 letters (the head) of STRANGling and make an anagram (cutting up) of them to get a verb meaning admits. I don’t know why the “up” is stuck at the end – “cutting up the head” would be better.

8a  Got boat out to take one back home (8 )
{OBTAINED} – string together an anagram (out) of BOAT, then I (one) and DEN (home) reversed to produce a word meaning “got”.

9a  An attempt to catch with a line (7)
{PURSUIT} – double definition – an attempt to catch the competitor ahead of you in a race, and an occupation or employment (line).

10a  Refuse to speak ill of (5)
{TRASH} – another double definition, with both usages being mainly American – a term for waste material or refuse, and to criticise someone severely (speak ill of).

11a  Downright when giving directions (5-4)
{SOUTH-EAST} – a cryptic clue – when you are looking at a map of the UK how would you describe the part of the country down in the right-hand corner?

13a  Having formerly been a carer, offered (8 )
{EXTENDED} – a synonym for offered is made from EX (formerly) and TENDED (was a carer).

14a  Fool turning in another fool (6)
{NITWIT} – a colloquial word for fool is constructed by reversing (turning) IN and following that with TWIT (another colloquial word for fool). Hardly Toughie standard!

17a  Reserved for the cast (3)
{SHY} – another double definition – a synonym for reserved or timid, and a throw or cast (what you might do to try to win a coconut at a fair).

19a  It’s the sound of air escaping, twit! (3)
{ASS} – another synonym for twit (which was part of the answer only two clues ago!) is supposed to sound like air escaping (when you let down a tyre, for example). Yuck!

20a  All left the ball game drunk (6)
{BLOTTO} – a slang word meaning drunk or inebriated is formed by taking the letter that remains after you have removed “all” from Ball and suffixing it with a children’s game which is similar to bingo.

23a  Loved the daughter, so I lied foolishly to protect (8 )
{IDOLISED} – a word meaning loved or worshipped is formed from an anagram (foolishly) of “so I lied” which contains (to protect) D(aughter). The wordplay is convoluted, presumably in an attempt to produce a better surface reading, but even that is not good.

26a  It’s past eight when the food is cooked (9)
{SPAGHETTI} – a clever anagram (cooked) of “past eight” to manufacture  a common type of pasta is spoiled by having the anagram indicator after the definition and as far away from the words being anagrammed as it could be.

28a  Sounds from within the nest – cracking egg (5)
{TONES} – an anagram (cracking) of “nest” contains (within) O (egg, because the letter has the shape of an egg) to produce a word meaning sounds. My comment on 23a applies equally here.

29a  Shown to be owned and raised thereabout (7)
{BRANDED} – take AND and put BRED (raised) around it (thereabout) to form a word which describes how stock animals were marked to identify who owned them.

30a  Bad wether, luv, for animals (8 )
{REINDEER} – the deliberate mis-spellings here are meant as a signal to tell you to spell the answers differently – so bad wether is not rain but REIN and luv is not dear but DEER. The answer is a reminder of Christmas and the clue is a reminder of the sort of jokes that you get in a Christmas cracker – but they are meant to make you groan!

31a  Good losers one sees right through (6)
{SPORTS} – “one sees” is SPOTS – insert (through) Right to get a term for good losers.

Down Clues

1d  She also comes back in to calm one down (6)
{SOOTHE} – if you take SHE and put inside it (in) TOO (also) which is reversed (back) you end up with a verb meaning to calm someone down.

2d  Great difficulty in getting good hands, you say (7)
{STRAITS} – “you say” indicates that a sound-alike or homophone is required, and it’s a sound-alike of STRAIGHTS (good hands, sequences of cards in poker and other card games) to make a term meaning great difficulty (or a “dire” band!).

3d  A peach stone, possibly (that’s not fair!) (9)
{DISHONEST} – a peach is a colloquial term for an attractive girl which leads us to another one “DISH” – follow this with an anagram (possibly) of “stone” to get an adjective meaning deceitful (not fair).

4d  Amend to “Is always catching up” (6)
{REVISE} – a synonym for amend is constructed by reversing (up) EVER and including (catching) IS inside it. Once again the clue is spoiled by the word order.

5d  They eat lots when there’s a surplus – lots and lots (8 )
{GLUTTONS} – put together GLUT (surplus) and TONS (lots and lots) to get a word for people who over-eat.

6d  Passage to a piece of land accessible only by sea (5)
{AISLE} – a passage (in a church, say) is formed from A and ISLE (land that is surrounded by sea).

7d  Great panic when I slap, struggling, into the can! (8 )
{TAILSPIN} – an anagram (struggling) of “I slap” is placed inside TIN (can) to form a noun meaning great panic. The surface reading here is pure gibberish!!

12d  Unmatched when it comes to eccentricity? (3)
{ODD} – we want a word which means eccentric and also unmatched (like a single sock!).

15d  Stopping the contractions in hospital (9)
{ISOLATING} – a cryptic description of what is done in hospital to keep infected patients quarantined to prevent others from contracting their disease. My favourite clue of the day!

16d  Some standing to applaud what’s absolute nonsense (8 )
{CLAPTRAP} – a colloquial term for absolute nonsense is constructed by placing PART (some) which is reversed (standing, in a down clue) after (to) CLAP (applaud).

18d  Very poor – and with no expectations (8 )
{HOPELESS} – double definition, but the two definitions are so close as to be almost identical.

21d  Not all of the harnessing (3)
{BIT} – not all of it, just the mouthpiece which is used to control the horse.

22d  Apart from a light brought in to read that’s flickering (7)
{ASUNDER} – a light is SUN which is put inside an anagram (flickering) of “read” to form an archaic word meaning apart (nowadays only heard in a traditional marriage ceremony).

24d  Took the imported nappy back and was given a refund (6)
{DIAPER} – from the wordplay it’s the nappy which should be reversed and the answer should be REPAID (given a refund). However the checking letters dictate that we are meant to put the American word for nappy into the grid.

25d  Leave behind and waste (6)
{DESERT} – double definition – a verb meaning to abandon and a noun meaning a wasteland.

27d  Left and a right and he’s had it (5)
{GONER} – I don’t know why the “a” is included here – take GONE (left) and add R(ight) to get a slang term for someone who is doomed.

You may have got the impression that I did not much care for this puzzle – and you’d be right. I’d be interested in your views, whether you agree or disagree – please leave a comment!

11 comments on “Toughie 151

  1. Most of the crossword was pathetically easy with a couple of weird clues, I really disliked 30a.

  2. I liked it best of the week’s Toughies.
    Isn’t it amazing how views differ.
    Vive la difference!

    1. chris
      Welcome to the blog. The reason that your post took so long to appear is that the first post from any user has to be moderated. From now on any comments you make should appear straight away. I guess from the fact that the next comment has identical wording to yours, that you tried again as a different user.
      As you say, it would be boring if we all thought the same!

  3. I liked it best of the week’s Toughies.
    Isn’t it amazing how views differ
    Vive la difference!

  4. I’m afraid that I agreed with Gazza. It was utterly dreary with really poor cluing. The spaghetti clue had the anagram indicator after the definition.

    A shining example of tinkering with the clues, so that they read nicely.

    30 across is just wrong, as is the DIAPER clue.

    Mr Scott / Graham is entitled to his opinion, as is Mr Bingham who oddly posted a similar comment a couple of weeks back.

    When I was a lot younger, my parents used to get the old Weekend magazine and one of the first puzzles I remember looking at (and trying to understand the clues) was The Stinker, which I think Excalibur set. I don’t feel these clues have any different from then.
    Crossword setting has become much more refined and precise and setters strive for wit, clarity and exactness. Some setters are known as Ximenean
    for their adherence to the Great Man’s principles. Some are more Libertarian, but still adhere to general principles and are fair.

    This puzzle belonged in neither camp.

  5. Gazza

    Yes, Chris thought his computer wasn’t working and I sent the message for him.
    Glad it got through
    I’ll let him know

    1. Chris / Bill / Ivor

      It may not have come to your attention, but some of us on this site have spent a lifetime in IT.

      IP address for Chris Scott: (IP: ,

      IP address for Bill Graham: (IP: ,

      IP address for Ivor Bingham: (IP: ,

  6. Sometimes its nice to do a Toughie without having to resort to help from you guys…and this was such an occasion….it was fun.
    Hope you enjoyed your night out last week!

    1. Nana

      Sorry – I’ve only just noticed your comment. Yes, I had a fabulous time, and can’t wait for the next one!

      BTW your IP address is NOT!

  7. Gazza offered to do this one for me as I stayed overnight in London after the Sloggers and Betters do. When I found out the name of the setter, I felt bad about it as I knew what to expect.

    In a way I am pleased that this review was done by someone other than myself, as it shows that I am not the only one who feels this way.

    I have been particularly disappointed to find out that certain people with a vested interest have been posting comments on this blog as if they were genuine solvers, and will continue to name and shame them. I have never yet refused to accept a comment, and intend to continue that policy. However, all future comments on puzzles by this setter will be very closely scrutinised, unless they are from regulars like BigBoab and Nanaglugglug.

  8. Hi Big Dave,
    Being of only average ability we do try to improve with the help of your site (and believe me we appreciate it!). However this particular crossword was within our grasp without help, so as I said previously it was quite satisfying.
    Anyway – enough about that one -looking forward to next week -keep on blogging and glad you enjoyed you night out – it must have been like being in the middle of a surreal QI

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