Toughie 159 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 159

Toughie No 159 by Excalibur

This one makes the others look good

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

For some sadistic reason the price we have to pay for getting an Elgar puzzle every fortnight is one of these on the Fridays in between.  While there are some good clues, the whole style irritates me – silly words and phrases and wordplay where the normal order of words is sacrificed in a futile attempt to achieve good surface reading.  That it only achieves three stars for difficulty owes a lot to the fact that I have become used to the style.  Roll on next Friday!


1a Start with determination but can’t finish? (3,5,2)
{GET STUCK IN} – a phrase that means to start with determination could possibly mean that you can’t finish

6a The man beside him provided the seat (4)
{OTTO} – put “man” with this German name and you get a cushioned seat for several people sitting with their backs to one another

9a I told you so! You must get right inside (5)
{THERE} – THEE (you) with R(ight) inside gives a word that can be used as the interjection “I told you so!”

10a Will have accommodation to house teams playing (9)
{TESTAMENT} – a synonym for a will comes from a TENT (accommodation) around (to house) an anagram (playing) of TEAMS – just to show that the setter can create a good clue!

12a Tear off to back the car in. It’s a busy life (3,4)
{RAT RACE} – an anagram (off) of TEAR around (in) CAR reversed (back) gives a phrase meaning a busy life

13a The skin wasn’t firm, you say (5)
{SUEDE} – undressed kidskin with a soft unglazed nap finish sounds like (you say) swayed (wasn’t firm)

15a Is not going all out again to get ahead (2,5)
{IN STORE} – an anagram (going all out) of IS NOT is followed by RE (again) to give a phrase that means to buy in advance in readiness (to get ahead)

17a Cool? Not even close (7)
{DISTANT} – a double definition

19a Is in possession of the figures and loses no time (7)
{HASTENS} – a charade of HAS (Is in possession of ) and TENS (the figures) gives a word meaning hurries (loses no time)

21a ‘The horse fly,’ you add, ‘returned’ (7)
{MUSTANG} – this horse is GNAT (fly) and SUM (you add) reversed (returned)

22a Made up? (3,2)
{NOT SO} – intended to be a cryptic definition

24a English town where Under-ground is taken by almost all (7)
{ARUNDEL} – an English town that can be built from an anagram (ground) of UNDER inside (is taken by) AL (almost AL(L))

27a Badly torn in struggle that lasts some time (9)
{FORTNIGHT} – an anagram (badly) of TORN inside FIGHT (struggle) gives a period of two weeks (that lasts some time)

28a Dog half cut, bounding round (5)
{DINGO} – this wild Australian dog is (boun)DING (half of the word is cut) and O (round)

29a Is sorry to say it’s a ploy (4)
{RUES} – a synonym for is sorry sounds like (to say) a ruse (ploy) – how many of you got this one the wrong way round?

30a Why one didn’t get charged with being politically incorrect? (4,6)
{FREE SPEECH} – a cryptic definition, for want of any other explanation


1d Receives and doesn’t remember forgoing (4)
{GETS} – a word meaning receives comes from removing the for (forgoing / for going) from (FOR)GETS (doesn’t remember)

2d He made-up stories about wonders (9)
{THEORISES} – this is HE with an anagram (made-up) of STORIES around it (about) giving a synonym for wonders

3d Cure to be enjoyed (5)
{TREAT} – a double definition – cure in the sense of to preserve or to heal and something to be enjoyed

4d Home from prison, embracing the new tot (7)
{COTTAGE} – a home that comes from CAGE (prison) around (embracing) an anagram (the new) of TOT

5d Set to work and I constructed a cover as replacement (7)
{INSTEAD} – two anagrams here – the first (to work) is of SET and this is inside (to cover) the other (constructed) of AND I and the result is a synonym of as replacement

7d The Heartless Male is what the lecture’s on (5)
{THEME} – THE together with M(AL)E (heartless male) give the subject of the lecture (what the lecture’s on)

8d He’s not trained to get a crack at acting (2,3,5)
{ON THE STAGE} – another pair of anagrams – HE’S NOT (trained) and GET A (crack at)  – give a phrase meaning acting

11d Sits jogging on. Animal is cooperative (7)
{ASSISTS} – an anagram (jogging) of SITS inside ASS (animal) gives a word meaning is cooperative – I didn’t quite see how this tells you to put SIST inside ASS or ISTS after ASS, and I lost interest

14d Hoping sound of quartet will find wanting (7,3)
{WISHING FOR} – WISHING (hoping) and FOR (sound of four / quartet) give a word meaning will find wanting – try this from Dusty Springfield to brighten things up

16d ‘Have done wrong before’ is a previous clue (3,4)
{ONE DOWN} – take OWN (have) and put an anagram (wrong) of DONE before it to get the number of the first of the down clues

18d Seen quickly, a label with name on (2,1,6)
{AT A GLANCE} – a phrase meaning seen quickly comes from A TAG (a label) together with LANCE (name)

20d Crack egg in battered flounder (7)
{STAGGER} – take STAR (crack / a pre-eminent or exceptionally brilliant person) and put an anagram (battered) of EGG inside to get a word meaning to flounder

21d After a jiffy, free policeman (7)
{MOUNTIE} – after a MO (moment / second / jiffy) put UNTIE (free) to get a Canadian policeman – certainly one of the better clues

23d Time and again in the enclosure (5)
{THREE} – this time comes from RE (again) inside (in … enclosure) THE

25d Closed when decorated (3,2)
{DID UP} – a double definition of fastened (closed) and improved the appearance of (decorated)

26d Leave shut up? That is surprising! (4)
{GOSH} – a charade of GO (leave) and SH (shut up) give a word meaning that is surprising

Having now done penance for whatever sins I may have commited recently, I shall retire gracefully.

While comments are welcome, as ever, particularly from established friends, new comments will be carefully vetted after the fiasco of two weeks ago.

5 comments on “Toughie 159

  1. On 15a I think that the definition is just “ahead”, with “to get” being there just for the surface reading.

    1. I did wonder about this, but Chambers gives

      In store
      * in hoard for future use, ready for supply
      * in reserve, awaiting, imminent

  2. A utterly dreadful puzzle, the worst of the week. 30 across is completely inadequate and sounds like someone desperate to get a decent surface reading.

    What has Free Speech to do with being politically incorrect?

    11 down the use of ON is telling you to add it onto ASS, but again, the surface reading is ridiculous.
    I have seen better Sun cryptic crosswords.

  3. Tried this out of curiosity. Unlike some of Excalibur’s puzzles I did finish it, and found some clues to enjoy, such as 2D (though the hyphen might have been better left out) and 4D which tells a nice story, and 16D was quite fun. But also found about 9 which were poor in various ways – surface padding, questionable indicators or alternative answers – LOOKING FOR seems perfectly sound at 14D for instance. I did get 29 wrong until I saw the answer to 23 – for this clue, “it’s a” is both surface padding and unfairly misleading – it uses the phrasing which should clarify which is the answer and which the sounds-like, but does so the wrong way round – like asking what kind of idiot sounds like what you do to a jumper, and expecting the answer KNIT.

    In 15A, I don’t mind “wordplay” to get “definition”, so wouldn’t count “to get” as padding.

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