Toughie 200 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 200

Toughie No 200 by Citrus

Opportunity didn’t knock!

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

I was expecting something special from this Toughie, but what I got was a puzzle in which the difficulty only came from obscure words and a particularly tricky wordplay.


1a Mrs Mop reported getting hiring for holiday home (6)
{CHALET} – CHA sounds like (reported) a char or daily cleaner (Mrs Mop); just add LET (hiring) to get this holiday home

5a Vandal put in gaol converted into charnel house (8)
{GOLGOTHA} – the vandal is a GOTH who goes inside an anagram (converted) of GAOL to get a burial ground or charnel houseI haven’t seen that one for quite a while!

The Rock of Golgotha inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

9a North African ordered new regalia (8)
{ALGERIAN} – a straightforward anagram of N(ew) REGALIA

10a A tribe moving heavy spar (6)
{BARITE} – an anagram of A TRIBE gives the American term for the mineral barytes or barium sulphate, which is also known as heavy spar – this is the main ingredient of a barium meal

11a Forebear — found no traces (8)
{ANCESTOR} – a straightforward anagram of NO TRACES, but nice surface reading

12a Bill for one sending letters (6)
{POSTER} – a double definition that shouldn’t cause too much trouble

13a Indistinct call by humorist giving signal to resume activities (3,5)
{ALL CLEAR} – indistinct is borderline as an anagram indicator for CALL; follow this with the humorist famous for his limericks to get the signal that danger has passed and it’s OK to resume activities

15a Irish lad’s tonsured, we hear (4)
{SEAN} – this Irish lad is the one that isn’t Pat, and he sounds like shorn

17a Band’s ring is heard on time (4)
{BELT} – nearly all of BEL(L) still sounds like bell, and it’s followed by T(ime) – a pretty weak homophone

19a Liqueur I arrange to be included in stake (8)
{ANISETTE} – you get this liqueur by putting I SET inside ANTE

20a Stone fish found by nurse (6)
{SARSEN} – sometimes called Saracen’s-stone, but that won’t fit into 6 letters, this is a charade of SAR, a marine fish of the genus Sargus, and State Enrolled Nurse

21a Recorded fragment about tailless pigeon (8)
{ENROLLED} – END is the fragment that has to be placed around ROLLE(R), a pigeon without the last letter, to get a word meaning recorded

Birmingham Roller

22a Farming method that requires a baler to work (6)
{ARABLE} – the surface reading is good for this straightforward anagram of A BALER

23a Scientist making maggot eat cuckoos (8)
{BOTANIST} – the scientist was easy to work out; the wordplay of BOTT (maggot, larva of the botfly) around (making … eat) ANIS (cuckoos) was a little harder

24a A long time to find bird in east, it took years at first (8)
{ETERNITY} – a charade to which Tilsit’s description of word-sum is particularly applicable – TERN (bird) inside E(ast) and IT followed by Y (Years at first)

25a A lot of writing on singular set of principles (6)
{SCREED} – combine S(ingular) and CREED (set of principles) to get a lot of writing – yes, s as an abbreviation of singular is in Chambers; I’m surprised it doesn’t come up more often


2d Minim or te cryptically (4-4)
{HALF-NOTE} – apparently a semi-breve is a whole note, but it seems odd; the other part of this musical double definition is (NO)TE

3d Vassal’s right to include close relative leaving the Navy (8)
{LIEGEMAN} – On seeing right was LIEN I entered the plural of this answer, because the apostrophe was missing from CluedUp (yet again); resolving the rest of the wordplay took rather longer – a german, or germane, is a very close relative (and we are not talking about the British Royal Family here!) so take away RN (Royal Navy) and you are left with GEMA – personally I think this kind of wordplay is out-of-place, even in a Toughie, and would be interested to know what you think

4d Hilton employed art to embellish sporting contest (9)
{TRIATHLON} – tell Hotlips that this is not Paris Hilton (sorry about that) but an anagram (embellish) of HILTON and ART for a sport that is the domain of the very fittest

5d Meeting of top brass (7,8)
{GENERAL ASSEMBLY} –a reasonably good cryptic definition

6d Allure that starts to generate Lothario’s love affair (7)
{GLAMOUR} – this time we are in Paris Hilton’s world! – this allure is derived by taking the first letters of Generate and Lothario and adding a love affair

7d Aircraft trades pounds for a drop of Texaco’s aviation fuel (8)
{TRIPTANE} – swap the L (pounds) for a T (drop of Texaco’s) in TRIP(L->T)ANE and you get this aviation fuel

8d Unnatural sailor’s sin with worker (8)
{ABERRANT} – a charade of AB (sailor) ERR (sin) and ANT (worker)

14d Inflammation irritates badly (9)
{ARTERITIS} – the inflammation of an artery is an anagram of IRRITATES

15d Stop in sound by headland for picture of it (8)
{SEASCAPE} – the first part of this charade is a homophone for cease (stop); add a headland like CAPE Horn and you have this picture

16d Where Welsh may be found chewing bread in most of region (8)
{ABERDARE} – a Welsh town that is an anagram (chewing) of BREAD inside ARE(A) (most of region)

17d German queen pursuing composer (8)
{BERLINER} – John F Kennedy claimed to be this kind of German – you get him by combining (Irving) BERLIN and ER (Elizabeth Regina)

18d Troubled client stopped short to meet landlord (8)
{LICENSEE} – an anagram (troubled) of CLIEN(T) without the T (stopped short) is followed by SEE (meet) to get the landlord of a public house

19d Means devised around Louisiana for communication? (7)
{AMESLAN} – the wordplay is so easy – an anagram (devised) of MEANS around LA (Louisiana) – but I had never heard of this AMErican Sign LANguage (communication)

On looking over my review I noted how a handful of clues that I didn’t like ruined the whole puzzle for me.  A pity, because the rest of it was quite good.

I have yet to collect my copy of the paper, and most of you will know by now that users of CluedUp are, unfairly,  deprived of the name of the setter. [Thanks for the info, BigBoab – the blog is now updated.]

You can give it your own assessment below, by clicking on one of the five ratings.

6 comments on “Toughie 200

  1. The setter was “Citrus”, I’m very much afraid I did not like the crossword much at all. I have never heard of 19d, it sounds made up. Quite liked 5d and 5a.

    1. Bigboab

      AMESLAN is the recognised sign language of America, and is not manufactured.
      As someone who can interpret in sign langauge in both UK and America, I assure you it is in current use. I would however suggest that it is the first time ever I have seen it in a crossword.

  2. I had to visit the site Big Dave to say how disappointing 200 Toughie was,surely the DT for such a special crossword could have produced better than a Sunday prize crossword with the exception of 20a,19d and 23a which could be considered Toughie material. 26000 didn’t let down, but this one did for me!

  3. Because it wasn’t particularly tough, we enjoyed this. We had a good start with 5a and 5d. Didn’t like 21a – a touch slanted towards all you flat capped pigeon fanciers. Bah!!

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