Toughie 238 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 238

Toughie No 238 by Warbler

Hints and Tips by Tilsit

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

Tilsit is currently being given the run-around at the hospital – being wheeled from department to department.  He is hoping to be let out on parole for good behaviour this evening, and to be able to write the review then.

Sorry for the lateness with the posting but as Big Dave said, I have been ferried around the hospital in preparation for going home tomorrow. However, courtesy of a rather nice nurse, I was able to get all of today’s newspaper puzzles printed off and I was able to solve them while waiting for treatment. With the exception of today’s Independent puzzle by our old chum Elgar, this Toughie was the most enjoyable of them all.

It was quite a tough solve, though and some of the clues needed a bit of thinking outside the box. However the anagrams were nice and appropriate, although I don’t like “made up names” as in 26 across. There were also some good uses of present-day words and phrases, rather than some puzzles where you feel like you’re being transported back to the 1950’s. There were a couple of dodgy surface readings, though. Rather too many anagrams for my liking too.

Here we go. Have your say (some of you already have!) and / or rate the puzzle using the star system.


1a    Urban trade debt ruined livelihood (5-3-6)
{BREAD AND BUTTER} A nice anagram (indicated by “ruined”)to start with giving a phrase that means livelihood, nuts and bolts.

9a    Most direct route made by black fish in middle of ocean (7)
{BEELINE} A word sum. B (Black) + EEL (fish) + IN + E (middle of “ocean”)

10a    End of May marks beginning of pandemic in most unusual sign of disease (7)
{SYMPTOM} Bit complicated, but it works. Y = end of May; M= marks P = beginning of Pandemic, all inside an anagram of MOST gives a word meaning a sign of an illness.

11a    It helps in playing a game to be fatuous (4)
{GAGA} Probably the only clue I have an issue with today. What is the purpose of “It helps”, other than to pad out the clue? It’s a hidden answer inside “playing a game” and the definition is “to be fatuous”. Not good.

12a    Colourful lie? Young man’s worker (10)
{FLAMBOYANT} Another awful surface reading. Colourful is the definition.

14a    Fairy king died. Queen starts to oversee nation (6)
{OBERON} Another word sum. OB (dead) + ER (Queen) + ON (Starts to “oversee nation” ) give the King of the Fairies, as in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I have just been searching for the meaning behind OB = dead, I managed to find it listed as an abbreviation for obsolete, although I was assuming it was from OBITUARY, or a derivative therefrom. The Latin verbs to die are abeo, moreo and defungo.

15a    Tootling about runs slap into traffic jams (5-3)
{SNARL-UPS} “Tootling about” is used as an anagram indicator here, so we are looking for an anagram of RUNS SLAP to give a phrase for traffic jams.

17a    Essentially gaffer starts to correct the journalist and put on airs and graces (8)
{AFFECTED} The use of “essentially” here means to take the insides of gaffer. Add to this “starts to correct the” CT and ED (journalist). I was going to praise the tightness and succinct reading until the surplus “and” appeared.

18a    Crazy nut’s regret is false (6)
{UNTRUE} An anagram of NUT plus RUE (regret) gives a word meaning false.

21a    Have another think about Tory supporter (10)
{RECONSIDER} My Chambers has been packed away, so I can’t check this, but I think this works as follows: RE (about) + CON (Tory) + SIDER (supporter) [presume this word is correct]

22a    Australian regularly can be rash (4)
{ACNE} A (Australian) + CaN bE (“can be” regularly) and the definition is “rash”

24a    Clown has to run right back after confusion (7)
{PIERROT} Again, sans Chambers, PIE = confusion + R R OT (“to run right” reversed)

25a    To blink frantically is a feature of Rorschach test (3-4)
{INK-BLOT} An anagram of TO BLINK gives a feature of the psychometric test. I once did a do-it-yourself Rorschach test. It told me I needed a new fountain pen.

26a    Poor Syd Green if out of credit is prone to pilfering (6-8)
{STICKY-FINGERED} An anagram (indicated by “poor”) of SYD GREEN IF with TICK (credit) inside gives a description of a petty thief.


1d    Infant suit in reserve in pouch with bits of rusk and ointment (7)
{BABYGRO} An all in-one suit for a baby. Reserve = BY inside BAG (pouch) + R O (bits of rusk and ointment)

2d    In year international green effect could become this economical (6-9)
[ENERGY-EFFICIENT} One of those clues where the whole provides a definition of the clue. An anagram (“could become”) of IN Y I GREEN EFFECT.

3d    Welshman’s raised floor (4)
{DAIS} An archetypal name for a Welshman, perhaps Big Dave’s equivalent across the Marches. In this clue the “apostrophe s” is important, other clues have them where they are not essential.

4d    Cutting top from joint unfortunately led to injection (6)
{NEEDLE} KNEE (joint) without its first letter, plus an anagram of LED gives a word meaning something I am sick of seeing over the past ten days.

5d    Vile folk finally caught in lowest storey (8)
{BASEMENT} BASE (Vile) + MEN (folk) + T (finally caught) with the remainder of the clue as definition.

6d    Instrument playing at number 10 (10)
{TAMBOURINE} This should really have had a question mark after it to suggest “something a bit unusual”. Here the setter is asking you to treat 1 0 as I & O. Do you think it’s fair? Let me know your thoughts. The clue is an anagram (playing) of AT NUMBER 10.

7d    Unwinding, relax with rural city cure, not Ely sadly, in sort of activity outside normal routine (15)
{EXTRACURRICULAR} An anagram (unwinding) of RELAX RURAL CITY CURE minus ELY, gives a word meaning activity outside normal routine. I am used to seeing this sort of clue as a solver of the Azed crossword in the Observer. Is it too tough for a Toughie?

8d    Kills last of dipterous insects (6)
{SMITES} The definition is “kills” – S (last of dipterous) + MITES (insects).

13d    Connect Internet Relay Chat supply with a common centre (10)
{CONCENTRIC} An anagram of CONNECT IRC, although I don’t like supply as an anagram indicator.

16d    Have another stab at confining soldiers in records office (8)
{REGISTRY} RETRY (have another stab) with GI’S (soldiers) inside. “Records office” is the definition.

17d    Short sailor runs up to mast’s extremity (6)
{ABRUPT} AB (sailor) + R (runs) + UP T (Extremity of “mast“) with “short” as the definition.

19d    Established and finished without power and force (7)
{ERECTED} Finished = PERFECTED minus P and F gives a word meaning established.

20d    Orange minicab’s interior sign (6)
{GEMINI} A hidden answer “orange minicab…” gives a sign (of the zodiac).

23d    Heroin? In LA it’s a mounting thrill to stash a kilo (4)
{SKAG} In the US, a word for a thrill is a GAS, so reverse this and insert K for Kilo to get a slang word for heroin. I don’t like drug clues at all, they make me feel uncomfortable.

Thanks to Big Dave for assisting with the Saturday analysis and hopefully I’ll see you next week.

Toughie 238 - Answers
Toughie 238 - Answers

24 comments on “Toughie 238

  1. Kindly ask Tilsit to stop importuning the nurses! (and send him all the best from me!)

    Can’t get 1d no matter what! – this could be because 14a is wrong – I think I know the answer but have no idea why!.

    As to the rest, I found that the longer clues were pretty straightforward and then having got a few connecting letters in some of the answers simply jumped out at you before you had read the clue.
    Liked 26a, surface reading on 15a pleased but favourite was 10a.

    1. gnomethang
      1d. Infant suit in reserve in pouch with bits of rusk and ointment (7)
      The answer is the proprietary name of an all-in-one stretch-fabric suit for a baby. Put BAG (pouch) around BY (in reserve) and add R(usk) and O(intment).
      14a. Fairy king died. Queen starts to oversee nation.
      The husband of Titania is constructed from OB (obit, died) plus ER plus O(versee) and N(ation).

    2. 1d….in reserve “BY” pouch “BAG” ,bits of Rusk Ointment = BABYGRO
      14a.. OB ER(queen) ON (starts to Oversee Nation)

        1. Many Thanks the pair of you!. I am unfamiliar with the 1d and was unaware of OB for Died as a straight indicator.

    1. CastorFool

      Your latest comment needed moderation as you changed your email address from .biz to .com. I presume the former is the correct one and have changed it, please let me know if you want it changed back.

      1. Sorry Big Dave
        I use both emails, one for business and the other for private; I had forgotten which one I was using here after a PC reset and password clean!

  2. Hotlips did this more or less by himself today, then lost it! He liked 6d best – clever anagram he thought. Come on, Tilsit – get well!!

        1. F is quite standard in physics:
          f = ma
          force = mass x acceleration
          fine if you are of a scientific bent!

  3. Enjoyable crossword but not really toughie standard in my opinion. I did like the 4 ‘biguns’. All the very best to Tilsit.

  4. Enjoyable fare today. I think that the crossword just comes within the Toughie standard but only because of a handful of clues like 6d and 19d that went beyond the standard of the harder cryptic puzzles on the back page. Re your comment about 7d, no this is not to tough for a Toughie. I thought it was one of the easier clues and well signposted.

    Welcome back to the fold, Tilsit and hope that your stay with the matrons has done its work and things look up.

  5. A momentous day for me. completed all but one in a telegraph toughie. my best endeavour yet. I have so many people to thank, but instead of a long speech ill just say ta to you all. Get well Tilsit. Think BD would be Dai Mawr in my native language. Bytheway 19d got the better of me. :smile: :smile: :smile:

  6. I’m pleased to see that 19d caused other folk problems too. Apart from that one clue it was an enjoyable puzzle.

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