Toughie 263 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 263

Toughie No 263 by Firefly

Suddenly I See

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

A mixed bag of clues in a moderately difficult puzzle. I’d expected the NW/SE corners to be sticking points but they fell pretty quickly – in the fact the same was true for the other pair; it was just a small handful of answers (with all checkers in place) that caused some head-scratching.

In terms of entertainment… well, it was sort of OK really; not exactly bursting with wordplay fireworks but little to complain about either, although there are a few little errors of syntax. There were five theme answers to spot (all examples of 9d).

My favourite clues are shown in blue text.

Leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a Girl invited outside welcomes hour recalling 9 (6)
{DURHAM}  We have a girl who, according to song, was “invited outside” (not for a fight) placed outside the abbreviation for “hour”, then all of this is reversed.

4a Recklessly pursued, run away exhausted (4,2)
{USED-UP} An anagram of PURSUED, minus R (“run” in cricket).

8a Wine sends compiler off to see quack (3)
{DOC} Rather odd surface reading. The wine in question is MEDOC, from which the “compiler” needs to be removed.

10a Acting with spirit, amateur is about to give back retainer (7)
{SAMURAI} The wordplay seems a bit clumsy to me. “A” is an uncommon abbreviation for “acting”. Add to this a kind of alcoholic spirit, then another “A” abbreviation (amateur) – place all of these inside IS, then reverse everything (are you still awake?). The answer is a feudal Japanese military retainer.

11a Flap on air led shortly to sack (7)
{AILERON} The “flap” we want is an aeronautical one, made up of an anagram of ON AIR LED minus the last letter (shortly). “To sack” as the anagram indicator?

12a Issues for 9 (5)
{WELLS} Double definition; “issues” as in sources (of water/oil) and the name of a 9 down.

13a Tacky items she performs In adult nightclubs (9)
{ADHESIVES} “Tacky items” is the somewhat shaky definition. It’s made up of an anagram of SHE (another dodgy anagrind – “performs”) in A (adult) and a word meaning “nightclubs” – typically seedy ones. The clue reads well but the def/anagram indicators aren’t great.

14a Letter about old coin, having uranium in rim, offers informed speculation (8,5)
{EDUCATED GUESS} Complicated one, this. The letter we start with is S (but spelled out), and this is placed around DUCAT (an old coin), which is alongside U (uranium), in turn placed inside a word for the “rim” of something. The whole is a piece of informed speculation – an estimate based on what you know.

17a ‘Cranefly’, in a first-class condition, goes from 6/4 to 5/4 (9,4)
{FINANCIAL YEAR} I’m not a fan of implied anagram fodder. The answer is an arrangement of CRANEFLY IN A AI (A1 = first-class), and the answer is a period which runs from 6th April to 5th April. “Condition” is an imperative verb used as the anagram indicator – so, really, it should be in front of the anagram fodder.

22a Rector leaves local choir drunk in boozer! (9)
{ALCOHOLIC} An anagram of LOCAL CHOIR but without the letter R (rector). “Boozer” refers to a person, not a pub. Nice image!

23a 9 with death wish and no comeback? (5)
{RIPON} I do like “death wish” to indicate the letters often seen on a gravestone! Add a reversal of NO to make a 9dn.

24a He gets a sight 28 (7)
{OCULIST} A hardly-cryptic-at-all cryptic definition, where “sight” means, well, the faculty of sight.

25a Mycelia neotoxin returns, its focus on the foot (7)
{TOENAIL} Yes, I admit, I wasted some time looking up “mycelia neotoxin” to no avail. In the middle (focus) of this, reversed, is something which is on part of the foot. Sorry to sound picky again, but “on the foot” is not synonymous with the answer.

26a 9 with no bar, hardly (3)
{ELY} Another theme answer, based on BARELY (hardly) without BAR.

27a Extra safe — no parking in 9 (6)
{EXETER} I still don’t know why a safe is called a “peter”. Start with EX (apparently an abbreviation for “extra”) then remove the P (parking) from “peter”.

28a Recovering gambler? (6)

{BETTER} A very easy double definition which has been a crossword stalwart ever since that bloke with the ark…


1d 1 down’s tricky? Deny responsibility! (6)
{DISOWN} An interesting “coincidence” where the anagram fodder “I DOWN’S” is at 1dn.

2d Pound, depleted, went off course (7)
{RAMBLED} “Pound” here is a verb – to batter something. Add to that BLED (depleted) for the answer.

3d DIY no use during disarray when erecting screen (5)
{ARRAS} Slightly forced way of saying you need to remove DIY from “disarray”, then reverse (when erecting) what you have left.

5d 9 perhaps absorbing Irish city of no note (9)
{SALISBURY} This really threw me because part of the wordplay (SAY – perhaps) disappears in the surface reading. This is to be placed around the Irish city LISBURN, but without its abbreviation for “note”.

6d Originates campaigns about Ecstasy (7)
{DERIVES} As soon as you see “Ecstasy” in a clue you know it has to be E. Here, a word for “campaigns” is placed around it.

7d Scourge — somewhat like paronomasia? (6)
{PUNISH} Ho-ho. A pun’s official name is paronomasia, and the answer (to scourge) could be seen as being “like a pun”.

8d Uncouple damaged air ducts and isolate, so not functional (13)
{DISARTICULATE} Quite a clever arrangement of anagram fodder, although the answer may not be very familiar. We have to “damage” AIR DUCTS and ISOLATE, but must first remove SO (indicated by “so not functional”).

9d Herding 101 hardy cattle — Hereford, maybe? (9,4)
{CATHEDRAL CITY} Our theme answer. Another anagram, combining HARDY CATTLE with CI (Roman numerals – 101).

14d Brownie’s 4 in bafflement (3)
{ELF} Hmm. Just because this is a down answer it doesn’t mean we can see 4ac as a down answer too – because it isn’t. Anyway, that answer is a phrase which is used here as a reversal indicator, our answer appearing the wrong way round in “bafflement”.

15d Record setter’s impulsive in making quick descent (5,4)
{CRASH DIVE} Not a brilliant surface reading but very nice wordplay. At long last, the cryptic crossword uses CD instead of EP/LP for “record”, and adds I’VE (setter’s) with the insertion of a word meaning “impulsive”.

16d ‘Ecclesiastical’ gentleman? (3)
{SIR} A very obscure double definition here. The “gentleman” part is easy enough, but the alternative meaning is an abbreviation for The Apocryphal Book of Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach. Obviously.

18d Incorporate here a bit of deception? (7)
{INCLUDE} Ouch! The “bit of deception” we want is that initial D – the wordplay tells us (sort of) that the D is hidden inside the clue.

19d Snake having rest on road surface (7)
{ASPHALT} Join together a type of snake (think Cleopatra) and a “rest” – especially for a traveller – to produce the answer, a type of road surfacing.

20d Much name-dropping by green ex-VP? (6)
{GALORE} OK, this has me a bit baffled. The answer, meaning “much”, is based on the chap below – Al Gore. Can’t work out how the wordplay is telling me to move the G of his surname to the front. Help!

21d Learnt to play the horn (6)
{ANTLER} Nice easy anagram of LEARNT – the horn in question is not a musical instrument.

23d Bailiff to attach rope to the ‘Sandpiper’ (5)

{REEVE} You don’t see triple definitions that often. The clue should be split as: Bailiff / to attach rope to / the sandpiper.

13 comments on “Toughie 263

  1. much enjoyed this once I got the theme! 20d I think he is telling us to drop the Al not raise the G.

  2. Thanks for the Review.
    I failed on a handful including Al Gore – sure I like the clue!.
    Loved the long anagrams!

    Quite an enjoyable Puzzle today!.

  3. Fortunately managed to twig 9d fairly quickly which helped to set a frameword for the remainder of the puzzle and most of the answers went in without being a 14a except for 10a which was! Favourite clue was 22a although most rectors I know could out drink the choir and certainly would not leave the pub before them! I liked 17a and 8d.

    Many thanks to Firefly for our puzzle today. Thanks Anax for your hints.

  4. 1down was my favourite, but I agree, there were a number of clues that didn’t feel quite right or were a little forced. Nevertheless, probably better than I could have done…

    Anax, you may recall after your “From The Top” article you recommended Alberich’s site. Well yesterday he added my first puzzle on there. So, thank you for the encouragement.

      1. 1d – just got it! Snigger!.
        Still not there on the theme even with 1a.
        Looks like quite a puzzle!

  5. I got 9 dn fairly quickly and all the other long ones as well. However, I could not complete it in the time that I allot for myself for a puzzle.

    You know place names are a problem for us overseas solvers. The top half had most of the unfilled answers. In 4ac I had ????UP but not the total answer.

    10ac: A for acting I came across only a few days ago and so there was no difficulty there.

    2d: I guessed RAMBLED but did not put it in because the explanation did not occur to me quickly. I don’t enter any answer unless I am able to explain it to myself. I often explain answers to bloggers elsewhere but that is a different matter. We see what others don’t see and they see what we don’t see!

    I liked 1 dn.

  6. Good observation, Mary. Having the long answers like 13s or 11s placed with equal numbers of blacks squares on either side is rather a DT speciality (likewise the 3-letter answers joining things together. I’m not very keen on this one as the NE and SW corners are weakly connected to the rest (by 2 and 10 in the NE), though the 13-letter answers are generously checked.

    Got there in the end except for the ecclesiatical gentleman – abbreviations for Apocrypha books are obscure and SGR for Signor seemed quite convincing as a junior version of the “Monsignor” title used by some RC priests, though it’s probably complete tosh.

    I’m not keen on 14D either, but I don’t think it requires 4A to be seen as a down answer. After replacing “4” with “used up”, the idea that doesn’t make sense to me is that “bafflement” should be thought of as written downwards because it appears in a down clue. It’s the answer that’s written downwards, not the clue! (Firefly is by no means the only setter to use this idea.) And similar feelings about 18 where here meaning “in the clue” actually seems to mean “in IN CLUE”.

    The theme was a good side – having solved 9D early, I thought the rest would be easy, but having 9 in a clue did help me as much as I expected.

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