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Toughie 300

Toughie No 300 by Excalibur

Not a Load of Laughs

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

There’s not a lot of variety in today’s puzzle with a lot of clues being container types, where you have to put x (or an anagram of it) inside y (or an anagram of it). Actually with this setter they’re mostly expressed backwards, as “y, x included”. I didn’t really enjoy it that much, though there were a few nice clues.
Let us know what you thought of it via a comment, and please don’t forget to vote by clicking on one of the stars at the bottom of the review.

Across Clues

1a  Type ‘A secret I foolishly try to hide’ (10)
{CATEGORISE} – the definition is type, as a verb meaning to classify, and it’s an anagram (foolishly) of A SECRET I with a short word for a try or attempt inside (to hide).

6a  Cheat one into providing money (4)
{COIN} – you need to rearrange “cheat one into” into “one into cheat” to realise that you need to put I (one) inside a verb meaning to cheat.

9a  Belief in decorating? A semi conversion (5)
{CREDO} – take the first half (a semi) of DECORating and make an anagram (conversion) from it to get a personal statement of belief.

10a  A fool but no trouble: not unruly (9)
{SIMPLETON} – follow something that’s easy (no trouble) with an anagram (unruly) of NOT to get a synonym for fool.

12a  Sickness, when waters abate, will go round (7)
{DISEASE} – waters are SEAS – put a verb meaning to abate or wither away round it and you have an ailment or sickness.

13a  Tennis court not equipped for the players’ performance? (5)
{NONET} – a musical composition for nine voices or instruments, which, if redefined as (2,3), might describe a significant deficiency in a tennis court.

15a  Clothing I am untidily ramming into breach (7)
{RAIMENT} – put an anagram (untidily) of I AM inside a breach or tear.

17a  Tell nobody — say ‘Keep things dark’ (7)
{SHUTTER} – a charade of SH (don’t say anything!, tell nobody) plus a synonym for to say produces a verb meaning to block out the light at a window.

19a  Fools are wise, contriving to take everybody in (7)
{WALLIES} –  put ALL (everybody) inside (to take in) an anagram (contriving) of WISE.

21a  Transferring our bag, about to go on a spree (7)
{CAROUSE} – an anagram (transferring) of OUR with a type of bag outside (about) produces a verb meaning to have a noisy, drunken time (go on a spree).

22a  Criticise star performing (band included) (5)
{ROAST} – put O (band, because it’s round) inside (included) an anagram (performing) of STAR to get an informal verb meaning to criticise or reprimand.

24a  Capturing power I’m hurt badly but succeed (7)
{TRIUMPH} – an anagram (badly) of I’M HURT with P(ower) inside (capturing) produces a verb meaning to win or succeed. The ‘but’ is just padding.

27a  Banished for a while, died out (9)
{DISPELLED} – find a synonym for a short time (a while) and put DIED out(side) to get a verb meaning drove away or banished.

28a  Jewel that, misguidedly, the nest egg went into (5)
{STONE} – this clue has exactly the same structure as 22a. This time you want an anagram (misguidedly) of NEST and the included O is an egg rather than a band. The ‘the’ contributes nothing and is not needed.

29a  Be paid, reportedly, as a high flier (4)
{ERNE} – another word for a sea-eagle (high flier) sounds like (reportedly) a verb meaning to be paid for work done.

30a  With spirit, say angrily ‘You can eat it’ (6,4)
{BRANDY SNAP} – put together a distilled alcoholic spirit and a verb meaning to speak sharply (say angrily) to get a thin crisp biscuit flavoured with ginger.

Down Clues

1d  Just goes to show which way the wind blows, mate (4)
{COCK} – double definition. Something that rotates freely (just goes) to indicate the wind direction is also a slang term (often preceded by “my old”) for a mate. My favourite clue, with a smooth surface reading.

2d  Until dream shatters, going through daily grind (9)
{TREADMILL} – start with a preposition which is a less formal way of saying until, and inside (going through) put an anagram (shatters) of DREAM. You end up with a machine which goes continuously, which is a metaphor for routine drudgery (daily grind).

3d  To make money is disgusting (5)
{GROSS} – double definition, the first a verb meaning to make an amount of money before any deductions for tax, etc.

4d  Get going again and others pitch in (7)
{RESTART} – put a word meaning the others around a dark, viscous mixture (pitch).

5d  ‘When tourists abound,’ they add (7)
{SUMMERS} – double definition – the season (in the plural) when there are lots of tourists is also a word which you could use (if you were desperate) to describe people doing additions. The chance to make an amusing clue based on the name of a chain of shops selling sexy lingerie has been missed, so, sadly, no opportunity for pictures!

7d  Not once has one slid foot inside (5)
{OFTEN} – an anagram (slid) of ONE with the abbreviation for foot inside.

8d  Not a novice? It’s not running (3-7)
{NON-STARTER} – double definition – someone with a bit of experience is also the term applied to a horse which was entered in a race but withdrawn before the “off”.

11d  Having muffed goal, run with depleted energy (7)
{LANGUOR} – an anagram (muffed) of GOAL RUN produces a noun meaning listlessness (with depleted energy).

14d  Strong defence to tie the game (10)
{DRAWBRIDGE} – this strong defence for a mediaeval castle is formed from a charade of a synonym for tie (in a sporting sense) and a card game.

16d  ‘Dispatch’ I spelt otherwise; with an E (7)
{EPISTLE} – a dispatch, in the sense of a letter, is an anagram (otherwise) of I SPELT followed by E. The surface reading is quite clever, referring to the alternative way of spelling dispatch.

18d  Score and feel low (9)
{TOUCHDOWN} – the act of scoring in rugby or American Football is a charade of a synonym for to feel and an adjective meaning low or depressed.

20d  Has he put paid to his days of wandering? (7)
{SETTLER} – double definition – someone who has paid his debts and put down roots.

21d  Ticked off child when I’d got home (7)
{CHIDDEN} – this seldom-used past participle meaning ticked off or rebuked is put together from an abbreviation for child, I’D and a home or lair.

23d  Hears he left on, starting a fire (5)
{ARSON} – remove the first two letters from (he)ars (he left) and add ON.

25d  Gracious, it’s fuzzy inside. Hard to see (5)
{MISTY} – an interjection expressing surprise (gracious!) with an anagram (fuzzy) of IT’S inside.

26  Observe, when you turn to look (4)
{KEEP} – reverse (turn) a verb meaning to steal a look to get another verb meaning to comply with or observe.

I liked 13a, 19a and 16d, but my favourite clue today is 1d. What about you? Leave us a comment with your views.

24 comments on “Toughie 300

  1. I know that Excalibur’s puzzles create mixed feelings among people but I quite enjoyed this one. I got held up as I can’t spell 11d (MUST have been muzzy this morning!) but got there after realising my mistake.
    Favourites were 1d, 18d and 13a. Also 19a – I have jusy tried to buy some – d’ya think I can? – not even for ready money!
    Thanks for the review gazza

  2. I was pleased to get about 3/4 of the way through.

    The solution to 1d got me though. Why the word ‘Just’ ? It threw me completely.

    I did like 18d though, very topical and so well hidden to me.

    1. Hoddros
      I took “just goes” to mean that the instrument rotates without any power applied (other than the wind iself, of course).

  3. When I see this setter’s name on the toughie I cringe. But today I actuallly enjoyed solving it.
    The last one to go in was 17a ‘cos originally I’d mispelt 11d.
    Favourites were 19a, 14d & 18d.

  4. Was OK…. the only two that caused me any trouble were 21a and 21d. Not keen on 29a, where you need the third letter to be 100% certain!

  5. Like gnonethang I spelled 11d wrongly at first, other than that a very straightforward crossword not really deserving of “toughie” status. Great review again Gazza.

  6. I found it completely lacking in redeeming features. I expected something much better for the 300th Toughie instead of this dross.

    Nothing ever changes, clues that don’t read properly. Container and contents clues twisted to suit the reading. I lost the will to live after four clues solved.

    However there is a redeeming light.

    Go the Guardian site

    and download probably the most amazing puzzle in a very long time set by Brendan, who is our very own Sunday Setter. You will quite quickly see why he is far and away a better setter than Mme Excalibur ever will be.

    1. Many,many thanks for the heads up, Tilsit. I totally agree with you, having just attempted and completed my first ever Guardian puzzle. It certainly puts some of the Telegraph Toughies to shame.

  7. I thought that this was one of Excalibur’s better puzzles. I still needed to put my brain in to how to read Excalibur speak to make much progress. I wonder whether people of have studied Reverse Polish Notation in maths fare any better when solving her puzzles. Favourite clues were 19a, 1d and 18d. Thanks for the review Gazza – I know know how much work they take to produce!

    1. Thanks, Prolixic, and welcome to the bloggers’ club. Congratulations on an excellent first review!

  8. Dave, Perhaps you could / should devise a marking system to help establish the official “Big Dave Approval Rating” for each Toughie, to which everyone who attempts it would contribute. Someting like your Star Rating, with up to 5 marks in each category, but broadened to include:
    1. Degree of Difficulty
    2. Enjoyment
    3. Surface Reading
    4. Quality of the Grid
    5. Variation of clue types (Anagrams / Container & Contents / Doubles)
    etc etc.
    The avarage mark (out of 25 in this example) would then appear in a table, and so establish the “Toughie of the Month”, which would earn the setter a major prize – a suitable accolade on your Blog

    1. While I understand what you are getting at, the 1-5 star rating at the end of each post is provided and maintained by WordPress. I’m not sure that I have the facility to provide anything more complex.

      1. Yes, I did think that it might be difficult to implement. So we’ll stick with the current system, unless one of your readers is web designer with time on their hands!!??

  9. All rather wordy and contrived but I liked 7d 20d and 19ac…especially the latter as that word hasn’t occurred since schooldays when it was somewhat more derogatory than “fool”. Interestingly the Red Book has a definition which comes first and states that it is of Scottish derivation meaning “excellent, fine looking, ample (a general term of commendation) OR made of china OR (plural) slang for dentures!!

    1. The English wally rhymes with folly, the Scots wally (or wallie) with rally. My mother was born up a wallie close, “considered a sign of social superiority” (Concise Scots Dictionary); but she never had a pair of wallie dugs on her mantelpiece.

  10. After being informed of who the setter was today (before I had started to do this), the temptation was not to bother. But the thought of 1200 points on CluedUP changed my mind. This Toughie reminds me of an Excalibur Toughie I reviewed a while ago, (Toughie 236) when you actually did it it wasn’t too bad, but when you go back over it and analyse the clues, you realise how similar and mechanical it all is…

  11. Not often I finish a Toughie completely unaided but today was one of those days. No particular problems really, even though progress was steady not spectacular , last to go in were 21a and 26d.

  12. I started this very late last night and had to sleep on it so finished it in the early hours of Thursday.
    I liked 1a, 13a, 28a & 29a. Also 1d, 8d & 14d, Thought 21d a bit old-fashioned.

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