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Toughie 303

Toughie No 303 by Busman

A Piece of Cake

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

Like Mr Kipling, Busman produces exceedingly good puzzles, but are they tough enough to labelled Toughies? A quick look at the comments on today’s offering from Ray T would suggest not.

By the way, NTSPP-001 has now been reinstated.  Many thanks to Mike “Eimi” Hutchinson for his hard work in ensuring that any possible legal hurdles were cleared.

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    Like a brass band, unconditional (7,7)
{WITHOUT STRINGS} – a part-cryptic double definition – a brass band has no violins or similar instruments

9a    Bird’s empty list? (7)
{ROOSTER} – This bird is a list with nothing in it – what do you think about this; does the construct work for you?

10a    As always, headless duck swallowing seabird (7)
{ETERNAL} – a word meaning as always is generated from a type of duck, less its first letter, around a seabird – both of the birds concerned are crossword regulars

Q. What do you call a pretty girl with three dogs?  A. Louise

ARVE Error: need id and provider

11a    The age when one’s back to front (3)
{EON} – to get this age, move to last letter of ONE to the front

12a    Paid nothing, pieces being broken from projector (11)
{EPIDIASCOPE} – an anagram (being broken) of PAID O (nothing) PIECES gives an optical device for projecting images of objects – can you have an anagram that includes an indirect element? Most Telegraph crosswords avoid this by inserting the indirect element after describing the anagram; your opinion is welcome

14a    Article one’s written about science, for starters (6)
{THESIS} – After the definite article and before I’S (one’s) put the first letter (for starters) of Science – but where’s the definition? Read this all-in-one clue again!

15a    Dissenter will withdraw without us (8)
{RECUSANT} – to get this little-used word for a dissenter, put a word meaning to withdraw around (without) US –the crossword boards frequently debate this use of without (as in without a city wall); it’s ok by me

17a    Spot on my head? (8)
{RAINDROP} – especially if my name was Butch Cassidy!

ARVE Error: need id and provider

19a    Creature is seen possibly (6)
{NESSIE} – this semi-&lit clue is defined by creature and by the whole clue – by the way it’s an anagram (possibly) of IS SEEN

22a    Feat in armour (11)
{ACHIEVEMENT} – a double definition for which the checking letters and the first definition were sufficient for me to enter this answer with confidence – only afterwards did I find out that it can also mean an escutcheon, armour, etc, hung over a tomb

23a    Identity of top golfer in game (3)
{EGO} – this identity is derived by putting G (top golfer) inside EO (Endless Online – some sort of computer game played by those not clever enough to waste their time doing crosswords) – if i have the correct wordplay, this is verging on unfair as the game is (currently) unknown to Chambers If you know what to look for in Chambers then apparently E O is an old game of even/odd

24a    Don Juan’s favourite teacake (7)
{CRUMPET} – I can’t find any more in this than a double definition, with Don Juan’s favourite being a slang word for a lady friend

26a    Composer backing that Latin bird (7)
{CORELLI} – the composer, whose name is more readily associated with a certain Captain and his mandolin, is a reversal of ILLE (that, Latin, masculine nominative singular) ROC (an enormous bird described in Arabian legend)

27a    Boundary or duck — reasonable sort of forecast (14)
{METEOROLOGICAL} – quite a clever charade – METE (a boundary) OR O (duck) and a word meaning reasonable giving a sort of weather forecast


1d           Awkwardly wore crest on cheek with relish (9,5)
{WORCESTER SAUCE} – an anagram (awkwardly) of WORE CREST on (above, because this is a down clue) a word meaning cheek gives this popular relish – although Chambers (incorrectly) allows the name of the town as the first word, the name should actually be that of the county – if you don’t believe me just look at a bottle of Lea & Perrins!

2d           Beat light-weight after third round starts (7)
{TROUNCE} – a word meaning to beat comes from a light non-metric weight preceded by the first letters (starts) of Third and Round

3d           Like a leader, cheating (2,3,6)
{ON THE FIDDLE} – the leader of an orchestra plays a string instrument, but as a phrase it means cheating

4d           Very hot and dry, on leaving Scottish loch (6)
{TORRID} – well, I never knew about Loch Torridon before today!

5d           Changeable daily? (3,5)
{THE TIMES} – the world’s second best quality newspaper is referred to in a song by Bob Dylan

6d           Diamonds reserve (3)
{ICE}- a double definition

7d           What Italian boatmen first directed into lagoon, maybe (7)
{GONDOLA} – ok, it’s the first letter of Directed inside an anagram (maybe) of LAGOON, but this attempt at an all-in-one clue fails for me

8d           Mabel Latimer wandering around golden monument (6,8)
{ALBERT MEMORIAL} – one of the first rules of cryptic crosswords – names of people that you have never heard of are usually anagram fodder – put an anagram (wandering) of Miss MABEL LATIMER around the heraldic word for gold(en) to get this famous London monument – is golden allowed here? “Or” is a noun not an adjective and I doubt this would pass muster in the DIY Clue Of the Week competition

13d         Novelty turns staged at college (8,3)
{STUDENTS’ RAG} – an anagram (novelty – funny that originally should turn up last Sunday – but although I would accept novel  I don’t think this one works) of TURNS STAGED gives an annual charity event at most colleges – with my drinking buddy John I won the three-legged beer race during Rag Week at Bristol University in 1965 – John went on to produce this guide to the Pubs of Edinburgh!

16d         Guide Europeans to goal — not half! (4,4)
{POLE STAR} – this guide used by sailors to aid navigation comes from the inhabitants of Poland (Europeans) followed by TAR(GET) (goal, not half)

18d         Heinous changes, according to company rules (2-5)
{IN HOUSE} – an anagram (changes) of HEINOUS

20d         Woman having to summon up old record (7)
{SHELLAC} – that woman again is followed by CALL(summon) reversed (up, yes it’s a down clue!) to get a type of record that pre-dated vinyl

21d         Writer with majority of coins I left (6)
{PENCIL} – an item used to fill in crosswords is derived from PENC(E) (majority of coins) followed by  I and L(eft)

I found this to be a better puzzle after writing the review than i did at the time of solving.  I was, however, unhappy about a few of the constructs.

23 comments on “Toughie 303

  1. Agree with 23a – I think you have the wordplay right but I mean, really! . Damned pesky kids and their games. It didnt stop me getting the answer. Ditto 27a as ‘mete’ in this way was unknown to me.
    Faves were 8d, 19a and particularly 21d.

  2. 23a. My Chambers has EO (in capitals) as an 18th century gambling game, depending on a ball falling into slots marked either E or O.

    1. I checked EO in the online version, but not E O which gives the definition above. Sometimes it is better to look things up in the book itself!

    2. It isn’t in the online version, and I suspect this is where BD checked. A search on the net doesn’t throw this up easily either. However it does appear to be what Gazza say’s – some form of old roulette. I originally thought the setter was using GO, but could not make it fit the word play no matter how hard I tried. :-)

  3. Re 23a – Clued up confirmed my guess, but never heard of “Endless Online”…I didn’t like 9a either. 8d possibly the fastest anagram solve ever!

  4. Agreed. Nothing really to complain about in terms of the construction of the puzzle itself. It’s just that it was easier by miles than Ray T’s puzzle. I would say that this puzzle was on a par with the mid range back page puzzles, so it not simply bad luck that we are comparing it with a particularly tricky back page puzzler. Favourite was 3d.

  5. Looking forward to 20d – Hotlips has been looking out his first one – ‘The Man from Laramie’. me – never heard of this!! Also we never heard of Loch Torridon – live and learn!

  6. I enjoyed that after doing the normal puzzle. I think Ray T has finally taught me something and I feel more able to have a go at these toughies. Think I’ll start edging towards the CC exit and see if I can get out.
    Thanks for the blog Dave

              1. He can take you anyplace he wants
                To fancy clubs and restaurants
                But I can only watch you with
                My nose pressed up against the window pane
                I, I who have nothing
                I, I who have no one
                Must watch you, go dancing by
                Wrapped in the arms of somebody else
                When darling it’s I
                Who Loves you

          1. I was going for “smoke gets in my eyes”
            but will settle for “I who have nothing”
            can’t see the joke in either of them, though!

  7. Even I did better at this one today! Got ten of them just reading it through. 9a did work for me, after searching for ‘short and snappy’ in BD’s Guide for the clue type. I thought 8d was an anagram, but couldn’t spot the additional letters; had it been GOLD I might well have got there!

    Didn’t get 27a, as I thought it was to do with cricket. Did get PENCIL, but didn’t know why, so the explanation was interesting.

  8. Enjoyed this one but came up short with RECUSANT – never heard of it. Will have to get the bigger Chambers! Only got Torridon looking through list of Lochs.
    Really enjoy this site, thanks “Big Dave” and the contributors.

  9. Maybe because my PC at work won’t load the video that seems attached, but I’m afraid that: –

    Q. What do you call a pretty girl with three dogs? A. Louise

    has me baffled! Explain please?

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