Toughie 317 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 317

Toughie No 317 by Excalibur

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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment *


1a    A celeb — and what a physique! (8)
{SOMEBODY} – this celebrity could be split (4,4) to mean “what a physique”

5a    Pleased with the sundial (4)
{SMUG} – a word meaning pleased with comes from S(un) MUG (dial)

9a    Shrink and send off, once freshly wrapped (8)
{CONDENSE} – a word meaning to shrink comes from an anagram (off) of SEND inside (wrapped) an anagram (freshly) of ONCE

10a    Unexpectedly sees good in spots (6)
{ESPIES} – inside an anagram (unexpectedly) of SEES with PI (good) inside gives a word meaning spots, as in sees

11a    I’m changing gear in another way. It’s a pain (8)
{MIGRAINE} – an anagram (changing) of I’M is followed by an anagram (another way) of GEAR IN to get a severe throbbing pain

12a    Misinform about the animal – a dog (6)
{LASSIE} – put LIE (misinform) around ASS (animal) to get a canine film star

14a    Early, while the pub is still open (6,4)
{BEFORE TIME} – part-cryptic double definition

18a    Prepared then to concoct lies, making whoopee (2,3,5)
{ON THE TILES} – yet another double anagram – THEN TO (prepared) followed by LIES (concoct) leads to part of the phrases “out on the tiles” or “a night on the tiles”

22a    It’s included among potential star qualities (6)
{TRAITS} – put IT inside (included among) an anagram (potential) of STAR to get these qualities

23a    Great number to finish off with (3,2,3)
{CAP IT ALL} – a charade of CAPITAL (great) and L (Roman number 50) leads to part of the phrase “to cap it all”

24a    Speak about an idiot with good sense (6)
{SANITY} – put SAY (speak) around NIT (an idiot) to get good sense

25a    Angry when a small quantity of her oil dripped in (8)
{CHOLERIC} – a word meaning angry comes from CC (Cubic Centimetre / a small quantity) with an anagram (dripped) of HER OIL inside

26a    Pointless if it’s cloudy (4)
{DULL} – an eponymous double definition

27a    Furnishes with items one hasn’t paid for (8)
{PRESENTS} – a part-cryptic double definition


2d    Having me get hold of a horse to run (6)
{MANAGE} – ME is put around A NAG (a horse) to get a word meaning to run

3d    One of the rules of cricket? (3-3)
{BYE-LAW} – cryptic definition

4d    Prevent profit from one being late (10)
{DISINHERIT} – another cryptic definition

6d    Shoo the mule wandering about vineyard plant (8)
{MUSCATEL} – put SCAT (shoo) inside an anagram (wandering) of MULE to get a grape plant

7d    Denied I sang out “Help!” (8)
{GAINSAID} – a word meaning denied is an anagram (out) of I SANG followed by AID (help)

8d    Having returned, were in the sand playing (8)
{ANSWERED} – a word meaning having returned, as in responded, comes from WERE inside an anagram (playing) of SAND

9d    With a gentle rebuke, taking care of myself (4)
{COME} – a gentle rebuke from CO (Care Of) and ME (myself)

13d    He’s back on the line with new offer (change of heart) (10)
{FOREFATHER} – an ancestor (he’s back on the line) is an anagram (new) of OFFER followed by another (change) of HEART

15d    Challenges in courts, set on overthrowing (8)
{CONTESTS} – these challenges are constructed from CTS (courts) around an anagram (overthrowing) of SET ON

16d    Gave it one’s all, though injured (8)
{STRAINED} – a double definition

17d    Not drinking from the little cup at all (8)
{TEETOTAL} – a word meaning not drinking comes from a charade of TEE (little cup for a golf ball) and TOTAL (all)

19d    Shooters hose off swarming horseflies (6)
{RIFLES} – these weapons (shooters) are an anagram (swarming) of (ho)R(se)FLIES without the letters of HOSE (hose off )

20d    Caution about entering the tunnel (6)
{WARREN} – start with WARN (to caution) and then insert RE (about entering) to get a tunnel

21d    He has a drink once one leaves (4)
{ALEC} – this man is a charade of ALE (drink) and C (onCe, one leaves)

Here endeth the anagram exam.

9 comments on “Toughie 317

  1. One of those days when both puzzles are finished by 11 o’clock! If it’s 4 stars for difficulty, I give 3 of them to 6d, as that was the one I had to think about the longest. Thanks BD for the review

  2. I dunno BD, I’m sort of enjoying this although I only got about 70% by the time I had got in to work.
    18a was pretty enjoyable.

  3. I thought that this was one of Excalibur’s better puzzles in terms of the clues though I agree there were a lot of anagrams and an inverse proportion of smiles. I had it all but done by the time I reached the office (though the back page puzzle was barely a two stopper so I had plenty of time to devote to Excalibur). Favourite clues were 1a, 7d and 18a.

  4. Agree with Jezza, the ony clue I had to think about was 6d, too many anagrams and weak clues. Not toughie standard.

  5. No real argument with the quality of the clues, but it left a sort of “So what?” feeling once it was done.

  6. BD – I quite enjoyed this one (at least 3* worth). Took a while to get to grips with, then motored on quite well until the bottom RH corner, which certainly deserved 4* difficulty for me. I noticed the consensus vote on CluedUp agreed with your 1* rating, which is quite a rarity on there. Thanks for your blog encouragement – it’s progressing slowly, before I’ll be unable to resist the urge to start ranting on about things political….

  7. A couple of clue quibbles:

    25A: “dripped” as an anagram indicator – makes no sense to me
    20D: tunnel as a def for WARREN – seems like “tube line” as a definition for LONDON UNDERGROUND

    It’s the grid that’s shoddy, and a shoddy grid is a cheap way of adding difficulty. The Guardian crossword still has some poor grids, but ditched the 10/8/6-letter words grid on which this one is based about 10 years ago. This puzzle takes that grid and and chops the 6-letter word that should be at 5A (and its 3 symmetrical partners) into a 4-letter word and half of a double unch at the beginning of 8D. This is the kind of double unch to moan about, and the result is the sort of grid that 99.5% of setters wouldn’t think of trying to get away with.

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