Toughie 325

Toughie No 325 by Busman

Rather pedestrian

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

A workmanlike puzzle that left me wanting something more exciting, especially coming straight after yesterday’s tour de force.

OK, I missed the obvious Nina all round the outside unchecked letters – thanks Tilsit!

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.


7a    Some worn-out place for hacks (8)
{NEWSROOM} – an anagram (out) of SOME WORN gives a place for reporters

9a    One boy embracing jolly pilot (6)
{AIRMAN} – A (one) and a Scottish boy are placed around a Royal Marine (jolly) to get someone who could be a pilot

10a    Birds and whales broadcast (4)
{AUKS} – these birds sound like (broadcast) orcs

11a    Broke molar around block in old building (5,5)
{ROMAN VILLA} – put an anagram (broke) of MOLAR around the block used by a blacksmith to get this old building

12a    Second barge at capital (6)
{MOSCOW} – a short word for a second is followed by a type of barge to give this capital city

14a    Benevolence the French reject — that’s commonplace (8)
{ALTRUISM} – a word meaning benevolence comes from the (feminine) in French reversed (reject) followed by a commonplace statement

15a    Perplexed cast (6)
{THROWN} – a double definition – puzzled or flung

17a    Land for cultivation in Maine, say? (6)
{ESTATE} – Maine could be described as an E(astern) territory of the USA

20a    Glass boat (8)
{SCHOONER} – straightforward double definition – wine glass or sailing boat

22a    Notes timeless commissions (6)
{BREVES} – these musical notes are derived by removing T(ime) from military commissions entitling officers to take rank above that for which they receive pay

23a    Disturbed guard in bed — full length (10)
{UNABRIDGED} – an anagram (disturbed) of GUARD IN BED gives an adjective describing a full length book

24a    Spoken of extravagant skirt (4)
{TUTU} – this skirt sounds like (spoken) too too (extravagant)

25a    Untrustworthy chap greeted horse, we’re told (3,3)
{BAD EGG} – a name for an untrustworthy chap when split (4,2) gives greeted and what sounds like (we’re told) a child’s name for a horse

26a    Ordinary old coin in change? (5,3)
{PLAIN BOB} – a charade of a word meaning ordinary and a slang word for an old shilling gives a change in bellringing – bob minor, bob major, bob royal and bob maximus come up from time to time


1d    Scale WW2 bomber (8)
{BEAUFORT} – a double definition – the first being used to measure wind velocity

Number Description Wind speed (mph)
0 Calm < 1
1 Light air 1 – 3
2 Light breeze 4 – 7
3 Gentle breeze 8 – 12
4 Moderate breeze 13 – 17
5 Fresh breeze 18 – 24
6 Strong breeze 25 – 30
7 High wind, Moderate gale, Near gale 31 – 38
8 Gale, Fresh gale 39 – 46
9 Strong gale 47 – 54
10 Storm, Whole gale 55 – 63
11 Violent storm 64 – 72
12 Hurricane-force ≥ 73

2d    Takes a break without Dad at customs (4)
{USES} – remove PA (dad) from the beginning of a synonym for breaks, as in rests, to get customs

3d    So, endless fretting — upset? (6)
{SORROW} – SO is followed by WORR(Y) (endless fretting) reversed (upset) in this all-in-one clue – not one of my favourites

4d    Fat cats are male relatives of father’s side (8)
{MAGNATES} – to get these people of great wealth (fat cats) run together M(ale) and relatives on the father’s side

5d    Express of distinct parts (10)
{ARTICULATE} – a double definition – for the second part think of lorries that are split into distinct parts

6d    New fruit, not peeled first for city (6)
{NAPLES} – N(ew) is followed by popular fruit, but without a P (not Peeled first) to give an Italian city

8d    Voodoo priestess shed tail, because of snakes (6)
{MAMBAS} – a voodoo priestess is a mambo – drop the last letter (shed tail) and add a word meaning because to get these deadly African snakes

13d    High standard way to cook red bun. Cool! (6,4)
{CORDON BLEU} – a high standard (of cooking among other things) is an anagram (cook) of RED BUN COOL

16d    Prize money first won at the crease? (8)
{WINNINGS} – to get this prize money you need to combine W(on) (first Won) and a batsman’s stay at the crease – Mr Grumpy doesn’t like either part of the wordplay – the W is related to the answer and “at the crease” is simply “in”

18d    King Edward the First got up, turning into trouble (8)
{EXERTION} – take the Latin for King and the first letter of E(dward) and reverse them (got up) then add an anagram (turning) of INTO to get trouble or strain

19d    Inappropriately mention tedious chore at university (4,2)
{DRAG UP} – a phrasal verb meaning to mention inappropriately during a conversation is a charade of a tedious chore and being at university – not wishing to duplicate Mrs Bradford’s lifelong work, I might add “Fifty things you should know when solving crosswords”; three examples today are “at university” ,”prisoner” and “jolly”

21d    Prisoner following a bishop for short chat (6)
{CONFAB} – start with Crosswordland’s prisoner then add F(ollowing) A and B(ishop) to get a short chat

22d    Hit the sack first — that’s pandemonium (6) pandemonium
{BEDLAM} – a word meaning to hit is preceded by what is often called “the sack” to get this

24d    Mrs T. can, at first (4)
{TINA} – you are, of course, meant to think of Mrs Thatcher, but we are looking for delectable Mrs Ike Turner – a synonym for a can is followed by A (At first) to get her name

I must admit that I groaned when I learned that Busman was today’s setter – his puzzles are never bad, but are usually too easy. The last couple have shown a distinct increase in difficulty so all we need now is an improvement in the level of enjoyment – the “wow” factor.



  1. BigBoab
    Posted March 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Tricky but fair, I enjoyed 24a, 26a and 24d.

  2. Prolixic
    Posted March 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Excellent commentary BD and thanks to Busman for a more challenging puzzle. In relation to 24d, a nickname for Mrs T was TINA (There In No Alternative) – I wonder whether the clue is also alludes to this?

    • Posted March 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      That sounds very plausible – but I didn’t need much of an excuse to link to one of my all-time favourite tracks!

  3. Chris
    Posted March 25, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the explanations without which it was unfinished. Didn’t get 18d, 24ac (and still don’t like it much) nor 26 as nowhere near bellringing!
    Favourite clue was 13d where the anagram indicator was half of the answer and liked 22 ac because it taught me a new word by working out the answer.
    Finally, I enjoyed 1ac.

    • Posted March 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Chris – do you mean 7a? I confess that I missed the anagram indicator here, but managed the answer anyway. Agree with you that 13d was Cool!!

      • Chris
        Posted March 25, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Sorry been on other things…
        No, tho’ I agree that the hyphenated bit of I ac was clever. What I was referring to was the word “cook” as the indicator in 13d as althouth cordon bleu can refer to anything it is primarily a cooking expression……any clearer?