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Toughie 333

Toughie No 333 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

A bit of a curate’s egg, this puzzle.  Some stuff to be admired, but one or two very poor clues that really drag it back.  12 across is what can only be described as a complex anagram in that as far as I can see, you need to make an anagram of some letters within a word.  No instruction to remove letters first, as is normal with this sort of clue.  Excalibur certainly has a unique style of her own, which sort of divides the punters here.  It’s very much a case of you pays your money……


1a        It’s fluttering in the breeze like mad (10)
(DISTRAUGHT}  An anagram (fluttering) of IT’S inside a word meaning a breeze or one that you get under the crack of a door.

6a        Understand a disclaimer is to be announced (4)
{KNOW}  I presume this is a homophone of a word you use to deny something.

9a        Fact is, mother smuggled you in from France (5)
{DATUM}  By virtue of the “is” you are looking for a word meaning a single fact.  You in French is TU and this goes inside a word for an animal mother.

10a      Looking back, the animal had sense (9)
{HINDSIGHT}   A word meaning looking back is made up of the word for a type of deer(I think animal is grossly unfair there) and add to this a word meaning one of the five senses.

12a      Novice is among entertainers performing (7)
{TRAINEE} Dreadful clue. No indication of how to get the anagram out of “entertainers”.  Very surprised it made it past the Crossword Editor.

13a      A right that gets the boxing championship (5)
{TITLE}  Double definition.  The word needed has a legal meaning of “right to possession” and is the name for any sporting championship.

15a      In some cases, glue is smeared round the crack (7)
{LUGGAGE}  Ignore the “in”, it’s superfluous and is only there because the clue would read badly.  An anagram of GLUE around as a word meaning a joke or a gag.

17a      Will has to order something to eat (7)
{SHALLOT}  Another poor clue.  An anagram of HAS TO plus ‘LL  (an indication of Will).  This leads you to a word for a type of onion (“something to eat” is an unfair definition)

19a      Applause for bat playing in — or maybe for bowler (7)
{HATBAND}  An anagram (playing) of BAT inside a word for a round of applause. This leads to something found inside a bowler on your head.

21a      Ran amok in prison: multiple murders (7)
{CARNAGE}  Same as the previous clue.  An anagram (amok) of RAN inside a word for prison, especially one with lots of bars.   This leads to a word meaning mayhem or a scene of an atrocity.

22a      Cheers as horse dislodges rider (5)
{BUCKS} A double definition. The word is given under Cheer in Bradford’s, although I couldn’t see a definition in Chambers.  The word also means to throw from a horse.

24a      Take pains to cook child healthy food (7)
{SPINACH} An anagram (cook) of PAINS, plus CH (child) gives a food beloved of Popeye.

27a      Hasty article written about easy win (9)
{THRASHING}  A word meaning hasty or impetuous with a word for “article” around it. This gives a word meaning a conclusive victory.

28a      Articulated part of cycle (5)
{SPOKE}  Double definition

29a      Nick from the counter (4)
{CHIP}  Not sure about this. Does it mean “a chip off the old block”?

30a      A cooler room (6,4)
{PRISON CELL}  A cryptic definition- referring to an American slang term for a prison.


1d        Pop round to see the decoration (4)
{DADO}  A word for Father or Pop, plus O give a decorative rail found in many homes.

2d        Doesn’t take action to see captured tit’s freed (4,5)
{SITS TIGHT}  A word meaning “see” with an anagram (freed) of TITS

3d        It’s strange, baby: bygone music (5)
{RUMBA}  A word meaning strange or unusual , plus BA minus BY  (bygone).  This gives you a dance.

4d        Rattle may stop gate swinging (7)
{UNHINGE}  I think this is a cryptic definition.  If a gate didn’t swing it may be this.  Surely this should lead to a past participle rather than an infinitive.

5d        Crazy gun woman’s overwhelming desires (7)
{HUNGERS}  A word for pangs or desires comprises an anagram (crazy) of GUN inside a word meaning woman’s.

7d        ‘Man,’ you say, ‘it’s dark!’ (5)
{NIGHT} Another poor definition. Presumably referring to a chess man.  The clue is a double definition with half being  homophone.

8d        Corrected ‘Tree what we sheltered in from the downpour’ (3,7)
{WET WEATHER}  I can think of no other setter who would use this device as a clue.  A (contrived) anagram of TREE WHAT WE leads to a description of inclement climate.

11d      Nice and dry. Fiesta would be spoiled by rain (3,4)
{SET FAIR}  Chambers XWD, one of the best reference works on abbreviations does not give R for rain.  An anagram (would be spoiled) of FIESTA plus R for rain.

14d      With this order, there’s always a starter (10)
{ALPHABETIC}   Quite a clever cryptic definition. Awill always come first in an alphabetic(al) order.

16d      Gathers nincompoop is in same trouble (7)
{AMASSES}  A word meaning an idiot goes inside an anagram of SAME. This gives a word meaning gathers or collects.

18d      So ‘hot meal’ (stew) is disgusting (9)
{LOATHSOME}  An anagram of SO HOT MEAL gives you a word meaning horrible or disgusting.

20d      Log SOS sent out in dire distress (7)
{DOSSIER}  An anagram of SOS inside an anagram of DIRE, gives a word meaning a file or log.

21d      Flinches when singer goes off key at the start (7)
{CRINGES}  An anagram of SINGER, with a letter representing a musical key in front.

23d      Gosh! Giant ant has gone off with the dog (5)
{CORGI} A word meaning “Gosh!” plus  GIANT minus “ant”.  This leads to the Queen’s dog of choice.

25d      Hear he abandoned the child. A crime (5)
{ARSON}  HEAR minus HE  and add to this a word meaning a child.  This leads you to a crime involving fire.

26d      Creature from lakes great and small (4)
[SEAL}  A creature formed by a word for a Great (i.e. large)  Lake plus L for lake as well.

This puzzle uses anagrams in over 50% of the clues, which is far too many.

Here are all the answers:

Toughie 333

13 comments on “Toughie 333

  1. I quite enjoyed this in an inside out kinda way.
    Reminded me of the old ST.
    11d was enjoyable!

  2. I too enjoyed this, not as tough as a toughie should perhaps be, but very enjoyable. Thanks Excalibur!

  3. In a strange way we found this more straightforward than the Cryptic and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I’m worried about Tilsit?!!

  4. Sorry, I have to say that I quite enjoyed it, and that the leaps i had to make were much the same as the other styles of the Toughie.

    Harry Shipley

    1. I agree with gazza on the wordplay and Tilsit on the o(pi)nion of the definition.
      The fence is quite comfy, ta!.

    2. Gazza,
      I would argue that you are indeed correct sir!
      Not an overly bad crossword overall – did not realise it was an Excalibur when i originally did it.

  5. Re 29a – It is a Double definition with a superfluous ‘from’. A nick is a score or notch and a counter in poker is a chip.
    I don’t know why the clue could’nt have read ‘Nick a counter’.

  6. I finished this yesterday without any difficulty, and actually quite liked most of it. A big exception is 12a; With the checking letters, it was clear what the answer was, but as Tilsit mentions above, you are making an anagram out of only some of the letters…

  7. I loved it…mainly because I was able to complete it before any clues came up. So the setter is a woman? It was logical to me the way her brain was thinking. But i still dont get how seal was derived from the clue for 26d…….

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