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



  1. gnomethang
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

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

  2. BigBoab
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

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

  3. nanaglugglug
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

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

  4. Posted April 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    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

  5. gazza
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    I think that 17a is more likely to be SHALL (will) + OT (TO ordered)

    • gnomethang
      Posted April 8, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

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

    • Libellule
      Posted April 8, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      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.

  6. gnomethang
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    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’.

    • gnomethang
      Posted April 8, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      Sorry – should have said a chip is a nick or a notch!.

  7. Jezza
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    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…

  8. Posted April 9, 2010 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    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…….

    • Jezza
      Posted April 9, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      A great lake is a SEA and a small lake is the letter L. Put them both together…