Toughie 335 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 335

Toughie No 335 by Kcit

A Dog’s Life!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment **

I didn’t enjoy this one and was surprised when I found out that Kcit was the setter. I thought that a number of the clues were over-contrived in a way that couldn’t be justified by the surface reading. Maybe I should have done it before tackling today’s regular cryptic!

Please 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    Actor’s last to enter stage, with reserve – one offers alternative lines to speak (6,4)
{PHRASE BOOK} – put R (actoR‘s last) inside a stage of a process and add a word meaning to reserve, as in to reserve a table at a restaurant, to get something that helps you to speak a foreign language

6a    Source of funds, with zero invested? It’s very little (4)
{ATOM} – the source of funds is usually found in a hole in the wall – insert O (zero) to get a very small particle

9a    Patronise dive after study (10)
{CONDESCEND} – a word meaning to patronise is a charade of to study then to dive, as in to drop or fall

10a    Expectation of scoring will get one in a couple (4)
{PAIR} – the score expected for a hole of golf includes I (one) to get a couple

12a    Party to end in ennui? Definitely not in Paris (2,2)
{IN ON} – the definition here is party to, as in privy to, and it comes from I (end in ennuI) followed by the French (in Paris) for no (definitely not)

13a    Upstart lawyer, knowing no limits, penning Volume One (9)
{ARRIVISTE} – this upstart is derived by removing the outside letters knowing no limits) from a lawyer and then inserting (penning) V(olume) I (One)

15a    I had backed second opera company about English opera (8)
{IDOMENEO} – much head-scratching here – I’D (I had) then MO (second) reversed (backed) and ENO (English National Opera / opera company) around E(nglish) gives this Mozart opera – I wasted a lot of time with DI (I had, backed) leading to Diogenes and Diomedea before 14d gave I as the first letter

16a    A problem in returning hostility (6)
{ANIMUS} – A is followed by a maths problem and IN, both reversed to give a word meaning hostility

18a    Dog is briefly seen in one drawing (6)
{TOWSER} – a common name for a dog is constructed by putting S (‘s as in it’s / is briefly) inside someone who is drawing, or pulling – agent nouns like this one for “one drawing” can often be troublesome

20a    Boozer finally tucking into dark, dark rum? (8)
{DRUNKARD} – put R (boozeR finally) inside (tucking into) DUN (dingy / dark) and follow it with an anagram (rum) of DARK – Where’s the definition? You might well ask – it’s the first word and the whole clue. Does it work? You tell me

23a    I’m changing blog or I will create uproar (9)
{IMBROGLIO} – I’M followed by an anagram (changing) of BLOG OR I will create an uproar

24a    Alternative for lower grade string (4)
{CORD} – you need to choose between grades C and D to get this string

26a    Get first items from This Week in Government (4)
{TWIG} – a word meaning to get, as in to catch on, comes from the initial letters (first items) of the last four words

27a    Encountered a reproach almost entirely relating to bones (10)
{METACARPAL} – a word that is screaming out for a charade – encountered then A the a reproach and finally AL(L) (almost all / entirely) gives a word meaning relating to the bones in the hand between the wrist and the fingers

28a    Happening to lose time still (4)
{EVEN} – remove the final T(ime) from a happening to get a word meaning still

29a    Surfers’ Paradise: California’s foremost bay creeps ruined (10)
{CYBERSPACE} – this paradise is where you surf the web – C (California’s foremost) is followed by an anagram (ruined) of BAY CREEPS


1d           Turned up before church the colour of apoplexy? (4)
{PUCE} – a nice easy one is always welcome as one of the early clues – turn UP and add CE (church) to get a colour associated with apoplexy

2d           Arrest initiators of this odd encounter (3,4)
{RUN INTO} – a phrasal verb meaning to arrest is followed by the initial letters of This Odd to give another phrasal verb, this one meaning to encounter

3d           Rover, assisting others to rove? (6,3,3)
{SEEING EYE DOG} – using answers like this are the crossword equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot – this is an alternative name for a guide dog – a search on Google was inconclusive, but I believe that the enumeration should have been (6-3,3)

4d           Gathering consuming cold meat with a trace of light sauce (8)
{BÉCHAMEL} – yesterday’s working party (see DT 26212 15a) is today’s gathering – put BEE around C(old) HAM and add L (a trace of Light) to get this white sauce, traditionally flavoured with onion and herbs

5d           Stubborn Conservative avoiding difficulty and ultimate in ignominy (6)
{ORNERY} – this North American word has a variety of meanings including  stubborn, commonplace and  contemptible – the wordplay is to take C(onservative) away from CORNER (difficulty) and then add Y (ultimate in ignominY) – to me A avoiding B means the opposite of the way it is being used here

7d           Architect finally arranged most of a certain window feature (7)
{TRANSOM} – T (architecT finally) with RAN (arranged) and most of SOM(E) (certain, as in to a certain extent) gives a window feature – I thought that the “a” in the clue was unnecessary and the clue is more accurate without it

8d           There’s Irish in the team I support (Liverpool and so on) (10)
{MERSEYSIDE} – put ERSE (Irish) inside MY SIDE (the team I support) to get the area around Liverpool

11d         Study session still popular with good college girl (7,5)
{EVENING CLASS} – this study session is a charade of a mixture of synonyms and abbreviations for still, popular, G(ood) C(ollege) and girl

14d         Modern composer runs into little musical sound, we hear (10)
{BIRTWISTLE} – to get this modern composer (have you ever heard of him before?) put R(uns) inside BIT (little) and then add something that sounds like (we hear) a musical sound, perhaps the one made by a referee!

If you wanted to know why you have never heard of him, watch the video – when I played it it sent three visiting Jack Russells into a frenzy:

ARVE Error: need id and provider

17d         Claim leadership in Yorkshire town is deposed (8)
{ARROGATE} – to get this word meaning to claim, drop the initial letter (leadership in … is deposed from a Yorkshire town and conference centre

19d         We take effect around special location on the Net (7)
{WEBSITE} – WE followed by BITE (take effect) around S(pecial) gives a location on the Net – this one for example!

21d         Articles about mastery and power shown by Roman leader (7)
{AGRIPPA} – put A and A (articles) around GRIP (mastery) and P(ower) to get this famous Roman leader

22d         Yes please, not half (excitedly nodding) (6)
{SLEEPY} – an anagram (excitedly) of YES PLE(ase) gives a word meaning nodding, in the sense of nodding off

25d         Spend wildly, being depressed (4)
{BLUE} – at first I thought there was a mistake in this clue and that it should have read “Sounds like spent wildly, being depressed” where would give a homophone of BLEW, but on checking Chambers this word can also mean the same as to blow, in the sense indicated earlier – depressed is a rather easier, second, definition

12 comments on “Toughie 335

  1. I quite enjoyed this and to be honest thought it was less than 4-Star for difficulty. My only real trouble was the Composer/Opera cross-check; like you BD I was faffing about with ID. Eventually I had to resort to T’Internet to fill these two in. This wasn’t helped by having Bowser in for the dog (A Bower draws the Bow).

    Regarding 20a, I am going to throw a question on the DIY COW site regarding this; either there is no definition as you say or else ‘Boozer’ is doing double duty – providing the first R and also the definition -EXCEPT if the clue is an &Lit (all in one) it seems that the ‘Double Duty’ issue goes out of the window.
    Anyhoo, thanks for the review and thanks to the Kcit for the puzzle.

    1. Two points to clarify.

      As far as difficulty is concerned it probably wasn’t even three-star if you discount the last two or three clues which pushed it to halfway between three and four. If you do all bar one clue in five minutes and then spend 55 minutes on that one, what is the difficulty rating? Is it one star or five?

      I didn’t say there was no definition – I just wasn’t sure if it was a poor &lit or boozer was doing double duty (or both!)

      1. Sorry, I misinterpreted. I have seen a couple of clues recently where this situation has cropped up – first I think ‘Double Duty’ then I see &Lit – that’s really why I am going to post over the road to try and get things straight in my head.

  2. Sorry to disagree BD but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I particularly liked 1a,13a, 15a, 29a, 3d and 11d. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

  3. I enjoyed it and wasn’t surprised to find that it was by Kcit. I thought that it was nearer two stars than three for difficulty. My favourite clues: 13a and 8d. I think that 20a has got to be (or at least is intended to be) an all-in-one.

  4. Hated it. Always do when I struggle – funny that. I don’t like resorting to dictionaries; etc, and I’ve developed a sort of sixth sense for clues that I’m just not going to get without doing so. Too many of that type in here for me – 15a, 23a, 27a, 14d, 4d, 17d all needed confirmation at least, and in some cases more, from electronic assistance. I know and accept that this is all part of cryptic crossword solving, especially the tougher ones, but my heart sinks when I see a clue like 14d and know that the answer is going to be a modern composer I’ve never heard of; similarly with 15a. Not to my taste, I’m afraid.

  5. Apropos 20a

    The second “rum” is the anagram indicator. As in something odd.

    I quite enjoyed it andfound ita classic Kcit puzzle in that there are lots of indicators for odd letters and the clues are soundly constructed.

  6. I’ll have to meet BD half way on this review. I broadly agree with the difficulty but I enjoyed this challenge.

  7. 14d…’interesting’ clip of music! Reminded me of something I once saw on Trigger Happy tv with Dom Joly. I cannot remember the name of the classical concert piece, but I believe it was called something like, ‘La lune, le soleil, et le fromage’..!!

  8. Kcit is mad on music – when he was living in the UK he culd be seen working on puzzles while waiting for Prom concerts to start. Birtwistle is well-known enough to have a Private Eye nickname (“Bert Harrisonwistle”), and has had one piece included in the second half of the Last Night of the Proms. Idomeneo isn’t one of the big four Mozart operas but is in the regular reperetoire, unlike plenty of his others.

    Clues like 20A with a def/wordplay structure and the whole clue forming another def are sometimes called “semi-&lit”. I can’t see that they’re a problem – the choice of defs often makes them rather easy, though the full-length def is sometimes strangely worded.

    Kcit’s first aim is to give you a fair clue, so he’s a bit more likely than some DT setters to sacrifice the surface meaning in favour of helping you to be sure of the answer. If folk complain when other setters sacrifice logic for the surface meaning and also complain about Kcit’s style, they’re being quite fussy – most setters lean in one of these directions.

Comments are closed.