Toughie 337 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 337

Toughie No 337 by Messinae

The Straights of Messinae

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ****

A nicely constructed puzzle that contains one or two tricky little challenges that meant I probably spent a little more time on it than normal. The clues are beautifully constructed and have good surface readings. Thanks to Messinae for an enjoyable solving session.

As usual, the solutions are hidden within the squiggly brackets, and if you want to know the answers, highlight the space between the squiggles with your mouse to reveal all. Don’t forget that you can have your say after the blog as well, and you can rate the puzzle using the star system.

Off we go, before we face the end of the world from the Icelandic volcano. If the internet hasn’t been gummed up with volcanic detritus, I’ll see you soon.

7a    Partners back type of film (7)
{WESTERN} A word-sum to start today. “Partners” refers to bridge partners (W & E) + the word for the back of a ship. This gives the sort f film that used to feature john Wayne or James Stewart.

8a    Avarice could provide a luxury (7)
{CAVIARE} An anagram (indicated by “could provide”) of AVARICE leads to a food favoured by the wealthy.

10a    Varying tones I rant in a loud voice (10)
{STENTORIAN} A nice appropriate clue. An anagram (varying) of TONES I RANT leads to a description of a loud authoritative voice.

11a    Tense English politician — one won’t be in office long (4)
{TEMP} Another word-sum. T (Tense) + E (English) +MP (politician) = a short-contract office worker.

12a    Medicine can make better swallowing first of tablets (8)
{TINCTURE} Another word for a can is added to a word meaning to make better medically. The first letter of Tablets (T) is inserted and this gives you an old-fashioned word for a medicinal potion. Nicely written clue.

14a    Rear Admiral taken in by clever clergyman (6)
[CURATE} RA (Rear admiral) inside a word meaning smart or pretty will lead you to a word for a member of the cloth.

15a    Essex town providing staff for large plant (11)
{MANNINGTREE} A town near Colchester which doesn’t appear to have anyone famous coming from it. Providing staff = MANNING + A large plant = TREE.

19a    Great chance for model (6)
{SITTER} A word for a model is also one used by Messrs Hansen and Lawrenson of Match of the Day to describe an easy goal scoring chance, often missed.

20a    Material for coats makes waterproof sort mostly (8)
{SEALSKIN} If you make something water-proof, or block a leaking pipe you would SEAL it (here in the plural)and add a word meaning sort or type, but lacking its last letter (indicated by mostly).

22a    Nuclear expert comes out in spots (4)
{ACNE} A word for an expert, or the top card in a deck which surrounds N (for Nuclear) and you have a word for teenage spots. Don’t worry, I won’t show a picture to put you off your tea.

23a    One electrical safety precaution gives a narrow escape (1,4,5)
{A NEAR THING} One (AN) + making something electrical safe (EARTHING). Put them together a split it up in a different way, and you get a phrase for a narrow escape.

25a    Salvation Army in unfinished campaign (7)
{CRUSADE} Another nice clue. SA (Salvation Army) inside a word meaning basic or roughly-made or unfinished. This leads to a word for a religious mission or campaign.

26a    Supernatural creature has been disturbed (7)
{BANSHEE} An anagram of HAS BEEN gives you a word for an Irish wailing spirit.


1d Dropout from Tennessee, one getting imprisoned by magistrate (7)
{BEATNIK} The abbreviation for Tennessee (TN)with I (for one) inside a magistrate give a follower of Jack Kerouac,

2d Lifted bats to cosh (4)
{STUN) Nice to see a reversal clue that doesn’t place the reverse indicator (here lifted) in the middle so you can’t workout which is the answer and which is the definition. Here the definition is “to cosh”.

3d Alloy of gold with molybdenum and lutetium (6)
[ORMOLU} Gold (OR) + the chemical symbols for molybdenum and lutetium gives the name of a gold-coloured alloy.

4d Wooden panel Jock attached to wagon (8)
{WAINSCOT} A word for a cart (as used by Constable in a famous work of art) takes the likely nationality of someone called Jock and produces a wooden panel found in many houses.

5d Female bird of the heron family apparently shows bad feeling (10)
{BITTERNESS} The key word in this clue is “apparently” to suggest something a bit unusual, although possibly a question mark as well would have qualified this. A bird from the heron family is a BITTERN, so a female could be called a ……..

6d Send into ecstasy Eastern recluse (7)
{EREMITE} A new word on me. To send is to REMIT and this goes inside E for the drug and another E for Eastern. This gives a word for a recluse.

9d Sneaked craftily with mask on in children’s game (4-3-4)
{HIDE AND SEEK} An anagram (craftily) of SNEAKED with a word meaning to mask before it gives a phrase for a well-known children’s game.

13d Drink tea with old actor around America (10)
{CHARTREUSE} Tea = CHAR and the old actor is TREE (one of the crossword favourites from many years – Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree was a famous actor manager from the 19th Century. Inside the actor goes US for America and this produces a green liqueur.

16d Whence came invaders and not familiar politician (8)
{NORMANDY} The place of origin of some famous Invaders of Britain is made up of a word meaning “and not” together the nickname (familiar) of a certain politician also known as the Prince of Darkness.

17d Finished holding mark of injury in scrap (7)
{DISCARD} A word meaning finished holds a word meaning the mark left by an injury or wound. This brings you a word meaning to scrap.

18d Person striking out individual trapped by mole (7)
{PIONEER} ONE (an individual) goes inside PIER (see Mole2 in Chambers) to give someone who strikes out as in a venturer.

21d A cricketer on tour (6)
{ABROAD} A + an England Cricketer named Chris gives a word for being on tour (overseas). Nice clue.

24d Mess with drug (4)
{HASH} A double definition to finish on today. The name for a drug that means the same as a mess of something.

Thanks to Messinae and apologies for the lateness.

10 comments on “Toughie 337

  1. I certainly thought this was on the easy side but as ever with Messinae there are some really well constructed clues.
    12a was a prime example as was 1d, 23a and 9d. Certainly the 4-* for enjoyment.

    Thanks for the demi-review, Tilsit, I’ll get the second half on the train home!

  2. Highly enjoyable and not too difficult. Many thanks to Messinae and to Tilsit for the notes.

  3. A really enjoyable puzzle to do – not the most difficult, but very satisfying. Favourite clue for Hotlips was 21d and 25a. I liked 4d

  4. Re:6d
    this is the stem of the English word hermit.
    hermit /hûrˈmit/
    A solitary religious ascetic
    A person who lives a solitary life
    A beadsman
    A kind of hummingbird
    A hermit crab
    ORIGIN: ME eremite, through Fr and L from Gr erēmītēs, from erēmos solitary

  5. I am surprised that 7d was new to Tilsit since it seems to make a regular appearance in crosswords GK in particular, probably because of the regular appearance of vowels in the word.

    1. It was also the answer to “25a Hermit showing up before child (7)” in DT 26059. BTW I thought the “up” was padding then, and I still do today!

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