Toughie 351

Toughie No 351 by Excalibur

Four Letter Words!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

A routine puzzle from Excalibur, which had too many four letter words for my liking. There was a bit of a glitch with the grid in that 7 down was missing, but this should be corrected by now.

I have never heard of the phrase at 32 across, despite having played the game for over 25 years and play to a reasonable standard. I liked the cryptic definition at 8 down but after last Friday’s splendid challenge, overall this didn’t really give me the same buzz. Shame really.


1a    No answer to some names at roll call? (That’s simple) (3,3,5)
{NOT ALL THERE} A double definition clue, that is one part cryptic. If some people were not at a roll call, you would say they are this phrase which also means someone simple, a euphemism.

9a    With the exception of one foreign port (4)
{BARI} A word sum. With the exception (BAR) + I leads to a port in Italy.

10a    Not caring that it’s mediocre (11)
{INDIFFERENT} Another double definition with the word “that” redundant.

11a    Back fitting to bear fruit (4)
{TEEM} In the Bible and old prayer books, the phrase “It is …. and right to do”, meaning it is appropriate, is often seen. Reverse it and you get a word meaning to bear fruit or to pour with rain.

14a    Praise — a very faint praise (7)
{APPLAUD} Another word sum. A + PP (pianissimo in music, play very quietly.) + LAUD (praise) = A word meaning praise. I personally think the two uses of the word praise are too close for this clue to work, but others may not.

16a    For fish-eater, plaice soufflé: nice starter (7)
{PELICAN} An anagram (indicated by soufflé) of PLAICE + N (starter to nice) = A word for a creature whose diet is fish.

18a    I sat, jammed and cross, amid vehicles (5)
[TAXIS} I don’t like jammed used here as an anagram indicator. It could be used to indicate the cross (X) inside the word. The whole clue reads very badly to me

19a    A drink at number eleven (4)

{TEAM} A drink (TEA) + Number (M) = another word for an eleven in sport.

20a    Get heated and fight before match starts (4)
{WARM} A fight (WAR) + M (start of match)

21a    Exonerated but bound over (5)
{CLEAR} I assume this is a double definition clue, but cannot find a definition of clear to mean “bound over” [as in to clear a fence, perhaps BD].

23a    Flowers one’s spraying, in cheerful mood (7)
{NOSEGAY} An anagram of ONE’S + GAY (in a cheerful mood) gives the name for a bunch of flowers.

24a    He may be required to stop smoking (7)
{FIREMAN} A fairly hackneyed cryptic definition for someone who puts out fires

25a    Bearing, you say, spectators (4)
{GATE} A homophone for the way someone walks is the same as the number of paying spectators at a match

30a    Capital fly killer? (5,6)
{MONEY SPIDER} Another hackneyed cryptic definition for a small insect. A word that means “capital” or “finance”

31a    Proof you can turn back time (4)
{NOON} I really really don’t like this. A setter trying to produce a clever definition for “a palindromic word for (a) time”

32a    One who does his evil bidding? (6,5)
{BRIDGE FIEND} This seems to me to be an answer designed to (a) fit a “clever”clue and (b) fill some blanks in a puzzle. It doesn’t take much to clue BRIDGE ROLLS and new down words would have fitted. The phrase is not specifically listed in Chambers, and is listed as an example in an on-line dictionary. Anyway up, it’s a cryptic definition for someone I presume is excessively interested in playing bridge.

Apologies for the delay, a mix-up in communication.


2d           Has ballpoints: three of them (4)
{OWNS}  Another dodgy clue.    For the clue to work, the setter has stitched together ball and points, which is generally regarded as a no-no.  So, Ball = O  + W N S (points, three of them (out of four).

3d           Hand round cold tart (4)
{ACID}  A word for hand, as in help.  This goes around C for cold and gives a word meaning sharp or tart.

4d           Excluded, felt bad — antiquated (4,3)
{LEFT OUT}  An anagram of FELT + a word meaning antiquated.

5d           ‘Listen for a ship,’ cockney said (4)
{HARKThis simply doesn’t work, it’s the wrong way round. A double definition, with one part homophone.  A word meaning “Listen!” is supposed to sound similar to how a Cockney would say the word for Noah’s home.  A Cockney would say ‘Ark.  If the answer was ARK, with a bit of restructuring of the clue, you would get “Listen” said cockney, “A ship”.

6d           Other end, by the joints, festers (7)
{RANKLES} R (end of other) + ANKLES (joints)= a word meaning festers.

7d           See what’s worth bagging and bag (4)
{CASE}  Double Definition.  What a thief does when he looks for things to steal, and a type of bag.

8d           Where a big deposit of ice has formed (7,4)
{DIAMOND MINE}  Think of the slang word ICE and what it means.  You then need to think where these mineral originate, and that will give you the answer to this cryptic definition.

12d         Double over (4,3,4)
{PAST AND GONE}  Another expression I had never heard of, and another poor clue.  Two words that mean over.  That’s it.  I presume the definition is over as well.

13d         Beat father up, which really shocks (6)
{APPALS}  Reverse a phrase that means “beat father” to get a phrase meaning shocks.

15d         One lady is seen wandering round regularly (5)
{DAILY}  An anagram of I LADY gives a word meaning regularly.

16d         Carrying a drink back and some Indian grub? (5)
{PILAF}  A word for a drink (think “egg ….”, wrap it round A and reverse it to form a rice dish.

17d         Enthrals the tea lady, married or otherwise (6)
{CHARMS}  A slang word for tea (CHAR) + a title for a lady, both wed or unwed. (MS).  The definition is enthrals.

21d         And in court not getting time, due to honesty (7)
{CANDOUR}  A Yoda clue.  Take the word COURT and remove T for time.  Insert the word AND to get a word for honesty.

22d         I have letters again to take round, requiring an answer (7)
{RIPOSTE}  I + POST (I have letters) and add the word RE (again) around it, to reveal a witty response.

26d         Accepted the definition of ‘sanction’ (4)
{TOOK}  The definition is “accepted” and you could define to sanction as to ok.

27d         Small daughter grows all too quickly (4)
{WEED}  A word sum.  Small (WEE) + D (daughter) = something that grows quickly.

28d         Twice she tells us she’s coming back (4)
{MIMI}   If a lady said to you that she is, she would say I’M.  Say it twice and reverse it and you get a girl’s name.

29d         Tip to get you slim (4)
{LEAN} A double definition with plenty of padding.  LEAN = tip towards +  a word meaning slim.

All in all, not a very inspiring puzzle.


  1. Posted May 11, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I think the star rating says it all……

  2. Rupert
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    3d could equally well be “OINK” as in No Ink (ballpoints) and three of them – little piggies or oink, oink, oink

  3. Rupert
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    3d could equally well be “Oink” as in O = No INK and three little piggies or oink, oink, oink.

    • gnomethang
      Posted May 11, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I think you mean 2d, Rupert, but I think that would be pushing it a bit!

  4. BigBoab
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I wasn’t keen on this one but I quite liked 8d and 12d, like tilsit I have never heard of the phrase at 32a.

    • gnomethang
      Posted May 11, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m not sure if my iPhone has stalled but I can’t see any downs.
      Have 8, 12 & 31 left having arrived late to the party.
      Thanks to Tilsit and Excalibur – slightly less Yoda speak and I quite liked 16a.

      • BigBoab
        Posted May 11, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Gnomethang, 8d, a place where they excavate the hardest mineral, 12d two words meaning a lapsed time, 31a, midday.

        • gnomethang
          Posted May 11, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Thanks, BigBoab.
          As usual I practically wrote them in after hitting the post button!
          Should have got 8d earlier but the other two are not doing much for me. Is 12d a well known phrase or something?

      • Tilly
        Posted May 11, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Not just your phone I haven’t got them either.

  5. Posted May 11, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The downs will follow shortly – a bit of a trying day!

    • gnomethang
      Posted May 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Tilsit, I only made the comment as I was sure I saw some downs earlier!

      • Posted May 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

        They should be up in a few. However I was seriously unhappy with 5 down, it just doesn’t work.

    • Tilly
      Posted May 11, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks from me,too!

  6. nanaglugglug
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well!! Some clues we struggled to understand but all in all we quite enjoyed it. Favourite clues 7 & 8d, and 30a

  7. prolixic
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found that apart from a few clues where I winced slightly, this was a fair crossword and pleasant to solve. Many thanks to Excalibur for the crossword and to Tilsit for the across clues (and in anticipation for the downs!).

  8. Spindrift
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink | Reply

    5d is bang arrtt of awda, as a cockney might say!

  9. Posted May 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I agree with the view that this wasn’t very satisfying, and not just because I failed to get 4 of the 4 letter words.

    32a and 12d are not common expresasions. I toyed with Bridge Devil and quite fancied Bridge Demon (a computerised bidding program??) and it wasn’t till I got 28d (itself a poor clue) that I settled on Fiend.

    12 could easily be Past and Done, but misled by the possible cricket reference, I thought it might be Fast and Slow

  10. mark
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the write-up, Tilsit. I enjoyed this puzzle. I did struggle with some of the clues (5d didn’t work for me either). However, I am enjoying making some progress with the Toughie – a few weeks back I couldn’t even start them!
    I realise I am very late posting on this thread. This is because I usually take the previous day’s Toughie into work (the paper doesn’t come until after I have left in the morning). As a result I feel a bit like I am answering “the question before last” as in the Two Ronnie’s sketch!
    Anyway – I actually did a bit better on Wednesday’s Toughie! Which is where I am off to post now.

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