Toughie 365 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 365

Toughie No 365 by Excalibur

Vive la différence?

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment *

Bufo is on holiday this week – he is doubly lucky!

Excalibur does seem to be the Marmite of Crosswordland.

Before you read this review I feel that it is only fair to disclose that personally I can’t stand Marmite.

The puzzle was certainly not enhanced by the use of one of the Telegraph’s cornery grids – these should have been consigned to the scrapheap many years ago. Take a look at any Times puzzle and you will see what I mean.  For me the puzzle broke down into those four corners – the North and South East were very easy, but I got bogged down in the other two.

Favourite clues are highlighted in blue!

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. I will find this particularly interesting today, hence the sub-heading.


1a    Rolled up inside: one sun top (8)
{CAMISOLE} – rolled up here is CAME (bet you didn’t guess that) and inside you put I (one) and the personification of the sun to get a loose-fitting undergarment for the upper body – this took me a while I was looking to interpret the wordplay as rolled up inside one sun

5a    He erased the mistake, little imp! (6)
{TERROR} – HE erased THE is somehow meant to mean take HE away from THE to get T – add a mistake to get the little imp – at this point the dog chewed up by Yodaspeak/English dictionary!

9a    Green wrench, though it’s often blue (8)
{LIMERICK} – combine a shade of green with a word meaning to wrench to get a form of humorous verse in a five-line jingle

10a    Stewed and ready to eat (6)
{STONED} – a double definition – very drunk and with the kernels removed

12a    Not having clue, misspelled ‘diminutive’ (9)
{MINUSCULE} – if having is plus then this is not having – add an anagram (misspelled) of CLUE to get a synonym for diminutive

13a    As consort, be free to enter (5)
{BRIDE} – to get this escort or spouse put BE around a word meaning to free

14a    Lap up nearly all and sound drunk (4)
{SLUR} – take a word meaning to lap up, remove the last letter (nearly all) and you get what you do to your speech when you are intoxicated

16a    Believed to have been eroded by time (7)
{TRUSTED} – a word meaning believed is derived by putting eroded or eaten away after T(ime)

19a    A number on parole misbehaved. May be caught and imprisoned (7)
{LEOPARD} – put D (500 in Roman numerals / a number) after an anagram (misbehaved) of PAROLE – did you get this from the definition?

21a    Title that reverts (4)
{DEED} – a title that is palindromic

24a    Head for the hills, literally (5)
{AITCH} – the first letter of Hills

25a    Double bed that allows you to keep your distance (4,5)
{WIDE BERTH} – a part-cryptic double definition – this expression could be used to describe a double bed

27a    For the journey back, do stand (6)
{TRIPOD} – follow a journey with DO reversed (back) to get a three-legged stand – a bit of padding in this clue!

28a    Think ‘Drink’ when son staggers in (8)
{CONSIDER} – a word meaning to think is constructed from a drink made from apples around an anagram (staggers) of SON

29a    Swam, putting fish in the shade! (6)
{REELED} – a word meaning swam or tottered comes from a slippery fish inside a colour or shade

30a    I lay bet about it being an intoxicant (8)
{ANISETTE} – put I SET (I lay) inside a type of bet to get a liqueur


1d    Newspaper article supporting well-known figure? (6)
{COLUMN} – a part-pathetic double definition

2d    A second mother to ten strays (6)
{MOMENT} – an instant of time is a charade of a term for mother that is more common in North America followed by an anagram (strays) of TEN

3d    Consequently rights — puts in order (5)
{SORTS} – this is a charade of SO (consequently) and RTS (rights) – a hint would have been a little difficult for this one

4d    One who doesn’t have, say, a spray to give the finishing touch (7)
{LACQUER} – this spray to give the finishing touch sounds like (say) lacker (one who doesn’t have)

6d    A Caesarean — how could you! (2,2,5)
{ET TU BRUTE} – allegedly the last words spoken by Julius Caesar

7d    Meets on trip; is not terribly taken (4,4)
{RUNS INTO} – a phrasal verb meaning meets is formed from a trip or regular journey followed by an anagram (terribly taken) of IS NOT

8d    In studies, he’d broken down genetic types (8)
{REDHEADS} – inside a word meaning studies, particularly at university, put an anagram (broken down) of HE’D to get these genetic types

11d    Didn’t take punch or port (4)
{LEFT} – a triple definition – unless you know better

15d    With a lot to pack, moving home’s horrible (9)
{LOATHSOME} – an anagram (to pack) of A LOT is followed by another (moving) of HOME’S to get a word meaning horrible

17d    Plant from Spain. Yippee, a flowering plant! (8)
{OLEASTER} – this plant is made up from OLÉ (yippee in Spanish) and another plant

18d    That’s torn it — caught playing in church. Sorry (8)
{CONTRITE} – an anagram (playing) of TORN IT is placed inside (caught) the Church of England to get a word meaning sorry – more padding added solely to try and improve the surface reading

20d    Wednesday arranged a send off: wet in the early morning (4)
{DEWY} – an anagram (arranged) of WED(NESDA)Y without (off) the letters of A SEND

21d    Solved half the clues, but cheated (3,4)
{DID DOWN} – if the second word of this phrasal verb was in the plural, this might have worked; it isn’t and it doesn’t – cheated is the definition

22d    Believe direction is wrong, to start with (6)
{CREDIT} – a word meaning to believe is an anagram (wrong) of the first part (to start with) of DIRECT(ion)

23d    Price of daily, for instance, has risen (6)
{CHARGE} – this cost is built up from a daily help followed by EG (for instance) reversed (has risen)

26d    In a singer, ego is fundamental (5)
{BASIS} – inside a deep-voiced singer put I (ego) to get a word meaning fundamental

I tried to review this puzzle objectively, but I found that it didn’t improve on second reading. There has been some criticism from within the Telegraph camp of my approach to Excalibur’s puzzles, and I may stop reviewing them altogether (at least then I won’t have to solve them).

I made an offer some months ago to step aside and allow anyone who actually likes these puzzles to review them. There were no takers then, and today I repeat that offer.

17 comments on “Toughie 365

  1. I may have to take you up on that BD, just to spare your agonies (I would have to get the ‘heads up’ pretty early though!). Personally I found a lot less Yoda here than usual but I have a gripe about some of the definitions, notably 9a, 19a and 8d. To say they were loose/Open is a bit of an understatement!.

    9a – looking for something that is often blue. Hmm OK!
    19a – looking for something that may be caught and imprisoned (Would it have been such a giveaway to have said ‘May be spotted and caught/imprisoned’? – it would have narrowed the def slightly without spoiling the wordplay)
    12a – looking for something that has a genetic profile – that narrows it down a bit!

    Otherwise I thought it was not so bad.
    Thanks for the review and thanks to Excalibur.

      1. Okey Dokey then. I’ll have most of the morning commute and an early lunch. If required I’ll take the ‘quick ‘n’ dirty’ solving approach and can hopefully get something out before 2 p.m.

  2. Not one of Excalibur’s better puzzles. Liked 6d. That’s about it really!

    Thanks for the notes BD.

  3. I was going to call it a “groaner” – you know, when you realise what the answer is, you groan! The idea of Marmite makes me groan too so we are definitely on the same wavelength here, BD.

  4. Well I enjoyed it. I liked 6d and 9a in particular. Thanks Excalibur. Shows you can please some of the people some of the time etc.

  5. I quite like Marmite but definitely not this puzzle! 12a and 6d were OK but the rest? – I’m with you BD!

  6. Totally agree with the comments so far – there were a fair number of decent clues but the poor ones spoil it. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to find that there isn’t anything wonderfully cryptic (at least not “spotted” so far!) about the so called definition for 19a. I spent a totally disproportionate length of time chewing with this (not the answer – that came quickly enough – trying to see something that isn’t there I mean) Caught or imprisoned? CAughT? ugh+or = anagram of rough – imprisoned somehow meaning remove rough? What a waste of time, and illustrative of why just one really poor clue can cause such resentment (though there were far more than one such)

  7. Well, I finished this Toughie in record time (for me), about four hours, and without the use of dictionaries or hints.
    As I don’t finish too many I think the four-star rating for difficulty is mis-leading and may well put some readers off trying this one.
    I agree with the above comments on individual clues, 19a is a travesty, ‘may be caught and imprisoned’!! I don’t think Excalibur deserves a fair trial for this one!

    1. All star ratings are subjective, but if this one had taken me four hours it would have had about 20 stars for difficulty.

  8. Well, I enjoyed this, because I completed it! I agree a number of clues are very “iffy”, particularly 19a and, and, and, and but nevertheless enjoyable. How do you all get it done so early? I finish about 5-6pm, different routine. I always read your comments and have a little private chuckle, love the interplay.

  9. I finish about 1 toughie a fortnight so I am definitely no expert but how the **** is 19a fair? My Mum, Dad , Sister plus a million other things in the world could be caught and imprisoned. Shocking imho. 9a not a lot better either !!!!
    …Steps down from from soapbox…

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