Toughie 376 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 376

Toughie No 376 by Excalibur

Robust bus expelled (3)

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment *

Disjointed, lacking structure and providing very little entertainment. But enough of the England football team, what of today’s Toughie? Well, pretty much the same really. I did think at one time that Excalibur’s puzzles were improving a bit after some of the very poor ones from last year, but it’s difficult to find much positive to say about this one (well, one thing, I did quite like 26a). Some of the surface readings (e.g. 19a, 15d and 25d) are gibberish, and there was nothing that made me smile, let alone laugh.
You may of course have a totally different view, and, whether you do or not, we’d love to get a comment from you.

Across Clues

5a  Pro French, is protected by conservationists? (6)
{FOREST} – put together a preposition meaning pro or in favour of and the French word for “is” to get what conservationists are keen to preserve.

8a  Having reached your destination, need to be picked up? (4,4)
{TRIP OVER} – double definition, the first a phrase indicating that a journey has been completed.

9a  Noisy, turns down – they’re in the garden (7)
{FLOWERS} – follow the musical abbreviation for loud or noisy with a verb meaning reduces or turns down.

10a  Keep talking of people rushing to buy (3,2)
{RUN ON} – double definition, the second a description of a widespread and sudden demand for a commodity (people rushing to buy).

11a  Chopping finely and dropping right in (9)
{SHREDDING} – start with a synonym for dropping or discarding and put R(ight) inside.

13a  Does reform, dead miserable (8)
{DESOLATE} – an anagram (reform) of DOES is followed by an adjective meaning no longer alive.

14a  Being smart, endeavour to conceal intention (6)
{TRENDY} – an endeavour or attempt has an intention or aim put inside (to conceal).

17a  Mum, they lost the toss (3)
{SHY} – we want a verb meaning to toss or throw. Start with an injunction to keep quiet or mum and follow this with the single letter that remains when “the” is removed (lost) from they.

19a  Dig a hole in, man! (3)
{HOE} – a verb meaning to dig is formed by putting O (a letter that’s hole-shaped) inside a masculine pronoun (man).

20a  Against state having some secrets (6)
{AVERSE} – an adjective meaning having a dislike of something (against) is constructed from a verb meaning state or assert followed by two letters (some) of SE(crets).

23a  And in darts playing it’s the norm (8)
{STANDARD} – put AND inside an anagram (playing) of DARTS.

26a  Not ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’? (4,5)
{FREE VERSE} – a sort of cryptic definition of poetry that does not rhyme, contrasting it in two ways to Oscar Wilde’s poem which is about the loss of liberty and which does rhyme.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.

28a  Act One is set in a foreign city (5)
{TURIN} – start with an act or performance on stage and insert I (one is set in) to get an Italian city.

29a  Part and at embarkation point I get aboard (7)
{PORTION} – the definition is part and it’s a charade of a place where ships sail from (embarkation point), I and a word meaning aboard.

30a  Bit it clear off at top end (8)
{PARTICLE} – an anagram (off) of IT CLEAR is placed after (at) the last letter (end) of toP to get a bit.

31a  Ask to get dead identified and returned (6)
{DEMAND} – put a verb meaning nominally identified after D(ead) and reverse the lot (returned) to get a synonym for ask.

Down Clues

1d  Kept destroyers at sea, to start with (6)
{STORED} – an anagram (at sea) of the first bit (to start with) of DESTROyers.

2d  See it’s sewn, having been torn (7)
{WITNESS} – an anagram (having been torn) of IT’S SEWN leads to a synonym of see.

3d  Are of minor importance for a host (9)
{COUNTLESS} – double definition. A description of a large number (a host) also means, if split into two words (5,4), do not matter as much (are of minor importance).

4d  Request best man to come inside (6)
{BEHEST} – four of the six letters are given to us in the clue. Put a male pronoun (man) inside BEST.

5d  Phoney, ludicrous tot’s voice — high (8)
{FALSETTO} – a synonym for phoney is followed by an anagram (ludicrous) of TOT to get a voice high (or high voice as most people would say).

6d  He abandoned her, due to having quarrelled (5)
{ROWED} – start with the letter left when he leaves (abandoned) her, then add a description of a payment that is outstanding (due).

7d  Unruffled by incoming puff of air (8)
{SERENADE} – the definition is air or song. Put the abbreviation of a promotion (puff) inside a synonym for unruffled.

12d  The woman’s taken about an hour to get back (3)
{HER} – the feminine possessive adjective (the woman’s) is made from a word meaning about and H(our) all reversed.

15d  Check and say ‘Stet’ (9)
{REINSTATE} – a charade of a verb to check (a horse, say) and a synonym for say produce a verb meaning to restore (stet being the instruction on a text to leave something unchanged after having marked it for deletion).

16d  Open with a number that is suggestive (8)
{OVERTONE} – a charade of a word meaning open or apparent and a cardinal number give a nuance that is conveyed by suggestion rather than stated outright.

18d  Group of animals commandeering foreground: English breed (8)
{HEREFORD} – we want an English breed or red and white cattle. Put the collective noun for such animals around (commandeering) an anagram (ground) of FORE.

21d  A bossy boy expelled. A duffer (3)
{ASS} – just take the letters of “boy” out (expelled) from A BOSSY. See blog sub-heading.

22d  Don’t allow to torment and jeer (7)
{BARRACK} – a verb meaning to jeer or heckle is a charade of a verb meaning to exclude (don’t allow) and another verb meaning to put to the torture (to torment).

24d  Leaves bundled up, prepared for a dowsing (3,3)
{TEA BAG} – cryptic definition of what you might use to make a cuppa.

25d  Badly needs to get hold of: one refuses (6)
{DENIES} – a verb meaning refuses is an anagram (badly) of NEEDS with I (one) inside (to get hold of).

27d  Not that plus that makes a star! (5)
{EXTRA} – double definition. Someone paid to appear in a film in a very subsidiary role with no lines to deliver is also that indefinable factor which goes above and beyond the norm and makes all the difference. So an actor who is not just the first and who has the second may become a star.

I liked 26a – how about you?

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11 comments on “Toughie 376

  1. Agree with Gazza’s rating. It was possible to complete this puzzle in a reasonable time but without much enjoyment and too many answers where I put in the word but had no idea how it related to the clue, 27d being a case in point. It wasn’t BD’s hated Marmite but I likened it to your mum making you eat a cucumber sandwich (I don’t like cucumber) with the promise of a nice slice of cake afterwards, and all I got was an expensive emergency filling!

    1. Sue,
      Just like the “old” sundays of yore. Answerbank is littered with discussions of how you derive an answer from an Excalibur clue.

  2. I quite liked the last couple of Excalibur’s puzzles but really can’t add that much to gazza’s assessment. 26a and 18d were pretty good (although purists would argue about fore(ground) = EFOR as in midni(g)ht = g and daybreak + ADY).
    Thanks to gazza and Excalibur.

  3. Agree with the assessmet. No new or unusual words, no surprises, no eureka moments, nothing difficult.

    As for things we like or dislike in clues, I think that reducing words to single letters by subtraction (as in 17a and 6d) is quite clever, but I hate things like 20a “some secrets”. So we want some letters from secrets, but which, and how many? Lazy clue-writing.

  4. A very unusual experience for me … Having completed the cryptic, i was looking forward to doing the Toughie. 6 answers in I am wondering if I can be bothered to continue. Much better things to do in the half hour before I start work ( and miss the match!). First time ever I have chosen not to finish, rather than being stuck for an answer and not being able to finish.

    Agree with Gazza and his clue.

    1. Was I the only one to be misled by the “are” in 3d? I think it reads better without it. Also host is a noun but the answer is not. Is that normal? Do say if I’m being unfairly picky! I’m only peeved because it was the only clue I didn’t get and I solved the same clue phrased more elegantly in another DT puzzle recently

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