Toughie 389 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 389

Toughie No 389 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

No real problems with this one. I was a bit slow in finishing off the top left-hand corner but I put that down to the brain not functioning fully following a hard day at Uttoxeter races yesterday.

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    Sir is, for one — and madam’s another (10)
{PALINDROME} This is one I should have got much more quickly than I did. What are “SIR IS” and “MADAM” examples of?

6a    Fuzz ball inside cage (4)
{COOP} The fuzz is a policeman. Put O (ball) inside him to give a cage

9a    Stitching a gash — point is sharp (5)
{ACUTE} A + another word for gash + a point of the compass gives a word meaning “sharp”. I’m not sure about the “Stitching” at the start of the clue

10a    Given vessel, trawled about (9)
{FURNISHED} “Given” is the definition. Put a vessel (in which tea might be made or someone’s ashes kept) inside a more generic term for “trawled”

12a    As water container, nicest possible rain trap (7)
{CISTERN} An anagram (possible) of NICEST containing R. I assume the R is used as an abbreviation for rain but I can’t find it in any of my dictionaries

13a    In very Gallic ambience, one gets fed up (5)
{TIRES} I (one) is put inside the French word for “very”

15a    Just a bob of the head? (7)
{HAIRCUT} A cryptic definition. A bob is an example of a *******

17a    Smash that’s somehow returned (7)
{SHATTER} An anagram (somehow) of THAT’S is followed by ER (given by “re” turned). I’m not sure that I like re-turned = ER

19a    Rover’s old two-wheeler? (7)
{DOGCART} Another cryptic definition. What is Rover likely to be and what did he used to pull

21a    Don’t allow an an ad, unreasonably, showing an item of apparel (7)
{BANDANA} A word meaning “don’t allow” followed by an anagram (unreasonably) of AN AD gives something worn around the head or neck. I wouldn’t have spelt it this way

22a    Get off with blonde (5)
{LIGHT} Two meanings. Get off (as from a vehicle) and blonde

24a    Know ale-brewing and increase all round (7)
{REALISE} An anagram (brewing) of ALE inside a word meaning “increase” gives a word meaning “to know”

27a    New support for the dollar (9)
{GREENBACK} An informal name for a one-dollar bill is given by new (or inexperienced) + support (as a verb)

28a    Unable to sleep after a farewell party (5)
{AWAKE} A + a party to say farewell to the departed gives a word meaning “not asleep”

29a    Drew fast (4)
{TIED} 2 meanings. Drew ( a sporting contest) and fast (secured)

30a    Fear of God felt by naughty child? (4,6)
{HOLY TERROR} Not a term that I am familiar with although I have heard the second word applied to children (as in little _______). It is defined in the COD as a troublesome person. The first word is to do with God; the second word means “fear”


1d    Intend to take north, mountain climbing (4)
{PLAN} Reverse N + a mountain (especially one in Central Europe) to give “intend”

2d    Starting by having meal: a take-in (9)
{LAUNCHING} Put A inside a word for having a meal (in the middle of the day) to give “starting”

3d    The more you have, the more you want (5)
{NEEDS} A simple definition which I thought a bit weak

4d    Think about fellow-Celt in trouble (7)
{REFLECT} RE (about) + F (fellow) + an anagram (in trouble) of CELT gives “think”

5d    Uniformed people from another planet, interning in earth (7)
{MARINES} The uniformed people are in the armed services. The name of a planet is put round IN E where E is an abbreviation for earth (and that one is in Chambers)

7d    Not that it’s a nuisance having blackout (5)
{OTHER} “Not that” is the definition though “not this or that” might have been better if it had made sense. Remove B (black) from the start of a word meaning “nuisance”

8d    Into prison, with a stride that’s fettered, he walks (10)
{PEDESTRIAN} Someone who walks is obtained from an anagram (fettered) of A STRIDE put inside the shortened form of an American prison

11d    En route by land, it’s already started (2,5)
{IN TRAIN} Already started (or in progress) provides the definition. In another reading, if you were this you would be travelling on the railway.

14d    Supplied information on hangar burning? (4,1,5)
{SHED A LIGHT} This phrase is more usually found without the one-letter word in the middle (by a 57:1 ratio on a Google search) . A word for hangar (4) is followed by one for burning (6) to give “help to explain”

16d    Having caught, be quick to discipline (7)
{CHASTEN} C (caught) + “be quick” gives “to discipline”

18d    Business not very good at exhibition (5,4).
{TRADE FAIR} A word for business (commerce) is followed by a word meaning “pretty good” to give an exhibition organized so that companies in a specific industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products, etc. This term does not appear in my Chambers, Collins or COD

20d    Big blow for ‘Rent-A-Party’ (7)
{TORNADO} A big blow (whirling windstorm) is given by “rent” + A + “party”

21d    How form waiting to be filled in stares at you? (7)
{BLANKLY} A form that’s not filled in is *****. Make the adverb to give how you might stare

23d    ‘Heavens above!’ (Points to birds…) (5)
{GEESE} An exclamation equivalent to “Heaven’s above” is followed by two points of the compass to give water fowl

25d    One estimate gets you furious (5)
{IRATE} I (one) + “to estimate” gives “furious”

26d    A hesitant answer might, to ‘What’s yours?’ (4)
{BEER} A hesitant answer might ** ** (and mine’s a pint)

I quite liked 1 across but nothing else really grabbed me

26 comments on “Toughie 389

  1. Up and down this one. I found the wordplay less tortuous than some of Excalibur’s but some clues didn’t quite work; 26d for example – There seems to be no way to write the clue properly without using the first two letters in the clue.
    I did like 1a (which took me a while to spot as well!) and also 23d and 30a (which I have heard of as an expression).
    All that said I really didn’t find it that tough – the only problem being 26d
    Thanks for the review, Bufo, and thanks to Excalibur for the puzzle

  2. I quite enjoyed this and have no problems with clues as they stand. Thanks Excalibur for an enjoyable if untaxing puzzle, and thanks Bufo for the review. Unlike Crypticsue I thought this was a little harder than the cryptic which was pretty poor.

  3. Not really a toughie was it ? I am normally at the point of despair but didn’t experience it this this one. A 3 * Cryptic maybe.
    Thanks to Bufo for the blog, Excalibur never really unsheathed his sword today.

      1. “The Lady of the Lake” was clearly that, but I hadn’t realised that the sword was too. One is never too old to learn!

  4. Well, I didn’t twig this was an Excalibur effort, so it can only be an improvement. Mind you I didn’t think it was worthy of the name “Toughie”, but it was certainly better than many previous Excalibur puzzles.

  5. Sorry BigBoab to disagree but it took me longer to solve the cryptic than this toughie. 30a across was my favourite clue as I do knew a few!

  6. Tackling a Toughie seems to fill me with self-doubt. I found this harder than it really was – had it been on the back page it would have seemed easier. A small point, but I don’t much like the same word appearing twice in a puzzle – 22a and 14d

  7. Actually I enjoyed this puzzle! The clues were logical and doable and not too complicated, right up my street. I haven’t come across 22a, meaning “to get off” without an “a” at the beginning before but as nobody else has commented on it I gather it’s all right. Favourites are 1a 28a and 8d

  8. For me slightly easier than average, though still took a me quite a while. Brain also not fully functioning.

  9. This can’t be a true Toughie as I finished it without any outside assistance! First time ever for me and a Toughie!
    First clue in was 1a which, for some reason, I spotted immediately! Sorry Gnomethang! Perhaps the heat in Alicante has woken the aged brain up! I agree with others that this was a tad easier than the cryptic today.
    Thanks to Excalibur for my first successful Toughie and thanks to Bufo for the blog.

  10. Mee too, my first ever completed Toughie! It must have been more straightforward than normal or I am getting better which I really don’t think is the case.

    1. Well done Barrie!
      Always worth a second look!
      I am currently struggling on Anax’s Indy today and may have to set it aside fir a while!
      Never thought that ‘ostrichism’ existed!

  11. Just solved in a run through the week’s toughies – hardest of the 4 for me. Also unhappy with rain=R, 9A’s “stitching” (presumably a ‘catenation indicator’ for the charade) and 27 which doesn’t really quite work.

  12. Liked it coz I completed it! Specially liked “returned” = “ER” (17a)
    Just one question: how is “fettered” an anagram indicator (8d)? The meanings I glean for “fettered” are all to do with restraint and hampering; “unfettered” I could see as an anagram indicator.
    Thanks to Excalibur & Bufo.

    1. Nomis

      Welcome to the love-it-or-hate-it world of Marmite and Excalibur. I agree with you, but mine is not to reason why.

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