Toughie 410 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 410

Toughie No 410 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Bufo

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

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It was a real toughie but very accessible. The clues were all perfectly fair and I could understand them all after a little thought.

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    It’s hard to do without lying in framework of trial (4,3)
{TEST BED} Lying is used in the sense of assuming a horizontal position and you would need to lie down to do this. The answer is a metal framework on which a machine is placed to check that it functions correctly

5a    Do like greens? Combine chopped celery with a bit of carrot (7)
{RECYCLE} An anagram (chopped) of CELERY + C (a bit of carrot) gives something that an environmentalist would be keen to do

9a    It’s standard for marriage to get a bit tired (5,4)
{UNION FLAG} A standard (usually seen on a pole) is made up of marriage + get a bit tired

10a    Background noise encountered in retro BT digital item (5)
{THUMB} Put a background noise inside BT reversed to give a digit

11a    ‘Falsely ingenious’ might cover it (5)
{LYING} The answer is hidden in “falsely ingenious”

12a    A short cut when depressed in the office, perhaps — get away to e.g. Caribbean island (6,3)
{ESCAPE KEY} The answer is something might depress on a machine in an office. It is made up of “get away” + an island, e.g. off Florida

13a    Strange man following one type of society girl after another with means of accessing funds (5,4)
{DEBIT CARD} The answer is what you would put in a hole in the wall. A strange (eccentric) man follows a debutante and a word that goes before girl to describe a young woman who is, or makes it her business to be, noted in fashionable circles for her charisma, beauty and wealth (thanks Chambers)

16a    Penguin suit with flippers, one possibility (5)
{TAILS} An alternative term for a penguin suit (DJ) is what flippers of coins have a 50:50 chance of getting

17a    Strange, it’s cabled with the earth in the wrong place (5)
{WEIRD} Take a word meaning “cabled” and move the E (earth) to a different position in the word

18a    E.g. fellow compiler ruining a half-good clue, introducing ‘the French’… (9)
{COLLEAGUE} An anagram (ruining) of A GO(od) CLUE going round LE (the French) gives an associate

20a    …and ‘Upper class’ — confused, badly written and lacking definition (9)
{UNFOCUSED} U (Upper class) + an anagram (badly written) of CONFUSED gives “lacking definition”

23a    Quake in Jersey possibly leading to casualty in the US (5)
{COWER} A word meaning “quake” is made up of an animal that might be a Jersey + the casualty department in a US hospital

25a    D-downpour down here? (5)
{DRAIN} D + a downpour (possibly) gives where it might end up

26a    Principally send into exile or cast out (9)
{OSTRACISE} The whole clue acts as the definition and the answer is an anagram (out) of S(end) I(nto) E(xile) OR CAST

27a    Russian-sounding woman, following party leader’s line, taking in all delegates (7)
{PLENARY} “Taking in all delegates” is the definition. It is made up of P (party leader) + a girl’s name + RY (railway = line). I’m not sure why the woman is Russian-sounding. Is it short for Elena or is the Russian river of that name significant?

28a    Axe leader of Tories after left and right wings desert former one (7)
{HATCHET} Take the name of a former leader of the Conservative party and remove the first and last letters. Then add T (leader of Tories) to give an axe


1d    Starts to take over, like coalition in Iraq, in state of disorder (7)
{TOUSLED} The first letters of Take Over + “like coalition in Iraq” (2-3) gives “in state of disorder”

2d    Literary line kept up by prolific scribbler (3-2)
{SCI-FI} The answer reversed is hidden in “prolific scribbler”

3d    Like an idiot, work the graveyard shift on paper? (9)
{BENIGHTED} If you were in charge of a newspaper and worked from dusk to dawn you would ** ***** **. The answer means “intellectually or morally ignorant”

4d    I can’t get into ‘To be or not to be’ options — dig? (5)
{DELVE} Remove the letter I from “cease to be” and again from “to be” to get “to dig”

5d    True about soldier and police assassinating head of state (9)
{REGICIDAL} Put a word meaning “true” round an American soldier and a police department to give a word meaning “assassinating a head of state”

6d    Upset workers’ federation? (3,2)
{CUT UP} Take a 3-letter abbreviation of a workers’ federation and apply the second word of the answer to it

7d    Little Charlie having a laugh (9)
{CHUCKLING} A word meaning laughing is made up of an American alternative to Charlie and a suffix denoting a diminutive

8d    My robes may be shabby but they have potential (7)
{EMBRYOS} An anagram (shabby) of MY ROBES to give things in the earliest stages of development

14d    It’s carried — without much argument? (9)
{BRIEFCASE} A short lawsuit gives something a commuter might carry

15d    Trapping criminal associate? (9)
{ACCESSORY} Two meanings: trapping (an adornment) and criminal associate. The dictionaries I looked in (Chambers, COD, Collins) only give the plural form “Trappings” in this sense. Does the question mark at the end of the clue justify the use of the singular?

16d    Not holding back when time’s right to employ charm (9)
{TRENCHANT} T (time) + R (right) + “to employ charm” gives “not holding back”

17d    Ragged cut on head? (5,2)
{WOUND UP} The definition is “ragged” used as the past participle of “to rag” (tease) and it is made up of an open injury (cut) + UP

19d    It’s serious when next-of-kin’s name becomes central focus (7)
{EARNEST} Take a word for next-of-kin (as in ******* and dearest) and move the N (name) to the middle of the word

21d    Line dance in Conservative southern state (5)
{CONGA} A dance with people in a single line, one behind another, is given by an abbreviation for Conservative and the 2-letter abbreviation for a southern state of the US

22d    Drop date, overcoming desire (5)
{DITCH} D (date) + desire gives drop (get rid of). I’m not keen on D = date

24d    Consider you and I very ‘appy (5)
{WEIGH} You and I + very ‘appy (on drugs?) gives “consider”

[Tomorrow you can enjoy a brand new NTSPP puzzle from Bufo. BD]

13 comments on “Toughie 410

  1. This great puzzle from Micawber went some way to cheering me up today. Last in was 21d which was a proper D’OH! moment and also confirmed the law of emailing!.
    Thanks to Bufo and to Micawber

  2. This was a most splendid Toughie. As usual I put a mark by the clues I really liked as I went along and the paper is again quite ‘spotty’ today. 18a, 23a, 28a, 3d, and 4d being just some of the ones I enjoyed. It was a true toughie and definitely 4* for both. Thanks Micawber for the puzzle and Bufo for the review.

  3. It definitely gets a 10a s up from me. Thanks to Micawber and Bufo. Too many good clues to list them all but my favourite is 4d.

    1. It could also get one from 22a in today’s Cryptic. When was the last time that the same word appeared in both, BD? No, never mind!!

      1. I did have that in mind. Which of the two clues do you prefer? Micawber’s gets my vote.

        1. Absolutely. The cryptic clue had me thinking more “digit” than “Tom”. I expect Dave will come up with an answer anyway!

  4. Best crossword of the week, thanks Micawber and thanks Bufo for a super review. ( I don’t get the Russian connection either)

  5. Thanks to Micawber and Bufo. Completed it, but would never have been able to explain 28a, 4d, 6d and 19d without Bufo’s explanations. Also, thanks for the meaning of “flippers” in 16a.

  6. Excellent stuff, one of the best Micawbers and great fun to solve. Favourite clues are almost too many to mention but for the groan when the penny dropped for 16a, this must be near the top of the list. Thanks to Micawber for the workout and to Bufo for the notes.

  7. Managed without the blog or Puzzlex, but was at the limit of my capability with this. A sense of satisfaction gained from completing it. I’ll give it ‘foive’ (for anyone old enough to remember ‘Hit or Miss’. Ah, the joys of 60’s TV!)

    1. I think that by “Hit or Miss” you are referring to “Juke Box Jury”, whereas Janice Nicholl’s catchphrase (“Oi’ll give it foive”) was from Spin a Disc (on Thank Your Lucky Stars).

      Oh, the crossword. Quite good.

  8. Oh, yes indeed, I remember ” oi’ll give it foive” unfortunately I found this puzzle extremely difficult and only finished with the help of Bufo. Not a good result for me but thanks to Micawber for such a thought-provoking puzzle

  9. Sorry, forgot to say WELL DONE ChrisH. I envy you the sense of satisfaction– oh well perhaps tomorrow!

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