Toughie 417 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 417

Toughie No 417 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I found this to be a toughie of above-average difficulty. There were some nice touches but I thought it was spoilt by some rather dodgy anagram indicators.

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    Active rookie involved in arrest (8)
{BUSTLING} L (learner = rookie) is put inside the present participle of a verb meaning “to arrest” to give the answer which means “lively and busy”

5a    Managed to join police, though bad (6)
{RANCID} A word for managed + the abbreviation for a department of the police force gives “bad” (as butter might be)

9a    Again give wiggle of ears gesture (8)
{REASSIGN} An anagram (wiggle of) of EARS + a gesture gives “again give”

10a    Get roulette wheel going and in Monaco you can play it (6)
{SPINET} “Get roulette wheel going” + the French word for “and” gives a musical instrument like a small harpsichord

12a    Received as result of one’s complaints? (3-6)
{ILL-GOTTEN} The answer is a word meaning “procured by dishonest or unworthy means” which often precedes “gains”

13a    A shade inconclusive, I think, as you do (5)
{AGREE} Use a colour with the last letter missing

14a    Does like animals (4)
{APES} Two meanings: does like (= imitates) and animals

16a    Sign, as sender, package containing ring (7)
{ENDORSE} This is an anagram of SENDER containing O (ring). I don’t really see how the anagram is indicated

19a    Manages to seize access, arriving at departure points (7)
{RUNWAYS} A word meaning “manages” goes round “access” to give features of an airport

21a    Rules of behaviour one can understand if someone breaks (4)
{CODE} A word meaning “Rules of behaviour” is also something that needs breaking (deciphering)

24a    Childish puzzle, you say. It’s corny (5)
{MAIZE} A type of corn sounds like a type of puzzle

25a    Gives a character reading that is very frank (6,3)
{SPELLS OUT} The answer means “reads laboriously, letter by letter” and “is extremely specific in explaining something”

27a    Can’t disturb dad, who’s came back for rest (6)
{CATNAP} An anagram of CAN’T + a reversal of a word for father gives a brief sleep. I don’t like “disturb” as the anagram indicator. It would need to be “disturbed” to work

28a    Going into pub, too, I’m ordering (2,6)
{IN MOTION} An anagram of TOO I’M goes inside a pub to give a term meaning “moving”. For me “ordering” would only work as an anagram indicator if “order” were an intransitive verb (which it isn’t)

29a    Making south of France home. That’s unforeseen (6)
{SUDDEN} Use the French word for “south” + (an animal’s) home

30a    Soft, put aside to make jam (8)
{PRESERVE} P (soft) + “put aside” gives jam


1d    What you were watching when photographed at golf match? (6)
{BIRDIE} What you are asked to watch when having your photograph taken is also a term used in golf

2d    Won’t fly, though having seats (6)
{STALLS} Two meanings: “stops (an engine) by sudden braking, overloading, etc” and seats (in a church or theatre)

3d    From a saddle bag (5)
{LASSO} A cryptic definition equating to “catch when riding a horse (as cowboys do)”

4d    Seen hurling gun in, denies (7)
{NEGATES} An anagram (hurling) of SEEN contains a gun (chiefly US). I don’t like “hurling” as an anagram indicator

6d    Didn’t let a good turn go unrewarded (9)
{APPLAUDED} Another cryptic definition equating to “showed one’s appreciation of a good turn (performer)”

7d    The opposite of obstinate (8)
{CONTRARY} Two meanings: opposite and perverse (as Mary, Mary)

8d    Having hesitated, did ring at that point (8)
{DITHERED} DID goes round “at that point” to give “hesitated”. I don’t like the use of “ring”. It really needs to be “rings” or “ringing”

11d    Ocean, not Pacific, witnessed a vanishing in the old days (4)
{ONCE} An anagram (not Pacific} of OCEAN without the letter A (a vanishing)

15d    What horse that came second was called? (Florence?) (5,4)
{PLACE NAME} The first word signifies a horse that finishes second (unless there are four or fewer runners) or often third and sometimes fourth. Florence (the city) is an example of the whole.

17d    Expresses displeasure at getting awful cards (8)
{GRIMACES} “Awful” + “high-ranking cards” gives “expresses displeasure by pulling a face”

18d    Not suitable if loose (8)
{UNFITTED} Two meanings: “not suitable” and “loose (as of covers, clothing)”

20d    Likewise, twice as poor (2-2)
{SO-SO} Take a 2-letter word for “likewise” and repeat it to give “neither very good nor very bad”

21d    Figure getting slimmer daily (7)
{CLEANER} A Roman numeral (figure) + slimmer gives a daily (someone who does for you)

22d    ‘He sells lady’s outsize,’ I interposed (6)
{HOSIER} A dealer in stockings, etc., is formed form “lady’s” containing OS (outsize) + I

23d    Attitude with which cuckoo starts, in a nest, hatching (6)
{STANCE} C (with which cuckoo starts) is put inside an anagram of A NEST. I don’t like “hatching” as an angram indicator.

26d    Seems fine, with sun about to rise (5)
{LOOKS} A word meaning “seems” is made up from OK (fine) inside a reversal of the sun personified

I thought the puzzle was OK but it could have been better

15 comments on “Toughie 417

  1. I didn’t enjoy this much. I found it particularly hard to work out what the clues were on about. I have just done an analysis and I got 6 of the acrosses and 7 of the downs without too much trouble but the rest were a struggle to match solutions to the clues, particularly the SW corner. Why is 24a a “childish” puzzle? Unlike the last couple of weeks when I have completed the toughie and been left with a feeling of satisfaction and a smile on my face, I had more of a 17d today. However, I did mark 1d as my favourite clue. Sorry to be so negative but its just how it left me.

  2. THis wasn’t really my cup of tea although in general I have ben enjoying Excalibur’s recent puzzles. I didnt help myself by writing the wrong enumeration in at 2fa. I thought that 1a was a bit off – surely ‘arresting’ would be required rather than ‘arrest’?.
    28a took some time due to the lift and separate required to get the definition.
    Regarding 1d – My mum has just emailed to say she has gotten her first Hole-in-one!
    Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  3. I also found this tough, especially the S-W corner. Disappointed by the solution to 15d – had expected something humorous. Favourite clues: 11a and 6d.

  4. Not one of my most enjoyable solves, but some of it was ok. As did Crypticsue, I would vote 1d as favourite.
    Re 16a, ‘package’ must be the anagram indicator, but fairly weak IMHO!
    Thanks to Bufo.

  5. Unlike everyone else so far, I enjoyed this. I have no complaints at all and felt quite satisfied when I finally put the last clue in the SW corner. (maize)My favourite clues were1a and 1d. Thanks Excalibur, you always make me think, and thanks Bufo for the excellent review.

  6. A bit like wading through porridge I thought. Made it in the end, but needed your explanation Bufo as to why I had the correct answer for a couple of clues. 13a in this, and 23d in the Cryptic, had the same word with similar clues. I think the Cryptic was the better of the two. Do you agree?

  7. I ignored crypticsues advice – I started it – but I did not bother trying to finish it. Thanks for the explanations Bufo. I know unfitted is in the dictionary, but would anyone use it? Have to agree with others, today’s GK cryptic was streets ahead of the Toughie as far as I was concerned. Underwhelmed. In fact I might argue that the Quick was more amusing, just for the pun…..

  8. I hate to be 7d, but I disagree with most of the comments so far.

    Thought this was very easy, not up to Toughie standard, but thought that the unusual anagram indicators were particularly good and appropriate to the surface readings. Particularly liked “not Pacific” in 11d, “hatching” in 23d and “package” in 16a.

    1. I’m sorry but I can’t think of any meanings of “hatching” or “package” that make them suitable for use as anagram indicators. please explain!

      1. From

        Hatch=to bring forth or produce; devise; create

        Package=a container, as a box or case, in which something is or may be packed

        I agree that both of these suggest that the fodder somehow produces the answer, without actually specifying that they are anagrams, but if you are only going to allow synonyms of “jumbled”, then why not do what they do in some Quickie crossword, and just put (anag) at the end of the clue?

        1. It seems to me that if package is to work at all as an anagram indicator in 16a, it has to be read as the imperative form of the verb (meaning to present in an attractive or advantageous way) rather than as a noun. Even then it’s presented backwards – I think that “Package sender containing ring” would just about work, but if sender comes first then it ought to be packaged rather than package.

  9. I thought that the anagram indicators were vague, but I don’t have a problem with that – obvious sign-posts make for rather dull solving.

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