Toughie 418 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 418

Toughie No 418 by Notabilis

An Embarrassment of Riches!

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

I’ve uses the blue highlight pencil for only the very best of today’s superb crop of clues.  Notabilis just keeps getting better and better.

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    Usually in a hot, steamy novel (4-2-4)
{STAY-AT-HOME} – rather cleverly the definition here is “usually in” and it’s an anagram (novel) of A HOT STEAMY

6a    Take over stadium, say (4)
{BOWL} – a double definition – to take an over in a game of cricket, and a certain type of stadium

9a    Crush top sportsman (5)
{CHAMP} – to crush with the teeth and a tournament winner

10a    An American domain removing right or (separately) banning luxury (9)
{AUSTERITY} – combine A with US (American) and a domain from which R(ight) and OR have been removed to get the quality of banning luxuries

12a    Dramatist accepting dishonesty, to a greater extent (7)
{MOLIÈRE} – having wasted time trying to fit LIE (dishonesty) into a dramatist I realised that it had to be inserted into a word meaning to a greater extent

13a    Person bringing a case to carry millions for region now in Iraq (5)
{SUMER} – the person bringing a case in court is placed around M(illions) to get an ancient region of SW Asia, comprising the southern part of Mesopotamia, which is in present-day Iraq

15a    Crackpot rages at irritant (4,3)
{TEAR GAS} – an anagram (crackpot) of RAGES AT gives an irritant

17a    Make more changes to a part behind study (7)
{READAPT} – to get this word meaning make more changes put A and PT (part) after (behind) a verb meaning to study

19a    Sound equipment on boom, perhaps for controversial argument (7)
{POLEMIC} – split (4,3) this could be a piece of sound equipment on a boom, but it’s actually a hostile controversial argument

21a    Endless publicity over plugging only a small opening for viewer (7)
{SPYHOLE} – put HYP(E) (endless publicity) reversed (over) inside (plugging) a word meaning only to get a small opening for a viewer to look through

22a    Message rejected among Israeli-Americans (5)
{EMAIL} – a message is hidden and reversed (rejected among) the last two words of the clue – this type of message is so common that the hyphen has now been dropped

24a    Such thinking isn’t clouded by practicalities (4-3)
{BLUE-SKY} – a cryptic definition of research having no immediate practical application

27a    EU rules changed with limits for pig sticker (9)
{SUPERGLUE} – an anagram (changed) of EU RULES with P(I)G gives a very strong and quick-acting impact adhesive

28a    One aquarium regularly overlooked Pacific location (5)
{NAURU} – the even (odd / regular overlooked) letters of the first two words produce an island in the SW Pacific

29a    Life preserver on ancient ship (4)
{NOAH} – a cryptic definition of the captain of the biblical Ark

30a    Saltiness isn’t evident in this wordplay for Ewart (10)
{FRESHWATER} – salt is not usually present in this – split it as (5,5) and it could be the wordplay for EWART


1d    School welcomes university of a similar kind (4)
{SUCH} – put SCH(ool) around (welcomes) U(niversity) to get a word meaning of a similar kind

2d    Ring as reminder of a flapper caught in shady walk (5,4)
{ALARM CALL} – a ring given as a reminder of an event is built up from a word meaning “of a flapper” or “of a wing” with a shady walk around C(aught)

3d    Leader brought down in pontifical outrage (5)
{APPAL} – take a word meaning pontifical, or belonging to a pope, and drop (brought down as this is a down clue) the first letter (leader) one position to get a verb meaning to outrage

4d    My struggle to lift up poles (7)
{HEAVENS} – the definition is My! – a charade of struggle to lift up with both poles

5d    Manipulator has misgivings about surface-to-air missile in revolution (7)
{MASSEUR} – this manipulator of muscles is derived by taking a verb meaning has misgivings and a Surface-to-Air-Missile and reverse all (in revolution)

7d    Dislike top conductor’s stand (5)
{ODIUM} a synonym for intense dislike is found by removing the first letter from (top / beheading) the stand used by the conductor of an orchestra

8d    One not fully involved in order of course including soup (3,7)
{LAY BROTHER} – a person who has taken the vows of a religious order but is not ordained or obliged to take part in the full cycle of liturgy and is employed in ancillary or manual work is derived by putting a course or stratum around (including) a type of soup

11d    E. coli shot, tested initially in a piece of cake (7)
{ECSTASY} – the drug that is abbreviated to E is the definition – put the initial letters of Coli Shot Tested inside a word meaning not difficult (a piece of cake)

14d    Females in crush for Rocket Man (10)
{STEPHENSON} – put some female chickens (or Glasgow women!) inside a phrasal verb meaning to crush underfoot to get the English engineer, a pioneer of steam locomotives and railways, who designed and built The Rocket

16d    Norwegian heroine embraces male who takes risks (7)
{GAMBLER} – put the eponymous heroine of the play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen around (embraces) M(ale) to get someone who takes risks

18d    Raving at young, an adviser dealing with problems (5,4)
{AGONY AUNT} – an anagram (raving) of AT YOUNG AN gives an adviser, like the late Marjorie Proops, dealing with problems

20d    Sole (fixed) income earner? (7)
{COBBLER} – a cryptic definition of someone who fixes soles, and heels, for a living

21d    Ship carries funny Dickensian transported to Australia (7)
{SQUEERS} – as funny Dickensian is an oxymoron, it was easy to lift and separate the wordplay! – put a SteamShip around (carries) a word meaning funny or odd to get a character, in Charles Dickens’ novel Nicholas Nickleby, who was transported to Australia – a fate that also befell Magwitch in Great Expectations

23d    A mountain hectare (5)
{ALPHA} – one of three very short definitions in today’s puzzle, the Greek character A / α is a charade of a European mountain and the abbreviation for HectAre

25d    Muscle is shown up, recently developed (5)
{SINEW} – physical strength or muscle is built from IS reversed (shown up – a down-clue construct) and a word meaning recently developed

26d    Sound from some Persians? (4)
{PURR} – sheer brilliance – a homophone of part of Persians and the sound made by Persian cats

A plea to the Crossword Editor – please don’t make us wait four and a half weeks for the next Notabilis puzzle!

Footnote: Yesterday was our busiest day ever with 6,207 page views, eclipsing the previous record of 6,083 set last April!

18 comments on “Toughie 418

  1. A brilliant Friday toughie today. Lots and lots of clues which you had to read very carefully to sort out the wordplay and I have as many ‘spots’ by each clue as BD has highlights in blue. Definitely 5* entertainment. The sort of Toughie that makes you work hard without making you groan and despair. Fantastic. Lots more of the same please, Notabilis (i second Dave’s plea to the Ed). Thanks for the review BD.

  2. Cracking puzzle with 1a, 8d and 6a being particular favourites but as you say – too many to choose from.
    Thanks for the review and Hats Off to Notabilis.

  3. Brilliance! It gets my vote! It took me most of the morning, and this combined with the normal cryptic, meant I did absolutely nothing at work. And that’s quite enough work for one day… off to relax in the sauna for the afternoon!
    Thanks to Notabilis, and to BD for the review.

  4. This was thoroughly enjoyable. Notabilis is brilliant at “hiding” the definitions like a magician in clues such as 1a, 6a, 4d, 23d and (my favourite) 11d.

    1. I would have to concur re 11d. I spent more time on this clue than any other, and when I eventually solved it, my first thought was ‘pure genius’. Fantastic !!

  5. What with Giovanni doing the cryptic and Notabilis the toughie Fridays are becoming too good to be true. Brilliant puzzle and a great review, favourite clues were 6a and 21d.

  6. Beyond me I’m afraid! Only got about half without the hints.
    But, having read the blog I can only admire tha skill of Notabilis in constructing this puzzle – Superb!
    Not tried all that many Toughies so perhaps I’ll stick with the Tuesday ones for now, at least they give me a chance.
    Thanks Notabilis and thanks to BD for showing me the way – I did get most of the answers from the hints without actually revealing them but I would never have unravelled the constructions on my own..

  7. Got there in the end, though putting Pinhole for 21a delayed me getting the Dickens character for a long time.

    Still don’t see the wordplay in 2d. What is the flapper? R?

      1. Oops. Now I see your answer, it occurs to me that I may have asked exactly the same question before (possibly in regard to a very similar clue).

        Must leard “alar”.

  8. Corker of a crossword from Notabilis. If you were selecting good clues rather than very good ones, you would have had a blog entirely in blue! Many thanks to Notabilis for a hugely enjoyable treat and to BD for the review.

  9. A cracker! Would have got 4* from me, but as Notablis included my surname and distant relative at 14d, I had to go full steam ahead to 5*. Thanks everyone – have a great weekend!!

  10. An extremely enjoyable toughie!
    I solved it this afternoon as I was out last night at dinner with old friends not seen for months.
    Best clues for me were 12a, 19a, 21a, 27a, 5d, 23d & 26d.
    14d was a good laugh. Is the Rocket still on view in the NE somewhere?

  11. Finished my third Toughie… did 12 clues without help and then used your blog to explain ideas I had or for your extra hints. Think I only failed to get 2 which is stunning for me!
    Will keep trying!

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