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Toughie 430

Toughie No 430 by Firefly

Tough for Tough’s sake

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BD Rating – Difficulty *****Enjoyment *

I’ve been out all day and Tilsit has vanished into the ether!  I did finish this puzzle in two stints with about 6 hours in between.  I’d like to know what you think, but I felt it was tough for the wrong reasons and did not enjoy it at all.  When you solve a difficult Elgar or Notabilis puzzle you usually get several “Doh!” moments and a lot of enjoyment.  I may change my mind after writing the review.


1a           What’s suffered, say, by the Light Blues when preparing for battle? (8)
{CAMPAIGN} – we start with what I regard as an unfair clue – the second part sounds like (say) a pain (what’s suffered), but the first is the river that runs through a university where their sportsman are known as Light Blues – the name of the river is not an acknowledged abbreviation for the university or its students

5a           Sailor’s pride perhaps injured (6)
{SINBAD} – this sailor, hero of one of the tales in the Arabian Nights, is made up from one of a group of seven that include pride and a word that loosely means injured

9a           Game for a knees-up on station? (8)
{BASEBALL} – an American game comes from a dance after (on!) a station or post – one needs considerable imagination to get from knees-up to this kind of dance; a severe case of thesauritis, the affliction that says that all words in a given section of the thesaurus are synonyms of each other

10a         Shell out for wire after herd’s stragglers escape (6)
{COWRIE} – this shell is an anagram (out) of WIRE after CO(ws)

12a         Permits unplanned sex with tea (6)
{EXEATS} – permissions to be out of college for more than one night during term time are an anagram of SEX and TEA

13a         Pony’s shanks, all told, or only enough for Shanks’s pony? (8)
{FORELEGS} – this sounds like (all told) all the pony’s “shanks”, but is in fact only the two at the front – Shanks’s pony refers to the action of walking as a means of conveyance!

15a         Time digesting Old Norse achieves higher degree (7)
{HONOURS} – put these periods of time around O(ld) and N(orse) to get a higher level of degree than an ordinary one

16a         College on the up, except in English? (4)
{ETON} – this college appears in far too many crosswords – this time it is a reversal (on the up) of NOT E(nglish) – a construct that rightfully belongs in a down clue, not an across one!

20a         Jaguar, maybe? Not posh originally (4)
{ONCE} – apart from them both belonging to the panthera family, is a jaguar the same as a snow leopard? – remove the U (posh) from said snow leopard to get a word meaning originally [according to the big red book, the jaguar as well as the lynx and cheetah have been labelled in the same way as the snow leopard]

21a         Interval of calm between Pope’s Day One and Day Five (7)
{SEVENTH} – a musical interval comes from a word meaning calm placed between S(unday) (day 1)and TH(ursday) (day 5) in Pope Gregory XIII’s calendar – unless you can think of a better explanation!

25a         Fliers engage second propulsion element (8)
{AIRSCREW} – take the team of people responsible for flying an aeroplane and insert S(econd) to get the  propeller of said aeroplane

26a         Where to keep change of underwear, should the need arise? (2,4)
{IN CASE} – a double definition – where to keep change of underwear and should the need arise

28a         Principles in SALT agenda oddly backed by international leader (6)
{IDEALS} – these principles come from S L A E D (the odd letters of SALT agenda) reversed (backed) after (by) I (International leader)

29a         LONDON and PARIS? (8)
{CAPITALS} – what these cities are, and how they are shown in the clue

30a         Attorney spending time and energy redrafting (6)
{NOTARY} – an all-in-one clue where the wordplay is an anagram (redrafting) of AT(T)ORN(E)Y without (spending) T(ime) and E(nergy)

31a         Australia’s crazy but somewhat spellbinding batsman (8)
{DINGBATS} – an Australian term for crazy is hidden inside the last two words of the clue


1d           Dream fairy’s a nut on the internet (6)
{COBWEB} – one of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a charade of a nut and the internet

2d           Spray, sir? (6)
{MISTER} – a spray gun with a fine nozzle, used to apply moisture to the foliage of indoor plants, is also a form of address like Sir

3d           In essence, a precept raised under Tony Blair’s leadership … (2,6)
{AT BOTTOM} – a phrase meaning in essence or fundamentally comes from A and then a precept or saying reversed (raised) after (under) T(ony) B(lair)

4d           … crystallizes during meeting elsewhere (4)
{GELS} – a word meaning crystallizes is hidden inside (during) the last two words of the clue

6d           Feed in flat? (6)
{IRONED} – if you replace the first two letters of FEed with the element represented by that symbol you get an adjective describing an item of clothing as flat

7d           A beret — right in fashion -– is worn on the head (8)
{BARRETTE} – an anagram (fashion) of A BERET RT (right) gives a bar-shaped hairclip

8d           One’s French no good after dire upset involving second son (8)
{DRESSING} – French is a type of this – put N(o) G(ood) after an anagram (upset) of DIRE and then include S(econd) and S(on)

11d         Type of runner? (7)
{COURIER} – a typeface and a runner

14d         Used to be into fish — withdrew (7)
{COWERED} – put a word meaning used to be inside a fish to get withdrew or shrank back

17d         No IT at Oriel? Given this, the solution may be obvious (8)
{ROTATION} – reverse the first eight letters

18d         Twisting staircase adult’s going to find most creepy (8)
{SCARIEST} – an anagram (twisting) of STAIRC(A)SE without A (Adult’s going) gives a word meaning most creepy

19d         ‘Sovereign’ with Peter, say, in the saddle, is very impressive (8)
{STONKING} – start with a sovereign and precede it with ST (Peter) and ON (in the saddle, which usually results in UP not ON) to get a word meaning very impressive

22d         Jovial Jack’s left eye … (6)
{OCULAR} – take a word meaning jovial and remove J(ack) to get a facetious term for the eye

23d         … is able to notice area across the pond (6)
{CANADA} – combine synonyms for is able and a notice with A(rea) to get a country which is across the pond, unless you live in North America!

24d         States impression first articulated in survey (6)
{CENSUS} – the United States is preceded by what sounds like (articulated) an impression or feeling to get a survey which usually occurs every ten years
24d         Become aware of the Telegraph reporting next year’s survey (6) (dead-tree version)
should need no further explanation!

27d         Clever chaps need supplement with iodine (4)
{MAGI} – these clever chaps come from a MAG(azine) and I(odine)

Well, there it is.  I haven’t changed my mind.

Just click on the picture!

39 comments on “Toughie 430

  1. Tough indeed. Couldn’t finish the top right hand corner. Agree a lot of effort & not much pleasure. Thanks BD for the help & Firefly for filling the hours on a rainy day with a real “Toughie”. Probably makes up for the easy run we’ve had all week.

  2. Thanks for the answers BD. Managed very little, which isn’t unusual for me but I usually enjoy it. Didn’t enjoy this one & still can’t understand how some answers where arrived at.

    1. Managed to understand all the answers except 6d. Fail to get the “feed” bit but as I do the Toughie over lunch was fixated on a food angle.. Actually liked 17d & got a “doh” moment.

  3. Now I’ve seen the answers I’m no wiser!! 20a , 11d,19d, 24d and 24d I just cannot work out logically. Any explanations out there?

    1. 20a We’ve had OUNCE (sort of snow leopard) quite a lot recently. Remove the U (posh) to leave originally.

      1. I enjoyed this one very much. It was a proper toughie in every sense of the word, took me on and off for two and a half hours but I thought it had some very clever clues and lots of misleads – who else had the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up as the Peter in 19d? which caused 21a to be my next to last one in. Thanks Firefly for the brain stretching.. Sorry BD if I had known, I could have started a draft review for you at lunchtime.

        1. Sorry my comment went in the wrong place.

          With regard to 20d. the Latin for Jaguar is Panthera Onca which can be abbreviated to P.Onca so if you took away P for posh originally, the answer could be Onca. Probably just me being too clever but I thought I would mention it. This word doesn’t of course actually exist which shows how desperate I was getting when I arrived at my last clue!

    2. 19d sovereign is KING. On top of this (in the saddle) but STON (sounds like stone – to some people). Peter (petros in Greek) means stone or rock.

      1. My derivation for 19d was Peter (Saint) ST in the saddle ON and sovereign KING. Not keen on the sounds like.

    3. 24d Definition is survey. Put US (States) after CENS which sounds like (articulated) sense (impression).

      1. Has the Clued Up site got different clues to paper again? My 24d doesn’t mention states. I got the US from a reference to the Telegraph.

        1. So what’s the clue in the paper?
          On CluedUp it’s “States impression first articulated in survey (6)”

          1. “Become aware of the Telegraph reporting next year’s survey.” I thought homophone of sense CENS and US for telegraph?

  4. Failed on 7:
    5 10 13 21 across
    6 14 19 down
    I’ll have a look at the wordplay now but have never heard of 10a
    Thanks for the workout firefly! I enjoyed the rest!

  5. Wish I’d given up even earlier than I did. Despite all my efforts the N-E corner completely blank. Too much persiration for very little gratification!

    Are jaguars snow leopards? Or are snow leopards jaguars?

  6. With the explanations containing references to Latin & Greek It’s not surprising this was a work-out. Haven’t needed much use of those ancient languages since I left school. I think I only use them to solve crosswords & have to reach into the far recesses of my brain to drag them out. Also needed to access the periodic table!

  7. Excellent crossword. A real Toughie, at last.

    Best clues 6d and 8d, but many other good ones.

    21a was the last to go in, as I was thinking of Monday and Friday as days 1 and 5 – I guess for the Pope, thay would be Sunday and Thursday.

  8. Greetings everyone,

    Firstly, apologies to Big Dave and Gazza, an unscheduled trip to have some stitches in my ankle left me unable to finish this.I started this on the Clued Up Site put printed it off and took it to the hospital with me, along with today’s Guardian which was very similar, although was redeemed by its special theme..

    I’m with the majority here. A dry dull slog of a puzzle with some poor clues. I had BERRETTA (given under “Hat” in Bradford’s Blue Crossword List Dictionary) which because I completed it on the print version, didn’t seem wrong to me.

    Didn’t like 2d and 21a. I was thinking it was themed along the lines of Cambridge University words and thought ROGATION was the answer instead of ROTATION.

    I positively enjoy tougher puzzles, but this didn’t click with me at all.

  9. I found this ferocious! I gave up with 6 unsolved (2 of them I should have solved in hindsight) having spent over three hours, on and off at work. I cannot say that I particularly enjoyed the puzzle, but I am grateful to Firefly for the mental workout. I often complain that the Toughie is no harder than the cryptic, so I relish something considerably harder.
    Thanks to Firefly, and to BD for the notes.

  10. Is the Chambers “Big Red Book” considered to be the bible all over Crossword Land – or is it just in the DT?

    BD, Many thanks for your “very hard slog” in producing the review. Reassured to see that you gave it 5* for difficulty.

  11. This was a slog but a nice one as clues slowly unravelled themselves with a lot of revisits to the grid. Many thanks to Firefly for a real challenge and to BD for stepping up to the plate to review this. Hope that Tilsit is recovering well.

  12. Too tough for me. Managed about half before resorting to the blog. 1 or 2 clues really obscure, some rather elementary. A curates egg of a puzzle.

  13. Didn;t do this till late last night after a visit to the Wyrd Sisters (Terry Pratchett) at the local theatre, several glasses of cognac later I gave up with only the bottom right hand corner completed and one or two others dotted about. I had to resort to the hints this morning to complete it and even then I found it tough going. Thanks Firefly for stretching the old brain to the limit, and thanks BD for confirming that my crossword brain has not yey fully developed.

  14. 6d . Feed in flat? (6) – IRONED
    What category of clue is this? There is no indication whatsoever that “FE” should be replaced with “IRON”.

    1. I did mean to comment further on 6d but was rapidly losing the will to live.

      At risk of offending those that like hard puzzles because they are hard, I thought this one was terrible. Firefly’s puzzles used to be very good, but this year they have, in my opinion, become less enjoyable as the difficulty level has risen, Not all setters have the ability to increase the difficulty and maintain the enjoyment.

      1. The question mark is supposed to suggest thinking outside the box. However this isn’t so much thinking outside the box as outside the entire container ship.

        To me, the question mark should have come after feed. Perhaps:-

        Feed? When pressed! (6) or even Pressed to feed? (6)

        would have been acceptable to me.

        I am sure some who read this will want to accuse those of us unhappy with the puzzle of hypocrisy and I appreciate that sentiment. However, if you compared this with an Elgar, Osmosis, Micawber or Notabilis puzzle, there are usually clues that challenge you but at the same time you can admire the effort behind them and you can tackle the puzzle with a smile. This just seemed to be one long slog.

        I am normally a fan of Firefly and his alter-ego in the Independent and Listener series, but I found this too much.

  15. Hi BD. I take it you didn’t change your mind after writing the review!! My mother (89 years old) and I finally managed to complete it this morning, but only after a lot of tedious work in the NE corner. In the end, we guessed at ironed with it being a definition of flat, but we object strenuously to the clue. Clever as it is, there is absolutely no indication that iron should be added to the word feed while subtracting its chemical symbol, Fe. I agree with you – tough for tough’s sake!

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