Toughie 465

Toughie No 465 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

At first glance I was put off by the diagram with its double unches (unchecked letters) and what looked like a lot of black squares. It’s definitely not one of the best grids I’ve ever seen. I found the puzzle difficult but managed it unaided in the end. There several things in the clues that I didn’t really care for but I actually quite enjoyed the challenge.

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    Singer collapsed in pain, upset by something eaten (10)
{GINGERSNAP} A type of biscuit is given by an anagram (collapsed) of SINGER inside a reversal of a word for pain. The use of “upset” as a reversal indicator would be better in a down clue.

9a    Drink one may be angling for (4)
{CHAR} 2 meanings: a drink (tea) / a fish of the salmon family

10a    With log lever up, showing initiative (10)
{ENTERPRISE} A word meaning “to log” + another meaning to “lever up” gives initiative

11a    Deals with blank square, putting in first letter of ‘ruffles’ (6)
{FRILLS} The first letter of “ruffles” goes inside “deals with blank square (as in a crossword)” to give ruffles. I don’t really see how this clue works.

12a    Do they undermine the strength of the Army? (7)
{SAPPERS} Soldiers in a particular regiment of the British Army apparently are people who drain the energy from things

15a    Plant shown by book to grow in random fashion (7)
{BRAMBLE} A prickly shrub is made up of B (book) + grow in a random fashion (like some roses)

16a    They draw from banks (5)
{TIERS} 2 meanings: people that draw sporting contests/banks

17a    ‘It’s traditional procedure, OK?’ you say (4)
{RITE} A traditional procedure sounds like a word for OK

18a    With ‘Good’, off we went to get a drink (4)
{PINT} A two letter word for “good” + “went” with “we” removed gives a drink (of beer or milk)

19a    Put off returning again, no longer hungry (5)
{DEFER} A reversal of no longer hungry (having eaten again) gives a word for “put off”

21a    They take issue over our being too busy to cope (7)
{NANNIES} A cryptic definition. Such people look after your children (issue) if you haven’t the time (or inclination) to look after them yourselves

22a    Don’t, because pursued by wild animal (7)
{FORBEAR} A word meaning “don’t” consists of “because” + a large carnivorous animal

24a    Runt tagging on to mum: terribly prim (6)
{SHRIMP} A runt is formed from mum (silence!) + an anagram (terribly) of PRIM

27a    Giving a fabrication to people when there’s an estrangement (10)
{ALIENATION} A fabrication (untruth) + people gives an estrangement

28a    Object I bumped into, turning (4)
{ITEM} I + a reversal of “bumped into” gives an object

29a    Steer you should ignore from herd scattering, wayward (3,7)
{RED HERRING} A subject introduced to divert discussion or attention is an anagram (scattering) of HERD followed by “wayward”


2d    Locals having pronouncedly influential connections (4)
{INNS} Locals (pubs) sound like influential connections (presumably members of the ruling party)

3d    With guard dog, were almost all returning. Stopped being silly (4,2)
{GREW UP} WERE with the last letter removed is put inside a small short-haired dog with a wrinkled face and the whole lot is then reversed

4d    Understanding there will be a buffet, with drink (7)
{RAPPORT} A buffet (blow with the fist) + a fortified wine gives an understanding

5d    Catch and it may scratch you (4)
{NAIL} 2 meanings: to catch/part of the finger that can scratch. I first of all wrote in SNAG for this and then considered NICK when I had the first letter

6d    Thinks better, in addendum, to direct elsewhere (7)
{PREFERS} “Thinks better” is the definition. It is made up of “to direct elsewhere” inside an addendum (as to a letter)

7d    Miss for only a short time (5,5)
{CHILD BRIDE} A nice cryptic definition of a girl that is married at a very young age

8d    He hopes to be well-compensated for his investigations (10)
{PROSPECTOR} Another cryptic definition. The “well” refers to an oil-well because the answer is someone who might be looking for oil

12d    Providing a cast-iron case is the stock in trade (6,4)
{STRONG SUIT} The stock in trade is given by cast-iron + case (a legal one)

13d    Tidy up while you ring restaurant for take-out? (3,2,5)
{PUT IN ORDER} 2 meanings: tidy up/instruct someone (possibly a takeaway restaurant) to supply goods

14d    Things worth seeing, you say … lots (5)
{SITES} A homophone of “things worth seeing” gives lots (plots of ground)

15d    In short, rush off. Brush fire spreading (5)
{BRIEF} Remove “rush” from “brush” to get B. Then add an anagram (spreading) of FIRE to get “in short”

19d    Misery of French with their capital destroyed (7)
{DESPAIR} The French word for “of” is followed by an anagram (destroyed) of the name of the French capital city to give misery. This is an indirect anagram but I think it’s fair enough.

20d    In foreign city, can drift into an affaire (7)
{ROMANCE} An anagram (drift) of CAN inside a European capital city gives an affaire

23d    To get cured, he’s taking a chance (6)
{BETTER} 2 meanings: cured/one who gambles

25d    Be careful. It’s booby-trapped, according to reports (4)
{MIND} A homophone of booby-trapped (with explosive devices) sounds like “be careful”

26d    Does it warn to keep away from the bull? (4)
{HORN} A noisy warning device, e.g. on a car, is also the part of a bull that might do you some damage

An interesting and challenging puzzle


  1. Posted November 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I started off quite quickly with half of this done in a few minutes, and I then ground to a total halt. I eventually gave up with half a dozen unsolved. I didn’t like the grid very much, but I thought the puzzle was not bad.
    Thanks to Excalibur, and to Bufo for the explanations.

  2. honestjohn
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    There were times when I felt I was back in the 1970s doing an Evening Standard crossword – I half expected ‘girl’s name’ to come up as a clue. In trhe end it wasn’t too bad – I liked 7d – but not really a puzzle I enjoyed that much.

  3. crypticsue
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I struggled with the SE corner but finished in a reasonable time. Not too bad a puzzle but I didn’t have any particular favourites. Thanks Bufo for the explanations.

  4. Prolixic
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Slowed myself down considerably by putting “bogwort” for 15a (B + (togrow)*). Once I realised my botanical ignorance (well it sounds like a plausible plant), I was able to polish off the NE corner. Many thanks to Excalibur for the puzzle and to Bufo for the review.

    • Posted November 25, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      I also put ‘bogwort’ and even found a picture of it on google, despite it not being in any dictionary!!

      • gazza
        Posted November 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        It’s listed on Wikipedia as another name for the bilberry or whortleberry.

  5. BigBoab
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, but I did not think this was worth 4* for difficulty, more like 2* for difficulty and enjoyment. Thanks for the notes Bufo but I thought this one of the easiest Crosswords Excalibur has ever set.

  6. Warbler
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Re 19D.
    Although easy to solve,when did it become okay to have an indirect anagram as part of the clue?

    • Posted November 25, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      As Bufo says, I didn’t think the indirect anagram is unfair since there is only one real synonym (unless you think of Euros or Francs for Capital which would be discarded pretty quickly)

    • Prolixic
      Posted November 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      I wondered about this.

      Tim Moorey in his book on how to solve the Times crossword refers to one instance where an indirect anagram may be permissible, which is when the subsidiary indicator can lead to only one word (I think he used the example of cluing an anagram of “omincron” by reference to the letters in the Greek alphabet it fell before or after.

      Here, capital of France = Paris. I suppose you could argue that it could = Euro, so maybe it is not clear cut. For me at least it was clear which word was required for the anagram but for other, it may not have been.

    • Prolixic
      Posted November 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      PS – The Warbler of Toughie fame or a Warbler of another feather?

      • Posted November 25, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        Warbler left a previous comment on T 301 – one of her puzzles!

    • Posted November 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      I personally think that no indirect content, other than recognised abbreviations, should be used. Then the question does not arise.

  7. Posted November 25, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t find this too tricky but the NE corner held me up for about 10 minutes (although I did make some mistakes in parsing a couple of clues). No real favourites but not too bad an Excalibur puzzle.
    Thanks to her and to Bufo

  8. Andy
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Slower than usual for a thursday, struggled in the E both N and S .Don’t have a problem with 11a, think pleated fabric, with ruffle being the transitive verb. Quite liked the posts re 19d, until now had no idea wat an indirect anagram was, and as Warbler says it was easy to solve. Thanks Excalibur and Bufo for insightful hints.

  9. Upthecreek
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    I cracked most of this puzzle in short time then ground to a halt in NE corner. Bass at 9 did not help! Finally got all but 18 which took me ages Favs 1 7 [best] 12 a 12d 15a 15d 19d 29. Loved 7d as the penny did not drop for a while.

  10. Anna Gramme
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I also had ‘bogwort’ for 15a. It sounded so right I didn’t even think of looking it up.
    Really liked 7d ‘child bride’ – that’s when the penny dropped that ‘bogwort’ was wrong.

    • shep
      Posted November 25, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      Me too – the logic for bogwort was flawless although Chambers dic and other works
      of reference did not acknowledge the existence of this growth.

      Was this a dastardly plot by Exc. to mass-mislead….?

  11. Derek
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I got about 90% of this puzzle solved before going into hospital for a control investigation – am now out but very sleepy so shall shortly go to bed.

    I didn’t get 7d & 8d finished. I liked 1a, 29a & 12d.

    Bufo – re 11a, when you are dealing with a blank crossword square you are going (hopefully) to fill it in – so the fodder leads to fills (deals) and you shove in R to get frills = ruffles.

    I did not have time to get myDt today so shall get it tomorrow with saturday’s issue.