Toughie 491 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 491

Toughie No 491 by Excalibur

If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment *

I leave you to give your own opinions on this puzzle – you know mine!

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    Duplication of an item on the bill (6)
{ENCORE} – repetition of a performance

4a    Obstacle again creates break in journey (8)
{STOPOVER} – an obstacle and a word meaning again give an overnight break in a journey

9a    Mine with a note inside from the herbalist (6)
{BORAGE} – a word meaning to mine or drill around A and a musical note give a blue-flowered, bristly, aromatic herb

10a    Introduce a strange noise (8)
{ACQUAINT} – a word meaning to introduce comes from what sounds like (noise) a strange

11a    Sensible container for medication oozing out (8)
{SPILLAGE} – put a word meaning sensible, or more usually wise, is placed around some medication to get an oozing out or overflow

13a    A gun per man (6)
{APIECE} – combine A with a slang word for a gun to get a word meaning per man

15a    Be good waiters or be only fair? (5,3,5)
Be only fair — don’t net all the balls (5,3,5) [newspaper version]
{SERVE ONE RIGHT} – a part-cryptic double definition of how I feel about this puzzle

18a    Ridiculous hairstyle worn by very extreme people? (7,6)
{LUNATIC FRINGE} – a charade of ridiculous and a hairstyle, in which the front part is cut so as to hang over the forehead, gives these very extreme people

22a    When returning in an awful rush, he rides (6)
{HUSSAR} – a word meaning when (2) is reversed inside an anagram (awful) of RUSH gives a a soldier in a light cavalry regiment

24a    Spray is not spraying. Dump (8)
{JETTISON} – a spray is followed by an anagram ()spraying of IS NOT gives a word meaning to throw goods overboard

26a    Rhinestones on the seat of one’s pants? Awkward (8)
{BUMBLING} – put some cheap flashy jewellery after the seat of one’s pants to get a word meaning awkward or inept

27a    Display bait to many fish (6)
{DANGLE} – a word meaning to display (bait, maybe) is a charade of a large Roman numeral and to fish

28a    Or is going among you to voice conjectural views (8)
{THEORISE} – put OR IS inside an archaic word for you (lacking the usual courtesy of an indication that it is not in current usage) to get a word meaning to voice conjectural views

29a    Something not self-standing that’s reduced by some pounds? (6)
{LEANER} – a double definition – something that is at an angle and an adjective meaning slimmer


1d    Chase up myself, chief having got after (6)
{EMBOSS} – chase here means to decorate by engraving – reverse a word meaning myself and follow it with a chief

2d    Doesn’t stop though one makes a fuss (7,2)
{CARRIES ON} – a double definition

3d    Soldier — soldier with pistol, withdrawing (7)
{REGULAR} – a general word for a member of the armed forces comes from a soldier in the Royal Artillery and a type of German automatic pistol, all reversed

5d    It shows you’re right as to why your dog’s scratching (4)
{TICK} – how an answer is marked to show it is correct or a bloodsucking mite

6d    More fleshy fruit (not a pear) (7)
{PLUMPER} – a word meaning more fleshy comes from a fruit followed by PE(A)R without the A

7d    About love, repulsive stuff (5)
{VOILE} – translated from Yodaspeak this means to put a word meaning repulsive around O (love) – the definition is stuff or a kind of thin semi-transparent material

8d    Pull-outs of interest to readers of war publications (8)
{RETREATS} – orderly withdrawals (pull-outs) – you can sort out the rest

12d    State pedigree: ‘Certified to deliver’ (6)
{GREECE} – a European state is hidden in the clue

14d    The ‘in’ thing to eat (6)
{ENTRÉE} – an introduction or a dish served between courses

16d    Weapon in fight against sluggishness in the motor industry (6,3)
{GREASE GUN} – a device for pumping lubricant under pressure

17d    Characters one remembers from early schooldays (8)
{ALPHABET} – a set of 26 letters – wow!

19d    Better half’s about to complain in caravan (7)
{TRAILER} – put TER (betTER half) around to complain to get a caravan

20d    How fast lice multiply, given a fertiliser? (7)
{NITRATE} – split as (3,4) it could be the rate at which hair lice multiply – a chemical compound used as a fertiliser

21d    Tail are out to win over (6)
{ENDEAR} – the tail is followed by an anagram (out) of ARE gives a word meaning to win over

23d    A certain number in scene of fighting (5)
{SOMME} – a certain amount is placed around (captured) the Roman numeral for one thousand to get the scene of a major battle of the First World War

25d    Tears top off or top and bottom (4)
{ENDS} – remove the initial R from a word meaning tears to get the top and bottom

Some music to play while solving!

18 comments on “Toughie 491

  1. Oh Dear!! Haven’t even started this yet (still at work) and already not looking forward to it? Have you got the 2011 blues, Dave, or just having a bad day, or is it really that awful?

  2. I’m afraid it wasn’t inspiring.

    It just feels like one of the puzzles that I tackled when I first started solving in the late 70’s. Yes the clues are concise, but some of them simply don’t make sense grammatically (1 across for example), unless you speak Star Wars language. 21 down is another ungrammatical clue.

    Another outing for piece to mean “gun”. 26 across was amusing, but thin pickings in this challenge. Cryptic definitions are here, but have already been seen in the Monday Maestro’s repertoire.

    Fascinating fact: In the video BD has posted, one of the members of the group was none other than Professor Brian Cox of BBC2 Starwatch fame.

  3. Thanks to BD for putting the notes up early today. I could not get into the swing of this one, and with only half of this done after an hour, I am quite pleased I did not continue battling further.

  4. Wow I got there with the help of all Mary’s electronic devices all 5 screwed up letters and all the looks see. Difficulty 5 plus enjoyment 1. The clue to 15a is different in the paper and cluedup, paper has it as Be only fair — don’t net all the balls so that made it a bit more difficult. Favourite clue which I loved was 26a

  5. Sorry BD but I quite enjoyed this. No difficulty I’ll grant you, but some amusing clues, especially 26a and 15a. Thanks Excalibur for amusing me and thanks BD for the review.

  6. Just read your review BD, you really didn’t like it did you, thanks fot it, made me smile. BTW 14d is usually the main course or principal dish of the meal.
    Thanks Excalibur

    1. I went with the Chambers definition:

      A dish served between the chief courses of a formal dinner, i.e. between fish and roast meat, also (especially N American) a main course, and (especially Australian) a starter

  7. Normally Elgar is the only Toughie setter I am prepared to spend a morning fathoming out the mysteries of their mind and, had the day job not been particularly boring this morning, I would have given up with this one altogether at about 9.15 am. My view on the wordplay for 8d is that its “treats for fans of the Royal Engineers” but I could easily be barking up entirely the wrong tree. 5* difficulty 1* entertainment. Thanks BD for the hints for this ‘tough for all the wrong reasons puzzle.

      1. I struggled on after that! I only went on line to get ‘cheating letters’. With hindsight, I wish I had stopped and found something much more useful to do with my time.

  8. I enjoyed this too. 26a is a real chuckle moment and some succinct and original cluing make it well worth a go.

    Sorry to disagree with the prevading and all…

  9. The setter’s task is not an easy one, and it is certainly one that I would not undertake. I suppose you can’t please all of the people, all of the time. I would not presume to be critical. I did manage to complete the crossword and take a glow from that, although I did read some of BD’s hints for some. I’m still not sure how the word play in 8d works and I think that 28a would have been slightly easier to solve if the word “once” had been placed after “you”. But this is a toughie, after all. Thanks to Excalibur and BD.

  10. It is supposed to be a ‘toughie’ but surely that means when you get the answer to a difficult clue you think ‘good clue’ not ‘is that really it?’ which is what I felt a lot of the time. My least favourite clues were 7d, 21d and 23d.

    Thanks BD for the notes which I certainly needed today to confirm some of my answers.

  11. Pretty good crossword and a fair challenge despite what BD seems to think. 26a offers the business idea of the decade, bum bling would be simply chavtastic.

  12. I found 26a amusing but found a lot of the rest to be a trial despite being not so difficult. I have enjoyed recent Excalibyr puzzles to be better than this one but thanks to her and to BD for the review.

  13. Tackled this one hopefully and achieved precisely 10 clues ! Finished it with B.D.’s help, however I enjoyed the clues I did get, specially 18a and 26a so thankyou Excalibur and B.D.

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