Toughie 499 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 499

Toughie No 499 by Busman

More sedan chair than bus!

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

Busman is expected to be among those present at the Sloggers and Betters meeting in Derby this coming Saturday. This puzzle is hardly a Toughie, but quite enjoyable nonetheless.

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    Alec Robins hit for six by former England captain (5,5)
{BRIAN CLOSE} – The late Alec Robins wrote Teach Yourself Crosswords one of the best-known crossword books – his name is an anagram (hit for six) of a former England cricket captain

6a    Father’s conflicting degrees (4)
{ABBA} – a biblical word for father, when applied to God, is created by reversing a university degree and following it with the same degree

9a    Man with prospects — or Aussie? (4-6)
{GOLD-DIGGER} – this man who prospects for a valuable mineral is a charade of the colour represented heraldically by OR and an informal Australian term of address

10a    Jack has trouble with pen (4)
{JAIL} – a charade of J(ack) and some trouble gives a pen(itentiary)

13a    Sow and cat having rest disturbed (7)
{SCATTER} – to get a word meaning to sow, put CAT inside an anagram (disturbed) of REST

15a    Letchworth or Petersfield. Only part, and much smaller (6)
{THORPE} – hidden inside (only part) the first three words is a place – there are several places with this name, the one I know is in Surrey and has a theme park

16a    Stevedore who reduces pay (6)
{DOCKER} – another name for a stevedore could be someone who reduces pay

17a    Profitable redundancy has had dog-kennel converted (6,9)
{GOLDEN HANDSHAKE} – a large sum of money paid to someone whose services are no longer required is an anagram (converted) of HAS HAD DOG-KENNEL

18a    Heroine employed at Bentley? (6)
{CARMEN} – the heroine of Bizet’s opera could, if split (3,3), be people working at Bentley (or Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, Ford)

20a    Rock’s ego divided by popular twins (6)
{GEMINI} – a rock used in jewellery and I (ego) are separated by a word meaning popular to get these heavenly twins

21a    Fighter’s slice of bread and butter (7)
{SOLDIER} – this fighting serviceman is also a name for a narrow strip of bread-and-butter which is dipped into a boiled egg

22a    Ship’s load first removed (4)
{ARGO} – Jason’s ship is constructed by dropping the first letter from a load

25a    Floral setting of gorse blossoming by forest (4,6)
{ROSE GARDEN} – this floral setting comes from an anagram (blossoming) of GORSE followed by a forest that is stated by Shakespeare to be the setting for As You Like It

26a    2 half sealed off (4)
{HERM} – a 2 down is derived by dropping the second half of a word meaning sealed off or airtight

27a    Top-rate lines in poetry at palace (10)
{VERSAILLES} – put top-rate (2) and two L(ine)s inside some poetry to get a palace built for Louis XIV


1d    I lay claim to lots of trousers (4)
{BAGS} – a colloquial word meaning “I lay claim to” is also a colloquial term for trousers

2d    Marine detachment (4)
{ISLE} – a cryptic definition of a piece of land surrounded by sea

3d    Lack of success upsetting tutor on reserve (2,4)
{NO DICE} – a phrase which indicates that there is no chance of success is built by reversing a tutor and following it with a word meaning reserve or coldness

4d    The dizzy quality of blondes? (15)
{LIGHTHEADEDNESS} – a slightly-cryptic definition of a dizzy quality attributed to blondes – the enumeration is usually (5-10)

5d    Horse eating bit of wheat cooked (6)
{STEWED} – put a spirited horse around (eating) a bit of W(heat) to get a word meaning cooked

7d    Card game in vehicle going to Dartmoor? (5,5)
{BLACK MARIA} – a card game, also known as Hearts), and a van for transporting prisoners

8d    Edinburgh — that is where duke and earl clashed first (4,6)
{AULD REEKIE} – a nickname for Edinburgh is derived from the Latin abbreviation for “that is” preceded by an anagram (clashed) of DUKE and EARL

11d    Old transport at RADA? (10)
{STAGECOACH} – an old-fashioned form of transport describes, when split (5,5) someone who teaches at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

12d    Party understood naval indicator (5,5)
{JOLLY ROGER} – a slang word for an office party followed by the word used in signalling for understood gives a flag flown by pirate ships

13d    Special reducing dissension for circles of society (7)
{SPHERES} – a charade of SP(ecial) and word meaning dissenting with conventional beliefs, without its final letter(reducing), gives these circles of society

14d    Empty list, cock! (7)
{ROOSTER} – put O (nothing) into a list to get a cockerel

19d    Moron edited first edition — never again! (2,4)
{NO MORE} – an anagram ()edited of MORON followed by the first letter of E(dition) gives a phrase meaning never again

20d    Angel at Ikea consuming ice-creams (6)
{GELATI} – hidden inside (consuming) the first three words of the clue are these whipped ice-creams made from cream, milk and/or water and flavoured with fruit or nuts

23d    One and the same Latin image (4)
{IDOL} – a charade of I (one), an abbreviation meaning the same as before and L(atin) gives an image of a god

24d    Small county losing leading hard workers (4)
{ANTS} – drop the initial H (losing leading Hard) from the abbreviated form (small) of an English county to get these workers

I’ve said it before, but anyone who can solve the regular back-page cryptics should be able to solve this one.

47 comments on “Toughie 499

  1. Possibly we will be told how little time this took to solve and, to be honest, it wasn’t very difficult. However, I did find it enjoyable with some good clues – I liked 12d – it just wasn’t really a ‘toughie’,

    Thanks to the setter and to BD for the notes.

  2. Although definitely on the easier end of the Toughie spectrum (I solved this in a quicker time than today’s cryptic) it was an enjoyable experience. No particular favourites, just a nice good all-round puzzle, thanks Busman and BD too for the hints. I bet Gazza will be pleased with the pic for 9a, I prefer 20d :D

    1. Phil McNeill has promised (on his message to those on the Telegraph Puzzles Site) a mystery guest setter for Number 500.

  3. Echo previous comments. 3d was a new phrase to me but solvable from the cluing. Hopefully some of the daily cryptic solvers will have taken the advice to have a go at this. Thanks to BD and busman.

    1. Certainly took the advice and had a go at this Toughie and surprisingly completed it.. Accept however that it was at the ‘easier’ end of the Toughie scale, however, a first for me so I will bask in my own glory.
      Thanx to Compiler and Reviewer.

  4. I did not rate this in the Toughie class today nevertheless I enjoyed doing it, probably the calm before the storm with 500 edition due tomorrow. Thanks Busman and BD for the review.

  5. Busman can delight with his clues but there was no real meat here for a toughie. Enjoyable enough but I would have liked a little more steak and less hamburger! However, this is a great puzzle for those trying a Toughie for the first time.

    I live about 10 mins away from 15a so my eldest son lives there during the summer months making full use of his season ticket!

    Favourite clue 12d.

    Many thanks to Busman for the crossword and to BD for the review.

  6. I solved this which, for a toughie, is unusual for me, so it gives me hope for the future. I was thinking idem initially for 23d (a throw-back to my 4 years of Latin at school) but realised it wasn’t right as I couldn’t make the palace fit at 27a. The word play soon clicked, however, when ditto sprang to mind. I liked the picture at 9a. Thanks to setter and BD for the review

  7. Horses for courses I guess. I took twice as long to solve this as the back page (which I whizzed through) I do realise this is not a real toughie but it is a step up for me and therefore I enjoyed the challenge.
    Third time in a week I’ve solved the toughie unaided BUT I know none of those three were at the hard end of the spectrum.
    Thanks to Busman and to BD.

  8. Not up to toughie standard for difficulty but fairly enjoyable nonetheless. Thanks Busman and BD.

  9. An enjoyable albeit straightforward solve. Unfortiunately I can’t claim to have finished it unaided due to my derisory knowledge of the Channel Islands. Thanks to setter and BD.

  10. Very Enjoyable & nice to finish a toughie with no help.Especially afre being to Dr’s for a full Check up this Lunchtime ! Thanks B & BD

  11. No complaints from the girls (yet) about 1a. Better not be – he was one of my real heroes! I don’t suppose that BD has a link to his innings against the Windies, where he used his body instead of his bat, and ended up looking like he’d done 15 rounds against Cassius Clay? I fear that Gnomey’s inference is correct – this was the lull before tomorrow’s “Big D” Storm. Early night, everyone!

    1. Digby, I remember it well! Old Trafford 1976. No helmets in those days!! Ouch!!

      Hope the link works!

      1. Thanks Franco – aye, when men were men, and all that. Colin Cowdery (of recent cryptic fame) came in at #11 with a broken arm to salvage a draw. The only helmets were on the bobbies, who got to watch some cricket before someone decided to employ stewards instead.

          1. You’ll recall his mate Phil Sharp – opening bat for Yorkshire and England – who would pouch anything at 1st slip that came within a country mile of him!

    2. No complaints – even I worked out the cricketer anagram! But a soldier is a toast finger – a different animal altogether to a slice of bread and butter!

      1. Patsyann,
        Chambers defines soldier as a narrow strip of bread-and-butter or toast, especially for a child to eat.

    3. I did have a picture but I’ve only just noticed that the link wasn’t working, so I’ve found a different picture.

      There have been changes in the ability to embed pictures and videos recently, some work some don’t.

    4. Having realised that he (1a) had to be an anagram and having got first, third and fifth letters of his first name I invented his surname – have to confess that it was a total guess but not complaining (much!)

  12. I agree with most of the above comments. This took me about half the time of the back page puzzle, no doubt aided by 8d being a very familiar term in these parts.

    1. Yes – exactly the same – January 3, 2011.

      How do you make such a neat link to a previous DT Puzzle on this blog? I’ve forgotten all my HTML.

                    1. Worked perfectly, and thanks for pointing to the clip!

                      “The bowler Holding the batsman Close”…

                    2. Qix, there is no “Reply Button” on your comment…but it deserves a reply….. nearly as good as the original by …… was it Johnners?

  13. I agree with the comments made by Crypticsue, only following comments on the DT site did I attempt this today. Always disappointed when I solve it and find it only has 1*.
    Thanks to Busman and Big Dave for the hints.

    1. Pete, please don’t be put off or disappointed by the fact that this is a pretty straightforward Toughie level puzzle. There are still cryptic elements here that are not always used/allowed in regular DT puzzles. If your only exposure is to back page DTs then this is a good opportunity to learn these devices and conventions that may appear in other publications.

  14. Had a go at this today – not too bad but came to grief in the top right hand corner. Have now read the hints and feel a bit better at having failed to do about five clues – would never have got them. It is partly to do with knowing that it’s a “toughie” – I don’t expect to be able to finish it. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

    Also agree with Mary – I feel a bit guilty spending TOO much time doing crosswords!

    Thanks to Busman and Big Dave.

    1. It is partly to do with knowing that it’s a “toughie” – I don’t expect to be able to finish it.

      I think that that is one of the main reasons that people have trouble with cryptic crosswords. They expect not to be able to complete them. Even people who can often solve regular cryptic puzzles seem to baulk when they’re called “Toughie” or “Stinker”.

      The NE corner of this one had (6A) an obscure definition of “father”, and many people would have missed that. Similarly 8D, while very familiar to those of us from somewhat more northern latitudes, might never have entered the consciousness of our sassenach cousins.

      If you keep trying, both the vocabulary and the construction of the clues will become more familiar. The setter *wants* people to solve the puzzle; there’s no point in writing “clever” clues that no-one can solve, since they’d never be appreciated.

      I’m with you and Mary, though; it is very easy to devote too much time to crosswords!

    2. Kath, I am also spending TOO much time doing (attempting) crosswords – is there an organisation somewhere out there to help us?

  15. Dave

    The picture of Brian Close caught my eye so I took a look through some of the other clues to see why I never get anywhere with the Toughie.

    Can you help further with 26a please – I cannot see which word is dropped to leave Herm.

      1. I was being very stupid of course – trying to find a word to drop rather than just the second half.

        Thank you Gazza.

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