Toughie 502 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 502

Toughie No 502 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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

Another splendid puzzle from this talented young setter. The puzzle contains a nice mix of challenging clues, plus some moments to make you smile.

It’s good to know that with setters like Micawber (and Paul of The Guardian) the future of crosswords is bright. I’d include Elgar in the young category, but he’s been around since the ark! Good luck to everyone at the gathering in Derby tomorrow, and if you are able to make it, please do. Crossword gatherings are not at all stand-offish or nerdy. In fact Big Dave will personally buy everyone a drink there. (WARNING FROM BD: Claims like this are not necessarily honoured. Your home is at risk if you put a tin of petrol in your microwave and switch it on.)

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. Favourite clues are highlighted in blue.


9a    Politician appearing in Telegraph as opposed to satellite TV? (5)
{CABLE}    We start today with a topical clue, with the name of the Business Secretary recently embroiled in a battle with Rupert Murdoch in his plans for World Domination (Murdoch’s not 9 across’s!). Ironically his surname is another form of TV reception that Murdoch doesn’t use. By the way, he’s the one on the right!

10a    E.g. Cheshire route maps redrafted (9)
{MOUSE TRAP} I did wonder whether this clue is just a bit too clever for its own good.  It’s an anagram (indicated by redrafted) of ROUTE MAPS with a cryptic definition and I think it should possibly have had a question mark to indicate it as such.    The definition, Cheshire, refers to something that would act as a 10 across, as it’s their favourite food.

11a    Graduate’s very good on instrument (7)
{BASSOON} A wordsum. A standard crossword abbreviation for a graduate (Bachelor of Arts). Add to this SO and ON to get the name of this musical instrument.

12a    Give example of negative comeback from inheritance (7)
(GENETIC} If you give an example of something or quote it, you do this and add a short abbreviation for “negative”. Reverse the whole thing (indicated by “comeback”) and you get a word relating to biological inheritance!

13a    Hagar the Horrible’s cry (5)
{AARGH} A nice clever clue. An anagram (indicated by “the Horrible”) of HAGAR gives the sort of cry our Viking friend may utter.

14a    Escort to affirm? (9)
{ACCOMPANY} Another very clever clue. The definition is escort, but the other indication? Look carefully! A firm, in a business sense, is A COMPANY. But if you stammered both words, what would you get?

16a    Tom fixes boat, but that’s not the big picture (9,6)
{THUMBNAIL SKETCH} Think of a famous, vertically challenged, Tom, played on film by Russ Tamblyn. Add to his surname, a word meaning fixes and one for a type of yacht with two masts. You then need to split the phrase made in a slightly different way, and you will get the name of a small rough drawing.

19a    Fruit I put in elaborate entrance (9)
{NECTARINE} Insert the letter I into an anagram (elaborate) of ENTRANCE to reveal the name a small fruit.

21a    A ring of rock (5)
{ATOLL} If you ring a bell you do this. So,

23a    E.g. boerewors? (7)
{SAUSAGE} This threw me completely. I spent ages thinking it was a cryptic clue along the lines of the old “GEGS = Scrambled eggs”- type . I thought it was something to do with the BOER WARS, and started thinking of a cryptic phrase to describe them. However it wasn’t. If you Google “Boerewors”, you will find out immediately what it is. In the spirit of enterprise, here is where you can get them from (and many other fine items!)

25a    Piece of hi-fi equipment was first used in rock (7)
{TWEETER} W, the first letter of “was” goes inside a word meaning to rock or wobble and gives an essential part of a hi-fi system along with the woofers!

27a    One outwardly inured to eccentric scholarship (9)
{ERUDITION} An anagram (indicated by eccentric) of INURED TO goes around I to give a word meaning wisdom, intelligence, etc.

28a    Day 17: there’s something fancy on the table (5)
{DOILY} Add a word meaning 17 down on to D (for Day) to get a fancy item of tableware.

Back, after a nice cup of skinny latte, with the Downs!


1d           Bank payment system taken up by non-union worker? (4)
{SCAB}  The abbreviation for the Banking Automated Clearing System, which is the system that clears cheques and pays Direct Debits and other banking services, is reversed to give the name for someone who breaks strikes or

2d           One assaulting you verbally, getting stuck into six-pack, about to get comeuppance (6)

{ABUSER}   U (you, verbally)  goes into ABS (the six pack, much favoured by Peter Andre and such like) and add the reversal of a short word meaning about.  This gives you a word meaning someone who harangues or hurls invective at you.

3d           A phonebox I vandalised, being unable to connect with abroad? (10)
{XENOPHOBIA}  Someone who has a loathing for things foreign can be found by unscrambling A PHONE BOX I.

4d           A guy getting date with a girl (6)
{AMANDA}  Another word for “a guy” is added to D (for date) and A to give a girl’s name.

5d           American comes up with crushed garlic for medical use (8)
{SURGICAL}  The abbreviation for American is reversed and has an anagram (crushed) of GARLIC to give a word meaning “medical use”.

6d           Stitched up all the points (4)
{SEWN}  If you take one of each of the four points of the compass, you can make a word meaning stitched.

7d           Make extended agreement about rights surrounding antique books (8)
{PROTRACT} A word meaning agreement goes round two abbreviations for right (R) and inside them goes OT (the old testament = antique books).  This complicated trail leads you to a word meaning to extend.

8d           Railway Tavern acquiring around 60 per cent of World’s End? Not likely (10)
{APOCRYPHAL}  RY PH (Railway Tavern [Public House]) goes inside most of a word meaning the end of the World (APOCALYPSE). This gives you a word describing old wives’ tales and suchlike.

13d         Club’s lost villa, island structure blown away (10)
{ASTONISHED}  The name of a Midlands football club, minus its second half, has I (island) + the name of a garden structure added to give a word meaning knocked-out or amazed.

15d         Masked man running around Europe to put things right (4,6)
{MAKE AMENDS}  An anagram (indicated by “running”) of MASKED MAN goes around E

17d         Like Grease, not censored but with ending revised, so released with ‘U’ (8)
{UNCTUOUS}  If something is not censored in film it’s this.  Swap round the last two letters and add a jumble of SO and U to give the description of a person who is a bit slimy and greasy.

18d         Unchanging, heartless Irish fool — that’s my opinion (2,1,3,2)
{AS I SEE IT)  If something is sold like this, it’s unchanged add to it the Irish equivalent of the word “idiot” with its middle letter missing.  Put the two together and you get a phrase meaning “my opinion”.

20d         Range formerly part of camp (6)
{EXTENT}  A word meaning “range” is made up of a word meaning “formerly” as in a former partner, and something found in a camp where people sleep.

22d         Get the better of Oxford fool (6)
{OUTWIT}  An abbreviation for Oxford (University) is added to a word for a fool to produce an expression meaning to get the better of someone.

24d         Surrounded in about 1001 AD (4)
{AMID}  The Roman numeral for 1001 goes inside AD and gives a word meaning surrounded, among.

26d         Echo of lift shafts (4)
{RAYS}   Many of you will know I dislike homophone clues because of the likelihood of different dialogues producing alternative pronunciations.  However this one works.

A word that sounds like one that means to lift is the same as one that means the same as shafts or beams of sunlight.

A splendid puzzle by Micawber and here’s to the next one!

31 comments on “Toughie 502

  1. Hi Tilsit and thanks for the blog. Thoroughly agree with the sentiments in your intro.
    Are these Toughies getting easier or am I getting better? Finished this one OK apart from 23a where I had exactly the same thought processess as you before resorting to Google to find out if there is actually something called a ‘boerewors’, and hey presto!
    Thanks to Micawber for the entertainment. More like this please!

  2. Many thanks for the review, Tilsit, and thanks for an excellent puzzle to MIcawber. A very good puzzle to end the week even if I didnt find it that hard (I actually solved it faster than the back page).
    I would agreee with the favourites so far, particularly 13a.
    I still don’t get the cryptic element of 23a….

    1. I don’t get the cryptic bit in23a either. Once I’d found out what the damn things are I just put it down to Micawber wanting to use a word he knew none of would be aware of and have to spent ages head-scratching! Cruelty to lesser mortals IMHO!

        1. 23a – Thanks to Gazza for explaining the cryptic element. I just couldn’t see anything other than a straight definition – but I knew there had to be something more devious!

          1. If I had a hat, I would tip it to you both. Thanks guys, I knew there was something else. I was feeling smug with the Accompany clue, but the SA USAGE is better!

  3. I don’t know how, but this is now 4 toughies in a row I’ve completed. I just know it’s too good to last! I had no problem with 23 a – I just googled the word. That pesky 4 letter word in the RH bottom corner [26d] was last in for me. I looked at it for ages and even when I had the word in, it took a while for the clue to make sense. Then you realise how simple it really was! Thanks to setter and Tilsit for review

  4. These Toughies MUST be getting easier, even though I hate admitting it! The second one I’ve finished this week, and I enjoyed it very much.More please. Thank you Micawber for setting it and also thanks to Tilsit for the explanations. Favoutites are 16 and 21a, 4 and 26d. Had a vague idea I’d come across 23a somewhere so put it in lightly and it was right!
    A big BIG happy birthday to B.D. and the blog, and many more to come

  5. Very enjoyable fare from Micawber – thank you. 26d was only pencilled in as failed to spot the homophone. Thanks Tilsit for explaination.

  6. Agonising as Murray lost the first set, I looked down and found I’d completed this rather easy toughie.

  7. Micawber never fails to make me laugh. Thanks to him for a super puzzle and to Tilsit for the review. Favourite clues: 13a, 14a and 13d.

  8. Yes a great puzzle with some really clever clues – 8d and 18d to name but two. This setter definitely has the knack of producing clues that sound both natural and unstilted. He can also slip in an anagram in such a way that it is easy to miss first time round. In the end, hoiwever, everything is fair and gettable.

    Full marks for enjoyment and a great end to the week – well done Micawber.

  9. Delightful crossword to solve. The last clue fell into place as the train pulled into Waterloo so it cannot have been the most fiendish Toughie but it was engrossing and funny. 13a was my favourite clue. Many thanks to Micawber for the treat and to Tilsit for the review.

  10. Agree with all the above re difficulty but it was fun. Don’t ask me how but I actually had heard of 23a being a type of ‘banger’. My favourite is 13a. Thanks to Micawber for the entertainment and Tilsit for the equally entertaining review.

    Agree with TIlsit that sloggers and betters gatherings are not at all standoffish or nerdy. I only wish Derby wasn’t so far away. Hope everyone has a good time.

  11. 18d you’d have to be a bit of an eejit not to finish this one. But a delightful puzzle, using the same grid format as the back page. Thanks to Macawber and Tilsit. Have fun tomorrow – I’m doing the auction at our Tennis Club jumble sale, and know where I’d much rather be!

  12. This is my first time on the site after having been a lurker for sometime.
    I actually managed to complete the Toughie today. Favourite clue 16A
    Thanks for an informative and entertaining blog and many happy retuns


  13. Very nice. For a moment I thought the Railway Tavern was the venue in Derby for tomorrow’s better and sloggers meet-up, but though it’s a tavern right by the station, it’s the Waterfall. Some beautifully crafted clues today, and last in was 26d. Loved 13a and 23a especially. Thanks Micawber and Tilsit.

  14. Cracking rendition today from Micawber and a great review from Tilsit, thanks to Gazza for his explanation on 23a,and a big thanks to Big Dave and all the reviewers for such a marvellous site, hope you all have a great time tomorrow.

  15. Thanks for all the comments… I’m glad SA USAGE made sense in the end. Re 10ac, the definition is not totally far-fetched – the dictionaries seem to back up my childhood memory of ‘mousetrap’ as a word for cheap cheese – cooking cheddar, if you like, though in this case Cheshire fitted the surface better. No disrespect to Cheshire’s cheesemakers, of course – blessed be they!
    Sorry not to be able to make the Derby drinks tomorrow to see BD standing a round (or should that be standing around?) Have a good time!

    1. Absolutely in line with my recollections – Mum saying, “Oh I’ll just grate a piece of mousetrap into the spuds”. Great puzzle – I won’t see you in Derby, as I’m not going either!

  16. Bit of a late entry but wanted to say it’s the first Toughie I’ve EVER completed – and without the help of Tilsit, so feeling very smug. Have to admit to a lot of help from my trusty Seiko, though! I did know that 23a was a sa usage, but didnt get the cryptic reason, so thanks to all above for that – now it makes perfect sense. Hope we get more like this one? Thanks to all.

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