Toughie 521 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 521

Toughie No 521 by Warbler

Hints and tips by Bufo

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

At first I thought I was going to breeze through this but then I slowed down markedly. In the end I marked it as of average difficulty.

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    After blackout attempt to return to work piled up (7)
{BACKLOG} An anagram (…out) of BLACK is followed by a reversal of an attempt

5a    Nut, before time, put a touch of lemon in 5 down US way (7)
{FILBERT} Put L (a touch of lemon) inside the American spelling of the answer to 5 down. Then add T (time) to get a hazelnut

9a    Simon’s ready in South America (7)
{BOLIVAR} The currency (ready) of Venezuela is named after the national hero Simon

10a    Accept, say, free of charge almost every description of viewing aid (7)
{BIFOCAL} A 2-letter homophone (say) of a 3-letter word meaning “to accept” + an abbreviation for “free of charge” +” every” with the last letter removed gives a word that describes some pairs of spectacles

11a    Through sun, hazy blue’s impossible to fathom (9)
{INSOLUBLE} “Through” + the sun personified + an anagram (hazy) of BLUE

12a    Crown emperor — and wave (5)
{CRIMP} A 2-letter abbreviation for crown + a 3-letter abbreviation for Emperor (from the Latin) gives “to wave” (what a hairdresser might do)

13a    Frost at last heralded as a treasure (5)
{HOARD} A type of frost + the last letter of heralded

15a    Tired arc light explodes engulfing leader of event (9)
{LETHARGIC} “Tired” is derived from an anagram (explodes) of ARC LIGHT containing E (leader of event)

17a    Flier quarrels over Democrat’s proposed law (9)
{SWORDBILL} A reversal (over) of quarrels + D (Democrat) + a draft of proposed law gives a South American hummingbird

19a    Mel’s a sweetheart (5)
{HONEY} 2 meanings: mel (as used in pharmacy)/sweetheart

22a    Regularly sample red exotic wine (5)
{MEDOC} Take every third letter of SAMPLE RED EXOTIC to get a French wine

23a    Sunspot for nudes? (4,5)
{PAGE THREE} Where do you find pictures of topless girls in The Sun. P.S. Don’t get taken in by the bit on the front of today’s Sun that says “Rihanna na-na-naked, see pages 18 & 19” – it’s not worth the effort!

25a    Began to look round the centre of Seattle by day (7)
{STARTED} “To look with a fixed gaze” round T (centre of Seattle) + D (day)

26a    A weak king’s battle with Germany becomes embarrassing (7)
{AWKWARD} A W (weak) K (king) + Battle + D (Germany)

27a    Spotted small portion of liver coated in fat (7)
{SPLODGY} “Spotted” is derived from S (small) + L (portion of liver) in fat (i.e. having excess body fat)

28a    Hot American group’s manager (7)
{HUSBAND} H (hot) + US (American) + group


1d    Airline blunder about runway’s terminal is infantile (7)
{BABYISH} A British airline + a blunder goes round Y (the last letter of runway)

2d    Instrument discovered in dilapidated English castle (7)
{CELESTA} A keyboard instrument is an anagram (dilapidated) of E (English) CASTLE

3d    Smooth parts of purple velvet (5)
{LEVEL} The answer is hidden in purpLE VELvet

4d    Italian patriot ultimately fell in a big raid that went wrong (9)
{GARIBALDI} How many Italian patriots can you name? Put L (the last letter of fell) inside an anagram (that went wrong) of A BIG RAID

5d    Expression of disapproval about British strength of character (5)
{FIBRE} A 3-leter expression of disapproval goes round BR (British)

6d    Following reorganisation local chief left out adviser on success (4,5)
{LIFE COACH} An anagram (following reorganisation) of LOCAL CHIEF with one of the letter L’s omitted (left out) gives a person whose job is to advise clients on how to achieve success and happiness

7d    Attractive female leaves deep impression (7)
{ETCHING} Remove F (female) from the start of a word meaning “attractive”

8d    On radio give account of impressive film (7)
{TELEPIC} A homophone (on radio) of “to give an account of” + “impressive” gives a film made to be shown on TV

14d    Single-minded European addicted to change (9)
{DEDICATED} An anagram (to change) of E (European) ADDICTED

16d    Publication stage in Jewish image (9)
{TELEGRAPH} A publication with which you are all very familiar is derived from a stage (of a journey) inside an image of some sort (such as a household deity) in ancient Jewish religion and divination. (Thanks to Chambers for that definition)

17d    Savouries from Greek island are special (7)
{SAMOSAS} Triangular pastry turnovers stuffed with spiced vegetables or meat are derived form an island in the E. Aegean Sea + A (are, a metric measure of area) + S (special)

18d    Old Duke starts to build light aircraft. Weirdly eccentric! (7)
{ODDBALL} An eccentric is an anagram (weirdly) of OLD D (Duke) BLA (initial letters of build light aircraft)

20d    Northern Irish state, including heartlands of Omagh and Warrenpoint, is heaven (7)
{NIRVANA} N (northern) + IR (Irish) + the abbreviation for a US state containing A N (the middle letters of Omagh and Warrenpoint)

21d    Poorly constructed deli in the old end of Bradford gave way under pressure (7)
{YIELDED} An anagram (poorly constructed) of DELI goes inside the old word for “the”. This is followed by D (the last letter of Bradford)

23d    Irishman’s pet (5)
{PADDY} 2 meanings: Irishman/pet (rage)

24d    Time to drink up and see Indian beauty spots (5)
{TIKAS} The red marks on the foreheads of Hindu women are given by T (time) + a reversal of a Japanese alcoholic drink

I thought this was a perfectly fair puzzle and it made a pleasant solve

16 comments on “Toughie 521

  1. I enjoyed this one very much, I found it tricky in parts and fairly straightforward in parts, a bit of a curate’s egg really. I liked 17a best. Thanks to Warbler and to Bufo.

  2. Having put the top left corner in very quickly, I thought I was going to sail through this one, and then, as did Bufo, I slowed down considerably.
    Thanks to Warbler for the puzzle, and to Bufo for the review.

  3. Nice puzzle with nothing too difficult although I agree some took a while to work out – I definitely found the left side easier than the right. One or two good clues with 23a perhaps being my favourite. All in all most enjoyable.

    Thanks to Warbler and to Bufo for the notes.

  4. Where is everyone? Never have I seen no comments before. I needed Bufo’s very helpful blog to finish this xword, which means it was too easy for everyone else, I suspect. But I enjoyed it, favourites were 17 and 23a, 7, 16 and 21d Thanks to Warbler for a xword I really enjoyed and to Bufo for lucid explanations.

    1. It certainly wasn’t far too easy for me! Needed to Google a few words to be sure that they meant what I thought they meant.

  5. I made heavy going of this but it is entirely my own fault not Warblers. Thanks to Bufo and Warbler!

  6. Echo Jezza and Gnomeys comments totally, and am hitting myself for guessing at 27a with not understanding what was perfectly sensible wordplay. Many thanks Bufo and Warbler

  7. I sailed through this one and found it easier to get into than today’s cryptic but that might be because I was sitting down in Boots when I solved this one! It’s been one of those mornings. Thanks to Warbler and Bufo., My favourite clue was 23a – just managed not to laugh out loud in the shop :)

  8. Lovely crossword from Warbler today, for which many thanks to the setter. Like others, I began quickly and then slowed as the final four or five clues came to be completed. I would say that 23a was my favourite clue.

  9. I think I am falling in love with Prolixic. He is clearly a man of superb taste!!
    Seriously, your collective comments mean a lot to me and help to make the whole process of compiling a worthwhile endeavour.Thankyou.

    1. It was a lovely puzzle to solve. There should be some sort of warning somewhere though for clues like 23a when one is solving in a public place as trying not to laugh out loud in a crowded opticians was not easy! :D

  10. Having spent the morning finishing of No 520, I was expecting a stiffer test today. All went well until becoming becalmed on 17a 17d and, believe it or not, 16. These took ages and I kicked myself when the penny dropped on 16. Gnashings of teeth etc. Favourite was 23a which went in first. Did not like 27. Does this really mean spottedf? Still, its better than dweeb!

  11. I struggled but got there in the end. Some great clues. 7d is clever with a v smooth surface. It was my last one in. When will I learn to pick up the “leave(s)” indicator? 23a was also fantastic.

    The backpage was a doddle compared to this one. Not one of my strongest days. I dread the Friday challenge.

    Thanks Warbler & Bufo!

  12. Seems it needs a whole new level of convoluted thinking to accomplish these Toughies! Together with a vastly extended vocabulary. However – I’ll keep going, even tho I thought some of to-day’s were impossible and still difficult to understand with the hints. Uuuurgh!!! But many thanks for the hints – all very informative and maybe one day I’ll finish a Toughie without them. Who knows?

  13. Finished with the help of a few hints and that is the second Toughie this week. Must not get carried away.
    Many thanks to Warbler and Bufo for the hints.

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