Toughie 523 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 523

Toughie No 523 by Cephas

As tough as a comfy pair of old slippers!

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

Once again Tuesday brings us a Toughie of difficulty comparable with the regular back-page cryptic. A couple of little-known definitions were relatively easy to work out from the wordplay.

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    Urchin’s game curtailed in funfair roundabout (10)
{RAGAMUFFIN} – this urchin is created by putting GAM(E) without its final letter (curtailed) inside an anagram (roundabout) of FUNFAIR

ARVE Error: need id and provider

6a    Accountant’s Australian home (4)
{CASA} – a charade of the abbreviation for an Accountant, the ‘S and A(ustralian) gives this Italian or Spanish word for a home

8a    Call and face timekeeper (4,4)
{RING DIAL} – a charade of to call on the telephone and another word for the face, particularly when applied to a watch or clock, gives this portable timekeeper

9a    Kitchen garden walk that’s good at the start (6)
{GALLEY} – another name for a kitchen, especially one on a ship, is created by taking a walk in a garden or shrubbery, a word more usually used for a narrow lane or passage, and preceding it with G(ood)

10a    Might it be used in building cavity wall? (3-5)
{AIR-BRICK} – a cryptic definition of a building block with holes for ventilation

11a    Note apple coming from the east (6)
{TENNER} – this slang term for a currency note gives a type of apple when reversed (coming from the east)

12a    Jot first nine letters backwards (4)
{IOTA} – to get this jot or very small amount is created when you reverse (backwards) the range covered by the first nine letters of the alphabet

14a    I have left continual prosperity (7)
{SUCCESS} – drop the final I’VE (I have) from a word meaning continual and the result is a synonym for prosperity

18a    Openly paid in advance (7)
{UPFRONT} – an adjective meaning openly means paid in advance when split (2,5)

20a    Restore to good condition in the Alps (4)
{HEAL} – a word meaning to restore to good condition is hidden inside the last two letters of the clue

23a    Help in rising when bed-bound? (4-2)
{BUNK-UP} – a cryptic definition of a push from below to help someone to climb

24a    Chip off the old block (8)
{SPLINTER} – a cryptic definition of a chip off a block of wood

25a    Cite present-day dictator (6)
{ADDUCE} – a word meaning to cite as evidence is a charade of the suffix added to the year to indicate the present day (2) and an Italian dictator

26a    Free agent did not start mixing drink (5,3)
{GREEN TEA} – an anagram (mixing) of (F)REE AGENT without the initial letter (did not start) gives this drink made from unfermented leaves that is pale in colour and slightly bitter in flavour

27a    Only partly concerned in days past (4)
{ONCE} – hidden (only partly) inside the third word of the clue is a word meaning in days past

28a    Amateur poet accepting new title (10)
{DILETTANTE} – this word meaning an amateur who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge is created by putting the poet who wrote the Divine Comedy around (accepting) an anagram (new) of TITLE


1d    Skirt, one on Violet’s something exceptional (4,4)
{RARA AVIS} – a charade of a type of skirt that is popular with cheerleaders, A (one) and a shortened form of VI(OLETS)’S gives a Latin expression for something exceptional (literally an unusual bird)

2d    Worry over model railway framework (6)
{GANTRY} – reverse (over as this is a down clue) a word meaning to worry and then add the model of Ford car that you could have in any colour so long as it was black and the abbreviation of R(ailwa)Y to get a framework that is often seen alongside a railway line

3d    New way ships follow (6)
{MODERN} – this synonym for new is a charade of a way or method and the British fleet

4d    Right to sell that belonging to him in country (9)
{FRANCHISE} – a commercial concession by which a retailer is granted the right of retailing a company’s goods is created by putting a word meaning belonging to him inside a country

5d    Top cover for retirement? (8)
{NIGHTCAP} – a cryptic definition of headgear that is word in bed

6d    Leaves for twelve months (8)
{CALENDAR} – a set of pages covering a twelve-month period

7d    Knots Lee extricated to reveal bones (8)
{SKELETON} – an anagram (extricated) of KNOTS LEE gives these bones

13d    Second person in Calais removed reptile from plant (5,4)
{TULIP TREE} – the second person singular in French is followed by an anagram (removed) of REPTILE to get this plant of the magnolia family

15d    Free of charge (8)
{UNBURDEN} – a faintly cryptic definition of a word meaning to free from a responsibility

16d    Over-confident birds on river (8)
{COCKSURE} – a word meaning over-confident is a charade of some male birds and a Yokshire river

17d    He minds when he has a job (8)
{SHEPHERD} – he minds sheep

19d    Righted a wrong for mature students (5,3)
{THIRD AGE} – an anagram (wrong) of RIGHTED A gives these mature students, usually aged 60 and over

21d    Rich man takes time to strip (6)
{DIVEST} – a charade of the rich man at whose gate Lazarus lay and T(ime) gives a m to strip someone of power, rights, or possessions

22d    No German saying it’s a drug (6)
{STATIN} – drop the final G (no German) from a word meaning saying or declaring to get this drug which acts to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood

I know that the clues which involve the double-unches have half of the letters checked, but I’d still like to see grids like this dumped in the recycle bin.

20 comments on “Toughie 523

  1. Not very taxing at all today, I agree with Dave more of a back page puzzle than a Toughie. Thanks to Cephas and Big Dave for the comments.

  2. Straightforward but reasonaby enjoyable puzzle from Cephas today, no obvious favourites but nothing to dislike either. Thanks Cephas and BD fot the review.

  3. Yup, agree it was a 3/4* Cryptic, but enjoyable nonetheless. 11a the last for me, and 1d was new, but gettable. Cheers BD & Egbert.

  4. I agree with everything BigBoab says so there is nothing left for me to do but just thank Cephas and BD and turn off my computer, go home for a lovely walk in the sun and then make pancakes for tea.

  5. I find it difficult to enthuse too much over this one as solving it involved hardly any of the mental effort which, to me, is the whole point of the ‘toughies’. However, tomorrow is another day……

    Thanks to Cephas and to BD.

  6. I didnt find this to tricky although I was interrupted by some phone calls. A straightforward Tuesday Toughie.
    Thanks to Cephas and BD.

  7. Bland, run-of-the-mill, unexceptional. Nothing to challenge us. Toughiewise that is ** for enjoyment in my book.

    Thanks BD for his review and Cephas for setting this xword. I always feel a bit bad when I confess not to have enjoyed a xword as much as I would have liked. I could not have compiled anything near to what Cephas and other setters produce – regularly and repeatably.

  8. Apart from originally putting “unsaddle” as the answer to 15d as the converse of being saddled with debt, there was nothing here that was too difficult. Many thanks to Cephas for the gentle start to the Toughie week and to BD for the notes.

  9. Easiest toughie I have ever seen, or am i improving ?

    Interesting to see the answer fro 19d : is there anyone among you experts who is near and would be willing to entertain our U3A crossword club which meets on Wednesday mornings in the well known E Angilan university town.

    Someone did suggest Acuaria as he lives quite near, especialy as we mostly do Guardian puzzles, but we realise that he would probably not want to travel.

    Thanks for the hints for the few remaining clues which i failed on.

    but we realise that he would probably not want the journey.

  10. Certainly found this much harder going than the back page cryptic today. I am having a senior moment with 12A. I understand where the A and I reversed comes from but is the OT just added to give the answer or is it in there somewhere I do not see?
    Many thanks to setter and Big Dave for the hints.

  11. After the rigours of the cryptic I skated through this in no time. I think they got the puzzles juxtaposed. Best were 1a and 1d which were last in. Nice contest with very good clues. Thanks Cephas.

  12. I had a go at yesterday’s toughie while waiting for the Thrombosis Service nurse coming to draw my blood for control (one has to stop taking anticoagulant before cataract operation so the blood thickens up towards INR 1.00 then they redose you with anticoagulant to thin it down to whatever value your blood has to be to stay alive!!!).

    Got it all out but with 23a & 15d both wrong – I had Back-Up and Unsaddle for them. 27a was also unfinished.

    !3d was best clue for me.

    Don’t do the toughies very often as have lots to do in the morning and don’t get the DT till late afternoon.

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