Toughie 527 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 527

Toughie No 527 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Big Dave

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

This pleasant puzzle is the first from Messinae since last November – welcome back. It took me around the same time to complete as the regular cryptic (and not much longer than today’s Quick crossword!).

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    Short position almost frightening financial centre (8)
{SCARCITY} – this word meaning a shortage is a charade of most of an adjective meaning frightening or spooky and the financial centre of the UK

5a    Judge Jenny? (6)
{ASSESS} – a word meaning to judge could be (but isn’t, that’s why the question mark is there) a name for a female donkey

9a    Live fast getting drunk in celebration (8)
{FESTIVAL} – an anagram (getting drunk) of LIVE FAST gives this celebration

10a    Possible content of meal, bit of beef with a drink I consumed (6)
{BARIUM} – this meal is swallowed to render the alimentary canal opaque to X-rays – it’s built up from B (a bit of Beef), A and an alcoholic drink with I inside (consumed)

11a    Pity about detective having expired (7)
{REMORSE} – a word meaning pity or regret is a charade of a two-letter word for about and the (now deceased) detective created by Colin Dexter

12a    Call for attention in bank, one to give better advice (7)
{TIPSTER} – put a call for attention (3 letters, but often spelt as 4) inside a bank or deck to get someone who gives advice to a gambler

13a    Love and disregard separately shown in safe place to honour writers (5,6)
{POETS’ CORNER} – put separately O (love) and a word meaning disregard inside a word used by criminals for a safe to get a part of Westminster Abbey used to honour writers

16a    E.g. Pullman book set in very harsh Northern town (11)
{SCARBOROUGH} – a Pullman is an example of this other name for a railway carriage, particularly one used as a restaurant – add B(ook), put both inside a synonym for very and finish up with a word meaning harsh to get this Northern seaside town

21a    Weapon tip off demanding attention (7)
{TRIDENT} – this weapon is derived by dropping the initial S from a word meaning demanding attention or discordant

22a    Snooker players? They may make the Crucible (7)
{POTTERS} – a noun that could describe snooker players (note the question mark again) is actually craftsmen who could possibly make a crucible – nothing to do with the venue in Sheffield where the World Snooker Championship is held!

23a    Europium, rhenium and potassium — one alloy (6)
{EUREKA} – combine the Chemical symbols for europium, rhenium and potassium, add A (one) to get an alloy of copper and nickel used for electrical filaments

24a    A prince with little need to be satisfied (8)
{APPETITE} – a charade of A, P(rince) and an originally French word for little gives a need to be satisfied

25a    Builders working in service (6)
{MASONS} – these builders who are skilled in cutting, dressing, and laying stone are created by putting a two-letter word meaning working inside a church service

26a    Press network first for American Football (8)
{GRIDIRON} – start with a word meaning to press clothes and put a network in front of it to get a field for American football, marked with regularly spaced parallel lines, and, by extension, the game itself


1d    South American Football Association right one to run game on a large scale (6)
{SAFARI} – a charade of SA (South American), FA (Football Association), R(ight) and I (one) gives an expedition to observe or hunt animals in their natural habitat

2d    Claim that’s preposterous amuses (6)
{ASSUME} – a word meaning to claim is an anagram (preposterous) of AMUSES

3d    Greek character raised contented noise to sound cheerful (7)
{CHIRRUP} – a Greek character is followed by a contented noise reversed (raised as this is a down clue) gives a word meaning to sound cheerful

4d    Faulty car retested possible subject of industrial espionage (5,6)
{TRADE SECRET} – an anagram (faulty) of CAR RETESTED gives a possible subject of industrial espionage

6d    Clean messy home mostly with soap (7)
{SHAMPOO} – a word meaning to clean is an anagram (messy) of HOM(e) SOAP

7d    Part with gun in present (8)
{EXISTENT} – put a word meaning to part or leave around a type of gun to get a word meaning present or living

8d    Serious soldiers raised hat (8)
{SOMBRERO} – a word meaning serious is followed by a reversal of some soldiers to get a broad-brimmed Mexican hat

Especially for Pommers – his mate Speedy!

12d    Delicate material put out in t’ Daily Telegraph perhaps (6,5)
{TISSUE PAPER} – this delicate material which is used for tracing, wrapping delicate or breakable objects, decoration, etc. is derived from a word meaning put out or release inside T and a publication like the Daily Telegraph

14d    One’s additional mark a feature of weather map (8)
{ISOTHERM} – a charade of I’S (one’s), a synonym for additional and M(ark) gives a contour line of equal temperature

15d    Worries about Liberal bores (8)
{CALIBRES} – put these worries around LIB(eral) to get the bores of a gun

17d    Get accustomed to burglary (5-2)
{BREAK-IN} – a double definition – to get a horse accustomed to being ridden and a burglary

18d    Impetuous type who the administrator restrains (7)
{HOTHEAD} – this impetuous type is hidden (restrains) inside the clue

19d    One’s engrossed by instrument, it’s one’s thing (6)
{METIER} – put I (one) inside (engrossed by) a measuring instrument to get, according to Chambers, “that in which one is specially skilled

20d    A hard behind (6)
{ASTERN} – A is followed by a word meaning hard or strict to give the a nautical term for behind or towards the rear of a ship

I have mixed feelings about the grid – on the plus side there are no double-unches and no answers of less than six letters, but against that the four corners are isolated

16 comments on “Toughie 527

  1. This took double the time of the back page puzzle for me and I struggled on a couple. All in all an enjoyable puzzle with 12a being favourite. Thanks to BD and Messinae.

  2. A very gentle start to the Toughie week, and which I found easier than the back page puzzle.
    Enjoyable to solve – thanks to Messinae, and to BD for the review.

  3. This is the first Toughie I have completed unaided, and before lunch, only to find that it was generally considered “easy” ! It took me only slightly longer that the daily cryptic and I was feeling pretty chuffed. Still I hope that it means that I am learning to think “outside the box”. Thanks to Messinae and BD, and now I must get back to work.

    1. Congratulations and hope there are many more.
      I frequently require some kind of help or confirmation even if I’m pretty sure from the wordplay or the checking letters but the vocabulary or alternative meaning is perhaps beyond me, so I don’t keep track of which I complete unaided (and I often solve the Toughie only as a part-time sidekick to my PartnerInCrosswords or PinC).
      Although it’s been reported as easy, that is ‘easy for a Toughie’ and there are still elements that tend to stretch the solver beyond what’s normal in the back-page ‘DT’ puzzle (such as definition by example or an oblique/cryptic definition plus wordplay, compound cluing devices such as anagram after subtraction of a letter, and more obscure vocabulary or cross-referenced clues). That’s why it always takes newer solvers a while to crack their first Toughie unaided once they’ve started cracking the back page DT cryptic fairly often.
      Once you become seasoned at Toughies, and especially having been bludgeoned by Friday’s setter all weekend, this can make it seem “easy for a Toughie” and the potentially misleading stuff might not delay you much more than the less misleading stuff in the DT crosswords on the easier days would have done. After all, once you’ve noticed and unravelled certain misleading devices, when similar things crop up you’ll recognise them more quickly than the first time you saw them. Certain Friday toughies can really go to town on new guiles to deceive you, and perhaps use obscure vocab in solution, definition and wordplay at once and provide very few checking letters or easier clues making it much harder to work your way around the grid and solve each clue.

  4. Same time as the Cryptic for me too, but I did enjoy it, particularly 12d. Thanks to Messinae and to Big Dave too.

  5. Very enjoyable crossword but not very tough for a toughie. I loved 5a and 12a. Thanks Messinae and BD for the review.

  6. I thought this a fine puzzle so thanks to Messinae.
    Took me less time than the back page cryptic and about half of that was spent on the NE corner where I couldn’t find a way in until I eventually spotted 5a (D’oh!) and it all fell together!
    Thanks for the blog Dave, and the picture of my mate!

  7. I thought this was a nice start to the week with some clever clues – 5a and 15d being among my favourites. Most enjoyable to solve but way too easy for a ‘toughie’.

    Thanks to Messinae and to BD for the notes.

  8. On a par with the cryptic in difficulty. A real 23a moment when I realised it was also an alloy. Welcome back Messinae.

    1. I had the E and K as checking letters when I first read the clue so the answer shrieked out. Like you I had to look it up to make sure.

  9. Had to sort out my car repair after someone bashed into it on Friday – smash bash crash as my 10 year old grandson Effi calls it. So could only turn to the tougher side of life now.

    That wasn’t tough at all! What’s happening to the really challenging cws we used to get on the inside??

    Enjoyable enough, mind you, but it could be a Monday morning backpager.

    I liked 5a and 13a.

    Last in was 19d. It certainly is an instrument but I was thinking in either musical terms or in the toolbox area, not the dashboard.

    It gets diff ** and enjoyment ** – if the diff is too low you cannot really say you enjoy a Toughie however pleasurable the solve is.

    A propos solve, I saw in an other place that someone took exception to the nouning of the verb. In English this happens all the time. Think of write-up, write-off, have your say, a get-together, a cuddle etc ad infinitum.

    The converse is equally rampant in the English language. Two apposite quotes:
    “There ain’t no noun that can’t be verbized” (Alexander Haig)
    “Verbing weirds language” (Calvin)

    The linguistic phenomenon is called conversion.

    1. Politesse! I was pontificating and completely forgot to thank Messinae & BD! Amends herewith.

  10. A delightful puzzle to brighten up an extremely dull day here in the North East. Fav. clue 12d, Thanks Messinae (new for me) and BD.

Comments are closed.