Toughie 534 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 534

Toughie No 534 by Firefly

Any old dance that you wanna do by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Thanks to Gnomethang for covering for me yesterday. I wondered what I was letting myself in for when offering to do Friday this week in view of the really tough toughies that Friday seems to throw up. In the event I got one that was probably above average difficulty but not a real stinker. It was a puzzle of four corners that I did in the order NE, NW, SE, SW. The key to the puzzle was 5 Ac 10 Ac which I got instantly. Of the varieties of 10 Ac used in the puzzle I had only heard of one (11 Ac) but the others were easily deduced from the anagrams.

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    Penalty shot excitement near start of semi-final (4,4)
{SPOT KICK} Another name for a penalty in soccer is given by S (start of semi-final) + shot + excitement

5a 10a    Dance movement in tap too complicated? (6)
{MASHED POTATO} A dance move which was a popular dance craze of 1962 is a word that can be used as an anagram indicator followed by an anagram of TAP TOO

9a    Boundary an errant 1ac may hit or rise above? (8)
{CROSSBAR} That part of the goal that a 1 ac may hit or go over

11a    Seedier 5,10 (7)
{DESIREE} The first 10 ac variety is an anagram of SEEDIER. It is a red-skinned main crop originally bred in the Netherlands in 1962. It has yellow flesh with a distinctive flavour and is a favourite with allotment holders because of its resistance to drought, although it is not well suited to organic growing. (Isn’t Wikipedia wonderful!)

12a    Awakens in prison with drink (5,2)
{STIRS UP} A prison (4) + to drink (3) gives awakens

13a    Jobs as conductor plummet with beginnings of excruciating rheumatism seizing joints (11)
{LEADERSHIPS} A plummet (weight) + the first letters of Excruciating Rheumatism Seizing + joints gives jobs as conductor

16a    Alternate between hints from Marco and Valentina in backing passion for seasoning (4,7)
{MALT VINEGAR} An abbreviated form “of alternate” goes between M and V (hints of Marco and Valentina). This is followed by IN + a reversal of “passion” to give a condiment

21a    Composer Charles going on cycle rallies (7)
{REVIVES} An abbreviated form of a word for cycle + the surname of a US composer called Charles gives “rallies” (as a verb)

22a    Stuff ordered about legendary bird (7)
{BROCADE} “Ordered” goes around a legendary bird to give a heavy silk fabric

23a    5,10’s oilcan (6)
{NICOLA} The second 10 ac variety is an anagram of OILCAN. This variety has a firm cooked texture. It has a long oval shape, yellow skin and light yellow flesh. It is suitable for: boiling, roasting and salads. (Wikipedia isn’t so wonderful in this case)

24a    Once fashionable A-line number he got designed (3,3,2)
{ALL THE GO} A + L (line) + L (number) + an anagram (designed) of HE GOT gives an old informal term for “very fashionable”

25a    Choose to deploy union leader’s neglected computer image (3,3)
{SEE FIT} Take a 3-letter word for “deploy” and remove the letter U (union leader’s neglected). Add a form of computerised Identikit® and you get “choose”

26a    Looked around flipping university faculty and got lost! (8)
{ESTRAYED} A word meaning “looked” goes round a reversal (flipping) of a university faculty (not science) to give an uncommon word meaning “got lost”


1d    Quit church in heart of diffuse deanery (6)
{SECEDE} CE (church) goes inside the middle letters of diffuSE DEanery

2d    Might he use instrument of old French wood with titanium edging? (6)
{OBOIST} O (old) + the French for “wood” + T (first letter of titanium) gives someone who plays a particular musical instrument

3d    Trees look hollow for 5,10 (7)
{KESTREL} The third 10 ac variety is an anagram of TREES LK (look hollow). This variety has extra smooth skin with attractive purple eyes. It makes good chips and roasts well because the soft flesh does not absorb much fat. (I needed yet another website to get this information)

4d    ‘Evita’ star has discussions about key situations (11)
{CHATELAINES} The first name of the person who played Eva Peron in the first production of Evita in 1978 goes inside “discussions” to give chains worn at the waist by women in the 16th to 19th centuries with keys, etc., attached

6d    Afflictions gone; antigens regularly effective (7)
{AGONIES} “Gone” + alternate letters of aNtIgEnS gives afflictions

7d    Chap notices trendy school appointment (8)
{HEADSHIP} HE (chap) + notices + trendy gives a school appointment

8d    Upright position in party or Tory leader? (8)
{DOORPOST} An abbreviation for position goes inside party OR T (Tory leader). I am told that the clue given in the printed newspaper reads “Gatherings of 500 travelling folks just ending” – Don’t ask me to explain it!

12d    Wow lovelies, say, with jingles? (6,5)
{SLEIGH BELLS} A homophone (say) of wow (impress) lovelies give things that jingle for Santa

14d    Stamps showing emperor raised fuss about nothing at first (8)
{IMPRINTS} “Stamps” is given by a 3-letter abbreviation for emperor (from the Latin) + a reversal (raised) of fuss round N (nothing at first)

15d    Bone found in soil mostly unsavoury — bit of cleaning involved (8)
{CLAVICLE} The collarbone is a type of soil missing its final letter + a word meaning “unsavoury” round C (bit of cleaning)

17d    Iliad verses for 5,10 (7)
{VIVALDI} The fourth 10 ac variety is an anagram of ILIAD V V (verses). This variety is lower in calories and carbohydrates than many other popular varieties. The name was chosen because, as they are grown both in the UK and overseas, they are available during all four seasons of the year.

18d    So retro, 5,10 (7)
{ROOSTER} The fifth 10 ac variety is an anagram of SO RETRO. It is red-skinned with floury yellow flesh and has become Ireland’s number one variety of potato

19d    Ruby’s skin showing under part of neck cloths (6)
{NAPERY} RY (Ruby’s skin) goes after part of the neck to give an archaic or Scottish word for household linen, especially for the table

20d    Order contralto’s 5,10 (6)
{RECORD} The final 10 ac variety is an anagram of ORDER C (contralto). This variety is a popular choice for crisping and frying due to their high dry matter

I enjoyed it. It showed that I know very little about 10 ac varieties

23 comments on “Toughie 534

  1. Quite tricky in parts, although getting 5A/10A helps quite a bit.

    Very enjoyable puzzle for me. Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  2. Until spotted the anagrams for the 10a was desperately racking the grey matter for styles of 1960s dances, then the lighhts went on. Putting goalpost for 9a initially also held me up. Thanks for the explaination of 15d Bufo, could see the answer but not how to arrive at it. Many thanks to Firefly and again to Bufo.

  3. Well I had the strange experience of solving all the themed answers from the anagrams and checking letters without having the theme. I was left with 5/10 and 6/8 which i finally got on a fag break. It was only 11a that I knew from the theme!
    Sue explained the wordplay on 8d – Bufo I think you missed the DO for party in the wordplay.
    Thanks to you and to Firefly for the puzzle.

  4. Very much enjoyed this except for the impenetrable printed-newspaper version of 8d, which I now assume is a misprint, hence the online difference, unless maybe it’s a joke good enough to surpass Firefly’s wonderful “Fondle a thicker thong? (5)” from a Toughie about a year ago (take a word for fondle and split it 1-4, then compare to the usual thong, 1-6)

    Very inventive and entertaining with a lovely theme, yet not so tough that my head hurt.

    Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  5. I am not sure about this one. I got the theme quite early on and sorted the anagrams but the more I read the clues, the more I thought there was some very strange wordplay. Thanks Firefly anyway for keeping me intrigued with 8d, until Prolixic kindly told me the clue online was something entirely different. Thanks to Bufo for the review too – I am very disappointed you can’t explain the newspaper version of 8d :)

  6. Thanks to Bufo for the review and to Firefly for the puzzle, although I didn’t enjoy it that much. Having to find six different varieties of potato (none of which I’d ever heard of), all of which were clued in exactly the same way by an anagram, was not very entertaining as far as I was concerned.

  7. I must put folks out of their 8dn misery….

    In an earlier submission to the Crossword Editor this entry was DROVINGS. For various reasons we changed the NE corner somewhat, but the original 8dn clue clearly persisted in the paper version.

    D (= 500) + ROVING + [FOLK]S would have been the explanation!

    Thanks to Bufo and all solvers


    1. Phew! – So long as we didn’t all miss a sitter!. Thanks Firefly for the elucidation and the puzzle. Unfortunately my spud knowledge is somewhat deficient!

  8. For once being a Paper Mate led to a very frustrating half hour. The only word that fits into the 4 checking letters is the solution. No amount of lateral thinking could get this to work with the clue. Thanks Bufo and Firefly, but BUCK UP DT !!

  9. Thanks for the hints Bufo, I really needed them. Considering my 20+stones and my hobby of cooking, I failed abysmally on the potato theme. Thanks firefly for once again stretching me beyond my, admittedly pathetic, limits.

  10. 8d. in the paper caused me no end of grief. Gave in and consulted the review. Thankyou Bufo for putting me out of my misery. Misprint or what?

  11. I thought this was a real cracker. For once I noticed the main theme fairly early on and this helped a lot. As per usual with this setter I only got a couple of answers on first reading. But the more I looked the more I found until I realised I had finished about half he puzzle so it was worth persevering. In the end I finished unaided although, for some reason, 25a took me quite a while to fathom. I got the answer for 8d but why is a mystery.

    Great fun so thanks to Firefly and to Bufo for the review.

  12. Many thanks to Firefly for the crossword and for clearing up the mystery of 8d!

    I enjoyed this one and surprised myself by the number of potato varieties I could remember.

    Thanks too to Bufo for the review.

  13. I thought this was to be my first ever Friday Toughie solve but, sadly, I was defeated by 20d! Never heard of the spud or C as an abbreviation for contralto! Also had to use a bit of Wiki to check on some of the varieties – only heard of Rooster and desiree!
    Otherwise very clever and enjoyable.
    Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  14. Gnashings of teeth! Drat and double drat! I spent all last night cogitating 8d only to find that the clue is wrong. Still, c’est la vie.

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