Toughie 581 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 581

Toughie No 581 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

Although I had no problem solving this one or understanding how the clues worked, I felt there were quite a number of weak clues that detracted from the enjoyment.

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    Say softly ‘That’s enough. Cheer up’ (4,2,4)
{SIGH NO MORE} Say softly (4) + That’s enough (2,4) = Cheer up. I wondered about the significance of this phrase and discovered that it is: (a) a quote from Much Ado About Nothing; (b) a Noel Coward musical revue (1945); and (c) a Mumford and Sons album (2009). Perhaps Excalibur is a big Mumford and Sons fan!

6a    Chicken coops? (4)
{EGGS} A cryptic definition of sorts. Where are chickens confined before they hatch?

9a    Mollycoddle? Rot! (5)
{SPOIL} 2 meanings: mollycoddle/rot

10a    Tourist spot fortune teller (9)
{SIGHTSEER} A tourist is given by “to spot” + a fortune teller

12a    Because rise is ruled out, to be honest (7)
{SINCERE} Because + RE (rise missing is) gives honest

13a    Sounded note from scale (5)
{RANGE} Sounded (as a bell) + note = scale

15a    Really want, though too big to fit (4,3)
{LONG FOR} A phrase meaning “to really want” could be interpreted as “too big to fit”

17a    Where sailors go to drink water and wine (7)
{SEAPORT} A sailor goes ashore here to drink. Take a large body of water + a fortified wine

19a    Looks round saying ‘Children will enjoy them’ (7)
{SEESAWS} “Looks” goes round a a saying to give items of playground equipment

21a    Notes semi-unscrewed block of metal in centre (7)
{MINUTES} Brief jottings or notes is an anagram (unscrewed) of SEMI round a hexagonal block of metal with a hole in the middle

22a    Retracting also is out of the question (3,2)
{NOT ON} “Out of the question” is a palindrome and therefore reads the same when retracted (reversed)

24a    Elbowing women out roughly is despicable (7)
{IGNOBLE} An anagram (roughly) of Elbowing with W (women) removed gives “despicable”

27a    It’s happening to someone about to tumble (9)
{BEFALLING} A word meaning “happening” is formed from a person that exists going round “to tumble”

28a    Having survived a bad turn (5)
{ALIVE} “Having survived” = A + “bad” reversed

29a    Pretty girl as seen by cannibal? (4)
{DISH} An informal term for a pretty girl is something that can be eaten

30a    Drawing out, train’s pursued by man (10)
{ASTRINGENT} A word that Chambers defines as “drawing together” as well as “styptic” and “caustic” is given by an anagram (out) of TRAINS followed by a man


1d    Consequently getting an encore is only fair (2-2)
{SO-SO} A 2-letter word for “consequently” repeats itself to give “fair”

2d    I’m with you — feel it shows sound judgment (4,5)
{GOOD SENSE} “I’m with you!” + “feel” gives “sound judgment”

3d    Only getting confused, then, losing the thread (5)
{NYLON} An anagram (getting confused) of ONLY + N (then, losing the) gives a thread

4d    Is sorry Uncle has to go back to therapist (7)
{MASSEUR} A reversal of “is sorry” and the American uncle gives a therapist who might rub you up the right way

5d    The more you have, the more you wish you hadn’t (7)
{REGRETS} A cryptic definition. Edith Piaf didn’t have any

7d    Not knowing much, information about to come through (5)
{GREEN} A word meaning “inexperienced” is derived from information round RE (about)

8d    Trial in which shooting is involved (6,4)
{SCREEN TEST} Another cryptic definition. The shooting is done with a movie camera

11d    Errant, I strayed into field (7)
{TERRAIN} An anagram (straying) of ERRANT I gives “field”

14d    If you’ve made it, that’s your lot! (7,3)
{CLOSING BID} And another cryptic definition. You will win a lot at an auction if you make this

16d    Stuff the sweet talk! (7)
{FLANNEL} A piece of cloth (stuff) means the same as flattery (sweet talk)

18d    Increasing? There is no change (2,3,4)
{ON THE RISE} An anagram (change) of THERE IS NO gives “increasing”

20d    Humour those invited to the seance (7)
{SPIRITS} 2 meanings: humour (cheerful vivacity) / ghosts

21d    Boss who’ll give a chap grey hairs? (7)
{MANAGER} If you split this word for a boss into (3,4) then he may give a chap grey hairs

23d    Fights, catching forehead with clenched fist (5)
{TIFFS} Fights are given by F (forehead, i.e. the first letter of fore) inside an anagram (clenched) of FIST

25d    What makes you associate ‘British’ with ‘bad weather’? (5)
{BRAIN} B (British) + wet weather gives a person’s intellectual capacity

26d    Confront in the flesh, so to speak (4)
{MEET} “To confront” is a homophone of flesh (as food)

I wrote this review in record time and it’s probably the shortest one I have ever done. That must show something!

18 comments on “Toughie 581

  1. I tried to approach solving this with an open mind, and there are some good clues that stand with any others, but I just don’t get 1 across, which is a typical Excalibur “speech-type” clue and it drags everything down.

    I think I’d have even forgiven a homophone based on Eric Idle in Monty Python.

    Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  2. Good fun this from Excalibur. Might have finished sooner if I had not seen 6a as runs. The answer is of course much cleverer. In 26 d how does one know which homonym is the correct one for the puzzle? fav clue 14d. Thanks Excalibur and Bufo.

    1. The construction in 26d is [definition] [homonym] [homonym indicator], so the homophone indicator points to the preceding element (since there’s nothing after it).

      If the indicator had been placed between the other two elements, there would have been room for confusion. I do think that “in the” here might be considered a little misleading, although, being a four-letter word, the solution is fairly obvious.

  3. No gripes from me apart from 1a, but that may be cleverer than I think so reserving judgement for time being. 14d 19a and 21a favs.
    Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo

  4. Fairly easy for a Toughie liked 19a the best thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo for the review.

  5. I’d be interested to hear views on “I’m with you” in 2d. I didn’t think that it worked so well, but maybe that’s just me.

    1. I just took it as simply “I’m with you”, or ,” that’s good”. Probably grammatically incorrect, but I was never good at it anyway!

      1. Thanks for that.

        How about the phrase in 14d? It’s easy enough to understand, but I hadn’t heard that expression before. Is it a recognised term somewhere?

        1. I don’t have a problem with 14d as a phrase. I looked it up in some commerce dictionary:

          closing bid

          the last bid at an auction, the bid which is successful

    2. I Just can’t see 2d.
      Similarly 1a.

      Just a bit off the literal for me.
      Still, I enjoyed the puzzle over all.

  6. I am a very happy lady! Not only have I completed a Toughie but I didn’t need the blog. O.K. I’m sure it was easier than most but I’m thrilled, mind you, it took me a long time!! Anyway thank you Excalibur for the sheer joy of the crossword and Bufo for explaining lucidly the whys and wherefores. 2d I really don’t understand but nobody else seems to either. Favourites are 12, 21a and 3, 14 and 26d

  7. Too many “iffy” clues (1a, 2d, 14d) spoilt the overall enjoyment of this puzzle, but it did contain some good ones (6a, 19a, 16d) to balance things out. And no sport to upset the girls! Thanks to Bufo & The Sword.

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