Toughie 640 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 640

Toughie No 640 by Kcit

As Tough as Falling Off a Log

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from all the reviews I’ve written here it’s that if I stray from a middle-of-the-road view on the difficulty of a puzzle I’ll get flack. If I describe it as “pretty tough” someone is bound to comment that they did it whilst listening to the Greenwich time signal; if I label it as particularly easy we’ll get tearful comments from people who have sweated all day over it. So, taking my courage in both hands, I am emboldened to say that this is the easiest Toughie I can remember – when I was solving it I had to look at the top of the page to reassure myself that I’d printed off the right puzzle. There’s nothing wrong with the puzzle itself – in fact I enjoyed it and it would have made a good back-page cryptic, but it doesn’t cut the mustard as a Toughie.
Let us know what you thought of it and please take the time to click on one of the stars below to indicate your enjoyment factor.
PS Another complaint – there’s not much scope for pictures. :D

Across Clues

1a  Risky behaviour allowed in activity of serious nature, mostly (7,8)
{RUSSIAN ROULETTE} – this risky, potentially suicidal, behaviour comes from putting a synonym of allowed inside an anagram (activity) of SERIOUS NATUR(e).

9a  Change of opinion fine in a fight expert (5-4)
{ABOUT-FACE} – put the abbreviation of F(ine) inside a charade of A, an organised fight and an expert.

10a  Welsh corgi, say, not initially hurt (5)
{WOUND} – start with W(elsh) and add what a corgi is an example of (say) without its initial letter to make a hurt.

11a  Magazine is certain to cancel run (5)
{ISSUE} – a magazine (or any other regular publication, really) is built from IS (in the clue) and a synonym for certain without the R(un).

12a  Ponder varying hydrogen in body chemical (9)
{ENDORPHIN} – an anagram (varying) of PONDER is followed by H(ydrogen) and IN to make a chemical produced by the brain which has pain-killing properties.

13a  Fellow’s enveloped in gloom in Russian city (8)
{MURMANSK} – this is a Russian seaport, situated in the far north-west of the country on the Barents Sea. Put another word for fellow, plus the ‘S, inside a synonym of gloom.

14a  French are occupying vehicles, showing neck (6)
{CARESS} – the definition here is neck and it’s a verb. Put the French word for “are” (the bit that comes after “tu” in the second person singular form of the present tense of the verb to be) inside (occupying) types of vehicle.

16a  Record captured by tax assistant (6)
{DEPUTY} – an old vinyl record format goes inside a tax levied on the import, export, manufacture or sale of goods to make an assistant.

18a  Accepts fiction volume penned by busy people (8)
{BELIEVES} – a verb meaning accepts or takes as gospel is formed by putting a fiction or made-up story and V(olume) inside a metaphor for busy people.

22a  Person made responsible, positioned to receive top personality (9)
{SCAPEGOAT} – we had this word, meaning the person who has been chosen to take the blame for a cock-up, in yesterday’s Toughie. Put a verb meaning positioned or placed around (to receive) a verb meaning to top or outdo and a synonym for personality or sense of identity.

23a  One has a bad time when daughter leaves (5)
{OWNER} – this is someone who has (possessions, for example). Remove the initial D(aughter) from a slang term for a bad time or depressing experience.

24a  Is the writer ready for a Spanish associate? (5)
{AMIGO} – a Spanish compadre is how the writer may ask if he or she is ready. The informal word for ready is as used in “Thunderbirds are **!”.

25a  This time with gang, drunk? Last chance of freedom! (4,5)
{STAG NIGHT} – a man’s traditional last chance of freedom before being shackled is an anagram (drunk) of THIS T(ime) and GANG.

26a  Dicky sought treasures in reference book (6,9)
{ROGET’S THESAURUS} – lovely use of dicky as the indicator in this anagram of SOUGHT TREASURES.

Down Clues

1d  Pragmatic attitude is evident in kingdom (7)
{REALISM} – insert IS in a synonym of kingdom.

2d  Bridge team in trail to get financial supporter (7)
{SPONSOR} – put two bridge partners inside the trail of an animal.

3d  About to complete tour without appeal (2,3,4,6)
{IN THE LAST RESORT} – double definition – at the final location on a tour or as a final expedient, having exhausted all other possibilities.

4d  Locations investing in web in this part of the world (4,4)
{NEAR EAST} – this is a somewhat fluid area (seen from the point of view of colonial Britain) stretching roughly from Morocco to Iran. Put a synonym for locations inside (investing in) a common abbreviation for the worldwide web.

5d  ‘Ring’ composer I ignored — ‘Ring’ is to be excessive (6)
{OVERDO} – the definition here is to be excessive. Start and finish with an O (ring) and between the two put an Italian composer without his I.

6d  Redevelopment of a callow, inferior part of Mexico (5,10)
{LOWER CALIFORNIA} – this is a long peninsula in Mexico. It’s an anagram (redevelopment) of A CALLOW INFERIOR.

7d  Zero expression of disgust in game or puzzle (7)
{TOUGHIE} – a puzzle, possibly the one you’re doing, is made by putting O (zero) and an expression of disgust inside a match or game (usually in a knockout competition).

8d  Dogs’ and pigs’ tails — and what they do? (7)
{ENDINGS} – the last bits (tails) of said animals is also a description of what their names do (3,2,1,1).

15d  Airline no longer involved in major effort in warm weather (8)
{HEATWAVE} – the initials of an international American airline which exists no longer go inside (involved in) a major effort or push to make a spell of warm weather.

16d  Father consumed by endless passion and gloom (7)
{DESPAIR} – put a child’s word for father inside (consumed by) a synonym for passion or sexual attraction without its last letter (endlessly) to make another word for gloom or depression.

17d  As poultry, initially, producing eggs (7)
{PLAYING} – the well-disguised definition is “as” (think of a pantomime review containing, for example, “Jane Smith appeared as the cat, opposite John Robinson’s Dick”). The first letter (initially) of P(oultry) is followed by a present participle meaning producing eggs.

19d  Volume in anger rising, revealing bitter stuff (7)
{VINEGAR} – string together V(olume), IN and a synonym for anger reversed (rising, in a down clue).

20d  Cloud begins to rise, surrounding third of mountains (7)
{STRATUS} – this is a type of cloud forming a continuous horizontal grey sheet. A synonym for begins is reversed (rising, see previous clue) and this surrounds the third letter of mountains.

21d  Queen enthralled by party crowd in county (6)
{DORSET} – put R(egina) between (enthralled by) the usual Crosswordland party and a crowd of people who socialise together to make an English county. This was the last answer I got because for some reason I read it as country rather than county.

The clues I liked best today were 26a and 17d. Let’s hope for a bit more of a challenge tomorrow.

33 comments on “Toughie 640

  1. Yet another day when I am agreeing with everything Gazza says: easiness – I think I have done one Toughie faster than this one; enjoyable; and I too read 21d as countRy not county. I do have different favourites though – mine are 7d and 8d. Thanks to Kcit for the gentle Toughie and Gazza for the review – shame about the picture opportunities.

    As I said in the ‘other place’ there is a tougher challenge in today’s FT.

  2. Hi Gazza
    Agree with your opening comments re difficulty! I didn’t have the nerve to give the Jay only one star!
    This must be an easy Toughie because I finished it in back-page time without recourse to dictionaries or Google – rare for me!
    Thought 15d was very topical in view of the current weather in the UK and I did the same as you with 21d!

  3. Forgetting manners! Thanks to Kcit and Gazza – liked your inclusion of ‘cut the mustard’ from the other puzzle!

  4. This took me only a few minutes longer than today’s back-page puzzle. i am always confusing county and country – probably my most common mistake, and today was no exception!
    Thanks to Kcit for the puzzle, and to gazza for the review.

  5. I thought it was about the same level as yesterdays, I notice the fall-guy’s made another appearance. Favourites were 7d and 17d thanks to Kcit and to Gazza for the comments.

  6. I also agree with you Gazza.
    It is nit-picking but 14ac irritated somewhat by using the singular in the answer and the plural in the clue.
    Still on a 15ac who can complain?
    On the whole all enjoyable stuff if not much of a 7d.

    1. chris,
      I’m not sure what you’re getting at in 14a. The answer is a verb as is the definition (neck).

      1. Well it was a nit-pick, but the “French are” implies a plural and “es” is singular …or maybe I have missed something…..did the “French” mean any French word …..?
        “Sommes etes or sunt” would fit but ruin the answer.
        It just seemed that the precision of so many other clues was lost for the benefit of surface reading.
        But now it seems hardly worth having mentioned it..

        1. If you read it as “a French word for are” it works. You are in English can be “tu es” in French so are = es.

          1. OK thanks for troubling to sort me out.
            I still think it terms of “Thou Ist”…!
            Too much classical education too long ago..
            …actually come to think about it not many people seem to respond when one calls them “thou” these days!….sounds like an American Bible thumper!
            So I concede gracefully and am no longer irritated.
            Thou needst not answer this if ‘t suits thee not to.
            I hope you are getting the sun while moderating this blog!

        2. Sum , es, est , sumus, estis, sunt ! I think you have strayed into Latin!

          “Too much classical education too long ago” Moi, aussi!..

          1. Hi Franco,
            Sorry not to acknowledge your post….called to garden matters by SWMBO…(Think Rumpole!)
            Never thought before that the “es” is the same in both languages….gave up French in1963….Latin in 1965 but feel the benefit still!

  7. Before the review was published I had commented to Sue that I thought we had two back page puzzles today. Good fun but nothing really to get your teeth into. Not my fastet toughie – that one was done in the course of queuing for an travelling the length of the Waterloo and City line.

    Thanks to Kcit for the crossword and to Gazza for the review.

          1. A submarine is definitely a boat, but I wouldn’t recommend standing on it as it submerges.

            There’s a saying amongst submariners that there are two types of craft in the Navy – boats and targets, the latter float on the surface.

          2. I was just about to make a facetious comment about standing on a submarine, but fortunately BD got there before me! :)

  8. Yes me too.

    As I have already commented in “the other place “, this was Simple but Fun, like me.

  9. With some Toughies I can stare at them for ages, desperately looking for an anagram just to get me off the mark. I breezed through this one. Personally I like the Toughies that aren’t so inpenetrable that you can’t find a way in, but are challenging. I do admire the ingenuity of all the setters, though – not an easy task. Thanks to Kcit and Gazza.

  10. I don’t often feel the need to reply but this must be a meaning of “simple” of which I was previously unaware. I found this even more difficult than last Fridays toughie, hence this late reply. I even had to cadge a prompt from this review just to get started which I’ve never had to do before (to finish – yes, but not start !). Whats going on?
    Even so, I can still thank Kcit for a puzzle that beat me and thanks to Gazza’s review for getting me started. Yes, this is that tearful comment you expected in the preamble.

    1. nigelg,
      It would be very boring if we all thought the same. We have a Toughie from Elkamere tomorrow, so maybe you’ll find that more straightforward. Let us know tomorrow how you get on with it.

      1. Very true. I’d rather thought my solving ability had come on in leaps and bounds since following this blog and it was somewhat sobering to be so flummoxed by this particular toughie. Something about pride before a fall I think.
        As you say, perhaps tomorrows Toughie will restore some confidence.

        1. Keep trying. I think solving cryptics is a bit like playing golf, just when you think you’ve cracked it, everything goes wrong :-)

  11. Thanks to Kcit for the puzzle and to Gazza for the hints and review. Well, I have to agree with the one star rating, as this is the first time I have ever completed a Toughie :-) I found this very enjoyable, favourites were 22a & 8d, which was last in.

  12. Late input from me – began this very late last night and finished it off this morning.
    Not a tough puzzle.
    Faves : 1a bit of a spin, 13a, 26a, 3d, 7d, 15d & 17d.
    As a purist, I think 14a should have read ” French art occupying vehicles….” – tu sais ce que je veuille dire??

    1. You are absolutely right!
      I thought of that alternative clue too but it would have been tougher.
      See my nit pick further up.
      Have a go at today’s toughie…it’s brilliant. A real corker with some brilliant clues….eg 1ac and 3d.

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