Toughie 641 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 641

Toughie No 641 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I did this puzzle in no time at all. Well, that’s according to the kitchen clock that I was using to time myself. It wasn’t until I’d finished the puzzle that I noticed that the clock had stopped and so my time was zero. Actually it felt as if it took longer than average and it certainly took me some time to get started on the southwest corner once everything else had been done. So I’ve given it 4 stars for difficulty though I suspect others will rate it as 3 stars. It was an enjoyable puzzle.

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    The result of making a CD? (10)
{SEMICIRCLE} The answer is the shape of the letter D

6a    Temples of gold turned into black and white (4)
{BROW} The temples (part of the head) is a word for gold reversed inside B (black) and W (white)

9a    I see picture blur once image runs (6-4)
{CINEMA-GOER} Someone who goes to see a picture (film) is an anagram (blur) of ONCE IMAGE R (runs)

10a    Old woman gets by with single skirt (4)
{MAXI} The old woman (mother) + by (times) + I (single) is a type of skirt

12a    Wine in very old bottles (4)
{VINO} Wine is formed by IN surrounded (bottled) by V (very) O (old)

13a    Space flight takes one into sun source (9)
{STAIRWELL} A space by a flight of steps is formed by I (one) in a sun + a source

15a    Herb developed by female gardener (8)
{ROSEMARY} A herb = “developed” + a contrary gardener from a nursery rhyme. I thought at first it might have something to do with a TV series featuring two gardening detectives.

16a    See 1 down

18a    Is an ape given extremely nice bananas? (6)
{INSANE} An anagram (ape) of IS AN + NE (first and last letters of nice) gives bananas (mad). I’m not convince by “ape” as an anagram indicator. Presumably it’s a reference to “go ape”

20a    Small island in a section around the corner? (8)
{AWAITING} A small island (3) goes inside A section to give “around the corner” or “soon to be attained”

23a    Island’s name put outside my house (9)
{CAPRICORN} An island in the Bay of Naples + N (name) goes round “My!” to give a house (one of the twelve divisions of the heavens in astrology)

24a    Appropriate dress if middle’s out of shape (4)
{GRAB} “To appropriate” = “dress” with the middle two letters reversed

26a    Supporter of proposal? (4)
{KNEE} The part of the body that will take a man’s weight when he is proposing marriage to the love of his life

27a    Little excitement when discussing progress (10)
{LOCOMOTION} A homophone (discussing) of little excitement gives progress

28a    Go quiet over time (4)
{SHOT} A go = Quiet! + abbreviations for “over” and “time”

29a    Father, for good measure, organised riot (10)
{PROGENITOR} A father = “for” + G (good) + a measure in printing + an anagram (organised) of RIOT


1d & 16a    Far from happy with setter’s style? (4,2,1,3)
{SICK AS A DOG} A phrase meaning “vomiting profusely and unrestrainedly”, i.e. far from happy, might refer to a setter in a canine sense

2d    Hills finish in motorway on borders of Pennines (7)
{MENDIPS} A range of hills in Somerset = “finish” inside a particular motorway + the first and last letters of Pennines

3d    All there is after remark about rejected bribe (6,6)
{COMPOS MENTIS} “All there” = IS following a remark going round a bribe which has been reversed

4d    Hear again about soldier’s PC database (8)
{REGISTRY} To hear again (in court) goes round an American soldier to give a database of configuration settings on a PC

5d    Give very little up when put in place (6)
{LEEWAY} Give (room to manoeuvre) = a reversal of “very little” inside “to place”

7d    Bum(p)? (4,3)
{REAR END} A term meaning bum (backside) also means (with a hyphen) “to hit the back of another vehicle with the front of yours”

8d    Tops and pink toupees, Spooner said? (10)
{WHIRLIGIGS} Tops (which spin round) is a Spoonerism of pink toupees where “pink” suggests the gender of the wearer

11d    Not being smart in lecture (8-4)
{DRESSING-DOWN} A severe scolding (lecture) suggests not putting on your smartest clothes

14d    18 people stuck — a fire’s broken out (10)
{FRUITCAKES} 18 across people are an anagram (broken out) of STUCK A FIRE’S

17d    Gloria and her first debut? No! (4,4)
{SWAN SONG} This one’s an old chestnut. Take the surname of an old actress called Gloria and add G (the first letter of Gloria) to give a performance that certainly isn’t a debut

19d    Boss has way of working under pressure — confident about that (7)
{SUPREMO} A boss = a 2-letter abbreviation for “way of working” beneath P (pressure) inside “confident”

21d    I am all about meaning — I avoid flowery language (7)
{IMAGIST} I + a reversal of AM + “meaning” gives a member of a school of poetry that avoids flowery language

22d    Gong at feeding time (6)
{HONOUR} A gong, possibly, = “at” inside a unit of time

25d    Expert on royalty (4)
{ONER} An expert = ON + the Queen

I decided while writing the report that it deserves 4 stars for enjoyment

17 comments on “Toughie 641

  1. The LH side of this proper Toughie took me on and off all morning to finish off – I tried every law known to the crossword solving person but in the end good old perservation won the day. I thought Elkamere was supposed to be ‘friendly Anax’. I would definitely say 4* difficulty and, like Bufo, with hindsight, it is 4* fun too. Thanks to Elkamere for wearing me out and Bufo for explaining the ones I didn’t understand.

    Anyone remember the days when Toughies started off gently on Tuesdays and progressed upwards in difficulty to Friday? They definitely seem to be out of sync these days. Stil I suppose it keeps us on our toes.

  2. 4* for me too. This one took a long time – some quite convoluted wordplay. I certainly needed the blog to explain some of the answers. Fav clue, 8d because I love Spooner clues; I like to try to guess them before I have any checking letters :)

    Thanks to Elkamere and Bufo.

  3. Just about the right level of toughness for a Thursday! Thanks to Elkamere for the puzzle, and to Bufo for the dissection.

  4. I made really hard work of this , especially the SW. Couldn’t get 26a even with the checking letters – how dumb am I !! Several loud titters , 3d and 18a and 14d, but my favourite has to be 8d. Reading Bufos excellent review I conclude it was me having an off day, the puzzle was top notch. Thank you Elkamere

    1. I couldn’t see the answer to 6a for ages, despite the checking letters. Those little four-letter b*ggars can so infuriating! :)

      1. Yes indeed they can, If I had a list of clues that have stumped me ( I’d need a very large database) I am sure those pesky four letter words would be very much in the majority!

  5. A proper Toughie this one, Favourites were 8d and 17d thanks to Elkamere for the challenge and to Bufo for the review.

  6. Brilliant. I loved it.
    !ac and 3d are so good.
    10ac foxed me so thanks for the blog and congratulations to Anax.

  7. Much fun to be had. I had 11 clues hanging out after lunch and have just finished them off with a pint at the hotel. The usual quality and whimsy from Elkamere. Not being a fan of Spoonerisms I thought that 8d was very good – about as fair as they can be. other highlights were 18a for the super surface reading (I think I can accept ‘ape’ as an anagram indicator). and also 3d.
    Many thanks to Elkamere and Bufo for the review. I’m just starting the Times whilst peering with trepidation at Anax in the Indy. I don’t have all night as I need to complete the ‘Downs’ for Sunday’s review out tomorrow.

  8. I managed most of this apart from the SE Corner which was left very bare – so thanks to Bufo for the enlightenment and Elkamere for the puzzle.

    One of the rare occasions that I have solved a Spooner clue.

    Still baffled by 1a – is it something to do with making a “C” into a “D”? Completely beyond me – ready to give myself a good kicking.

  9. Completely beat me, I only managed about half then had to resort to electronic assistance then finally Bufos’ hints. Thanks to Elkamere for stretching me above and beyond and to Bufo for his hints and explanations.

  10. Evening all. Many thanks to Bufo for an excellent review, and glad some of you found it manageable. These puzzles aren’t designed to be overly tough but Elkamere is still only mildly familiar to most, so I suppose the style can feel slightly alien at times. We’ll get there!

  11. Maybe it’s because I tackled Anax in the Independent first today, this did not seem too daunting though having an additional 30 minutes wait on the train because of a points failure helped polish off a few stragglers. Thanks to Elkamere / Anax for the challenge and to Bufo for the review.

  12. I am very frustrated at the moment! I did about half of this and then had to go out for the afternoon/evening. Now I’m home I can’t get into the site to finish it! Teach me to save ink and paper by solving on-line!

  13. I did eventually get into the site and finish. Probably because of the site trouble I don’t feel overwhelmed by this puzzle and didn’t really enjoy it but thanks to Elkamere and maybe your next one will avoid technical problems! (just seen a pig on the wing!).
    Have to say that until I read Bufo’s explanation I just thought 15a was the female gardener on TV – but then the clue doesn’t need the word ‘developed’ – thought there might be something more to it but couldn’t work it out!

    Thanks for the review Bufo, especially for 15a.

  14. After yesterdays embarrassment, I managed to finish this one eventually with only minimal help which has restored a good deal of confidence. I think the trick is not to look at the star rating on the blog before starting !

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