Toughie 679 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 679

Toughie No 679 by Excalibur

Something to celebrate?

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment *

Today marks 25 years of crosswords like this by, and I quote, “one of the stars of the crossword world“.

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    Proof that mother knows best when it comes to remedies? (6,4)
{NATURE CURE} – a cryptic definition of the practice of healing by a system of diet, exercise, manipulation, care and hydrotherapy

6a    Drag from said building (4)
{HAUL} – a word meaning to drag sounds like (said) a building

9a    Public transport one way, fly back (5)
{TRAMS} – this public transport when read one way means fly or canny when reversed (back)

10a    Creates condensation in the kitchen (5,4)
{BOILS DOWN} – I think this is supposed to be a phrasal verb which could mean creates which is also a method of cooking that reduces the bulk, but it may just be a limp cryptic definition

12a    Forgive mariner having illicit loves (7)
{ABSOLVE} – to get this verb meaning to forgive start with Crosswordland’s favourite two-letter mariner and add an anagram (illicit) of LOVES

13a    Shout ‘Reduced by fifty, it’s down’ (5)
{BELOW} – take a word meaning to shout and drop an L (fifty in Roman numerals) and the result is a word meaning down

15a    Secured mislaid chalet key (7)
{LATCHED} – a word meaning secured is an anagram (mislaid) of CHALET plus a musical key

17a    Sheathing little gun to pacify (7)
{SWEETEN} –this is an instruction to put a Scottish word for little inside a gun to get a verb meaning to pacify

19a    ‘Wind Damaged Most Of Corsica’ — Globe (7)
{SIROCCO} – this hot, dry, dusty and gusty wind blowing from N Africa to the north Mediterranean coast is an anagram (damaged) of most Of CORSIC(A) followed by a two-dimensional letter that is supposed to look like a three-dimensional globe

21a    Seen in context, remedies going too far (7)
{EXTREME} –hidden inside (seen in) two of the words of the clue is a word meaning going too far

22a    Child alone missing one is what it amounts to (5)
{TOTAL} – a charade of a child and AL(one) without (missing) one gives what it amounts to

24a    Why did the Japanese go to the bar? (Give up?) (7)
{FORSAKE} – taken as (3,4) this is the answer to the riddle – it actually means to give up

27a    Thoroughly showing what bowlers try to get (6,3)
{INSIDE OUT} – an expression meaning thoroughly could, if split (2,4,3) be what the bowlers try to get in a cricket match

28a    Any attempt to inject is painful (5)
{AGONY} – put ANY around an attempt to get extreme suffering (is painful)

29a    Have trouble breathing — that’s when doctor’s brought round (4)
{GASP} – a word meaning to have trouble breathing is created by putting a synonym of when inside a local doctor

30a    First two fallers in the race (4,3,3)
{ADAM AND EVE} – the world’s first pair of sinners


1d    First, second, third or fifth letter in ‘money’? (4)
{NOTE} – spli the answer as (3,1) and it could describe the relationship between the given four letters of MON(E)Y – the answer is a type of money

2d    ‘Leaves much to be desired’ would be praise from him (3,6)
{TEA TASTER} – if this person said this it would be praise for what he is testing

3d    Levers top off and defies gravity (5)
{RISES} – take a word meaning levers or forces and drop the initial letter (top off) to get a word meaning defies gravity

4d    Worked on shoe when horse got hurt (7)
{COBBLED} – a double definition – worked on a shoe and the kind of road surface that might injure a horse or split (3,4) to get “horse got hurt”

5d    They attack, at rear end, those helping (7)
{RAIDERS} – these attackers are derived from the final letter (end) of reaR and some helpers

7d    Island makes a charge for drivers (5)
{ATOLL} – this coral island could be, if split (1,4), be a charge for drivers to use a private road

8d    What a shortfall in the US may lead to? (4,6)
{LONG WINTER} – a short Autumn (Fall in the US) could be followed by this

11d    Person artist’s painting is not the Queen (7)
{SUBJECT} – a double definition – the person that an artist is painting or one who owes allegiance to the Queen

14d    Dangerous moment, shutting the lunatic inside (5,5)
{CLOSE THING} – this dangerous moment is created by putting a verb meaning shutting around an anagram (lunatic) of THE

16d    Didn’t allow to spout freely (7)
{HECKLED} – a cryptic definition of what someone did to a public speaker to stop him from spouting freely

18d    So three got off with a warning (9)
{THEREFORE} – this word that means “so” is an anagram (off) of THREE followed by a warning to fellow golfers

20d    Dump a flood damaged figurehead stored therein (7)
{OFFLOAD} – a verb meaning to dump is created by putting an anagram (damaged) of A FLOOD around F (Figure-head)

21d    Mixing a rum with half of bitter — awful mistake (7)
{ERRATUM} – an anagram (mixing) of A RUM and the second half of bitTER gives an awful mistake

23d    Questions time taken over jobs (5)
{TASKS} – put a verb meaning questions after T(ime) to get these jobs

25d    On the other hand, it’s just what a slimmer doesn’t want (5)
{AGAIN} – a word meaning “on the other hand” gives, if split (1,4) just what a slimmer doesn’t want

26d    Instrument that’s really played without heart (4)
{LYRE} – this musical instrument is an anagram (played) of RE(AL)LY without the middle two letters (heart)

Like it a lot I did not.

36 comments on “Toughie 679

  1. I’m not often moved to comment on my morning Teleword as I’m a pretty undemanding solver, but I couldn’t let this one pass. Not fun at all, and 6a especially, but also 10a and a handful of others are pretty poor. Also seemed excessively dependent on anagrams. That said, I liked 24a a lot, even despite the weird brackets in the clue.

    1. Boaz,
      You’re new groovy handle meant that your comment needed moderation. Both old and new should now work.

      1. Cheers Gazza,

        Boazisgroovy came up automatically when I was filling in the form. Must have registered ages go on this machine and forgotten all about it! Cheers for the prompt modding though!

  2. Not the toughest toughie and not overly entertaining either, a pity as it is Excaliburs 25th anniversary of crossword compiling. My congratulations to her for a remarkable feat, over the years I have enjoyed many of her contribtions. Thanks also to BD for the review.

  3. Comments a tad harsh I feel – ok not the hardest in the world but still a decent puzzle (bar the dreaded part anagram in 19a)

  4. Sorry, Excalibur, I know it’s your anniversary and all that, but the time I solved this one in makes it a contender for a 1* back pager difficulty rating and certainly not a toughie slot. Thanks to BD for the blog.

  5. Not convinced by 10a – stared at it for a while and still don’t entirely understand what the intention was. Like did 24a and 1a (a first I think for a four letter word). Thanks to Excalibur and BD

    1. I agree, swap the two ratings around (* for difficulty, ** for enjoyment) and stick it on the back page. Things like 10a and 8d I don’t like, but the absence of ‘impossible’ words I do.

  6. Congratulations to Excalibur on 25 years compiling, Todays offering I found very gentle re 5d I read it as ( 3.4) thanks to Excalibur and to Big Dave for the comments.

  7. Thanks to Excalibur and Big Dave for the review and hints, of which I needed 8 to finish, 4 of which I had to look up. Didn’t like this one, had a couple of good clues though, 24& 27a.

  8. I have only just found out that that “Excalibur” is Nuala Considine. I remember that she used to do a brilliant crossword in the Magazine “Weekend” called the “Stinker” Does anyone out there know if I am right in thinking that her mother was Delia Murphy, the Irish singer?

  9. Thanks to Excalibur! I didn’t find it that easy…. or that awful.

    Particularly liked 24a & 27a!

    DT 26716 – 22 Nov 2011 – Comment #23 – a quote from BD:

    “Everyone is free to express their opinions here, but we prefer that negative criticisms are constructive………”

  10. Congratulations to Excalibur on her 25th Anniversary of setting puzzles for the DT and ST. She is obviously mellowing as a setter as this was the quickest Excalibur that I have ever solved :) Many thanks to her for the crossword and to BD for the review.

  11. I didn’t get the paper today or solve the puzzle by my colleague, but I find the general tone of the initial comments terribly uncharitable. Doubtless I shall be put in my place well and truly on Friday with a one-star award (if that). At its best this is a very very good blog, but the day must never come when the critics herein think that they and their pals can bully their way into ownership of the Telegraph puzzle. There is a big world of solvers out there who represent a much wider cross-section of solvers, and they must never be forgotten. Do please remember that — and tone down some of the Clarkson-type laddy tendencies!

    1. The “big world of solvers out there” are more than welcome to come here and express their opinions, but I suspect that they already do.

  12. I do remember “Follow the invisible man in the sportswear department (5,4)” from about 1991 or so on the Sunday back page. I struggled through the initial stages and finished in the NW corner.
    Many congratulations on the milestone!
    Thanks to BD too.

  13. i found this a pleasure to solve but there again I am of the “Tuesday’s Toughies Only” school. Thanks to Excalibur & to Big Dave for the review.

    On another note I too think that the vitriol heaped upon this crossword is most unfounded. As my Gran used to say “if you can’t think of summat nice to say then keep your gob shut!”…

  14. I am sure the big world of solvers is welcome, BD, and you have a wide spectrum of solving ability represented in your blog. I am genearlly thankful fro what you do. It’s a lot of voluntary work for the community. But there are lots of solvers out there who neither know nor care about blogs, and there is a type of crossword blogger (sometimes hobnobbing with setters as a wannabe setter!) who wishes to apply pressure for harder puzzles. There’s a place for that, but it isn’t the whole story. Please keep up the very very good component of your work and let’s cut out gratuitous nastiness, eh?

    1. The one thing of which you can’t accuse me is being a wannabe setter!

      Perhaps your opinion might have held some weight if you had taken the trouble to solve the puzzle first.

  15. Wow, tempted to ask if anyone would like to share my saucer of milk! I thought 1d was a very good clue that gave me an Aah! moment. Thanks Excalibur & BD.

    1. I think some people didn’t have their happy pill yesterday. I’m sure that they will play nicely today or there will be no nativity play at the end of term for some children.

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