Toughie 689 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 689

Toughie No 689 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I found this to be of average difficulty after expecting it to be harder. I enjoyed it though I did think that some of the definitions and anagram indicators were a bit iffy.

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    Good girls infrequently propositioned thereby? (7)
{GLASSES} G (good) + girls gives something that deters men from making passes according to Dorothy Parker

5a    Comrade Brown’s very unusual (7)
{BROTHER} A comrade (e.g. in a trade union) = BR (brown) + ‘very unusual’

9a    Transportation by means of hovercraft? (7)
{AIRLIFT} A transport operation (usually in an emergency) is suggestive of how a hovercraft works

10a    Whitewash a mediaeval centre? Reluctant! (7)
{ASHAMED} The middle seven letters of WHITEWASH A MEDIAEVAL gives ‘reluctant’

11a    A sunnier aspect about Conservative policy (9)
{INSURANCE} An anagram (aspect) of A SUNNIER goes round C (Conservative) to give a policy

12a    Bravura Italian provides accompaniment at meal (5)
{RAITA} An accompaniment to an Indian meal is hidden in BravuRA ITAlian

13a    Race to place a substitute bet (5)
{RELAY} The word for a race between teams could also be considered to mean ‘to bet again’

15a    Where French and British elite start to torture revolutionary cell (9)
{OUBLIETTE} The French word for ‘where’ + B (British) + an anagram (revolutionary) of ELITE T (first letter of torture) gives a cell (dungeon)

17a    Tracker’s frozen within Jersey Group (6,3)
{POLICE DOG} An animal used for tracking = frozen (4) inside a type of sweater (4) + G (Group)

19a    Fifty-fifty where ace is in matches? (5)
{EVENS} ‘Fifty-fifty’ is where ACE is in mAtChEs

22a    Polar variation on view in darkness (5)
{NIGHT} Take a word meaning ‘view’ and change the initial S to N (a polar variation) to get darkness

23a    Ely got in muddle over suggestion of venue for extended service (9)
{LONGEVITY} An anagram (muddle) of ELY GOT IN goes round V (first letter / suggestion of Venue) to give ‘extended service’

25a    Belle has tea by sea in Marseilles (7)
{CHARMER} A belle (possibly) = tea + the French word for ‘sea’

26a    Create an impression with fashionable pattern (7)
{INGRAIN} ‘To create an impression’ = fashionable + a pattern (e.g. in wood)

27a    Article written by poet reasonably slowly (7)
{ANDANTE} A form of the indefinite article + the name of an Italian poet = ‘reasonably slowly’

28a    Glimpses those sharing the sauce? (7)
{GANDERS} A slang word for ‘glimpses’ can also be birds, one of which features in a well-known saying involving sauce


1d    Tradesman maintaining transparency? (7)
{GLAZIER} A cryptic definition for someone that installs window-panes

2d    Can saleroom shift without Mark? (7)
{AEROSOL} A pressurised can is an anagram (shift) of SALEROO(M) (M = Mark)

3d    Gathering some crayfish irresponsibly (5)
{SHIRR} A gathering (in fabric) is hidden in crayfiSH IRResponsibly

4d    Rested among the trees, say — like this? (9)
{SATINWOOD} The name of an Asian tree suggests that you ‘rested among the trees’

5d    Bit of beautiful fabric — pin it on (5)
{BLAME} B (first letter / bit of Beautiful) + a fabric in which metallic threads are interwoven gives a word that is used in the expression ‘pin the ***** on’

6d    This ewe or this? This! (9)
{OTHERWISE} An anagram of THIS EWE OR (or is it an anagram of EWE OR THIS?)

7d    Wesley could be spreading myth about soaring wickedness (7)
{HYMNIST} A description of Charles Wesley is an anagram (spreading) of MYTH round a reversal of wickedness

8d    In charge, help set up beam (7)
{RADIATE} Put a reversal of ‘help’ inside ‘charge’ to get ‘to beam’

14d    Leaving river, new charts may keep him on course (9)
{YACHTSMAN} An anagram of N (new) CHA(R)TS MAY (R = river) gives a sailor

16d    O for outset? (9)
{BEGINNING} O is the ********* of outset

17d    Australian pea can make a catholicon (7)
{PANACEA} An anagram (make) of A (Australian) PEA CAN is a catholicon (look it up in Chambers!)

18d    Yank’s lass turning up behindhand (7)
{LAGGARD} A reversal (turning up) of yank + lass = ‘turning up behindhand’

20d    Those at forefront of European manufacturing up in arms with Islamic jurisdiction (7)
{EMIRATE} The first letters of European Manufacturing + ‘up in arms’ = the jurisdiction of an Islamic ruler

21d    Saws hum round tops of alder and yew on Square (7)
{SAYINGS} Saws (spoken ones) + ‘to hum’ round the first letters of Alder and Yew + S (Square)

23d    King-sized and regular gear unpacked (5)
{LARGE} ‘King-sized’ is hidden in reguLAR GEar

24d    Urge the difference between Welsh and Buck? (3,2)
{EGG ON} ‘To urge’ is the difference between Welsh rabbit (rarebit) and buck rabbit (rarebit). I didn’t know about buck rabbit so that’s something new I’ve learned today

A Merry Christmas to one and all. Don’t eat and drink too much!

14 comments on “Toughie 689

  1. I think I found this easier than the cryptic today, but it still took me a while.
    Thanks to Firefly, and to Bufo – Merry Christmas to you both!

  2. Don’t quite agree with Jezza, but this one didn’t take me much longer than the backpager. Thanks to Firefly for a just right for a busy Thursday puzzle – Happy Christmas to you and to Bufo too.

    If you still have time to spare this afternoon, there is a very good Paul in the Guardian. Easily sidetracked from what I am supposed to be doing?? Me, never!!

  3. Thanks to Firefly for an entertaining and not overly tough toughie and to Bufo for an excellent review.

  4. Had to double check 3d was what it looked like it had to be, other than that a pleasant solve. Completely missed the significance of “ace” in 19a D’oh! Many thanks Bufo and Firefly, enjoy the festive season.

  5. Eventually got there….thanks Bufo for your help and Firefly for a couple of hours of brain exercise

  6. Not the usual ferocity from this setter but most enjoyable, favourites for me were 7d 17a and 19a thanks to Firefly and to Bufo for the comments.

  7. Thanks to Firefly for the interesting puzzle and to Bufo for the review. I’m still trying to work out in what context “other” means very unusual (5a).

    1. The closest I can think of is the expression “there was something of the other about him” to describe someone who is unusual.

  8. The right level for me for a toughie. I had to look up “catholicon”, a new one on me. !5a eluded me till I read the hints. Thanks to Bufo for the lucid explanations.

  9. Compliments of the season to all bloggers! Thank you for your comments over the year — they are all most welcome and valuable.

    Best wishes


  10. My second Toughie of the day (after doing yesterday’s this morning) so this was like Baby Bear’s porridge – just right. Much harder and it would have been like being back at work! :-)

    Seasonal good wishes to all setters, reviewers and bloggers.

  11. Like other bloggers I found this one easier than Thursday’s backpage which took me ages and is why my comments are posted on Friday. I can’t understand your star grading system for the crosswords where you rate their difficulty as three stars or less. I suppose it is because you are not an “average” solver.

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