Toughie 734 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 734

Toughie No 734 by Firefly

Confused? You Probably Will Be……

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Greetings from the Calder Valley and it’s time for a Friday Firefly.

I found the puzzle to be of the usual standard from our setter with some good whimsical clues, and a theme (9 across) to some of the answers, although its use did feel a bit odd at times. At first I assumed that I was looking for synonyms for the expression, but this wasn’t the case. In most cases it was telling you to anagram the first half of the answer, using the second half as an indicator as such. One of the answers asked you to add the theme answer and then remove half of it, which struck me as a bit contrived. Quite a few of the clues today require you to take something (usually an abbreviation) away from a definition of a word.

That said, it was the most challenging Toughie this week and I quite enjoyed it.

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. Favourite clues are highlighted in blue.


6a & 6d    Oscar’s a wag, holding a brief rally near 9 (7,5)
{ACADEMY AWARD} The answer for this fell in fairly quickly, but how it was worked out was rather harder. Inside A, plus the name for an almost whimsical fellow goes another A and the shortened word for a protest rally and 9, i.e. the first half anagrammed. This gives you the name of the famous film plaudit.

7a    9 races for Sir Thomas (5)
{WYATT} How many of heard of this person? Not me or three others I have asked, including one of the quiz teams in the local League. Take 9, and use it as described above and then add the initials associated with the Isle of Man and Motorcycles. This gives you the name of a poet who was called Sir Thomas and wrote a whole lot of memorable verse. So memorable, I gave up looking for it. [You obviously didn’t watch the recent TV serial of The Tudors!  He was accused of adultery with Anne Boleyn, for which he achieved notoriety and a holiday in the Tower of London. BD]

9a    Very unusual vomitory (3,3)
{WAY OUT} Here we need an expression that is used to mean something is rather quirky or unusual, and a description of what a vomitory is.

10a    Passing time among returning staff starts to impress new guys (8)
{ENACTING} I wasn’t over keen on this. A word that means passing is supposedly to be found by putting T inside the reversal of a type of stick or staff and the initial letters of Impress New Guys. I wonder if the use of ‘among’ implies it should go inside either the ‘reversal of staff’ or inside ING, rather than between the two.

11a    Qualities evenly incorporated in an outfit for Madame Bovary, perhaps? (10)
{ADULTERESS} Inside A and the name for a type of clothing that would be worn by a Madame goes the alternative letters of QUALITIES to give a word that describes Flaubert’s heroine. Oddly I think I have been spelling this without the first ‘e’ and Chambers only gives the version used here.

13a    Faded piece of scrimshaw ornamentation (4)
{WORN} Hidden in ‘scrimshaw ornamentation’ is a word that means faded or used.

14a    Fight two whole rounds — or take it as it comes? (2,4,3,4)
{GO WITH THE FLOW} An expression that refers to taking something at face value is an anagram (rounds) of FIGHT TWO WHOLE.

16a    Man conceivably setter will sound out (4)
{ISLE}     A homophone of what a setter may say if they intended to do something is the name for what Man is between England and Northern Ireland.

17a    Retail outlet where car boot may be handy? (6,4)
{GARAGE SALE} A cryptic definition for something that is very popular in the USA but catching on over here. You are looking for a way of selling your unwanted goods, similar to a car boot sale, but larger.

19a    Relatively slow U-boats laid up unfinished (8)
{SUBSONIC} A word that means not faster than the speed of sound refers to an abbreviated description of U-boats to which is added the incomplete expression that means something is suspended or in limbo.

20a    Scribbler with nothing about him makes whoopee (6)
{WHACKO} A word that means ‘whoopee’, associated with Leslie Phillips and in a comedy series ‘Professor’ Jimmy Edwards, is revealed by taking the name for a journalist (particularly an embittered long-serving one) and putting it inside W (with) and O (nothing).

22a    Members of panel I’d eagerly cut short (5)
{ELIDE} Something that means to cut short is found inside the expression PANEL I’D EAGERLY…

23a    Tell me to stop hens straying round 9 (3,4)
{SAY WHEN} Inside an anagram (straying) of HENS goes the treated 9, to give an expression used when you are filling up or having filled up your glass of drink.


1d    Not against South American capital going into cereal (4)
{SAGO} This confused me totally and I solved it from the crossing letters. Courtesy of a very nice website owner near you, it’s almost a Yodaspeak clue which still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. A word that means against, as in a protest, is removed from the name of the capital of Chile to give the name of a cereal that was one of the staples of school meal desserts. Not sure why ‘going into’ is there.

2d    Second choice could be not including torpedo boat in retreat (4,4)
{NEXT BEST} Inside the word for a retreat or bird’s home goes EX (not including) and TB (torpedo boat) to give you a phrase meaning the second choice.

3d    Espy state secret concealed in part of compositor’s gear (11,4)
{TYPESETTER’S CASE} An anagram (concealed) of ESPY STATE SECRET gives the name of a piece of equipment used by an old hot metal printer, namely something to carry round the print faces.

4d    Old boy’s forgotten by couple of masters — jerks! (6)
{TWEAKS} Take the word for a couple of things (3) and the plural of the nickname we gave to the wonderful and now sadly late Mike Harvey, my old history master (or any other old fashioned teacher) and remove (forgotten) the abbreviation for Old Boy. Dear Mr Harvey was not the most domestically challenged of people and shared a house with a number of other teachers. One day he came home with a rather large cabbage and asked one of the others how to cook it. Mischievously, the colleague told him to use a large cast iron bucket. Which he did, on a gas stove and nearly burnt the place down! However, very few people could inspire you to study history like MH!

5d    9 Lord Lieutenant’s drawing constituent’s joint boundaries (5,5)
{PARTY WALLS} The thematic treatment of 9 + LL (Lord Lieutenant) goes inside a word meaning constituents of a whole to give mutual room dividers.

6d    See 6a

8d    Wrote on composition notes in order to produce serial music (4,3)
{TONE ROW} A term in music relating to note combinations (I fell asleep googling it) is an anagram of WROTE ON.

12d    Shaggy cap worn by Rumpole? (7,3)
{LAWYER’S WIG} The headwear associated with Rumpole or other members of The Bar is an alternative name for the plant known as Shaggy Cap.

14d    Diplomatic action from Georgia certain to involve Turkish leader (7)
{GESTURE} The Georgia here is the Country IVR rather than the American state abbreviation. Take this, add a word meaning certain, and insert T (Turkish leader) to lead you to a word for an action or deed that is tactful or thoughtful.

15d    Thinly snick to 9 — ‘Not out this time, son’ (8)
{EDGEWAYS} I presume ‘thinly’ is the definition here, or the whole thing provides the definition. Neither works for me. A thin snick may be described as this in cricket, and 9 is added, just the first half (indicated by “not out”) and then S for son.

17d    Glance from scruffy gendarme put setter off (6)
{GANDER} A word that means look is an anagram of GENDARME minus ME (setter).

18d    Draw a parallel with some people’s pronounced skin problem? (5)
{LIKEN} A word that means to draw a parallel with something is a homophone (for some people) of a word that means a skin eruption or a mossy plant.

21d    Long and hard serve is crushing (4)
{ACHE} The name of a type of winning serve in tennis goes over (crushing) H for hard to give something that means to long.

Thanks to Firefly, and I’ll see you all next Friday.

16 comments on “Toughie 734

  1. I thought this was a bit laboured in parts, favourites 11a and 12d thanks to Firefly and to Tilsit for the review.

  2. Sorry Firefly but this wasn’t for me. It took me ages to get going, ages to finish, and I didn’t even sort out what 9 was until 3 clues from the end. Very grump inducing. Thanks to Tilsit for the review.

  3. Certainly the toughest of the week, but I am still in the dark about 4 down, any further explanation would be appreciated

  4. Very enjoyable – thanks to F&T. I got 9a straight away, but then thought that the theme was going to be methods of dismissal at cricket – how wrong!

  5. 7a Shame on you! Sir Thomas Wyatt is famous here in Kent. The “Tommy Wyatt” is a favourite pub in Allington

  6. was fearing the worst but in the end managed to get thru it all- often find especially on a Friday I can get the answer but have absolutely no idea how it breaks down- 4d a good example- which is where this peerless site comes in-very enjoyable end to the week

  7. Too tough for me.
    Brings one down to earth with a bang after the other toughies this week which were pussy cats by comparison.
    How many of the non-medical public have heard of lichen ( a term never used without an accompanying adjective) ?….18d
    The abbreviation for torpedo boat used to be MTB……2d
    The IOM TT is a race not a series……7ac
    etc etc …not my cup of tea today…managed about half before resorting to hints which confirmed that it was beyond me!

  8. I twigged the theme quite quickly after solving and correctly parsing 6a & 6d……….so I wasn’t (for once) too confused!

    However, I needed help elsewhere (4d & 18d) – so thanks to Tilsit. An enjoyable puzzle from Firefly.

  9. Having managed to get 23a first, this helped me to get 9a and opened up the rest of the themed clues. A tricky crossword to get into but once the themed entries were in place, it became a lot easier to get the remaining solutions. Thanks to Firefly for the crossword and to Tilsit for the review.

  10. Well all I can say is I got my wish. A real toughie at last! I made it worse by putting 3 a’s in 6a. I think some of the clues were a bit far-fetched but at least it was Toughie standard. Once 9a was solved quite a few of the rest fell into place. It took some working out though, as my dictionary gives vomitory as being sick! 7a made me smile but I needed onelook for 8d which was a new one for me. Best were 11 17a and 20. Thanks to setter for the 1st Toughie of the week.

  11. Re 1D. OK, I put it in because it had to be the answer, but I wasn’t happy. I have checked Chambers (rather than just the COED) and I can see how it can be justified from the BRB, but it just seems wrong to use the word “cereal” to refer to a grain from a tree, rather than a grain from a grass. Grumble grumble, mutter mutter…

    Apart from that, an entertaining and challenging puzzle! Thanks to all involved.

  12. Sir Thos – well honestly, I know his poetry well, but why should it be him? Sir Thos More is far more famous.
    Still, there’s a case to be made for Wyatt being the first Setter.

    “They flee from me that sometime did me seek,
    With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
    I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek
    That are now wild”

    = WON – and let’s draw a veil over how (=WHO).

Comments are closed.