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Toughie 777

Toughie No 777 by Notabilis

The Magnificent Seven!

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

In Toughie 777 Notabilis gives us a puzzle in which all of the across answers are related to the number seven – did you get them all? I make it 16 answers covering 13 sets of seven, with another sprinkled in one of the clues for good measure. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe what is, for me, by far and away the best Toughie of the year.

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    Fighters of film cover wall-painting with canvas, both short of length (7)
{SAMURAI} – these seven famous fighters were the inspiration for The Magnificent Seven – put most of a wall-painting inside most of a canvas used on a sailing ship

5a    Tiresome people accepting Arabic support for Lawrence’s wisdom (7)
{PILLARS} – put some tiresome people around AR(abic) to get the seven supporters from the autobiographical account of the experiences of Lawrence of Arabia

9a    Revelations listed this church with humans behind mutilation of sheep (7)
{EPHESUS} – one of the Seven Churches of Revelations is created by putting you and me (humans) after an anagram (mutilation) of SHEEP

10a    Party briefly satisfied mine worker (7)
{BASHFUL} – a charade of a party and most of a word meaning satisfied gives one of seven diminutive mine workers

11a    Detective (American) nabs terribly noisy sleeper at 9 (9)
{DIONYSIUS} – put a detective and a two-letter abbreviation for American on either side of (nabs) an anagram (terribly) of NOISY to get one of the Seven Sleepers of 9 across

12a    Saint’s unwilling to go after sin (5)
{SLOTH} – the single-letter abbreviation of S(aint) is followed by an adjective meaning unwilling to get one of the Seven Deadly Sins

13a    Progression that starts with mewling, alienating even wise Greeks (5)
{SAGES} – here you need to find a Shakespearean progression of seven which starts with “mewling and puking”, drop the EVEN from the first word and you are left with the Seven Wise Greeks

15a    Sea salt caught in caper (9)
{ANTARCTIC} – one of the modern Seven Seas is derived by putting a salt or sailor and C(aught) inside a caper

17a    It’s a wonder mother collects gold only (9)
{MAUSOLEUM} – one of the Seven Wonders of the World, found at Halicarnassus, is built up from a three-letter word for mother around the chemical symbol for gold and a word meaning only

19a         Twisted band emitting energy that’s evil like 12 (5)
{WRATH} – start with a circlet of intertwined materials (twisted band) and drop (emitting) the E(nergy) to get another Deadly Sin

22a         Take sports class initiation for young housemate of 10 (5)
{DOPEY} – take sports class (2,2) is followed by the initial letter of Young to get another diminutive mine worker

23a         Holding Gotham back, protects one against Thebes (9)
{POLYNICES} – put the reversal (back) of the two-letter abbreviation of the city known to its locals as Gotham (of Batman fame!) inside (holding) a verb meaning protects or guards to get one of the Seven against Thebes

25a         Judge excused from joining sacrament, if extreme (7)
{UNCTION} – drop (excused from) the J(udge) from a joining of two roads to get something that when preceded by extreme is one of the Seven Sacraments

26a         One of 27 to get artist into office (7)
{ELECTRA} – one of the Seven 27 acrosses is could, if split (5,2), be to get an artist into office

27a         Dukakis is tersely taking only part for daughters becoming stars (7)
{SISTERS} – hidden inside (taking only part) the first three words of the clue are the Seven Daughters of the titan Atlas and the sea-nymph Pleione who were immortalized by Zeus and placed in the sky

28a         Weekly occurrence of tourers’ and diary’s odd things (7)
{TUESDAY} – one of the Seven Days of the Week comes from the odd letters of ToUrErS and DiArY


1d           Help to patrol rising sea which swimmers may be in (7)
{SPEEDOS} – put a call for help around the reversal (rising) of another word for a sea to get something swimmers might wear

2d           Publication covering John Hurt’s bit of four-person play? (3-4)
{MAH-JONG} – put a short word for a publication around (covering)_ an anagram (hurt) of JOHN to get a game for four players

3d           Blunt, perhaps supporting Gunners, and rough (5)
{RASPY} – put the type of secret agent that Anthony Blunt was after (supporting) the regiment of gunners to get an adjective meaning rough

4d           Set on answer held by one setting off (9)
{INSTIGATE} – this verb meaning to set on comes from A(nswer) inside I (one) and an anagram (off) of SETTING

5d           Landlord’s place represents part of hip area (5)
{PUBIS} – a charade of the place run by a landlord and a verb meaning represents gives part of the hip area – and if you fourth letter is E it doesn’t fit the wordplay!

6d           Endures (4,5)
{LAST STRAW} – a verb meaning endures is followed by T(emperature) and an adjective meaning cold and damp to get what is ultimately unbearable (as it broke the back of the camel!)

7d           Friar entering a place for baptism and incense, perhaps (7)
{AFFRONT} – put FR(iar) inside the A from the clue and a place for baptism to get a verb meaning to incense

8d           No answer in physical exercising like a graceful spirit? (7)
{SYLPHIC} – drop the A(nswer) from PHYSIC(A)L and then find an anagram (exercising) ofwhat is left to get an adjective meaning like a graceful spirit

14d         Finally bury duck over in reserve plot (9)
{STORYLINE} – put the final letter of burY and a duck or score of zero reversed (over) inside a verb meaning to reserve or save to get this plot

16d         In experiment, I married a priest at the best moment (9)
{TIMELIEST} – put an experiment around I, M(arried) and a priest who acted as a teacher to the prophet Samuel to get an adjective meaning at the best moment

17d         Channels head off banality in manuscript (7)
{MEDIUMS} – to get these channels or agencies put a word meaning banality or monotony without its initial letter (head off) inside a two-letter abbreviation of a manuscript

18d         Lacking initiative, more than one doctor maintains new power clears cases (7)
{UNPACKS} – drop the initial letter (lacking initiative) from a slang term for some doctors and put what’s left around (maintains) N(ew) P(ower) to get a verb meaning clears suitcases

20d         Summoned, did something about Channel Islands (7)
{ACCITED} – a rather obscure word meaning summoned is created by putting a verb meaning did something around the abbreviation of the Channel Islands

21d         Old cradle song has variant for husband’s heart (7)
{HUSHABY} – to get this old cradle song put an anagram (variant) of HAS instead of the middle letter (heart) of an affectionate word for a husband

23d         Tripe can barely breathe (5)
{PANTS} – a double definition – a modern usage as tripe or rubbish, much favoured by some setters to indicate an anagram, or a verb meaning can barely breathe

24d         Relative ease at either end in Riviera resort (5)
{NIECE} – to get this young female relative put the letter at either end of EasE inside a Riviera resort

This has been a labour of love.  Favourite clues? All of them.

13 comments on “Toughie 777

  1. I loved it too. A very ‘spotty’ day although I wouldn’t say that all the clues were my favourites. I would have given it 5* difficulty as well as entertainment as it took a lot of work to sort it all out. Thanks to Notabilis for the seven-fold start to the day and to BD for unravelling it all. Hope it doesn’t take you 7 hours :D

  2. This one gets 4.5* difficulty from me (I reserve 5* for the ones I can’t finish). This took me most of the morning to complete, and at one point with only half done, I nearly gave up. I am glad I persevered because the crossword is much cleverer than I gave it credit for at the time. There are still a couple I do not understand fully; I will wait patiently for the complete review.
    Thanks to Notabilis (or Notablis as per the telegraph crossword website), and to BD for the review.

  3. I really enjoyed this one, although I was halfway through before the penny dropped as to the theme. Found I was dragging up memories of Greek history & Disney cartoons. Lovely way to spend a delightful day with a cuppa & crossword sitting in a shady spot in the garden. Thanks Notabilis & BD.

  4. Trust me not to spot Toughie 777 which looking back may have helped me a little, however still a smashing puzzle to get to grips with, favourites all of them. Thanks to Notabilis and to Big Dave for the dissection, especially 13a.

  5. If I’d clocked the puzzle number a bit earlier it might have been a tad easier, d’oh!

    A really splendid puzzle which I did enjoy even though by the time I’d finshed it I felt as though I’d done 7 rounds with a young Mohammed Ali :grin: Running away fast for 21 mins does take it out of one :lol:

    Can’t pick a favourite out of that lot as they’re all so good :grin:

    Many thanks to Notabilis and BD.

      1. It slowly dawned on me about 7’s after I’d got the dwarves, sisters and the samurai (first in!) but I’d nearly finished before I tied it in with the puzzle number. D’oh and double d’oh!

      2. Same here. Twigged after the first few across solutions and saw the number.

        Sorry to add more than 7 comments. We will have to aim for 77!

        Thanks to N for a cracker of a crossword and to BD for the review.

  6. Moreover, there are 16 themed across sevens and also 16 seven-letter solutions.
    The date 24-d-2012 adds up to 16 as well. Coincidence?

    An absolute masterpiece.

    Thanks to the noteworthy compiler and BD.

  7. Absolutely loved it and agree that it was one of the best puzzles of the year so far..

    1. Tilsit – you’re the 7th top level comment! We need to close the comments now. After all that hard work by Notabilis it would be churlish to spoil it :grin:

      1. in which case i’ll tag onto yours, Crikes I hope this works or I might end up as a victim in a certain Brad Pitt film. I thought at first read through this was fort knox. Second read through looked at the number, then found a way in. My last two in “hangs head in shame” were 12a and 8d. But why? 23a was new but so well written that with a cheeky electronic look confirmed. 5* and 5*, one of the best. Thanks Notabilis and BD . Quiz night beckons, until tomorrow

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