Toughie 790 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 790

Toughie No 790 by Notabilis

Challenging Behaviour

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley. It’s been a fairly enjoyable week of puzzles in the Crossword World this week, with some splendid challenges in all of the papers. Today’s Notabilis was the cherry on the top of the rich cake we have enjoyed this week. The last puzzle from the mind of our esteemed setter was remarkable and this one is another challenge, but considerably more difficult than 777. I did have to seek assistance from one of my colleagues for a couple of answers.

I’ve been a bit haywire today with hospital trips, workmen and other visitors, so the notes are a little more concise than usual. Apologies.

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, and you may spot a perimeter Nina!


7a    Score halved with reduction of exercise that helps climbers grip (7)
{TENDRIL} Part of a plant is found by taking the number that is half a score and adding to it nearly the full word for exercise , usually associated with the military fitness regimes.

8a    Accidental in tune man orchestrated (7)
{UNMEANT} An anagram (orchestrated) of TUNE MAN gives you something that means accidential, non-intentional.

10a    Style of design space occupied by start of the month around posh university (3,7)
{ART NOUVEAU} This took a bit of working out! The name for a form of design and philosophy popular in the very early 20th century is found by taking the word for a space and inserting T (start of ‘the’), a short form of a month towards the end of the year with U (posh) inside. After all of this you add another U for university et voila, literally!

11a    The usual government line (4)
{RULE} A triple definition.

12a    Behind divider, note arrangement of beds (8)
{PARTERRE} Add the second note of the scale to a word for someone who divides and you’ll have a term beloved of Alan Titchmarsh and Diarmuid Gavin.

14a    Bank sank further after sacking every other European (6)
{DEPEND} A verb meaning to bank or rely is derived by dropping the second and fourth (sacking every other) E(uropean) from a verb meaning sank further

15a    Cape coated with unnatural dye for Nile green (11)
{ECOFRIENDLY} A word that means environmentally compatible is an anagram (unnatural) of C (cape) + DYE FOR NILE.

19a    Show about young flesh (6)
{REVEAL} Something that means show or display is made up of a word for about, or on the subject of; add to this a type of meat that comes from young animals.

20a    Culinary preparation during recall of brand’s salad ingredients (8)
{RADISHES} Inside the reverse of a word meaning to brand (as in cattle in the USA) goes a culinary term meaning to serve up food. This leads you to something found in salads (that I absolutely hate!).

22a    Sharply delineated spin’s good for a Democrat (4)
{EDGY} The word for a whirlpool or spin need to have one of its double letters (D) swapped for G (good) to give an adverb meaning on the periphery.

23a    Carrot and tree protector, providers of preservation by cold temperature (10)
{ENTICEMENT} Thanks to BD for reminding me that the tree protectors were found in Tolkien. The name for one of them is added to people who provide refrigeration services, plus T for temperature. This will give you a word that means “a carrot”, as in the phrase ‘carrot and big stick’.

25a    Duke with income set free of malign influence (7)
{DEMONIC} Take D (for Duke) and add an anagram (set free) of INCOME to give a word meaning of evil influence/

26a    What marathon runner needs reproductive parts in bloomers? (7)
{STAMINA} One of the best clues today. A double definition: something a marathon runner needs to last the course is the same as the plural for the reproductive organs of flowers. It’s actually an alternative plural to the regular one, per the Big Red Book.

I’m not sure what Tilsit has done with the down hints, so I’ll try to add them while watching the England/Sweden football game!  BD


1d           Band prepared to go on the road again? (7)
{RETREAD} – this band is made of rubber and goes round a wheel, so this is a cryptic definition of one that is not brand new but has been processed for use on a vehicle again

2d           Supreme being old, perhaps Ms Ross misses same note twice (4)
{ODIN} – this supreme being is a Scandinavian god – start with O(ld) and add the first name of the former lead singer with the Supremes (clever that!) without the two As (same note twice)

3d           Spirits of two-thirds of people required to follow Light Infantry (6)
{LIQUOR} – some alcoholic spirits are built up from two-thirds of a six-letter word for the minimum number of people required to be present to make the proceedings valid after the abbreviation of Light Infantry

4d           Relieve painful redness without sulphur, biting dragee’s coating (8)
{UNBURDEN} – to get this verb meaning to relieve start with a painful redness, drop (without) the chemical symbol for sulphur and put what’s left around (biting) the outside letters (coating) of DrageE

5d           Grain store erected after harvest supports New England people’s planting ground (10)
{NECROPOLIS} – reverse (erected) a grain store, put it after a harvest and then put the whole lot under (supports in a down clue) the abbreviation of New England to get a “people’s planting ground” for burying dead bodies

6d           Using Star Trek language, not counting on suspicion (7)
{INKLING} – start with a phrase that means using the language a warlike humanoid alien species in the television series Star Trek (2,7), drop (not counting) the ON and the result is a suspicion or glimmering

9d           Go off appearance, avoiding kiss in romantic meeting (11)
{DETERIORATE} – a verb meaning to go off or worsen is derived by putting an appearance or outer surface without the X (avoiding kiss) inside a romantic meeting (4)

13d         Card fool off his head turned up to scratch (7-3)
{TICKETY-BOO} – start with a card or permit (6) then add the reversal (turned) of a fool without his initial B (off his head) to get a colloquial word meaning up to scratch

16d         Two forms of mock breast won’t have such bone attached (5,3)
{FALSE RIB} – a charade of two different words meaning mock, the first an adjective as in mock turtle soup and the second a verb, gives a bone that is not attached to the breastbone

17d         Butter in apple-like fruit you may pick up (7)
{MEDDLER} – this type of person buts in or interferes and sound like (you may pick up) an apple-like fruit that makes superb jelly (we buy ours from Val Gilbert, former Telegraph crossword editor!)

18d         Boisterous manner before time in scrap (7)
{REMNANT} – put an anagram (boisterous) of MANNER in front of (before) T(ime) to get a scrap or leftover

21d         Upright boss getting account settled in old money (6)
{DUCATS} –put a boss or knob around  AC(count) and reverse the lot (upright in a down clue) to get these gold coins formerly current in most European countries

24d         Repeating oneself in something that might go viral (4)
{MEME} – repeat the first person objective pronoun (oneself) to get an idea that is disseminated via the Internet and might go viral

If you haven’t already worked it out, the Nina around the outside is {United States Border Patrol}

7 comments on “Toughie 790

  1. A Toughie that lives up to the advertised description of such puzzles. It took me several sessions with cogitation in between but well worth the struggle. I was particularly fond of the description of ‘planting ground’ for 5d. Thanks to Notabilis and Tilsit and BD too.

  2. Most enjoyable. Tricky, but not unfathomable, and for me much easier than the Giovanni toughie this week. The only one I was not sure how to explain was 23a. 4*/5* for me.
    Thanks to Notabilis, and to Tilsit for the review.

      1. For me, a 5* puzzle is one I cannot complete; more often than not it will be an Elgar puzzle, or this week, the Giovanni toughie. As for being a ‘better man’ I doubt that very much! :)

  3. I agree with CS’s rating on the other post – about 8* difficulty! Got there in the end but 12a was last in. I know less about gardening terms than I do about the physics of sub-atomic particles (and that ain’t much) but the BRB came to the rescue :grin: A great puzzle!

    Thanks (if that’s the right word) to Notabilis for taking up most of my morning and also to Tilsit.

  4. Thanks to Notabilis – a bit of an unequal challenge – you won!

    Also, thanks to Tilsit for providing all the missing bits! Pleased to see 5* difficulty rating.

  5. Cracking puzzle from a cracking compiler, took an age to finish but what satisfaction. Favourites were 20a 23a 6d and 13d thanks to Notabilis for the challenge and to Tilsit for the comments.

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