Toughie 794 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 794

Toughie No 794 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Greetings from the Calder Valley! We end the Toughie week with a visit from Firefly. I found this very much a curate’s egg of a puzzle with some really nice stuff but one or two clues that caused some tooth-sucking. Whether it was because we were spoiled with Micawber and Dada’s fine puzzles over the past couple of days, but this didn’t quite hit the mark for me. The puzzle seems to have a number of famous names as answers, but I’m not sure this is a theme as such.

The other reason this puzzle was rather odd for me was that I virtually started at the bottom of the grid and worked my way up. At one point, I had the entire bottom half completed with one answer in the top half. In fact the top half took me over twice as long as the bottom half.

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    Not weighed down with a followspot, perhaps? (10,5)
{TRAVELLING LIGHT} A double cryptic definition to start with today. If you are on the road with minimal baggage , you may be this and a followspot could be described as this as well.

9a    Rock first of hikers rest on at midway point (5-4)
{NORTH-EAST} An anagram (rock) of H (first of hikers) +REST ON AT gives you the mid-point on a compass between two of the main ones.

10a    Fate of a Stuart (5)
{MOIRA} A name for the three Fates in Mythology is the Christian name of a newsreader called Stuart.

11a    People turned out to ride? (7)
{INHABIT} A word that means to people or staff something is a cryptic description of people dressed for riding (2,5).

12a    Charlie’s crack heralding interminable row (7)
{CHAPLIN} A word meaning to crack as in lips in wintry weather, is added to the word for a row of things, minus its last letter (interminable) to give the name of a famous film Charlie.

13a, 24a, 16d & 18d    Game point Robinson, hard foe to beat (3,3,3,3)
{ONE FOR HIS NOB} If you play the game cribbage, a way to score an additional point is to have the Jack of the suit that was led at the start of the round (I think!). There’s a term for this, and that’s the answer here. It’s an anagram of ROBINSON, H FOE.

14a    Divisions’ vanguard moving east among mountains (7)
{EIGHTHS} The name for a fraction is a description of mountains with its first letter (vanguard) moving to next to last place.

17a    The Yeti’s female, then, we hear? (7)
{SNOWMAN} What the Yeti is can be a homophone for what it could be perceived to be as in ‘It’s not a chap”.

19a    May perhaps cut cost here safely? (7)
{THERESA} The Christian name of the Home Secretary, famous for her ‘kitten heels’ is hidden in the phrase COST HERE SAFELY.

22a    Lifeless Capello’s heading off before end of tournament in charge (7)
{ABIOTIC} A scientific term meaning lifeless is found by taking the first name of the former England coach, minus his first letter, add T (end of tournament) and IC (in charge).

24a    See 13 across

25a    Jewellery mentioned in East-ender’s trial (7)
{EARRING} An item of jewellery is a homophone of how a Cockney might say the word for a trial or court case.

26a    Devoted daughter attractive? Not Beatrice! (7)
{DUTIFUL} A word meaning devoted is found by taking D (daughter) and adding a word that means attractive minus an abbreviation of the name Beatrice.

28a    Glen returning clasp holding small letters (5)
{GULCH} The equivalent of a glen in the Wild West is found by reversing a word meaning hold or clutch and inserting LC (lower case, small letters).

29a    Contiguous with a hypotenuse? (9)
{ALONGSIDE} A cryptic definition of a hypotenuse’s position within a triangle (1,4,4) is also something that mean contiguous.

30a    Heel hurt in a scan? Possibly claim on this? (6,9)
{HEALTH INSURANCE} Amusing clue, an anagram (possibly) of HEEL HURT IN A SCAN is the way that you could pay for treatment of it.


1d    Ability to resist stress gets nth Listener out (7,8)
{TENSILE STRENGTH} A scientific term for the force used to pull a rope is an anagram (out) of GETS NTH LISTENER

2d    Henry’s weighed down with a regular farrago — that’s dreadful! (5)
{AARGH} Really didn’t like this clue. An expression uttered when something is not right is found by taking H (Henry) and A, reversing it and inserting the alternate letters of the word FARRAGO.

3d    Former husband I stung for present (7)
{EXHIBIT} A word meaning former and H (for husband) – although the first part could mean ‘former husband’ as well – is added to I and something that means stung (as an insect) gives something that means present or show.

4d    Sheds unproductive deuces, say? (4-3)
{LEAN-TOS} Some old fashioned sheds are described thus. A word meaning unproductive, barren is added to a homophone for deuces.

5d    A short canoeist coming out in spots (7)
[NOTICES} Another clue I don’t like. The clue is an anagram of some of the letters of CANOEIST. For this to work you have to read it as “A short, canoeist”. Not entirely sure it’s fair. The anagram of the remaining letters reveals a word meaning SPOTS.

6d    Lead quietly away in pain (7)
{LUMBAGO} An old name for lead, that gave us its chemical symbol needs to have P (piano, quiet) removed to give a word for backache.

7d    Marine diver’s regular check on craft crossing Loch (9)
{GUILLEMOT} A type of seabird is found by taking a word meaning craft or cunning, adding the name of a regular vehicle check, and inserting L (loch)

8d    Conceivably seminary’s mistaken in relocating without support (8,7)
{TRAINING COLLEGE} The sort of educational establishment that a seminary could be is found by anagramming IN RELOCATING and inserting the word for a support.

15d    Irregular trains missed; I regularly run to work! (9)
{GUERRILLA} The word for an irregular soldier (almost but not quite an anagram of irregular) is found by making an anagram of I REGULARLY R , minus RY (railway, trains). Seems odd asking you to remove an R from a phrase that has it specifically added.

16d    See 13 across

18d    See 13 across

20d    Description — ‘Alien’ — underpins English essence (7)
{EPITHET} The word for a witty description is revealed by taking E (English), adding a word that means the essence of something and then ET (alien).

21d    Hound one for money (7)
{AFGHANI} An Asian currency is revealed by taking the name of a type of hound and adding I.

22d    Arabian couple held up by American heavy (7)
{ARDUOUS} A word sum. AR (Arabian) + a word meaning a pair or couple + the abbreviation for American = something that means heavy, difficult.

23d    Whole section of counterpoint (e.g. Erlebach’s) retained (7)
{INTEGER} I’m not sure (and neither is my maths expert) that the answer can be defined as a whole, rather than a whole number, but Chambers thinks that you can. Hidden in COUNTERPOINT EG ERLEBACH’S.

27d    Stoop to enter Fellow for degree that’s fake (5)
{FEIGN} A word that means to stoop down to someone needs to have F (fellow) replace its D (degree) to give something that means fake.

Thanks to Firefly for the challenge. I’ll see you next week.

20 comments on “Toughie 794

  1. I too started at the bottom and worked my way up, and had the bottom filled before the top and.. well you get the picture. I think those grids with the long clues round the outside always cause problems than they ought. Thanks to Firefly – I liked 13/24/16/18 as it reminded me of my dad who was a great cribbage player and a couple of others too. Thanks to Tilsit for the explanations.

  2. Fortunately I’ve played a lot of crib over the years! Favourite clue.

    Not too hard for a Friday but I quite enjoyed it.

    Many thanks to Friefly and Tilsit.

  3. No complaints from me on this one, I also used to enjoy a game of cribbage, favourites were 11a 12a 29a and the crib clue, Thanks to Firefly and to Tilsit for the review.

  4. I found this very tough, but I thought it was very enjoyable.
    Thanks to Firefly and to Tilsit.

  5. Must have been on wavelength today, had made inroads with the perimeter and thought having read CS post on the back page I was about to come to a shuddering halt, but the rest came soon in a relatively workmanlike manner. I agree that I hadn’t thought of 23d as a whole in this context. Thanks to Firefly and Tilsit

  6. It was raining – I had a go – managed probably about 2/3 of this although needed the explanations for at least half of them. Oh well – it was fun, if difficult. I still don’t understand some even after reading the hints – I think it’s just beyond me.
    With thanks to Firefly and Tilsit.

    1. Hi Kath – what don’t you understand? I’ll be here for about half an hour then I’m off to bed! Just ask.

      1. eh up lad, can you sleep in that heat tee hee, seem to have started something with the e-punches. Seriously with todays I, by my standards, found it a breeze, really strange. A couple took a bit of parsing but unlike the back pager I knew all the words which helped!!

        1. Sleeping’s OK because we have an aircon in the bedroom, which I turned on about half an hour ago to cool the room down. It’s during the day that’s the problem – you really don’t need yesterday’s heat! Today was fine though. I’d actually welcome some rain!

          Agree that this Toughie seemed to fill itself faster than the back page (but didn’t time either) – and we did the back page in the bar where it’s noisy and the telly’s on so it’s hard the think straight :grin:

          1. Saw the weather forecasts, tad warm, last weekend my Greek friends in Samos were moaning that they were having terrific downpours and strong winds that were ruining their equivalent of allotments and crops destroyed. The weather has gone a bit mad methinks. Going up to Glasgow in the morning (with dogs) on train, it’ll probably be downright tropical up there….

        2. P.S. One of the problems is the Spanish weather girl on the TV – she’s a real ‘looker’ and wears short skirts and low cut tops :grin: Would probably not be allowed by the beeb but it deflects my attention from the puzzle :lol:

              1. Never even look at the quickie – too busy doing the Toughie and the Grauniad. Do like the weather forecasts on Spanish channel 5 though – can’t think why, apart from the fact she’s usually right :lol:

                1. cannot possibly think…., and if she’s ever wrong, well, i can see why she’d be forgiven. Gotta go, sort dogs bags out etc, taking laptop so should be able to comment on Cephas tomorrow on the train, providing doggies behave themselves that is, cheers

    2. Hey that’s good isn’t, a Friday Toughie, which Sue described as a Tough Toughie and Jezza very Tough. Have absolutely no idea why I agree with Tilsit on 3* when the back page took me longer than this!! Any in particular despite hints you still don’t get… I can try and help

  7. The cribbage helped me as well (I have a trophy!). A couple of others really held me up!. Thanks to Tilsit for the blog and Firefly for the puzzle.

  8. Thanks to firefly for a very enjoyable if unchallenging toughie, although a Scot, I spent 40 great years in the north of England where crib and don ruled the pubs so I loved this, thanks also to Tilsit for the review.

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