Toughie 814 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 814

Toughie 814 by Notabilis

Where’s Theseus when you need him?

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

At about ten to nine this morning I uttered the immortal words ‘thank goodness this is the first Friday for ages I don’t have to worry about blogging the Toughie, as it is proving impossible to solve’.   Luckily for me, the cryptic grey matter gradually woke up, as I then received an email from Tilsit….!!

This week has been a really great one for lovers of the Toughie,  and today’s puzzle completes the set very nicely.   Some of the clues take ages for the penny to drop and then once you look at the wordplay, you wonder why on earth it took so long, the SW corner of the crossword being a fine example of this phenomenon.   I did have a few dense moments with some of the wordplay,  for which the assistance of Big Dave is gratefully acknowledged.

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 in blue.


1a           Dealer’s parking guide (6)
{PUSHER}  Someone who sells illegal drugs – the abbreviation for Parking followed by a guide who shows people to their seats.

4a           Highland region since seized by subcommittee? (8)
{CAUCASUS}   A mountainous (highland) area between Europe and Asia – simply insert a conjunction meaning since into a small group of a much larger party or meeting.

9a           Mystical healer, not the genuine article (6)
{SHAMAN}  Someone using magic for healing purposes.   A charade of an adjective meaning false followed by an article.

10a         Maze prisoner spotted in Miami (not a Uruguayan) (8)
{MINOTAUR}  A very nice hidden word clue –  the mythological  creature who lived at the centre of the Cretan labyrinth or maze is hidden in MiaMI NOT A URuguayan.

11a         Make most of tent (6)
{MARQUE}   Nearly all of the letters of a large tent  form a word meaning make, usually applied to cars.

12a         Conservative wet, formerly keeping it real (8)
{CONCRETE}  Real, definitive or positive –  The abbreviation for Conservative, followed by a word meaning formerly,  into which has been inserted a verb meaning to wet or soften by soaking.

14a         What’s less effective than also-rans or entrants going off course? (3-7)
{NON-STARTER}  A proposal with no hope of being either accepted or successful, is an anagram (going off course) of OR ENTRANTS.

18a         Make extreme lift with first sign of lactic acid held back (10)
{RADICALISE}   To make extreme, particularly in relation to political or religious matters.   Insert into a verb meaning lift, a reversal of both ACID (from the clue) and the first letter of Lactic.

22a         Faith teaching during lesson with a tragic old novel (8)
{CLARISSA}   The tragic old novel by Samuel Richardson,  subtitled A History of a Young Lady.    Insert into a lesson or lecture, the abbreviation one might use when referring to a religious instruction lesson, and then follow the result with A (from the clue).

23a         Deplore implausible writings by early Christians (6)
{LAMENT} To deplore or regret with great grief.   A synonym for implausible or ineffective, followed by the abbreviation for that part of the Bible written by, and concerning, early Christians.

24a         Telecommunications company holding position over result of substantial littering (8)
{OCTUPLET}   Excessive littering is a cryptic reference  to a number of live young born at the same time.     A reversal of an abbreviation for  telecommunications company  into which has been inserted a  verb meaning to place in position.

25a         Person presenting cheque shortly acquiring wife’s watch (6)
{BEWARE}  Insert W for wife into almost all of the official term for someone presenting a cheque  (or even a banknote) to get an instruction to watch or take care.

26a         Novice returning to replace fourth in poor sisterhood (8)
{SORORITY}  A sisterhood or club, especially at an American university.    Take a word meaning poor in the sense of pitiful and, having removed it’s fourth letter, replace that letter with a reversal of a rarely used word for a novice or beginner.

27a         Blunt colleague covers for peevish, ill Britney (6)
{PHILBY}   One of Anthony Blunt’s fellow double agents is obtained from the outside letters (covers) of Peevi H, IlL, and BritneY.



1d           Protected by head of government, remains wearing a shawl (8)
{PASHMINA}     A type of fine shawl – Insert remains from a fire into the abbreviation for the head of government and then finish with an expression meaning wearing or having on.

2d           Ecstatic about mass of curls where waves finish (8)
{SEAFRONT}   Another term for a beach or shore –   Insert into a word meaning roused into ecstasy the term used for a particular style of curly hair.

3d           Move away from the south of France, and to the 25 (8)
{EVACUATEwith this one it helps if you know Latin or have access to a handy Big Dave!   A charade of  the French word for and, the French word  for to and the Latin word meaning the same thing as the solution to 25a are combined and then reversed (from the south in a down clue) to make a verb meaning to move away from a place of danger.

5d           Via ‘X-Files’ broadcast, restraining old source of terror? (4,2,4)
{AXIS OF EVIL}   An anagram (broadcast) of VIA X FILES plus an O (restraining Old) makes a term used by President George W Bush to describe governments he accused of helping terrorism.

6d           Practically sit in sofa, hugging back of chair (6)
{CROUCH}   To squat down in an almost sitting position –  Insert the final letter of chair (hugging back of) into another way of referring to a sofa or settee.

7d           Barefaced liars’ last refuge (6)
{SHAVEN}   Not having a beard –  the last letter of liarS plus a place of safety or rest.

8d           View excited voyeurs, giving nothing away (6)
{SURVEY}   To view at length or in detail.   An anagram (excited) of V[O]YEURS with the O removed (nothing away).

13d         Telegraph’s one way the woman gets inside speculation (10)
{BROADSHEET}   The Telegraph is an example of this type of newspaper format.    Insert into a speculation or wager, a synonym for way or street, plus the female pronoun.

15d         Tarzan? He is out of place in old town (8)
{NAZARETH}   Another anagram (out of place) of TARZAN HE makes one of the most famous old towns in the New Testament.

16d         Network protection has signal carrier go down when switching leads (8)
{FIREWALL}   Everyone should have this on their computer to protect their trusted files from something like the internet where there may be ‘unreliable’ elements.     Take something which carries signals or current follow with  verb meaning to go down or drop,  and then ‘switching leads’,  change over the first letters of each of the words.

17d         Taking English, learner’s not seen in paternal light (8)
{FEATHERY}  Add an E (taking English) to a  word meaning  paternal  or benevolent like a male parent, and then remove the L (learner’s not seen) to get a word meaning light, soft and downy.     .

19d         Almost turn on Supreme Leader? Not this way (6)
{ACROSS}   The first two letters of a three-letter word meaning turn or performance, followed by the lead singer of the Supremes go together to describe the opposite direction to this particular clue.

20d         Room set up to house Bohemian victim (6)
{MARTYR}   Inserting a word meaning Bohemian or affectedly artistic into a reversal (set up) of a two letter abbreviation for room, produces  someone who is victimized because of their beliefs.

21d         Someone in bed smoking can lead to this (6)
{KIPPER}  A double definition – A colloquial term for someone who sleeps in a bed is the same as a type of smoked herring.

One can always rely on Notabilis to stretch the cryptic grey matter to the limits while providing great entertainment too, so a big thank you to him once again.

19 comments on “Toughie 814

  1. This was too tough for me to finish, but I did enjoy it very much. Plenty of favourites, but I did like the surface of 7d.
    Thanks to Notabilis for the challenge, and to Crypticsue for the notes and explanations (especially the three I did not get).

  2. One minor correction: in 19d, “almost turn” is AC(t), using “turn” = “a performer’s act or the performer”.

    1. I had just corrected that one as you were posting your comment as my usual ‘friend’ had just pointed that out to me.

  3. Thanks to Notabilis for the four excellent puzzles and to CS for the entertaining review.
    I’d pick (from a long list of candidates) 11a, 27a and 21d as my favourites.

  4. Excellent denoument to what has been a remarkable week for Toughie aficionados, Favourites today were 10a 11a 20d 21d and 27a thanks to Notabilis and to CS for stepping up to the plate at short notice.

  5. Great crossword, great review, great week. Many thanks to Notablis and to Crypticsue. ( Spent ages trying to fit a j in to complete what I had thought was a pangram.)

  6. Phew, what a Tougie! Enjoyed it but it’s made my brain hurt :grin: Is there any space in the darkened room?
    Favourite was 21d but I also liked “excessive littering” as a definition :smile:

    Thanks to Notabilis and CS

  7. I filled in 12A based on letters and the mail clue REAL but still don’t get it even after looking at your clue

  8. If crossword setting was an Olympic sport, this week’s setters would all be contenders for the Gold medal. If solving were an Olympic sport, I would be emulating Eddie the Eagle ;)

    1. My thoughts exactly, fantastic week. Have i been able to do them unaided, no, have i enjoyed them yes, and have I learned heaps, a resounding yes! Cheers all

  9. Wonder if the 3 I had left are the same as Jezzas. Brilliant puzzle, too many favourites to pick, thank you Notabilis and CSue for a fantastic review under testing circumstances. Did have to resort to many electronic aids.

  10. An enjoyable end to a brain stretching week, with the inclusion of a cryptic that was tougher than many toughie’s I have done.
    Best Regards

  11. Thanks to Sue for helping me out today when I wasn’t feeling too brilliant. A splendid Toughie from Notabilis which really stretched my rather poorly mental muscles.

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