Toughie 826 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 826

Toughie No 826 by Notabilis

Operation Underline

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

Tilsit is on holiday somewhere in the Lake District leaving me to review this excellent puzzle from Notabilis.

Following the success of underlining the definitions, introduced by Scchua on Wednesday, I have decided to try it out myself. All definitions in the clues have been underlined, and omitted from the hints unless further explanation has been added.

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    Knock off sides of discharge tube (6)
{DEDUCT} – a verb meaning to knock off or take away is derived from the outside letters (sides)of DischargE followed by a tube

4a    Sensitive spot, roughly abused, time and time again (5,3)
{TASTE-BUD} – a sensitive spot on the tongue comes from an anagram (roughly) of ABUSED T T (time and time again)

10a    At first, the crew mistake employer’s backing for raise (9)
{RESURRECT} – the initial letters (at first) of The and Crew are followed by a verb meaning to make a mistake and an employer then it’s all reversed (backing)

11a    Hold narrow edge of knife (5)
{THINK} – this verb meaning to hold or believe comes from an adjective meaning narrow followed by the initial letter (edge) of Knife

12a    Suffer current silence with a gruff attitude? (7)
{BEARISH} – a verb meaning to suffer is followed by the symbol that represents electric current and an exhortation to keep silent

13a    Some retrospective retrieval’s needing force to work (7)
{ENSLAVE} – hidden inside the clue (some) and reversed (retrospective)

14a    Important area including northern equatorial region (5)
{KENYA} – a three-letter adjective meaning important and A(rea) are placed around (including) N(orthern) to get an African country

15a    Rocky performances made him put a person off (8)
{STALLONE} – the surname of the actor made famous by the Rocky films can be split (5,3) to get a verb meaning to put off and a pronoun representing a person – the required capitalisation of Rocky is cleverly concealed by placing it at the start of the clue

18a    Trap a king: what stops merry old one? (4,4)
{CAKE HOLE} – a slang word for the trap or mouth is derived by putting the A from the clue, K(ing) and an exclamation meaning “what!” inside (stops) the famous merry old monarch

20a    Discharge law primarily displacing number of judges (5)
{BELCH} – this verb meaning to discharge wind from the stomach via the mouth is derived by putting the initial letter (primarily) of Law in place of (displacing) N(umber) in a word for a group of judges

23a    Man in the news a lot, implicating third of Tory party? (7)
{MURDOCH} – this irritating American, formerly Australian, news magnate is created by putting a word meaning a lot around (implicating) the third letter of ToRy and a party

25a    Head off bombardment, smothering one’s aggression in high places (3,4)
{AIR RAGE} – drop the initial letter from (head off) a bombardment and put it around (smothering) I (one) to get aggression while flying as a passenger on an aircraft

26a    Chump steak initially is bound by twine (5)
{TWIST} – put a chump or fool around (is bound by) the initial letter of Steak

27a    Vigorously rub in talc, overcoming friction (9)
{LUBRICANT} – an anagram (vigorously) of RUB IN TALC

28a    Hollows in volcanic height become thicker (8)
{CONDENSE} – put some hollows lairs of wild animals inside a volcanic hill, so named because of its shape

29a    Disconnect new home of renowned bore (6)
{SEVERN} – a verb meaning to disconnect is followed by N(ew) to get the river that is renowned for its bore


1d    One runs odd parts of Tube through Embankment, which takes one off roads? (4,4)
{DIRT BIKE} – put I (one), R(uns) and the odd letters (parts) of TuBe inside (through) an embankment (alternate spelling!) to get a motorcycle designed for riding off roads

2d    Done in, is Dad looking down and feeling better? (7)
{DISDAIN} – an anagram (done) of IN IS DAD gives a feeling of contempt, generally tinged with superiority

3d    French jeweller almost overcomes delay to make stuff found in ears (9)
{CARTILAGE} – put most of (almost) a famous French jeweller around (overcomes) a delay to make the firm, flexible connective tissue found in the ears

5d    Rashly say ‘Macbeth’ with ease according to circumstances (2,3,4,3,2)
{AS THE CASE MAY BE} – an anagram (rashly) of SAY MACBETH with EASE

6d    Groan, perhaps, as persistent ringing’s not got hold of pub (5)
{TITUS} – to get the first name of the eponymous hero of a novel by Mervyn Peake start with a persistent ringing and drop (not got hold of) a three-letter word for a pub – once again the required capitalisation is cleverly concealed by placing it at the start of the clue

7d    Island with special quality requisitioned by Crown (7)
{BRITAIN} – put a two-letter special quality of personal magnetism inside (requisitioned by) a verb meaning to crown or hit hard over the head

8d    Type of game involving king, king who had success with Israelites (6)
{DEKKER} – put an animal hunted as game around K(ing) and K(ing) to get the surname of the singer who had success with a song called Israelites

ARVE Error: need id and provider

9d    Representative in Strasbourg, the man’s best man, mostly minor person with soul-destroying job? (14)
{MEPHISTOPHELES} – a charade of the abbreviation for a representative in Strasbourg, the male pronoun, an adjective meaning the best, another male pronoun, and most of an adjective meaning minor gives this mythical person who is tasked with the job of destroying the souls of those who are already damned

16d    Profligate Wooster, possibly deficient in occupation (9)
{LIBERTINE} – put most of (deficient) the first name of P.G. Wodehouse’s fictional toff inside an occupation or trade

17d    Yarn’s cut on something below jack in loom (8)
{THREATEN} – most of (cut) some yarn is followed by the playing card whose value is immediately below the jack to get a verb meaning to loom

19d    Scottish island accepts raised American regular charge (7)
{ARRAIGN} – put a Scottish island around (accepts) the reversal (raised in a down clue) of a regular American soldier to get a verb meaning to charge with an offence

21d    Splitting stage, also known as energy containment failure (7)
{LEAKAGE] – inside (splitting) a stage of a race put the abbreviation for “also known as” and then add E(nergy)

22d    Quote the writer’s brought up, leading to upbringing? (6)
{EMETIC} – a verb meaning to quote followed by the first person objective pronoun is all reversed (brought up) to get this medicine that causes vomiting

24d    Eccentric selection of accoutrements (5)
{OUTRÉ} – a hidden word (selection of)

This is the biggest shake up in the presentation of the hints since I introduced the hiding of the answers back in February 2009. It looks as if value is added and nothing taken away – a win-win situation. Please let me know what you think.

17 comments on “Toughie 826

  1. I would award this 5* difficulty as well as 5* entertainment. Definitely a puzzle of four corners NW, SE, NE, SW but some great clues. I hvae dots by 18a, 3d, 6d, 8d, 9d, 16d, 19d and 22d too. Thanks to Notabilis for keeping my nicely occupied while the poorly computer was being mended. Thanks to BD too. I do like the underlining but that is probably the only change that is needed to the current system of explanations.

  2. This was very nearly 5* difficulty for me, but not quite, as I did manage to complete it eventually.
    Definitely 5* for enjoyment. Many thanks to Notabilis for a most pleasant morning, and to BD for the review.
    I think the ‘Operation Underline’ is an excellent idea, as I am certain it will help many people in their understanding of how the clue works,
    And now is the perfect time to get out of the office and start my 2 weeks in the sunshine (hopefully),

  3. A very difficult Toughie for to me today! Managed most of it but not all despite using all help available! Favourites Dekker & Belch! Failed on 18a &2d.

    I’m in favour of the new presentation with the definitions underlined. The other crossword sites seem to be lacking “the Hidden Solution” feature and very few give the capability of nesting comments. (@BD)

    Thanks to Notabilis & BD

  4. I definitely struggled with this and would also award it 5*/5*. Many thanks to Notablis and to BD for the hints, quite a few of which, I needed.

  5. Thoroughly enjoyable with masses of top-notch clues of which I’d select the brilliant 23a, 6d and 8d as my favourites. Thanks to Notabilis and BD.

  6. My heart sank when I saw 3*, so cheered by the comments. 5* 5* North East held me up the most. Still not sure I completely understand 23a, get the much and the r, where does the do come from?
    Many thanks to Notabilis and BD, and I too am all for the underlining technique.

  7. By far the toughest this week as is expected for a Friday, Difficult picking favourites from so many but I’ll opt for 1d 8d 18a 20a and 23a , I’m also in favour of Operation Underline. Thanks to Notabilis for the enjoyment and to Big Dave for the comments.

  8. Wow. That was a challenge for us. By using much perservation managed to finish unaided. Absolutely brilliant clues throughout. We gave ourselves an arms in the air cheer of delight when the last word – cake hole – slotted into place. It is a good thing that the blog does not come up until after we have gone to bed or we might have been tempted to have a wee peek for a hint. Many thanks Notabilis and BD

  9. I’m sorry but I always find that Notabilis crosswords have poor surface readings. Good surface readings are essential to a crossword, so I didn’t like this one at all
    I like the underlinings thanks, Dave

    1. phercott, Agree with you entirely about the poor surface readings.

      Most of the Toughies seem to suffer from the same problem IMHO – yet they are greeted with great acclaim by the experts.

      Looking forward to Virgilius on Sunday and Rufus on Monday!

      1. Surface reading is a bit like artistic impression – icing on the cake but useless if the technical ability is lacking and the cake itself is disgusting. The surface reading of Notabilis’s clues is many times better than some I could (but won’t) mention.

      2. Whoa there Franco, i’m not an expert by any means, for me today I had to resort to all sort of electronic help and the fact I didn’t connect party with do is simply beyond me (23a). My nemesis Virgilius.

  10. Hola from a cloudy Mar Menor (Pommers did not mention dark clouds in his sales pitch!!)

    Three stars about right for difficulty for me but top notch enjoyment. Thanks to Notabilis for the Friday fun and BD for the review.

  11. Took me a week whilst on holiday in Northern Cyprus but got there in the end with no help guessed the River Severn but didn’t know why had no idea about its ‘Bore’ !

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