Toughie 837 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 837

Toughie No 837 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

For some reason I lost interest half-way through this puzzle. I persevered and had little difficulty in finishing it but some of the wordplay took a bit of working out. Maybe I’m having an off day.

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    Swap prize ram for cow? (9)
{BUTTERCUP} A ram (from something it does) + a prize = a name often given to a cow. I think ‘swap’ indicates that ‘ram’ comes before ‘prize’

8a    Devious medic steals my scheme for two-handed working? (7,6)
{DECIMAL SYSTEM} An anagram (devious) of MEDIC STEALS MY. There are ten digits on two hands

11a    Harmonise and transpose reduction of Meyerbeer gavotte (5)
{AGREE} Hidden in reverse in MeyerbEER GAvotte

12a    Character of Greek articles reaching across time (5)
{THETA} The definite article and the indefinite article round T (time)

13a, 18a & 21a    High water, and streak materialising … that’s very scary! (5,5,5)
{GREAT WHITE SHARK} An anagram (materialising) of HIGH WATER STREAK gives a scary creature

16a    Diddled about with heart of foliage plant (6)
{DAHLIA} A reversal of ‘diddled’ + the middle three letters of foliage

17a    Following summons, ambassador gets to struggle (6)
{WRITHE} A summons + an abbreviation denoting an ambassador

18a    See 13 across

19a    Cast, with rod high? (4-2)
{LINE-UP} This word for ‘cast’ (i.e. the bill of artistes appearing in a show) suggests that your fishing rod is held high

20a    Hats off to chap avoiding new complaint (6)
{ASTHMA} An anagram (off) of HATS + a chap with the letter N (new) removed

21a    See 13 across

24a    Twig making holes in both ends of stockings (5)
{OSIER} A willow twig is obtained by removing the first and last letters of ‘stockings’

26a    Seek / to impress (5)
{CHASE} 2 meanings: seek / impress (ornament by engraving or embossing)

27a    Kindly Arab I dupe vis-a-vis bid? (6-7)
{TENDER-HEARTED} BID are the middle three letters of AraB I Dupe. Thus ‘Arab I bid’ is ******-*******

28a    Easy listening tunes, performed by 1 for the listener? (4,5)
{MOOD MUSIC} These easy listening tunes sound as if they might be produced by a cow


2d    Tie up cash within trading group on the up (5)
{UNITE} A reversal (on the up) of cash inside the European Community

3d    Earl Grey’s on ‘Casualty’ — poser! (6)
{TEASER} What Earl Grey is an example of + ‘S + the abbreviation for a North American casualty department

4d    Country girl (from ‘ampshire, reportedly) following career (6)
{RUSSIA} Can someone help me out with the wordplay? Is it a homophone of rush ‘er?

5d    Pia’s forgotten petunias, unfortunately not in yet (5)
{UNSET} An anagram (unfortunately) of ETUNS (PETUNIAS less PIA)

6d    Programs for examination set by Thomas and Henry? (6,7)
{SEARCH ENGINES} Software programs for retrieving information from the Internet = examination + what Thomas (the tank one) and Henry (the green one) are

7d    A-G on Sky? Rapture! (7,6)
{SEVENTH HEAVEN} I don’t really get this one. A-G are the first so many letters of the alphabet and the second word of the answer = sky [I think the first word is any of A through G as part of an octave, but that’s all I can offer. BD]

9d    Donna dashed outside shop and weed (9)
{DANDELION} An anagram (dashed) of DONNA round a food shop

10d    Stand-in‘s time up inside criminal racket (9)
{CARETAKER} A reversal of a long period of time inside an anagram (criminal) of RACKET

13d    Goggles worn initially in space against sun (5)
{GAWPS} Goggles (as a verb) = W (first letter of worn) in a space + S (sun)

14d    Plant acer in different positions around island (5)
{ERICA} An anagram (in different positions) of ACER round I (island)

15d    Squeeze wife in the wood (5)
{TWEAK} W (wife) inside a hard wood

22d    15ed car — with poker? (3,3)
{HOT ROD} The name of a car with an engine that has been modified to produce increased power sounds as if it might be a poker that has just been used

23d    Net features piece from Timorese author (6)
{RESEAU} Hidden in TimoRESE AUthor

25d    ‘Capital’ an exemplar of promotion in old capital (5)
{RADIO} Capital (launched in 1973 and now part of a nine-station network) is an example of this. It is formed by ‘promotion’ inside the former capital of Brazil

26d    A royal follower? Crikey, one’s nipped George I (5)
{CORGI} An animal that might follow a member of the royal family = ‘Crikey’ and I (one) roung G (first letter of George)

I’ll be interested to hear what other solvers think.

14 comments on “Toughie 837

  1. 4d is indeed a homophone of RUSH and ER.

    After my struggles with the backpager I really enjoyed this one, thank you Firefly. Lots of dots by favourite clues, top of the list being 1a and 28a, 6d and 26d too.

    Thanks to Bufo for the review, particularly the explanation for 27a.

  2. Not as ferocious as some of todays setter but I did enjoy it, Favourites were 6d 27a and 28a thanks to Firefly and to Bufo for the comments.

  3. Superb toughie today, many thanks to Firefly. I loved 27a and 1a. Many thanks also to Bufo for the excellent review. A really good crossword day today.

  4. Re 7d, I think the musical notes A to G might be known as a SEVENTH. As A to E would be a FIFTH. To get the full octave you need to go from A through G and back to the next A to give the eight notes – I’ll check with pommette when she phones later as she’s the musician!

    Anyway a fine puzzle and much more enjoyable for me than the back pager and not a lot harder.

    Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  5. For once I was right!

    From Collins:

    SEVENTH (noun)

    4. (music)
    a. the interval between one note and another seven notes away from it counting inclusively along the diatonic scale

  6. I liked this puzzle a good deal. Many thanks to Firefly, and to Bufo for the write-up.

    The A-G interval is a minor seventh, but a seventh nonetheless.

    1. Hi Qix

      Yup, pommette confirmed the minor 7th and then went into a long lecture about minor/major 7th’s, which is to do with the mumber of semitones apparantly, and where they are used in musical composition! Sounded a bit like English but about as understandable as ancient Greek! Bit like when she talks about computers :grin:

  7. 27a is an excellent clue.
    Got the answer from the checkers, but needed Bufo’s explanation to understand why.
    Obvious – when you know the answer.
    4d doesn’t work for me – Norfolk? Cockney? Why ‘ampshire?

    1. I think that ‘ampshire is intended to make the dropped H explicit in the “homophone”.

      Even so, many people wouldn’t pronounce either ” ‘er” or “Russia” in the way that’s required to make the clue work. Russia ends in an A.

      Having said that, I thought that there were many good clues in the puzzle, and really liked it.

      1. I did worry about ‘ampshire indicating a Cockney dropped aitch, but it is probably an allusion to ” In ‘artford, ‘ereford and ‘ampshire, ‘urricanes ‘ardly ever ‘appen” as sung by Eliza Doolittle.

      2. Think you’re right Qix – where I’m from (Manchester) the place is pronounced ‘rusher’. Works for me but, as all homophones, may not work in other parts of the country.

  8. Hi

    As a Times Crossword buff I rarely get to try a Telegraph Toughie. I find the standard Telegraph Crossword quite easy but these Toughies are always a struggle. For me the cluing often seems a little too laboured, but maybe that’s just my inexperience with this style of challenge. Very enjoyable though

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