Toughie 839 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 839

Toughie No 839 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

A Toughie in which you have to work hard to resolve many of the clues, but lacking in that je-ne-sais-quoi quality that makes it of more than average enjoyment.

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.


6a           Sheltered from reality minor celebrity welcomes round journalist (10)
{CLOISTERED} – a minor celebrity (1-6) around a round letter followed by Crosswordland’s usual journalist – am I the only one that doesn’t like this use of “round”? I could just about accept “round letter” but on its own it doesn’t work for me, even though it’s in Mrs Bradford’s Dictionary

8a           Get away with singing nonsense (4)
{SCAT} – a double definition

ARVE Error: need id and provider

9a           Greeting beaten leader in retreat or one taking a stand perhaps (9)
{EXHIBITOR} – a two-letter greeting followed by the initial letter (leader) of Beaten inside a retreat or departure then the OR from the clue

11a        Half of what’s done in a lab is mischievous (4)
{ARCH} – drop the RESE (half of what’s done in a lab)

12a        Endless caterwaul of bagpipes could lead one to drink (3)
{KIR} – drop the S and L (endless) from a caterwaul of bagpipes

13a & 2d    Gawp over early pop star, humorist and husband or stay pro (4,5,4)
{KEEP FAITH WITH} – reverse a verb meaning to gawp, follow it with early pop star Adam, a three-letter word for a humourist and H(usband) – presumably the definition is meant to mean to stay in favour of

16a        Savour wine event from which sparkling white is almost entirely banned (4)
{TANG} – start with an event at which wines are sampled and drop (banned) most of (almost entirely) (A)STI (sparkling white)

17a        Medium and large primarily in gipsy-styled clothing (3,4)
{GYM SLIP} – the initial letters (primarily) of Medium and Large inside an anagram (styled) of  GIPSY styled

18a        Good name for dog should involve nothing trendy (7)
{GROOVER} – G(ood) and a common name for a dog around (should involve) O (nothing)

20a        Chefssauce? (4)
{ROUX} – a double definition – Michel Snr and Jnr can also be a sauce made of equal quantities of butter and flour cooked together

21a        Bake teeny crackers that might be a risk (6,3)
{YANKEE BET} – an anagram (crackers) of BAKE TEENY gives a type of wager on four horses in four races, consisting of six doubles, four trebles and one accumulator

23a        Idiot highlighted regularly (3)
{GIT} – regularly here means the third, sixth and ninth letters

24a        Housemistress’s inclusive accommodation (4)
{SEMI} – hidden inside (inclusive) the first word of the clue

25a        Amateur artist upended in crush in front of electronic painting (9)
{AQUARELLE} – Start with A(mateur) the reverse (upended) the usual artist inside a verb meaning to crush and in front of E(lectronic) – the use of upended to indicate reversal is usually restricted to down clues

29a        Dracula’s not quite last to linger over neck (4)
{GALL} – the penultimate letter (not quite last) of DracuLa followed by a verb meaning to linger all reversed

30a        Passing Edinburgh’s first Morrison’s note odour (10)
{EVANESCENT} – the initial letter (first) of Edinburgh followed by musician Morrison, a musical note and an odour


1d           Fuel made a mess of chimney (4)
{FLUE} – an anagram (made a mess) of FUEL

2d           See 13 across

3d           Objections over cigarette end (4)
{STUB} – reverse (over, correctly used in a down clue!) some objections

4d           Pointer about one of life’s essentials (7)
{PROTEIN} – an anagram (about) of POINTER

5d           Ill-disposed to clam up about new hospital department (10)
{MALCONTENT} – reverse (up in a down clue) TO CLAM around (about) N(ew) and add a hospital department

7d           Insufficiently lit to mount long shot (4,5)
{DARK HORSE} – a word meaning Insufficiently lit followed by an equine mount

8d           Anticipating flop Sting is source of surprise hit (5,4)
{SMART BOMB} – before (anticipating) a verb meaning to flop put a verb meaning to sting

10d        Rogue knocking back half pint around noon (3)
{IMP} – reverse (knocking back) half of PI(NT) around a one-letter abbreviation for noon

13d        Butler’s tool? (7,3)
{KEYHOLE SAW} – a tool used by the butler to make something to look through?  Does the question mark excuse this cryptic definition – not for me

14d        Common female society up against it in, say, Ireland (5,4)
{ESSEX GIRL} – S(ociety) followed by (up against) “it” inside the abbreviation of the Latin phrase for say or for example followed by the IVR code for Ireland

15d        Organ keeping fresh left in attache case — that’s unbelievable! (5,4)
{FAIRY TALE} – the pink organ (that’s a newspaper!) goes around a four-letter adjective meaning fresh and is followed by L(eft) inside the outer letters (case) of AttachÉ a pity that attaché is spelt incorrectly in the clue

19d        American city in ruins, abandoned and surrounded by water (7)
{INSULAR} – put a two-letter abbreviation for an American city inside an anagram (abandoned) of ruins

22d        Perhaps Jacob knew Esau could hold the key (3)
{EWE} – hidden inside (could hold the key) the clue is a sheep, of which Jacob is a breed

26d        Learn by ear clarinet part (4)
{REED} – a homonym (by ear) of a verb meaning to learn

27d        Lap up endless old films (4)
{LICK} – drop the F and S from the outside (endless) of an old word for films or movies

28d        Wise wanting island to exhibit eagle? (4)
{ERNE} – drop the I(sland) from the first name of Eric Morecambe’s partner

No particular favourites, just a few grumbles.  Looks like things will be better tomorrow.

31 comments on “Toughie 839

  1. Given the time it took me to solve this one (I had to carry on looking at it in between bouts of work as I ran out of time before ‘clocking on’ time, I would definitely award this 5* difficulty. There is one clue where it was me being dense, for some reason I kept thinking 2d came before the 13a bit, there were so many clues where you had to work harder than usual, even for a toughie, to sort out the wordplay. For that reason alone, I agree with the 3* BD enjoyment rating.

    thanks to Petitjean and BD too.

    1. How would you rate an Elgar? This took me tad more than my 3 star target, and I was catching up on the weekend’s TV viewing at the same time.

      1. Joe 90, Agree with you on the difficulty rating!

        Far too difficult for me today – I’m sure that I’ve solved a Petitjean unaided in a previous life! Not today!

        (Elgar – if I see that name on a crossword – I immediately go and do something else!)

  2. This took me quite a while to complete, finishing up with 8a (where I had to buy a letter).
    I did enjoy it, and considerably more so than the other puzzle today. 4*/4* for me.
    Thanks to Petitjean, and to BD.

  3. I also thought this one was very tough, It wouldn’t have felt out of place in the Friday slot. Favourites were 8d 13d 15d and 30a thanks to Petitjean and to Big Dave for the comments.

  4. Got there in the end, bought a couple of letters, eagerly awaiting explanation for 25a, favourites 13a/2d 18a 13d thans Petitjean and BD

    1. The definition is a form of painting, using watercolour and is constructed by A(mateur), and the standard abbreviation for artist RA, reversed (upended) in a synonym for ‘crush’, and followed by E(lectronic).

  5. The first clue I got was “git” whilst “scat” in the urban dictionary is most distasteful. Surely a “toughie” should be more elegant than this!

    1. Keep clear of the Urban Dictionary as it is little help with crosswords. Try looking up “chasing pavements” – Adele says she was unaware of that meaning!

  6. Putting my pedants hat on I must say that 20 a is not very satisfactory. The answer is the base for a sauce not a sauce in itself
    A bit saucy perhaps
    otherwise not too tough and not too much fun

  7. Sorry but I derived no enjoyment whatsoever from this crossword Muddled thinking, poor surface readings and general lack of sparkle – not even a scintilla. I’ve been solving Telegraph puzzles for over twenty years and I feel the standard has dropped appallingly of late

    1. I thought that there were some pretty decent surface readings here, especially the odour from Morrison’s and endless caterwaul of bagpipes – but maybe I was just drawn to the Scottish clues.

  8. Thanks toPetitjean and to BD for a crossword which made me work harder than usual and was reasonably enjoyable, super review as usual.

  9. Agree with you BD that it had many more “grinds” than “ahas”, if that makes sense. We got there in the end which means that it was less than a 5* which we never seem able to complete. So, the satisfaction of completion, without much fun on the journey. Incidentally, how does one find out who the next Toughie is coming from, have looked on the Telegraph site without spotting it?
    Thanks Petitjean and BD.

  10. Sorry BD but i’m with Pegasus and Cryptic Sue, this could have been a friday toughie. I’m probably biased, 12 four letter words in a grid is one I normally avoid. I still don’t think 13d works, and Mrs BD is quite right about 20a. Thank you as ever for the hints and Petitjean

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