Toughie 854 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 854

Toughie No 854 by Notabilis

Roses, Roses, All The Way

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

Tilsit has his usual assignation with the nurses at his local hospital today, gifting me this superb Notabilis puzzle to review. After three great Toughies this week, I was wondering if it could possible get better and the answer is a resounding “Yes”. I now need a spot of 13 across in a darkened room with a glass of 14 down!

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    Leave Alberta as well as Ontario (7)
{ABANDON} – combine the abbreviations for Alberta as well as Ontario (2,3,2)

9a    Bush began to be difficult over Obama in the end (8)
{ CAMELLIA} – a word meaning began to be or appeared followed by the reversal (over) of an adjective meaning difficult and the final letter (in the end) of ObamA

10a    With time guaranteed, though last of students drops out? (7)
{TENURED} – an adjective meaning holding an appointment in a university or college for guaranteed length of time comes from T(ime) followed by a verb meaning guaranteed without (drops out) the final letter (last) of studentS

11a    One more suited to fight than flight is halting tilt (8)
{GAMECOCK} – this fighting bird is unsuited to flying and is a charade of an adjective meaning halting or disabled and a verb meaning to tilt or lift

12a    American president recalled in hostage troubles (6)
{ORTEGA} – the President of Nicaragua is hidden and reversed (recalled) inside the clue

13a    It’s macabre holding a cross and putting the feet up (10)
{CHILLAXING} – an adjective meaning macabre around (holding) the A from the clue and the letter shaped like a cross gives a trendy portmanteau word for putting one’s feet up

15a    Trench coat’s ten times bigger in the front (4)
{MOAT} – this trench around the outer limits of a castle is derived by making the Roman numeral at the start of COAT ten times bigger

16a    I’m pierced, with deformation of skin (9)
{EPIDERMIC} – an anagram (, with deformation) of I’M PIERCED

21a    See where Ruth’s found rifle (4)
{LOOT} – a two-letter word meaning see followed by the part of the bible containing the story of Ruth – rifle here is a verb

22a    Misunderstanding about rank in married name (10)
{MONDEGREEN} – a misunderstood or misinterpreted word or phrase resulting from a mishearing of the lyrics of a song is created by putting a two-letter word meaning about and a rank between M(arried) and N(ame)

24a    Orb following celestial object’s wake (4,2)
{COME TO} – a circular letter follows a celestial body that is an occasional visitor – the definition is a phrasal verb

25a    Do resist mixing drugs (8)
{STEROIDS} – an anagram (mixing) of DO RESIST

27a    Apostle almost having passed in and even out (7)
{PLATEAU} – most of an apostle around an adjective meaning having passed away

28a    It may help to avoid over-coddling one and get infected with germ (3,5)
{EGG TIMER} – an anagram (infected) of I (one) GET GERM

29a    I’ll go red when heated, as one characteristically hitting high? (7)
{LOBSTER} – this shellfish turns red when heated and could possibly be one hitting a ball high


2d    Source of red stains in report of two regular courses (8)
{BEETROOT} – a vegetable that can cause red stains is derived by combining what sounds like two regular courses, the first taken by a policeman and the second by a motorist

3d    Celtic man rises with bench in revolt (8)
{NAUSEATE} – reverse a Celtic given name around a bench – revolt here is a verb

4d    Ineptly I carve — not good function of hammer? (10)
{OVERACTING} – an anagram (ineptly) of I CARVE NOT G(ood) – this hammer appears on the stage!

5d    Epic fail on first letter (4)
{SAGA} – a verb meaning to fail or drop followed by the first letter of the alphabet

6d    Ivy League excluded in restrained period (6)
{HEDERA} – drop (excluded) the L(eague) from a word meaning restrained or arrested and add a period of time

7d    Wickedness long since hiding every other craziness (7)
{ILLOGIC} – a three-letter word meaning wickedness followed by lOnG sInCe without (hiding) every other letter

8d    Some software cyberattack’s not hard, splitting memory block (7)
{PACKAGE} – a cyberattack without the initial H (not Hard) inside (splitting) a block of memory

11d    Naive conjecture surrounds Italian and Spanish articles (9)
{GUILELESS} – a conjecture or estimate around (surrounds) the Italian and Spanish definite articles

14d    Large string instrument’s what I play: it’s hard and yellow (10)
{LIMONCELLO} – L(arge) followed by a phrase (1’1,2,5) that could mean I’m playing a stringed instrument – the definition is a sweet Italian liqueur

17d    Sporty Spice’s ‘Goin’ Down’? No, somehow it’s a climber! (8)
{CLEMATIS} – take the name commonly used for Melanie Chisholm (3,1), aka Sporty Spice, reverse it (goin’ down, no) and add an anagram (somehow) of IT’S A

18d    Time to stop getting into extra loan (8)
{MORTGAGE} – T(ime) and a verb meaning to stop from speaking inside (getting into) a word meaning extra or additional

19d    Mum’s graced with singular woman’s beauty (7)
{SMASHER} – a two-letter word for mother and the S from ‘S between (graced with) S(ingular) and the third person feminine possessive pronoun (woman’s) giving a beautiful woman

20d    Experience in Munich, and hence (7)
{UNDERGO} – the German (in Munich) for and followed by a Latin word meaning hence

23d    Arousing attraction in the heart (or lower down)? (6)
{EROTIC} – the other two-letter abbreviation for Sex Appeal (attraction) inside a word meaning the heart or centre all reversed (arousing)

26d    Jacobi perhaps dismissing one part as rubbish (4)
{DREK} – the first name of famous actor Jacobi without one of its letters (dismissing one part) gives a Yiddish word for rubbish – given the checking letters, there was a choice of two letters to drop and Chambers resolved which one it should be (dropping the other letter gives a Scottish interjection for “look at”)

All of this quality and the added bonus of a Nina around the outside edges of the puzzle. We are really spoilt today.

29 comments on “Toughie 854

  1. It has as BD says been a very good week for Toughies and this is the toughiest for some time. I did some before I had to start work and then snuck looks at it while I was working so have no definite idea of how long but definitely twice as long as last week’s Elgar.

    Some splendid clues – the top d’oh moment being 15a, another being 4d. Never heard of 22a – just hope I remember it in case it ever comes back again. Thanks to BD for sorting it all out and to Notabilis for stretching the grey matter to its extreme limits. If only I was at home as there is a bottle of 14d on the wine rack which would definitely aid recovery.

      1. Ah! That might be why it was quite fresh in my mind. Having said that it has appeared in DT puzzles before I seem to recall.

      2. Now you come to mention it….. I seem to remember asking Mr CS to remind me of that one. Shame he’s at home!

      3. Here are the mondegreens from Only Connect:

        Sue Lawley (“So Lonely”, The Police)

        Ireland’s industry (“Islands in the Stream”, Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers)

        Gladly, the cross-eyed bear (“Kept by Thy tender care, gladly the cross I’ll bear” from the hymn “Keep Thou My Way”)

        ‘Scuse me, while I kiss this guy (“’Scuse me while I kiss the sky” from “Purple Haze”, Jimi Hendrix)

          1. Actually, I think that “Rock Lobster” (appearing peripherally in this puzzle) by the B-52s features a few 22As.

  2. It must be a wavelength thing as I found this a lot easier than recent Friday Toughies.. I had to check 6d and 7d held me up for a bit. A thoroughly enjoyable end to the Toughie week. Thanks to Noitbilis and to BD

  3. This was well beyond my capability today, and I failed to finish this one. What I managed I did enjoy, so many thanks to Notabilis, and also to BD for putting me out of my misery with the handful I did not get.

  4. Once again I have to bow to the superiority of the geniuses who blog on this site. I thought this was a cracker of a toughie but I had to use the hints on several occasions. I have never heard of 13a, 22a or 28d (nor the Scottish interjection mentioned by our leader) Many thanks to Notablis for stretching me way beyond my limit and to Big Dave for his very useful hints.

    1. I presume you are using a different email address as you ended up needing approval before your comment would appear.

      1. Sue, as far as I’m aware I have not changed my email address although I do have two, my normal email does not allow the “Desperate Dan” atavar so I always use my Sky email on this blog.Apologies if I have been a nuisance.

        1. As far as I can see there was nothing wrong, but occasionally comments are put into moderation if the spam filter gets overloaded.

        2. Big Boab,
          I think the reason that your comment went into moderation is that you introduced a space between ‘Big’ and ‘Boab’ whereas in the past it’s been all one word. Both formats should work from now on.

  5. I agree with the general consensus on this one, I finally admitted defeat falling 4 short of completion. Favourites were 11a 13a 15a and 23d thanks to Notabilis and to Big Dave for the explanations.

  6. Definitely a two pipe problem. Struggled throughout and only got there courtesy of BD’s review. As I said last Friday thank the stars it’s the weekend coming up where we mere mortals stand more of a fighting chance although the NTSPP was bit of a bugger last Saturday.

    Have a good weekend everybody.

  7. This was a fairly tough Toughie, but great fun, and the Nina was a very nice touch.

    Thanks to Notabilis and BD.

  8. 13a – CHILLAXING – I cannot find this in my Chambers 12th Edition. Am I looking in the wrong place?

    1. No, it’s not there as far as I can see.

      It was added to the online version of Collins this summer, and I think that it would pass muster for a Toughie because it’s in parlance at the moment. I suspect that it would not be allowed in a back-pager (or next-to-back-pager) though.

      It is a pretty pointless word. Chill or relax both convey the same meaning on their own. However, people do use it, for reasons best known to themselves.

  9. Thanks to Big Dave and especially Notabilis for this gem of a puzzle. Agreed that it has been a splendid week of Toughies.

    Hopefully I shall be back in harness next Friday, and maybe some holiday cover if anyone needs it.

    By the way Kcit, who also sets Toughies, has now set his own website up and the lovely (and very tough) annual Apex Prize Crosswords are there.

    Formal opening

  10. Beaten all ends up by this one. Gave up and looked at the hints this morning with seven missing. Having ‘Edda’ for saga and ‘gamebird’ for gamecock did not help our cause either. Appreciated the workout. Thanks Notabilis and BD.

  11. I tried, I really did, 80% in and some of them I wasn’t sure why, then resorted to hints. Notabilis being particularly mean, but fair and precise, doffs the cap, thanks to BD, going for a friday chillax, not a 14d though….loved the ninas, am going to an 80s night once dogs walked, hope they play the B52s classic….

    1. Well my 80’s night did feature both quiche lorraine and rock lobster, Long live the B-52s , despite any 22a tee hee. Now to Business music wise, bring on talking heads, proper 80s, life during wartime

        1. Rome, 1980, as a ?? year old teen, The great curve, Adrian Belew and Tina Weymouth doing battle with the guitars, i’ll never forget it

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