Toughie 855 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 855

Toughie No 855 by Dada

Battle of Words

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

Those who follow his puzzles in the Guardian would probably regard this as Paul Lite – easier to solve but still laced with his wicked humour.

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1a    Tavern west of city serving game with added spice? (5,5)
{LOCAL DERBY} – a tavern or pub to the left (west) of a city gives a game like the Spurs against the Gooners

6a    Teacher, one backing pupil’s neighbour? (4)
{IRIS} – the title often used for a male teacher and I (one) all reversed (backing)

9a    Film about river, island and a country (7)
{CROATIA} – a film or covering around R(iver) and followed by I(sland) and the A from the clue

10a    Dog, this mongrel, biting hard — seizures essentially following (4-3)
{SHIH-TZU} – this spelling of the dog in question is given as (4,3) in Chambers and (4-3) in the ODE – an anagram (mongrel) of THIS around (biting) H(ard) and followed by the inner letters (essentially) of seiZUres

12a    Report of chicken (shock!) getting award (8,5)
{PULITZER PRIZE} – sounds like a chicken (6) followed by a shock (8) – a construct used in a Quick crossword pun eighteen months ago and in Gervase’s recent NTSPP puzzle!

14a    Near death, bone found in heap (8)
{MORIBUND} – a three-letter bone inside a heap

15a    Mysterious vessel entering region, finally invisible (6)
{ARCANE} – a vessel or container inside a region without its final letter (invisible)

17a    Something precious stuffing duck, herb (6)
{LOVAGE} – the chemical symbol for a precious metal inside a word for a score of zero

19a    American’s cast big scene for US state (8)
{COLORADO} – the American spelling of a cast or tinge followed by a 3-letter word for a big scene

21a    Poem: it made man out to be a cross-dresser (9,4)
{PANTOMIME DAME} – an anagram (out) of POEM IT MADE MAN gives a cross-dresser like Widow Twankey

24a    Popular source of personal information about posh young actress (7)
{INGÉNUE} – a two-letter word meaning popular followed by an heriditary source of personal information around the single-letter abbreviation for posh

25a    Thick as a couple of squares? (7)
{ASININE} – AS followed by the squares of one and three

26a    Pudding — one so easy? (4)
{TART} – a cryptic definition of an easy or loose woman

27a    Daring last manoeuvres in battle scene (10)
{STALINGRAD} – an anagram (manoeuvres) of DARING LAST


1d    Hair grip (4)
{LOCK} – a double definition

2d    Axe caught rabbit? (7)
{CHOPPER} – C(aught} followed by a colloquial word for a rabbit

3d    Battle scene with bugle of oxymoronic dimensions? (6,7)
{LITTLE BIGHORN} – split the American battle scene as (6,3,4) and it looks like an oxymoronic description of a bugle – legend has it that the only survivor of the 7th Cavalry at this battle was a horse named Comanche

4d    Rigid old stage performance (8)
{EXACTING} – a charade of a prefix meaning old and a performance on stage

5d    Essence maintaining temperature, pour over oil (5)
{BASTE} – an essence or core around T(emperature) gives a cookery term meaning to drizzle oil over meat to keep it moist when roasting

7d    Drink container, lid off, inverted (7)
{RETSINA} – drop the initial C from a container and then reverse it (inverted)

8d    Instrument one loved to attack (7-3)
{SQUEEZE-BOX} – one’s current female partner followed by a verb meaning to attack of fight

11d    Promise to tour country, taking others off? (13)
{IMPERSONATION} – an anagram (to tour) of PROMISE followed by a general word for a country

13d    Part of contract to run round shopping centre (5,5)
{SMALL PRINT} – the part of a contract that no-one ever reads is derived by putting a verb meaning to run around a shopping centre

16d    Description of a joint violated when drunk (8)
{DOVETAIL} – an anagram (when drunk) of VIOLATED

18d    Salt’s companion given a kind of conclusion from sailor (7)
{VINEGAR} – the other condiment that you put on your fish and chips comes from an anagram (kind of) of GIVEN A followed by the final letter (conclusion) of sailoR

20d    Studio took down story, director’s last (7)
{ATELIER} – a charade of a verb meaning took down food, a story or untruth and the final letter (last) of directoR

22d    Still ship not launching on time (5)
{INERT} – a passenger ship without its initial L (not launching) followed by T(ime)

23d    Leash dog’s taken from proverb? (4)
{LEAD} – I needed a bit of help with this one! – remove the name of a dog from P(Rover)b and the result is a chemical symbol

An excellent start to the Toughie week.

13 comments on “Toughie 855

  1. Definitely Paul-lite, about 1.75* difficulty for me but very enjoyable, my ‘dotty’ clues including 12a, 26a (typical Paulian clue) 3d and 8d too. Thanks to him and BD.

  2. This could have squeezed in at the top end of the Back Page spectrum.
    Would have been solved even sooner had I not misspelt 10a!
    Thanks to Dada and Big Dada.

  3. Gentle start to Toughie week favourites were 1a 12a 23d and 24a thanks to Dada and to Big Dave for the comments.

  4. Agree with what’s already been said.

    Favourites 26a and 23d – you probably all heard the “D’OH” when the penny finally dropped!

    Thanks to Dada and BD

  5. Entertaining puzzle with some nice touches.

    I didn’t see the Pb=lead trick and was not zerprised at 12a.

    Favourites: SQUEEZE BOX, ASININE & VINEGAR {& LEAD, once it had been explained!.}

  6. 3*/4* for me. Funnily enough 23d was my first one in. Last one in, 5d.
    Many thanks to Dada, and to BD.

  7. Weather here dreadful and depressing so took advice from CS and gave it a go. Surprised myself and completed it although it took several visits, got stuck on 5d but only because I spelt 12a wrong. Guess this must have been a ‘Non-Toughie’ Toughie if there is such a thing. Thanx to Compiler, BD and CS.

  8. Just defeated by 1a)
    In the singularly boring game of football, where oh where does the much needed spice come in?

  9. A most enjoyable romp. Agree with the ratings. Last in, can’t see why now though, was 1a. Favourite was 23d for its clever disguise.
    Thanks Dada and BD.

  10. 23d my last in, well I wrote it in the paper version but couldn’t see why, D’oh. Agree with the ratings, thanks BD and Dada.

  11. Good fun puzzle, very enjoyable. Perhaps more at home on the back page, but none the worse for that.

    Many thanks to Dada and BD.

  12. Thanks to Dada & Big Dave. Strangely, I managed all the down clues. While the acrosses were a complete mystery, needing 7 hints, 5 of which I had to look up. Favourite was 12a, which I managed to solve ! Very enjoyable to tackle.

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