Toughie 865 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 865

Toughie No 865 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Thanks to Big Dave for standing in for me again last week. I appear to have left him with a brute of a puzzle but I have to emphasise that I had no prior warning that it was going to be so difficult. However I feel certain that he would have preferred to blog that puzzle rather than this week’s Excalibur puzzle. I thought that this was a reasonable puzzle which took me an above-average time. But steady progress was made once I’d got my brain into ‘solving an Excalibur puzzle’ mode and was able to deal with the unconventional order of words used especially in container clues (or Yoda-speak as Big Dave calls it [I can’t claim the credit for that one, Tilsit was the first to use it back in July 2009. BD]).

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.


5a    Howl miserably, left with nothing through Depression (6)
{HOLLOW} An anagram (miserably) of HOWL goes round L (left) O (nothing)

8a    Take almost the whole week off from routine (8)
{WORKADAY} The answer when split (4,1,3) suggests that you take six sevenths of the week off

9a    Furious with horsehair cover being not natural (3-4)
{MAN-MADE} ‘Furious’ goes inside the long hair on the back of the neck of a horse

10a    What’s the point of lace? (5)
{SPIKE} 2 meanings: point/to lace (drinks)

11a    A century with a single trickling through — dope! (9)
{ANALGESIC} A C (century) goes round an anagram (trickling?) of A SINGLE to give a type of drug

13a    Not bad / as forged notes? (8)
{PASSABLE} 2 meanings: not bad/as forged notes will be if they’re reasonable forgeries

14a    Back home, imbibing rum, got sleepy (6)
{NODDED} A reversal (back) of an animal’s home goes round ‘rum (strange)’

17a    Little tyke putting on airs is noxious (3)
{IMP} If you put this little tyke (small child) before AIRS you get a word possibly meaning ‘is noxious’

19a    He left these cooked and ready (3)
{SET} An anagram (cooked) of TES (THESE minus HE)

20a    ‘Viewable,’ you say, to encourage (6)
{INCITE} A homophone (you say) of ‘viewable’ (2,5)

23a    Port and soft drink with twist as chaser (8)
{LIMERICK} A port in Ireland = a soft drink + ‘to twist’

26a    Compere‘s here and about to make a comeback (9)
{PRESENTER} ‘Here’ + a reversal of ‘about’

28a    Quantities of juice non-drinker had been swallowing (5)
{WATTS} Juice = electricity; a non-drinker goes inside ‘had been’

29a    Doesn’t like the inside also being remodelled (7)
{LOATHES} THE goes inside an anagram (being remodelled) of ALSO

30a    Stem broken and missing case that’s precious (8)
{GEMSTONE} An anagram (broken) of STEM goes inside ‘missing’

31a    Whispers when players enter (6)
{ASIDES} Whispers (on the stage) = ‘when’ round a group of players


1d    Admits getting personal over drink (4,2)
{OWNS UP} ‘Personal’ + ‘to drink’

2d    With time spare, I resolved to walk (7)
{TRAIPSE} An anagram (resolved) of T (time) SPARE I

3d    Tried that, am fed up, and won’t survive? (4,3,2)
{HAVE HAD IT} 3 meanings: tried that/am fed up/won’t survive

4d    Handy instructions? (6)
{MANUAL} 2 meanings: of the hand/instruction book

5d    ‘Male Lead in Flop’ — big news (8)
{HEADLINE} HE (male) + an anagram (flop) of LEAD IN

6d    Gosh! Two maidens in navy, topless! (5)
{LUMME} MM (two maidens) inside navy (the colour) with the first letter removed (topless)

7d    Made a father, or ‘Dad’ — champagne gulped, head off (8)
{ORDAINED} Made a father (admitted to holy orders) = OR DAD round champagne (possibly) with the last letter removed

12d    Make the number up (3)
{NET} Make (as clear profit) = a reversal of a cardinal number

15d    If not love, the wires may have got crossed (9)
{OTHERWISE} O (love) + an anagram (crossed) of THE WIRES

16d    Oddly-shaped mouse traps and not very big (8)
{ENORMOUS} An anagram (oddly-shaped) of MOUSE round ‘and not’

18d    Strays. A need, possibly, for wife to curb? (8)
{MEANDERS} An anagram (possibly) of A NEED goes inside the title prefixed to a married woman’s name

21d    Drink ‘earty! (3)
{ALE} The letter H is removed from the front of a word meaning ‘hearty’

22d    Lie worked? Not if I will get caught entering (7)
{FICTION} An anagram (worked) of NOT IF I goes round C (caught)

24d    Pressed on in passion to meet date (6)
{IRONED} ON inside ‘passion’ + D (date)

25d    Letter crosses (6)
{KISSES} What XXXXXX (crosses) represent at the end of a letter

27d    Found more than half ruined: destitute (5)
{SITED} An anagram (ruined) of DESTI (more than half of the word ‘destitute’)

It could have been a lot worse

25 comments on “Toughie 865

  1. A pleasant enough puzzle which I found quite a bit easier than the back page!

    No real favourites but I did like the definition in 7d, but shouldn’t there be some sort of indication that champagne is merely an example of the word that we need to take the head off?.

    Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  2. I was really surprised that this crossword got 4* for difficulty, mainly because I could do it and, as everyone including me knows, I can’t usually do Toughies that are more than 2*. Oh well – a lucky fluke!
    I enjoyed it and it took me far less time than the puzzle on the back page. I do admit to needing the hints for three explanations.
    With thanks to Excalibur and Bufo, or bufo – have now totally lost track of who has a capital letter and who doesn’t.

    1. I liked it too – I could do it and that always boosts the confidence and gives me the courage to keep going at these Toughies – perhaps not tomorrow . . .

  3. 2* toughie, the aforementioned yoda speak being the main hold up for me. Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

    Was today the calm before the storm?? :)

    1. Cryptically, the DT puzzle website lists the Toughie setter tomorrow as :

      Toughie 866 – ______: 13 6 27

      Make f that what you will!

      1. Based on that information, it has to be Elgar. The numbers obviously refer to his ‘shoe’ statistics.

        13 is the size
        6 is the number of spikes
        27 is the number of times he will impale you with them

  4. We solved this one without too many problems, after much more of a fight with the back-pager. East side particularly sailed in without any hesitation. No more than a 2* for difficulty for us and 3* enjoyment. Have marked 16d as top chuckle.
    Thanks Excalibur and Bufo.

  5. Everyone seems to have found this easier than I did. I obviously wasn’t on Excalibur’s wavelength today.

    1. I found it a game of two halves – 60% went in quite quickly but the remainder was a grind. Some enjoyable clues, particularly definitions here today, 28a being my favourite. Thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo for the review.

  6. certainly less recherche than backpage except that shade of navy I never heard of.They are making me work so hard my brain is done in. If I could do it in the morning I am sure I would do better.

    1. You must have heard of navy blue. I’m assuming you are talking about 6d – the definition is ‘gosh’ – for that read ‘cor’/ ‘cor blimey’ etc etc except in this case it’s ‘lumme’ – have to say that I would probably have put a ‘Y’ at the end but that wouldn’t have worked with the clue. The two maidens are ‘MM” and the navy topless is ‘blue’ without the ‘b’.

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