Toughie 874 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 874

Toughie No 874 by Elkamere

Thank God it’s Friday!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Tilsit has taken delivery of a new computer today, and he is still trying to find out how it works!

Certainly not the lite version to which we have become accustomed, this is a superb puzzle full of Homer Simpson moments, and well worthy of the highly-prized Friday slot.

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    Supermarket entering mainstream suffering, effectively (2,4,2,6)
{AS NEAR AS DAMMIT} – a well-known supermarket chain inside (entering) an anagram (suffering) of MAINSTREAM

10a    Possibly this grid’s east (5,4)
{RIGHT SIDE} – an anagram (possibly) of THIS GRID followed by E(ast) – &Lit

11a    Scrutiny on head of Catholic Church (5)
{RECCE} – a two-letter word for on followed by the initial letter of Catholic and the abbreviation for the Church of England

12a    Lawman in silence following shots ricocheting (7)
{SHERIFF} – an exhortation for silence then the reversal (ricocheting} of F(ollowing) and some shots

13a    Hair over and on flap (6)
{FURORE} – animal hair followed by O(ver) and a two-letter word meaning on or about

15a    Unconventional player initially dropped from team (4)
{ARTY} – drop the initial letter of Player from a team or group

17a    Gearing bolt found in exhaust (10)
{DRIVETRAIN} – a bolt used in construction inside a verb meaning to exhaust

18a    Shelley’s novel about education without thought (10)
{HEEDLESSLY} – an anagram (novel) of SHELLEY’S around ED(ucation)

20a    All points bulletin (4)
{NEWS} – all four compass points make up this bulletin

22a    Oddly, this is found in a fiddle case (6)
{ACTION} – the odd letters of ThIs inside the A from the clue and a fiddle or scam

23a    With no skill, one has plenty to move (7)
{INEPTLY} – I (one) followed by an anagram (to move) of PLENTY

26a    Opening bars the wrong way to fill Stockport nightclub (5)
{INTRO} – hidden (to fill) and reversed (the wrong way) inside the clue

27a    Chap heartlessly changing maidens (6,3)
{LADIES’ MAN} – apparently this &Lit clue parses as a three-letter chap followed by an anagram (changing) of MAI(D)ENS without their middle letter (heartlessly) – personally I don’t think this works as the letter deletion indicator (heartlessly) does not act on the fodder (maidens), and “Chap endlessly changing maidens” would have been a lot better! What do you think?

28a    Good business remains in narrow lines (6,8)
{GROWTH INDUSTRY} – some remains are placed between a verb meaning to narrow (4,4) and the abbreviation of train lines


2d    Proceed, say, to enter charge (5)
{SEGUE} – the Latin abbreviation of say or for example inside a verb meaning to charge or prosecute

3d    Online business covers new demand (6)
{ENTAIL} – the business of selling through the internet around (covers) N(ew)

4d    Jungle area about to get surrounded by others (10)
{RAINFOREST} – A(rea) and a phrase meaning about to get or due to receive (2,3) inside a word meaning the others

5d    Colour of sun on garden (4)
{SKEW} – colour here is a verb meaning to bias – S(un) followed by a famous London garden

6d    Uric acid heartlessly spilt on top of the ventilator (3,4)
{AIR DUCT} – an anagram (spilt) of URIC and A(CI)D without its inner letters (heartlessly) followed by the initial letter (top) of The

7d    Cook a bird in two ways (9)
{MICROWAVE} – a bird is placed between a motorway and a tree-lined road (two ways)

8d    Saw absence as impossible to judge (6,2,6)
{THERE’S NO SAYING} – this phrase could indicate the absence of a saw or maxim

9d    Slightly arcane treatment? (7,7)
{CRYSTAL HEALING} – another excellent &Lit clue – an anagram (treatment) of SLIGHTLY ARCANE

14d    Jean stops daughter breathing — shown up as wicked (4-6)
{EVIL-MINDED} – the material from which jeans are made around (stops) D(aughter) followed an adjective meaning breathing all reversed (shown up in a down clue)

16d    Line on rugby pitch where action is (6-3)
{TWENTY-TWO} – this line on the rugby pitch also indicates the clue to which the answer is ACTION

19d    Barbarian secures good old cave (4,3)
{LOOK OUT} – a barbarian or ruffian around (secures) two letters indicating good or satisfactory and O(ld) – the definition is schoolboy slang for beware

21d    Ex-manager’s embracing English variety of rugby (6)
{SEVENS} – the first name of an ex-manager of the England football team and the S from ‘S around (embracing) E(nglish)

24d    Forget to return top to River Island (5)
{TIMOR} – a verb meaning to forget or leave out reversed (return) followed by the initial letter (top) of River

25d    Capsized — that is, under very large pool of water (4)
{VLEI} – the abbreviation of the Latin for that is reversed (capsized) after (under) V(ery) L(arge)

John Halpern (Dada, Paul, Mudd, etc) is promoting The Year of The Crossword to celebrate the centenary next year of the first crossword. Have a look and see what is planned.

This is the the 3,000th post on this blog!

32 comments on “Toughie 874

  1. A great Friday puzzle from Elkamere, just the ticket. Much scratching of head until the switch turned over and I started thinking differently. Incidentally, the excellent (and my favourite clue) 9d has another anagram from my line of work – LATCHING RELAYS.
    Thanks to Elkamere and to BD for the review.

  2. I agree that 27a doesn’t quite work. My suggestion is “Chap at heart changing maidens”; the chap being Alan, just one example that fits the bill.

  3. Superb offering from todays setter far too many to single out favourites. Thanks to Elkamere and to Big Dave for the explanations.

  4. Excellent puzzle, top quality stuff.

    FWIW I think that 27a works as it is, although I also like BD’s version.

      1. Then why, for example, is 14D (4-6) and 16D (6-3) yet 19D (4,3) if punctuation not important in crossword land?

        1. I didn’t say punctuation isn’t important, only that apostrophes are never shown in the enumeration. The only, not very satisfactory, expanation that I have seen is that it would give away too much information. I didn’t set the convention, it’s been there for a long time.

          1. Point made, and taken. I’d just rather not see cryptic crosswords adding weight to the gravity of the thin end of the wedge.

  5. 3.75* difficulty and 5* fun for me. Really glad I was at home to solve this one s it took a lot of perservation and muttering. I thought the first bit of 27a was the middle letters of Alan, although I did think it was a bit of a leap to get from chap to a man’s name.

    Thanks to Elkamere and BD too.

  6. This one passed some time in the office this morning. An excellent Friday toughie! The last one I managed to explain to myself was the topical 27a.
    Many thanks to Elkamere, and to BD. 4*/4.5* for me.

  7. I am in awe ! I rarely visit the toughie owing to lack of time and to a lesser degree inclination .this was 5* + for difficulty for me and although I enjoyed perhaps 50% of the clues I found the rest a chore 25d being a good example .My hat off to you all !
    Thanks for the review .

    1. I think that 25d is worth a mention and suspect that Elkamere might confirm if he pops in. its one of those times when you are left with _l_I and have to find an obscure word rather than facing a serious rewrite of an otherwise very satisfactorily set puzzle. personally i saw the form of the clue with the IE reversal but waited for the L before looking it up on Google. i was considering OS or something for ‘very large’ originally.

      1. Eh up Gnomey!

        As it happened, I didn’t think twice about that answer, which is I have to say something I feel slightly guilty about. Many years ago, before I knew better, I read a whole life’s worth of Wilbur Smith novels, and a lot of Afrikaans words got stuck in my bonce. I evidently fell into the trap of believing that words such as veld, vlei, sjambok etc etc would be far more widely known than they probably are.

        Many thanks for your comments everyone!

        1. I knew the word (probably from the Smith novels and others too) and am lucky to have the sort of brain that retains that stuff. Mr CS has visited South Africa a couple of times and had never heard of it.

        2. They are also really useful Scrabble words. Especially sjambok which can be built upon from a 2 letter word, adding a letter each time to make a valid word, ja, jam, jamb, jambo, jambok, sjambok

    2. I’m glad someone else was struggling! Thought I was alone – but so satisfying to do just a few and now I have the explanation for the rest, thanks to BD and Elkamere.

      1. Chris, you are not the only “Struggler” – managed just a handful before resorting to BD’s hints!

        Thanks to BD – especially for explaining 16d – Definitely one of those clues that I would never have been able to explain without this blog (or as Kath might say:-“This Wonderful Blog!!)

  8. Agree about the perservation required for this one. Got there after a long slog, but also had trouble parsing the start of 27a. Mrs Kiwi actually had heard of the puddle in 25d, much to the amazement of Mr K.
    Thanks Elkamere and BD.

  9. Not for the first time I’m in a minority of one. Not my cup of tea.

    Really felt a bit let down when I’d finished this one as I expected something better from Elkamere – I usually love his puzzles but this one just didn’t do it for me! No idea why – must be just me doing it at 0730 because of an upcoming airport run. No pasa nada. Loved 1a though!

    Thanks to Elkamere anyway, as it was an interesting diversion over the unusually early cup of tea.

    BTW – 17a: You could argue that a rivet isn’t really a bolt but my problem with this clue is that gearing isn’t a drivetrain but merely a part of it. The drivetrain is everything between the engine and the road wheels – that includes the gearbox, drive shaft, axles, differential etc – I won’t go on! I’m a “petrolhead” :grin:

    1. petrolhead who needs to get out more lol. Hope Pommette ok, Derby was good, dear your Lord is it a year since the last one, eek. Not even looked at Virgilius today, just done yesterdays, and hope Gnomey remembers to parse correctly a six letter word, a d’oh moment visibly on his part. Cheers

  10. OMG.

    I enjoyed this, and managed about 3/4 of it, and I should have managed more.

    I learned two new words today…….

    1 Vlei.
    2 Etail. Which I’ve been doing for years as a profession, and yet I’VE NEVER HEARD THIS EXPRESSION!
    Nobody ever calls me an “Etailer”. I get called lots of other things though. :-)

  11. of course I managed hardly anything alone, BUT I did make a good shot at the Sunday Times crossword due entirely to the crossword tuition I am getting on this blog.Thanks to all the team.

      1. I guess I hit upon one of the other two,since I could manage them. Many clues had a kind of poetic beauty to them,reverberations of meanings. Is it iambic pentameter when the vowel of the last word of one line is repeated in the vowel of the middle word in the next line?(I know iambic pentameter means more than that)

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