Toughie 875 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 875

Toughie No 875 by Messinae

The Countdown starts here!

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

The usual relatively gentle start to the Toughie week with a puzzle that I, and I suspect many others, found to be easier than the one on the back page. Overseas solvers may be mystified by the references to UK TV shows, especially 6 across.

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    SOS minibus put out admitting defeat (10)
{SUBMISSION} – an anagram (put out) of SOS MINIBUS

6a    Countdown ‘ost in jug (4)
{EWER} – the surname of Nick, the current ‘ost of the TV program Countdown, without his initial letter

10a    Bears returned round ancient city in chapter of the Kuran (5)
{SURAH} – reverse a verb meaning bears around Crosswordland’s usual ancient city

11a    Old piece of furniture making sound diagnostic aid (9)
{RADIOGRAM} – an old piece of furniture or an image produced by an ultrasound

12a    Femme fatale‘s power after charm used repeatedly (7)
{MANTRAP} – P(ower) after a something repeated inwardly in meditation

13a    Prepare for new work to keep about right (7)
{RETRAIN} – a verb meaning to keep around R(ight)

14a    It’s expensive letting champion put in for gruelling race (12)
{STEEPLECHASE} – an adjective meaning expensive followed by a letting or rental around (put in) CH(ampion)

18a    Homer in competition to reform pig-ignorance (6,6)
{RACING PIGEON} – a bird that is entered into a competition comes from an anagram (reform) of PIG-IGNORANCE

21a    Models with undemanding goals (7)
{SITTERS} – a double definition

23a    Sombre at first if not gloomy (7)
{SUNLESS} – the initial letter (at first) of Sombre followed by a conjunction meaning if not

24a    ‘Lovely’ girl after a light weight rejected cocktail (9)
{MARGARITA} – the lovely meter maid from the Beatles song comes after the reversal (rejected) of the A from the clue and a light weight

ARVE Error: need id and provider

25a    Creature ultimately lacking soul (5)
{ANIMA} – a creature without its final letter (ultimately lacking) – both wordplay and answer are derived from the same Latin root meaning life or soul

26a    Want work by the sound of it (4)
{NEED} – sounds like what you do to work flour into dough

27a    Unable to move having imbibed last of potent drink — get knotted! (10)
{INTERTWINE} – an adjective meaning unable to move around (having imbibed) the final (last) letter of potenT followed by an alcoholic drink


1d    Word used to open Home Counties do (6)
{SESAME} – the area in which the Home Counties are situated followed by a word meaning ditto (which can be abbreviated to do)

2d    Doing well  without arousing interest (6)
{BORING} – a verb meaning doing or drilling a well and an adjective meaning without arousing interest

3d    Something for those willing to pay (11,3)
{INHERITANCE TAX} – this cryptic definition is not quite accurate as this tax is paid from the estate of the person concerned

4d    Spare chap deployed where he’s no longer any use (9)
{SCRAPHEAP} – an anagram (deployed) of SPARE CHAP

5d    Fiat runs into European river (5)
{ORDER} – R(uns) inside a European river

7d    King in roadway abused pedestrian … (8)
{WORKADAY} – the abbreviation of the Latin for king inside an anagram (abused) of ROADWAY

8d    … jogger on old TV programme (8)
{REMINDER} – a memory jogger comes from a charade of a two-letter word meaning on or about and an old TV programme about Terry McCann and Arthur Daley

9d    Spanish resort with jerk about to tell office worker (4-10)
{COST-ACCOUNTANT} – a Spanish resort followed by a jerk or toss which tilts or turns something around a verb meaning to tell or reckon – once again part of the wordplay comes from the same root as the answer

15d    Pass through Parliament on one group of candidates (9)
{LEGISLATE} – another name for the on side in cricket followed by I (one) and a preliminary group or list of candidates

16d    One starting course menial served up involved ham and trace of nuts (8)
{FRESHMAN} – reverse (served up) a menial person and follow him with an anagram (involved) of HAM and the initial letter (trace) of Nuts

17d    Defectors not starting to be roughed up without punishment (4-4)
{SCOT-FREE} – an anagram (to be roughed up) of (D)EFECTORS without its initial letter (not starting)

19d    Bones associated with Italy’s foremost Renaissance family (6)
{MEDICI} – another word for a bones, like Leonard “Bones” McCoy in Star Trek, followed by the initial letter (foremost) of Italy

20d    Quivering like fish (6)
{ASHAKE} – a charade of a two-letter word meaning like and a fish resembling the cod

22d    Shoot that is getting one charged (5)
{SCION} – start with the abbreviation of the Latin scilicet which means namely or that is, then add an electrically-charged particle

One or two of the constructs render this puzzle not quite appropriate for the back page, but not far off.

24 comments on “Toughie 875

  1. Enjoyable enough but not overtaxing, thanks to Messinae and to BD for the very entertaining review.

  2. Enjoyed this and certainly completed it faster than the back page.
    No stand-out favourites, just aa all-round pleasant puzzle.

    Many thanks to Messinae and BD

    BTW, it’s now been 23a here for 8 consecutive days and it’s hardly ever stopped raining, Currently still peeing down :sad:

      1. Joke’s on me Pommers, thought you had a typo for 23C, but now I see you’re referring to 23a, which is what you put :-)

        1. Still raining – going to bed now and I’ll get up when it stops, hopefully before Thursday ‘cos I’m blogging!

  3. Enjoyed this puzzle as an antidote to the back pager! Thanks for your explanations BD. That do is a short firm of ditto is something for me to remember. Remembered the cricket term in 15d though. 23a was amusing unless it’s happening to you in real life! Is that just winter in Spain, Pommers?
    Thanks to the setter as well.

    1. Might be Winter but it doesn’t usually rain as much as in the last 8 days, and to be sunless for that length of time is unheard of!

  4. Managed about 3/4 of this without the hints, didn’t particularly enjoy it but did like 8d, thanks for hints Dave, wouldn’t have finished without

    1. Not young Mary just Canadian! Though I did live in London in the 50’s and read a lot and still do. No 11a in Enid Blyton!

  5. 1* Toughie difficulty but a pleasant wind down after the fight put up by the back page. Thanks to setter and to BD.

  6. Thanks for explaining 6a for us BD. We had the right answer. With W and R as checking letters and “jug” in the clue it was pretty obvious but had no idea why. A pleasant puzzle and turned out to be a good balance for the Back-pager.
    Thanks Messinae and BD.

      1. Having not watched Countdown since the days of the late Mr Whitely, it was only by chance that there was an excerpt from a current programme on TV at the weekend and I did say to Mr CS, I didn’t know that Nick Hewer was doing Countdown these days! As the Kiwis say the wordplay was obvious but I might have had to investigoogle just to confirm.

        1. I was lucky as well. Watched an episode last week for the first time since the demise of the late Mr Whitely, not much else to do but watch daytime TV when it’s peeing down and cold!

  7. Can’t say I found this as straightforward as some of the other ‘bloggers’, but agree, less difficult than the Cryptic. Two unfamiliar words for me. Satisfying to struggle through without hints though.

  8. I’ll echo the comments above. a pleasant but untaxing puzzle which came as a relief after the enjoyable tussle with the back page. Thanks to BD and Messinae .

  9. Thanks to Messinae & Big dave for the hints. Thanks to CrypticSue & Prolixic for the encouragement to try it. Didn’t find it that easy, still needed 6 hints, but at least it felt doable & I was suitably entertained. Had never heard of 22d in that context, live & learn. Favourite was 18a. Got both TV references though.

    1. Welcome to the blog John

      9d Spanish resort with jerk about to tell office worker (4-10)
      COSTA (Spanish resort) followed by CANT (a jerk which tilts or turns something) around COUNT (tell)

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