Toughie 887 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 887

Toughie No 887 by Warbler

Spelling it out

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

Today the total pageviews on the blog broke through 8,000,000!

Once again Warbler gets the Toughie week off to a gentle but very enjoyable start. You may notice a bit of a theme hiding away in today’s grid!

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    Perhaps Juno will have firm date by start of Easter term (8)
{CODEWORD} – a charade of a two-letter abbreviation for a firm, D(ate), the initial letter (start) of Easter, and a term or expression – Juno was the name given to a sector during the Normandy landings, the others being Utah, Omaha, Gold and Sword

5a    Mature  winner? (6)
{VICTOR} – a double definition – the first name of a famous actor and a winner

10a    Principal seeking independence — relating to this may give the desired answer (7,8)
{LEADING QUESTION} – an adjective meaning principal followed by seeking, I(ndependence) and a two-letter word meaning relating to – I think that seeking has to be taken as a gerund for this to work

11a    Further shots of skater whirling full of energy (7)
{RETAKES} – an reversal (whirling) of SKATER around (full of) E(nergy)

12a    South Africa newspaper’s leader is flimsy stuff (7)
{ORGANZA} – the IVR code for South Africa preceded by (is leader) a general name for a newspaper

13a    Quietly set down delivery and co-operate (4,4)
{PLAY BALL} – the musical notation for quietly followed by a verb meaning to set down and a cricket delivery

15a    Intrinsically promotes convenience store (5)
{TESCO} – hidden (Intrinsically) inside the clue

18a    Very large limo, say, as prize (5)
{OSCAR} – the clothing size for very large followed by the type of vehicle of which a limo is an example

20a    Unfinished book marks British Queen’s 30-day period (8)
{NOVEMBER} – A book without its final letter (unfinished) followed by Marks, British and Queen Elizabeth

23a    Take sinuous steps to deceive communist (7)
{FOXTROT} – a verb meaning to deceive followed by a type of communist

25a    According to GIs, Vietcong burn position (7)
{CHARLIE} – the way that GIs referred to the Vietcong is a charade of a verb meaning to burn and a position, particularly in golf

26a    Feds intermingle in a relaxed manner having personal control of outcome (4-11)
{SELF-DETERMINING} – an anagram (in a relaxed manner) of FEDS INTERMINGLE

27a    Sadly I seem resigned in the end to failure (6)
{DEMISE} – an anagram (sadly) of I SEEM and the final letter of (in the end) resigneD

28a    Scroungers are essentially rabid tail-enders (8)
{BLAGGERS} – the middle letter (essentially) of raBid followed by some tail-enders


1d           Type of gas with variable heat unit (6)
{CALORY} – a type of gas for cooking, heating, etc., usually sold in large metal containers, followed by a mathematical variable

2d           Injecting iodine into clot aids dispersing of cardiac dilation (9)
{DIASTOLIC} – insert the chemical symbol for Iodine inside an anagram (dispersing) of CLOT AIDS

3d           Wide extremity of faith is important for spirit in Dublin (7)
{WHISKEY} – W(ide( followed by the final letter (extremity) of faitH, IS and an adjective meaning important

4d           Storms take a lot of time (5)
{RAGES} – the abbreviation of the Latin for take (℞, recipe – as used on prescriptions) followed by a lot of time

6d           Visible awareness (7)
{INSIGHT} – split as (2,5) this means visible

7d           Note bits of ice glistening near river in Devon (5)
{TEIGN} – the seventh note of the scale in sol-fa notation followed by the initial letters (bits) of the next three words in the clue – the town at its mouth is probably better known than the river

8d           Hired protesters scattered near tomb (4-1-3)
{RENT-A-MOB} – an anagram (scattered) of NEAR TOMB

9d           Old European revolutionary boy’s vulgar endlessly (8)
{YUGOSLAV} – an anagram (revolutionary) of (B)OY’S VULGA(R) without the outer letters (endlessly)

14d        Supply comments during the year on gallery (8)
{ANNOTATE} – a charade of the Latin for during the year and a famous London Art Gallery

16d        Husky‘s ear?! (5-4)
{SHELL-LIKE} – a double definition – similar to a husk or a slang word for an ear

17d        Prisoner joined in disorder (8)
{CONFUSED} – Crosswordland’s usual prisoner followed by a verb meaning joined

19d        Choir screen composed of rose red characters (7)
{REREDOS} – an anagram (composed of rose red characters) of ROSE RED

21d        Signifying average in golf (as 1A) (7)
{MEANING} – an average followed by IN and the letter represented by Golf in the NATO Phonetic alphabet (i.e. a 1 across)

22d        Reported sudden increases in fabrics (6)
{SERGES} – sounds like (reported) some sudden increases

24d        Waxy lemon covers woody tissue (5)
{XYLEM} – hidden inside (covers) the clue

25d        Song about origins of romantic overwhelming love (5)
{CAROL} – the two-letter abbreviation of the Latin for about followed by the initial letters of three words in the clue

If you haven’t already noticed, several 1 acrosses are hidden in the grid.  Some, but not all, are entries in the NATO Phonetic alphabet.

55 comments on “Toughie 887

  1. I quite enjoyed this offering from Warbler, a very gentle start to the toughie week. Thanks to Warbler and BD.

        1. I’m glad you asked.

          I’m running a campaign called “A Toughie On Monday” (ATOM) because it’s the day I spend several hours on a train. As the idea is that the crossword gets harder as the week goes by, Monday is the least logical day not to have a Toughie- I usually finish the back page puzzle fairly quickly, and then I have to do something else. Like work.

          So, Remember! A.T.O.M.!! You know it makes sense!

          1. On further reflection this is absolutely logical & would encourage more people to tackle a toughie & the DT might even sell a few more copies or attract more subscribers to its puzzle site. Perhaps we can persuade BD to have a word with his mate Phil…

    1. By the way, can I congratulate BD and the team for passing the 8,000,000 hits barrier, it has been a truly amazing success.

  2. Pleasant offering from todays setter with a nice mini theme, favourites were 16d and 23a thanks to Warbler and to Big Dave for the hints.

    1. Hi Pegasus, and thanks for pointing out the theme, which I had completely missed in my excitement at actually completing it!

        1. I usually do BD, but I was so mystified by 4d that when the page landed I just shot straight to it!

        2. I spotted the theme but was hoping it would spell something out. Or have I missed something?

        3. I always read the prologue – call me dim if you like but, even knowing that there is one, I STILL haven’t spotted the theme. :sad:

          1. I finally get it! I think the clue for 27a (but not the answer, hopefully) pretty much sums up how I feel! :sad:

              1. And two more …

                Hope you’re not sending this from Athens. (Olympiakos 2 – 1 Arsenal)

                But as M. Wenger says “What Crisis?”

  3. Finished apart from three in the bottom right corner. 25a was one – got that now from the hints. I don’t understand what I have for 21d and absolutely can’t do 16d.
    I didn’t know where Juno came into 1a – my Dad would be so ashamed of me.
    I thought the rest was probably no harder than the average back page (when that’s where it is) puzzle. I enjoyed it very much and it’s stopped me doing all the things that I should be doing.
    I liked 12, 23 and 28a and 3 and 25d.
    With thanks to Warbler and to BD, and congratulations on all the achievements of this great blog.

    1. I so wanted to give you hints between meetings. I am so verbose in “how i solved the clue” I have total regard for those whose who can in a couple of lines…….

  4. Encouraged by comments elsewhere I peeped at the paper version and then have to say completed without much fuss and thereby avoided the typos which I suffer using the iwotsit .Very enjoyable .
    Thanks for the review and congrats on the milestone (actually typed millstone at first !)
    I think it is quite a while since the R abbreviation .

  5. A very good example of a crossword being very entertaining without being overly difficult! Thanks to Warbler!

    (Pleased with myself that I understood “take” in 4d.)

    16d – I cannot remember seeing a clue with both a question mark and an exclamation mark at the end?!

    1. 16d – I also thought that unusual. No doubt, Warbler thought that a few liberties were taken. It was actually my favourite clue, very nicely done.

  6. 1* /4* for me too. Thank you very much Warbler for a nice themed cheerfulness-inducing start to the Toughie week. At the risk of sounding like Brian, I didn’t know you could spell 1d with a Y but the wordplay was so clear that it had to be.

    Thanks and congratulations to BD too.

    1. Re 1d, I didn’t either. Neither did I know that Y was variable. Anyway, looked it up in BRB . . . ! That’s at least two things that I’ve learnt today. And some people (my sister for one) say that crosswords are SUCH a waste of time!!

        1. Oh dear!! :sad:
          Only joking – unknowns I can usually do it’s just the variables – I suppose it’s the same thing really.

  7. Back to scrolling through the Wikipedia list again. This time for rivers in Devon. At least there are fewer of them than towns and villages so found quickly. We found it a bit trickier than most people are reporting, but agree, a lot of fun.
    Thanks Warbler and BD.

  8. Great fun; 2*/4* for me. I also was unaware of the alternative spelling for 1d, but as crypticsue says it was clear from the wordplay.
    Thanks to Warbler, and to BD.

  9. First time I have ever fully completed a Toughie without help after being encouraged to try it on the back pager blog by Jezza and Crypticsue. Got 4d , more by luck than judgement as it was the only word that would fit, so needed BD’s explanation. Thanks for that.

    I agree with Spindrift & Lostboy in so much as it would be nice to have a progressively harder Toughie beginning on a Monday and thence throughout the week to encourage us lesser mortals to attempt a higher level of achievement. So ATOM – I know it makes sense.

    1. I fear it is a lost cause as the Herculis GK puzzle occupies the slot where the Toughie appears for the rest of the week.

      With regard to publishing a “Not The Monday Toughie”, I would be happy to do this if someone would like to volunteer to do all the preliminary work like test solving, negotiating clue changes with the setter, setting up the Crossword Compiler file etc..

      1. I think it’s a compliment to how well this Blog is managed if some people think that adding an extra crossword each week would be so easy!

        It appears to run by clockwork but I’m sure that none of us realise how much hard work is involved behind the scenes!

        Step forward the first volunteer!

      2. I don’t know how to do any of the clever stuff – negotiating clue changes with the setter is one example of what I couldn’t do. As for setting up the Crossword Compiler file etc – well, you might as well be talking a foreign language! I would happily have a go at test solving so long as I had someone to whom I could scream “HELP NEEDED NOW”!

      3. PS Franco is right about how little we know about the amount of work that goes into something we all just take for granted.
        How lucky we are – thanks again to everyone who contributes – perhaps we should all show our appreciation more often.

          1. Many thanks BD & to eXternal for volunteering. As has already been stated we take this site for granted & forget how much effort is made for it to run efficiently. Thank you very strong.

            I came to the site via an article in the DT about Rufus a couple of years ago & can say that it has improved my solving skills & understanding of how clues work immensely. Plus it has such a lovely bunch of people contributing all of the time.

            More power to your elbow Big Man!

  10. Warbler consistently provides such an enjoyable start to the toughie week. I really enjoyed this. Thanks to BD and Warbler

  11. Ditto andy and the above comments. Warbler always provides great entertainment no matter the difficulty and this was no exception. Third last in and favourite was 16d which was well, ahem, Telegraphed by the ? and the !. Thanks to you and to BD for the blog.

  12. Thanks to Warbler & Big Dave. As usual I needed 7 hints, 4 of those I had to look up. At least it was do-able. I quite enjoyed what I managed to do.

  13. Highly entertaining puzzle and not too tricky – except for 9d which defeated me. I was convinced it should be spelled with a capital J to give us a pangram [which the theme sort of supported] and so just couldn’t “see” the anagram.

    Many thanks to Warbler and BD.

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