Toughie 913 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 913

Toughie No 913 by Notabilis

Quality Always Shines Through

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

Greeting from a snow-bound Worcestershire. The third, and best, of a trio of excellent Toughies, this puzzle really was a pleasure to solve.

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    Dull backing among acacias or phloxes (7)
{PROSAIC} – reversed (backing) and hidden (among) in the clue

5a    Was woozy pedestrian briefly stuck in Slough? (7)
{SWAMPED} – a verb meaning was woozy or dizzy followed by PED(estrian)

9a    Rose fruit in soft drink? I’m grateful for party snack (9)
{CHIPOLATA} – the fruit of the rose inside a soft drink followed by a two-letter expression of gratitude

10a    Omnishambles initially limited by Conservative is characterised by bedlam (5)
{CHAOS} – the initial letter of Omnishambles inside (limited by) C(onservative) and a verb meaning is characterised by or possesses

11a    Slight cunning, always seeing Time Out as narrow-minded (7)
{INSULAR} – a slight or slur followed by cunning or craft, with the T(ime) removed from each part (always seeing Time out)

12a    Small bike making a comeback, also in sports grounds (7)
{SCOOTER} –an adverb meaning also inside a shortened word for sports grounds, all reversed (making a comeback)

13a    Nuts need cynic’s coarseness (9)
{INDECENCY} – an anagram (nuts) of NEED CYNIC

16a    Pacific state vanishes in disaster for friendship (5)
{AMITY} – drop (vanishes) CAL (California, Pacific state) from the front of a disaster

17a    Smooth shape of bolt sheathed by bar (5)
{SUAVE} – a single-letter into which a bolt can be shaped inside (sheathed by) a preposition meaning bar or except for

18a    Witch‘s word introducing alternative female deity among saints (9)
{SORCERESS} – the word which introduces an alternative followed by the Roman goddess of agriculture and corn inside (among) a pair of Ss (the single-letter abbreviation for saint)

21a    Someone reserved parking; I’m doubtful he’ll stop moving vehicles (7)
{CLAMPER} – someone who is reserved or reticent followed by P(arking) and a two-letter interjection meaning I’m doubtful gives someone who will stop stationary vehicles from moving

22a    Parisian from Tours gets placed in rowing (7)
{DISPUTE} – the French (Parisian) for from around (tours) a phrase (2,3) meaning gets placed gives rowing as in an argument, not on the water!

25a    Red, not counting last of Rioja, is not too dry (5)
{MOIST} – a Chinese communist (red) without (not counting) the final letter (last) of RiojA

26a    Pick out unfinished carrying surface, the kind fork-lifts take back (4,5)
{TELL APART} – a surface used for carrying without its final letter (unfinished) followed a platform for lifting and stacking goods, used with a fork-lift truck, all reversed (take back)

27a    Hospital sell-off you once rejected as part of small fringe (7)
{EYELASH} – H(ospital) followed by a sell-off and the old word for you (you once) all reversed (rejected)

28a    Set of instructions concerned with keeping public at home (7)
{ROUTINE} – a two-letter word meaning concerned with around (keeping) words meaning public and at home


1d    Italian bar worker taking lid off frothy coffees (7)
{PUCCINI} – this Italian composer is derived by dropping (off) the lid (cap) from some frothy coffees

2d    Wring 25 drops (5)
{OMITS} – an anagram (wring) of the answer to 25 across

3d    Key-ring? (5)
{ATOLL} – a musical key followed by a verb meaning to ring gives a ring-shaped coral reef or key

4d    Retail group admitting gross humiliation (7)
{CHAGRIN} – a group of retail stores spread across the country around GR(oss)

5d    Demon on board resorts to raise (very high) (7)
{SPASSKY} – a former world chess champion (demon on board) comes from resorts with mineral springs followed by a verb meaning to raise, for example a cricket ball, very high

6d    Governors in South Africa House go through the roof’s attachment to floor (9)
{ANCHORAGE} – the ruling party in South Africa followed by HO(use) and a verb meaning to go through the roof

7d    Perhaps bushy Scotsman’s gear turns up when shaver comes round (5-4)
{PLANT-LIKE} – reverse (turns up) an item of clothing word by a Scotsman inside (comes round) a tool used to shave wood

8d    Level weight system follows regularly observed diets (7)
{DESTROY} – a verb meaning to level or raze is derived from a weight system after (follows) the even letters (regularly observed) of DiEtS

14d    Old violins which broken red cases render playable (9)
{DRAMATISE} – some old violins (not Stradivari, but the other famous Italian make) inside (cases) an anagram (broken) of RED gives a verb meaning turn into a play

15d    Doctor to palace seizing Republican for old queen (9)
{CLEOPATRA} – an anagram (doctor) of TO PALACE around (seizing) R(epublican) – a real old queen, not a male homosexual!

17d    Look at holding search for Welsh tenor (7)
{SECOMBE} – a verb meaning to look at around a verb meaning to search – Bryn Terfel doesn’t fit in, but this tenor fantasised about ruling the world!

18d    Singular Dickensian clerk loses it in nick (7)
{SCRATCH} – S(ingular) followed by the Dickensian clerk from A Christmas Carol without (loses) his final IT

19d    Batman’s adversary toppled Lord protected by horseman (7)
{RIDDLER} – not The Penguin or The Joker, this adversary is derived from the reversal toppled) of L(or)D inside (protected by) a horseman

20d    Stone contains little that is precious (7)
{SWEETIE} – ST(one) around a Scottish word for little and followed by the Latin abbreviation of that is

23d    Avid supporter in America raised 10 there (5)
{SNAFU} – an avid supporter inside the two-letter abbreviation for America all reversed (raised) gives an American word for 10 across

24d    Let me see Gaultier’s pal with good taste (5)
{UMAMI} – a two-letter interjection meaning let me see followed by the French (Gaultier’s) for pal gives an adjective meaning having a savoury, satisfying taste

Too many favourites to list.


13 comments on “Toughie 913

  1. 3.5* difficulty but definitely 5* entertainment. I had a lovely time this morning sorting out all the great clues – as BD says, too many favourites to list. Thank you to Notabilis for a brilliant end to the Toughie week and to BD for the explanations.

  2. Fabulous toughie which took me a long while to solve but I enjoyed every minute of it. Many thanks to Notablis and to BD for the excellent summary.

  3. A proper Toughie on offer today, loads of favourites including 5d 11a 25a and 26a thanks to Notabilis for the challenge and to Big Dave for the dissection.

  4. I thought 17a was ‘shave’, as I can see the letter ‘h’ on it’s side as the shape of the bolt on a gate, or shed for example.

    And for 2d down (although I didn’t put it in), I thought the answer was ‘onion’, as dropping the 25th letter of the alphabet from wring, which as that letter is actually ‘y’, not a good finish to my crossword day after breezing through the back page! Putting in ‘atone’ for 3d didn’t help matters, either.

    Thanks for the hints, etc…

  5. Thanks to Notabilis and to Big Dave for the review & hints. I was quite encouraged that I managed to solve the NW corner barring 4d which I got from the hints. Then it was downhill all the way :-) Couldn’t get any more at all, so I tried not to read the hints, but noted the definitions. Still couldn’t get any more. Resorted to the hints used 6 altogether, but had to look up another 12, at least I could then understand the hints by working backwards. One new word for me in 24d. Was 5*+/4*. Did enjoy trying though. I take my hat off to Notabilis, I’m amazed by his skill.

  6. 4.5* on both counts for me. I ended up with 3 in the SW which took ages to crack, in particular 17a/17d.
    Thanks to Notabilis, and to BD.

  7. Too tough for me today, alas! But I really enjoyed some of the definitions now that they have been explained. (Thanks BD)

    “Italian bar worker…” & “Demon on board …” especially.

  8. i think BD preamble says it all, took me an age but what a joy. Shave or Suave, for some reason i got the u from Usain bolt before correctly parsing. thanks to notabilis and BD

  9. Managed to come within two ( 23 & 24 d, both new to me ) of completing this excellent puzzle from Notabilis. Very pleased with myself.

    Unfortunately, it has made today’s back pager look rather lame by comparison.

    Many thanks to Notabilis and BD for the final touches.

  10. A lovely puzzle to end the Toughie week. It took a while but I solved from the bottom up. Thanks to Notabilis and to BD

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