Toughie 924 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 924

Toughie No 924 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This is only the fourth Messinae puzzle that I have ever had to blog and it was easily the most enjoyable one to date. I rated the difficulty at the top end of the *** range

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    A girl I have that’s free with favours (10)
{PERMISSIVE} A (3) + girl (4) + I have (3)

6a    Second seabird is a duck (4)
{SMEW} S (second) + a seagull

10a    Round river seek custom for fish (5)
{TROUT} R (river) goes inside ‘to seek custom’

11a    Herb with some hesitation set in cultivated garden (9)
{GERMANDER} An interjection expressing hesitation (3) goes inside an anagram (cultivated) of GARDEN

12a    Jazz fan lapping up raw entertainment (7)
{CABARET} A jazz fan goes round ‘raw’

13a    In dog pound one pays up (7)
{SETTLER} L (pound) goes inside a breed of dog

14a    Golfing site measures Monty’s talent? (5,7)
{GREEN FINGERS} I assume that Monty refers to Monty Don. Part of a golf course + measures (especially of an alcoholic spirit poured into a glass)

18a    That’s me, wanton paid for rollicking (7,5)
{PAINTED WOMAN} This all-in-one clue is an anagram (for rollicking) of ME WANTON PAID. The whole clue provides the definition

21a    One goes round lost tribe after gold (7)
{ORBITER} An anagram (lost) of TRIBE follows gold

23a    Backing group with genuine Shakespearean character (7)
{LAERTES} A reversal of a group and ‘genuine’ gives a character in Hamlet

24a    Being obese seeking target, working out (9)
{FATHOMING} ‘Obese’ + ‘seeking target’

25a    More than enough drink to sink politician (5)
{AMPLE} An alcoholic drink goes round a politician

26a    Character in Morse  to drive violently (4)
{DASH} 2 meanings: a long character in Morse code/to drive violently

27a    Restricted protesters say with odd instrument (10)
{KETTLEDRUM} ‘Restricted protesters using a police tactic for controlling large crowds’ + odd’


1d    Commits Switzerland in move against government (6)
{PUTSCH} ‘Commits’ + the IVR for Switzerland

2d    Rob him violently getting diamonds (6)
{RHOMBI} An anagram (violently) of ROB HIM

3d    A tinier portent lost in work by translator (14)

4d    What accomplished musician does to express emotion on track (5-4)
{SIGHT-READ} ‘To express emotion’ (4) + track (5)

5d    Doodlebug’s endless surge — unwelcome invader (5)
{VIRUS} A doodlebug (2) + ‘surge’ with the last letter removed

7d    This person slowed down, not one having succeeded in Olympics? (8)
{MEDALLED} ‘This person’ (2) + ‘slowed down’ (7) with the letter I (one) removed

8d    Woman guarding uniform for action (8)
{WARDRESS} When split (3,5) this could be what you wear when going into action

9d    Cook’s measure of achievement seen in club ordering vegetarian grub primarily? (7,7)
{BATTING AVERAGE} The Cook is Alastair Cook. Club + an anagram of VEGETARIAN G (first letter of grub)

15d    One to shine on stage also turned up in Exodus (9)
{FOOTLIGHT} A reversal of ‘also’ goes inside exodus

16d    Hoaxed novice initially taken in, given regular information (5-3)
{SPOON-FED} ‘Hoaxed’ goes round N (first letter of novice)

17d    Without egg, suffers disease (8)
{DIABETES} ‘To egg’ goes inside ‘suffers’

19d    Puts up with soldiers in drunken state (6)
{STUPOR} A reversal of PUTS + an abbreviation denoting soldiers

20d    European matches up to high reputation (6)
{ESTEEM} E (European) + a reversal of ‘matches’

22d    Breed fish, it’s said (5)
{RAISE} A homophone of fish (more than one fish)

A nice puzzle containing nothing too obscure

18 comments on “Toughie 924

  1. I’ve only been attemting the toughies in recent months and find them very hard going more often than not, but I’m persevering. Today’s offering took me ages, but I finally finished it without needing hints. I did need explanations for a couple, though (Monty Don?) and did google for 6A. Many thanks, Bufo, for your clarification, and to the setter for giving my brain a good early morning workout..

  2. Nothing too complicated in this one; my only hold-ups were 6a, and 17d.
    Thanks to Messinae and to Bufo.

  3. Like yesterday no obscure words which suits me .However I did find this a struggle albeit an enjoyable one .
    Had about 17 answers for 17d before finishing .
    Thanks very much to both .

  4. Very enjoyable toughie from Messinae and a succinct but informative review from Bufo, my thanks to both.

  5. Good stuff on offer today, favourites were 1d 14a and 16d thanks to Messinae and to Bufo for the comments.

  6. Very enjoyable – my only problems came from not marking the 7,7 line correctly for 9d (although I did realise it had something to do with cricket) and getting to grips with the wordplay of 18a. Thanks to Messinae and Bufo.

  7. Not having a good time with this – can’t seem to get on the right wave length at all. Thought 4d was Plays well, as in plays for the musician & then borrowing the s to make swell (as in organ swelling with sound) for the emotion. No wonder I didn’t get far with this! And in 13a I blundered about with settles because of the tense for pays. Going for an ice pack to cool my fevered imaginations, & sitting quietly with a bit of discouragement seeping in. So my salute to the clever Setter, and many thanks to Bufo (whom it was a delight to meet at Little Venice last week) for explanations & in my case, loads of corrections!

    1. Don’t get discouraged – you haven’t been doing crosswords for long and to even attempt the Toughies is really brave, I think. :smile:

  8. The rumours regarding the return of the Prince of Darkness to the Friday Toughie slot weren’t rumours!

    1. … and sadly he was not at the Bridge on Saturday so the glintometer could not be deployed.

      1. I hope he’s OK – Jetdoc distinctly under the weather on Saturday metinks – did you get home OK? I got to Oxford Circus to hear a tannoy announcement “train problem at stockwell, haven’t a clue when next train due…”…. Cue cab to Kings Cross

        1. Elgar may have been under the weather last Saturday but he certainly wasn’t when he set the Toughie. I haven’t finished it yet (I may be a while!) but can confirm that it is a right proper Friday Toughie.

          1. I’ve only just got back from “dadtaxis” (eldest son aged 28!) and printed the Toughie off. I’m going straight to the dark room & bypassing the drinks cabinet as result of reading your words about the return of he who must not be named…

  9. I didn’t do too badly with this so was expecting a 1* or 2* at the most for difficulty – quite encouraging to find 3* and no-one saying that it wasn’t a real toughie.
    I couldn’t do the first word of 9d – didn’t even twig that it was a ‘crickety’ clue. I still don’t really understand why 18a was what it had to be – do I need to know who Messinae is?
    I enjoyed this puzzle very much and it’s done wonders for the Toughie morale.
    With thanks to Messinae and Bufo. It was very nice to meet you last Saturday, Bufo.

  10. In 4d the clue doesn’t match the solution grammatically. Shouldn’t it be ‘… musician can do’ ?

  11. 17d was my last answer in and actually popped in to my mind when I was on the 3rd tee of the golf course this morning. Had to text the answer home immediately. Never heard of the person in 14a but guessed that it must have been a local “celebrity” to fit the word play. A very enjoyable puzzle.
    Thanks Messinae and Bufo.

    1. Monty Don is not a local celebrity (well, he is English) – he’s one of the greatest gardeners ever. He knows so much. I love him – he is SO charismatic, mainly because of his enthusiasm. I think he encourages people to garden and I’m all for that.

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