Toughie 944 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 944

Toughie No 944 by Dada

A pleasure to solve

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Bufo is away today.  After the problems earlier this week, this puzzle was sheer joy from start to finish.  My only complaint was that it was over too quickly.

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    Biter — or ankle-biter? (6)
{NIPPER} – two definitions, a biter or pincher and a small child

5a    Lose third of games at special ground (8)
{MISPLACE} – the third letter of gaMes followed by an anagram (ground) of SPECIAL

9a    Drum roll, as soldier meets con (10)
{PARADIDDLE} – a charade of an airborne soldier and a verb meaning to con or cheat

ARVE Error: need id and provider

10a    State breaking something strong as stone (4)
{ONYX} – the abbreviation for a US state inside (breaking) a strong animal

11a    So play more fretful? (8)
{RESTLESS} – the opposite of play followed by the opposite of more

12a    Promise to put first of parcels on shelf (6)
{PLEDGE} – the initial letter (first) of Parcel followed by a shelf

13a    Box left over, not closed (4)
{SPAR} – this verb meaning to box is derived by dropping the final E (not closed) from a word meaning left over

15a    Statue half nude, coming in second (8)
{MONUMENT} – the first half of NUde inside a second or instant

18a    Container with port to hold in case (4,4)
{BIND OVER} – a container followed by a port in Kent gives a phrasal verb meaning to subject to legal constraint

19a    Weakness in strong gripper (4)
{VICE} – two definitions – the first being a weakness of character

21a    Put on brave face in nightmare after heading for sherry (6)
{SCREEN} – a verb meaning to put on a film show is derived from an Indian brave followed by the initial letter (face) of Nightmare and preceded by the initial letter of (heading for) Sherry

23a    Drunk chained west of a large estate (8)
{HACIENDA} – an anagram (drunk) of CHAINED followed by (to the west of in an across clue) A

25a    Topples over, seeing double (4)
{SPIT} – reverse (over, a construct I prefer to see used in a down clue) a verb meaning topples – the definition is a double or exact replica

26a    A bloomer putting vessel on cooker that way (10)
{AGAPANTHUS} – a cooking vessel preceded by an oven and followed by a word meaning that way

27a    Only tiny injury, some escape bandages? (4-4)
{FLEA-BITE} – some (1,3) with a verb meaning to escape around the outside (bandages)

28a    Greater Manchester finally drowned in beer (6)
{LARGER} – the final letter of ManchesteR inside (drowned in) an insipid foreign beer


2d    Pub keeping a plate, ultimately, for nuts (5)
{INANE} – a pub around (keeping) A and followed by the final letter (ultimately) of platE

3d    Might the ceiling be  totally gone? (9)
{PLASTERED} – two definitions – what might have been done to a ceiling and totally gone or drunk

4d    Attacker runs, rescuer following? (6)
{RAIDER} – R(uns) followed by a rescuer

5d    Lady nursing like carer (ahh!), nutty is nutty! (3,2,1,5,4)
{MAD AS A MARCH HARE} – a lady around (nursing) a two-letter word meaning like and followed by an anagram (nutty) of CARER AHH

6d    General  cleaner’s work (8)
{SWEEPING} – two definitions – an adjective and a noun

7d    Ladies and gentlemen heading east for free (5)
{LOOSE} – toilets (Ladies and gentlemen) followed by the initial letter (heading) of East

8d    Colder extremities will have gone icy, shivering in freezing conditions (9)
{CRYOGENIC} – the outer letters (extremities) of ColdeR followed by an anagram (shivering) of GONE ICY

14d    First rule pronounced (9)
{PRINCIPAL} – sounds like (pronounced) a rule or criterion

16d    Big name in battle dividing Balkan city (5,4)
{MOVIE STAR} – a three-letter verb meaning to battle or contest inside a city in Bosnia and Herzegovina

17d    One not into evil gains? That’s unlikely! (8)
{SVENGALI} – an anagram (unlikely) of EV(I)L without the I (one) and GAINS

20d    Scribe’s initial stroke, poor writing (6)
{SCRAWL} – the initial letter of Scribe followed by a swimming stroke

22d    More old pictures put up (5)
{EXTRA} – a two-letter word for old followed by the reversal (put up in a down clue) of some pictures

24d    Gull gobbling last of star fruit (5)
{DRUPE} – a verb meaning to gull or deceive around the final letter (last) of staR

Great stuff!

26 comments on “Toughie 944

  1. A pleasure to solve even if it only just crept into 2* Toughie time. Enjoyable but not as challenging or fun as his alter-ego in today’s Guardian, which is what always seems to be the case as far as I am concerned.

    Thanks to him for two nice starts to Thursday morning and to BD for the illustrated explanations.

  2. Very enjoyable and felt more like a Friday back pager from the old days than a Thursday Toughie. May take a peek at the Guardian on the recommendation of CS but I won’t hold my breath.

    Many thanks as per usual to BD for two reviews today & to Dada for the puzzle.

  3. To be able to say a Toughie was enjoyable is a first for me. I managed to complete without hints, which I seldom achieve, but needed explanations for a couple. I’ve never heard of a 9A, but once solved the answer made me smile. I love words like that! Many thanks to BD for the review and clarifications, and to the setter for the fun.

  4. Great fun and loved 21a, even managed to get some work done today. Many thanks to Dada and BD. CS, if I ventured over to the other side now it might just cause marital problems!

    1. I’ve been over there & came back before anyone spotted me. Save your marriage as it’s not for the faint of heart.

        1. Why is that the same setters, albeit with different noms de guerre, always seem to be harder tn the Guardian than the DT? Is it a result of demographic surveys which show us DT solvers to be not so bright as our brethren on the other side?

          1. Although the DT back-pager is generally regarded as the easiest crossword of the national quality dailies, the same isn’t true of Toughies, which are marketed as being challenging.

            Paul/Dada is clearly working to a brief here, and must have been asked to fill a particular niche in the Toughie repertoire. It’s a tribute to his skill and versatility that he’s able to tune the difficulty and style of his puzzles as required.

            I strongly suspect that the relative straightforwardness of his DT puzzles is the result of editorial policy.

            There does seem to be a deliberate “difficulty gradient” with Toughies, with those later in the week generally being trickier. I reckon that Dada would be happy to supply more challenging material if asked.

            1. Isn’t the Quiptic easiest? Or is it so straight forward that it isn’t considered a cryptic at all ?

              1. I think it was BD who once explained that the Quiptics were for those solvers just entering the foothills of the Cryptic Crossword World.

  5. Did not stroll through it but did smile throughout .
    Absolute favourite 26a which I am still chuckling about .
    Thanks very much .

  6. An excellent puzzle! The bottom left took me a while to untangle, but time well spent. Last in, and favourite, 21a.
    Thanks to Dada, and to BD for the review.

  7. Great fun with no hard thinking to do, many thanks to Dada and to our leader for the double shift.

  8. Good fun beautifully scripted, I enjoyed every moment. Favourites for me were 3d 16d and 21a thanks to Dada and to Big Dave for the review.

  9. Had time after the back page cryptic and on reading the blog, the general view was that the ‘toughie’was ‘doable- i agree as i found it most enjoyable and can’t say better than Spindrift above ,that it was like a friday solve from the old days,when mon to fri was gradually more difficult-now anything can happen! Only one word was new ,9a, or i think forgotten-which came from the wordplay ,otherwise fine. Thanks Dadda for the’pics,i’ve seen the 17d somewhere before but don’t know where.

  10. Tough by name but not by nature! I even solved Agapanthus – I rarely get the gardeners’ ones.

    Paul in the Guardian – a different kettle of fish! Guardian solvers must be on a higher level than us.

  11. We have been avoiding the Toughies while we are on holiday as we are without BRB and Mrs B, but could not resist the lure of a Dada puzzle. Very glad that we did down-load it as we chuckled and smiled all the way through. A delightful puzzle.
    Thanks Dada and BD.

      1. Yes I did thanks Andy. We spent some of the time trolling through a spot with Yellow Fin Tuna and all 5 anglers on board had the thrill of landing one of these. Not huge fish, ranged from about 600mm to about 1m, but they put up a good fight. Then we went trolling with the bigger gear looking for Marlin. They must have been somewhere else that day. A fun memorable day nevertheless, Cheers.

        1. I had to look in an atlas, could have googled but why when surrounded by books, to see where you are, looks remote but idyllic. I’m really not jealous at all…much! Bestest to Mrs Kiwi

          1. Big fleas have smaller fleas upon their backs to bite ’em and smaller fleas have lesser fleas and so “ad infinitum”, I too am jealous of Kiwi Colin but am even more jealous of you Andy as I can no longer use the books on which I used to dote, alas, a great “eld” has come upon me in my old age which enforces me to use ( dare I say it) E books, whilst I am truly grateful for the assistance they give me, they will never replace the feel of a Book. God I sound miserable, but believe me I am just thankful that I can enjoy these crosswords and hope to continue for a long long time. By the way KiwiColin, I hope to eat the catch to wich you referred, or at least one of its wee cousins.

            1. Yes BigBoab, we did get to eat the fish and very nice it was too. Our son used a recipe that involved marinating in a lemon juice, soy sauce mixture and then frying very, very quickly, Absolutely melt in the mouth delicious,
              We always look forward to and enjoy your wise comments on this site BigBoab. Thanks

  12. Didn’t really get to enjoy this due to having to stand in doorway in train, enjoyed what I could do however.

  13. Resorted to hints for the final six in the SW corner only because its bedtime. Very enjoyable and very doable.

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