Toughie 954 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 954

Toughie No 954 by Warbler

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Once again Warbler gives us an excellent, if relatively easy, start to the Toughie week.

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    Steal ID and go by furtively — he always gets the blame (8,3)
{WHIPPING BOY} – a verb meaning to steal followed by the ID needed to use a credit card and an anagram (furtively) of GO BY

9a    Briskly declare, one short, then get run out (7)
{ALLEGRO} – a verb meaning to declare without its final letter (one short) followed by the cricketing abbreviation for Run Out

10a    Together with Epstein, resolved to drop one Ecstasy pill (2,4)
{IN STEP} – an anagram (resolved) of EPST(E)IN without one of the E(cstasy pill)s

12a    Troubled Merlin follows king into citadel (7)
{KREMLIN} – an anagram (troubled) of MERLIN follows K(ing)

13a    Flash: African capital parks opening course for connoisseurs of Marathon? (7)
{MOUSAKA} – a flash or instant followed by the capital of Zambia without its initial letter (parks opening) gives a Greek dish which is enjoyed, perhaps (indicated by the question mark), by the connoisseurs of Marathon

14a    Absolute fruitcake! He’s lost his head (5)
{UTTER} – a fruitcake or lunatic without his initial letter (lost his head)

15a    Gale starts to sweep over US wilderness destroying trees (3’6)
{SOU’WESTER} – the initial letters (starts) of four words in the clue followed by an anagram (destroying) of TREES

17a    Caught unawares retiring gent is surrounded by posturing prudes (9)
{SURPRISED} – reverse (retiring) the title afforded to a gent inside an anagram (posturing) of PRUDES

20a    Flowering tree. In Dordogne it’s found in lake (5)
{LILAC} – the French (in Dordogne) for it inside the French for a lake

22a    Leaves service with rake-off to return east (7)
{LETTUCE} – a type of tennis service followed by the reversal (to return) of a rake-off and E(ast)

24a    Young creature‘s always dipping into grant (7)
{LEVERET} – a word meaning always inside (dipping into) a verb meaning to grant

25a    Empty words in court irritate (4,2)
{WIND UP} – some empty words followed by a two-letter word meaning in court facing the magistrate

26a    Smoke ruined boat caught in banks of Congo (7)
{TOBACCO} – an anagram (ruined) of BOAT followed by C(aught) inside the outer letters (banks) of CongO

27a    Organ‘s grand rendition of Latin ballad before Duke and Queen (4,7)
{GALL BLADDER} – G(rand) followed by an anagram (rendition) of L(atin) BALLAD, D(uke) and Her Majesty’s regnal cypher


2d    He quibbles over cost statement of child’s horse stabled in more healthy environment (7)
{HAGGLER} – the two letters that represent a horse to a child inside (stabled in … environment) an adjective meaning more healthy

3d    Air rising is observed after expert forecast (9)
{PROGNOSIS} – reverse (rising in a down clue) an air or tune, follow it with IS and precede it with an expert

4d    Wally wastes time on masculine mode of expression (5)
{IDIOM} – drop the T(ime) from a wally and then add M(asculine)

5d    Perhaps greet us with a wave (7)
{GESTURE} – an anagram (perhaps) of greet us

6d    In public, athletic club give extravagant display (7)
{OVERACT} – inside a word meaning public or open insert the abbreviation for Athletic Club

7d    Sailor heard small whispering noise. It’s just a dog (4,7)
{JACK RUSSELL} – a four-letter word for a sailor followed by what sounds like (heard) a small whispering noise

8d    Maybe one employing lawyer’s right to be in court (6)
{CLIENT} – put a legal term for a right or privilege inside the abbreviation of C(our)T

11d    Framework shaped into a story (11)
{FABRICATION} – a framework or structure followed by an anagram (shaped) of INTO A

16d    Removed fastenings around instrument with full concentration (9)
{UNDILUTED} – a verb meaning removed fastenings around an old stringed instrument

18d    About time to take pride, say, over Australian wine (7)
{RETSINA} – a two-letter word for about followed by T(ime), the misdemeanour of which pride is a deadly example (say) and A(ustralian)

19d    Circle Line goes under rough earth (7)
{ROUNDEL} – L(ine) after (under in a down clue) an adjective meaning rough or approximate and E(arth)

20d    Without acting once, contrive above all to be endearing (7)
{LOVABLE} – an anagram (contrive) of ABOVE (A)LL without one of the A(cting)s

21d    Words of Saint Cyril in translation (6)
{LYRICS} – an anagram (Saint Cyril in translation) of S(aint) CYRIL

23d    In disgrace, discharge former priest by letter (5)
{EXPEL} – a former partner followed by P(riest) and a word that represents a letter of the alphabet

A bit heavy on anagrams (eleven in all), but I like the way that Warbler always indicates, when there are two or more of the same letter, the number to be dropped.

17 comments on “Toughie 954

  1. Gentle yet pleasant enough, thanks to Warbler and to Big Dave for the comments.

  2. I knew it had to be categorized as easy! The ones I manage to finish always are. I got through this one quite handily, except for 13A. The answer was the only word that fit (although I have always spelled it with one more letter), and I’m still struggling with what this has to do with connoisseurs. It’s all Greek to me!

    Thanks BD for the review, and thanks to the setter (except for 13A, that is…)

  3. A joint effort to solve this one and much enjoyed by us both, especially as more often than not we struggle to solve any Toughie clues at all.

  4. Held up by 13a, simply because I’ve always spelled it with a double s, enjoyable romp with Warbler once again. Many thanks to BD for the review/hints and to Warbler for a fun crossword.

  5. With month-end accounts required, and end of financial year submissions due, i was grateful for a gentle one today!
    Many thanks to Warbler, and to BD for the review. 2*/4* for me.

  6. Very agreeable .Held up slightly in SW corner and I also wanted another letter in 13a.
    Thanks very much .

  7. One of those strange crossword coincidences. We have been called away to assist with minding grandkids for a couple of days as our daughter-in -law had to have an emergency operation. She is just out of hospital and was lying on the sofa near us while we were solving this. Her operation was to remove her 27a!
    We found this one, like everyone else it seems, a gentle, fun, puzzle.
    Thanks Warbler and BD.

    1. I hope your daughter-in-law recovers quickly. I wonder if she fits the usual description of people with gall bladder problems. It’s all the ‘F’s – fair, fat, fertile, flatulent and fortyish. That sounds a bit unkind – I don’t mean to be.

      1. I was 29 and 8 stone 5 oz when I had mine out. I don’t recall flatulence being a problem…and wouldn’t tell if I did! I do remember it was the worst pain…much worse than giving birth. And I had to wait six months for surgery on a totally fat free diet. I yearned for fish and chips. And back in the day, keyhole surgery was not an option so ’twas a long recovery. I wish 2Kiwis’ daughter-in-law a speedy recovery! By the way, I had no probelm with that clue either.

    2. Thanks both Kath and Chris. I will pass on your wishes to Rachel. She has bounced back remarkably since the op just a couple of days ago. A huge relief to free from the excruciating pain she has had for several months.

  8. I was quite encouraged to discover that BD had given this one 2* for difficulty – usually if I can do a Toughie it only gets 1*.
    I enjoyed this and did it in less time than the back page cryptic as long as no-one counts needing hints for the explanations of 13 and 22a and 19d.
    I wanted to make 13a what it was but, as has already been said, I would have spelt it with a double ‘S’ and I still don’t understand what it’s got to do with ‘connoisseurs of Marathon’.
    My favourite clues were 1, 20 and 25a and 2, 4 and 7d (loved that one.)
    With thanks to Warbler and BD.

  9. Far too easy to be a Toughie. Also clunky (particularly 13 across) and with too many anagrams

  10. As ever Warblers excellent precise clues provided at least 4* fun. Re 13a I had an advantage I guess, different areas of Greece where I have lived use variant spellings. Thank you Warbler and BD

  11. Thanks to Warbler and to Big Dave for the review and hints. I thoroughly enjoyed this, but it’s taken me a while to complete unaided. Haven’t managed to complete a Toughie for ages. Favourite was 7d.

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