Toughie 965 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 965

Toughie No 965 by Elkamere

An Order of Magnitude

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

Elkamere has given us a very enjoyable puzzle to round off the Toughie week. Many favourites in this one, but the one that gave me the biggest smile was 25 across, even though overseas solvers, and many home solvers, may find it difficult to resolve the wordplay.

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.


7a    Coming back, artist’s in conflict (7)
{ARRIVAL} – reverse (back) the usual two-letter artist and then add an adjective meaning in conflict or opposed

8a    This may appear in lines on fancy patio? (7)
{TOPIARY} – the kind of display that might appear on a fancy patio is derived by putting train lines after an anagram (fancy) of PATIO

10a    11 in reserve (10)
{DETACHMENT} – a cryptic definition of an 11 across of troops kept in reserve by an army

11a    One can start to use wheels (4)
{UNIT} – a can followed by the initial letter of (start to) Use all reversed (wheels)

12a    Use a rickety crossing by a river, monsieur — prepare to fight for France (3,5)
{AUX ARMES} – an anagram (rickety) of USE A around (crossing) the mathematical symbol for by or multiply, the A from the clue, R(iver) and M(onsieur)

14a    11 spy sheltering from the French (6)
{MODULE} – a spy who successfully infiltrates a rival organization around (sheltering) the French for “from the”

15a    9 politician to wear raincoat when going out (11)
{CALIBRATION} – a three-letter politician inside (to wear) an anagram (when going out) of RAINCOAT

19a    11 of 9 post bags initially checked over (6)
{SECOND} – a verb meaning to post a letter around (bags) the initial letters of Checked Over

20a    Simple to unravel 9 marker? (8)
{MILEPOST} – an anagram (unravel) of SIMPLE TO

22a    11 of 9 detective books (4)
{PINT} – a detective, like Philip Marlowe, followed by some books of the bible

23a    11 of 9‘s life in focus (10)
{CENTIMETRE} – a word meaning life or duration inside a focus or midpoint

25a    9 Royals in Berkshire (7)
{READING} – the nickname of a Berkshire football club

26a    11 of 9‘s hair in need of a cut? (7)
{FURLONG} – split as (3,4) this could mean hair that is in need of a cut


1d    Rich man not completely welcome in Wales and America (7)
{CROESUS} – this word for a rich man comes from the name of a king of Lydia who was renowned for his great wealth – most of the Welsh for welcome is followed by the two-letter abbreviation for America

2d    11 of 9 shot, first of all (4)
{PICA} – a shot or photo followed by the initial letter (first) of All

3d    11 of 9‘s sound (6)
{FATHOM} – two definitions, the second being a verb meaning to sound the depth

4d    Prisoner has to invite disregard for the law (8)
{CONTEMPT} – a prisoner followed by a cm to invite or lure

5d    51 pounds gets one elderly cleaner (6,4)
{LIQUID SOAP} – the Roman numerals for 51 followed by a slang word for pounds sterling and the abbreviation for an elderly person

6d    Bank of Scotland pens hostile letters, reader feels (7)
{BRAILLE} – the Scottish for a river bank around an adjective meaning hostile or unfriendly

9d    Size of solid pieces, in essence (11)
{MEASUREMENT} – an adjective meaning solid or reliable and some chess pieces inside essence or substance

13d    Like a diet of worms? That’s a cooking ingredient (10)
{ASAFOETIDA} – a two-letter word meaning like followed by an A from the clue, an anagram (worms) of DIET OF and the other A from the clue gives a foul-smelling gum resin used in Indian cooking

16d    Extremely close penetrating cut close to the bone (8)
{INDECENT} – the outer letters (extremely) of ClosE inside (penetrating) a verb meaning to cut into zigzags

17d    11 of 9 live long at first after 01/12 (7)
{DECIBEL} – a two-letter verb meaning to live and the initial letter (at first) of Long after one way of expressing 01/12 as a date

18d    Awful strain placed on a Russian lady (7)
{TSARINA} – an anagram (awful) of STRAIN followed by (placed on in a down clue) the A from the clue

21d    Poorly promote university as record breaker (4,2)
{LAID UP} – a verb meaning to promote or assist and U(niversity) inside (as … breaker) an old vinyl record

24d    What kipper will do mostly over fish (4)
{EELS} – most of a verb meaning what kippers or snoozers do reversed (over in a down clue)

Once again, a puzzle doesn’t have to be difficult to be great fun to solve.

15 comments on “Toughie 965

  1. What a lot of fun. I really enjoy setters quirky puzzles which, to me, look impossible and then the theme unfolds. Need to brush up on my French. Many thanks to Elkamere and BD for what has been a satisfying Friday.

  2. Many thanks to Elkamere for an extremely entertaining crossword. I thought at first that I wasn’t getting anywhere but when the theme clicked it all came together nicely. Not my favourite type of puzzle but very do-able. Thanks also to BD for a most amusing review. Favourite clue for me was 12a, the first time i’ve ever nominated an amagram as a favourite I think.

  3. A pleasure to solve with some nice misdirection, favourites for me were 1d 6d 19a and 25a thanks to Elkamere and to Big Dave for the review.

  4. I hate this type of puzzle! All those interlinked clues … pah!!!

    Even worse than an Elgar – if that is possible?

  5. I groaned when I saw all those 11s and 9s and set off to see which of the clues which didn’t mention them I could solve. Once I had a few checking letters,and worked out what the 11/9 was all about, it turned out to be not that difficult at all..

    Enjoyable, albeit not particulary tough once the theme became clear – its been a very ‘softie’ week in the middle of the paper.

    Thanks to Elkamere and BD

  6. This one took us ages to pick the two key clues. We had a few scattered answers around the grid, but 11/9 and all the dependents sat there mocking us. A flash of inspiration and it all started falling into place. Not rapidly but regularly. 2d was the last in for us, despite having met the same word very recently. Thought that from this setter it might be “giga”, but BRB only lists it as a prefix, so that didn’t work. All that was left was working out the significance of Royals in 25a which Mr Google was able to help us with. Indeed, a lot of fun.
    Thanks Elkamere and BD.

  7. Normally not a fan of the linked clues puzzles but I really enjoyed this, but took me 4* time to unravel and 5* to parse despite seeing 9 and 11 quite early. D’oh of day 19a. Thanks BD and Elkamere

  8. Lots of D’OH! moments but eventually everything came to gether with the exception of 13d. THanks to Elkamere and BD.

  9. First attempt at the toughie and I have tried but I have no idea how the 11 9 references help – in fact clueless as to the significance- can some one explain.


    1. The solution to 11a is UNIT and 9d is MEASUREMENT. All the clues with 11/9 in them are UNITS of MEASUREMENT.

  10. I thought 25a was even cleverer (as our house is a football-free zone the connection never occurred to me). A royal is a size of printing paper ( 20 × 25 inches [51 × 64 cm]) – which leads one to reading………And no, it has not taken me from 19th April until today (23rd May) to finish the puzzle, am just very behind with ploughing through our Telegraphs!

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