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Toughie 1000

Toughie No 1000 by Symphony


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

In this special puzzle the clues were contributed by a Symphony of Telegraph setters (one clue each except that 4 setters clued two answers). I struggled with some of it and the effort needed to sort out the last few answers carried me into 5-star difficulty territory. I noted that this is one of those diagrams in which all the perimeter letters are unchecked and so I was looking for some kind of message in them from the start. It certainly helped though it took me a long time to spot the M-shape made up of Ms. I’d wondered why the top row of the perimeter made no sense. I enjoyed the challenge and was going to give it 4 stars for enjoyment but upped it to 5 stars when I wrote the report. I am declining the invitation to play ‘Spot the Setter’ though I do have one or two ideas.

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.


8a    Upset, finding one doctor’s abandoned diaphragm (4)
{MIFF} ‘To upset’ is obtained by removing IDR (one doctor) from a word meaning diaphragm (part of the body)

9a    Audience chamber reportedly disconcerted Heath when returned (6,4)
{THRONE ROOM} Where a monarch holds audiences = a homophone (reportedly) of ‘disconcerted’ + a reversal of ‘heath’

10a    Mark given court order in early part of life — lad spoilt at home? (5,3)
{MAMA’S BOY} M (mark) and a court order that places restrictions on someone guilty of antisocial acts are put inside the early or carefree part of life gives a term for a man who is excessively attached to his mother at an age when men are expected to be independent

11a    ‘What would you like in your sandwich, son?’ ‘— —, please; I’m in the bath‘ (6)
{HAMMAM} Fill in the blanks in — — with the meat he’d like in his sandwich and the person he’s addressing and you get a Turkish bath

12a    Misconstrued my remark about European revel (4,5)
{MAKE MERRY} An anagram (misconstrued) of MY REMARK round E (European)

13a    Figure on staff seeing wits fade, forgetting daughter twice (5)
{MINIM} A figure on a musical staff is obtained by taking an alternative way of saying ‘wits fade’ (—D D–) and removing the two Ds (D = daughter)

15a    What’s on road round the bend by a river from the East? (7)
{MACADAM} A road surface = a reversal (from the East) of ’round the bend’ + A + a river in East Anglia

17a    Somerset address of schoolmistress that’s disgusting on the interior (7)
{MAUGHAM} The surname of a writer called Somerset = a schoolmistress round ‘that’s disgusting!’

20a    I am upset — that really hurt — it was a spiteful thing you said! (5)
{MIAOW} An anagram (upset) of I AM + ‘that really hurt!’ gives something said in response to a catty or spiteful remark

22a    Jeremy, say, confronting Portuguese gentleman’s stupid officiousness? (9)
{BEADLEDOM} The surname of a former TV presenter called Jeremy + a Portuguese title for a gentleman

25a    Meet tailless nag trained here? (6)
{MANÈGE} An anagram (trained) of MEE NAG gives a riding school (where a tailless nag might be trained)

26a    Bodyguard required particularly in hot spots abroad (3,5)
{SUN CREAM} A cryptic definition for something that protects the body when you’re in the open air and it’s hot

27a    Silent calls stopped with telemarketer’s initial grumbles (10)
{MUTTERINGS} ‘Silent’ and ‘calls’ round T (first letter of telemarketer)

28a    China has Mao’s head on trophy (4)
{PALM} China (mate) + M (fist letter of Mao)


1d    Greeting from Siam to old neighbour, perhaps, from long range (8)
{HIMALAYA} A greeting + the former name of a country that bordered Siam = ‘from a particular long range of mountains’

2d    See model’s posterior in a musical that’s hot (6)
{AFLAME} L (last letter of model) inside A + a stage musical based on a 1980 musical film

3d    ‘Blast, mane needs grooming!’ is what he often thinks (9)
{STABLEMAN} An anagram (needs grooming) of BLAST MANE gives someone who would groom a mane

4d    Clutching recipe, man returned about English cheese (7)
{GRUYÈRE} A man round R (recipe) + a reversal of ‘about’ + E (English)

5d    A lot of doctors and nurses welcome constant signs of life (5)
{ANKHS} A + the organisation that employs most doctors and nurses round K (Boltzmann constant) gives ancient Egyptian symbols of life

6d    Doctor, merciless character, keeping numb heart beating (8)
{DRUMMING} DR (doctor) + a merciless character from Flash Gordon round UM (middle letters of numb)

7d    Reflection in hill farmhouse regularly reveals African (6)
{SOMALI} A reversal of alternate letters in hIlL fArMhOuSe

14d    Proper rugged he-man is suppressing identity (9)
{MAIDENISH} An anagram (rugged) of HE-MAN IS round ID (identity)

16d    Lover Romeo at Juliet’s end becomes distraught (8)
{AMORETTO} An anagram (distraught) of ROMEO AT T (last letter of Juliet)

18d    Attractive lady keeping fit? On the contrary (8)
{ADORABLE} ‘Fit’ goes round a girl’s name

19d    Getting together for in-service courses? (7)
{MESSING} A cryptic definition. ‘Service’ refers to the armed services and ‘courses’ refers to meals

21d    When stag mates disrupted train, head of Underground intervenes (2,1,3)
{IN A RUT} An anagram (disrupted) of TRAIN round U (first letter of Underground)

23d    Colosseum ditches one Roman after Emperor’s first high-class salute to the dead (6)
{EURIPI} Ditches round the arena in a Roman amphitheatre = I (Roman numeral for one) after E (first letter of Emperor) U (high class) and an abbreviated epitaph found on tombstones

24d    Leader of leaders in intriguing Telegraph thousandth crossword puzzle when leaders are ignored (5)
{NEHRU} A prime minister of India = the second letters of iNtriguing tElegraph tHousandth cRossword pUzzle

Here’s to the next thousand!

Still puzzling over who wrote which clue?  The answers are here.

Time for a summary of the setters of the first 1000 puzzles

Setter Newspaper Online
Beam 28
Busman 31
Campbell 13
Cephas 32
Citrus 15
Columba 2
Dada 21
Elgar 81 6 #866 as “______: 13 6 27”
Elkamere 29
Excalibur 57
Firefly 67
Giovanni 79
Jed 10
Kcit 64 1
Messinae 37
Micawber 53
MynoT 52
Myops 27
Notabilis 69
Osmosis 69 1 #758 as “Ozymandias” *
Petitjean 43
Shamus 62
Warbler 57 1 #751 only published online *
Various 2 #500 by Didi Guess / #1000 by Symphony
==== ==
1000 9

* On 10th April 2012 puzzle #751 by Warbler was correctly published online but the newspaper published a puzzle by Osmosis that had been intended as #758.  This latter puzzle is available online as GK 7588.  On 20th April 2012, the day that #758 should have been published, a different puzzle by Osmosois was published.  This new puzzle was credited to Ozymandias, allegedly to avoid confusion!

27 comments on “Toughie 1000

  1. 5* for both difficulty and entertainment. It took me a long time of on and off solving (they keep making me work!) and a lot of 27a too. For some time I had the wrong word in 23d, so it took me a while to spot the relevant word along the bottom of the grid.

    Thank to Bufo for the explanations – a proper Toughie for you at last!

    Thanks to all the lovely setters for their part in this celebration. I am a great fan of the Toughies not least because after many years of solving DT puzzles alone with no knowledge of the wider crosswordland blogosphere, three years ago I entered a whole Toughie clue I couldn’t solve into Google and totally transformed my crosswording life.

    1. Sue, I too am so grateful to BD and all the contributors of this wonderful blog, one of the best moves I have made since my retirement all those years ago.

  2. I found this very tough, but great fun.
    Many thanks to all the setters who had a hand in this one; thank you for the entertainment you all provide us with on a daily basis, and please continue with your much appreciated hard work.
    Thanks to Bufo for the dissection.

  3. 24 setters’ wavelengths proved as testing a challenge as I expected .
    Solved in stop start fashion with emphasis on the stop .
    Favourite 11a closely followed by 1d .
    Thanks to the 24 for past present and future puzzles and to Bufo for the explanation .

  4. Terrific puzzle from the Symphony of setters, last one in was 8a favourites were 5d 7d 11a and 24d thanks to all the setters and to Bufo for the dissection.

  5. A grand toughie indeed, many thanks and congratulations to all. As befits this toughest of toughies I was stumped by a few and had many ‘?’s next to a few more, so thanks to Bufo, Big Dave and all the explainers for your excellent efforts.
    Awaiting Elgars’ worst tomorrow !

  6. Extremely entertaining toughie from the group of setters, my thanks to all concerned especially to Bufo for helping to make sense of it. I got all the Ms round the two sides and toughie across the base but don’t get “hasgads” along the top, wonderful fun!!

  7. Excellent stuff, 8a last in. Convinced there is another NINA there somewhere using letters from top line ,just not quite sure quite how yet! Thanks to all setters and to Bufo

  8. Judging by the paucity of messages about this puzzle methinks I am not alone in finding this at the “bloody hell” extreme of the “very difficult” spectrum. My chapeau is well & truly doffed to those who have managed to solve all of the clues.

  9. Superb puzzle. I too have been staring at the top line searching for a NINA. Perhaps we need to add “on” somewhere along it to describe the sort of person who sets (& solves) these special Toughies. Thanks to the myriad of setters & Bufo for some delightful entertainment.

  10. Congratulations to Phil and the team on the 1000th Toughie.

    A real tour de force with some really ferocious cluing, especially 23 down which had me stumped and I relied on my magic software to come up with a suitable answer.

    I can confirm there is nothing to do with the letters in the top row.

    However, I can alert you to tomorrow’s puzzle by a certain hobnailed-boot specialist. Methinks the mayhem is not yet finished……..

    There’s a feature on the puzzle here as well:-

  11. Needed some of the hints to finish this one 8a and 23d last in. Had completely forgotten the Jeremy in 22a. Thanks to everyone involved for a challenging and entertaining puzzle and to Bufo for the hints and review.

  12. Nice puzzle, and thanks to all concerned, especially Elgar for the very cunningly-contructed grid.

    Since everyone else has wimped out, I’ll have a go at spotting a couple of setters. Could be hopelessly wrong, but I’ll say:

    Anax: 20a
    Beam/RayT: 2d
    Cephas: 13a
    Elgar: 11a / 24d
    Shamus: 23d

  13. Certainly it was in the ***** difficulty for us but we did manage to finish, albeit, with electronic assistance. 22a is one of those clues that we love to hate. Jeremy Beadle might be a well known personality in UK but his fame certainly has not reached this part of the world. The SE corner was our last in. With the NINA. We had spotted the Ms down the sides and the toughie in the bottom row, but missed the V part of the M.
    Very difficult to get on the setters’ wavelength when there are so many of them.
    Thanks all and Bufu.

  14. I knew a significant milestone was coming up, but never guessed a treat like this would be offered.
    So many high points:
    11a, 17a, 20a, 3d, 21d, 23d & 24d all stood out. Congratulations to all concerned!

  15. I thought that it was going to be tough for the DT to outdo the special puzzle that they produced for Toughie 500 (which is well worth trying for anyone that has access to the Telegraph Puzzles website and hasn’t tried it yet), but this one was really well done, and there were some great clues.

    I suspect that, without the attention that the DT puzzles get from this blog, puzzles like this might not have come about, and BD deserves recognition for his long-standing support of the Telegraph’s crosswords.

  16. As a very occasional Toughie solver I approached this with some trepidation but I had a bit of time to spare and persevered (several times over). I am delighted I did so, and many thanks to all the setters for a wonderful puzzle. My rating is *****/****

    I was lucky that the first thought i had was that the letter M would figure strongly and the first few clues which I solved started to show the pattern of Ms, which helped enormously. For me the clues varied from a handful which were reasonably straightforward to three which I found downright impossible.

    Many thanks to Bufo for the excellent review and hints, which I needed to clarify the wordplay for 8a and 6d. Also the review explained the ones I found impossible – 14d, 23d and 24d. I solved 16d but it was a new word for me.

    Now I’m ready for bed to give my aching brain a much needed break!

  17. I n response to Qix: the Toughie came about, not because of any bloggers, but because an incoming newspaper editor, Will Lewis (now with News International) had been teased by his newspaper colleagues on another paper that The Daily Telegraph didn’t compete with The Times for difficulty.
    Not wanting to upset the existing clientele he hit on the idea of an extra ‘fiendish’ puzzle ( subsequently renamed) and asked Kate Fassett (the crossword editor at the time) to get it organised. Kate contacted me for help with expanding the crossword team and the new puzzle was quickly under way. Will Lewis sent me a bottle of bubbly with a personal note of thanks.

    1. With respect, I think you misunderstand Qix. He did not say that the Toughie came about because of bloggers. He is merely saying a celebratory puzzle such as this can be partly attributed to the attention BD gives to the Telegraph’s puzzles. It is patently obvious that this blog is regarded in high esteem when professional setters feel the need to post comments.

  18. Thank you for the clarification, External. I am grateful. That said, thematic inventiveness predates bloggers by several decades. Of course blogs have their good points ( and sometimes their less good points) but I suspect that a puzzle like this could have existed long before Big Dave’s excellent facility! Let’s leave it at that. (Anyway I thought you’d be interested to know how the Toughie started.)

    1. Thanks for the information about the genesis of the Toughie, that was very interesting to read.

      eXternal was right that I didn’t mean to suggest that BD’s blog had anything to do with the origins of the puzzle. What I was trying to say, obviously rather ineptly, is that this blog has supported and promoted the Telegraph’s crosswords. Many setters visit the blog and posts comments, and, in general, seem to be interested in the feedback that they receive. It’s very clear that inventive setters were setting clever puzzles for generations before the internet existed, but I think that it would be difficult to argue against the idea that blogs have altered the cruciverbal landscape. In the past, some people would write to newspapers about their puzzles, but nowadays it’s much easier for the punters to have their say.

      I might be wrong to think so, but I believe that crossword blogs do influence setters and editors to some extent, and mostly in a positive way. I don’t know for sure whether Toughie 1000 would have been any different without this blog, but I suspect that it might well have been. Certainly, fewer people would have noticed, one way or the other.

      I’m sorry if my original ramblings were misleading.

  19. I don’t mind admitting I was beaten by the right hand half of the grid. Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed the struggle. I haven’t had time to go through the review yet but I plan to do so over the weekend, so thanks in anticipation to Bufo. Hats off to all who completed this star of a puzzle, and to the fiendishly clever compilers.

  20. Top quality and what a pleasing finished grid!. Thanks to Phil and his team and all the setters for providing us with such entertainment.

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