Toughie 1009 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1009

Toughie No 1009 by Firefly

Aches and Pains

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

I found this to be a good workout for a Friday Toughie. Some of the wordplay I had to derive after finding the answer, but it was all fair and square.

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    Sexy devil lined up, we hear, in front of coach (7)
{INCUBUS} – the first part (2,2) sounds like a phrase meaning lined up (2,5) and is followed by a coach used for public transport

5a    Cover made by Welsh singer? (7)
{WRAPPER} – W(elsh) followed by a singer of sorts – the question mark is very appropriate!

9a    Pillar of church no saint — that’s going around mistakenly (9)
{STANCHION} – CH(urch) with an anagram (mistakenly) of NO SAINT around it

10a    Note written in sombre vein (5)
{BREVE} – this musical note is hidden (written in) inside the clue

11a    Grounds of desertion initially against the rules (5)
{DREGS} – these grounds are those that fall to the bottom of a liquid – the initial letter of Desertion followed by the abbreviation of some rules

12a    For self-control, practise engaging in relaxation (9)
{RESTRAINT} – a verb meaning to practise inside (engaging in) some relaxation

13a    Send down unpractised Duchess for audience (9)
{RUSTICATE} – this verb meaning to send down from University sounds like (for audience) unpractised and the first name of the Duchess of Cambridge

16a    For friendly relations, it’s disaster ignoring circuit of French lake (5)
{AMITY} – start with a disaster and then remove (ignoring) the first three letters which are a reversal of the French for lake – the same answer was clued in similar style in DT 27211

17a    Contract to entertain at the front? Contract … (5)
{LEASE} – start with a verb meaning to entertain and then drop the initial letter (contract … at the front)

18a    … deleted by mistake after note; here’s another document (5,4)
{TITLE DEED} – an anagram (by mistake) of DELETED follows (after) the seventh note of the scale in sol-fa notation

20a    Postal system’s reported of instrument in confusion (9)
{MAELSTROM} – what sounds like the postal system is followed by the S from ‘S and a musical instrument from which the second half has been dropped (losing half)

23a    Grower heads for York urgently — Christmas cactus aboard (5)
{YUCCA} – this plant (grower) is derived from the initial letters (heads) of five words in the clue

25a    Ease up when cricketer gets sent into casualty? (5)
{ABATE} – a cricketer inside the abbreviation for the hospital casualty department

26a    Make music by electronic means? Endlessly tricky (9)
{TRADENAME} – this make or brand comes from a type of jazz music followed by E(lectronic) and an anagram (tricky) of MEAN(S) without its final letter (endlessly)

27a    Person with influence in court plugging ‘Ring’ (7)
{OCTOPUS} – the abbreviation for C(our)T inside (plugging) the ring-shaped letter and a musical production – I wonder of the person with influence is called Paul?

28a    Aromatic compounds inspected after investigator turns and leaves (7)
{SCENTED} – an anagram (compounds) of ( I)NS(P)ECTED after a PI (investigator) has been reversed (turns) and dropped (leaves)


1d    He’s specially informed where the apples are, you might say (7)
{INSIDER} – this person is specially informed, perhaps in order to deal illegally in shares – he sounds like (you might say) where the apples are in an alcoholic drink (2,5)

2d    Derrick performed in church (5)
{CRANE} – a verb meaning performed inside the Church of England

3d    Left in rear, go astray (9)
{BACKSLIDE} – L(eft) inside the rear or bottom

4d    Possible sitter for one on the slide? (5)
{SKIER} – two definitions – an easy ball to catch in cricket and a person who slides downhill on snow

5d    Ruffled snakes escaped (9)
{WINDSWEPT} – a verb meaning snakes or curves followed by one meaning escaped or oozed

6d    She‘s a gem, but watch out! (5)
{AMBER} – a triple definition – a girl’s name, a resinous gemstone and a warning colour

7d    Drop illustration in laid-out recipe (9)
{PRECIPICE} – a three-letter illustration inside an anagram (laid-out) of RECIPE

8d    Big-screen try-out offers opportunity to take the lead again (2-5)
{RE-ENTRY} – hidden (offers) inside the clue – the definition is a term used in bridge, and similar games, for a card allowing a hand to take the lead again

14d    Substitute appears unexpectedly on right (5,4)
{SPARE PART} – an anagram (unexpectedly) of APPEARS followed by the two-letter abbreviation for R(igh)T

15d    ‘Painting Hour’ — it’s an inflammatory experience (9)
{ARTHRITIS} – a charade of the craft of painting, the two-letter abbreviation for H(ou)R and the expanded version of it’s

16d    Excited girl leaving energetically for dancing — a gas! (9)
{ACETYLENE} – drop the various letters (excited) of GIRL from ENE(RG)ET(I)CA(L)LY and then find an anagram (for dancing) of what’s left

17d    Possibly sea lavender quietly removed pain (7)
{LUMBAGO} – start with the genus of plants of which sea lavender is an example (possibly) and drop (removed) the initial letter P (quietly)

19d    Weakened, lacking energy latterly, going nowhere (4-3)
{DEAD-END} – start with a word meaning weakened and drop (lacking) one of the E(nergy)s, presumably the last one (latterly)

21d    Pickle, dear? (5)
{STEEP} – two definitions – a verb meaning to pickle and an adjective meaning dear or expensive

22d    Middling second income (5)
{MEANS} – a adjective meaning middling or average followed by S(econd)

24d    Catholic service takes time and vocation, perhaps (5)
{CRAFT} – C(atholic) followed by the abbreviation for a military service and T(ime)

When I first started reviewing Toughies, Firefly was one of my favourite setters. Then his puzzles became, for me, duller and duller. Recently they have improved considerably, this one being a fine example.

10 comments on “Toughie 1009

  1. Very enjoyable toughie from Firefly and a super review from BD, many thanks to both.

  2. Enjoyable solve for me today, favourites were 1d 5d 26a and 27a thanks to Firefly and to Big Dave for the comments.

  3. Good puzzlke for the Friday slot. Couple of unuusal constructs as highlighted by BD.

  4. Took ages as usual ,major hold up in SW which I eventually overcame .Possibly my most enjoyable crossword of the week .Particularly liked 1d and 14d .
    Thanks to Firefly and BD .

  5. Having done phi and tramp today took on this and was well bested just couldn’t see bits of this. Ho hum thanks both.

  6. Our memory of previous puzzles by this setter is that they were in the easier range. Not so with this one and it had us beak scratching for several clues across the bottom half. Last in was 26a, but 27a was not far ahead of it. Very clever, lots of fun.
    Thanks Firefly and BD.

  7. agree with ratings, as a non fan of homophones was intrigued to see 1a and 13a had ticks. 28a took me longest to parse. Thanks Firefly and BD

  8. A really nice crossword from Firefly today. I found this to be Elgarlike in difficulty. Some fell in (relatively) easily others were fiendish.
    **** stars for difficulty and enjoyment for me.
    Thanks to Firefly and BigDave

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