Toughie 1017 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1017

Toughie No 1017 by Notabilis

A 20 Across!

or You Can’t See The Wood For The Trees

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley! In a bit of a rush as I am packing for my holiday in Scotland starting tomorrow. One of my favourite tormentors returns today and hasn’t disappointed with another clever and stunning puzzle that challenges and makes you smile in equal measure. Another fine puzzle I would encourage you to tackle. Several of the clues, one in particular, were a bit tricky to work out, even though I had the answer and all the bits. However, they fell into place, a couple after some very large prompts from a certain Cryptic Lady!

Have searched high and low but cannot find a Nina in the puzzle. Can you?

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    Barney Rubble at first has left blubber (4)
{BAWL} A barney or argument from which the R (Rubble at first) has been removed (left)

3a    Please mark correct association restricting European Parliament (6,4)
{TICKLE PINK} A phrase that means to please someone is found by taking a word meaning to mark correctly and add a word that means association with the abbreviation for the European Parliament inside.

8a    Country shack cased by outlaw (6)
{BHUTAN} The name of a Far-Eastern country is found by taking a word for a shed and putting it inside a word meaning to outlaw.

9a    Shake fan, welcoming soldiers in memorial building (8)
{MONUMENT} The name for a memorial building is revealed by taking a short word for a “shake”, as in time and adding a word for an enthusiast or fan and dropping something that refers to (male) soldiers inside.

10a    Recipient of bribe? It’s quite a stretch (6)
{BUNGEE} A double definition with one of them cryptic (hence the question mark!). A type of entertainment involving a very long piece of elastic is a cryptic way of describing someone who has received a bribe.

11a    Old, spoiling river sports, being past one’s best? (8)
{OVERRIPE} I found a cracking way to parse this clue, only to be shot down in flames by a certain lady! O (old) is added to an anagram (spoiling) of RIVER and PE (sports) to give a word meaning past one’s best, as in fruit.

12a    Subterfuge, years after heart harbours resistance (8)
{TRICKERY} A common word for your heart (as in “dicky ____”) takes (harbours) R (resistance) and Y (years) afterwards to give a type of subterfuge.

14a    Items necessary to scale down complicated situation (4)
{MIRE} I doff my baseball cap to you if you worked this out, but as usual with Notabilis it’s facepalmingly obvious when you see it. If you were going down a scale (in music) you might encounter these two notes that for a word meaning a complicated situation.

16a    Career over in Hartlepool (4)
{PELT} A lovely hidden reversal clue. Hidden backwards inside the home of H’Angus the Monkey is a word meaning career or travel fast. Spot the monkey in this pic!


18a    Name of woman in charge in Romeo’s home (8)
{VERONICA} The name of my lovely sister-in-law. Sorry not much help unless you know me well! A girl’s name is found by taking the Italian city of origin of young Mr Montague and inserting IC for in charge.

19a    Cross-border agency to bury hack after U-turn (8)
{INTERPOL} One of the more famous cross-border agencies, a law and order one, is revealed by combining a verb meaning to bury and the reversal (after U-turn) of a verb meaning to hack or prune

20a    Lulu as Seal’s producer? (6)
{CORKER} Nothing to do with pop music, but another double definition with one half cryptic. A slang word for something very fine could also be described as someone who puts the seals on wine bottles.

21a    King’s last wife placed in hearing and exploited for gain (8)
{PARLAYED} A homophone phrase of the surname of the last wife of Henry VIII and placed forms an old word that means exploited for gain. Now if Cyclops of Private Eye had got hold of this clue……

22a    Circle with constant tangent that’s origin for one of its segments (6)
{OCTANT} Get the Maths Revision books out. An eighth part of a circle is revealed by taking O (circle), adding C (for constant), the abbreviation for Tangent and T (the origin, first letter, of That’s).

23a    Find eel twice wriggling around arm (3,7)
{LEE ENFIELD} An anagram of FIND, plus two lots of EEL gives the name of a weapon (arm).

24a    Bro expected to protect daughter (4)
{DUDE} An American word used in the same way as we would use ‘mate’ (an equivalent to “Bro!”) can be found by taking a word meaning expected and placing it round D (daughter)


1d    Start of population explosion (not Big Bang)? (4,4)
{BABY BOOM} What might be said to be the opposite of Big Bang is an expression meaning a population explosion. Or if Cyclops had got hold of this, what literally starts with a Big Bang?!!

2d    Sue that is holding gun, fired earlier (8)
{LITIGATE} A word meaning to petition legally is found by taking the word for a gun, often used by Excalibur in her puzzles, inserting it inside the abbreviation that refers to “that is”, and then place after a word meaning fired (with alcohol).

Not written in honour of our beloved cryptic lady, although I don’t know…..

3d    Brown one got in mixture of green and orange (9)
{TANGERINE} A shade of orange (and type of fruit) is found by taking a shade of brown and rearranging green with I (one) inside.


4d    Brother today guided group’s leader in approach which most are aware of (6,9)
{COMMON KNOWLEDGE} Or what the Wombles’ taxi driver needs? Inside a word meaning approach goes the following wordsum: A type of religious person who is often called ‘brother’ + a word meaning ‘today’ tacked + something that means guided + G (group’s leader) to give information that most people are aware of.

5d    Queen covers most of uncertainty, the rest trailing royal attendant (7)
{EQUERRY} The job currently held by Raymond Burnet (who he?) – Her Maj is placed around most of an uncertainty with the rest of the word at the end (the rest trailing)



6d    Current vice-president upset the French, describing bad cuisine? (8)
{INEDIBLE} Another superb clue. After the abbreviation in physics for current goes the name of the American Vice President reversed plus the definite article in French.

7d    Price associated with Jordan‘s king: an obligation (5)
{KATIE} The first name of a certain Ms Price aka Jordan (That’s enough publicity for her – Ed). An abbreviation for a king followed by A + a word for an obligation.

13d    Sun-god including thunderous bringer of downpour (4-5)
{RAIN-CLOUD} Something missing from most of Britain at the moment is found by taking the name of the Egyptian sun-god, adding the abbreviation for including and a word meaning thunderous.

15d    Without paying for pad, ripped off? (4-4)
{RENT FREE} An expression meaning not having to pay accommodation charges is made up of a word meaning torn or ripped and off.

16d    Paragraph repeating without thought had repeated without thought (8)
[PARROTED} After an abbreviation for a paragraph goes a word meaning to repeat or learn something mechanically and D (had, as in he had / he’d). This reveals a word meaning to repeat in a certain mechanical fashion!

17d    French expert on tics in mini-visit? (8)
{TOURETTE} A famous Frenchman who gave his name to a syndrome where the suffer exhibits facial tics (and other more notable symptoms) could be a cryptic description of a holiday in Franglais.

18d    Magical herb mostly pretty ineffectual (7)
{VERVAIN} The name of a herb with supposed special properties (it repels vampires) is found by taking almost the word meaning pretty or extremely and something that refers to ineffectual.


19d    Parking during circuitous mile drive (5)
{IMPEL} Something that means drive or force is found by taking an anagram (circuitous) of MILE and placing P (for parking) inside.

So many lovely clues, too many favourites to list them all. Thanks to the genius that is Notabilis for today’s challenge.

Do let us know what you thought! Right I’m out of here and I’ll see you in a fortnight. The fragrant Crypticsue will be guiding you through the Friday Toughie next week. However, I hear the sound of hobnailed boots which means the cruciverbal equivalent of Mark Labbett could well be stomping over the hill…… Bye-ee!

11 comments on “Toughie 1017

  1. A 20a indeed – I had terrific fun with this one this morning. Just what a Toughie should be with dots by lots of clues I really really liked. Thanks to Notabilis for giving me so much enjoyment and to Tilsit (and me in a couple of places!!) for the explanations.

  2. Not too difficult to complete, but a few took a while to explain.
    Many thanks to Notabilis, and to Tilsit for the review (no need to doff your cap to me re 14a – I was lost on the first bit!).

  3. Terrific end to the Toughie week lots of splendid clues of which I’ve singled out 9a 12a and 17d thanks to Notabilis and to Tilsit for the comments. If there is a Nina it’s well hidden because I couldn’t spot anything.

  4. Fabulous crossword from a marvelous setter, thanks to Notablis and to Tilsit for a superb review.

  5. Yes – a cracker. Quite faultless. I love slightly silly clues like 10a and 17d. With 3 checking letters in place 14a had to be what it is from the definition, but I was damned if I could see why!

    Congrats to Notabilis and many thanks to Tilsit for the exposition.

  6. Solo flight today. Starting with the negative – 7d was one of those clues that we love to hate. Google found her however. That said, the rest was superb. Struggled to get all the word play for 4d but enough of it to justify the answer. Even worked out 14a quite quickly. A very satisfying feast for the mind.
    Thanks Notabilis and Tilsit.

  7. While I did not win the war by falling short of completion by seven answers (17, 18 and 20-24), that does not bother me because I so enjoyed the battle. Many thanks to Notabablis and Tilsit…and CS too.

  8. Very fine and amusing puzzle ,despite 7d and because of 17d and others .
    Great Stuff .
    Much Thanks to Notabilis and to Tilsit

  9. damn and double damn, why could I not get 23a despite having the checking letters… hey ho, a stunning puzzle none the less, thank you Notabilis and Tilley

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