Toughie 1021 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1021

Toughie No 1020 by Elgar

Digging the unches!**

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

Nice to have a proper Toughie to get the cryptic grey matter working hard – some fluffy ‘ease you in clues’ and some more hob-nailed examples of the art of clue-writing, including possibly the most unhelpful placement of a double unch in the history of the cryptic crossword! Definitely a ‘game of two halves’ as the right hand side was completed first and then the left slowly but surely sorted itself out.

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1a Badly needed ton setting example on return for Derbyshire’s opener (8)
{HUNGERED} To get part of a verb meaning badly needed or longed for, swap the D (Derbyshire’s opener) in the number which is informally known as a ‘ton’ for a reversal of the two letters used to mean for example. Nice ‘cricket’ surface reading.

5a ‘Fantastic rear!’ admits party lover (6)
{ADORER} Insert another word for party into an anagram (fantastic) of REAR.


8a Iron compounds resistance, crossing lines of fire (6)
{OCHRES} compounds of fine clay and iron oxide – Insert the abbreviation for Resistance into those lines you stand behind before launching (firing) darts at dartboards.

9a Peacekeeper’s let loose after you said b_____ obvious (8)
{UNSUBTLE} The world’s peace-keeping organisation, S (organisation’s), the letter that sounds like you (you said) B(from the clue) and an anagram (loose) of LET.

10a Ring northern city for Spooner — it’s horrible here! (8)
{DUNGHILL} A squalid situation or place – the inclusion of the dreaded word ‘Spooner’ indicates that we should swap the vowels in a verb meaning to sound like a bell and a city in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

11a The secret’s up this aisle, everyone discovered (6)
{SLEEVE} This someone did take a while to discover the cleverly hidden word in aiSLE EVEryone.

12a Given a rocket revolutionized sound limits, we dig! (8)
{ECHIDNAS} And the award for the most unhelpful appearance of a double unch goes to…. However, with a bit of muttering and going through the alphabet, eventually I realised that an Australian burrowing (it digs!) animal is obtained by inserting a fairly archaic way of saying told off (given a rocket) into a reversal (revolutionised) of a synonym for sound in the sense of rational or sensible. Interestingly, the two unchecked letters here, and in 8a, 21a, 23a and 26a  are actually the chess abbreviation for ‘check’!!


13a Group looking over prince among heads of France (6)
{SEPTET} A set of seven musicians is obtained by inserting the abbreviation for Prince into a reversal (looking over) of the French word for heads.

15a Little present included, but not one electronic filament (6)
{THREAD} A slender fibre – Insert an adverb meaning present, in this place, from which the first E (not one Electronic) is removed, into an informal way of saying a small amount (little).

18a Ms Mensch only half embraces political extremes, also retaining such views expressed in Panorama? (3-5)
{ALL-ROUND} Misleading capital time as the views here are seen in a panorama or complete view. There may be many who have never heard of Ms Mensch, the chick-lit writer and former MP (and some of us who wish we hadn’t!). Insert into the conjunction indicating also, the first half of the Christian name of Ms Mensch, into which in turn should be inserted the abbreviations for the political extremes of left and right.


20a Megastar Animals, doing comeback tour, like Spanish anthem (6)
{UNSUNG} Here it helps to know that the Spanish national anthem is one of only three such anthems without words. A reversal (comeback) of some large African antelopes ‘tours’ or has inserted the largest star in the sky to give us an adjective meaning not celebrated in song.

21a Kiki’s got some spring in her step! (8)
{DEMARCHE} Insert into the surname of Kiki, the 1970’s singer, one of the months of spring (some spring) to get a step, measure or initiative, especially a diplomatic one.

23a Amateur recording artists, initially rejected, getting a great deal less done on air? (8)
{ARMCHAIR} A reversal of the first letters of Recording and Artists (initially rejected) followed by an adjective meaning a great deal from which the U is removed (less done meaning minus U, the ‘done thing’, socially acceptable) and AIR (from the clue).


24a Infection-protected from unstable magnesium gas, explosively released (6)
{IMMUNE} An anagram (unstable) of MAGNESIUM once you have removed the letters GAS (gas explosively released – explosively indicating that the letters are not in the correct order).

25a Extremely senior personnel de-stressing amidships (6)
{ELDEST} Another sneakily hidden word! Before I got the checking letters from the down clues, I did wonder what I was supposed to insert into SS (amid[the abbreviation for]ships!!) However, the solution is hidden dead centre (‘amidships’) in personnEL DE-STressing, with seven letters before and after it .

26a Shrill and harsh Indians making it through school year (8)
{SCREECHY} Insert a Native American tribe between the first and second letters of the abbreviation for school and finish with the abbreviation for year.


1d I’m here in US, breaking concealed bone (5)
{HYOID} The tiny bone hidden at the base of the tongue – Insert an informal, especially American, way of greeting used to indicate one’s presence into another way of saying concealed.

2d One should be prepared to assist dad’s counsel to nervous son going on first date? (4,5)
{GIRL GUIDE} A female member of an association linked with the Boy Scouts, who promise to be prepared and ready to help, sounds like the sort of advice a father might give to a son going on his first date.

girl guide

3d Enterprise one’s engaged in progressed smoothly out of Moscow? (7)
{RUSSIAN} The initials by which the good ‘ship’ Enterprise was known in Star Trek and I (from the clue) are inserted into a way of saying progressed smoothly to get someone or something from Moscow.

4d Where Parisian’s happy and content for sad little ways to be led by Germany’s immoral practice (6,9)
{DOUBLE STANDARDS} A charade and a half. The IVR code for Germany leads the French word for where, an adjective meaning happy, AND (from the clue) A (the ‘content’ of sad) and the abbreviation for roads (little ways).

5d Acceleration in four seconds, it’s cracking and helps striker (7)
{ASSISTS} Follow the abbreviation for Acceleration with four S’s (four seconds), into which should be separately inserted the letters I and T (IT[s] cracking). Chambers defines assists as plays that help to make a goal possible.

6d Despicable person wants to be in Calais in seclusion (7)
{RETREAT} Insert the French verb meaning to be into an informal term for a despicable person.

7d Having violated entente cordiale, misbehaving nation’s out, then back in (2-7)
{RE-ELECTED} An anagram (having violated) of ENTENTE CORDIALE after you have removed (out) the letters of NATION (misbehaving indicates that these letters are not in the correct order).

12d Following what we need to act, the last of these religious books must take priority (9)
{ENTOURAGE} Take priority indicates that we must start with the last of thesE and the abbreviation for the books found in the second half of the Bible, before adding the two word expression used to tell us how we should act, usually when we are misbehaving!

14d Tasks to fulfil for getting a pulse audible (9)
{PROGRAMME} A preposition meaning for, followed by what sounds like another name for the chickpea (pulse ‘audible’).

16d Problem in mounting does, like old affairs anew? (7)
{RESUMED} Insert a mathematical problem into a reversal of the animal of which the doe is the female.

17d RAC initially gets going northbound to fill period vehicle (7)
{DOGCART} Insert a reversal of RAC and the first letter of Gets into a small mark used to indicate a full stop (or what our American friends might call a period).


19d Ill-treated puli more in need of love — or less even (7)
{LUMPIER} An anagram (ill-treated) of PULI MORE once you have removed the O (in need of, ie lacking, love). PULI isn’t a typo, it’s a type of Hungarian dog to whom the description, and clue’s surface reading, might apply!!!


22d Reflective lines set in the old style upset (5)
{ELEGY} A poem of reflective mood. Insert a verb meaning to set into the old-fashioned way of saying ‘the’ and then reverse the lot (upset).

** now that a cleverer person than me has pointed out that  five lots of the double unches  spell UNCH  and DOUBLE appears in the NE Corner and UNCHES in the SW Corner.  I never remember to look for Ninas!!

Thanks to Elgar for the great Toughie (I think the great surface readings almost make up for the awfully unfriendly grid), Tilsit for being on holiday (which enabled me to ‘enjoy the crossword twice’) and, finally and quite fortuitously, the organisers of a workshop in London at which the boss is one of the keynote speakers …… :) !!

16 comments on “Toughie 1021

  1. Yeah!……finished it…….about one third of my answers were wrong but since I hadn’t a jaysus of an idea what he was looking for in the first place I really don’t care…..a glorious waste of two hours!!

  2. Excellent stuff – thanks to CS for the review and to Elgar for what was a real struggle (especially the NW corner) but a black mark for reminding me of Ms. Mensch (surely the most annoying female politician since the days of Edwina Currie).

    1. I don’t agree about Ms Mensch being the most annoying since Edwina – you’ve missed out a bevy of Blair Babes and the ultra-annoying Ms Harperson.

  3. Phew! I needed help to finish this,and explanations for quite a few, but with the able assists from Csue I scored at last. Excellent as always, thanks to Elgar and CS.

  4. Many thanks to Elgar for a cracker of a toughie and to Crypticsue for a superb review, I’m afraid I needed your assistance with a couple Sue (1a,1d and 4d) Two great crosswords in one day, what is the DT coming to?

        1. Yes, but would you have seen it had you solved the crossword, worked out the wordplay, typed the review, found the pictures, all in high humidity while trying to look as though you weren’t doing any of the foregoing!

          1. Absolutely 100% not, I had solved it but was unable to parse a lot of the clues. In fact the prompt was your preamble, not a there’s a Nina here so go look. I thought Elgar would have a reason for using such a strange grid. As always, my hat is doffed, I couldn’t blog a 1/2 * back pager let alone an Elgar!!

  5. Just popped in from Scotland to thank Vlad for a stonket of a Toughie and CS for a sterling review.

    Back to organising my Mastermind quiz for later tonight. Six victims to barbecue, er….

  6. Can sometimes do the Toughie, don’t use hints or other help, so was absolutely stumped on this. Got one answer on first run through and that was that! What a wonderful paper to be able to cater for all levels during one week. Finished the back page in record time. Thanks to the setter, Big Dave and the DT for much enjoyment every week.

  7. This is an awful grid. I sympathise with Sue and other solvers. Just trying to make a point….

    Now to other grids, not just the Telegraph’s…

    Thanks, all!

  8. Well done Sue I am reminded of the following :-
    A bas these complex verbal twists
    Enjoyed by mental masochists!
    Let him who would embroil his brain
    In puzzles that give only pain.
    I prefer to spend my leisure
    On crosswords that give simple pleasure.

    Thanks to CS for an exceptional review that relieved the pain and to Elgar for the challenge that was beyond me and would remain so.

  9. I couldn’t solve this even with CS’ comprehensive review. Only fight the battles you can win…

  10. Re Spoonerisms (10A) – although I got the answer, Chambers defines a Spoonerism as ‘a transposition of initial sounds of spoken words, giving Shoving Leopard for Loving Shepherd. Cannot see how Ding Hull changes into Dunghill – surely it would become Hung Dill, which is probably not as good an idea for dill as it is for pheasants. A great crossword though, especially admired 1 across.

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