Toughie 1138 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1138

Toughie No 1138 by Warbler

Oh, what a tangled web!

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ****

Warbler consistently produces easy but enjoyable puzzles and this one, according to my records the 67th, is no exception.

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    Bumbling thieves net a small fraction of whole (10)
{SEVENTIETH} – an anagram (bumbling) of THIEVES NET

9a    Black Prince has returned? That’s bunkum! (4)
{BLAH} – B(lack) followed by the reversal of Shakespeare’s Lancastrian Prince

10a    Basis of life found in most of apple roots scattered on motorway (10)
{PROTOPLASM} – an anagram (scattered) of most of APPL(E) with ROOTS and followed by M(otorway)

11a    Two verses penned by ‘Old Dutch of East London’ perhaps giving trouble in Hackney (6)
{BOVVER} – two V(erse)s inside (penned by) the Dutch colonists in the East London in the Eastern Cape province for example (perhaps) gives a word meaning trouble in Hackney in the East End of London, England

12a    Fats changes first line to R ‘n’ B for songster (7)
{WARBLER} – start with the surname of jazz singer Fats and exchange the first L(ine) for R and B – a signature clue!

15a    Reptile that man caught at last, working with hook and loops (7)
{CROCHET} – the abbreviated word for a reptile followed by the pronoun for that man and the final letter (at last) of caughT

16a    As a prank remove pants from some rude baggage (5)
{DEBAG} – hidden (some) inside the clue

17a    Chum‘s 9 (4)
{TOSH} – two definitions – a chum and another word for the answer to 9 across

18a    Fag end is beginning to smoulder on boat (4)
{STUB} – the initial letter of (beginning to) Smoulder followed by a colloquial word for a small boat

19a    Great artist one’s ignored (5)
{TITAN} – drop an I (one) from the name of a famous Italian painter

21a    Hold back from putting a fire out in outskirts of Rouen (7)
{REFRAIN} – an anagram (out) of A FIRE inside the outer letters (outskirts) of RoueN

22a    Gout’s boiling hot — that is becoming a difficult problem (7)
{TOUGHIE} – an anagram (boiling) of GOUT followed by H(ot) and the Latin abbreviation for that is

24a    No time to burn papers in plant (6)
{ORCHID} – drop the T(ime) from a verb meaning to burn or set fire to and then add some papers or credentials

27a    Mentioning no names, old women will seek admission to woo hunky criminal (3-4-3)
{YOU-KNOW-WHO} – O(ld) and W(omen) inside an anagram (criminal) of WOO HUNKY

28a    Ravel, that has a negative effect for the listener (4)
{KNOT} – sounds like (for the listener) a negative

29a    Weaken European power essentially in specified time (10)
{DEBILITATE} – E(uropean) and the inside letters (essentially) of a word meaning power or wherewithal all inside a specified time


2d    Ready to show regret, over and over (4)
{EURO} – some money (ready) that could become currency in Scotland, especially if the English were allowed to vote in the referendum, is derived by reversing (over) a verb meaning to show regret and following it with O(ver)

3d    Bury‘s centre wiped out in dreadful bombardment (6)
{ENTOMB} – an anagram (dreadful) of BOM(bardm)ENT without (wiped out) its middle letters (centre)

4d    Boozed very quietly, wearing hat, and finally snoozed (7)
{TIPPLED} – the musical notation for very quietly inside a little-used word for a hat and followed by the final letter of snoozeD

5d    Serve up fabricated dairy product (4)
{EDAM} – reverse (served up in a down clue) a verb meaning fabricated

6d    Doctor seen in unusually rough headwear (7)
{HOMBURG} – a two-letter abbreviation for a doctor inside an anagram (unusually) of ROUGH

ARVE Error: need id and provider

7d    Type of 28 caught nothing before stoppage (5,5)
{CLOVE HITCH} – C(aught) and a score of nothing in tennis followed by a stoppage

8d           Daily appeal’s skilful and generous (10)
{CHARITABLE] – a daily cleaner followed by the two-letter usual suspect for sex appeal and an adjective meaning skilful

12d         War king surrounds forlorn tower at start of siege bringing much weeping (10)
{WATERWORKS} – WAR and K(ing) around (surrounds) an anagram (forlorn) of TOWER and followed by the initial letter (start) of Siege

13d         What should be considered if rock star breaks down (4,6)
{RISK FACTOR} – an anagram (breaks down) of IF ROCK STAR

14d         Tree is giant. It regularly produces sap (5)
{RESIN} – the even letters (regularly) of the first three words in the clue

15d    Weight of vehicle? One ton (5)
{CARAT} – a vehicle followed by A (one) and T(on)

19d    It’s upsetting, daughter in strongly regarded clothes treated thus? (3-4)
{TIE-DYED} – reverse (upsetting) IT and follow it with D(aughter) inside a verb meaning (strongly) regarded

20d    So-called ‘lion man’ falls to pieces (7)
{NOMINAL} – an anagram (falls to pieces) of LION MAN

23d    Flyer’s energy starts to dwindle with increased travel (6)
{GODWIT} – this bird of the plover family, with a long slightly upcurved bill and long slender legs is derived from a two-letter word meaning energy followed by the initial letters of (starts to) the last four words in the clue

25d    Copper runs back to grab restraint (4)
{CURB} – the chemical symbol for copper followed by R(uns) and the final letter (back) of graB

26d    Photo‘s ruined (4)
{SHOT} – two definitions

A small Nina in this puzzle (1a, 12a, 22a) would suggest that this puzzle represents a particular milestone for the setter. Unfortunately, according to my records, it falls three short of that figure. Back to the drawing board!

29 comments on “Toughie 1138

  1. I totally agree with the star ratings, a thoroughly enjoyable crossword but hardly a toughie, my thanks to Warbler and to BD for the super review.

  2. What am I doing at 3 in the morning looking at the blog. Couldn’t sleep so got up to check whether the message in 1a, 12a, and 22a meant anything. Apparently not if your calculations are right Dave. We thought this was a special puzzle as I (Colin) had my 1a last week and a flock of the birds in 23d are the ones that spend half there lives in Alaska and the rest on the estuary that we live beside.
    Is there a ‘sign the puzzle’ thing going on at present. This one has the setter’s name and last Friday’s Toughie had ‘Axe’ in it. A lot of fun.
    Thanks Warbler and BD. I’m going back to bed.

  3. A very gentle toughie, but good fun; my only minor pause was explaining the ‘power essentially’ bit of 29a.
    Many thanks to Warbler, and to BD for the review.

  4. I still found it reasonably tough as I usually only do the regular one

    Is that 1 * on the “toughie” scale?

  5. We compilers have to write the number of the puzzle when we submit it for publication. For me this was number 70. Where the missing 3 have gone I don’t know! Anyway, I am glad that those who have commented so far enjoyed the puzzle. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?

  6. I had a go at this, seeing CS’s tip. It was fun but I did have to toil and use some hints.I’ll have to brush up on my knots.Thanks to Warbler and BD.Favourite 27a.

  7. Thanks to Warbler and to Big Dave. A very good fun puzzle. Got stuck in the SE Corner, but the hint for 23d got me going again. Favourite was 12a. Was 2*/4* for me. Nice to have a doable ( for me ) puzzle at the start of the Toughie week.

  8. Got all clues bar 23d which I’ve never heard of. No surprise to find this ranked as * given my level of success!

    1. I too hadn’t heard of 23d. Had to look it up. Did you enjoy solving it as Warbler intended? I’ve long since taken the difficulty ratings too seriously, meant as a guide only.

  9. I thought this was really good fun.
    I was defeated by the 23d bird and needed the hint to explain 29a.
    Lots of good clues – 9 and 17a were silly and I am too so they made me laugh.
    With thanks to Warbler and BD.

  10. I nearly joined The Toughie Club today all but for 23d. I thought it would be a bird (or flying insect) but have to go to The Butchers Arms, Bishops Itchington to play Crib and there is no time. If the Toughie appeared on the ipad I would tackle it rather than the back pager. I do enjoy it more, especially early in the week.

  11. I’ve been reading lots and doing less crossword but am very glad to have picked this one up. my solving time us irrelevant – I enjoyed working everything out.
    Thanks Warbler for all your puzzles and thanks also to BD.

  12. Is this a good place to post some questions about the On-Line Puzzle Page? If not, accept my apologies and point me in the right direction please.

    After a whopping 17% hike in the daily cover price, I have finally opted for the on-line subscription and today I printed and completed the toughie without resorting here for the first time ever. OK, so it was easy, but satisfying anyway. But I would like some tips on how the on-line pages work.

    Firstly, how do I identify the setter. Can’t see it the name anywhere on the puzzle page, though the answer to 12 across was helpful.
    Secondly, how do you stop the timer. I have to tackle the crosswords at lunch and I don’t take my laptop with me. That’s why I printed it. When I came to fill in the grid on-line this evening it tells me I took 8 hours plus. I’m pretty sure I was under the hour on paper.
    Thirdly, can anybody recommend the best browser. Safari won’t let me key in letters, IE is dead for me, and Chrome just won’t fit the grid and clues on a single screen.

    All assistance gratefully received and appreciated.


    1. 1. The names of the setters can usually be found here:

      Unfortunately it hasn’t been updated yet.

      You can also try the pdf download page, which is currently being updated every day, but will be stopped when all the site problems are resolved:

      2. You can only stop the timer when you submit a correctly completed puzzle.

      3. Personally I use Firefox – and i wouldn’t touch IE with a bargepole.

  13. Like others, I found this very enjoyable. Thanks to Warbler and to BD, especially for the parsing of 29a.

  14. Thank you, Warbler, that was a very pleasing puzzle and satisfying to complete – even though l had to go to BD’s hints to find out why some of my solutions were right! Favourite clue had to be 22a.

  15. Thanks Warbler for the most enjoyable of puzzles ,enjoyed the whole so no favourites
    Although last one in 17a made me smile the most .More of the same please whatever the “label”
    Cheers again to BD

  16. Like others, I found this puzzle most enjoyable. The clues were delightful and it’s difficult to choose a fave, although I must mention 12d. My father used to use the expression ‘turning on the waterworks’. Going through your explanations, Big Dave, I note I didn’t actually pick up the definition in 16a, although had the hidden answer. Otherwise everything was good.
    Many thanks to Warbler and many thanks to Big Dave.

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