Toughie 1177 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1177

Toughie No 1177 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley. Notabilis is here today to tease and torment us with a lovely puzzle, well up to his usual standard, though overall I think slightly easier than usual. Some lovely clues and all-in-all a very pleasant solve.

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. Definitions are underlined. Favourite clues are in blue.


1a    Explode main target or lose it (2,3,3,4,3)
{GO OFF THE DEEP END} Oddly this was the last to go in today. I saw the first half of the expression, which means to explode. Add to this, a way of saying main, as in sea, as well as something that means a target. Altogether this gives you an expression to lose it!

8a    When bird’s taken off jauntily, what one gets up to (5)
{UNTIL} If you remove the name of a member of the Crow family from the word JAUNTILY, you get a word that means up to that point.

9a    One of three poetic siblings sets trio off (8)
{ROSSETTI} An anagram (off) of SETS TRIO, gives the surname of three famous siblings who produced literature and are not called Bronte.

11a    Early wind instrument exhibit has a majority brought back (7)
{SERPENT} One of the more unusual clue styles. Here, Notabilis is asking us to find a word meaning exhibit, or gift and reverse just over half of the letters, leaving the remainder in order. This gives the name of an early member of the wind/brass family of instruments.

12a    Flanked by my team, brought in to have lasted a decade? (7)
{BETWEEN} D’oh! Just realised I had written BITTERN in there automatically! Silly me! Something that means where you are if you are flanked by others, a way of saying one’s team inside how you would describe something that lasts a decade.

13a    Meyerhof’s forename written on his initial device (5)
{MOTTO} The first name of the scientist Meyerhof is preceded by the initial letter of his surname to give a witty epithet or device.

15a    Old Street Church holds masses with papers (9)
{CHEAPSIDE} The name of one London’s oldest streets is revealed by taking the standard crossword abbreviation for the Church (of England) and inserting (holds) a word meaning masses or piles of something and the abbreviated way of describing your (personal) papers.

17a    Entitled women manage in turn to keep one tender (9)
{NURSEMAID} Reverse words for titled women and to manage and insert I (keep one) to give you someone who tends (this is a standard crossword definition!)

20a    Man with a signature dish of stewed tripe (5)
{PETRI} The name of a scientist who gave his name to a type of dish found in laboratories is an anagram (stewed) of TRIPE.


21a    Vocal artist’s misbehaviour directed towards Royal Academy (7)
{SINATRA} The name of a famous singer is found by taking the name for misbehaviour and adding AT (towards) and the abbreviation for the Royal Academy. Time for a tune:-

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23a    Protecting Queen Mother, laid something under a pint? (4-3)
{BEER-MAT} A word for laid or gambled (on a horse, perhaps) has the abbreviations for Queen and Mother inside to give the name for something found under your drink.

25a    Low-calorie allowance’s lost on educated set (8)
{LITERATI} The name for a well-read group of people is revealed by taking a (horrible American) word that accompanies many low-calorie things [an alternative spelling of a word that is the opposite of heavy] plus the word for a portion minus ON (lost on).

26a    Keen to risk reversing direction at the outset (5)
{EAGER} Something that means to risk needs its first letter (a point of the compass) changed to its opposite to give you a word meaning keen.

27a    National Trust dispute in aid of blocking perverse old person in scrum (5-3,7)
{FRONT-ROW FORWARD} The abbreviation for National Trust and a word meaning dispute or argument is added to something that means in aid of. All of this goes inside an old-fashioned word for perverse

Back with the Downs after a nice cup of coffee!


1d Sense morgue’s developed? (12)
{GRUESOMENESS} This is one of those all-in-one clues that our setter does so well. Here an anagram (developed) of SENSE MORGUE’S will give you the name of an emotion (sense) that you might ‘develop’ from being in a morgue.

2d Lithe swimmer that might be more excessive? (5)
{OTTER} Note the use of the question mark here that, as in the previous clue, is asking you think outside the box. Yesterday I saw a Times Quickie clue which was “Like footwear, one could say, not giving proper foothold? (8)” the answer was SLIPPERY – like a slipper! This is a similarly lovely clue. A type of aquatic creature could here be said to be more over the top, although these look rather serious.

3d Most liked involving London School of Economics, an instant unwise action (5,4)
{FALSE MOVE} An expression that means an unwise reaction is revealed by using a (shortened American) word for something that is most liked, and placing inside the abbreviation for the educational establishment and a short word for an instant.

4d Present jerk as a contrarian (7)
{HERETIC} A way of describing the present is added to a name for a physical jerk to give someone who is angry and contrary about things.

5d Weaken Mediterranean island faction, briefly on the rise (7)
{DISABLE} The name for an island in the Med, often associated with palindromes about Napoleon, is added to a word that means a faction or team, minus its last letter (briefly) and all is reversed (on the rise) to give something that means weaken.

6d Dismiss Parisian I found in European Court (5)
{EJECT} Inside E (European) and the abbreviation for court goes the Parisian (French) word for I to give something meaning dismiss.

7d Radical heading taken from short message about veil? (9)
{EXTREMIST} The name for a radical person is formed from a word for a short mobile message minus its first letter (heading taken from) and adding RE (about) and a word for a veil of droplets.

10d Buckled under, skirting main point, before being off the record (12)
{UNREGISTERED} A word meaning the main thrust of an argument and a word used to represent before in poetry, all go inside an anagram (buckled) of UNDER. This gives a word for off the record.

14d Film-maker is to smear opposite number (9)
{TARANTINO} The name of a film director is a word that means to smear someone, plus an expression for being opposite to something and a short way of saying number.

16d Soft drug support occupies one holding the strings? (9)
{PUPPETEER} The musical abbreviation for quiet goes before the name of a type of drug often taken by clubbers in the seventies. Inside this goes a (golfing) support to give the name of someone like Gepetto.

18d Native American father stops ascent of character in Gone With the Wind (7)
{ARAPAHO} The name for a Native American (mentioned in Ian Dury’s Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick) is found by taking the surname of the lead female character in Gone With The Wind, reversing it and inserting a short word for Father.

19d After an operation, take down one’s particulars (suggestively?)
{DEBRIEF} A terrific clue that really made me smile. A way of describing what happens after a (spying) operation, is also how someone like Kenneth Williams or Ken Dodd may describe the same thing in a ‘nudge nudge wink wink’ manner!

22d Precious time needed for throwaway message? (5)
{TWEET} Something I do a lot of (@tilsit, if you are interested) – a way of messaging found by taking a word meaning precious and adding T for Time.

24d Mother wraps good, hot filling in crust (5)
{MAGMA} The name of something found inside a volcano is revealed by putting G (good) inside a word that means Mother.

Hope you enjoyed today’s Notabilis as much as I did. Not one of his hardest, but still a lot of fun and a really enjoyable solve. See you next week.

21 comments on “Toughie 1177

  1. Surprisingly untough for both a Notabilis and a Friday but a very enjoyable time was had by me. I particularly liked 20a, 1d, 2d and 19d but there were several others I could add to the list.

    Thanks to Notabilis and our coffee-drinking blogger too.

  2. I found this a wee bit tougher than usual but extremely enjoyable, many thanks to Notablis and Tilsit.

  3. Very pleased to have finished without hints…even 27A! Liked so many clues, but 1D is just terrific. Thanks to Notabilis and Tilsit.

  4. On the gentle side for a Friday IMO, yet it didn’t detract from the enjoyment, favourites were 2d 19d and 23a thanks to Notabilis and to Tilsit for the comments.

    • Patience Hazybelle he’s having a coffee break we don t want our blogger one a crossing which could result in one down do we!!

    • All the bloggers give freely of their time to help us so we should not begrudge them an extended coffe break. I couldn’t do what they do, with or without coffee.

  5. I needed a few hints to finish. and also needed a few explanations for my answers. I agree, not as difficult as usual for a Friday but still good fun. Thanks to Notabilis and to Tilsit for helping me out.

  6. Lovely stuff. Agree entirely with your summary Tilsit.
    Favourite clues 17a, 20a, 2d and [a lovely example of how to blur the divide between wordplay and definition] 24d.

    Many thanks to Notabilis and Tilsit.

  7. Not as tricky as he can be but exquisite torture at just the right level. Thanks Notabilis and to Tilsit.

  8. Needed help with the early wind instrument to confirm what I’d put in but otherwise totally agree with the Tilsit ratings. Thank you Tilsit and Notabilis. CSues likes echo mine

  9. Rather gentle for a Friday Toughie, and 3*/4* by my reckoning. Some very nice clues, but 23a just gets my vote. Thank you Notabilis, and thank you Tilsit for the review.

  10. Parsing 11a took us ages. It got to the point where we started doubting we had the right answer as we could make no sense of the wordplay. Then the penny dropped! Have to make that one our favourite. The rest all went in remarkably smoothly for a Friday and excellent fun all the way.
    Thanks Notabilis and Tilsit.

    • re 11a 2Kiwis the penny didn’t drop for me as I had never heard of the word in that context, another nugget to store away in my addled brain :)

    • As is too often the case, I was wide awake before 4:00 am so printed out the crossword and worked on it until I was ready to try to get a bit more sleep. With the grid completed and with what I was sure was the correct answer for 11A but no justification, I began to drift off…only for the wordplay to rise to the surface of my semi-conscious. Love it when that happens. I’ve resolved a few clues that way.

      • We know that feeling. Quite strange how the mind seems to keep working on the problem when left to its own devices.

  11. Super puzzle to end the week ..Embarrasingly last one in 15a so will give that the favourites tag but enjoyed the challenge from top to bottom .
    Cheers Tilsit and Notabilis

  12. Good challenge, got it all done with a bit of thinking except 11a – not a Gen Knowledge crossword , Notabilis ! Who´s heard of this instrument ? , and 12a which I think was VERY poor as My Team = We ? BE TEN = lasted a decade? . Mmmm !!

  13. I rarely contribute to the blog, doing crosswords several weeks behind, and I don’t suppose anybody will see this. But if you do, setter, this is the best crossword I have ever done, I enjoyed every clue – they were so fair, and so many smiles. Thank you!

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