Toughie 1186 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1186

Toughie No 1186 by MynoT

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

I get the impression that MynoT puzzles are an acquired taste, you either acquire it or you don’t. I must confess that, with the exception of the boring run of puzzles featuring successive letters of the alphabet, I am in the former camp.

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    Boss‘s mistake? Right (6)
{GAFFER} – we start with this old chestnut – an error followed by R(ight)

4a    Educated version of ‘speed of light’? (8)
{LITERATE} – split as (4,4) this sounds like (version of) a the speed of light

9a    Naughty wives left to go swinging (6)
{SWIVEL} – an anagram (naughty) of WIVES followed by L(eft)

10a    Cheapest classes of ox get old (8)
{STEERAGE} – to get the cheapest classes of travel on a passenger ship start with an ox and then add a verb meaning to get old

11a    Fall of molten rock flowing over in Italy too (9)
{AVALANCHE} – the reversal (flowing over) of some molten rock followed by the Italian for too or also

13a    Presentation of international sorcerer (5)
{IMAGE} – I(nternational) followed by an archaic word for a sorcerer

14a    Jumping fleas found on foot soldiers — time for sackcloth and ashes (4-9)
{SELF-ABASEMENT} – an anagram (jumping) of FLEAS followed by the foot or bottom of, say, a statue, some soldiers and T(ime)

17a    A cakewalk perhaps following almost public excess? (13)
{OVERABUNDANCE} – what could be (perhaps) a cakewalk (1,3,5) is preceded by most of an adjective meaning public

21a    Voices heard in maelstrom, odd parts obscured by start of snow (5)
{ALTOS} – drop (obscured) the odd letters (parts) from [m]A[e]L[s]T[r]O[m] and add the initial letter (start) of Snow

23a    A point about small part of business is complete skill (9)
{ADEPTNESS} – the A from the clue and a point or headland around the abbreviation (small) for a part or section of a business

24a    Obscure Tories ruined in City (8)
{ESOTERIC} – an anagram (ruined) of TORIES inside the postcode for the City of London

25a    Amount of power the French male twigs (6)
{WATTLE} – the SI unit of power followed by the masculine French definite article

26a    Organ, say, is restricting in making a jab (8)
{LUNGEING} – an organ of the body followed by the Latin abbreviation for say around (restricting) IN

27a    From sea to river for French variety of grape (6)
{MERLOT} – the French for sea followed by a French river


1d    This can be elevating or a bore (6)
{GASBAG} – two definitions – something that rises when filled with hot air and a person who speaks little apart from hot air

2d    Stew faces sir worse for wear, in need of energy (9)
{FRICASSEE} – this dish of stewed pieces of meat served in a thick white sauce comes from an anagram (worse for wear) of FACES SIR with E(nergy)

3d    Confront European once you get wound up? (7)
{EYEBALL} – E(uropean) followed by the old-fashioned (once) word for you and the shape you turn into if you get wound up

5d    Rider’s position is then terribly bad (2,3,6)
{IN THE SADDLE} – an anagram (terribly) of IS THEN followed by an adjective meaning bad, especially when applied to an egg – I would have put a D on the end of the adjective, but Chambers has it with and without

6d    Before child becomes recluse (7)
{EREMITE} – a poetic word for before followed by a small child

7d    Spiritual position when one meets one (5)
{ASANA} – a two-letter word meaning when followed by the two-letter indefinite article (one) and the single-letter indefinite article (one)

8d    The Spanish fixture’s hot for the last man in? (8)
{ELEVENTH} – the Spanish definite article followed by a sporting fixture and H(ot) gives the position of the last man in for a cricket team

12d    Nautical goo could be forming a clot (11)
{COAGULATION} – an anagram (could be forming) of NAUTICAL GOO

15d    Primitive man let eel wriggle (9)
{ELEMENTAL} – an anagram (wriggle) of MAN LET EEL

16d    Fish always found surrounded by fungus (5,3)
{MORAY EEL} – an adverb meaning always or ever inside a type of fungus

18d    Wind beginning to enter grave (7)
{AUSTERE} – the South wind followed by the initial letter (beginning) of Enter gives an adjective meaning grave

19d    Fertiliser salt’s upset in dark, we hear (7)
{NITRATE} – a salt or sailor reversed (upset in a down clue) inside what sounds like (we hear) a period in which it is dark

20d    View of a risky investment taking time (6)
{ASPECT} – the A from the clue followed by a risky investment and T(ime)

22d    God’s point or spike (5)
{THORN} – the Scandinavian thunder god followed by a compass point

If you missed yesterday’s puzzle of the year, then beg, steal or borrow a copy of yesterday’s Indy puzzle by Morph (Micawber when he’s in the Telegraph).

30 comments on “Toughie 1186

  1. I don’t mind MynoT – my only problem with this one was that checking to make sure there wasn’t a theme took a lot longer than solving the crossword. Thanks to him and BD.

    I heartily second, agree with, and further recommend BD’s suggestion that you look for yesterday’s Independent Morph puzzle. I gave up marking the clues I liked and just wrote BRILL on my piece of paper.

    1. On both of your recommendations I tried to obtain said puzzle however I think you must have to be a subscriber(?) as it showed a blank(ish) screen where the puzzle should have been. Or am I just being a techno numpty?

  2. I agree 2* difficulty and 4* for enjoyment.
    I like MynoT’s crosswords. Unlike most other people I also liked his alphabet themed puzzles – I was only just starting to attempt Toughies around that time and they provided a let in to the crossword which I could then do so it was very good for the confidence.
    My favourite was either 9a because it made me laugh, or 27a which I thought was clever.
    With thanks to MynoT and BD.

      1. Sitting on the fence is my favourite place so I’ll just stay here for a bit longer.

  3. Almost completed this puzzle not realising it was the Toughie! So I am very pleased as I needed help with only four clues. Suddenly reconciled with the Toughie – I always think that it is beyond my cryptic ability… Must persevere. 3*/4*. My favourite clue was 9a. I also liked 27a – easy to guess why! Many thanks to MynoT and to BD.

  4. Splendid stuff

    1d was favourite, or perhaps 25a where I stared at the answer for quite some time before the penny dropped on how it works. I was convinced tha W was the power so what had the ATTLE got to do with the price of elephants? Then I spotted it, D’OH!!!!!!!

  5. Having struggled to the finishing post, I had a feeling that CS would indicate how easy it was for her! I speak French, German and some Spanish. Thanks to BD, I now have a second Italian word to add to “bunga-bunga”.

  6. ID was a bit of a ‘gimme’ for those of us who did Soup’s puzzle yesterday. I came unstuck on 7D…a word I’ve never heard of. 3D also tripped me up: no excuse for that. I did like 17A. Thanks to MynoT and to Big Dave for the review.

  7. A rare chance for a comment from me – I normally only get the time to look at the blog after 11pm when it is not really worth a comment. Today I have been off sick with a painful knee so at 18.30 it is not too late.

    Like others I did not know the word for the spiritual position. I thought the penultimate letter could be N or V (for versus = meets) so had to guess and guessed wrongly. I also had never heard of the Scottish word for “always”, not the Italian word but the answers were fairly clear in those two cases.

    I would class it at the “just into Toughie class” so give it 1* for difficulty (but 3* for enjoyment). I have never really understood the blog’s difficulty rating . I thought today’s cryptic was easier than a typical Friday Giovanni but Deep Threat gave it 3* while nearly every Giovanni gets only 2*. Is the star rating the same for Toughie and Cryptic? There seem to be very few 4 and 5* back-pagers

    Many thanks to the setter and reviewer

  8. Luckily we have a Yoga practitioner in our team so were able to get 7d without too much trouble. We found it an enjoyable puzzle that flowed together smoothly.
    Thanks MynoT and BD.

    PS. We would appreciate a copy of the Indy puzzle by Morph if anyone is able to send us a PDF. It sounds too good to miss.

  9. I can’t believe it ! I have just finished a toughie without hints for the first time ! Thank you MynoT !
    Reading the comments , would anybody be able to send me the Morph puzzle or is it beyond my skills ?

      1. Aw, you’re sweet. What a joy this puzzle is! 14D is my favorite in a very close field. 15A, if I have it correct, made me laugh. I have three to go, 5D, 18D and 25A. 5D seems obvious but I can’t rationalize my answer. 25A also seems obvious. Struggling with 18D and happy to accept a hint!

        PS. Hope it’s not a violation to discuss this puzzle here. If so, I apologize and will understand if my comment is deleted.

        1. Re 18d. First you need a famous poet and reverse his initials (initial reversal) and then you need to reverse the whole lot (up and coming in a down clue). See what that gives you – it’s somewhere to go! Pommette creased up laughing at this as the penny dropped!

          Re 5d. The first vehicle would be CAR A so the second? Source of energy as in food.

          Re 25a. I reckon it’s O(ld) followed by DES (man’s name) to give the poems.

          1. PS Always known 18d poet is an anagram of the answer but never noticed it’s just reverse the initials and then reverse the whole thing

            1. Got it! “…as the penny dropped.” How apt! This is now my favorite clue. Same as you on 25A and you sorted out 5D for me ( I was wrong)…another great clue. Ta much.

              1. Glad to have been of service. See you Thursday when I’m back with the alley cat.

  10. Glad to see that l’m not the only numpty who has never heard of the spiritual position at 7d (nor does it appear in my dictionary) but otherwise this was a decent little puzzle. About 2.5*/3*, l think, and a choice of 4a, 17a and 8d for favourite clue status. Ta to MynoT and BD.

  11. I thoroughly enjoyed this and was on the right wavelength from start to finish. Fave was 17a which made me laugh — as did many of the other clues. Also much liked 4a, 1d and 6d. My last in was 7d (remembered from long past days of yoga).

    Many thanks to MynoT for this entertaining puzzle. Many thanks to Big Dave for the excellent review. (I didn’t need the hints this time, and was glad to see I’d parsed 7d and all the others correctly.)

  12. Thanks to MynoT and to Big Dave for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, the closest I’ve come to a Toughie completion for ages. Just needed the hint for 7d. Favourite was 25a. Was 3*/3* for me.

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