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Toughie 1214

Toughie No 1214 by Warbler

Hints and tips by Toro

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

A by no means unenjoyable but really very easy Toughie from Warbler with a Wimbledon-inspired connection in the form of 1d/20d and clues based on it. Regular solvers will have rattled it off with few if any unforced errors.

Definitions are underlined. Highlight between the braces {LIKE THIS} to reveal the answer to each clue. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought and add your assessment by selecting one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Maoist converted to religious system (6)
{TAOISM} – An anagram (converted) of MAOIST.

4a    Soak up smell in Kent area (6)
{SPONGE} – A word for a bad smell goes inside (in) the abbreviation for the corner of Britain of which Kent is part.

8a    Only one in two hundred becomes top banana (1,1,1)
{CIC} – … of a country’s military forces. The Roman numeral one is inserted between (in) two occurrences of the Roman numeral for one hundred.

10a    Once more tripping over, artist falls (7)
{NIAGARA} – Reverse (tripping over) a word for once more, and add the familiar two-letter abbreviation for artist.

11a    Keep on 23 Across (7)
{RESERVE} – The abbreviation for on, about or concerning is followed by the solution to 23a lifted whole.

12a    Celtic hearts following flag (5)
{IRISH} – The abbreviation for the card suit of hearts comes after (following) the family of flowers to which the Yellow Flag belongs.

13a    Ditch bird smothered in cream (9)
{ELIMINATE} – A very unusual spelling of a popular exotic cagebird goes inside (in) a word for the cream or chosen few.

14a    Italian Carmen forced out of Brazil? (5,8)
{LATIN AMERICAN} – An anagram (forced out) of ITALIAN CARMEN.

17a    Skin problems give a new experience to minor celebs (5,8)
{BLOOD BLISTERS} – A 5-letter verb meaning to give a new experience to (as in giving a young hound its first taste of a kill) is followed by a word which if split (1-7) means second-tier celebrities.

22a    Rough charts Ordnance Survey’s drawn in small area of Scotland (9)
{TROSSACHS} – … The abbreviation for Ordnance Survey goes inside (drawn in) an anagram (rough) of CHARTS and is followed by the abbreviation for Small.

23a    Satisfy 1 20 (5)
{SERVE} – A kind of 1d/20d that is also a verb meaning to satisfy or fulfil.

24a    Waiting to get supplied working equipment (2,5)
{ON ORDER} – A two-letter word for working or not switched off followed by a word that can mean equipment for battle (thanks to Jezza for pointing this out).

25a    Garlands with flower of the north showing time of freedom (7)
{LEISURE} – A Hawaiian garland (in the plural) followed by the name of river in North Yorkshire (flower of the north).

26a    1 20 that’s non-returnable (3)
{ACE} – Another kind of 1d/20d – an unreturned 23a, in fact.

27a    Sun in eastern Holland — it may get you to volunteer (6)
{ENLIST} – The one-letter abbreviation for sun goes inside (in) the abbreviation for eastern, the two-letter international vehicle registration code for Holland and IT from the clue.

28a    1 20‘s salvo (6)
{VOLLEY} – A third kind of 1d/20d that is also a synonym for a burst of artillery fire.


1d/20d    Insert tokens in the right order for game play (6,6)
{TENNIS STROKE} – An anagram (in the right order) of INSERT TOKENS yields an action in a certain sport.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

2d    Instrument, starter for operating vehicle, is not activated initially (7)
{OCARINA} – The first letter of (starter for) Operating, plus a three-letter vehicle, plus the first letters (initially) of Is Not Activated.

3d    Break 1 20 (5)
{SMASH} – A fourth variety of 1d/20d that also means to break or shatter.

5d    On rising girl is consumed by sulkiness. She doesn’t think in a positive way (9)
{PESSIMIST} – A reversal (on rising) of a word for a young woman plus IS from the clue goes inside (consumed by) a word for a sulk or huff.

6d    Verse in adaptation of Narnia is sheer bliss (7)
{NIRVANA} – The abbreviation for verse goes inside (in) an anagram (adaptation) of NARNIA.

7d    Old boyfriend’s French and meeting Queen in county town (6)
{EXETER} – A charade of three crossword stalwarts: the former lover, the French word for and, and the Queen.

8d    Shooter violently robs a copper inside dark chamber (6,7)
{CAMERA OBSCURA} – What you shoot pictures with followed by an anagram (violently) of ROBS A into which is inserted (inside) the abbreviation for copper – all of which gives a dark chamber which was the forerunner of the shooter in the clue.

9d    It’s said ships’ companies pine for Skye, perhaps, making a bomb? (6,7)
{CRUISE MISSILE} – A homophone (it’s said) of a statement that groups of maritime personnel feel nostalgia for a place that could be Skye (or Man or Wight).

14d    1 20‘s part of clobber (3)
{LOB} – Our fifth and final type of 1d/20d is contained in (part of) the word clobber.

15d    Cromwell is accommodating fidgety diners, old at heart (9)
{IRONSIDES} – IS from the clue goes round (accommodating) an anagram of (fidgety) DINERS into which is inserted (at heart) the one-letter abbreviation for Old.

16d    Uni association that’s seen at dawn? (3)
{NUS} – … the acronym for the body that represents students. Think of what happens at dawn and then construe it as a cryptic crossword instruction (a reversal) to get the answer.

18d    Laugh out loud about soldiers having left over returning something from the throne room (3,4)
{LOO ROLL} – A piece of texting language that Cameron thought stood for Lots Of Love goes round (about) the two-letter abbreviation for Other Ranks and a reversal (returning) of the abbreviations for Left and (from cricket) Over.

19d    Spain plays no part in silly quarrel about oxygen for whale (7)
{RORQUAL} – An anagram (silly) of QUARREL after deleting (plays no part) the one-letter IVR code for Spain goes round (about) the chemical abbreviation for Oxygen.

20d    See 1 Down

21d    Engineers on outside verges of dual-carriageway finding way to put things right (6)
{REMEDY} – A four-letter acronym of the British Army’s engineering corps precedes (on) the outer letter (outside verges) of Dual-carriagewaY (arbitrarily hyphenated to suit!).  

23d    Reportedly cunning attempt to reach 12 town (5)
{SLIGO} – A homophone (reportedly) of a word for cunning or crafty plus a word for an attempt.

1d/20d is a lovely anagram but the theme clues referencing it are among the easiest imaginable in a cryptic crossword. 19d was new to me but easily gettable from the wordplay and checkers.

Over to you – please rate and comment on today’s puzzle.

38 comments on “Toughie 1214

  1. Firstly, let me say that I am a fan of Warbler and her crosswords and found today’s crossword enjoyable . However, and it is a big however, when it takes me no longer to solve than the easiest of easy back page puzzles, it is as far removed from the description of a Toughie as you can get which defeats the object of its appearing in the middle of the paper.

    Thanks to Warbler for the crossword and Toro for the explanations.

  2. I think the flower of the North is meant to be a bit closer to home – in North Yorkshire, i.e. the Ure.
    Thanks to Warbler and Toro.

    1. I thought the same thing about the river but decided I wouldn’t mention it – reminded me of the Chinese one a long time ago.

      1. Whoops – thanks for spotting, both! I misread the clue as garland singular, noticed and corrected that at the last minute, but forgot that left an extra ‘s’! I’ll change it now.

  3. I enjoyed this very much and I could do it which, for a Toughie, is an added bonus even if it wasn’t a very tricky one
    I’m very bad at crosswords that keep taking us back to a particular answer but realised quickly that I needed to get 1 & 20d to stand a hope and that wasn’t too difficult.
    It was lovely to have something topical that wasn’t football.
    I liked all the themed answers and 5d. My favourite was 16d.
    With thanks to Warbler and to Toro – I needed the hint to untangle 27a – always forget IVR’s.

  4. Far too easy to be called a toughie, much more of a rather simple back pager, my apologies to Warbler but I really didn’t think it up to the mark, I agree with CS, I too usually enjoy Warblers’ crosswords. Moan over, thanks to Warbler, I couldn’t compile a crossword to save my unworthy soul, and thanks to Toro for the very nice pictorial review. ( I also agree with Gazza re the flower of the north)

  5. Toro – It may just be me but there is no hint for 1a [even though it’s fairly obvious as to the answer]

    1. Good grief – another one! I’ll fix it shortly and thanks very much for pointing it out.

      1. The video at 1d is brilliant. The guy’s a genius. Many thanks – it made me smile while I prepared my 10th power point presentation for training sales reps in Japan!

  6. Agree with other observations too easy for a Toughie, thanks to Warbler and to Toro.

  7. Regrettably, I got no enjoyment whatsoever from this puzzle. It just piodded. I don’t mind it being easy. What I don’t like is dullness.Sorry. Maybe I’m in a grumpy mood

  8. Very enjoyable , although it took me considerably longer than a back pager.and I never did get 24a, despite trying numerous variations of an anagram.The theme helped a lot.I knew 8a was what it was, but I couldn’t figure out why.15d was another big hold up.Thanks Warbler, I love your puzzles and Toro, especially for explaining 17a.

  9. Thought you might all have a giggle at what I do. A friend cuts them out and sends each month. DT costs 5€ here, and 2 days late ! And I´d never bother reading it anyway. I dont like downloading,which costs + I prefer the paper ! So I am about 12 puzzles behind you, but read your comments 3 weeks after you post! I finish them without hints not OED except for sometimes 1 or 2 stinkers, usually the same as you, but strange how sometimes my **** is ** for you all, and vice-versa. Blog good to check logic etc. .Different brain wave-lengths. So just had a struggle over nos 2000 and 2001, but got there in the end, Ready for 2002 tomorrrow if not on beach ! Cheers

    1. Beach – well lucky old you. Where are you? So long since I saw some sea and sand and lay on a beach reading my book and swimming whenever I got too hot. One day – too many other commitments at the moment.

  10. Re 24a – I think equipment in this sense refers to (battle) order.

    Thanks to Warbler, and to Toro.

    1. Many thanks for resolving that, Jezza. BRB print edition has that definition. I’ve updated the explanation.

  11. I think this may fall foul of the Trades Description Act. Apart from having to Google the whale (who knew?) this was standard back page fodder. Pleasant enough but definitely not tough.

  12. I rather enjoy an easy Toughie!

    Thanks to Warbler!

    (And Miss Sharapova is OUT – I can now turn the sound back ON!)

  13. Most unusual for me completing all bar one (15d) of a puzzle under the “toughie” umbrella. However, I found this easier than today’s back-pager so its toughie label may be somewhat dubious… Thanks to Toro for the review and thanks to Warbler for the puzzle which was most enjoyable.

  14. I’m dead chuffed that I managed a Toughie, just me and my BRB. I know it would have to be an easy one for me to do that as I am very new to them. (I’ve only recently ventured from the back page all thanks to this blog.) And I agree that there is a big difference between this and last Thursday’s of which I could only do two without help. Nevertheless I’m happy with it. Thank you Warbler. And thank you Toro for the tennis.

  15. 2*/4* for a rare foray for me into the Toughie world – very enjoyable but not very tough. I’ve never heard of either 19d or 23d but managed to work out both from the wordplay.

    Many thanks to Warbler and to Toro.

  16. Since IAm in the middle of three days of chemotherapy in a cancer ward, I was delighted to finish this one. I could do with some more easy ones!

    1. That is a very unenviable situation to be in – very, very best wishes for success.

    2. Oh poor you – do hope that it all goes OK. Not much fun though . . .
      A little from me too and all good wishes for a speedy recovery.

      1. Best wishes ,puts the debate about difficulty into perspective . Keep happy .

  17. Wow – I finished a Toughie for the first time ever (and only needed one hint too)! Yes, I know it was easy for you seasoned Toughie tacklers, but I am nevertheless proud of myself.

    Thanks to the setter and to Toro for the one nudge I needed.

    And, of course, to BD and all the regulars for this blog which is invaluable when I get stuck during my daily foray into the DT cryptic world.

    1. I reckon it only takes a couple of successful Toughie attempts to be bitten by yet another bug!

  18. Well well well, that most rare of beasts: A “toughie” which was almost a read and write.
    The whale was a new word for me, but perfectly solvable from the wordplay and checking letters.
    Thanks Warbler and to Toro for the review.

  19. Thanks to Warbler and to Toro for the review and hints. It must have been really easy because I completed it without the hints. Favourite was 4a. Was 2*/3* for me.

  20. We had a slight hesitation with 22a but luckily one of us dredged something from the depths of memory and Google confirmed. Plenty of smiles and chuckles.
    Thanks Warbler and Toro.

  21. Yes, it was quite easy, but it’s only Tuesday so l don’t see a problem. Time enough for tougher Toughies as the week goes on. I enjoyed several of the clues, notably 17a. Overall, l would score this at 2*/3*. Thanks to Warbler, and to Toro for the review.

  22. Feeling so pleased I had actually completed a Toughie – only to read how easy it is! (Please don’t begrudge the setters for casting the odd crumb of comfort to us non-geniuses!)
    So thanks to Warbler from me, and to Toro whose hints I didn’t need today.

  23. Sod it, I thoroughly enjoyed this, and it took me longer than than the back pager. It’s a Tuesday Toughie and if it encourages more to try then so be it. Speaking as a back pager frightened witless of the Toughie for too long . Thank you Warbler as ever and to Toro

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