Toughie 1218 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1218

Toughie No 1218 by Excalibur

Hints and Tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

I fairly raced through three-quarters of this one, then had to slow up a bit in the final (SW) quadrant. Even so this puzzle scarcely lives up to its billing. The phrase ‘Tuesday Toughie’ is becoming a sort of oxymoron – I wonder whether it’s a deliberate policy to make them pretty easy at the start of the week in order to attract more new solvers or whether the editor can’t get enough of the genuine article.

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.

Across Clues

1a Couldn’t decide on the spot — did sandwiches (8)
{DITHERED} – we start with one of Excalibur’s trademark Yoda-type constructions – a word meaning on the spot or at the scene with DID around it (sandwiches).

5a Sounded hurt and deeply upset (6)
{YELPED} – an anagram (upset) of DEEPLY.

9a Observe craft used in women’s make-up (8)
{EYELINER} – a charade of a verb to observe and a passenger craft.

10a Among non-Euro nations, one of many you have in mind (6)
{NEURON} – hidden among the words of the clue.

12a Laugh at eider duck’s first flying (6)
{DERIDE} – an anagram (flying) of EIDER and the first letter of D(uck).

13a Tired of graveyard patrol? (4-4)
{DEAD-BEAT} – two definitions, the second cryptic (where the patrol is one carried out by a police officer).

15a Having given me a kiss, I can identify nationality! (7)
{MEXICAN} – most of the letters required here are given to us in the clue. We only need to replace ‘a kiss’ with the symbol used for one at the end of a letter, say.

16a You’ll find it in the kitchen sink, love (4)
{SAGO} – a verb to sink or subside and the letter that looks like love or zero.

20a Bird seeking a mate? (4)
{ROOK} – … in a game of chess.

21a Traumatised and frightened right to the core (7)
{SCARRED} – R(ight) goes into the centre of an adjective meaning frightened or terrified.

25a Problem with ice creams that bear eats up (8)
{CONSUMES} – Yoda strikes again. Types of ice cream contain (bear) an arithmetical problem.

26a Fight with female inside ring (6)
{WASHER} – a prolonged fight contains a feminine pronoun.

28a One recoils with ‘Yuk! No more!’ (6)
{ENOUGH} – reverse (recoils) ONE and add an exclamation of disgust.

29a Shows about how old trousers will be (8)
{PAGEANTS} – around what defines how old one is we need some North American trousers. Another Yoda-like clue – and the surface is not great.

30a S-speaks to the highest authority to get flowers (6)
{SPRAYS} – after the initial S has a one-way communication with the highest authority.

31a Of indeterminate age, not popular with the opposite sex (8)
{DATELESS} – double definition, the second a cryptic way of saying unable to attract a partner for a romantic engagement.

Down Clues

1d Fears silly dear’s coming to bad end (6)
{DREADS} – an anagram (silly) of DEAR’S follows (coming to) the end letter of (ba)D.

2d Whose is the one with vacant rooms? (6)
{THEIRS} – THE (from the clue), the Roman numeral for one and what’s left of rooms after they’ve been vacated.

3d Fallen idol always held to be a baddie (4-4)
{EVIL-DOER} – anyone but Yoda would deliver this as ‘Always held fallen idol’ so we want a word meaning always containing an anagram (fallen) of IDOL.

4d Returning in almost no time flat (4)
{EVEN} – reverse (returning) an adverb meaning at no time without its final letter (almost).

6d Polishes pieces editor’s chosen for cover (6)
{EMENDS} – pieces on the chess board with ED’S around them.

7d As usual, name’s misspelt, it’s kind of Italian (8)
{PARMESAN} – this is a native of a city in Italy (or possibly its well-known dairy product). Start with a word meaning as usual (as in the phrase ‘*** for the course’) and add an anagram (misspelt) of NAME’S.

8d No, I don’t bother to include a gift (8)
{DONATION} – an anagram (bother) of NO I DON’T includes A.

11d Goes off salesman’s arrogance (7)
{REPAIRS} – a charade of an abbreviated word for a salesman and arrogance or pomposity.

14d The man’s concealing irritation for things going awry (7)
{HITCHES} – a male pronoun plus the ‘S go round a word for irritation.

17d Like a fruitcake and biscuits? (8)
{CRACKERS} – double definition, the first a cryptic description of someone like a fruitcake, i.e. nutty.

18d Ridiculously proud, about to have big fall (8)
{DOWNPOUR} – an anagram (ridiculously) of PROUD contains a verb to have or possess.

19d Plane trips going to see shifty foreigner (8)
{NEPALESE} – we have two anagrams here; firstly an anagram (trips) of PLANE then another (shifty) of SEE.

22d Prepared to bolt, given a chance (6)
{HUNGRY} – this is a gentle cryptic definition of being ready to tuck in, if given the opportunity.

23d Women’s focal point when joining is to complain! (6)
{WHINGE} – W(omen) followed by the focal point of a joint or coupling.

24d Extracts from ‘Holidays’ read aloud (6)
{WRESTS} – this sounds like holidays or times off.

27d A crack up leaves one not right in the head (4)
{GAGA} – reverse (up) A and a crack or quip.

My favourite today was 13a. Let us know which one(s) you enjoyed.

I’m on Toughie duty again tomorrow when we have Elkamere to look forward to – we can be pretty sure that will provide a meatier challenge.

22 comments on “Toughie 1218

  1. My problems were with the SE corner but apart from that it was definitely a puzzle that fitted the Tuesday Toughie ‘norm’. Thanks to Excalibur and Gazza too.

  2. A super Tuesday Toughie Plenty of smiles and an audible laugh at 15a. That and 13a were the two clues I most liked but i thoroughly enjoyed the whole puzzle

  3. Not quite as easy as last Tuesday, but still pretty straightforward, 13a gets the nod from me also. Thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for the hints.

  4. Too easy for you perhaps , Gazza, but approaching doable for me. Everything went swimmingly until the south east corner, where I had alternative answers to 23d (lament, men being womens focal point) and 27d(bats, reverse of stab) which messed everything up.Clues I particularly liked were 11d, 14d, 18d and 24d.
    Thanks Gazza and Excalibur.

  5. I raced through top half, slowed at SW and got stuck in SE. I really liked 8d for working the wordplay into the surface very nicely. But 9a, 13a, 31a left me completely cold. Not at all happy with 25a, isn’t bear transitive? might work without the “with”, but just comes across as clumsy as is. I’m not a fan of the Yoda style. Not sure why “given a chance” is there at all in 22a.

    The 4 checked squares that connect the different sections of the grid are all “E”. I think there are some 16 checked E’s all together.

  6. I don’t see a problem with having a Toughie which is on the easier side as they encourage those of less experience to have a go at least (and I include myself in that group). I know tomorrow will be almost impossible for some given the setter but I’ll be here to make full use of Gazza’s hints in an attempt to improve my solving skills.

    1. I second that. I look forward to the Tuesday Toughie to try and improve my solving skills.

        1. Can you fourth something? If so, I do. Following these comments, I might give the Toughie another go. Onwards and upwards!

          1. I see no reason why the Telegraph shouldn’t publish an “easier” puzzle (like the Guardian’s Quiptic), but to call it a Toughie insults the intelligence and tarnishes the brand. It’s about time the panel was shaken up and some tired setters where put out to grass.

  7. Just about on par for a Tuesday toughie, no great problems but no great enjoyment either, thanks to the setter and to Gazza.

    1. Yoda is a Jedi Master in the Star Wars films. His English sentences are sort of backwards, e.g. “Help you I can, yes.”

  8. I whizzed (well, for me it was whizzing) through the top half and then ground to a halt with very few answers in the bottom bit.
    Like Una I had a wrong, but different wrong, answer to 27d – nuts – an upside down stun, or crack on the head. Oh dear and not helpful in that corner.
    Eventually defeated by 25 and 30a and 22d.
    28a made me laugh. I also liked 5 and 21a and 14d. I think my favourite was 8d.
    With thanks to Excalibur, and to gazza for dealing with the ones I couldn’t do.

  9. I had he same problem as you Gazza – slowed almost to a halt in SW. What an awful grid – the corners only joined by one light. Would any other paper accept this?

    Also agree about the logic of 25a and 29a, the latter is just tolerable but 25 is beyond the pale. Although, to be fair to Excalibur, she mangles the logic to produce a decent surface reading whereas certain other setters just give us mangled surfaces. When Excalibur gets both the surface reading and the wordplay right the result can be lovely – see 1a and particularly 2d.

    Thanks to Gazza and Excalibur.

  10. Like Kath, l filled the top half of the grid quickly (1 or 2* level) but failed to see what the setter was getting at in some of the key clues at the bottom. On balance, l’d have to rate this 3*/3*. I did enjoy 1a, though. Thanks Excalibur, and Gazza for the review and hints – 3 of which l drew upon.

  11. The SE corner took us more than twice as long as the rest of the puzzle, 24d and 29a being the last two to yield and needed cogitation while driving to the Bridge club to surface. Pleasant solve.
    Thanks Excalibur and Gazza.

  12. Yep. Top half in good time. Bottom half and SE corner in particular …..fuggetabahtit ( in my best Noo Yawk accent). Did like 10A and 13A. Thanks to Excalibur and Gazza. I live on to fight another day.

  13. As my Brazilian friend said things can only get better ! But I quite enjoyed it with 13 a just edging favouritism
    Cheers Gazza and Excalibur

  14. A bit of a plod or me started after opening time when I am likely to be most distracted. Top half went in bit by bit but the bottom half remained elusive. Seven clues unsolved for which I looked at the answers. If toughies were included on my ipad I would start with them.

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