Toughie 1221 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1221

Toughie No 1221 by Notabilis

What the Dickens!

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

A very enjoyable puzzle from one of my favourite setters.

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1a    Sweet drink is in front of soda dispenser (6)
{SIPHON} – an affectionate word for a sweetheart with by a verb meaning to drink in front

4a    Tragic lover’s family united in composite photo (8)
{MONTAGUE} – to get the family name of one of Shakespeare’s tragic lovers, insert U(nited) inside a composite photo or picture

9a    A choice word at length accepted by expert, one considered infallible (6)
{ORACLE} – a two-letter word that separates two choices followed by L(ength) inside (accepted by) an expert

10a    Drop back before short stir, lacking courage (8)
{TIMOROUS} – reverse (back) a verb meaning to drop or leave out and follow it with most of (short) a verb meaning to stir or awaken to get a description of Rabbie Burns’ mouse

11a    Lying, popular from the time of bible studies (9)
{INSINCERE} – a charade of a word meaning popular, an adverb meaning from the time of and some bible studies

13a    Very enjoyable after reduction of noise (5)
{SONIC} – start with a phrase meaning very enjoyable (2,4) and drop the final letter (after reduction)

14a    Bishop and religious fraternity volunteer a rough-haired companion? (6,7)
{BORDER TERRIER} – B(ishop) followed by a religious fraternity of, say, monks and a name given to a volunteer soldier

17a    Melting out ice and splitting fossil fuel with mixed forms (13)
{COEDUCATIONAL} – put an anagram (melting) of OUT ICE AND inside (splitting) a fossil fuel to get an adjective meaning with mixed-sex forms or classrooms

21a    Universal shock over Dickensian name (5)
{URIAH) – U(niversal) followed by the reversal (over) of a shock or mane gives the first name of Charles Dickens’ ‘umble Mr Heep

23a    Loss of resistance in period beset by depression (9)
{DETRIMENT} – R(esistance) inside a period all inside (beset by) a depression of hollow

24a    As one says, charred skeleton remains dandy once in Bath (4,4)
{BEAU NASH} – this a celebrated dandy in 18th-century Bath sounds like (as one says) the remains of a charred skeleton

25a    Although learner, participating in game of cards (6)
{WHILST} – L(earner) inside (participating in) a card game

26a    At Oktoberfest, you must separate part with English brew (5,3)
{ROSIE LEE} – the German (at Oktoberfest) for you inside (must separate) a part in a play and followed by E(nglish) gives a colloquial word for a cuppa (brew)

27a    Naughty child‘s primitive feature? (6)
{URCHIN} – a prefix meaning primitive followed by a facial feature


1d    Immovable plug almost on top (6)
{STOLID} – most of (almost) a verb meaning to plug or seal followed by the top of a container

2d    Likely complication of pill abuse (9)
{PLAUSIBLE} – an anagram (complication) of PILL ABUSE

3d    Surfer having crack, skipping first Ecstasy (2-5)
{ON-LINER} – this little-used word for someone who surfs the internet is derived from a crack or joke (3-5) by dropping (skipping) the first E(cstasy)

5d    Birtwistle sheds irritability after wrong viol note: he requested more (6,5)
{OLIVER TWIST} – drop BILE (irritability) from [BI]RTWIST[LE] and precede what’s left with an anagram (wrong) of VIOL and the third note of the diatonic scale of C major

6d    Something exciting below opening of the pocket (7)
{TROUSER} – something exciting after (below in a down clue) the initial letter (opening) of T[he] gives a verb meaning to pocket or steal (this verb was discussed very recently on the blog!)

7d    Complaint in which body part’s more than half twisted (5)
{GROAN} – start with a part of the body and reverse (twisted) the first 3 letters (more than half) – if you had a different part of the body in here and couldn’t resolve the wordplay then now you know why!

8d    Low-maintenance aspect of literacy’s aesthetically uplifting (4-4)
{EASY-CARE} – hidden (aspect of) and reversed (uplifting) inside the clue

12d    What makes Ireland seem exotic, with latitude for name? (7,4)
{EMERALD ISLE} – there’s a sort of a definition in here somewhere! – an anagram (exotic) of IRELA[N->L]D SEEM after replacing the N(ame) with an L(atitude)

15d    Poor condition of Leith Hall after renovation (3,6)
{ILL HEALTH} – an anagram (after renovation) of LEITH HALL

16d    Lender perhaps welcoming credit, one trying hard to clean up (8)
{SCRUBBER} – what could, at a push, be someone who lends or advances around CR(edit)

18d    Send wacky timeless object wrapped in one from Paris (7)
{UNHINGE} – drop the T (timeless) from a five-letter object and insert what’s left inside (wrapped in) the French (from Paris) for one (feminine)

19d    New bond set up the woman’s option to exclude both? (7)
{NEITHER} – N(ew) followed by the reversal (set up) of a bond or link and a pronoun meaning of the woman (the woman’s)

20d    Treatment for ticker tape lacking copy in colour (6)
{STATIN} – this treatment or medicine for the heart (ticker) is derived by putting T[ape] without ape (copy) inside a verb meaning to colour or dye

22d    Is doing permanent damage, promoting current religious leaders (5)
{IMAMS} – start with a verb meaning does permanent damage and move up (promote) the symbol for electric current

For me, the best puzzle of the week (excluding Sunday).

27 comments on “Toughie 1221

  1. Very enjoyable thank you Notabilis but far too ‘gentle’ for the Toughie slot, especially on a Friday. Thanks to BD too.

  2. I absolutely LOVED this, not least because of yesterday’s Toughie discussion! What are the odds of that happening? The smile 6D raised carried me through the whole puzzle. I fell short on 7D, not being able to get past a specific area of the body, and although I solved 26A I could not unravel it. Obviously those 4 years of German in grammar school didn’t stay with me. I liked 21A and 20D, but 24A is my favorite. Many thanks to Notabilis (fast becoming a favorite with me) and to BD for the review.

  3. Fairly gentle for a Friday but still enjoyable, favourites were 4a 24a and 26a thanks to Notabilis and to Big Dave for the comments.

  4. Notabilis is one of my favourite setters and this one is most enjoyable but very benign for a Friday. I was a bit surprised that the same verb is used in the crossing answers 10a and 6d. Favourite clue: 4a. Thanks to Notabilis and BD.

    1. I’m almost certainly being dim here but I don’t understand the bit in your comment about 10a and 6d.

    2. yes that annoys me too – at least it didn’t cross itself exactly, did you notice bitter cross itself earlier this week? or was that in the times. I’m surprised when it happens, already being a disappointment just having a word twice in the answers.

  5. A great puzzle and being a little easier in parts means I can get on with other things this morning. The pre-fix for “primitive” in 26a is new to me. Have to remember that one! 24a best for amusement. Many thanks to Notabilis and BD for the hints – which I needed to understand my answer to 26a.

  6. A bit on the soft side for Friday but some lovely clues: 13a, 26a, 18d, 19d, etc,etc,etc…
    Thanks to Notabilis and to BD.

  7. That was fun but I certainly didn’t find it easy.
    I failed totally with 26a (can’t do German at all) and I needed the hints to explain 7 and 20d.
    I liked 4a and 18d. My favourite was 24a although I’m a bit disillusioned by his picture!
    With thanks to Notabilis and BD.

  8. Very enjoyable crossword if a tad on the gentle side, many thanks to Notablis and BD.

  9. As others have said, excellent, and not too tough.
    3*/5* for me. Many thanks to Notabilis, and to BD for the write-up.

  10. What’s in a name? that which we call a Toughie
    By any other name would be called a back-pager..

    Apologies to Notabilis & the Bard!

    Quite easy today.

  11. Best puzzle of the week for me too ,favourites among many smashing clues 4a and 26a .Terrific .
    Thanks BD and Notabilis .

  12. I think if crosswords are so difficult they can be solved only with electronic help, they lose their entertainment value. This one seemed to me to be of the right standard. Difficult enough to be called a Toughie but solvable without artificial aids

  13. Glad some of you found it easy! The top half went in ok but not the bottom. I could have stared at 26a until Christmas without getting it (having zero German except zwei bier bitte doesn’t help) I can’t help feeling the setter missed a chance of something far more inventive and amusing for that answer.

    1. I didn’t find it easy either, and never did get 26a. I also have no German and can only wonder which Christmas you might be talking about.
      Apart from 26a most of my trouble was in the top right hand corner.

  14. It’s all very well all the ‘clever clogs’ solvers saying how gentle this Toughie was, but for solvers such as I who are very well able to complete the back page crossword puzzles on a daily basis, but who are very much on the bottom rung of Toughie solving, this was the perfect challenge – not so difficult that the clues could barely be understood and not so easy that it was a breeze. I loved it and managed to complete it with a minimum of ‘cheats’, so a huge thank you to Notabilis for restoring my faith in my own ability to take on a Toughie. If I hadn’t put ‘GRIPE’ for 7 down, I’d have had no ‘cheats’ at all. :-)

    1. I agree. As a recent trier of Toughies, this took me some time and I did need a little help to finish but it was a very enjoyable puzzle. I suppose that there has to be some variation in difficulty otherwise only the very best could ever complete it and us beginners would get very disheartened and revert to the back page again.
      I also got stumped on 7d – and 26a, 22d. Thank you Notablis and Big Dave for helping me understand why I had some of my answers.

  15. lovely quality puzzle from notabilis, i liked 8d for the clever reversal and 25a for simple elegant wordplay. I was hooked from my first entries which were 21a and 22d. took me an enjoyable while and eventually got stuck in SW, wasn’t familiar with bath toffs or colloquial teas. Thank you notabilis, and thanks big dave for the anno

  16. An excellent Toughie which I thoroughly enjoyed on my Birthday , hence late posting ;) Notabilis is one of my favourite setters as well so an added bonus. Thank you BD (twas a busy day so I for one was grateful for the difficulty level)

  17. Borrowed the paper today – 5€here ! and had it done in a coulpe of hours. But 6d and 7d gave me probs for some reason- I speak Spanish, Portuguese and French, no German , so SIE means nothing, but solved it – brew ! Still dont get parsing of 22 d , but had to be what it is. Favs was 1A and 10A

    1. 22d ‘Does permanent damage’ is MAIMS – move up (promoting) the I (symbol for electric current).

  18. I’m afraid I’m one of those who didn’t find this all that easy. Getting 1d wrong (had ‘static’ instead of ‘stolid’) meant I couldn’t solve 9a (oh dear!). Not knowing any German, I couldn’t get the answer to 26a. I knew the ‘brew’ was tea, but didn’t think of the Cockney. (Must make a point of remembering Cockney rhyming in future.) I also needed help on 17a and the answer to 3d. The remainder of my answers were all solved correctly.

    I really enjoyed this puzzle, especially 21a, 24a and 5d. Thank you very much, Notabilis.

    And big thanks and appreciation to Big Dave for this invaluable review.

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