Toughie 1236 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1236

Toughie No 1236 by Notabilis

A Rare Thursday Treat

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

It was very pleasing to discover that Notabilis was making a rare Thursday appearance. I think that it’s only the fourth Notabilis puzzle that I ever have had to blog and it’s the first for 19 months. It didn’t disappoint me. I was surprised when I’d finished the puzzle to discover that it had taken me so long. I thought it was being an average 3* difficulty puzzle but the time it took me definitely took it into 4* territory. I must have been enjoying it not to notice the time passing by. This puzzle showed that it is possible to set a genuine Toughie without resorting to obscure answers or complex wordplay.

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.


8a    Teach slowly, not yet having left home? (7)
INSTILL When split (2,5) it means ‘not yet having left home’

10a    Peculiar partnerless dance (7)
ODDBALL Partnerless + a dance

11a    Getting back energy, limit rate of travel somewhere far from home (4,5)
DEEP SPACE A reversal of E (energy) and ‘to limit’ and ‘rate of travel’

12a    Suddenly rose petal gets crushed (5)
LEAPT An anagram (gets crushed) of PETAL

13a    Something deceptive about grit? (5)
FIBRE Something deceptive + ‘about’ = grit (strength of character)

14a    Determination to host last appearances of Rod Hull — thin Rod? (7)
SPINDLE Strength of character round the last letters of RoD HulL

17a    Models sat awkwardly in an ideal situation, just as it ever was (3,4,3,5)
THE SAME OLD STORY An anagram (awkwardly) of MODELS SAT in an ideal situation

19a    Prevent exit from live Wagner opera, skipping fried eggs at first (7)
BESIEGE ‘To live’ + a Wagner opera with FRIED removed + the first letter of Eggs

21a    Lawbreaker’s parking on a bend (5)
CRIMP An abbreviated form of a word for a lawbreaker has P (parking) on

24a    Keeping this fertiliser back is so naughty (5)
GUANO Hidden in reverse in sO NAUGhty

26a    Primarily the frail sit, in motion, here (9)
STAIRLIFT An anagram (in motion) of T FRAIL SIT (T = the first letter of The). The whole clue provides the definition

27a    Assistant‘s area lay beside river (7)
ABETTOR A (area) + ‘to lay (wager) + ‘beside’ + R (river)

28a    Which is among foremost 50% of peeves? (3,4)
PET HATE ‘Which’ inside the first three letters of PEEves. The whole clue provides the definition


1d    To some extent, family get along fine (4,2)
KIND OF Family + ‘get along’ + F (fine)

2d    Rally with donkey symbol cut short (8)
ASSEMBLE ‘To rally’ = a donkey + a symbol with the last letter removed

3d    European to receive manuscripts knocked up after King and I musical (4,2,4)
KISS ME KATE A reversal of E (European) and ‘to receive’ and the abbreviation for ‘manuscripts’ follow K (King) and I

4d    Fish delivery sets distribution limits (5,4)
DOVER SOLE Delivery sets (sets of 6 balls in cricket) are limited by (i.e. goes inside) ‘distribution’

5d    One admired swimming pool, dipping head (4)
IDOL Take a word for a swimming pool and move the first letter to the end (or from top to bottom seeing as it’s a down word)

6d    False rumour of Commonwealth member virtually embracing Republican (6)
CANARD A Commonwealth country with the last letter removed goes round R (Republican)

7d    Sneaking hits rely on being broadcast (8)
SLITHERY An anagram (broadcast) of HITS RELY

9d    Bread and how not to earn it? (4)
LOAF 2 meanings: a portion of bread baked in one mass/to pass time idly (when you could be working to earn your bread)

15d    Run away from clean urban area, adopting ancient one in apprehension (10)
INSECURITY Remove R from ‘to clean (by washing in cold water). Then take a large urban area and put it round an ancient Sumerian urban area

16d    Unavoidable female relatives, frightening without their secondary aspects (9)
NECESSARY Remove the second letters from ‘female relatives’ and ‘frightening’

17d    Means of sledging aimed at, say, gents’ team dismissing tail-ender (8)
TOBOGGAN A sledge = ‘aimed at’ + the Gents (say) + a team with the last letter removed

18d    One spirit’s spoken about as the oldest (8)
ORIGINAL I (one) and an alcoholic spirit inside ‘spoken’

20d    Small harbour with smooth surface? (6)
SHAVEN S (small) + a harbour

22d    Green club having power over state (6)
PUTTER A golf club used on the green = P (power) + ‘to state’

23d    Son sent down in exchange for one responsible for sting? (4)
WASP Take a word meaning ‘to exchange’ and move the letter S (son) from the beginning to later in the word

25d    Curse old floppy hat (4)
OATH O (old) + an anagram (floppy) of HAT

I’ll be missing again next week. I’m going on a cruise! (But only from Manchester to Liverpool along the Ship Canal.)

15 comments on “Toughie 1236

  1. I really enjoyed this. I don’t think I’ve ever done a Notabilis crossword before and I know that I’ve never finished a 4* difficulty Toughie so feeling smug!
    I did need the hints to untangle a few of my answers so thanks Bufo.
    My favourite by a very long way was 26a.
    With thanks to Notabilis too.

  2. Super toughie from Notablis and an excellent review from Bufo, many thanks to both.

  3. Very enjoyable with some smooth surfaces, favourites were 3d 16d and 28a thanks to Notabilis and to Bufo for the comments.

    With Notabilis appearing today, I wonder if we might see Myops tomorrow ?

  4. Thank you Bufo for such good hints – I needed 4 of them! Thanks also to Notabilis for such a great work out. Favourites – 11a and 19a.

  5. Whilst having a different difficulty rating to Bufo, I have to agree with the enjoyment rating. Thanks to him and Notabilis for a rare moment of enjoyable peaceful solving in amongst the “relative” madness.

  6. The ‘Grand Slam’ is on! Every day I attempt three crosswords in the DT. Cryptic, Quickie and the Toughie. I don’t use any resources such as dictionaries or thesauruses (Someone will correct my plural version of Thesaurus!) or web searches. So far I have never managed to complete all three in this way. I call my daily routine the ‘Grand Slam’ Today could be a very special day. I have checked the answers to the cryptic and the Toughie and they are all correct. I may have to wait until tomorrow to check the Quickie as I can’t find the answers on line. If I have the Quickie all correct I will have finally achieved my ‘Grand Slam. I’ve only ever got this far once and then I misspelt one answer in the toughie. Nothing, just m heavy or clever here just my own little personal challenge. Marvellous!

    1. Good for you and well done. I’m not sure if I’ve ever completed any crossword without looking up something even if it’s just to check a spelling but if that’s the challenge you’ve set yourself then good luck to you.

  7. The last answer to yield for us was 27a as we had (and still have) difficulty justifying ‘to’ and ‘beside’ as synonyms but see that Mrs B has it listed. Really enjoyed the cleverness of this puzzle. A little surprised at the allocated difficulty level. Stand out favourite for us was 19a where we laughed out loud when we parsed it.
    Thanks Notabilis and Bufo.

  8. echoing Bufo “I must have been enjoying it not to notice the time passing by. This puzzle showed that it is possible to set a genuine Toughie without resorting to obscure answers or complex wordplay” 3d and 19a get my vote as runners up but 26a a favourite by a mile. 13a d’oh of the day. Thanks Notabilis and Bufo (enjoy the cruise)

  9. One of my favourite setters just reminded me why .Liked it all ,thanks Bufo great review and enjoy the cruise and Andy Gibbons fingers crossed for tomorrow for some reason in over 30 years I have never ever attempted a Quiickie but used your methodology for the cryptic for many years , for the toughies I normally need every assistance but not today which was quite refreshing . Enjoyed the cryptic too for similar reasons .

  10. Some really good clues but a tad to difficult for me- especially NE and SW corners. Definitely ***** for difficulty and **** for enjoyment.

  11. Monday lunchtime and Just finished 1236 – as always several days behind everyone else – but really enjoyed it. 21a was my final clue, still unsure where the “BEND” comes into it though. Only had to refer to BD for confirmation! Thanks to BD and to Notablis. Sh-Shoney.

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