Toughie 1237 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1237

Toughie No 1237 by Elkamere

Ready for Kick-off

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

There was a distinct football flavour to today’s Toughie. Apart from initially putting “husband” in at 6 down, there is no obvious reason why it took me as long as it did.

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    Plays safe, in both senses, playing side (6,4,4)
HEDGES ONE’S BETS – inside an anagram (playing) of BOTH SENSES put a side or border

10a    Heads for opening ceremony — now what’s happening? (9)
OCCURRENT – the initial letters (heads) of two words in the clue followed by a word meaning now or up-to-date

11a    Answer? There’s no answer, and nothing on page (5)
RECTO – start with a word meaning to answer or respond, drop the A(nswer) and add O (nothing) to get the right-hand page of an open book

12a    Incisive information used in bet (7)
PUNGENT – some information or data inside a verb meaning to bet

13a    Is upset about fine backing for drinking songs (6)
SKOLIA – a verb meaning is upset or ails is reversed (about) around the reversal (backing) of a two-letter word meaning fine to get some obscure drinking songs of ancient Greece

15a    Those first to score inclined to exploit this position (4)
SITE – the initial letters (first) of four words in the clue

17a    Clear goal apart from, on review, being bitten by footballer (10)
PENETRABLE – a three-letter word that can mean a goal followed by the reversal (on review) of a word meaning “apart from” or “with the exception of” all inside the name of a world-famous footballer

18a    Is attacker L Suarez bit to be replaced? (10)
BRUTALIZES – a very clever anagram (to be replaced) of L SUAREZ BIT

20a    Quiet way to drop dead — that shows craft (4)
PROA – the musical notation for quiet followed by a way or street without (to drop) the D(ed)

22a    Be a defender producing poor header (6)
ADHERE – an anagram (poor) of HEADER

23a    Feign injury perhaps, with agreement to hold position (4-3)
PLAY-ACT – an agreement or treaty around a verb meaning to position or arrange

26a    Losing Hazard contributes to pain of fans (2-3)
IN-OFF – nothing to do with Eden Hazard! – hidden (contributes to) inside the clue

27a    Go for some shots, maybe, and almost score (3,3,3)
HIT THE BAR – two definitions – to go to a pub for some shots of alcohol and almost score in a game of football

28a    Foul, e.g., no help if team desires hat-trick from him? (5,2,3,4)
GENIE OF THE LAMP – an anagram (foul) of E.G. NO HELP IF TEAM gives a spirit who offers three (hat-trick) wishes when summoned, according to Arabian folklore


2d    Prisoner who was 90 kept in a very long time (2-3)
EX-CON – the Roman numerals for 90 inside a very long time

3d    Supporter‘s Liverpool kit returned (6)
GIRDER – split as (3,3) and reversed (returned) this could be some kit belonging to Liverpool football team

4d    Son’s emotional film about football match one loved (7-3)
SWEETIE PIE – S(on) followed by an emotional film around a three-letter word for a football match

5d    Puts head on floor, standing upside-down (4)
NUTS – The reversal (standing upside-down) of a verb meaning to floor or knock down

6d    Man of the match? (7)
STRIKER – someone who ignites a match!

7d    A club fixer’s heading off to develop one of our team (9)
EXCALIBUR – an anagram (to develop) of A CLUB with [F]IXER without its initial letter (heading off) gives someone in the Toughie setting team

8d    One charged in report about club post-season? (7,7)
STORAGE BATTERY – a report or narration around a six-letter word for a club preceded by (post) a verb meaning to season or mature

9d    Kick the ball — hack — in due direction (7,7)
COMPASS BEARING – a verb meaning to kick the ball to another player in your team followed by a verb meaning to hack or tolerate all inside a word meaning due to arrive

14d    Get to catch mostly very good football film (5,5)
FEVER PITCH – a verb meaning to get or retrieve around (to catch) most of VER[y] and an adjective meaning good or religious results in a film based around the second best football team in North London

16d    Football score that hurts Germany, community gathers (9)
TOUCHDOWN – this is a score in an inferior type of football played in the USA – a word that expresses hurt or injury and the IVR code for Germany inside (gathers) a community or municipality

19d    Slightly upset, reserves given strip (1,6)
A TRIFLE – the reserve soldiers are reversed (up in a down clue) and followed by a verb meaning to strip or plunder

21d    Artist fighting depression when energy’s gone (6)
WARHOL – some fighting followed by a depression or crater without (gone) the final E(nergy)

24d    Extremely awful strike, nearly a record (5)
ALBUM – the outer letters () of A[wfu]L followed by most of a verb meaning to strike or collide with

25d    Earache for sandwiches one prepares for restaurant (4)
CHEF – hidden (sandwiches) inside the clue

The football season is upon us once again – with the World Cup this year it hardly seems to have gone away.

22 comments on “Toughie 1237

  1. My first toughie for a few days, and apart from a couple of clues that required some thought, I did not find this one too tricky by Friday standards.
    Many thanks to Elkamere for the enjoyable puzzle, and to BD for the review.

  2. Enjoyed this one, favourites were 4d 6d and 18a thanks to Elkamere and to Big Dave for the comments.

  3. Absolutely impossible! Cricket I can take but football….!

    My first clue in, of which I was very proud, was 6d “man of the match”. – Lucifer .

    As that was wrong it was downhill all the way and I gave up.

    What a waste of time. So sad,

    P.S. Shouldn’t 1a be “hedges”?

  4. An excellent Toughie. I was a little concerned at first about the football references, but they all turned out to be gettable. I got 7d from the checking letters and the anagram, but missed the reference to Toughie setters, so thanks to BD and to Elkamere.

  5. Thanks to BD for covering.

    A very enjoyable puzzle and I don’t understand the pompous and sniffy attitude as to why a football puzzle is not ok and a cricket one is. It’s a themed puzzle, so what?

    Lots to admire and in view that the season starts tomorrow a timely puzzle. Not a great deal of footy knowledge needed and some really fine clues.

    1. Well said Tilsit. A superb puzzle with a timely [and comprehensive] theme that didn’t require any specialist knowledge. Tough enough for a Friday but, in the end, eminently soluble. Bravo!
      Favourite by miles is 18a [will he ever live it down?].

      Thanks to Elkamere and to BD.

    2. Oh no – how can the football season be starting again tomorrow? I hadn’t even noticed that it had ever stopped!

  6. I enjoyed this football themed puzzle very much although I didn’t find it all that tough, I quite liked the reference to the “other football” in 16d, many thanks to Elkamere and BD, great fun!

  7. Is it me Tilsit is calling “pompous and sniffy”? Really I’m not – just an old lady who just about remembers Denis Compton but who can still thrill to the bowling of Stuart Broad!

    Incidentally, Big Dave still hasn’t corrected the answer to 1a. I notice only 6 of us have posted comments. A shame as this was a challenging puzzle.

    1. 1 across has now been corrected – thanks.

      As of 8:00 pm, this page has been viewed over 400 times while only 31 have completed it on Telegraph Puzzles.

  8. When we spotted the theme we did a bit of a groan as our knowledge of the game and its players is somewhat limited. As it turned out, we did have enough knowledge with the only detail we needed to check being the colour in 3d. It certainly did take us a long time but we eventually achieved a completion with the NE corner the last to yield. 13a was a new word for us and we had to get rid of the pencilled in ‘husband’ for 6d before we could make progress. Interesting to note that the answer for 28a (clued totally differently) appeared in last Sunday’s Virgilius. Nice to see a tribute to a fellow setter in 7d.
    A big challenge, and a good supply of smiles and chuckles.
    Thanks Elkamere and BD

  9. As a follower of football in the UK, the theme was not intimidating to me. In the end one needed more of a knowledge of billiards and US football. It was certainly a toughie – one where it often took longer finding an explanation for a plausible answer.

    The last crossword I attempted and encountered a complete and utter failure was a Toughie with theme of “movies” (some months ago now) – the solver needed to know a lot (about a dozen if I remember correctly) of modern movies and I had to give up with an almost empty grid. Not my forte!

    Such themes can be good fun – today’s was an example – where someone with no interest in football can just about solve it but miss some of the sense of humour. Others – like the “movies” one – that required specific know-how is wasting the time of people who are not film buffs. The sad thing is that a solver faced with a theme alien to his interests has no idea if it is worth bothering to proceed

  10. Superlative puzzle, with a very pertinent theme. I particularly liked 3 down, 7 down and 16 down. Many thanks, Elkamere !

  11. I know my limits, and l found them quite early on. Elkamere has thrashed me before, and – on this showing – will undoubtedly go on doing so. I managed about a quarter unaided, and then used BD’s hints to fill the grid. The only one l just don’t understand is 17a – just how did the clue indicate the solution?

    1. 17a – The goal is the ‘net’, the apart from is ‘bar’ (which is reversed, indicated by on review), which both go inside (being bitten by) the footballer (Pele). The definition, and solution meaning ‘clear’.

      1. Ah, thanks for that. I’m not sure l quite equate “clear” with “penetrable”, but l see some sort of similarity.

  12. Thank you BD for 19d, could I see how to parse it, could I heck. Absolutely no problem with the theme. Clues so well written no knowledge needed (with exception of the colour which I understand 2 Kiwis would find problematic). Thanks to BD and Elkamere. Now off to 27a

  13. After thinking I’d ‘scored’ with 6 down and getting it so wrong, I found this Toughie well beyond my ability and I love football. I have to confess to solving only three clues without help and even then many were far too contrived and complicated for me – ah well, at least I know when I’m beaten. :-(

  14. Unless someone steers me towards a Friday Toughie I avoid them – I know when I’m beaten. Add to that the general theme which was obvious pretty quickly and you couldn’t have seen my heels for dust.
    However I couldn’t resist a quick peep – I did get a few, including 18a which I thought was brilliant.
    With thanks to Elkamere and BD.
    That’ll teach me . . .

  15. Solved first thing this morning but have only just had chance to look at the blog and comment.

    The right amount of football theme so that anyone with hardly any knowledge of the game could solve it – 4*/4* for me. Thanks to Elkamere and BD.

  16. Late to this too.

    Very nice puzzle. Almost more Anax than Elkamere, I thought, but great fun. As CS said, the football theme wasn’t overdone, although I suspect that 27a might have caused a few issues with those who eschew the beautiful game.

    Thanks to Elkamere, and, of course, to BD.

  17. Needed extra time and a van gaal finale to solve it .agree with both of BD ‘s ratings and 18a as favourite so thanks to both .Very enjoyable .

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