Toughie 1250 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1250

Toughie No 1250 by Excalibur

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BD Rating - Difficulty *** - Enjoyment ***

Even for those of us who are not too fussed about anagram quotas, thirteen is surely on the high side. Still, they make for some nice surface readings in this Excalibur puzzle. Slightly trickier than recent Tuesday offerings, I thought. I got dreadfully stuck on 4d, having pencilled in DOS as the last three letters. Did anyone do the same?

In case you haven't seen it, the video at 13a is not to be missed.

Definitions are underlined. 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.


5a Sailor on the loose and a foreign port (6)
ABADAN An acronym for a sailor plus an anagram of (on the loose) AND A.

8a Mad, ensured children could no longer swing on gate? (8)
UNHINGED A word for mad is also the past tense of a verb meaning to remove the mechanism that allows a door or gate to swing open and closed.

9a Andersen orders carriages (7)
HANSOMS The first name of the fairy tale writer plus the abbreviation for an award for distinguished service, pluralised.


10a Has in the past split with English prime minister (5)
HEATH The archaic form of 'has' goes round (split with) English.

11a Fitting one up to sail round harbour (9)
OPPORTUNE An anagram of (to sail) ONE UP goes round a word for a harbour.

13a Convinced, rips out inside with unforeseen result (8)
SURPRISE An anagram of (out) RIPS goes inside a word for certain or convinced.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

14a Understand mine is translated into French (6)
DIGEST To mine or extract (something out of the ground) plus the French for is.

17a Is multiplied by two or more (3)
ARE A cryptic definition of the plural form of is.

19a Mother will get wet if going to '12' (3)
DAM If the answer is followed by the solution to 12d, the result is a verb meaning to wet.

20a Stick while swallowing in tooth (6)
CANINE A walking stick goes round (while swallowing) IN from the clue.

23a Gasp as he gets beaten in game (8)
PHEASANT A word meaning to gasp for breath into which is inserted an anagram of (gets beaten in) AS HE.

26a Think you'll find anagrammatic clue in 'flood' (9)
SPECULATE An anagram of (anagrammatic) CLUE goes inside a word for a flood.

28a It tells when figure has been lodged in bank (5)
TIMER A symbol for a large number or figure goes inside (has been lodged in) a word for a bank or row.


29a She'd vanished: dished posse to run free or get shot (7)
DISPOSE An anagram of (to run free) DISHED POSSE after removing (vanished) SHE'D.

30a Sadly, retired before new rise in earnings (8)
SALARIES A reversal of (retired) a word for sadly plus an anagram of (new) RISE.

31a Saw that man left in the sack (6)
BEHELD The masculine pronoun (that man) plus Left go inside the place where one sleeps etc. (the sack).


1d Female boarding vehicle with plants (6)
BUSHES The feminine pronoun (female) goes inside (boarding) a vehicle used as public transport

2d Article, tear-jerking, depicts war area (7)
THEATRE The definite article plus an anagram of (jerking) TEAR.

3d Does he have to be up to get programme under way? (6,3)
ANCHOR MAN A cryptic definition of a term for a male TV presenter that derives from something that has to be pulled up before a journey can begin.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

4d Be a child brought up to parties and celebrations (6)
BEANOS BE A from the clue plus a reversal of (brought up) a child.

5d Tossed salad, no canapes stuffed with exotic wildlife (8)
ANACONDA A reversal of (tossed) SALADNOCANAPES contains (stuffed with) the solution.

6d 'Item of value' is how collection may be described in catalogue (5)
ASSET Split (2,3), the solution is how one might describe items which belong together.

7d Doctor and his maltreated cases leading to reprimand (8)
ADMONISH An anagram of (maltreated) AND HIS goes round (cases) the abbreviation for an army medic.

12d Start rubbing out 'ball' in 'ballpoint' (3)
PEN A word for to start or begin after deleting (rubbing out) the letter that resembles a ball.

15d Being even-handed with naughty child -- a terrible trial (9)
IMPARTIAL A naughty child or little devil plus A from the clue and an anagram of (terrible) TRIAL.

16d Wrapping paper is concealing hot gem (8)
SAPPHIRE An anagram of (wrapping) PAPER IS goes round Hot.


18d Crooked dealer that's fencing is apprehended (8)
REALISED An anagram of (crooked) DEALER goes round (that's fencing) IS from the clue.

21d Suitable for small flat (3)
APT A word for suitable is also the abbreviation for an apartment, commonly used in the US.

22d Loving letters don't manage to capture new man (3,4)
FAN MAIL A verb meaning the opposite of manage or succeed goes round (to capture) an anagram of (new) MAN.

24d What possessive frau called him? (6)
HERMAN Split (3,3), how a woman might refer to the person she is married to, which come together to make a male name of German origin. (The Germans actually spell it differently, I believe.)

25d Reckoned ought to exit with speed -- getting the bird! (6)
THRUSH A word for reckoned or considered after deleting (to exit) OUGHT from the clue, plus a word for speed.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

27d Said: 'Police! Brake!' (5)
COPSE A brake or thicket sounds like (said) a word for police.


7d and 22d were my favourite clues. I did have a few quibbles that I won't bore you with!

Over to you - please rate and comment on this puzzle below.

20 comments on “Toughie 1250

  1. Way too many anagrams today but a reasonably tricky toughie, thanks to Excalibur and to Toro for a highly amusing review.

  2. Quite glad to come across such an enjoyable crossword. I am very partial to anagrams. Love to put all these letters in a wheel. My favorites are 24d and the doublé 19a and 12d. Don’t know the port in 5a. Will have to look it up. Thanks to Toro for the hints and to Excalibur who is one of my preferred setter.

  3. Rufus on Monday and Excalibur Tuesday. Perfection. A blue-skies-and-sunshine crossword. Fun. I don’t mind anagrams that form only part of a word but I find entire word ones really boring. Clues I loved today were 3d 12d and 24d. Thanks Excalibur and Toro

  4. Did much better here than with today’s back page. How do you count an anagram that contributes only to part of the answer, since the clue also has other elements? For an exact anagram (which in general I find neater), it is clear to me that the clue can be labeled “anagram”, not sure what you call the mixed clues..? I didn’t really notice that today’s puzzle was overly anagrammy, but yes, I guess there was a lot of rearranging letters, some with quite cleverly constructed indicators i thought – i liked 5a, for instance. And 7d.

    i ranked this 4*

    many thanks Excalibur and Toro, especially for the captivating video for 13a!

    1. Those are called partial anagrams. Some editors have a policy on the maximum number of full and/or partial anagrams allowed – I’ve heard it said that the Telegraph typically permits up to seven of either sort.

      There were no full anagrams in this puzzle, and like you I thought some of the indicators were cleverly constructed. I do sometimes think there is a bit of snobbery involved in looking down at anagrams. They give a setter much more scope to arrive at a good surface, and it can’t be an accident that many of the most celebrated clues in crossword history involve them.

      Glad you enjoyed the video – isn’t it wonderful?

      1. Toro, I really don’t think I’m being snobbish when I say I’m not overly keen on anagrams, full or partial, it is merely that I am rubbish at doing them, indeed, my wife who really dislikes crosswords usually is looking over my shoulder and laughing at my pitiful efforts, she only has to glance at one to solve it.

        1. That sounds to me like an objection of someone who’s more rubbish than snobbish about them – not that I really believe you’re as rubbish as you claim, and not that I want to exacerbate any marital strife!

  5. I enjoyed this. I caught sight of Toro’s introduction by mistake before I’d finished the crossword so realised that I had several more anagrams to go hunting for – I’m not sure if I’d have been able to finish it otherwise.
    I liked 7, 15 and 24d. My favourite, and last answer, was 27d.
    With thanks to Excalibur and to Toro.

    1. I think I’m probably being dim here but I still don’t quite get 29a. I can’t see how ‘dispose’ can mean ‘get shot’. I’ve looked at this one all ends up and back to front – maybe it means ‘dispose of’ – oh dear!!

        1. Thank you – yes, it is but that’s what I’m battling with – to get shot of is to dispose of but I’m not sure that just plain old dispose is just plain old get shot!
          I have a really horrible feeling that I’m just being thick!

          1. Kath – It’s the fact that “get shot” can be interchanged with “dispose” in front of OF that makes it a legit definition. They are swappable. Alternatives like “give the boot” or “discard” would not work, because they require either a different preposition or none at all.

            1. i just thought that if you get someone shot, you dispose of them, but that probably isn’t the right grammar (would need disposed?) and i maybe I was still in cowboy land being mislead by the surface

  6. We thought this puzzle a pleasant solve that we finished just in time to avoid the need to be put in a pocket and referred to in any breaks in the Tuesday afternoon Bridge session. In other words, perfect level of difficulty for Tuesday. We had not noticed anagrams as being over-done, probably as they tended to be partial ones. Good fun.
    Thanks Excalibur and Toro.

  7. Surely partial anagrams and small anagrams are what Excalibur does better than any other setter. To me they are her trademark – along with the backward/Yoda presentation typified by 23a.
    Thanks to her and to Toro.

  8. I very much enjoyed this, especially as I finished it eventually – it was at my topmost level of difficulty (and I don’t mind how many anagrams it had!).
    Thanks to Excalibur and Toro.
    PS – I also liked the 13a video (not seen before).

  9. Pretty tough (especially for a Tuesday) but l got there unaided in the end. I suppose 3*/3* is about right. Some nice clues, of which 27d was my favourite. Thanks to xclbr, and toro for the review.

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