Toughie 1253 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1253

Toughie No 1253 by proXimal

Three cheers for our queer old dean!

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

A competent but far-from-difficult puzzle from the setter formerly known as eXternal. I’m not sure why this was picked for the traditionally difficult Friday Toughie – in my opinion it would have sat quite nicely in the Tuesday slot.

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    Pot broken by Irish relative, expected replacement (4,8)
HEIR APPARENT: a pot or large amount (both words usually in the plural in this context) around (broken by) IR(ish) and followed by an immediate relative

8a    Backbiting eccentric has leader downgraded (5)
CATTY: start with an adjective meaning eccentric and “downgrade” the initial letter (leader) by replacing it with a letter that represents a lower grade

9a    Special constable with rifle joined opponents (9)
SCRUMMAGE: the abbreviation for Special Constable followed by a verb meaning to rifle or ransack to get an untidy mêlée involving two Rugby Union teams

11a    Spooner’s dog advice is so long (6-3)
TOODLE PIP: yet another Spoonerism does nothing to change my opinion of their use in crosswords – take a dog (6) and some advice (3) and swap their initial letters to get a farewell

12a    Stop for the seafaring son to enter a vessel (5)
AVAST: put S(on) inside the A from the clue and a large vessel or tank

13a    Holding sailor with gold, please explain (9)
ELABORATE: one of the usual sailors and the heraldic term for gold inside (holding) a verb meaning to please or raise the spirits

16a    Escape from combination of cells after cutting opening (5)
ISSUE: start with a combination of cells with a similar structure and particular function and drop (cutting) the initial T (opening letter)

18a    Ridges from pronounced graze (5)
BROWS: sounds like (pronounced) a verb meaning to graze

19a    Slippery icy conger kept at low temperatures (9)
CRYOGENIC: an anagram (slippery) of ICY CONGER

20a    Before noon shifting to the front, criticise potter (5)
AMBLE: start with a verb meaning to criticise or censure and then move the two letters that represent before noon” to the front to give a verb meaning to potter

22a    Quiet male following ancient ship reviewed chart (9)
HISTOGRAM: an interjection meaning “quiet!” or “silence!” followed by M(ale) which is itself preceded by the reversal (reviewed) of Jason’s ancient ship

25a    Demonstration after university function turned without external influence (9)
NATURALLY: a demonstration or protest meeting follows the reversal (turned) of U(niversity and the three-letter abbreviation for a trigonometric function

26a    Agree what an aircraft operator is charged with in hearing (5)
ALIGN: split as (1,4) this sounds like (in hearing) the kind of operation run by Sir Richard Branson or Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou

27a    Fruit shortage, one that’s vile, stopping British worker, perhaps (12)
BLACKCURRANT: a shortage and a vile person go inside (stopping) BR(itish) and are followed by a worker insect


1d    Stew on interminably contentious topic (3,6)
HOT POTATO: the kind of stew for which Corrie’s Betty Turpin was legendary followed by most of a word meaning on or above

There’s even a recipe for Betty’s dish! Just click on the picture.

2d    Lazily, with yen to get up, left peaceful situation (5)
IDYLL: start with a four-letter adverb meaning lazily, move the Y(en) up one position and then add L(eft)

3d    A present turned up for Ancient Greek (5)
AESOP: the A from the clue followed by the reversal (turned up in a down clue) of a verb meaning to present a problem

4d    European supporting one pub getting in beverage to make margin (9)
PERIPHERY: E(uropean) preceded by I (one) and the two-letter abbreviation used on Ordnance Survey maps for a pub all inside a beverage made from fermented pear juice

5d    Gunners master communicating electronically on the warpath (9)
RAMPAGING: the two-letter abbreviation for the Gunners’ regiment followed by M(aster) and a verb meaning communicating electronically, less common since the proliferation of the ubiquitous mobile phone

6d    Native African area between coastal cities (5)
NYALA: to get this large South African antelope sandwich A(rea) between the two-letter abbreviations for two US coastal cities

7d    Disorganised person to flee land, crossing centre of bombing (12)
SCATTERBRAIN: a verb meaning to flee and some land, the latter around (crossing) the middle (centre) letter of [bom]B[ing]

10d    Protection from opponents, church people hid in river (12)
ENTRENCHMENT: two of the usual bridge opponents followed by CH(urch) and some people, the latter two inside (hid in) the third longest river in the UK

14d    Wound doctor oddly ignored, best in charge of medical field (9)
OBSTETRIC: an anagram (wound) of the even letters (oddly ignored) of [d]O[c]T[o]T and BEST followed by the abbreviation for In Charge

15d    Intoxicating company, hot over topless French nurses (9)
ALCOHOLIC: CO(mpany), H(ot) and O(ver) inside (nurses) another word for French without its initial letter (topless)

17d    Doctor syringes patient finally to deliver drug (9)
SYNERGIST: an anagram (doctor) of SYRINGES followed by the final letter of [patien]T gives a drug which increases the effect of another

21d    Radical tax cut initially feeding upturn of pound (5)
BUTYL: to get this radical with formula C4H9 put a tax without (cut) its initial letter inside the reversal (upturn in a down clue) of the abbreviation for a pound avoirdupois

23d    One having a fling is not so open (5)
SHYER: two definitions – someone flinging balls at a coconut and an adjective meaning not so open

24d    After short time going north, I see city overseas (5)
OMAHA: reverse (going North in a down clue) a two-letter word for a short period of time and follow it with an interjection meaning “I see!”

Why are Spoonerisms so popular with setters? It’s a long time since I saw one that made me smile rather than groan.

8 comments on “Toughie 1253

  1. I agree with both BD’s views on Spoonerisms and the fact that this was disappointingly far too easy for the Friday (or indeed any other day’s) Toughie slot.

  2. I agree this wasn’t difficult but I did enjoy it, favourites were 1d and 24d thanks to Proximal and to Big Dave for the comments.

  3. Certainly not as tough as Friday would normally merit but enjoyable nonetheless. The Spoonerism was one of the better ones: it works properly and it made me smile.

    There were some other nicely-done clues including 9a, 15d and 17d but the setter needs to take care he doesn’t outdo Excalibur at “Yoda-speak” [13a, 20a].

    Thanks to ProXimal and to BD.

  4. Never heard of 21d and, having 25a as “neutrally” was not going to get it. Not that happy about 26a meaning “agree” either.
    It might have been easy for others but not for me. Usually I loathe Spoonerisms so was pleasantly surprised to make sense of, and solve, 11a – very Bertie Wooster!.

  5. Although we did not find this diabolical, it certainly took us much longer than the back-pager to solve. 1a and 9a both took their share of head scratching, despite 9a coming from our national game. Enjoyed the puzzle.
    Thanks ProXimal and BD.

  6. Hmmm. Not many comments on this. Personally, I just could not get into it. It took ages, and I was left with 10 unsolved. I am sure it was very fair, but just not my cuppa. Nevertheless, thanks to the setter and to BD for the review.

    12A seems to be the DT crossword word of the month!

  7. Saturday teatime and just finished. I’d trouble with the five letter clues such as 6d, 21d, &24d in this puzzle and wouldn’t agree that it was all that easy, as some feel. Also, I must agree with JB regarding 26a. Thank you to our tormentors. No more puzzles ’til Tuesday so I may get something done now. Sh-Shoney.

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