Toughie 1254 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1254

Toughie No 1254 by Kcit

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

My train is pulling into Kings Cross as I type, so no time for illustrations today -- which is an injustice to a very nice Tuesday-level puzzle from Kcit. [POSTSCRIPT: Profuse apologies everyone, but I forgot to press the "publish" button earlier in the day to schedule this post for 2pm as normal, and have just emerged from work meetings to find that it was still sitting in the drafts folder.]

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.


1a Not well supported initially -- sensitive, with leader bailing (6)
SICKLY The first letter (initially) of Supported plus a word for sensitive to a certain type of physical stimulation, minus its initial letter (with leader bailing).

4a I see the waves surrounding constant target of breakers? (3,5)
ICE SHEET An anagram of (waves) I SEE THE goes round (surrounding) a physical constant, namely the speed of light.

9a Struggle with answer, having downed the French brandy (6)
GRAPPA To struggle or wrestle plus the abbreviation for Answer, then delete a French definite article (having downed the French).

10a Reduced price, in case reduced number of copies produced (5,3)
PRINT RUN An abbreviation of (reduced) PRice, IN from the clue, and a word for a case or container of baggage minus its last letter (reduced).

11a Flower a dumb sheep knocked over (9)
AMARYLLIS A from the clue, followed by a reversal of (knocked over) a word for dumb or stupid and a male sheep.

13a Car parts available by calling? (5)
ROLLS A homophone of (by calling) the parts in a play available to actors.

14a Actual epic flicks, shown around theatre such as this? (7,6)
PICTURE PALACE An anagram of (flicks) ACTUAL EPIC goes round (shown around) the abbreviation for repertory theatre, to give a name for a cinema.

17a Net and packs containing article ready for marine action (5,3,5)
CLEAR THE DECKS A word for net of costs or deductions and a word for decks of cards go either side of (containing) the definite article.

21a Scottish contributions to Lake Poet? (5)
BURNS In the plural, a Scots or Northern English word for a small stream (which therefore might empty into a lake) is also the surname of Scotland's most celebrated poet.

23a Examples of hesitation in part of speech gaining nothing for leader (6,3)
NUMERO UNO Two different exclamations expressing hesitation go inside a grammatical part of speech, followed by the symbol for nothing.

24a Academics, old, cross in two ways? (8)
OXBRIDGE The abbreviation for Old followed by two interpretations of cross – the first a visual mark and the second a verb meaning to span or go over.

25a Group of people holding line in centre of defence (6)
CASTLE … in the sense of a key defensive stronghold. A social group or class, especially in Hindu society, goes round (holding) the abbreviation for Line.

26a Mystery writers kept in employment after start of series (8)
SUSPENSE  The first letter (start) of Series followed by writing implements inside (kept in) a word for employment or utilisation.

27a Successful period seeing colour returning in grass (6)
HEYDAY A reversal of (returning) an artificial pigment inside a word for grass in its cut and dried form.


1d Major upset soldiers on North American line (6)
SIGNAL A reversal of a term for privates in the US army plus the acronym for North American and the abbreviation for Line.

2d Lawyers turned up, blocking better response from defendant, dismissing a sour item (4-5)
CRAB APPLE A word for the legal profession, reversed (turned up) and placed inside (blocking) a verb meaning to better or outdo, then a defendant’s declaration in response to a criminal charge, minus A.

3d Keep the noise down when following the track? (3-4)
LIP-SYNC A cryptic definition of what stage performers do when miming to pre-recorded vocals.

5d Ditch sermon that's badly delivered? These people might (11)
CHRISTENDOM An anagram of (badly delivered) DITCH SERMON.

6d Celebrated reversal of attitude: wine? (7)
SANGRIA The past tense of a verb meaning to praise or celebrate, followed by a reversal of a word for attitude or manner.

7d Register run in single that's picked up (5)
ENROL The abbreviation for Run(s) in cricket goes inside a reversal of (picked up) a word for single or solitary.

8d Metal barrel and stone found in dirt? (8)
TUNGSTEN A type of barrel or vat, followed by the abbreviation for stone as a measurement of weight going inside (found in) a word for info or lowdown, or potentially dirt.

12d Source of amusement if you don't go out? It's an inspiration (8-3)
LAUGHING GAS A cryptic definition of a certain anaesthetic taken in by inhalation.

15d Attacked a scheme initially preserved after intervention by University (9)
ASSAULTED A from the clue, the first letter of (initially) Scheme, and a word for preserved with the insertion of (after intervention by) the abbreviation for University.

16d Rough consequence of wound to inflame cut (8)
SCABROUS What forms when a wound is healing, plus a word for inflame or excite minus its last letter (cut).

18d Not quite ready to resume after taking in page one? Pause (7)
RESPITE … in the sense of temporary relief. A word meaning refreshed or ready to resume, minus its last letter (not quite), goes round (after taking in) the abbreviation for Page and the Roman numeral one.

19d Worry about badger culling that's widespread? (7)
CARNAGE A word for worry or concern goes round (about) a verb meaning to badger or pester.

20d Humour not forthcoming after receiving medicine (6)
COMEDY A an adjective meaning reserved or not forthcoming goes round (after receiving) a short form of the word medicine.

22d Puzzle not worthy of the Queen, tossed over (5)
REBUS A prefix meaning beneath or not worthy of, plus the Queen’s initials, all put in reverse (tossed over).

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

18 comments on “Toughie 1254

    1. Thanks Physicist – no idea how I came up with what I did, but it was a very rushed review today! Corrected now.

  1. I really enjoyed this. Although I worked it out correctly, I did have to resort to the BRB to find out why the 1D answer meant signal . I think I would be more likely to use signature, but maybe that’s the Americanized bit of my brain at work. Many clues that have a tick beside them today, including 8D, 16D and 27A, but my favorite, which generated a big smile, was 3D. Many thanks to Kcit, and to Toro for the review.

    1. I think it’s a very British usage. It’s virtually confined to the phrase “signal failure”, which has always struck me as odd because it makes one think of a problem with railway signalling.

  2. I enjoyed this crossword – now I’m waiting for someone to say that it wasn’t a real Toughie because I could do it.
    There’s always one answer that I can’t do – today’s was 3d. I’ve never heard of it and all the letters that I had in looked so unlikely that I thought I must have got something wrong.
    Apart from that one I also needed the hints to explain a few.
    I liked 11a and 19d (very topical). My favourite was 12d.
    With thanks to Kcit and Toro.
    At the risk of being dim what is the US abbreviation for an emergency operating theatre? I thought it was ER in which case I have a spare letter – a P. Oh dear!

    1. ER is Emergency Room…what you would call A&E, if I remember correctly. Are you referring, perhaps to Toro’s original hint (which I didn’t see but has now been corrected)?

      1. Yes, I was and I should have been able to work it out for myself. Brain is shot – must stop doing two crosswords a day!

      2. For future reference, in case it ever comes up in a cryptic, we don’t use the words operating theatre here. Surgery is done in the OR (operating room).

    1. Not ‘dimwit reviewer’ at all! To do a crossword in a hurry is tricky – I think that to do the hints as well must be verging on the impossible and is very noble.

  3. Much later doing this one than usual but it all went into place reasonably smoothly. Bit of a hold up in SE corner as we had put in the English version of 23a initially until the word-play did not quite work. Good fun.
    Thanks Kcit and Toro.

  4. Thanks to Kcit and Toro. I found this completely impenetrable. I couldn’t get the definition for most of the clues, and if I did, couldn’t work out the wordplay. Only managed 4 answers before looking at the hints.

  5. I just couldn’t get to grips with this one, and even when l knew l had the right answer l was conscious that l had arrived at it by wild inspiration rather than cool application of logic. I’ll put it down to a wavelength mismatch – something I’ve experienced with Kcit before. Not your fault, Kcit; it’s just me being rather dense. Thanks for the challenge, anyway, and to Toro for explaining how l should have gone about it!

  6. Thanks kcit/phi and blogger, not a good day, really struggling with this one, although in hindsight wondering why.
    Spent ages looking at Number One for 23.

  7. Thursday morning and had to give up on the final 4. Didn’t help getting “NUMBER UNO instead of NUMERO UNO”. Also, didn’t like “signal failure”. My BRB didn’t help here. All in all, a horrible crossword, ****/Nil – for me. Sh-Shoney.

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