Toughie 1261 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1261

Toughie No 1261 by Firefly

In a bit of a State?

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Continuing a run of easier-than-usual Friday puzzles is this pleasant puzzle from Firefly. Are we being set up for a big fall next week? The only answer that gave me any trouble in parsing was 11 across, so I’ll make it my favourite.

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    Smash hits from George and Peter? (11)
BESTSELLERS: a few checking letters were needed to be able to determine the correct George, footballer, and Peter, actor

9a    Anagrammatise ‘bottom line’ (9)
REARRANGE: Split as (4,5) this is bottom or backside and a line or variety

10a    Support at home for Einstein? (5)
BRAIN: the usual female support garment followed by a two-letter word meaning at home

11a    Farewell performance Nijinsky gave for beginners (2,4)
SO LONG: a performance by one person followed by the initial letters (beginners) of N[ijinsky] G[ave]

12a    Standard opener for lubricant to be black (8)
BASELINE: start with a brand name for a lubricant consisting of petroleum jelly and change the initial letter (opener) to B(lack)

13a    Reaction from every quarter in Arabia (6)
ANSWER: each of the four quarters of the compass inside AR(abia)

15a    A set of members, reportedly, but only half here (8)
FORELEGS: this sounds like (reportedly) a set of members or limbs of an animal such as a horse, but the answer defines only half of them

18a    Planned recital introduces new instrument (8)
CLARINET: an anagram (planned) of RECITAL around (introduces) N(ew)

19a    Dog given prize, including marrow from pub (6)
PURSUE: this verb meaning to dog or follow is derived by putting a prize for, say, a boxing match around the middle letter (marrow / nucleus) of p[U]b

21a    Fiendish Socratic puzzle (8)
ACROSTIC: an anagram (fiendish) of SOCRATIC gives a puzzle which is similar to the one you are currently doing

Elizabeth it is in vain you say
Love not”—thou sayest it in so sweet a way:
In vain those words from thee or L.E.L.
Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:
Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,
Breath it less gently forth—and veil thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried
To cure his love—was cured of all beside—
His follie—pride—and passion—for he died.

Edgar Allan Poe

23a    Herald’s right to reflect crime writer (6)
DEXTER: in heraldry, right is indicated by using the Latin word – it’s also the surname of a well-known crime writer and cruciverbalist

26a    To some degree Tito had ill-feeling when going round in state (5)
IDAHO: hidden (to some degree) and reversed (when going round) inside the clue

27a    Teams, I bet, will be at odds in ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue‘ (2,5,2)
IT BEATS ME: an anagram (at odds) of TEAMS I BET

28a    Following do, marquee erectors will gain host’s final satisfaction (11)
CONTENTMENT: start with a verb meaning to do or con then add two words that could describe “marquee erectors” (4,3) and end with the final letter of [hos]T


1d    Unsettled abstainer leaving north-east to become brewer (7)
BARISTA: an anagram (unsettled) of ABSTAI[NE]R after dropping (leaving) the abbreviation for North-East gives someone who brews coffee not beer – does A leaving B indicate dropping B from A to anyone other than Yoda?

2d    Conk out in hedge (5)
STALL: two definitions – conk out as in a car when the engine stops unintentionally and hedge as in evade

3d    Green site’s wasted, that’s plain (9)
SERENGETI: an anagram (wasted) of GREEN SITE

4d    Predator reported in St Andrews, say? (4)
LYNX: this predator sounds like some, but not all, golf courses – St Andrews being an example of one that is


5d    Hoist short Parisian student up schedule (8)
ELEVATOR: most of a French (Parisian) word for a student {élève} followed by the reversal (up in a down clue) of a schedule – the French student is not in Chambers but it is in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

6d    Oddly scabbarded weapon (5)
SABRE: the odd letters of the second word in the clue

7d    Rob and Ken wrestling over last of Christmas crackers (7)
BONKERS: an anagram (wrestling) of ROB and KEN followed by (over in a down clue) the final letter (last) of [Christma]S

ARVE Error: need id and provider

8d    Caution! 9 is 13! (8)
WARINESS: an anagram, indicated by 9 across, of IS with 13 across

14d    Steps from passage beneath street (8)
STAIRWAY: a passage for ventilation in a mine preceded by (beneath in a down clue) the abbreviation for ST(reet)

16d    Former underground, without hint of trouble, ran on time — and overflowing (9)
EXUBERANT: a charade of a word meaning former, as in a former partner, a colloquial word for the London Underground from which the initial letter (hint) of T[rouble] has been dropped (without), RAN and T(ime)

17d    The setter’s clear on Botham perhaps — the top! (8)
MERIDIAN: the first person objective pronoun (the setter) followed by a verb meaning to clear or remove and the first name of cricketer Botham gives the point at which the sun attains its highest altitude (top)

18d    Turnout in disturbance over tea? Quite the reverse (7)
CHARIOT: turnout is an antiquated word for a carriage and its horses – what is needed is not a disturbance followed by (over in a down clue) a colloquial word for tea, but the other way around (quite the reverse)

20d    Realise estate is determined (7)
EARNEST: a verb meaning to realise or receive followed by EST(ate)

22d    I’m not complaining on board Airbus to Iceland (5)
STOIC: hidden (on board) inside the clue

24d    Sad at times, one’s lacking savour (5)
TASTE: an anagram (sad) of AT T[IM]ES without (lacking) an abbreviated form of “one is” in the first person (1’1) – although the construct of I, as a Roman numeral, for one is a familiar part of crossword wordplay, is it fair to switch from third to first person in this way? Surely it would have been better as “the setter’s lacking” if “setter” hadn’t been already used (in 17 down)

25d    Pipe smoker’s tobacco about over — look out for ‘Number 3’ (4)
OBOE: to get this musical wind instrument take the third letters of four words in the clue

Tilsit is currently on holiday in Canada.

16 comments on “Toughie 1261

  1. Most strange – all but five clues solved in no time at all (even by back page standards) and then it took me three times as long to get the last five, not helped by the fact that I had the wrong ‘members’ in 15a. I do understand that I was not alone in having solved most of it and then having to struggle for the last few.

    Thanks to Firefly – BTW is there a hidden message to us in some of the solutions? – and to BD too.

  2. Having finished the back pager fairly quickly today, I decided to have a go at the Toughie and found this very much to my liking. I agree with BD’s rating of 3*/3*.

    My favourite was 8d, and I suspect Kath’s will be 23a.

    BD, you have omitted the word “abstainer” from the clue for 1d. Thanks very much for your review which I needed to confirm my interpretation of the wordplay for 24d which I had thought must be wrong, and also for the clarification for 25d for which I had the answer but couldn’t see the parsing all.

    Many thanks to Firefly for a very enjoyable challenge.

  3. Not overly difficult for a Friday, favourites were 15a and 23a thanks to Firefly and to Big Dave for the comments.

  4. Yes, I was left with 12a and 23a. I should have seen 12a, didn’t know either of the definitions to 23a so I forgive myself. I also wasn’t sure why 18d was right – many thanks Dave for the enlightenment.

    11a was my first entry, and I like the clue. Also like 13a, 3d, 14d.

    Spent a long time on 1d trying to subtract TT from (north-east)* – nice distraction (or perhaps just me)

    Agree with comments on 24d – I was in doubt whether I had the right interpretation.

    25d (eventually) was a good doh moment

    Enjoyably out of the ordinary, many thanks Firefly and Big Dave

  5. My usual complaint, too many anagrams, other than that it was a pleasantly gentle solve. Thanks to Firefly and BD.

  6. It was slower going for me. I, too, struggled with the last few, and I think I had the same wrong members as CS in 15A for a while. I could not solve 12A or 23A, even with all the checking letters in place. Kicking myself for 12A, but I would never had got 23A. Heraldic terms are far from being a strength. I know of the author, of course, but more through the TV series than the books. I like 4D, 1A and 9A. Getting picky here on 26A, but on this side of the pond, a capital letter is always used to denote the word State in this context.

    I enjoyed the puzzle, nevertheless. Thanks to Firefly and to BD for the review.

  7. Full of confidence having finished the back page, i liked this very much – despite the defeat, having three clues to complete. (12a, 23a, and 20d,)
    Many thanks to BD for the explanations and hints, and to Firefly for the enjoyable puzzle.

  8. We were totally defeated by 23a and are now wondering how we could not see it as both definitions are familiar to us. Found several of the across answers on the East side, 12a, 15a, 23a, quite tricky to work out. Probably because all the checking letters were Scrabble one-pointers and hence left too many options. That’s our excuse anyway. Good fun puzzle.
    Today is election day here so an at least 12 hour stint in the Voting Place starting soon and then life can get back to normal retirement lifestyle for us.
    We are pleased at the result of the poll in your part of the world.
    Thanks Firefly and BD.

  9. Something like 2.5*/3*, l think. I liked 5d and 28a, and can’t choose between them. It took me ages to spot 26a – probably the way it was disguised by the line break. Thank you Firefly, and you too BD for the review.

  10. I imagine I fell on the same last 5 as mentioned, gradually whittled down to the heraldry clue. Many thanks Firefly and BD

  11. Same same. I agree with most comments specially 2kiwis as the three clues 12,15 and 23a took me quite a while to work out. I liked 8d as I am partial to cross references. Thanks to the setter and bd for the hints.

  12. Ref 1d, I interpreted it as “leaving north-east [out]”. Moreover “unsettled” screams “anagram” so it’s pretty clear that the fodder has to be abstainer. The rest is butchery, as they say. Didn’t finish but what I did came quickly, oddly enough 11a was first one in. Don’t think I would have got 15a even if I had 5d – I was stuck on étudiant. Thanks to Firefly (I would love to know if the name has anything to do with the great Whedon TV show) and BD.

  13. Gave it my best shot and got 2/3rds completed this time. Answers and reasoning from BD on the remainder prove that I’ve still got a lot to learn!

  14. One of the easier toughies I think though I needed hint on 12a,19a, 23a and 25d. I got 15a early on but wasn’t sure of the answer so was last to go in.
    Rate as ***/***

  15. Thanks to Firefly and to Big Dave for the review and hints. A very good puzzle, managed to get most of it, but was 6 answers short in the SE Corner. Favourite was 8a. Was 4*/3* for me.

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