Toughie 1277 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1277

Toughie No 1277 by Notabilis

How do you make a 1 across?
Don’t answer that!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Notabilis never fails to both challenge and entertain, and this excellent puzzle is no exception.

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    St John Ambulance emblem‘s not a pedigree spaniel? (7,5)
MALTESE CROSS: this could be the result of a pedigree spaniel being mated with a different breed

9a    Antipodean booze binge cut back (4)
GROG: a verb meaning to binge without its final letter (cut) and reversed (back)

10a    Constantly growing burst of laughter welcomes return of Private (9)
PERENNIAL: a burst of laughter around (welcomes) the reversal (return) of an adjective meaning private or hidden

12a    Some in China use antihistamines for biliousness (6)
NAUSEA: hidden (some) inside the clue

13a    Smooth spread on most of fillet (8)
DEBONAIR: to get this adjective meaning smooth or sophisticated put a verb meaning to spread or make public after most of a verb meaning to fillet

15a    An associate university teacher backing husband is inept (10)
AMATEURISH: A (an) followed by an associate or chum, U(niversity), the reversal of the form of address for a teacher and H(usband)

16a    Surrealist‘s faithful representation without repeating character (4)
MIRÓ: start with a faithful representation or exact likeness and remove (without) two of the three repeating letters – as this leaves one of those letters I think this could have been worded a bit better

18a    Ditch: singular form of depression? (4)
DUMP: in the plural this is a form of depression or low spirits

20a    Doctor peeved when going round places in boneshaker (10)
VELOCIPEDE: an anagram (doctor) of PEEVED around the plural of the word, of Latin origin, for a place

23a    Terrific energy vented by anger was sufficient (8)
SPLENDID: drop (vented) one of the Es (Energy) from a word meaning anger and follow what’s left with a verb meaning was sufficient – as it doesn’t matter which of the Es are to be dropped there is no need for the setter to indicate which one is to receive the treatment

24a    Condition of link’s foremost in short chain (6)
FETTLE: the initial letter (foremost) of L[ink] inside most of (short) a chain or shackle

26a    Impressive tea or coffee maker enthralling each sensualist (9)
EPICUREAN: a four-letter adjective meaning impressive or large-scale followed by a vessel used for making tea or coffee around (enthralling) EA(ch)

27a    Something to fire Monsieur in Latin lover’s declaration (4)
AMMO: M(onsieur) inside the Latin for “I love” – one of the first things I learnt when taking Latin at school, and now, over fifty years on, I can still decline this verb!

28a    Such sight would be normal a few years from now? (6-6)
TWENTY-TWENTY: in less than six years’ time this clue will no longer work!


2d    Tilts view to avoid eastern island (8)
ANGLESEY: a verb meaning tilts or slants followed by a verb meaning to view without the final E(astern) – perhaps this time some indication that the second E is to be dropped would have been more precise

3d    A mistake to choose to keep yen after an upswing? (4)
TYPO: this mistake, usually in printed rather than written text, is derived by putting Y(en) into (to keep) the reversal (after an upswing) of a verb meaning to choose or pick

4d    Loose rock not holding pipe down: it’s captured on computer (10)
SCREENSHOT: some loose rock followed by NOT around an exhortation to pipe down or be quiet

5d    Defile whatever swindle brings in (6)
CANYON: this defile is a long narrow pass – put a word meaning whatever or some inside a swindle

6d    Creative work requiring a folder to handle stationery (7)
ORIGAMI: a cryptic definition of the ancient art of folding paper

7d    Temper low-speed roar with light driving? (5-7)
SOLAR-POWERED: an anagram (temper) of LOW-SPEED ROAR

8d    Wound up primarily in public transport area (6)
TRAUMA: the initial letter (primarily) of U[p] inside a means of public transport that is undergoing a revival after having been phased out many years ago and followed by A(rea)

11d    Enveloped by perfume of burning wax, not left fuming? (12)
INCANDESCENT: a two-letter word meaning enveloped by followed by a phrase that means the perfume of burning wax (6,5) from which the L(eft) has been dropped

14d    Outstanding groom that’s first to hug my one (3-7)
PRE-EMINENT: a verb meaning to groom and the initial letter (first) of T(hat) around (to hug) a pronoun meaning belonging to me (my one)

17d    Free ride carrying passenger north in emergency transport (4,4)
LIFE RAFT: a free ride in someone else’s vehicle around the reversal (carrying … north in a down clue) of a passenger in, for example, a taxi

19d    Weakness of line dropped by both retail centre and section of market? (7)
MALAISE: drop the L(ine) from each of a) a retail shopping centre and b) a section of a (super)market

21d    Bury half of study into bugs on British (6)
ENTOMB: drop the second half, the OLOGY bit, from the study of bugs or insects and then add B(ritish)

22d    Nut strewn around thin gravy, favouring one side? (6)
UNJUST: an anagram (strewn) of NUT around a thin gravy or sauce (the posh name used when you are paying a small fortune for your meal!)

25d    Attack at last, originally called to hit below the belt? (4)
KNEE: the final letter (at last) of [attac]K followed by a way of indicating a woman’s maiden name

My grievances are fairly minor, and I wouldn’t have mentioned them at all if Notabilis hadn’t been so precise in previous puzzles.

16 comments on “Toughie 1277

  1. Superb toughie from Notablis although not his most fiendish, many thanks to him and to Big Dave for a wonderful pictorial review. I too can go through the old amo amas amat as though it were yesterday ( I think it’s old age Dave)

    1. .. but can you get as far as amoveram, amoveras , amoverat? Happy days, reciting latin conjugations while staring out of the classroom window watching the other forms playing cricket in the summer & rugby in the winter.

      1. I well remember as a 12yr old getting 6 of the best for writing the phrase ” feminas nudas sordidas amo” on the blackboard whilst Bat Lamont our Latin master was out of the classroom. (Funny, I barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning) Ah well, Tempus Fugit!

  2. Thoroughly enjoyable, favourites were 4d 13a and 19d thanks to Notabilis and to Big Dave for the comments.

  3. After the last two days I was dreading the Friday toughie offering – but it wasn’t as difficult as expected. Lovely puzzle still with some very hard clues for me (I never studied latin but guessed the conjugation). I thought 20a (bone shaker), 14d (outstanding groom) and 17d (free ride) were difficult but great clues. Other favourites include 10a (constantly growing), 15a (inept), 23a (terrific…), the latin one, and 8d was my last fill and favourite.

    Many thanks Notabilis for a quality puzzle and thanks BD for the great review

  4. Everything was fitting in nicely with some marvellously fun clues, 13 and 20a standing out, until I messed up on 18a and pencilled in ‘down’. That messed up 19d and I just couldn’t see what was wrong.
    Until I started reading this blog a month or so ago, I would have invoked the Miffypops rule and bunged loads of answers in without always parsing the clues. How I approach a crossword now is completely different. So a massive thank you to Big Dave , and to all the bloggers and commentators. :-)
    I still have so much to learn though.
    Thanks to Notabilis and BD today.

  5. Rutlish Latin lessons never totally forgotten, even though they were unsuccessfully learned at the time.

    1. Welcome to the blog baldy man

      Do you remember Bobby Oulton and his beloved “velocipede”? I think it was some kind of motorised bicycle.

  6. Don’t usually have time for the toughie, but came home early and did a joint solve with Mrs B, usually run out of steam if its above ***, so pleasantly surprised with Big Dave’s rating-thanks for the picks, very enjoyable all round.

    1. You didn’t type your email address properly (left out the U in the first bit) which is why you had to be ‘approved’.

  7. A very enjoyable and quite hard puzzle but not of the fearful quality of some Fridays. I found Wednesday’s harder and yesterday’s of a similar difficulty to this one. No obscure vocabulary which I appreciate. I had seen “defile” used in a crossword in the same sense as used in this puzzle not so long ago – I remembered it had another meaning but could I remember what it was!. Most annoying!

    Many thanks to Notabalis and BD

  8. We were surprised to see the antipodean attribution in 9a. It is such a commonly used word here that we just assumed it had widespread usage until a quick check in BRB told us differently. A most enjoyable puzzle. There were enough easier ones to give a foot-hold so that the tricky word-play in the others could be got at. Not a quick solve for us but good fun all the way.
    Thanks Notabilis and BD.

  9. Needed the hint for 13a to unlock the NW corner, which then made me realise I had 10a wrong ( perpetual),and I got the rest of it in the end… Certainly **** difficulty for me but very enjoyable. Thanks BD and setter.

  10. Phew! This is about my ceiling, and I’m inordinately pleased with myself for needing only 3 hints to fill the grid. 4*/4* for me, and 14d was my favourite. My thanks to Notabilis for reminding me of my limitations, and to BD for helping me across the finishing line.

  11. When I saw it was a Notabilis I nearly didn’t attempt. His last one I only managed 3 clues. However this one was very enjoyable and of similar difficulty to those earlier this week-perhaps I’m slowly improving.. Did need help on three -13,23,24 all across clues.

  12. I picked this puzzle up today (after a quick and not that successful first look yesterday) and was extraordinarily pleased to work through all the clues, albeit slowly, except for 20A. I checked the hint (OK, the answer) and only then did I realize that although my brain had the right answer for 14D, my treacherous hand had entered the wrong first letter of the second word. Not sure that I would have resolved it even with the correct letter, though. I really liked several clues…13A, 15A, 16A 28A, 5D, 14D and 25D. Many thanks to Notabilis and to BD.

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