Toughie 1292 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1292

Toughie No 1292 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Bufo

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

I made fairly slow progress to begin with while I was refamiliarising myself with Excalibur’s quirky style. It took me some time to finish off the north-east corner and that accounts for the extra half star in the difficulty rating

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    Very early ancestors rubbed two sticks together for it (5,5)
FIRST LIGHT: Very early in the morning when it’s no longer completely dark. It would also have been the result of the earliest occurrence of man rubbing two sticks together and making fire

9a    Two rooks and another bird (4)
DODO: ‘To rook’ and ‘to rook’ again = an extinct bird

10a    What’s paid when one’s allowed to name one’s price? (7,3)
NOMINAL FEE: A minor sum of money paid for something includes an adjective relating to a name

11a    18, one’s informed (6)
SOURCE: A synonym of the answer to 18 across can also be a person who provides information

12a    Jewellery worn in the morning for taking a stroll? (7)
AMBLING: An abbreviation for ‘before noon’ + large and conspicuous jewellery

15a    Take back land, were we to vacate in advance (7)
RETRACT: A piece of land is preceded by WERE with WE removed

16a    Soldier boy? He’s a farmer! (5)
GILES: A US soldier + a shortened form of a boy’s name = a surname often used after the word ‘Farmer’ (e.g. in rhyming slang for haemorrhoids)

17a    Concedes three points against nil (4)
OWNS: A letter representing ‘nil’ + three points of the compass

18a    Gracious! No running water! (4)
WELL: 2 meanings: Gracious!/a source of water

19a    Measuring device that announces length (5)
METER: A homophone of a unit of length

21a    Contends it’s no good suppressing stories? Just the contrary (7)
TANGLES: NG (no good) inside ‘stories’

22a    Be bursting into floods of tears, seeing taxman’s generosity? (7)
REBATES: An anagram (bursting) of BE inside an anagram (floods of) of TEARS

24a    Exposed purchasing Sun and fired (6)
OUSTED: ‘Exposed’ goes round S (Sun)

27a    Air clothes dry on it? (3,4,3)
ONE FINE DAY: The title of an air (song) could be an occasion when clothes will dry

28a    Acclaim enthusiastically with ‘Well said!’ (4)
HAIL: A homophone of well (healthy)

29a    Watching egg hatching within, it’s remarkable (10)
STAGGERING: ‘Watching with a fixed gaze’ goes round an anagram (hatching) of EGG


2d    Picture one needs to study (4)
ICON: I (one) + ‘to study’

3d    All losing heart after rising rents skyrocket (6)
SPIRAL: AL (all without the middle letter) follows a reversal of ‘rents (tears)’ to give ‘to skyrocket’

4d    Chief and I will travel in support (7)
LEADING: An anagram (will travel) of AND I inside a support

5d    Talent is something one can’t buy (4)
GIFT: 2 meanings: A talent/something presented to someone that they don’t have to pay for

6d    Headlocks (7)
TRESSES: A cryptic definition for locks of hair

7d    Arranged to run — and meant to run — in competition (10)
TOURNAMENT: An anagram (arranged) of TO RUN + an anagram (to run) of MEANT

8d    And what it says about you is that you’re rich? (5,5)
MONEY TALKS: The answer reveals that the wealthy have much influence

12d    It shows I’m being compensated for a loss (10)
APOSTROPHE: This appears in I’m to show that something has been omitted

13d    Cover easy to take off and easy to slip on (6,4)
BANANA SKIN: This outside part of a fruit is easy to take off. It is also used figuratively for something which can cause a slip-up

14d    Yields to the touch — or to someone who touches (5)
GIVES: It can also mean ‘yields to someone who touches or extracts money from’

15d    Direct to look up and down? (5)
REFER: A palindrome

19d    A party in town street or the great outdoors (7)
MEADOWS: A + party inside a street (once used for stabling)

20d    Rampant set are getting into band (7)
REARING: An anagram (set) of ARE inside a band

23d    Show oneself to be an equal in oratory (6)
APPEAR: A homophone of an equal

25d    Woollen anorak is much too big for her (4)
LENA: Hidden in woolLEN Anorak

26d    Horse in it I backed to win (4)
GAIN: A reversal of I in a horse

I rather enjoyed this one

17 comments on “Toughie 1292

  1. The extra ‘cogitation’ time it took me to sort out the NE corner (in the end I needed a touch of Gnome’s Law) meant that this took me well into 5* difficulty time – I’d probably award it 2* for enjoyment, partly based on the fact that I had other things to do rather than mutter on and off about one corner of a crossword.

  2. I quite liked this. I thought the song for drying clothes was pretty difficult, vowel checks only, plenty of other songs that fit but penny dropped when i got the middle word. That was my last in.

    The other hard ones for lack of checks were 11a (the other well) combined with 8d (rich), double unches not helping, Got 8d first, still struggled with 11a, of course in hindsight should have seen it earlier.

    Some very nice clues. Loved the mislead in “very early ancestors” (1a), and I liked the clever construction of 7d using “to run” twice. The farmer (18a) made me laugh. There is an apostrophe in the times as well today, it amazes me how clues appear in bunches, like busses.

    Oh, and I made my life hard for a while having entered banana peel instead of skin.

    Thanks very much Bufo and thanks Excalibur for a delightful puzzle.

  3. Sheer enjoyment from first clue to last. Favourites 1a, 13d and 5d. Many thanks to Excalibur and Bufo

  4. Far more difficult than Excalibur in her normal Tuesday spot … but all the better for that! Very enjoyable. Thanks to all!

  5. I did enjoy today’s toughie and agree with the rating. Made life difficult for myself by initially putting Nora for 25d-anorak without the ends on- ie too big, and owes for17a which my dictionary gave as a meaning for concedes, these made 27a and 13d a tad difficult !.smiled when the penny dropped.

  6. As usual with Excalibur I found this a mixture of excellent clues [1a, 15a, 7d, 12d] and rather awful clues – especially 5d [which overlooks the fact one can buy a gift] and 6d [surely definition clues are meant to be at least a bit cryptic?].

    Agree it was on the tough side for this setter – which was nice: thanks to her and to Bufo.

  7. What a joy after yesterday! The clues actually read well and made sense. Needed help with just a couple today whereas yesterday I only solved one.
    27a was brilliant – the thought of Madame Butterfly hanging out the washing made me smile.

  8. The answer for 12d seems to crop up fairly often in cryptics, clued in many different ways, and seems to have the ability to trip us up each and every time. It was our last one in. Certainly took us longer than we usually expect to spend on puzzles from this setter and we did enjoy it.
    Thanks Excalibur and Bufo.

  9. I seem to have the same problems with NE corner. I thought 18a was a word play and put “Neva” so 11a and 8d remained blank. 27a made me laugh as it reminded me of a joke from Sophie Tucker with her neighbour Clementine and her washing advice. So thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo for the help.

  10. I loved it. I was a bit on the slow side, to be sure, but there were so many delightful clues…1A, 27A,8D, 12D in particular, but 27A wins out as my favorite. Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  11. Took me a little while but finally “slow but sure” and – managed to complete without hints! Really enjoyable – favourite “giggle” 27a (I remember my mum!)

  12. I don’t usually commment when I have a great many hints,but this time I just have to express my delight in some of those clues I got.1a, 10a,27a, 7d, and 8d. My parents -in-law built a house on a mountain and called it “ona clear day” and somehow this gave me the answer. It took a while because I thought the girl in 25d was Nora. Thanks Bufo and Excalibur.

  13. I’d rate this one at 3*/3*, but can’t say that any particular clue rang my bell. My thanks to Excalibur, and to Bufo for the review.

  14. My kind of Toughie, this one. A pleasure to solve from start to finish. As 25 down was my last one in, Nora was never spotted let alone an option for me. I particularly liked clues 9 across, 16 across, and 12 down, although many more ‘hit the spot’, so to speak. Thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo.

  15. Friday dinner time and just finished Thursday’s. Actually I cheated on 8d (my last clue) which really was straightforward and for 27a I put ONE LINE BAR – oh dear. Never mind, not a bad effort and well worth ***/*** from me. Thank you Excalibur and thank you Bufo. Sh-Shoney.

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