Toughie 1293 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1293

Toughie No 1293 by Sparks

Hiding too much, or vice versa

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I enjoyed this puzzle from Sparks, in spite of the reservations expressed below.

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    Flexible head of department is the last to junk redundant hardware (6,4)
FLOPPY DISK: an adjective meaning flexible followed by the initial letter (head) of D[epartment], IS and the final letter of (last to) [jun]K – I was not too keen on the use of flexible in the wordplay to define an item which is, by definition, flexible; charades like this are much better if the component parts are unrelated to the definition

6a    Run about and spout (4)
CLIP: this verb meaning to run at a high speed is a charade of the single-letter Latin abbreviation for about followed by a spout or rim

9a    Cleaner imposes upon grandma? (6,4)
SADDLE SOAP: a verb meaning imposes upon followed by a three-letter abbreviation of, for example, a grandma, assuming that she is of pensionable age

10a    Perhaps a drop of drink right at the end (4)
TEAR: a hot drink followed by R(ight)

12a    Old car  examination (4)
VIVA: an unlamented old model of Vauxhall car and an oral exam

13a    With which you’d drive off large insect (9)
REPELLANT: a verb meaning to drive off followed by L(arge) and an insect gives an alternate spelling of a substance that dissuades insects

15a    Everybody getting unequivocal signal to come out? (3-5)
ALL CLEAR: a word meaning everybody followed by an adjective meaning unequivocal or unambiguous

16a    Violent criminal loves to cause misfortune (6)
HOODOO: a violent criminal, usually one on the USA, followed by two Os (loves)

18a    Colour of girl is returning (6)
SIENNA: a girl’s name followed by IS, all reversed (returning)

20a    Cheers when son goes from shop floor to the board? (6-2)
BOTTOM UP: start with an expression meaning cheers or “down the hatch” and drop the S(on)

23a    Gourmand, skipping starter, with urge for festive treat (6,3)
EASTER EGG: drop (skipping) the initial letter (starter) from a gourmand and add a verb meaning to urge

24a    Former community manager (4)
EXEC: a two-letter word meaning former followed by the European Community

26a    Manage to introduce English character (4)
RUNE: a verb meaning to manage precedes (to introduce) E(nglish)

27a    Ones having to hide note following extreme remarks (10)
UTTERANCES: some playing cards with one spot each around (to hide) N(ote) and preceded by an adjective meaning extreme

28a    Take first one from a number divisible by two (4)
EVEN: drop the initial letter (take first one) from a number

29a    My landlord almost hides extremely strange hidden habit? (10)
CORSELETTE: an interjection meaning “my!” and most of another name for a landlord around (hides) the outer letters (extremely) of S[trang]E gives an undergarment (hidden habit)


1d    Ordinary iron ship (4)
FESS: this ordinary, in the form of a broad horizontal stripe across the middle of the shield, comes from a charade of the chemical symbol for iron followed by the usual two-letter abbreviation for a ship

2d    What accountant may be required to show police (3,4)
OLD BILL: an accountant may have to show this to the taxman to justify certain expenses incurred

3d    Force a rugby player to cheat (4,1,7)
PULL A FLANKER: a verb meaning to force followed by the A from the clue and a rugby player who wears either 6 or 7 on his shirt

4d    Poor organisation arrived to cover maiden in distress (8)
DISARRAY: put ARR(ived) in place of (to cover) the M(aiden) in a word meaning distress

5d    Fashionable small pad (6)
SNAPPY: S(mall) followed by a pad of disposable material word by a baby

7d    Unsheathe something electric, perhaps up in shelter (7)
LEEWARD: a verb meaning to unsheathe, for example, a sword followed by a fish of which the electric version is an example (perhaps) all reversed (up in a down clue)

8d    Sorry to stop punishment over harbouring a group of soldiers (10)
PARATROOPS: an adjective meaning sorry or pathetic inside a form of punishment, all reversed and then placed around (harbouring) the A from the clue

11d    Discreet observer following development of Ely town hall (3,2,3,4)
FLY ON THE WALL: F(ollowing) then an anagram (development) of ELY TOWN HALL

14d    What students must do to get at least this? (4,6)
PASS DEGREE: if a student does this then the whole is the minimum qualification achieved

17d    Caught wicked woman framing North American body (8)
CONGRESS: C(aught) and a wicked woman around (framing) N(orth)

19d    Jewish sectarian once hiding cold character (7)
ESSENCE: a member of a small religious fraternity among the ancient Jews around (hiding) C(old) – that’s three times now that to hide has been used as an inclusion indicator, the others being 27a and 29a

21d    Cremate injured animal (7)
MEERCAT: an anagram (injured) of CREMATE gives the alternate spelling of this animal

22d    Ducks going under cove find seabird (6)
GENTOO: two Os (zeros / ducks) preceded by (under in a down clue) a cove or bloke

25d    Hollowed indentations on mid-section of skeleton key (4)
ISLE: I[ndentation]S without its inner letters (hollowed) followed by the middle letters of [ske]LE[ton}

A couple of disappointing constructs (see above) prevented me from giving this puzzle the five-star treatment.

8 comments on “Toughie 1293

  1. I very much enjoyed this, and only spoiled for me in that I had not heard of the expression in 3d. I assumed 21d to be meercat but I could not find any reference of a spelling other than meerkat. I had flap for 6a (as in run around in a flap, and a flap is often part of a spout) but Big Dave’s clip is much more convincing.

  2. For 6a I originally and inexplicably placed pump, then changed it to flap, but as Tony says BDs answer is more convincing. liked 3d. Many thanks Sparks and BD

  3. I too originally put flap but then thought about it a bit more. Most enjoyable toughie this week – I’d say 3.5/4.

    Thanks to Sparks and BD.

  4. 4d was quite a challenge for us. We are often tripped up by clues where the substitution is not a one for one. In this case it is a three for one. The expression in 3d also needed a Google check once we had worked out the appropriate player, never heard it before. Sorting out the wordplay for 8d also took a bit of cogitation. But we did get clip. Challenging and good fun.
    Thanks Sparks and BD.

  5. Mrs H had to be called in to deal with the NE corner and we still couldn’t parse 8d correctly [getting hung up on oops = sorry]. At least 4* difficulty for me/us but good fun. Particularly liked the surfaces and construction of 29a and 17d plus the cunning simplicity of 20a.

    Thanks to Sparks and BD.

  6. This was just at the right level of difficulty for me as a relative newcomer to Toughie corner. Tough but fair, and very doable with enough thought and the BRB to double check some answers.
    A nice sense of achievement to finish without any hints. I nearly succumbed for my last one in at 29a but didn’t flap and eventually had a flash of inspiration. It didn’t help that I hadn’t come across the word before of course, but a good cryptic puzzle always adds a word or two to one’s vocabulary. I had to check the seabird too.
    Thank you to Sparks and to BD.

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