Toughie 1302 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1302

Toughie No 1302 by Messinae


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

A regular on these pages who has tens of thousands more puzzles behind her than I ever will (and amazing powers of recall too) emailed me this morning to suggest Chestnuts Roasting as the strapline for today's Toughie review. I've gone for Gift-Wrapped in reference to the four write-in clues around the edge.

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 A horrible caper going wrong is blameless (14)

9a Staff to go round allowing for driving hazard (7)
POTHOLE A staff or rod around the short form of a conjunction meaning allowing or notwithstanding that.


10a Vehicle takes a fantastic tour round Central America (7)
AUTOCAR A from the clue plus an anagram of (fantastic) TOUR around the acronym for Central America.

11a Way I'll enter museum (3)
VIA A Roman way or road. I from the clue inside a famous London museum.

12a Sport jumpers not track suits -- that could be self-evident (5,6)
FIELD EVENTS An anagram of (could be) SELF-EVIDENT. I think the definition is Yoda syntax for "a type of sport that suits jumpers, not the track".

14a Snap chemical equipment (6)
RETORT A double definition meaning both a verbal riposte and a flask used in chemistry.

15a English taken in by token European lord (8)
SEIGNEUR The abbreviation for English inside (taken in by) a token or symbol, followed by a three-letter abbreviation of European.

17a Gear in Cortina to whizz past workers (3,5)
SKI PANTS ...Cortina being a winter sports resort. A verb meaning to whizz past or gloss over, and some six-legged workers.

19a I wait with maiden in the same place (6)
IBIDEM A charade of I from the clue, a verb meaning to wait, and the abbreviation for maiden in cricket.

22a Curse man's way of speaking (11)
MALEDICTION A word meaning of a man plus a manner of speech.

23a What may be found before and after forest fire (3)
ASH A cryptic definition of a type of tree or its burnt remains.

24a Falls back once more pursued by gunners (7)
NIAGARA A word meaning once more, reversed (back) and followed (pursued) by an arm of the British military known as the Gunners.

26a Boy receives French comedian in post (7)
STATION A male child goes round (receives) the comic genius and creator of Monsieur Hulot.

ARVE Error: need id and provider


27a Ignore second nervy tot misbehaving (4,2,8)
SEND TO COVENTRY An anagram of (misbehaving) SECOND NERVY TOT.


1d Treating him I'm overspent -- leading to this? (14)
IMPOVERISHMENT An anagram of (treating) HIM I'M OVERSPENT.

2d Sappers dominating region withdraw (7)
RETRACT A British army corps known as the Sappers goes above (dominating) a word for an area of land.

3d One in pack giving support to fighting departs (4,7)
PROP FORWARD ...a position in the Rugby pack. A phrase that could mean support to fighting plus the train timetable abbreviation for departs.

4d Started to write in dictionary (6)
OPENED To write or author inside a famous reference work (which is listed in Chambers).

5d Tradesman's name assumed by councillor (8)
CHANDLER A slang word for name inside (assumed by) an abbreviation of Councillor.

6d Skill slicing carrot evenly (3)
ART The even letters of CARROT.


7d Permit being covered in vermin (7)
LICENSE An obscure (at least to me) word for being or existence letter inside vermin or bodily parasites. (Thanks Pegasus and BD for correcting my first solution.) 

8d Transmits Hardy novel -- classic work of literature (8,6)

13d Lifestyle of wandering around African country with lawyer gave worries (11)
VAGABONDAGE An anagram (worries) of GAVE around an African country plus a US public prosecutor.

16d Musical upset jazz fan over jerky style (8)
STACCATO A Lloyd-Webber musical in reverse (upset) plus a jazz fan (of similar ilk!) and the cricketing abbreviation for over.

18d Disrepute of the Italian lover putting fellow down (3,4)
ILL FAME An Italian definite article plus a word for lover (especially when an ex) with the abbreviation for fellow moved down one place.

20d Dishing dirt is a regular writer (7)
DIARIST An anagram of (dishing) DIRT IS A.


21d Disaster with Formula 1 racetrack being unfinished (6)
FIASCO What looks like the abbreviation for Formula One plus an English racecourse minus its last letter (being unfinished).

25d A divine tot (3)
ADD A from the clue plus a religious scholar. (According to Chambers, a divine is a minister of the Gospel or theologian.)


21d was the pick for me (though no doubt a chestnut!).

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

33 comments on “Toughie 1302

  1. In 7d is it not (ens) being covered by lice. Gentle start to the week thanks to Messinae and to Toro.

  2. True that the four anagrams made this puzzle easier. Except for 8d which I got from the horizontal checking letters. Not very good on literature. Apart from that, no real difficulty in solving this one. I did bung in 16d and it’s only when I read the review that I saw its construction. Thanks to Toro and Messinae.

  3. Thanks to Messinae and to Toro for the review and hints. A rarity for me to get into a Toughie. Started with the 4 long anagrams, then the 3 letter clues. Was beaten by 15a, used electronic help to get it. I was completely wrong about the wordplay, I was looking for a 7 letter word meaning token, to which an “e” was to be added. Thanks to Toro for explaining that. Favourite was 13d, was 2*/4* for me.

  4. The four big anagrams were very helpful and enabled me to get sufficient foothold to finish. I did appreciate the explanation of ‘ens’ – and I really must take up rugby given the steady stream of references in both the toughie and the back-pager! Many thanks to all.

  5. Nice and gentle for the most part, and very welcome after being routed by yesterday’s rookie corner. I liked 17A, 8D and 20D. 15A was my last in and like Jean-Luc I needed electronic help. Thanks to Messinae and Toro.

  6. Chestnuts for some are first fruits for others. The gift wrapping helped enormously, and I was thrilled to be able to finish , for once, either for the first time or the first time in ages.I found it easier than the back pager, perhaps because it’s later in the day and the grey matter has stirred itself. Thanks Messinae and Toro.Favourates 13d,12a and 17a.

    1. How very eloquent your first line is. A first class comment some of us would do well to remember.

      1. Agreed – but I don’t think “chestnuts” is ever meant in a negative way on this site, and certainly wasn’t here. There’s a reason they come up again and again!

  7. Finished this in record time for me for a Toughie and rather faster than today’s back pager, thanks to all those big anagrams. Had it been on the back page (where it probably belonged) I would have rated it no more than 2* difficulty, so I guess it has to be 1* in this slot.

  8. Ha! I completely missed the anagram in 12a (jumpers) and took it literally to get the same answer.

    last one is was 15a, couldn’t see it with the checking letters and searched electronically. I also had not come across the 3-letter word for being in 7d. Sounds like I had similar experience to others (except for missing the anagram! doh)

    Nice puzzle, many thanks Messinae and Toro

  9. We had the same answer, with the same justification, as Toro initially had for 7d. The correct solution adds a new word to our lexicon. Pleasant solve.
    Thanks Messinae and Toro.

  10. Hurrah! My first success at completing a Toughie unaided! Can’t really believe it. Admittedly it was an easy one but it has really given me confidence in my cryptic solving abilities. Worked out correctly the anagram in 8d but had to google it to find out what it was. One learns so much when solving puzzles. Had never come across ens as being before. My favourite clues were 21d and 26a. 2*/5* for me. Many thanks to Messinae and Toro. Have not looked at the other cryptic as yet… Still on cloud 9 with my success with today’s Toughie!

  11. Yes, a bit sub-2* in difficulty but 3* for enjoyment, and rather gentle for a Toughie (not that I’m complaining!). I quite liked 15 and 22a. My thanks to Messinae, and to Toro for the review.

  12. The outer clues helped but my solving time was ridiculously long. (for that read not just bunging in but parsing) as i totally missed the anagram in 12a. . Dim or what? Thanks to Toro and Messinae

  13. I also missed the anagram in 12a, took ages, but really enjoyed it. Good job some of my best guesses helped rather than hindered (I saw the rest of the parsing when the words were written down.) Many thanks to Messinae and Toro. Brilliant comment 6 above by Una, too.
    4*/ 4* for me.

  14. Just finished and most enjoyable, although I think Bid Dave’s rating of * was a bit mean in view of 8d (never heard of the title), 7d (ENS) and a couple of others. For me a **/***, so thanks to all concerned for setting it and for explaining it. No doubt today’s puzzle will be back to diabolical. Sh-Shoney.

    1. There was no * rating. It was */** for difficulty and **/*** for enjoyment

      Perhaps it would have been 2 not 1.5 for difficulty if I hadn’t got the answer wrong for 7d (I had “covered”=ENC not “being”=ENS, hence LICENCE not LICENSE).

      1. Ah yes – only just spotted that. Due apologies offered. Also, I fell foul of the LICENCE/LICENSE trap. No doubt the BRB will confirm that both are permissible . Sh-Shoney.

        1. It’s not simply a question of whether both spellings are permissible, it’s that as a noun a permit is a licence but as a verb to permit is to license.

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