Toughie 1305 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1305

Toughie No 1305 by Notabilis

Sheer class!

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

When the Daily Telegraph introduced the Toughie, this is the sort of puzzle that we solvers expected. Sadly we don’t see enough of them.

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    Lift  handle for Skype etc (4)
NICK: a verb meaning to lift or steal and a handle or alias used with Skype and other Internet programs

3a    Drop litter with relief (5)
WHELP: this verb meaning to bring forth a litter of, for example, puppies is derived from W(ith) followed by some relief

6a    Sound of smooth running, held up by 2 (4)
PURR: hidden (held) and reversed (up) inside the answer to 2 down

8a    Try to improve clairvoyance when wise to avoid paying fare (4,4,7)
WORK ONE’S PASSAGE: a charade of a phrasal verb meaning to try to improve (4,2), a three-letter abbreviation for a type of clairvoyance, a two-letter conjunction meaning when and an adjective meaning wise

9a    Entertaining in previous month, perhaps Miss Wray is not working (6)
FAULTY: the three-letter abbreviation used in business communications for previous month inside (entertaining) the first name of Miss Wray, the star of the original King Kong

10a    Defector, in answer laid out, waiving every right (8)
APOSTATE: A(nswer) followed by an adjective meaning laid out or horizontal with both instances (every) of R(ight) being removed (waiving)

11a    Practised skill provided that cool trick (8)
ARTIFICE: a three-letter practised skill followed by a two-letter conjunction meaning provided or “in the event of” and a verb meaning to cool

13a    Dinky car, no good for fuel extraction, say (6)
MINING: a small (dinky) car followed by the abbreviation for N(o) G(ood)

15a    Moorish passion, extremely holy (6)
HEATHY: this adjective meaning like a moor, rather than like a Moor, comes from some passion followed by the outer letters (extremely) of H[ol]Y

17a    The woman entering dodgy bar left untidy (8)
DISHEVEL: the female pronoun inside a dodgy bar and followed by L(eft) – for this clue to work, untidy must be treated as a verb

19a    Rough Liverpudlian mostly skirts dodgy bar (8)
SCABROUS: most of the nickname applied to a Liverpudlian around (skirts) an anagram (dodgy) of BAR

21a    A company afloat announced fall advantageously (6)
ACCRUE: the A from the clue and what sounds like the company of sailors on board a ship

22a    Protection for House with both of its sides separately involved in torture? (15)
WEATHERBOARDING: start with an infamous method of torture and insert, separately, the outer letters (sides) of H[ous]E

23a    Desirable limits of Spitfire plane’s coordinates? (4)
SEXY: the outer letters (limits) of S[pitfir]E followed by the geometric coordinates of a plane

24a    Other than Anglican special occasion? (5)
NONCE: split as (3-2) this means other than Anglican – not someone who has been convicted of a sexual offence, but an occasion which is usually preceded by “for the”

25a    Strike report starts to tell how unions did (4)
THUD: the initial letters (starts) of four words in the clue


1d    Fresh cut’s brought in following urgent announcement (9)
NEWSFLASH: a three-letter adjective meaning fresh and a verb meaning to cut into which F(ollowing) has been inserted (Brought in)

2d    Spoiled queen run out of bed, having broken one (7)
CORRUPT: the Latin abbreviation for Queen, R(un) and an adverb meaning out of bed all inside (having broken) a child’s bed

3d    Chicago Avenue leaves turning space (5,4)
WINDY CITY: to get this nickname for Chicago start with an adjective meaning turning and a space or gap and drop (leaves) AV(enue) from the latter

ARVE Error: need id and provider

4d    Dominate isolated ethnic group with other black suit (7)
ENSLAVE: start with the name for an isolated ethnic group, like Lesotho, and change C(lubs) into the abbreviation for the other black suit

5d    European gallery‘s publicity problem (5)
PRADO: the two-letter abbreviation for some publicity followed by a problem or fuss

6d    Beyond strained way of referring to earlier action (4,5)
PAST TENSE: a preposition meaning beyond followed by an adjective meaning strained

7d    Morally trendy equivalents of Reverend’s initial letter or two (5-2)
RIGHT ON: first take the word that is often abbreviated to the initial letter of R[everend] and then add a two-letter word meaning the first two letters of RE[verend]

12d    Daydreamer, miles away, incoherently made up Lilliputian (4-5)
ITTY BITTY: start with the surname of James Thurber’s daydreamer, drop (away) the M(iles) and finally add an adjective meaning incoherently made up or disjointed to get an adjective meaning Lilliputian or tiny

13d    Element of extremism an agent’s run ineptly (9)
MISMANAGE: hidden inside (element of) the clue

14d    Top-flight Director-General twice mixed with elite (4-5)
GILT-EDGED: an anagram (mixed) of DG DG (Director-General twice) with ELITE

16d    Finally persuade 90 neighbours to do discharge (7)
EXCRETE: the final letter of [persuad]E followed by the Roman numerals for 90 and the notes after and before (neighbours to) do in the scale in sol-fa notation

17d    Way to interrupt call to a centre that’s often wasteful? (7)
DUSTBIN: the abbreviation for a way inside a three-letter verb meaning to call and a preposition meaning at a central point – the definition is better described as “often full of waste”

18d    Japan, possibly very dull when time passes (7)
VARNISH: V(ery) followed by a verb meaning to dull without (when … passes) the T(ime)

20d    Deep baritone’s finale in North American anthem, skipping last trio (5)
OCEAN: the final letter of [baritone]E inside part of the anthem of a North American country, not the USA this time

ARVE Error: need id and provider

Don’t miss tomorrow’s December Prize Puzzle!

15 comments on “Toughie 1305

  1. Big Dave’s prologue says it all. I have lots of favourites and I don’t care – my top 2 are 12d and 16d.

    Thanks to Notabilis and BD.

  2. I was very happy to finish this Notabilis puzzle in reasonable time, although I did waste a lot of time on the wrong anthem in 20d (deep) – did anyone else or is it just me?

    Last one in was 1ac (lift), remembering a “BUZZ” clue for this not too long ago.

    I really liked 2d with its double reference to bed, and the link to 6a (which I had filled in first so it helped me get 2d).

    I liked the misleading “moorish” in 15a, and enjoyed the 8a charade (improving clairvoyance) and 3d (Chicago avenue) with it’s nice surface theme.

    In 4d (dominate) I was trying to use SLAV as the ethnic group, so thanks BD for the correct parsing, and in 16a (neighbours to do) i was trying to parse “rete”, saw the notes but thought they weren’t neighbours, so thanks to BD for explaining the are the neighbours to DO (doh).

    A superb and clever puzzle, thank you Notabilis and thank you Big Dave

  3. Now that really was a toughie! I managed to complete it with a little bit of help on my last couple, which I doubt I would have managed to solve otherwise.
    Many thanks to Notabilis for the excellent puzzle, and thanks to BD for the notes and explanations.

  4. Excellent puzzle, favourites were 3d 8a and 12d thanks to Notabilis and to Big Dave for the comments.

  5. A red letter day for me – I finished the toughie (and I can’t often say that)! The bottom half went in much more quickly than the top, but when I had managed to parse 8a (like many others, a very clever clue) the top half yielded as well. There were several clues that I got the answer to long before I finally figured out why they were correct (e.g. 1d and 3d). Excuse me while I rest on my laurels – or probably more accurately enjoy my pride before the inevitable fall!

  6. A well deserved cup of tea as I could not bring myself to leave this great brain twister. I didn’t encounter too many problems on the bottom half apart from 22a for which I had weatherblasting. 23a was no problem as I remember all the lessons gazza and BD give on numbered coordinates.
    Loved the Walter Mitty reference in 12d but I first thought of itsy bitsy at first due to the checking letters I had at the time. As for the top half the story was quite different. For 10a I had Warrants which was an anagram of answer without the E of every and rat for the defector. The whole thing meaning rights and not right as the clue suggested. To add insult to injury I also penciled in wipe ones glasses for 8a. But I soon had 6d and 7d which messed up my theory. 1a was very clever but we had handle for name the other day in chandler. That made it easy. In 4d I was also trying to squeeze spade in the word and as I did not get 3a for which I thought was waste. Well that is about all I have to say. Many many thanks to Notabilis and to BD for the excellent review and the animated loop of King Kong.

  7. Good stuff!

    Thanks to BD for parsing 7d which, now I see how it works, is a really clever clue. Also impressed by 22a [rather topical] and 16d.

    I also at first assumed that there’s only 1 country in N America. Must be irritating if you’re a national of one of the others.

    Many thanks to Notabilis and BD

  8. An excellent workout. In the end we did not manage to parse the second part of 16d. We did not get past trying to find a verb for ‘to do’ from a language of a neighbouring country (France, Scotland, Wales). Oh well, it was fun looking. It all took quite some time but kept us entertained and amused throughout.
    Thanks Notabilis and BD.

  9. In the couldn’t quite parse 16d group as i never get the notes in the correct order in my mind so though was not on the right track. As the prologue says, oh if only all Toughies were of this quality. 12 gets my vote. Thanks to Notabilis and BD

  10. I felt encouraged to do a couple and increasingly surprised when a few more went in (despite progress that would make stalagmites look quick). In the end did all but two before needing the hints. Just a bit too hard to be 5* enjoyable, so 5*/4* for me. Many thanks to Notabilis and BD (who reassured me when I was right while explaining the many bits I was baffled by).

  11. Phew! I’m inordinately pleased to have done about half of this unaided. I wouldn’t dare score it; anyway, there aren’t enough *s on my keyboard. I really liked 3a. Thanks to Notabilis, to BD for the hints and review, and congratulations to anyone who can do this sort of stuff!

  12. I was left with half a dozen yet to be resolved when Mr. Expat inconveniently fell and broke his wrist, so I had to abandon the puzzle in favor of the Emergency Room. But at the next attempt to complete some hours later, I still came up short. No matter. I loved every minute of the challenge. Favorites for me are 8A, 15A, 23A and 6D. I needed BD’s hints to understand several more where the answer was obvious (like 3D) but the sorting out was hard. I am happy with my effort. Many thanks to the clever Notabilis and equally clever BD.

  13. Completed but I had to refer to BD’s review to understand how I got the answers for 12 clues! Most enjoyable.

  14. Finally finished this at the third sitting. Much head-scratching, chin- stroking , fag- smoking, beer-drinking time was spent getting across the finish line. Phew. However, I needed BD to tell me why so many of my answers were correct. Too many went in and I had only the most tenuous grasp of why. Very hard, but very enjoyable with far too many splendid clues to single out a favourite. Thanks to Notabilis for the work-out and to BD for the explanations. 5*/5* (I’ve never given 5/5 before)

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