Toughie 1313 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1313

Toughie No 1313 by Elkamere

A stay of execution!

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

Having read that this was a difficult puzzle before I even started on it, I was pleasantly surprised to solve it in less than 5-star time.

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 After admitting abuse, a slip? (11)
OVERBALANCE: a word meaning after or as soon as around () some abuse and the A from the clue

10a Petition that’s not so good for lawyer (5)
LICIT: start with a verb meaning to petition and drop (that’s not) SO

11a Very odd each of us gets grant (9)
VOUCHSAFE: V(ery) followed by an anagram (odd) of EACH OF US

12a Scholar will introduce one after lecturer stays (9)
MORATORIA: a graduate (scholar) around (will introduce) I (one) preceded by (after) a lecturer or speaker

13a Refuse to turn out, failing at last minute (5)
BIJOU: the reversal (to turn) of a verb meaning to refuse followed by OU[t] without (failing) its final letter (at last)

14a This is rock, I reckon? (6)
TOTTER: two definitions – a verb meaning to rock and a word meaning someone who reckons or adds up

16a Drink, and spit into hole (4,4)
PORT WINE: a spit or spitting image inside a hole in the skin

18a Fine material doctor found in tea light holder? (8)
CHAMBRAY: a two-letter abbreviation for a doctor sandwiched between a colloquial word for tea and a beam (holder) of light

20a What alcoholic will get spot on (6)
BLOTTO: a spot followed by a word who’s many meanings include “on”, especially in the context of marriage in Scotland, apparently

23a Use a disguise when talking (5)
AVAIL: the A from the clue followed by what sounds like (when talking) a disguise

24a Jump around pub yard for uninhibited fun? (6-3)
SKINNY-DIP: a jump around a pub and Y(ar)D

26a Became ill describing hospital experience (2,7)
GO THROUGH: a phrasal verb meaning became ill (3,5) around (describing) H(ospital)

27a President Havel’s second steps, typically Central European (5)
POLKA: a nineteenth-century US President followed by the second letter of [H]A[vel] gives a dance

28a Book I will open which is daft (4,3,4)
ACTS THE GOAT: a book of the New Testament followed by a three-letter word meaning I or the self inside (will open) a word meaning which


2d Minister caught breaking through entrance to rectory (5)
VICAR: C(aught) inside a word meaning through and followed by the initial letter of (entrance to) R[ectory]

3d Change the name of one in forged letter (7)
RETITLE: I (one) inside an anagram (forged) of LETTER

4d Notice parry trapping bottom of sword (6)
ADVERT: a verb meaning to parry or avoid around the final letter (bottom) of [swor]D

5d No critic of age will take in American soldiers (8)
ADULATOR: an adjective meaning “of age” or grown-up around (will take in) A(merican) and followed by some of the usual soldiers

6d Officer and husband briefly live together (7)
COHABIT: a Commanding Officer followed by H(usband) and a phrase meaning briefly (1,3)

7d Chemical agent potentially causing global warming (7,6)
CLIMATE CHANGE: an anagram (potentially) of CHEMICAL AGENT

8d Outlaw’s support for musician (8)
BANJOIST: a three-letter verb meaning to outlaw followed by a support or beam

9d Waist? Won’t say (6,2,5)
REFUSE TO SPEAK: the second and third words indicate that “waist” is a homophone of a synonym of the first word

15d Social gathering but, contrarily, drinks excluded (3,5)
TEA PARTY: a social gathering at which no alcohol is consumed – a word meaning “but” is reversed (contrarily) around (drinks) a word meaning excluded – well dome Deep Threat

17d Noted S African man’s involved in projects (3,5)
JAN SMUTS: an anagram (involved) of MAN’S inside a verb meaning projects or sticks out

19d Where sword goes is obvious, and nearly ironic (7)
BALDRIC: an adjective meaning obvious or unambiguous followed by most of (nearly) an adjective meaning ironic or outrageous

21d See doctor cutting near mostly human flesh (4,3)
LONG PIG: a two-letter word meaning see followed by a local doctor inside (cutting) most of a word meaning near gives a term used by cannibals for human flesh

22d Top of peak down to base — some way down? (6)
EIGHTH: start with a peak or summit and move its first letter to the end

25d Derek turned up at one after Charlie (5)
DELTA: the abbreviated form of Derek followed by the reversal (turned up in a down clue) of AT to get the letter that comes after Charlie in the NATO Phonetic alphabet

Elkamere’s puzzles do get easier when you have learned how to spot the definitions, such as “stays” in 12 across and “steps, typically Central European” in 27 across.

Many thanks to Crypticsue for the following extract from the newspaper:


The Telegraph Puzzles website will have a full hand of new puzzles on Christmas day including a special Toughie by Elkamere, as well as Roger Squires’ Christmas Cryptic and Quick, and the Double Toughie by Elgar.

12 comments on “Toughie 1313

  1. I hope all the people wanting tougher toughies are satisfied – this was by far the hardest puzzle i have managed to complete in a long time (and as for those i haven’t managed to complete – well I don’t really know how hard they were, do I? but puzzles are more fun if you do finish them)

    An extremely satisfying solve – I felt pretty chuffed with myself.

    The clues were being entered more and more slowly( I won’t give you times) – the I got stuck at the bottom, with half a dozen clues left, and thought I’m not going to manage. Then I saw the very bottom clue and the rest followed. last one in was 22d, for which needed the checking letters to finally see what was going on.

    many favourite clues: I very much liked the last four across clues. I remember Jan Smuts airport in Jo’burg, which finally gave me 17d after spending ages trying to parse it. In the down clues I really liked 15, 17, 21

    Many thanks Elkamere for this challenge and thank you BD

  2. Well I found this one very hard indeed and was finally beaten by by the SE corner where I went back to the Telegraph site and got a letter to help me finish. It all took me a very long time. The cluing is certainly very clever and generally fair although I cannot see why the ‘S is in 8d. It seems to be superfluous and had me doubting my answer for a while. A real challenge.
    Thanks Elkamere and BD.

  3. Well ! Had to give up on that SE corner. Such a shame as I was progressing quite well. Except for 5d the three other corners were completed. My mistake was to look for some scholar in 12a and penciled in meritoral or the Latin version meritorio. Uhm! Say no more. In the south east corner I only had 25d thanks to my knowledge of classic TV shows. Good old Derek Trotter from only fools and horses. 18a appeared not long ago either. Thanks to Elkamere and bravo to BD for sorting it all out.

  4. I found this was one of those where you have to work out the wordplay after you’ve got the answer. Thanks to Elkamere and BD

    By the way, I think there is more to 15d than a cryptic definition. The ‘but’ from the clue is YET, reversed (contrarily) with APART (excluded) inside it (drinks).

  5. After a week of dull crosswords this came as a real treat – altho I had to call in Mrs H to help solve 1a and 5d.
    The Elkamere trademark of the cunningly hidden definition is well to the fore here: 13a [minute] 27a [steps typically etc] 25d [one after Charlie]. Also very taken with the novelty of 9d and the clever 15d [Deep Threat is correct – it’s “but” backwards around “excluded”]

    Lovely stuff – many thanks to Elkamere and to BD for the analysis.

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed this one, lovely surface readings, favourites among a host of others were 1a 13a 21d and 28a thanks to Elkamere and to Big Dave for the review.

  7. Elkamere puzzles normally take me much longer than most, and this took ages ! However there were some great clues here, such as 9d, 28a, 21d, 8d and 27a. I was also impressed that ‘climate change’ is an anagram of ‘chemical agent.’ This was a real Friday Toughie challenge. Yes, some of the other recent Toughies have been quite straightforward in comparison, but we need a variety of levels of difficulty, especially for newer solvers. Happy Christmas to all setters and bloggers; many thanks for such entertaining puzzles during 2014 !!

  8. Hate to admit it, but I gave up on this after just a handful of clues solved in too long a time. But I have resisted looking at the hints and have put it away to try again later when I’m not so busy.

  9. Did about half before I ran out of time. The wordplay was clever. I rejected my answer to 9d only to find I was right all along. My favourite clue was 25d. Having a son who can rattle off the NATO Phonetic alphabet, I felt really smug at deciphering this one. Pathetic I know!

  10. A complete bust for me – like some others, I just got a mere handful of clues. I’m afraid I did not enjoy this at all, but I am glad others did.

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