Toughie 1314

Toughie No 1314 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Tilsit

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

Greetings from the Calder Valley!

As our usual Tuesday chappie is gallivanting elsewhere, I’ve offered to help out today. I won’t go on about the grid, but suffice it to say, it is not one of my favourites. The puzzle itself fits well into the Tuesday slot and some will like it and some won’t. You pays your money…..

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    Gets as disgruntled with commerce, wanting to be a celeb (5-6)
STAGE STRUCK:    An anagram (disgruntled) of GETS AS plus a word meaning commerce will give you what someone is who wants to be a z-lister.

9a    Be unable to keep up with a complicated narrative (4)
SAGA:    A word meaning to be unable to keep up with, feel tired plus A gives you a story. I had CANT as a double definition at first.

10a    Go together (5,6)
JOINT EFFORT:    I think this is a cryptic definition with an alternative meaning for go.

11a    Foreign port or local one (4)
BARI:    The name of an Italian port is found by taking the name for a local and adding I for one.

14a    Report of discharge from hospital after time unconscious (7)
THUNDER:    After an abbreviation for time, put an abbreviation for a hospital and then add what you are if you are unconscious.

16a    Leaving word (7)
GOODBYE:    A cryptic way of saying what you utter when you depart or leave.

18a    Observed figure entering early in the morning (5)
SEVEN:    Inside a word meaning observed goes a Roman numeral. This gives you a time that is early for some.

19a    Stops having passed over C for ‘Charts’ (4)
LOGS:    A word meaning stops of bungs up needs to lose its first letter C to get something that means charts or records.

20a    Half your age but without a motivation (4)
URGE:    Take half of the word [YO]UR and add the word [A]GE minus its first letter to get something that means motivation.

21a    Specially heart-breaking for which of two girls? (5)
CELIA:    Take the middle five letters of SPECIALLY and you get two girls’ names. One of them goes in here. I’m not sure this is strictly fair as you would need checkers to decide which to enter.

23a    For each falsified chit, put inside, in jug (7)
PITCHER:    An anagram of CHIT needs to go inside a word meaning for, the Latin term. This gives you the name of a large jug.

24a    Liking cream on top (7)
ELITIST:    A cryptic way of saying someone with a penchant for those people who are superior.

25a    Nothing in it — a very little (4)
IOTA:    Something very small, also a letter of the Greek alphabet is found by placing O (nothing) inside IT and adding A

30a    Required for nefarious purpose? (5,6)
BADLY NEEDED:    Another cryptic definition for something desperately wanted.

31a    Blows hot and cold? (4)
TAPS:    A double definition. A word meaning blows (on the head) plus what hot and cold may refer to.

32a    Very quickly, as the head says:’No, no!’ (2,3,6)
IN TWO SHAKES:    A double definition with one part cryptic. A way of saying when something will be done quickly, is what someone could be doing if they say no twice.


2d Implement return of stolen property (4)
TOOL: Like certain other setters, I am not over keen on reversal clues where the return indicator is in the middle meaning you can’t safely enter the answer without checking letters, as with the girl’s name above. Here a word meaning stolen property is reversed to give a word meaning an implement.

3d Left for good, time after (4)
GONE: Something that means left is found by taking G (good) and adding a time of day afterwards.

4d Spots concealing the boils (7)
SEETHES: A word meaning boils (with rage) is found by taking a word meaning spots or looks and inserting THE.

5d Whole lot of help for the shipwrecked (4)
RAFT: A double definition. A word meaning a large quantity is the same as something a shipwrecked sailor may use to escape.

6d Funny actor performing that makes us laugh (7)
CARTOON: A word for something that makes one laugh is an anagram of ACTOR plus a short word meaning performing or working.

7d Demented, with a crack on the head (4)
GAGA: A word meaning demented or unstable is found by taking a word for a joke and adding A.

8d Paradoxical things the Cheshire Cat would show? (6,5)
CANINE TEETH: If you remember what the Cheshire cat was left with in the famous book, you may notice these which are decidedly unfeline.

12d Right through, no matter what the score? (2,3,6)
AT ALL POINTS: Not an expression I’ve heard of, I assume it’s something that means ‘right through’. Take something that means no matter what and add a word for a sporting score.

13d Persuade chum to go ahead in financial planning (6)
BUDGET: A homophone for someone moving is a word meaning financial planning

15d Direct attention either way (5)
REFER: A palindrome that means to channel or direct attention

16d He’ll get you what you want — information, that is (5)
GENIE: Someone who grants wishes is revealed by taking a word meaning information and adding the abbreviation that means that is to say.

17d British liner travels into foreign city (6)
BERLIN: A foreign capital I hope to visit in early 2015 is revealed by taking B for British and adding an anagram of LINER.

21d Convinced train will be derailed by ice, I must get off (7)
CERTAIN: A word meaning convinced is an anagram of TRAIN + ICE minus I.

22d Nuts about my Alsatian, lads will be romping (7)
ALMONDS: A type of nut found by making an anagram of LADS and inseting how they would say my in Alsace-Lorraine.

26d Kind and gentle, yet outwardly quite different (4)
TYPE: A word for a kind, is found by taking the abbreviation to play gently and YET and jumbling them.

27d Stupid, seeing sun as it is setting (4)
SLOW: A word that means stupid is revealed by taking S for sun and its location when it is setting.

28d Gamble on a letter from abroad (4)
BETA: A letter from the Greek alphabet is found by using a word meaning to gamble or speculate and adding A.

29d Where hotel being demolished used to be (4)
WERE: Take H (hotel) out of where – to get a word meaning used to be.

Thanks to Excalibur and I shall see you on Christmas Day dealing with our very own Vlad the Impaler’s Festive offering!



  1. Franco
    Posted December 23, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    14 wee stinkers! It must be very difficult for the setter to compile a puzzle with this grid and it’s also been quite tough to solve! Thanks to Excalibur. Awaiting the reasoning behind 3d.

    Tilsit – your solution for 24a may be wrong – or maybe I am wrong?

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      It isn’t you!

      3d G (good)followed by ONE (o’clock – time…. after)

      • tilsit
        Posted December 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Franco

        I dashed off half of the puzzle and the Cheshire cat solution was my last one in and hadn’t altered it!

  2. happy days
    Posted December 23, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    A beautifully crafted puzzle. I love Excalibur’s surface readings. So misleading yet always so fair. Every moment of solving was a pleasure. Merry Christmas to all setters and to all my fellow solvers

  3. JonP
    Posted December 23, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I find it quite difficult to get on this setter’s wavelength consistently; always some clues that are very straightforward and some that make me scratch my head – especially some of the cryptic defs in this puzzle…. Anyway, thanks Tilsit and Excalibur.

    • tilsit
      Posted December 23, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      I think Jon sums it up nicely. I find the puzzles challenging for a variety of reasons and often get on better with some of the other Toughie setters (even Elgar!) because I am not looking for the way that things are being explained. This took me longer than the last Friday Toughie to solve.

      To be fair to Excalibur she is adept at producing concise and often humorous clues, but occasionally I find they take the odd liberty. I also am not keen on puzzles where you have to deal with fewer than half of the checking letters. Some people like that, it doesn’t seem fair to me.

      Crosswords are all about ‘you pays your money and you takes your choice’. We have someone comes on almost every weekand has a go at the Sunday setter when everyone praises that setters wit and originality. Obviously you can’t please everyone!

  4. Rick
    Posted December 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    All going steadily until I got stuck on the mini puzzle in the NE corner. Not sure why because, as is so often the case, when one fell they all did. Feeling smug now having completed both a Toughie and the Guardian’s Enigmatist (although he was in a benevolent pre-Christmas mood today.)

  5. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 23, 2014 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    We found it quite a grind dealing with all the 4 letter answers. A couple of them seem particularly dodgy, like ONE for time in 3d and P for gently in 26d. However we did get there although it was not a quick solve for us.
    Thanks Excalibur and Tilsit.

  6. Chris
    Posted December 23, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I agree with the 2Kiwis about some of those short answers – they felt unsatisfying to solve to me, without the “clicking into place” feeling a correct answer usually gives. 3*/3* for me, and thank you to Tilsit and Excalibur.

  7. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 23, 2014 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Agreed. Some clues really easy to get and others so far fetched that it made me wonder if it was from the same person.
    Made a mistake on 7d as fada was stuck in my mind until I read Tilsit’s review.
    I still don’t understand 13d as I thought of budge for persuade but at same time chum is probably bud and get for go ahead. Or does he mean persuade as an introduction to the clue? Or is T a chum?
    21a was quite odd but a nice reference to Alice in wonderland.
    For 22d I first thought it was an anagram of my a lads which became amydals. A French deformation of the glands we have at the bottom of the throat and they look like nuts, I swear.
    I haven’t filled in 10a yet. Whether it is round effort or sound effort or something else, I just don’t care.
    Thanks to Excalibur and to Tilsit for the effort.

    • gazza
      Posted December 23, 2014 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      For 13d I think GET is persuade (as in “I’ll get him to lend me some money”) with BUD (chum) ahead of it.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted December 23, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Gazza. I see it now. Clever construction.