Toughie 1317 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1317

Toughie No 1317 by Shamus

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

I found this much harder going than most Tuesday Toughies, and wonder whether other solvers thought the same.


1a Conservative retains fancy box (8)
CANISTER Conservative plus an anagram of (fancy) RETAINS.

6a Virtually best salary getting pulled (6)
TOWAGE A word for best minus its last letter (virtually) followed by a synonym for salary.

9a Glass maybe needed in speech, to give boost (6)
FILLIP A homophone of (needed in speech) the first name of the composer with surname Glass.

10a Charity, say, feeding Canadian animal, snake killer (8)
MONGOOSE A 3-letter acronym for a non-profit aid outfit inside (feeding) an animal associated with Canada.


11a Plant disease source of worry for lecturer (8)
WISTERIA Replace the abbreviation for lecturer with the first letter (source) of worry in the name of a disease.

12a County businessman with no end of fondness for cat (6)
COUGAR The abbreviation for county followed by the surname of a celebrity entrepreneur after removing the final letter (no end) of fondness.

13a Antipodean showing enthusiasm in Northumbrian ramble? (3,9)
NEW ZEALANDER A word for enthusiasm inside the part of England in which Northumbria is situated plus a word meaning ramble or roam.

16a Bachelor in excited state near start of this incendiary event (7,5)
BONFIRE NIGHT The abbreviation for bachelor, a phrase meaning excited, a synonym for night, and the first letter (start) of this.

19a Extreme characters aggrieved first to last isolated set (6)
AZORES the literal sense of a group of islands. The first and last letters of the alphabet followed by a word for aggrieved or sulking with the first letter moved to the end.

21a Normal doctor keeping Northern idiom (8)
PARLANCE A word for normal followed by a verb meaning to doctor or adulterate, with the abbreviation for northern inserted.

23a Idle, perhaps, hour? It's after working, taking minutes (8)
HUMORIST An anagram of (after working) HOUR IT'S into which is inserted the abbreviation for minutes.

25a Vulgar liqueur taken with time for end of dinner (6)
KITSCH A cherry liqueur in which the abbreviation for time is replaced by the last letter (end) of dinner.

26a Queen, say, hard to see amid visit in comprehensive (5-3)
CATCH-ALL An animal the female of which is sometimes known as a queen, followed by the abbreviation for hard inside a word for a visit.



2d A military bigwig carrying papers is bitter (6)
ACIDIC A from the clue followed by the abbreviation for a top military leader (going round carrying) a phrase for identification papers.

3d Lodge Eastern European mentioned in coastal feature (5)
INLET A homophone of (mentioned) a lodge or guesthouse and a person from the Baltic.

4d Closed competition event defended by a privileged elite? (3,6)
TOP DRAWER A word for closed (as of a door) followed by a competitive raffle (or else a tie in sport) inside (defended by) a synonym for a (in phrases like once a day).

5d Indiscriminate charge hurt upstanding attendant (7)
RAMPAGE A verb meaning to hurt or spoil, reversed (upstanding) and followed by a royal attendant.

6d Medicine for prison curtailed (5)
TONIC A phrase meaning destined for prison, minus the last letter (curtailed).

7d Tiny amount cut by ordinary sitcom actor in mystery play (9)
WHODUNNIT A synonym for a small amount or a jot goes round (cut by) the abbreviation for ordinary and the surname of an actor of Dad's Army fame.

8d Lightweight interpretation ignoring line supported by Obama say (not half) (8)
GOSSAMER An interpretation or explanation, after deleting (ignoring) the abbreviation for line, followed (supported) by the first half of the nationality represented by Barack Obama.

13d Criminal blowing safe in court's interior (9)
NEFARIOUS An anagram of SAFE IN and the inside letters of cOURt.

14d One inside arousing trouble having polished off barrel? (5,4)
LAGER LOUT Someone serving time in prison, plus an anagram of (arousing) TROUBLE minus the abbreviation for barrel.

15d Black drink before party dispelling pressure for music-maker (8)
BOUZOUKI The abbreviation for black, a Greek alcoholic drink, and a UK political party after removing the abbreviation for pressure.


17d Showing a preference of one's own? (7)
NEPOTIC Cryptic definition of an unfamiliar (to me) variant of a word meaning showing favouritism towards one's relatives.

18d List namely on register (6)
SCROLL An uncommon two-letter abbreviation meaning namely, plus a register (of electors, say).

20d Elegant description of Somerset (or thereabouts) (5)
SWISH The answer could be interpreted as meaning vaguely in the region of Somerset.

22d Half-hearted group starts to show honest shame (5)
ABASH A Nordic pop foursome, after deleting one of the central letters (half-heartedly), plus the initial letters of (starts to) show honest.

I thought this one was a bit short of stand-out clues, hence the measly two stars for enjoyment.

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

20 comments on “Toughie 1317

  1. I’ll be the first to disagree then, shall I?

    Tuesday level ‘toughness’ which I didn’t mind as I was wondering which day it was – Christmas can be so confusing! I also enjoyed the solving process too – no special favourites, just an all round nice solve. 1*/3* for me.

    Thank you and Happy New Year to Shamus and Toro.

  2. I’m still trying to get to grips with these toughies! But as they say practice makes perfect. Many thanks to Toro for putting me straight.

  3. This is the first Toughie I’ve managed to (nearly) finish. I managed to get 18d wrong hence the nearly.

    I’m assuming either this was an easy Toughie or the four stars equate to the normal DT crossword levels of difficulty.

    I don’t normally bother with the Toughie unless I’ve both finished the DT crossword and read the paper before my train gets me home. Even then I normally only get a couple of clues. Glad I had the time today to tackle this one!

    Assuming the DT difficulty rating, I would rate this as ***/****. Maybe I was just on the setter’s wavelength today, but I often find the DT more difficult.

  4. I enjoyed this (but I did solve it immediately after today’s back-pager so I may be biased!). My favourite is 20d – I bet I can guess which will be the favourite for the 2Kiwis. Thanks to Shamus and Toro.

  5. Some clever wordplay but several indigestible surfaces dampened the enjoyment rather. 3*/2*

    Many thanks to Shamus and Toro.

    1. You obviously didn’t have a Yorkshire Granny who would always instruct us to push the door ‘to’ meaning she wanted it closed. The BRB defines it as an adverb meaning in a closed or fastened position.

      1. Well yes, I’ve certainly heard the expression but not out of context like this. Being picky! Hope your Yorkshire Grannie made you proper Yorkshire puddings. Happy New Year.

        1. She did – always as a separate course before the main one. Her roast dinners were legendary.

  6. Agree with Toro’s view – nothing wrong with it but a bit of a slog with no stand-out clues.

    Thanks to Shamus and to Toro for the analysis.

  7. This is my first crossword for over a week. Not too difficult – just a couple of words / composer I have not come across before.

    For me a reasonably enjoyable test – about the level of difficulty needed after a lay-off

    I now have a pile of recent crosswords that I hope to get through before I return to work. It includes the Christmas Elgar which took me ages just to find how to access it on the Telegraph puzzles site. I think that one will wait a few days before I feel brave enough to have a try!

    Thanks to Shamus and Toro

  8. We are in agreement with Toro on the difficulty level, despite having an immediate write in at 13a to give us several checkers. Although we had the right cat for 12a we were, and still are, at a complete loss as to who the businessman might be. (Take that back, Carol had a flash of recalled memory just now and we put the title in front of the name and found him on Google. Don’t think The Apprentice has made it to TV in NZ.). Found it quite a challenge and an enjoyable one.
    Thanks Shamus and Toro.

  9. I was very relieved to see that Toro awarded this **** as I only got half the solutions.I am usually not too bad on complicated anagrams , but most of them got me this time..It took me a while to work out the spelling of 7d, but I knew that had to be it.I liked 16d 16a,19a and 13a amoungst others.

  10. I’d score this at 3*/3*, and have to pick 23a as favourite – mainly because l love the song featured on Toro’s hint for that clue! Many thanks to Shamus, and to Toro for the review.

  11. Thanks to Toro for the blog and everyone for comments. If I could be given festive licence for trumpet blowing and in case anyone is short of things to do over the New Year celebrations, may I recommend the remainder of the Christmas ‘celebrity’ series of University Challenge on BBC2 – two semi-finals and a final to be shown on Friday. I’ve debuted on this series as a UC question setter.

    1. Thanks for the puzzle, Shamus, and for all the enjoyment you’ve provided throughout the year. What with University Challenge and Only Connect you’re in danger of being referred to the Monopolies Commission. :D

    2. Thanks for dropping in, Shamus, congratulations on the University Challenge gig, and please keep up the entertaining puzzles. Happy New Year and very best to you.

  12. I’m afraid this had no enjoyment for me at all. I got six answers – actually I got nine, but I could not see how the other three could be correct. I’m not sure I’m much the wiser now that I see the (excellent as usual) blog. Way too many obscure references and word-plays for me, My hat is off to those who could make head or tail of this.

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