Toughie 1320 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1320

Toughie No 1320 by Notabilis

Sheer class!

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

Sit back and admire – this is a gentler Notabilis, but still at his best.

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 Nervous diner perhaps making a mess of meal’s cod (8)
DAMOCLES: this diner had every right to be nervous, sitting at the table with a sword dangling over his head, held only by a single hair of a horse’s tail! – he’s an anagram (mess) of MEAL’S COD

5a Crime writer, far from sinister? (6)
DEXTER: the surname of the author of the books about Inspector Morse is the Latin for right, the opposite of left (sinister)

9a Band‘s attempt to hide shiny dome, more than half finished (5)
COMBO: the first five letters (more than half finished) of an eight-letter word (4-4) for a strip of hair placed over a bald patch (shiny dome) on a man’s head in an attempt to hide it

10a Baronet stashing odd cask to mature out of public view (9)
BACKSTAGE: the abbreviation for B(arone)T around an anagram (odd) of CASK and followed by a verb meaning to mature

ARVE Error: need id and provider

12a Cruel, heartless mocking, full of twists and turns (10)
MEANDERING: an adjective meaning cruel or unkind followed by a verb meaning mocking or laughing at without its two central letters (heartless)

13a Question mark appears at left of screen (4)
MASK: a verb meaning to question preceded by (appears at left) M(ark)

15a Provincial company not put to the test about uncertainty (11)
COUNTRIFIED: CO(mpany) followed by an adjective meaning not put to the test around a two-letter uncertainty

16a Rotation of planetary sphere is relative (3)
BRO: reverse another word for a sphere

17a Wife and husband go off source of gluten to tolerate in diet (3)
EAT: drop W(ife) and H(usband) from the start of a source of gluten

18a Working with teeth initially meshed, one side of cog breaking a channel (11)
MASTICATION: the initial letter of M[eshed] followed by I (one) and the initial letter (side) of C[og] inside the A from the clue and a television or radio channel

20a Lighter spades are daunting (4)
SCOW: this lighter is a flat-bottomed boat used for transporting cargo to and from ships in harbour – S(pades) followed by a verb meaning daunting or intimidating

21a Marching one abreast, crossing middle of hostile desert, enter secretly (10)
INFILTRATE: a verb meaning marching one abreast or one behind the other (2,4) around the middle letter of [hos]T[ile] and a verb meaning to desert

24a Support needs time for introduction of care attendants (9)
ENTOURAGE: atart with a verb meaning to support or reassure and insert T(ime) in place of the initial letter (introduction) of C[are]

26a Short glass of beer after port wine (5)
RIOJA: most of a three-letter word for a glass of beer preceded by (after) a South American port

27a Delivery from a Mister Right, bitten by a dog (6)
SPRITZ: this mister squirts liquid – R(ight) inside a breed of dog

28a Less conceited person associated with fashion? (8)
MODESTER: could be someone associated with fashion when pronounced as if it were split (4-4)


1d Split personality’s first attacked with tear gas — the wrong way! (6)
DECAMP: to get this verb meaning to split or make off, the initial letter (first) of P[ersonality] is followed by a verb meaning attacked with a type of tear gas and the whole lot is reversed (the wrong way)

2d One’s venomous combination of arts and business qualifications (5)
MAMBA: combine an arts qualification with a business qualification

3d Deafening boom’s beginning in damned storm (10)
CLOUDBURST: an adjective meaning deafening and the initial letter (beginning) of B[oom] inside the archaic spelling of an adjective meaning damned

ARVE Error: need id and provider

4d Endless bickering where health benefits are offered (3)
SPA: most of (endless) dome bickering

6d Other part involved when getting one’s leg over (4)
ELSE: hidden (part) and reversed (over) inside the clue

7d Youth having jelly with daughter in outdoor restaurant (3,6)
TEA GARDEN: a youth around a type of jelly and D(aughter)

8d Something to secure sails oftener crumpled across end of deck (4,4)
REEF KNOT: an anagram (crumpled) of OFTENER around the final letter (end) of [dec]K

10d Earthy tone isn’t unusual in upsetting old queen with problem (5,6)
BURNT SIENNA: an anagram (unusual) of isn’t inside the reversal (upsetting in a down clue) of the last Stuart Queen and a three-letter problem

11d To salvage parts from wreck is in balance (11)
CANNIBALISE: an anagram (wreck) of IS IN BALANCE

14d Female member of clergy losing the lead on Spanish cape (10)
FINISTERRE: F(emale) followed by a member of clergy without (losing) his initial letter (lead) and a two-letter word meaning on

15d Person arriving to protect stronghold, one that brings relief (9)
COMFORTER: a person who is arriving around (to protect) a stronghold

16d Union’s base turned smaller during brief skirmish (8)
BRUSSELS: this Union is the European Union! – a word meaning smaller is reversed (turned) inside most of a skirmish

19d Make good theatre company put on show (6)
REPAIR: a theatre company followed by (put on) a verb meaning to show

22d Stir pint to make one’s own (5)
ADOPT: a stir or fuss followed by P(in)T

23d Give up length cut from duvet (4)
QUIT: drop (cut) L(ength) from a duvet

25d Starts to give you muscles? It might (3)
GYM: the initial letters or three words in the clue

If only they could all be this good, wouldn’t we be spoilt?

13 comments on “Toughie 1320

  1. I agree BD, not his toughest but still very enjoyable, particularly 1a and 1d. Thanks for the analysis and thanks, of course, to the Maestro.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, favourites were 9a 16d and 27a thanks to Notabilis and to Big Dave for the review.

  3. Brilliant stuff. I, for one, wouldn’t mind at all if I were to be spoilt by a load of puzzles like this one

    Couldn’t see where 9a came from, d’oh, although the answer was obvious, so thanks for sorting that out Dave. Easy when you know.

    Many thanks to Notabilis for the head scratching enjoyment.

  4. I really enjoyed this, despite being defeated by 16D, 20A and 27A. Favorites are 9A, 1D and 7D. Many thanks to Notabilis and to BD for the review and hints for the ones that got away.

  5. Not as tricky as the (actually on the) back pager but I’d give it at least 3.5 – 4 stars for difficulty but definitely 5* for enjoyment.

    Thank you to Notabilis and BD.

  6. Largely a solo effort today as half the team gave up after just a handful of answers in place. Eventually, after a long time and with a modicum of electronic assistance, it all came together with a roar of laughter when I twigged the wordplay for 9a. Very challenging and ultimately, very satisfying.
    Thanks Notabilis and BD.

  7. Enjoyed this in the pub with a few friends. Needed the hints for 5a (shame) 16d and 27a. The rest was an enjoyable, albeit slow, solve. All superb clues.
    I didn’t spot the wordplay for 9a either.

    Many thanks notabilis and bd.

  8. I enjoyed this although I was disappointed not to finish – I was missing 5 in the end. Looking at the answers, I’m not surprised I didn’t get the final 5 (all on the left hand edge). Great puzzle – many thanks to all.

  9. I don’t often do the Toughie but after todays back page I thought it couldn’t be any trickier.

    I’ll happily confess to not finishing, 7 left that I needed hints for, but blimey I am glad I tried.

    As BD said, sheer class.

    The whole thing is wonderfully crafted with 9a making me laugh. Even now!

    Many thanks to Notabilis for an excellent puzzle and to BD for blogging.

    1. Thanks for suggesting it, Hanni. Didn’t get as far as you (10 unsolved) but very glad I gave it a whirl.

      Many thanks to Notabilis and to BD for unravelling the clues.

  10. 5* enjoyment and then some. 9a took ages but not as long as the dreaded craft in 20a. Catches me every time.. Huge thanks to Notabilis and BD.

  11. Very enjoyable but needed some held with LHS then it fitted into place. All clues easily rationalised after getting the answer. Favourites were all the 11 letter clues .

  12. Finally got round to this today. What a joy, although I needed the hint for 27a, I feel chuffed to have finished. Many thanks to Notabllis for brightening an otherwise gloomy day and to BD for the as usual excellent review

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