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Toughie 1331

Toughie No 1331 by Sparks

That’s more like a Toughie

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A very good puzzle that gave the brain plenty of exercise. The last ones in were 9 across and 6 down which added a few minutes to my 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.


7a    Civil warmonger, possibly in situ, on manoeuvres (8)
UNIONIST: An anagram (manoeuvres) of IN SITU ON

9a    Mark pressed endlessly to stop tasteless articles (6)
TARGET: A mark that’s aimed at = a 5-letter word meaning ‘pressed’ with the first and last letters removed inside a 3-letter word for tasteless articles

10a    Ambassador hiding form of blackjack that’s fishy (4)
HAKE: An abbreviation denoting an ambassador goes round the abbreviations for two playing cards whose values total 21 in blackjack. The answer is a fish

11a    Saturate using permeating fluid (10)
IMPREGNATE: An anagram (fluid) of PERMEATING

12a    Take something from Karachi, thereupon to this place (6)
HITHER: Hidden in KaracHI THEReupon

14a    Ruler put too much weight on introducing small change (8)
OVERLORD: Take a word meaning ‘put too much weight on’ and change one letter (A becomes R)

15a    Try small drink. It’s the same as … (6)
GOSSIP: A try + S (small) + drink gives a word that means the same as the next answer

17a    … this. Cheers! Name but one (6)
TATTLE: A word that means the same as the previous answer = ‘Cheers!’ + a name with the letter I (one) removed

20a    System for firing one caught in observing another one from behind (8)
IGNITION: I (one) goes inside a reversal of ‘observing’ and I (one)

22a    This stone is converted into inert gas (6)
GARNET: INERT GAS is an anagram of this precious stone and IS

23a    Strange, regularly funny friend (10)
UNFAMILIAR: Alternate letters of fUnNy + a friend

24a    Bird‘s limited visibility to the west (4)
IBIS: Hidden in reverse in viSIBIlity

25a    Old unopened bit of meat market (6)
OUTLET: O (old) + a piece of meat with the first letter removed

26a    Postpone start of holidays, taking early deliveries (4,4)
HOLD OVER: The first letter of Holidays + early + a set of deliveries in cricket


1d    Promising European’s no good before finally getting on (8)
ENGAGING: E (European) + BG (no good) + ‘getting on’

2d    Aerosol, regularly returned, containing unknown leak (4)
OOZE: A reversal of alternate letters of aerosol aErOsOl goes round a letter that denotes an unknown

3d    Can I run after, ultimately, one more minute? (6)
TINIER: A can + I + R (run) following the last letter of onE

4d    Leaderless group occupying ridge turned up for more of the same (2,6)
ET CETERA: A reversal of a group minus its first letter inside a sharp mountain ridge

5d    Left after coaches roll up, missing one UN employee? (10)
TRANSLATOR: ‘Coaches’ with the letter I removed + L (left) + a reversal of a roll

6d    Bully for hero (6)
HECTOR: This word meaning ‘to bully’ is also the name of a Trojan hero

8d    Most excellent dope? Mine, on reflection (6)
TIPTOP: A reversal of ‘dope’ and ‘mine’

13d    Clinic admitting bishop, English kind (10)
HOSPITABLE: A clinic round B (bishop) + E (English)

16d    Begin, leader of Israeli province, I introduced to gallery (8)
INITIATE: I (first letter of Israeli) + a province of the UK + I inside the name of an art gallery

18d    It’s used to highlight orbital boundaries (8)
EYELINER: A cryptic definition for an item of make-up

19d    In heaven after working more than normal (2,4)
ON HIGH: ‘Working’ + ‘more than normal’

21d    Guiding spirit involved with, say, rising states (6)
GENIUS: A reversal of ‘involved with’ and an abbreviation denoting ‘say’ + the United States

22d    Jumble sale getting half-reduced clothing up front (6)
GARBLE: The second half of the word saLE follows ‘clothing’

24d    Smooth man, one taking the lead (4)
IRON: ‘To smooth’ = a man’s name preceded by I (one)

I won’t be around next Thursday but I’ll look forward to seeing some of you at the birthday bash

25 comments on “Toughie 1331

  1. Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, favourites were 4d 10a and 22d thanks to Sparks and to Bufo for the comments.

  2. 6d was one of my first in , but I had to “click here ” for 10a and 21 d.There were a sufficient number of clues devised in a way I understand to “bung in” the others, as Miffypops advises, such as 15a and 17a.I like a lot of the clues, so I’ll pick 5d, 6d, and 18d as a random sample of likes. Thanks Sparks and Bufo .

  3. sorry BD I had mistyped my email address

    I was only mssing the parsing for 10a, many thanks Bufo for explaining where the AK came from. Some of these clues took me a while to parse, in particular 22a (This stone is converted), 5d (left after coaches..) and 22d (jumble sale..), all with a satisfying “aha”.

    Last one in was 6d (bully), bit less of an aha..

    New words for me include arete and this usage of familiar. I also liked 24a (well hidden bird, took me a while – duh) and 25a, and the linked pair wasn’t bad either

    Many thanks Sparks and Bufo

  4. I don’t understand the hint for 4d, I have the answer but can’t find the word for a sharp mountain ridge in Chambers.

  5. Surprised to see **** for difficulty unless I have just become a honorary member of Mensa.
    Compared with some toughies I found this one quite easy-ish.
    Was held up by 20a and 18d which were my lasts in.
    Never seen so many Gs in a crossword before.
    Bufo, I think you should correct your explanations for 22a: It’s an anagram of inert gas without is. And 20a should read differently also. 1d NG and not BG.
    Sorry to be so punctilious.
    Thanks to Sparks and to you for the review.

  6. Very enjoyable offering from Sparks, loved the pairing of 15 & 17a. Thanks also to Bufo for clearing up the parsing of 9a – just couldn’t see it for some reason.

  7. I found this fairly straightforward until I reached my last two in, 6d and 9a. I twigged 6d eventually, which enabled me to write in 9a from the definition and the checking letters, but I still couldn’t parse it. Thanks to Sparks for the challenge and Bufo for the elucidation.

  8. Certainly 4* for me, on the grounds that l couldn’t fill the SE corner without Bufo’s help. This was mainly because l was trying to make 17a “natter”! 16d gets my vote for top clue. Dare l say l found the ” is” in the anagram for 22a rather odd, if not unfair, but perhaps that’s because l haven’t seen a clue constructed that way before. Still, thanks to Sparks and Bufo.

  9. A much, much better Toughie day for me than yesterday. I missed out on 23A, and for 22D took the ‘ getting half-reduced clothing up front” to mean that the answer started with the first two letters of ‘garb.’ Well, so it did, but my thinking made the finding the ‘sale’ part impossible. I also hesitated over 26A, then decided that ‘old’ must mean ‘previous’. I did think that ‘finally’ in 1D was extraneous. I didn’t know the blackjack reference in 10A but the answer could be nothing else. I liked 8D and 9A (because I was so pleased to be able to parse it). Thanks to Sparks and to Bufo for the review and assistance.

    1. For 22d I first thought of RAG for clothing up and in front and was looking for a word for reduced cut in two. And for 24d S for smooth and tar for the man. Star made sense. That corner took me quite a while too.

  10. Did much better with this one, after yesterday’s shameful attempt. Needed the hints for 9&22a and 22d but otherwise OK (with the exception of 6d, which I had to reveal).
    Favourite has to be 18d although the 15/17 combo came close.

    Many thanks to Sparks and to Bufo for the whys and wherefores.

    1. Hi Jane,
      Feels good to tackle these toughies.
      But it is so annoying when clues like 18d come along because I never analyse the surface. I try to deconstruct every word. Take Orbital Boundaries for example. Is it the outer letters of orbital or is it an indication to skip letters in boundaries? Orbital meaning at regular intervals.
      You can understand that my little foreign brain sometimes curses the subtleties of your language. The so called degree of separation between two totally different words is getting shorter every day. Even your compatriots find some of the concepts hard to grasp.
      Let’s call a spade a spade from now on. But yet again I am sure there’s a thousand meaning for that word.

  11. Yes, it feels great, Jean-luc – unless it’s yesterday’s Elkamere and you get exactly two answers!
    Most days I don’t have enough time to give them a serious try, but will keep ‘giving it a whirl’ when I can.

    I think your foreign brain is very far from being ‘little’ and far too intelligent to have missed the potential pitfall in your closing remarks.

  12. Quite a struggle today but not as hard as yesterday. I managed to get them all right – surprisingly – but without understanding 100% of the wordplay so thanks to Gazza for the blog. A good enjoyable puzzle so thanks too to Sparks – I have never found his puzzles less than challenging

    And Friday! It sounds like we shall follow two true toughies with a right roughie. It is nice to fail to finish now and then so I look forward to tomorrow lunchtime. Shin pads on first though

  13. Thanks to Bufo for blog and to all for comments. Just popping in to address JLC@5’s “G” comment: it may be a result of all answers beginning with T, O, U, G, H, I and E ;-)

    1. Very clever, Sparks – what a shame it seems to have passed us all by (although Jean-luc was obviously on the right track)!

    2. Congratulations Sparks.
      Very clever and subtle. Proves that so much work goes into setting crosswords.
      Thanks again.

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