Toughie 1333 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1333

Toughie No 1333 by Excalibur

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

Psst... don't tell the boss, but for the most part I thought this was a lovely puzzle from Excalibur. I like her short clues with their vivid surface readings and imagery, and had fun figuring out the wordplay.

Just checking that you've all booked tickets for Saturday...


1a Dad's skin is fair (8)
PASSABLE Another way of saying Dad's, plus an animal pelt.

5a Married with a northerner showing charm (6)
MASCOT The abbreviation for married, A from the clue and a northern Briton.

9a Lover plays round -- all right, ignore (8)
OVERLOOK An anagram (plays) of LOVER, the round letter of the alphabet and a phrase meaning all right.

10a Retire from theatre to broadcast (6)
REPAIR A type of theatre and a verb meaning to broadcast.

12a Gives cry -- aims to muffle (6)
ENDOWS A word for aims or objectives goes round (to muffle) a cry of pain.

13a Way to the heart of crossword setters in groups (8)
CLUSTERS An abbreviation for a type of road is inserted into the middle (to the heart) of a word for crossword setters.


15a Asked to repeat from middle through finale (7)
ENCORED A word for middle or centre inside a finale or close.

16a Warning two couples verbally (4)
FORE A homophone (verbally) of two times two.

20a It gets travellers off what could be criminal offence (4)
RAMP Double definition, being both a slipway for a boat (or a motorway slip road) and a form of price-rigging.

21a Request red for a change and pour out all round (5,2)
ORDER UP An anagram (for a change) of RED with an anagram (out) of POUR on the outside (all round).


25a Before framing it's in for reproduction as 'original' (8)
PRISTINE A prefix meaning before goes round (framing) an anagram (for reproduction) of IT'S IN.

26a Pass key taken by mistake (6)
ELAPSE A musical key followed by a mistake or failure of memory or concentration.

28a Broke in, felt bad about fencing (6)
RUINED A word for felt bad about or regretted goes round (fencing) IN from the clue.

29a Reconditioning for pan that's seen better days (8)
FACELIFT Cryptic definition in which pan is US slang for face. (Hmm...)


30a Embracing an extremely pretty girl, European (6)
DANISH A word for an attractive girl (more often used about a man) around (embracing) AN from the clue.

31a Gun for the teller (8)
REPEATER A type of firearm that could describe someone who recounts or relates something,


1d 'Ring with red stone' -- rub out 'fake' (6)
PHONEY To ring or call plus a red precious stone after deleting (out) RUB.

2d Hey! That's my partner! (6)
STEADY A word for a regular boyfriend or girlfriend that can also be used to mean hey or calm down.

3d Wholly indebted for not stopping (8)
ALLOWING A word for wholly or entirely followed by one meaning in debt.

4d Cat returning, no milk -- edges away (4)
LION NO from the clue plus the inner letters (edges away) of mILk, all reversed (returning).

ARVE Error: need id and provider

6d Indisposed? A get-well card may extend it! (6)
AVERSE A word for indisposed or unwilling could be read as what a greeting card might contain or extend. (Hmm...)

7d Who made sure the dates were correct (8)
CHAPERON Cryptic definition of an adult who ensures there is no adolescent hanky-panky at a social event for younger people such as a prom.

8d Shut up, breaking heart's skipping beats (8)
THRASHES An exclamation meaning shut up or be quiet goes inside (breaking) an anagram (skipping) of HEART'S.

11d Took coat off, getting soaked (7)
FLEECED Another double definition, in which soaked means ripped off or overcharged.


14d Circle low above, ensuring boat is safe (7)
MOORING A word for a circle, with a verb meaning to low (as of a cow) above it.

17d Set complicated paper and left (8)
PREPARED An anagram (complicated) of PAPER and a word meaning politically left-wing.

18d Aspiration to be a doctor? Not I -- I will cook (8)
AMBITION A from the clue followed by a US bachelor of medicine and an anagram (will cook) of NOT I -- I.

19d A sweet cow passing by might catch it (5-3)
BULLS-EYE ...if a fully endowed male its kind is in the vicinity.


22d Not those short-changed, note having been pocketed (6)
OTHERS An anagram (changed) of SHORT goes round a musical note.

23d 'Run', in small type (6)
SPRINT The abbreviation for small plus a word for published text.

24d It's one of twenty-six he leases (6)
LETTER A unit of the Roman alphabet and a landlord of a rental property

27d The 'Four Keys' in which one had a meal? (4)
CAFÉ An eatery consisting of four musical notes.

OK, so there were perhaps too many notes and keys, and 29a and 6d (unless I am missing something) seem a little unfair, but there were many clues to enjoy here. I'll pick out 13a, 21a, 25a, 4d (lovely image) and 18d - but what were your favourites?

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

21 comments on “Toughie 1333

  1. Not bad for a Tuesday, favourites were 2d and 7d thanks to Excalibur and to Toro for the comments.

  2. Hm, I struggled on NE mainly because I missed 13a (crossword setters – oh dear!) and wasn’t sure about 6d & 10a. I also missed 25a, having completely misparsed this became a deliberation between painting and printing – painting won, for what it’s worth…
    I enjoyed 7d and 19d, and many of the other clues. It took me way too long to translate two couples into the homophone in 16a. Thank you very much Excalibur and Toro

  3. I have a rule with all crosswords except those in the Telegraph – published crosswords and test solves alike – that they have three separate attempts to solve and then they go ‘in the recycling bin’ – well this one took four goes, I started it and didn’t get far, emailed a friend to make sure it wasn’t ‘just me’ (apparently it wasn’t) had another go and then moved on to the Guardian (lovely Brendan). I then did some work (!) and then had a couple more goes at the Toughie until eventually I got there.

    I obviously had major wavelength issues this morning and certainly didn’t enjoy the struggle. About three times as long to solve as last Friday’s Elgar.

    Thanks anyway to Excalibur and Toro.

  4. The usual delightful crossword from Excalibur. Lovely surface readings that lead mischievously astray. Favourites among very many were 7d and 19d.Thanks to the setter and to Toro

  5. Tough, tough, tough for a Tuesday!

    Much help from Toro was required. Thanks to Him for the review … and to Her for the puzzle.

    (I wonder if the “boss” will be tempted to have look?)

  6. Could not have completed without your hints Toro – so thank you! Thanks also to Excalibur for the difficult (for me) but enjoyable solve.

  7. I’ve upped the difficulty rating to 4 stars, which was my first reaction on solving. I was knackered at the time, and on writing up the explanations I thought it must just have been me. Comments so far suggest it wasn’t!

  8. Quite difficult as it was a grid à la Sylvanus with 4 corners and only one checking letter to join them.
    NE corner is the one that drained all my energy.except for 5 and 16a which were relatively simple.
    For 29a, first thought of an anagram of FOR PAN IE (that is) and came to the conclusion that it was PINAFORE. Quite suitable actually, but the down clues proved me wrong.
    I did apply CS’ rule as I started last night and did make good progress. But as I said, spent the rest of the day on that NE corner.
    Thanks to Toro for the hints which were sufficient to allow me to finish, and to the setter of course.

    1. I toyed with both PINAFORE and PHANTAST (anag of PAN THAT’S) before moving on and getting it later from the checking letters. Like you I found the eastern half generally harder.

  9. I’m glad it’s not just me. I could not get on the setter’s wavelength and I regret to have to say that I did not enjoy it at all. I gave up halfway through. Re 29A, once again a so-called American slang word is used that in my 30+ years here I have never, ever heard anyone utter in that context. When I read the review, that just added to my irritation level. Thanks, Toro, and hat’s off to you for sorting it all out.

  10. We agree with both your ratings Toro. Before we had 27d we were keen to put ‘derelict’ in for 29a as it fitted the ‘seen better days’ definition but would not parse at all. Lots to enjoy and much appreciated.
    Thanks Excalibur and Toro.

  11. I may have said last time that Excalibur seems to be getting tougher and that feeling is borne out by this real stinker which took me [also] rather longer than last Friday’s. I agree with the consensus that 29a and 6d are pushing it, and also that the best clues are 7d and 19d [cryptic definitions that are amusing – other setters please note].
    Lousy grid. Long overdue for the DT to toughen up with setters about this.

    Question – explain why this is a “better” or “worse” crossword than last Friday’s. One side of A4 only.

    1. The DT provide a limited number of grids and expect the setters to use them in rotation, although some setters do seem to prefer certain types of grid.

      1. Do you know if there is any particular reason for this BD? Am I being naive in thinking that increasing available options would be beneficial?

        1. I suspect it is down to poor system design. The programmers probably hard-coded the grids, making it difficult to add new ones.

          By the way I spent over 40 years working in IT!

          1. Good grief! My other half and I have child type things that can write basic code.

            It makes me wonder if the setters have become accustomed to certain grids now and might not welcome change. Though having never set a crossword in my life it may be unfair of me to jump to that conclusion on their behalf.

            I knew you read maths…I’d have made an educated guess that you worked in IT. Java confuses the hell out of most people. ;-) Myself included.

  12. Rather late as usual when working. I was quite relieved to find this was considered a touch tricky as it took a fair bit longer than last week’s Tuesday “Toughie”. When looking back at the puzzle I found it hard to fathom why I found it difficult and I was expecting everyone on this blog to say it was 2* ONO.

    Last week on Tuesday i made a comment that was one of mild disappointment and hoping for the return of the man in boots. We then were treated to three consecutive true Toughies – a vintage week in my view. And those boots seemed to be the Industrial Safety ones adored by skinheads. I was quite pleased with my (Elgar) efforts but I fell a couple short of completion as I also did on his Christmas special.

  13. Managed to finish this by Thursday morning (with one wrong answer) which has gone some way to repair my battered confidence after last week’s mauling, that left me very downhearted. One cry for help though in 13a – are “crossword setters really CLUERS?” If so, shudder! Sh-Shoney

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