Toughie 1343 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1343

Toughie No 1343 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A thoroughly enjoyable puzzle that gave the brain a good work out. I struggled quite a lot but this may have been due to the after effects of drinking too much beer yesterday when a group of us (including Elgar and Notabilis) attended the funeral of BeRo (a Listener setter). Without the beer I might not have needed the extra half star for difficulty. There was some complex wordplay and 15 down may have fooled anyone who hasn’t seen the device used before

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.


4a    We copied guards playing with guns (8)
WEAPONED: WE + ‘copied’ round ‘playing’

8a    Ask for clean house and empty garage (6)
CHARGE: ‘To clean a house’ + the first and last letters of GaragE

9a    Runner admitting part of foot is cut (4,4)
LOIN CHOP: A runner (a ring through which something runs) goes round one-twelfth of a foot to give a cut of meat

10a    Cars I’m unsure about left unused (8)
RESIDUAL: A reversal of German cars and an interjection denoting “I’m unsure” + L (left)

11a    Pair opening and filling sack with butterflies (6)
AFRAID: The first letters of And Filling + ‘to sack’

12a    Prepare poster for distribution and go canvassing (8)
DOORSTEP: ‘To prepare’ + an anagram (for distribution) of POSTER

13a    Hotel enclosure including its collection of offers? (3,5)
HIT SQUAD: H (hotel) + a four-sided enclosure round ITS. Here an offer is someone who offs where ‘to off’ is an American slang term for ‘to kill’

16a    This country house, miles off, with nothing in it (4,4)
HOME SOIL: HO (house) + an anagram (off) of MILES round O (nothing)

19a    Perfect condition — fluffy and moist (8)
SAINTDOM: An anagram (fluffy) of AND MOIST

21a    A semi-victorious court (6)
ATRIUM: A + the first half of a 10-letter word meaning ‘victorious’ = an entrance hall of an ancient Roman house

23a    Tough old deputy (8)
EXACTING: A prefix meaning ‘old’ + an adjective meaning ‘deputy’

24a    Those introducing The Voice divulge secret recipe for viewer (2,6)
TV DINNER: The first letters of The Voice Divulge + ‘secret’

25a    Batty kid’s first to chase a nerdy type (6)
ANORAK: The first name of Mrs Batty in Last of the Summer Wine + the first letter of Kid both follow A

26a    Detective facing a charge turned suspicious (8)
PARANOID: A reversal of the abbreviation for Detective Inspector, ‘facing’, A, and a criminal charge


1d    Boots may occupy this / tiny building (4,3)
SHOE BOX: 2 meanings: a container for footwear/a very small room or space or building. It doesn’t appear in Chambers so you can decide for yourselves whether the enumeration should be (4,3) or (7)

2d    Judge right to cut a little fee (9)
ARBITRATE: ‘To judge’ = R (right) inside A and ‘little’ + ‘fee’

3d    In France I will meet businessman, a Roman Catholic (6)
JESUIT: The French word for ‘I’ + a businessman

4d    Expert put away a rake? No (4-11)
WELL-UPHOLSTERED: ‘Expert’ (4,2) + ‘put away a gun in a case on the belt’ = ‘plump or fat (i.e. not like a rake)’

5d    Clay and wicker houses top for tourism in Spanish resort (8)
ALICANTE: The name that (Cassius) Clay adopted + wicker round T (the first letter of Tourism)

6d    200 parts of us are found (5)
OCCUR: The Roman numeral for 200 goes inside (parts) ‘of us’

7d    Strange things one has to cross — great bridges to the north (7)
EXOTICA: A reversal (to the north) of I (one) TO X (cross) inside ‘great’

14d    Tender / words apt to be repeated (9)
QUOTATION: 2 meanings: tender (as submitted to a potential customer)/words often cited

15d    Soldier, name’s the same (8)
COMMANDO: The name of the punctuation mark seen in the clue + N (name) + an abbreviated form of ‘ditto’

17d    Vacation curtailed — awful tragedy (7)
OCTAVIA: An anagram (awful) of VACATIO (Vacation minus the last letter) = a tragedy mistakenly attributed to the Roman playwright Seneca the Younger

18d    Poet‘s dead — letter read out by Spooner (4,3)
JOHN GAY: The name of a poet best remembered for The Beggar’s Opera might be read out by Spooner as ‘dead’ + the 10th letter of the alphabet

20d    Sort of at home and not at home (2,1,3)
IN A WAY: ‘At home’ + ‘not at home (e.g. like a football team)’

22d    Island area that supports one game (5)
IBIZA: One of the Balearic Islands = I (one) + a shortened form of business (game) + A (area)

Why aren’t all Thursday puzzles as good as this?

22 comments on “Toughie 1343

  1. Superb – a proper Toughie – I didn’t have any beer last night and I agree with the difficulty/enjoyment ratings. There’s been a suggestion made to me that 4d is a candidate for clue of the year so far. I also liked the ‘collection of offers’.

    Thanks very much Elkamere for the splendid Toughie and to Bufo for the (equally splendid) explanations.

  2. Terrific puzzle today, favourites among many 4d 24a and 25a and it’s a pangram to boot. Thanks to Elkamere and to Bufo for the review.

  3. Loved it – thanks to Elkamere and Bufo. “Collection of offers” is brilliant. There’s obviously been a mix-up at Telegraph Towers this week and this one should have appeared on Wednesday!

  4. Couldn’t believe it. Nora Batty. That takes us back a bit.
    Didn’t get 26a and 18d unfortunately.
    I wasn’t sure if 4d ended with a D or R.
    22d was a bung in as I didn’t know a game called Biz.
    Thought 15d was commoner for some strange reason.
    I really enjoyed the challenge and I’m very satisfied to have completed all but 3 clues.
    Thanks to Elkamere and to Bufo. I’m going to rest my little head now.

  5. Brilliant! and thanks for the enlightening review Bufo. i didn’t take note of the punctuation in 15a and was wondering how to parse it. I also missed the spoonerism, almost there, but not familiar with the poet. Then I has a wrong first letter for 4d for ages which caused me some grief. Lovely word play and disguised definitions as always, I particularly liked 19a (perfect condition…),13a (collection of offers), 24a (The Voice…), and I thought 14d was exquisite (Tender words…). And 20d (at home and not at home). But every clue was a joy.

    Many thanks Elkamere, definitely in the zone, and thanks again Bufo

  6. Definitely a 5* for me. I needed the hint for 13a; I would never have got “collection of offers” otherwise. Loved the use of punctuation in 15d (once I saw it). Many thanks to Elkamere and Bufo.

  7. A stunner. 5* for enjoyment. Elkamere at his idiosyncratic best – I particularly enjoyed 11a [pair opening etc] 13a [collection of offers] 7d [a lovely construction] and 15 [the comma]. Lots more like this please.

    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Bufo for the review.

  8. It was just sheer bloody-mindedness that kept us going to get a completion, albeit with a bit of electronic assistance for the last few. In the end we ran out of available time without having fully parsed 10a and 15d. Hugely appreciated the convoluted cleverness of so many of the clues, the definition in 13a for example. Noting that it was heading towards a pangram did help us sort out the last few when we had to find places for a V and Z. Right at the top end of our solving ability and a real challenge for us.
    Thanks Elkamere and Bufo.

  9. Just right for me. Not too difficult, not too easy and with good surface readings Thanks Elkamere and Bufo

  10. 18d completely defeated me.. Oh, if only Mr Spooner would not only die but lie down! I loathe these clues and this was a particularly poor one.

    1. Not a great fan of Spoonerisms myself, JB, but look at the letters in that answer. I think an anagram was out of the question

      1. There are “corneas” and “corneal” for a start and let’s not forget “Town Gas” (My first attempt) and “Noonday”. I’m sure Elkamere could have written a good alternative clue if he wanted to. I wonder why he chose John Gay? Perhaps he is an opera fan?

  11. I needed Bufo’s help for a couple in the SW corner, although I’m pleased to say l got 15d – which was one hell of a clue. As for a favourite, there are too many but 9, 13 and 16 across and 4 down were all splendid. Certainly 5* for me, and I’m proud of getting as far as l did before resorting to Bufo’s hints. Many thanks to Elkamere, and of course to Bufo.

    1. Same here. This one may have to be put on hold until tomorrow. Although I did read 2Kiwi’s comment sneakily and I’m hoping that it might help! I’m such an optimist.

  12. I am very pleased to have finished this correctly although without fully comprehending why. I certainly enjoyed the challenge! There were no completely unknown words to me but plenty of meanings I have not encountered before – I had never noticed the American term “to off” and had not thought of weapon as a verb other than a variant in Ed Milliband’s vocabulary. I would have given it a 4* difficulty / 5* fun rating but I am sure that it took me longer than many of those giving it 5* – its all relative. I often struggle with Rufus
    I have really enjoyed the last three Elkamere toughies so heart-felt thanks to him (or her ,as the case may be) and thanks for some educating comments from Bufo

  13. I had 1D as shoe boy because ‘Boots’ is what they used to call the person who cleaned the shoes in grand houses and hotels. No wonder I couldn’t parse it.

    Struggled with most of the bottom half. so thanks for the tips.

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