Toughie 1348 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1348

Toughie No 1348 by Notabilis

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

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

At least I had one Telegraph puzzle to enjoy today, and, what’s more, I have been able to enjoy it twice – once when solving and again when writing this review.

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    Fuel scam took off as reported in complaint (7,3)
GASTRIC FLU: a fuel followed by what sounds like (as reported) a scam and a verb meaning took off or ascended

6a    Make train sound, less hard to beat (4)
CUFF: try it – make a train sound then drop (less) the H(ard)

8a    Anti-dung moves, tending to cow (8)
DAUNTING: an anagram (moves) of ANTI-DUNG

9a    German state line ignored by jazzy music-maker, 27 (6)
SAXONY: the three-letter shortened form of a jazzy music-making instrument followed by the answer to 27 across from which L(ine) has been dropped (ignored)

10a    Not quite tough, imbibing Turkish liquor, one’s spilling one’s guts (4-4)
HARA-KIRI: most of an adjective meaning tough around (imbibing) a Turkish liquor and followed by I (one)

11a    Classy cocktail of prawn and peel (6)
UNWRAP: the single-letter that represents classy followed by an anagram (cocktail) of PRAWN

12a    Idle  brains (4)
LOAF: two definitions – the first a verb and the second a slang word for the head

14a    Sluggish river and isle sheltered by point (7)
DORMANT: R(iver) and an Isle located in the Irish Sea inside (sheltered by) a point or speck

18a    Soldier harbouring yen to damage state since military regime (7)
MYANMAR: a three-letter word for a soldier around (harbouring) Y(en) and followed by a verb meaning to damage or harm gives the name given to an Asian state by its military regime

20a    State engaged in biowarfare (4)
IOWA: hidden inside (engaged in) the clue

23a    Finish off front of Harley and thereupon mostly cycle around (6)
KIBOSH: take the initial letter (front) of H[arley], a two-letter word meaning thereupon and most of a colloquial word for a cycle and reverse the lot (around)

24a    Battle-axe from NE city coming in the end of next week (8)
TOMAHAWK: NE is the abbreviation for the US state of Nebraska, so put a Nebraskan city between the final letter (end) of [nex]T and W(ee)K

25a    20 in charge, appropriate for next generation (6)
FILIAL: the abbreviation for the US state that is the answer to 20 Across inside a verb meaning to charge, as in to charge one’s tankard with beer

26a    Croats now live here where dogs were spotted? (8)
DALMATIA: a cryptic definition of the place, now part of Croatia, from which a breed of spotted dog is believed to have originated

27a    Stone cut across tip of leather sole (4)
ONLY: most of a semi-precious stone around the initial letter (tip) of L[eather]

28a    Stretch cape tucked into belt: one gets a grilling after a split (10)
SPATCHCOCK: a stretch or period and C(ape) inside (tucked into) a verb meaning to belt or wallop


1d    Wearing top medal, Detective Constable greeting one who’s received sponsorship (8)
GODCHILD: start with the top medal awarded at an event like the Olympic games then insert the abbreviation for Detective Constable and a two-letter greeting

2d    Briefly escort maiden and feel awkward (6)
SQUIRM: most of (briefly) a man who escorts or attends a lady followed by M(aiden)

3d    Painter‘s rubbish on hospital floor (6)
ROTHKO: some rubbish followed by H(ospital) and a verb meaning to floor or strike down

4d    Conservationists plugging reef material as far as deep, for women (9)
CONTRALTO: the usual conservationists inside (plugging) the material from which reefs are made followed by a two-letter word meaning as far as to give lowest musical voice for women

5d    Broad-minded free-form nuts heading off Poet Laureate (8)
UNSTUFFY: an anagram (free-form) of NUTS followed by the surname of the first woman to hold the post of Poet Laureate without her initial letter (heading off)

6d    Steer away from NE, in the clutches of first son as helmsman (8)
COXSWAIN: this steer has four legs! – follow him with the direction opposite to NE and put it all inside the name of Adam’s first son

7d    Ample area of land accommodates new free-form composition (8)
FANTASIA: a three-letter adjective meaning ample or bulky in form and a large land mass around (accommodates) N(ew)

ARVE Error: need id and provider

13d    Are all soldiers of this type female? (6,3)
AMAZON ANT: these six-legged soldiers could be named after a legendary race of female warriors

15d    Neglected state of old black cat that’s fed six (8)
OBLIVION: O(ld), B(lack) and a large cat around (that’s fed) the Roman numerals for six

16d    Over half graduate and run computer department in transport (8)
MAJORITY: the recipient of a higher Arts degree followed by R(un) and a two-letter computer department inside transport or delight

17d    Former Russian leader and I clash on showing ‘perestroika’ (8)
NICHOLAS: this pre-revolution Russian leader is an anagram (showing ‘perestroika’ / reconstruction) of I CLASH ON

19d    Fold bed that’s part of hiker’s gear (8)
RUCKSACK: a fold or crease followed by a colloquial word for bed

21d    Result if heated conflict goes over month (6)
WARMTH: a major conflict followed by M(on)TH

22d    Military display and tasteless articles as well (6)
TATTOO: some tasteless articles followed by an adverb meaning as well

I’ve added some black-and-white photos of the Birthday Bash, contributed by George, to the gallery.

27 comments on “Toughie 1348

  1. Very clever stuff, I only noticed after completion that there’s no E’s in the grid, favourites were 6d 13d and 26a thanks to Notabilis and to Big Dave for the comments.

          1. Not only I have trouble spotting a pangram but if we have to look out for lipograms, I give up.
            We have a famous lipogram in France called: “la disparition” by George Perec. Not an E in sight either.

            1. There was a puzzle in the Independent several weeks ago now which, like this one, had no Es but the word ‘lipogram’ was actually one of the solutions, so I looked it up, and have been waiting for a chance to use it ever since.

      1. I was so close to moaning about the 8 double unches, then the grid looked at me ;) Fabulous stuff even if I am kicking myself for the time it took me to parse 25a. , Thanks Notabilis and BD

  2. Super crossword indeed.
    Managed to finish it as the lunchtime service finished early. I suppose it’s due to the school holidays starting tonight for a period of two weeks.
    My chef got 28a for me. I could only think of the butterfly way of preparing poultry.
    6a and 7d were my last ones in.
    First thought it was cane as in chain without the H until I parsed 7d correctly.
    NW and SE corners were quite straightforward and 23a and 25a took a bit longer to solve.
    It’s always a pleasure to complete the Friday toughie. Doesn’t happen every week.
    Thanks to Notabilis and to BD for the review.

  3. Gosh! A 4-star Notabilis and I completed it without any hints and in very reasonable time. I am all cock-a-hoop now. I did look up the Turkish liquor that I’ve not heard of before, but the answer to the clue was obvious. Lots to enjoy. I liked 23A and 15D in particular, but my favorite is 24A because of the clever bit of misdirection with NE.

  4. Enjoyed this tremendously – fun and readily solvable, and I found it much easier [2*] than yesterday’s MynoT [4.5*]. Reverse the stars for enjoyment.

    Favourites were 24a [I suspect I was not alone in first assuming NE meant North-East] 4d [deep for women] 6d [steer away from NE] 16d [transport] and 17d [showing perestroika as an anagrind – lovely]. One minor quibble – in 15d I’m not convinced that “that’s fed” can indicate inclusion, just the opposite. “That’s fed on” perhaps, but that wouldn’t have worked with the surface.

    Many thanks to Notabilis and to BD for the analysis.

    1. I don’t see anything wrong with 15d. A cat that’s fed a fish has the fish inside it, surely?

      1. Surely not. A cat that’s fed ON a fish has the fish inside it. A cat that’s fed a dog is inside the dog. Think “this tin feeds two people” – it doesn’t result in the people being in the tin does it?

        1. A cat that has fed fish is inside the fish but a cat that is fed fish has the fish inside it. The apostrophe can indicate either one.

          1. Cheers boss! I had a sudden rush of brains to the head over the weekend – much along the lines you indicate. I had been mislead by “that’s served six” into thinking exclusively along the former line rather than the latter. It rather calls into question my fitness to undertake cryptic crossword solving.

            Apologies to Physicist.

  5. A proper Toughie with so many favourites I gave up counting 4*/5*

    It also gives me a chance to use a word I learned recently because it is a lipogram – I know about the four letters in the grid, but the definition of lipogram says words not crossword grids.

    Thank you to Notabilis for the splendid Toughie and to lucky BD for the explanations.

  6. Like Expat Chris I am so pleased to have finished even if I did need a clue from the ‘other place’ to get me going. I have drunk Raki, my response was ‘disgusting’, must be an acquired taste, did need the hints to explain the last two 23a and 25a. Best clue for me was probably 10a but did also like 18a.
    Many Thx to Notabilis for the first real Toughie that I have ever finished and for the hints and to Cryptic Sue for her encouragement.

  7. What an excellent Friday Toughie! Very hard to get started and equally difficult to tease out the answers. I nvr noticd thr wr no E’s in th answrs and the ‘lipogram’ was brilliant. Thanks to Notabilis for the puzzle, BD for the review and CS for introducing me to a new word.

  8. Yippee! I’ve finished today’s as well. That is a clean sweep (more or less) for the whole week which I’ve never managed before. I expect these were easy ones by some standards but even so I’m happy! Many thanks to Notabilis and to Big Dave for all their work. Sh-Shoney.

  9. We had carefully written ‘pangram’ beside our completed copies of the puzzle to remind us when commenting this morning. We had not even bothered to check for Es when we scanned the grid for missing letters. What a surprise to now find there are no Es apart from the big ones in the grid. A whole extra dimension of cleverness to add to our already high level of enjoyment. And a new word too thanks to CS. Excellent fun.
    Thanks Notabilis and BD

  10. Great puzzle for us. We did very well but got stuck in Cornwall before having to refer to the blog for a bit of help. The old Burmese soldier needed a Google but otherwise quite chuffed with ourselves. A few days off from the toughie, however!! Thanks to BD for hints in the Cornish corner..

  11. Sorry to be late to the party but I never start the toughie until the following day. Surprised myself by finishing it and for noticing there were no “e’s”. So checked here to confirm. Hadn’t noticed the grid though. Doh. But now I know what a lipogram is. Love trying the toughie (can’t always finish it) and thanks a lot to this site and all who contribute.

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