Toughie 1355 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1355

Toughie No 1355 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This took me longer than average and when I’d finished the completed grid contained several tentative answers (or bung-ins) that I then had to justify. It was one of those puzzles where I couldn’t decide whether I’d enjoyed it or not. There were only 26 clues to solve but it’s not a very helpful grid in that most first letters are unchecked

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    Evangelist known to reveal destiny? (4,3)
MARK OUT: An evangelist + ‘known’

8a    Contaminated carbuncle a nasty case (7)
UNCLEAN: Hidden in carbUNCLE A Nasty

10a    Vessels circle and stick soundly in shifting silt (3,7)
OIL TANKERS: A letter that’s circular in shape + a homophone of ‘to stick or fasten’ in an anagram (shifting) of SILT

11a    Five for fifty in fast opening (4)
VENT: Take a religious fast and replace 50 in Roman numerals by 5 in Roman numerals

12a    In-form favourite, lacking runs and training, makes case for move (3,5)
TEA CHEST: Take a favourite pupil (8,3) and remove R (runs) and PE (training) to get a wooden container which may be used to transport thongs when moving house

14a    French film-maker capturing essence of chic island (6)
TAHITI: The surname of Jacques (a French film-maker) goes round the middle letters of cHIc

15a    Fights for jobs (11)
ENGAGEMENTS: 2 meanings: fights/jobs

19a    Guy with appreciation for steak (3,3)
RIB EYE: ‘To guy’ + appreciation

20a    Ditch order for tea before there’s a rumpus (8)
BROUHAHA: A ditch often containing a fence is preceded by a homophone of an informal word for a cup of tea. I hope that’s right

22a    A proportion of nostalgia-mongers thrived in the past (4)
ERST: Hidden in nostalgia-mongERS Thrived

23a    A staple of Bollywood banality? (6,4)
INDIAN CORN: This is another term for maize (a staple). You could also consider it be a banality from the part of the world where Bollywood is

25a    One keeping shoes on losing time in muddy biathlon (7)
HOBNAIL: A piece of metal used to secure horseshoes is an anagram (muddy) of BIAHLON, i.e. BIATHLON less T (time)

26a    Permanently pro-Right (3,4)
FOR GOOD: Pro + right


1d    They can become restless for oysters (7)
NATIVES: These are oysters raised in artificial beds. They are also indigenous inhabitants that feature in the phrase “The ******* are restless”

2d    Tie-dyed fabric found regularly in pink pants (4)
IKAT: Alternate letters of pInK pAnTs

3d    Note Chelsea’s side in Emirates after November showing a subtle difference (6)
NUANCE: N (note) and the first letter of Chelsea go inside the United Arab Emirates. The result is preceded by N (November)

4d    Nothing short of a nutty sweet 16 (8)
ANISETTE: Remove O (nothing) from A nut-flavoured sweet to give a cordial or liqueur (a 16 down)

5d    Knot separated with difficulty (5,5)
CLOVE HITCH: ‘Separated’ + a difficulty

6d    They have the gall all right to incarcerate a lunatic (3-4)
OAK NUTS: ‘All right’ round A + lunatic (mad)

9d    Protects jobs / they traditionally hold down (11)
FEATHERBEDS: 2 meanings: protects workers by such practices as overmanning in order to save jobs/mattresses that traditionally are stuffed with down

13d    Crush strike gripping North? Sure thing’s short answer (10)
CONCERTINA: ‘To crush’ = ‘to strike (when making money)’ round N (North) and a sure thing + A (answer)

16d    A tire pressure’s raised if it leads to blow-out (8)
APERITIF: A + a reversal of TIRE P (pressure) + IF = a drink taken before a meal (or blow-out)

17d    One boob breaking vase and he’s white-faced at work (7)
PIERROT: I (one) and ‘to boob’ inside a vase

18d    Straight line cried out for old ruler (7)
PHARAOH: A homophone of straight (4) and line (3)

21d    Painter taking last month off — he can talk (6)
ORATOR: Remove DEC (December) from someone who might come and paint your house

24d    Composer‘s pen (4)
CAGE: 2 meanings: the surname of an American composer/a pen (enclosure for animals)

It exercised the brain.

[Sorry for the late posting – I’ve been out all afternoon.  BD]

19 comments on “Toughie 1355

  1. 12a was the last one for us to parse. We had the correct answer in but it still took ages for the penny to drop for the wordplay. We had a similar experience with 4d as well. We remember having been totally flummoxed by 1d on at least one previous occasion but this time we were able to put it straight in. An enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks Petitjean and Bufo.

  2. 20 across took me some time, but still cannot understand 18 down? Am I being thick!!

    1. I had to throw mine away because of chafing issues. For some time afterwards it was a case of the thong has ended but the malady lingers on.

    2. I have one, but it’s all I wear
      in the evening. “Just a thong at twilight…”

  3. Thanks to Bufo for explaining 12a specially. I had teachers without the r plus the t of training. The pet bit just passed me by.
    It was lovely to see all these French words. Very refreshing.
    Even for 7a, I had luc + k for known + out for reveal until I found 1d.
    Loved 6d and 20a.
    Thanks to petitjean and to Bufo again.

  4. I’m very excited about this – a **** puzzle completed by 7.20pm! After yesterday’s abysmal showing this is most encouraging. I don’t understand 4d although I guessed it and 14a needed a bit of Google. For me 9d &12a were the best. So thanks you to Petitjean and also to Bufo. Still can’t believe such an early (for me) finish! Sh-Shoney.

    1. 4d is A (from the clue) + N[o]ISETTE without the letter that resembles zero (nothing). Noisette is a chocolate made with hazelnuts (i.e. a nutty sweet).

  5. There’s a Nina (literally) running round the periphery in a clockwise direction from the NW corner.

  6. I just about managed this one but did need explanations for several of my answers.
    18d was a complete “bung in” and lots of the others were too so many thanks to Bufo for all the untangling.
    I’ve never heard of 2d but worked it out from the clue so there’s another one to store away.
    My favourite was either 19 or 20a – I don’t have two favourites as that’s against the rules – I just haven’t made up my mind yet!
    With thanks to Petitjean and to Bufo.

  7. I am only just getting to this after a very heavy work day, not to mention quite a heavy snowfall ( and still coming down) that had to be dealt with. Avoiding looking at the clues and comments. Back tomorrow.

  8. I agree with Bufo – it was one of those puzzles that was in no way easy but where one makes a lot of intuitive guesses – and then seeks to parse them and still need further verification through more checking letters. 1d is a good example – I have encountered the answer as a type oyster at least once before in crosswords and that word came to mind immediately I read the clue. I also have heard mention of “the * are restless”. However it seemed just a possibility rather than a certainty. Pencilled in and explored further.

    I agree with the star ratings – but with the proviso that I much prefer a toughie to have some teeth and be a touch weaker on entertainment value than to have an entertaining back-pager in the wrong place

    One day I will think to look for ninas but I am only at the stage where I am happy to finish a proper toughie

    Thanks to Petitjean and Bufo

  9. Loved the Nina. I rarely spot them. Didn’t want to comment on the other page. Thanks to petitjean and Bufo for the eventual hints ;)

  10. I’m very pleased to have completed what, for me, was a very tough Toughie. In time terms, however, l’d score it at 3* ( but that’s based on my own time allowances). For satisfaction gained it’s 4*+. So many terrific clues to choose from, but 9d is certainly a corker. My thanks to Petitjean, and to Bufo for the review.

  11. For me all went reasonably fine but I had left second word of 28a and the crossing 24d blank for a few hours(!), until the “banality” finally twigged. I was lucky to have come across most of the references, though I did have to look up the tie-dyed fabric (2d). I quite liked 25a (one keeping shoes on) and 5d (knot separated with difficulty). I took me a while to see the hidden word in 22a.

    Many thanks Petitjean and Bufo

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