Toughie 1363 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 1363

Toughie No 1363 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I had difficulty judging the difficulty of this puzzle because it was done in short bursts. This morning I was left in charge of a (nearly) 6-year-old and a dog both of whom seemed to think that I should be playing with them instead of solving a lousy crossword. Hence the stop-start nature of my solving. But despite this I enjoyed the puzzle in which there were a lot of nice touches (and a couple of obscurities)

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    Funny magazine, very funny vehicle for film (10)
MADAGASCAR: The title of an American humor magazine + ‘very funny’ (1,3) (as in “it’s * ***”) + a vehicle = the title of a 2005 computer-animated comedy film

6a    Pudding to be a starter, reportedly (4)
SAGO: The answer to the old joke question “How do you start a pudding race?”

10a    Object inside murderer’s pockets (5)
DEMUR: ‘To object’ is hidden in INSIDE MURDERERS

11a    In a flap, see Internet equivalent of ‘fed up’ (2,1,3,3)
AT A LOW EBB: A and a flap goes round ‘See!’ and the Internet

12a    Carving on old mask seen from other side (7)
RELIEVO: ‘On’ + a reversal of O (old) and ‘mask’

13a    Only one playing thus is in group (7)
SOLOIST: ‘Thus’ + IS in ‘group’

14a    Protest speech about damaged crate (6,6)
DIRECT ACTION: Speech goes round an anagram (damaged) of CRATE

18a    Naughty games are not limiting one (6,1,5)
MÉNAGE À TROIS: An anagram (naughty) of GAMES ARE NOT round I (one). The whole clue provides the definition for an unconventional household composed of three people

21a    Rumours of sightings all starts right here (7)
ROSWELL: The first letters of Rumours Of Sightings + ‘right’ gives the city in New Mexico whose name is attached to a UFO incident in 1947

23a    English trees rot (7)
EYEWASH: E (English) + a tree (3) + another tree(3) = rot or nonsense

24a    Place for burial after terminal event? (4,5)
POLE VAULT: A place for burial follows a terminal to give an athletics event

25a    Sixties movement, love given role (2,3)
OP ART: O (love) + a role

26a    Defeat right away (4)
ROUT: R (right) + ‘away’

27a    Was customer / treated scornfully? (10)
PATRONISED: 2 meanings: was a customer/treated scornfully


1d    In service, after a fashion (6)
MODERN: The abbreviation for one of the armed services follows ‘fashion’

2d    Hollow place in dark earth (6)
DIMPLE: An abbreviation for ‘place’ inside ‘dark’ + E (earth)

3d    Enforced absence when confined to bed? (9,5)
GARDENING LEAVE: The name of this compulsory paid absence suggests that you spend it growing things in beds

4d    On board rocket, see commander given a TV show (4,5)
SOAP OPERA: ‘To rocket’ round the head of the Holy See + A

5d    Be a compiler when fed by old ladies (5)
AMASS: ‘When’ goes round old ladies

7d    One mocks it, given drink (8)
APERITIF: I’m not sure about this one. I assume that it’s ‘one who mocks’ + IT + ‘given’ which I can just about justify

8d    Overrun, perhaps, cold as the moon is? (8)
ORBITING: O (over) + R (run) + ‘cold’

9d    One is safe for ducks (10,4)
COLLECTIVE NOUN: Apparently a group of ducks on land can be called a safe

15d    Who would tease people in Twin Peaks? (9)
TORMENTOR: ‘People’ both follows a word for a peak and precedes the same word for a peak

16d    They pay me for each wrong (8)
IMPROPER: When split (1’1,3) the first 5 letters mean ‘they pay me’. The last 3 letters mean ‘for each’

17d    Not usual, to be arranged immediately (3,5)
UNO SALTU: An anagram (to be arranged) of NOT USUAL. I’m having difficulty tracking this answer down

19d    Unbelievers quietly hitch a lift (6)
PAGANS: P (quietly) + a reversal (lift) of A and ‘hitch’

20d    We had to keep sock bleached (6)
WHITED: The abbreviated form of ‘we had’ goes round ‘to sock’

22d    Celebrate with a racing legend (5)
LAUDA: ‘To celebrate’ + A = the surname of an Austrian driver who was three times F1 World Champion

Good stuff

21 comments on “Toughie 1363

  1. I gave it 4* difficulty too and I solved it all in one go. Two ‘Toughies’ in one day – what a treat.

    Thanks to Elkamere and Bufo too.

  2. A delight. Beautifully constructed clues.

    I had to laugh when i got 3d (enforced absence). This describes recent status for both me and my wife – actually mine has now translated into early retirement (which might make another nice clue).

    Really liked 1a (funny magazine) – I like using repeated words to different effect in clues, but perhaps the main reason I like this is because the film is such a big hit in our household.

    Loved 6a, “murderer’s pockets” in 10a, “terminal event” in 24a, “hitch a lift” in 19d, “be a compiler” in 5d. And all the others.

    Brilliant &lit in 18a (naughty games). 23a (english trees rot) must be the most concise version of this old friend that I’ve seen. Loved 9d (safe for ducks) – I had guessed the answer but had never heard of safe (well the clue does depend on this being relatively obscure) and it took me a lot of searching to confirm! (didn’t see it in brb)

    Great stuff, thanks Elkamere and thanks Bufo

  3. Terrific puzzle and very enjoyable, favourites 3d and 9d thanks to Elkamere and to Bufo for the comments.

  4. Good level of difficulty.
    Had to reveal 17d as I thought I explored all the possible permutations, bar one apparently.
    18a was my favourite.
    Thanks to Bufo for explaining 6a also as the answer was quite obvious but the parsing eluded me.
    Thanks to Elkamere for the brain scratching.

  5. At last a toughie this week, perhaps too tough in the light of 17d which sounds like Sicilian [or perhaps Sardinian} slang but which I can only find in a very obscure latin phrase. Perhaps we should be told.

    I parsed 7d in the same way Bufo but I’m not sure how the first 5 letters of 16d mean “they pay me” except very elliptically. [I have no better explanation]

    Favourites 1d[a signature Elkamere definition] 4d [see commander is lovely] and 15d.

    Thanks to Elkamere and Bufo

      1. Thanks dutch – it was “professional” I needed – I was stuck on “in favour of”

  6. Far too tough for me … but I enjoyed the ones I managed to complete.

    17d still remains a mystery to me … further elucidation will be most welcome.

    Thanks to Elkamere & Bufo

    1. Saltus is a latin noun meaning leap – the ablative form is saltu. So uno saltu literally means ‘with one leap’ or straight away.

  7. The two that we had most trouble parsing, even after looking in BRB, were 9d and 17d, but we did get there with Google’s help. It certainly had us working very hard as evidenced by the plethora of scribbles around the margins of our print-outs. Things like the hard to pick definition in 1d and the fiddly little Lego bits in 11a stand out as highlights in what we thought a really good fun puzzle.
    Thanks Elkamere and Bufo.

  8. Really good puzzle from my Sunday T***s nemesis. Lots of really good, well constructed clues with 1d as my favourite (as usual, a well hidden definition). Surprisingly, I found it a tad easier (but not by much) than today’s back pager from RayT – so I’ve had a really good day. However, I do agree with halcyon re 17d, a bit naughty (he’s picking up some bad habits from Mr Biddlecombe in not using BRB as the main reference)

    Thanks to Elkamere for the puzzle and Bufo for the review. Already looking forward to tomorrow.

    1. Having just checked in before bedtime, I must point out that my statement on this post ‘he’s picking up some bad habits etc…’ – I am of course referring to Elkamere (aka Dean Mayer) and not halcyon. Hopefully no offence taken

  9. Phew! The problem is I still need to get up and go to work tomorrow despite the Telegraph crosswords telling me it was Friday today. I get the impression I was not alone in finding the RayT a touch trickier than his usual fortnightly – I have solved several of his “Beam’s” with less difficulty. Then into Elkamere which I found to be a proper Friday toughie (5* difficulty for me) but I am well aware my vocabulary is more limited than other regular bloggers. I found it as hard as most Elgar’s I have managed to finish. There were at least 6 words I have never encountered before so a bit of checking was needed. I was very satisfied to finish the pair – a quite different feeling from Tuesday when it was all over too quickly.

    Good stuff – thanks to compilers and bloggers of both puzzles

  10. Too difficult for this foot soldier I’m afraid. Hats off to all who managed to solve it but it went in the round filing cabinet this morning.

  11. Had about 80% of this hacked last night, and (almost) completed the rest over post-mucking out coffee this morning. Exceptions were 17d – never heard of this expression, and couldn’t work it out – and 5d. I suspect the latter is easy but l just can’t see it. For some reason l can’t get at the solution in Bufo’s review. Can anyone enlighten me, or give me an even plainer hint?

      1. Yes, too simple for me! I was fixated by the word “compiler” and construing it in the crossword sense. It didn’t occur to me to see it as merely another sort of collector. Thanks, BD.

Comments are closed.