Toughie 1381 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1381

Toughie No 1381 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Toro

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

A nice puzzle in the Excalibur style. Apologies for a hurried review.

Definitions are underlined. 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 Not a prodigy and that's hardly unforeseen (2,6)
NO WONDER A phrase that could mean not a prodigy or nothing special.

6a Copper in case prepared to make charges (6)
ACCUSE Chemical symbol for copper inside an anagram of CASE.

9a Is surprised to find sharp points on both ends (6)
STARTS Sharp or acidic inside two compass points.

10a By which car was shut up in garage? (8)
SILENCER Cryptic definition of a muffler or device for 'shutting up' the engine noise of a vehicle.

11a Golf, according to Tiger Woods's child, is the open sesame (8)
PASSPORT How said child might refer to golf.

12a Pelt that's revealing? (6)
SHOWER A verb meaning to pelt (with rocks, say) that could be someone or something which reveals.

13a Why former nun still dresses like one? (5,2,5)
FORCE OF HABIT A form of inertia involving a pun on a nun's garb.

16a What you get from water pistol held by nasty brat?(6,6)
LITTLE SQUIRT A phrase for an unpleasant child that could mean a small blast of water.

19a Pesters to form groups (6)
BESETS To form or constitute, plus a word for groups.

21a Conversion of a flat back into building (8)
ADAPTION The A from the clue, a flat or other small dwelling reversed (back), and an anagram (building) of INTO.

23a Spotted almost four weeks after, somewhere in Italy (8)
PIEDMONT A word for spotted (to my mind it means black and white, not necessarily spotted) plus a period of four weeks (or so) minus the last letter (almost).

24a Still miss one (6)
SINGLE A word meaning solitary or one, as a woman who is not yet married (still a miss) would once automatically have been thought of.

25a You are silly, retiring shamefaced (6)
READER Anagram (silly) of ARE, plus a word for shamefaced, reversed (retiring).

26a Walking with great wobbling, carrying racket (8)
TREADING Anagram (wobbling) of GREAT around a racket or noise.


2d For cost, provide better return than other hens (6)
OUTLAY The solution suggests a verb meaning 'to yield more eggs than'.

3d Bugbears, creating havoc in rose garden, for a start (5)
OGRES Anagram (creating havoc in) ROSE G(arden).

4d Daughter is taking lessons in conversation (9)
DISCOURSE D(aughter) plus IS plus a word for a series of lessons.

5d Setter romping, trapping ball, gets award (7)
ROSETTE Anagram (romping) of SETTER around the ball-shaped letter of the alphabet.

6d Book finally almost complete (5)
ATLAS A (2,4) phrase meaning finally, minus the last letter (almost complete).

7d Can't round on child -- not I, nor you, one hears (9)
CONSONANT CAN'T around ON and a child.

8d Reform, wicked woman! (3-5)
SHE-DEVIL Split (4,4), this could be an exhortation to such a woman to mend her wicked ways.

13d Washed out the 'a' coming in 'brainless' (3-6)
FAT-HEADED THE A inside a word meaning washed out.

14d Awfully fierce animal's gobbled food (9)
FRICASSEE An animal inside an anagram (awfully) of FIERCE.

15d Having large one. Week is disastrous. Yours, too? (8)
LIKEWISE Anagram (disastrous) of L(arge), the Roman numeral one, and WEEK IS.

17d A pair of braces -- some like a string one? (7)
QUARTET Two twosomes (a pair of braces) make a foursome, in this case a musical one.

18d After being brought up, love dad? That's the stuff! (6)
POPLIN ...stuff as in fabric. Love or zero, plus word for dad, all reversed (brought up).

20d Turn upside down to clean (5)
SCOUR A verb meaning to scrub can also be used figuratively to mean search thoroughly.

22d Got engine right on song (5)
TUNED I think this just a cryptic definition of a word meaning 'tweaked the performance of (an engine)' that is borrowed from music.

I enjoyed 8d and 15d among others but felt that several of the cryptic definitions were a little imprecise. I may of course have misread them!

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

16 comments on “Toughie 1381

  1. Once I’d got on the Excalibur wavelength, which didn’t take as long as some of her puzzles, I quite enjoyed myself – I’d have finished a bit quicker if only I could remember to spell the 14d food – I get it wrong nearly every time. I’ll pick the ‘still miss’ at 24a as my favourite.

    Thanks to Excalibur and Toro.

  2. Fun all the way. A laugh a minute. Encore, encore. I can feel the jet from that 16a water pistol!

  3. Gentle fare as befits a Tuesday favourite 8d thanks to Excalibur and to Toro for the comments.

  4. Some nice clues, e.g.11a (tiger wood’s child) and 8d (“reform, wicked woman” – though the exclamation mark is hardly necessary).

    But there were rather more clues than normal that I felt weren’t quite right –
    in 10a, what does the garage do?
    in 12a, can “that’s revealing” indicate a noun?
    in 16a, what is “held by” doing?
    24a, the two definitions are closely related
    3d, clue could read cryptically (i.e., i think it does) as (rose)* + g

    and a few more minor niggles.

    but a pleasant solve all the same,

    many thanks excalibur and toro

      1. except that I think “nasty brat” is a definition, not wordplay..
        it looks like a double definition clue to me..

  5. Great offering from Excalibur.
    The string quartet of 17d made me laugh.
    I did hear about the expression in 16a which was a good thing as it’s not recommended to check Google on that one.
    My last one to parse was the ” Faded the a ” in 13d.
    Thought of Password first for 11a until I realised that Tiger Woods was definitely not a Fencer.
    Clever clues all round.
    Thanks to Excalibur and to Toro for the review.

  6. Brilliant puzzle, although I find all the toughies very challenging.My best liked were 13a, 11a, 1a and 16a. I needed a few hints, thanks Toro and Excalibur.

  7. This one took us a bit longer than others have from this setter but it all steadily fell into place with a bit of effort. 10a was the last one for us to be able to sort out what was definition and what was wordplay. Appreciated and enjoyed.
    Thanks Excalibur and Toro.

  8. I found this quite hard going which is a pleasant surprise for a Tuesday. A mix of nice “big smile” clues and others that I was either not confident I had got right or did not really seem to work too well. In the end I was pleased to look at the blog and find I got them right. Worthy of the Toughie spot so no complaints from me

    Thanks to Toro and Excalibur

  9. There were four in the bottom half l just couldn’t get, so I’ll have to score it 4*/3*. 17d was good, as was 16a, and favouritism lies between those two. Thanks to Excalibur for the brain-cudgelling, and to Toro for the review.

  10. Late to the party on this one.

    Gosh I struggled. On first pass only 8 answers seemed to fit, with a few more bung it in types.

    14d, like CS, had me reaching for the dictionary! Had to give up with 3 to go in the SE corner. Loved 16a and 15d.

    Many thanks to Excalibur and to Toro for your much needed help.

  11. Just back from a break in God’s Own County – North Yorkshire & I’ve got to say that the scenery gets better every time we go home – from Saltburn on sea to the North & Ravenscar to the South then inland to Goathland – sublime. Going back to York bank holiday weekend for my son’s ‘male family members only’ stag weekend mixed with a bit of ‘Tour de Yorkshire’ spectating as the riders will be racing through the city centre.
    I had no access to on line puzzles last week so have been busy printing & solving. I enjoyed this one with 16a being a LOL moment.

    1. Really happy to hear that you both had a lovely time. It’s another beautiful day on the Moors today!

      You’ve inspired me to change my avatar to a Saltburn one. Albeit a pic a took awhile ago.

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