Toughie 1385 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1385

Toughie No 1385 by Samuel

Hints and tips by Toro

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

A warm welcome from all of us to Samuel on his first Telegraph Toughie appearance. I thought this was a decent if typically gentle Tuesday offering until I realised I had printed out and solved the back-pager by mistake! The real thing was much more in the Toughie vein and full of strong clues that I really enjoyed.

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 Twice throw a wild sort of party (5,5)
BUNGA BUNGA A synonym of throw plus A from the clue, all repeated.


6a Total celebration (4)
MASS Double definition -- a word meaning total or all-out is also a religious celebration.

9a Free range to admit boxer -- there's generosity (10)
LIBERALITY A word for freedom around the adopted surname of a world-famous boxer.

10a Scoff, discarding cold tail of Kiwi's fish (4)
MOKI To scoff or laugh at, minus C(old), followed by the last letter of (Kiw)I.

12a Commanding Officer flirting with this rank could be erotic (4)
TIER When combined with C(ommanding) O(fficer), the solution yields an anagram of EROTIC.

13a Kill sad lunatic having destroyed key earthwork (5,4)
OFFA'S DYKE To kill, plus an anagram (lunatic) of SAD and an anagram (destroyed) of KEY.


15a Obituary on Queen's main subject appearing first (8)
REGISTER On or relating to, the main subject or thrust, and the Queen's regnal initials.

16a Overnight picture problem (3-3)
RED-EYE An adjective describing an overnight flight is also a problem that affects portrait photographs when a flash is used.

18a Hospital department curtailed dance course (6)
ENTRÉE ...a starter in the UK (but a main in the US). A hospital department plus a kind of dance minus its final letter (curtailed).

20a Heartless net referee nearly plays let for nothing (4-4)
RENT-FREE An anagram (plays) of N(e)T and REFERE(e).

23a Soldier on right cut, breaking sword, losing tip (9)
PERSEVERE R(ight) plus a word meaning to cut, all inside a fencing sword minus its first letter (losing tip).

24a Try to flog fish from river -- quite the opposite (4)
TOUT Remove R(iver) from a type of fish.

26a Scottish island losing focus? Crikey! (1,3)
I SAY An island in the Inner Hebrides, minus its middle letter (focus).


27a Fight without risk of charges being brought (4-3-3)
FREE-FOR-ALL A disorganised fight or melee that looks like an adjective meaning gratis.

28a Jug hare Welshman's snared the wrong way (4)
EWER The solution is hidden backwards in HAREWELSHMAN.

29a I'm terribly miserable without a waterproof (10)
IMMERSIBLE I'M from the clue plus an anagram of MISER(a)BLE.


1d It makes fast sprinter (4)
BOLT A device for securing or fastening and the surname of the world's fastest human.


2d Lift ban on search engine booking (7)
NABBING BAN from the clue, reversed, and Microsoft's search engine.

3d In a mess, Toon at last fire Shearer -- it clears a bad atmosphere (3-9)
AIR-FRESHENER Anagram of (Too)N FIRE SHEARER. (The 'Toon' - Geordie for 'Town' - are Newcastle United Football Club, who Alan Shearer played for and briefly managed.)

4d Peacekeepers can post short release (8)
UNLOOSEN The organisation that provides Blue Beret peacekeepers, the British slang word equivalent to can or john in the US, and a verb meaning to post or mail, minus its final letter.

5d Fall asleep having undressed aged gentleman (3,3)
GET OFF (a)GE(d) plus an upper class gentleman.

7d Innocent agreement in any monkeying around on Ecstasy (7)
ANODYNE A sign of agreement inside an anagram of ANY, then E(cstasy).

8d Porker's complaint infers we've cracked up (5,5)

11d Designed to impress, renovated suite soon contains rubbish (12)
OSTENTATIOUS A word for rubbish inside an anagram of SUITE SOON.


14d Getting in first, angry peer with aim to get power for old (3-7)
PRE-EMPTIVE Anagram of PEER, then a synonym for aim with P(ower) replacing O(ld).

17d Swiss fliers must take in new Sunday Telegraph crossword (8)
GENEVESE A kind of bird (in the plural) around N(ew) and the acronym of the Sunday Telegraph's barred cryptic (of which the setter is editor).

19d Return from the south and rush platform (7)
TERRACE Reversal (from the south) of RET(urn), plus a verb meaning rush or dash.

21d Run centre with rising support? Nonsense (7)
RHUBARB R(un), a centre of activity, and a support for the bust in reverse.

22d He famously jumped on instrument (3,3)
RED RUM On or relating to, and an instrument.

25d Game? Not again -- this is the last (4)
CLUE A classic board game minus the abbreviation for ditto (not again).


My picks were 12a, 20a and 3d. What were yours?

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

25 comments on “Toughie 1385

  1. Splendid debut from todays setter, favourites were 1a 13a 17d and 25d thanks to Samuel and to Toro for the comments.

  2. Wonderful debut, thank you Samuel.

    Nothing fearfully difficult today but plenty to enjoy. I insisted on trying to make 16a ‘something eve’, and it took me awhile to see the reverse hidden clue for 28a. Why do I struggle with them?

    10a had to be checked but fairly clued.

    Favourites 1a and 3d.

    Many thanks to Samuel, I look forward to more, and to Toro for blogging.

    EDIT..I meant to add that I needed Toro’s help sorting out 17d. Blimey I struggled with that.

  3. Welcome to Samuel.
    I like his style.
    1a made me laugh. Good old Berlusconi. I love the fact that the Telegraph always describes him as an ex lounge singer.
    For 2d, that search engine is automatically fitted on my windows phone. Never use it though despite the beautiful backdrop pictures it offers.
    Learned a bit more about Wales with the Clawdd offa . The blue NZ fish was also new to me.
    Had to check the review for the parsing of 17d.
    So thank you Toro for the help and Samuel for a first toughie.

  4. I enjoyed this, **/*** here. Didn’t know the correct NZ fish so thanks for the hint on that. I had bunged in HOKI..

  5. Took a bit of getting into the mind of a new setter but then all fell into place pleasantly. Are the large number of Es going to be a trademark? Particularly enjoyed 14d and 17d.

    Thanks and welcome to Samuel and thanks to Toro for the blog.

  6. I liked this a lot! Temporarily held up on 7D by using the American spelling for 13A ( hangs head in shame). SW corner was the last to fall and I did struggle a bit there. Needed the review to parse 17D. Favorite is 14D, but I also liked 1A and 21D. Super toughie debut, Samuel! I hope we see more of you soon. Many thanks to Toro for the review (even though there’s no pic of the magnificent 22D).

  7. A very nice puzzle 17d eluded me. Never heard of 10ac. I just bungabungad 1 ac in and hoped for the best. Ta to Samuel. Ta to Toro

  8. Found this quite hard….but then I always have trouble with Toughies. Had to use my electronic helper quite a bit and some of the hints, but probably 75% completed without help….not bad for me. I liked 1a….and I for one did know the NZ fish. Didn’t really enjoy it that much though, it didn’t flow for me and I found some of the explanations rather tortuous. Thanks to setter and Toro my rating for this is ****/*

  9. I don’t often venture into Toughie territory but on the whole I was very glad I did today. I really enjoyed this except for five clues: 10a (extremely obscure), 17d (how on earth are most solvers supposed to know that “Sunday Telegraph crossword” = EV”?) and three clues containing US slang (13a, 16a & 4d) which IMHO is very unfair in a crossword in a UK newspaper.

    On the other hand all the other clues were very good, and I particularly liked 1a, 12a, 3d, 22d & 25d.

    My rating is 4*/2* but was very nearly 4*/4*. Many thanks to Samuel and to Toro.

    1. Oh, Dave. [sigh]. A new setter so you saw an opportunity to ‘set him right’ about the ‘unfair’ use of US slang in a UK newspaper? But the thing is, the DT is not just a UK newspaper. Whether you approve or not, it’s an international media outlet. I’m afraid you just have to live with the slang in crosswords, along with the inclusion of US State abbreviations, city names, and so forth (that you don’t seem to have a problem with). Never mind. I’m always here to help you out with local expressions when you get into difficulties.

      1. Chris, [sigh]. I know you and I are going have to agree to differ on this. I think that US (and other country) states and the like are reasonable GK, but slang familiar only to a minority of the readership is not and I would have made exactly the same comment whoever the setter. Although I would probably have had a small grumble about one item of US slang, in this case a really good puzzle has been spoiled slightly for me by three such occurrences.

        The problem for setters is that different people will draw the line in different places of what is and is not acceptable. For example, how much French, German or Spanish should you need to know to solve an English crossword? Unless it is a themed puzzle, it might be better to limit the use to a maximum of once only for any of these potentially controversial devices (including one of my life-long passions – cricket!)

        Vive la difference and many thanks for your offer of help with US slang. I worked for an American company and had an American boss for several years, which may account for some of my prejudices.

        1. In my defence, I only make it two US references. Looking at 4dn, Chambers 2014 gives CAN = lavatory only as “slang”, with no mention of it being an American only definition. Although I must admit that this surprised me!

          1. Hi Samuel.
            Good to hear from you, and thanks very much for an excellent crossword. Great debut! Keep them coming!
            “Can” is shown as “slang (US)” in my geriatric BRB, and I share your surprise that the latest edition has dropped the US.

  10. Good on yer Samuel…we really enjoyed your debut. Quite tricky and we were not really sure why some of them were right until we checked with Toro. We agree with some of the above comments particularly Rabbit Dave’s view on 17d.

  11. Our favourite of course has to be 10a and we appreciated the all-in-one aspect of the use of kiwi as we understand the fish name is specific to our coasts. By contrast, the subtle allusions contained in the wordplay for 3d were completely over our heads, we just took them as random words to supply the fodder. We were also lost on where the EV came from for 17d. As usual it was largely the pesky little 4 letter words that caused most delay but it was all polished off in pretty reasonable time and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Samuel and welcome, and to Toro too.

  12. I rarely venture into Toughie-land but in view of other bloggers’ comments on the Cryptic page I decided to have a go. I managed two-thirds and then sought Toro’s guidance. Thanks for that. Samuel’s wavelength certainly felt unfamiliar however thanks to him for his debut offering. I look forward to familiarising myself with his thinking in the future.

  13. Thanks to all those who have commented; it’s greatly appreciated. It’s pleasing to see mostly positive comments; to those who weren’t keen on some aspects of the puzzle, I’ll try harder next time. The reference to the Enigmatic Variations series in the Sunday Telegraph may have been slightly parochial, in hindsight; it won’t be repeated! Many thanks to Toro for the blog; the “bungabunga” picture certainly made me smile.

  14. 10a eluded me, not helped by unchecked first and third so needed to confirm the spot on wordplay. More please Samuel of this quality, cap doffed, and thanks to Toro (for safely delivering me back to Peterborough post Cambridge do, hope you navigated home safe)

  15. 3*/4*, and a splendid debut for Samuel, for which many thanks indeed. I greatly enjoyed 1a, even though it was one of the easier clues to solve. Thanks to Toro for the review.

  16. Nice puzzle. Took a while to lock on to the new style. I think I would have put it at 3* for difficulty – my main problem was the (relatively) few obscurities such as the fish and crossword.

  17. Congratulations to Samuel on an excellent debut. I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, especially 12a, 13a, 2d, 4d, 7d, and last, but not least, 25d, my fave. ***/**** for me.

    I completed most of this puzzle without too much difficulty, and did not resort to Google or use any electronic help. But then I got stuck. I needed Toro’s excellent hints for 1d, 14d, 23a and 26a. I also needed the answer to 17d. Oh dearie me!

    The use of ‘can’ didn’t bother me as I have come across it in previous crosswords. (It would be interesting to know whether or not American slang words like ‘can’ have passed into our common UK parlance. After all, we seem to have unlimited access to American films and literature.) The Kiwi fish I got from the parsing but had a recollection of having heard of it before.

    My thanks and much appreciation to Samuel for a very entertaining puzzle and to Toro for the invaluable review. I do love the illustration for 11a! Magnificent!

    A much deserved rose for setter and reviewer alike:

  18. please
    i don’t understand how EV =sunday telegraph cryptic (17d)

    can someone explain?

    thank you


    1. Welcome to the blog Helen.

      The barred cryptic puzzle in the Sunday Telegraph is called Enigmatic Variations, abbreviated to EV. It is edited by Samuel, the setter of this puzzle.

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