Toughie 1388 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 1388

Toughie No 1388 by Notabilis

The Road to Wigan Pier

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Some Friday Toughies are better than others, and this is certainly one of the better ones.

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    Unable to move beloved, stuffed by force with chop consumed (4,2,3,5)
DEAD IN THE WATER: a beloved or sweetheart around a four-letter word meaning force, as in by means of, and three-letter verbs meaning to chop and consumed

9a    Cheating like an atheist? (10)
UNFAITHFUL: an atheist is defined by his lack of belief

11a    Fool expected to seize power (4)
DUPE: a word meaning expected around (to seize) P(ower)

12a    Piggy ran with Ralph, initially cast away (3)
TOE: a verb meaning ran from which the initial letter of R[alph] has been dropped (cast away)

13a    Water body profit behind scrapping centre for motorway (10)
WINDERMERE: a three-letter profit or gain followed by a behind or bottom with the centre two letters replaced by (scrapping) M(otorway)

16a    Pant: half a pair of trousers? (4)
LONG: pant here is a verb meaning to pine – when doubled (pluralised), the answer could be another word for a pair of trousers

17a    Extremely cheeky noises from Trot, say, one with limited perception (7)
CYCLOPS: the outer letters (extremely) of C[heek]Y followed by the noises made by a horse’s hoofs against a hard surface, perhaps while out for a trot

18a    Literally, 9 players near wicket, with tail-ender appearing early (7)
INFIDEL: to get this adjective meaning the same as the answer to 9 Across, start with the collective name for the cricketers that are near the wicket and move the last letter (tail-ender) forward a couple of places

20a    Preserve British entry by post? Au contraire (4)
JAMB: a preserve followed by B(ritish) gives the post by an entry or door rather than (au contraire) the entry by the post

21a    Independent angry Scots mount case for Commonwealth (10)
CROSSBENCH: this adjective meaning independent, most usually applied to certain peers in the House of Lords, comes from a charade of an adjective meaning angry, a Scots word for a mountain and the outer letters (case) of C[ommonwealt]H

23a    Holding this beast back is thankless (3)
ELK: hidden (Holding) and reversed (back) inside the clue

24a    Barnet Hospital to put on TV, etc (4)
HAIR: Barnet is the Cockney rhyming slang word for this – H(ospital) is followed by a verb meaning to put or broadcast on TV, Radio etc.

25a    Assimilating pain, robot’s developing (10)
ABSORPTION: an anagram (developing) of PAIN, ROBOT’S

28a    Billions say ‘To be or not to be’ and make a logical error (3,3,8)
BEG THE QUESTION: B(illions) followed by the Latin abbreviation for say / for example and what ‘To be or not to be’ is in the famous speech from Shakespeare’s Hamlet


1d    Island hollow, one kind including an excellent line-up (8,6)
IDENTITY PARADE: I(sland) followed by a hollow, I (one) and a kind or sort around A (an) and an adjective meaning excellent or mega

2d    An abrupt change of tack over disputed area (4)
GAZA: the reversal (over) of A (an) and an abrupt change of tack

3d    Gather to make wine bid to undercut seven clubs? (4)
VINT: if you don’t know the hierarchy of bids in bridge then you could struggle here – take the bid immediately below seven clubs six no trumps and express the numerical part as a Roman numeral

4d    Upsetting attacks on wetland turn more severe (7)
STIFFEN: the reversal (upsetting) of some attacks or seizures followed by a wetland, like that in East Anglia

5d    Sport changes again, using inverted bar for second run (4,6)
REAL TENNIS: start with a verb meaning changes again and insert the reversal (inverted) of a bar or pub in place of the second R(un)

6d    Orwell, G. embracing English-born poet cut French one (10)
BAUDELAIRE: George Orwell’s real name, as surname followed by initial, around (embracing) most of (cut) an English-born poet who lived in America for the second half of his life

8d    This’ll make employer pay former writers and each Conservative peer (7,7)
EXPENSE ACCOUNT: a former partner followed by some writing implements, EA(ch), C(onservative) and a European nobleman

10d    Finally chilled, this could form cube (3)
ICE: if the answer were to be preceded by the final letter of [chille]D it could form a cube, or more accurately two or more cubes, of the kind used for gaming – sadly the four-letter word derived from the clue is now given in Chambers as both singular and plural

14d    Cautious return to captivity? (10)
DELIBERATE: split as (2-8) this could mean to return to captivity

15d    Spring over, old king enters with new presentation (10)
REPACKAGED: the reversal (over) of a verb meaning to spring or frolic and an adjective meaning old around (enters) K(ing)

19d    Mess up short, violent man (7)
HOTSPUR: an anagram (mess) of UP SHORT gives a violent man, originally applied to Henry Percy

22d    Strike‘s leaders in Bay of Pigs (3)
BOP: the initial letters (leaders) of three words in the clue

26d    It’s hard for babe to get teeth into Twilight with resistance for its lead (4)
RUSK: a word meaning twilight with the first letter replaced by R(esistance)

27d    Snaring husband, it’s a near thing (4)
THIS: H(usband) inside (snaring) a three-letter word meaning it’s / it is

Great stuff!

14 comments on “Toughie 1388

  1. Superb proper Toughie and, I think, a pangram too. Thank you very much to Notabilis for a splendid end to the week.

    Thanks to BD as well.

  2. Yes, brilliant puzzle. Haven’t had time for the toughies this week but was happy to find some chill space to tackle this today. Pangram indeed!

    I missed 18a though – but my cricket is hopeless.

    Lots of great clues – I probably liked 17a the most (one with limited perception)

    Many thanks notabilis and big dave

  3. Good toughie.
    Struggled a bit on the top half until 7a came to me.
    Didn’t get the bridge clue though.
    For 6d I thought of nom de plume immediately and in one word if you don’t mind but it did put me on the right track to find Orwell’s real name and when I spotted the usual poet, Charles just came to me.
    21a was great .
    Thanks to Notabilis and to BD for the review.

  4. An excellent and challenging puzzle, which l am decidedly smug about having completed. Time taken made it 3* by my standards, although it felt tougher. My failure to get 18a right, though (l’d never heard of it), makes it a firm 4*. No problems with 5* for satisfaction. Favouritism lies between 7a and 6d. Many thanks to Notabilis, and to BD for the review.

  5. Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless! Only managed about 50% of this today and had to use the hints too. However there were two clues I managed all by myself…24a and 22d which were much more my sort of clues. Thought these were great and made me smile. Tried to make some ‘Lord of the Flies’ connection for 12a, (Ralph + Piggy characters) coming up with ‘fly’ as the answer….in a fishing context …(cast away)… I suppose that was meant to confuse….but it shows I was on completely the wrong wavelength! Most of the others were much too tortuous for me and even the explanations took some understanding. Ah well, can’t win ’em all …. Otherwise it’s been a good solving week. ****/** from me. Thank to setter and to BD….perhaps I’ll have a better shot at next weeks Toughies!

  6. The four long answers went in lickety split, then it was a much slower solve. I was held up on 9A and 2D for ages because I had ‘die’ as my answer for 10D, but I did get it sorted out. In the end, I was left with 19D. Once I saw from the hint that it was an anagram, that one fell into place. I also need the hints to fully parse a couple that I could only half see. I checked 13A and 18A and 21D as clues I liked best, but if I go back there would probably be more. All in all, I feet pretty good about my effort. Many thanks to Notabilis and to BD for the review.

  7. Another cracker [after Osmosis 2 days ago]. Two very cunning replacement clues [13a and 5d] and some lovely definitions [eg 17a] and the sublime Scots mount in 21a [my favourite. Like Expat Chris I had “die” in 10d until the penny dropped correctly; and like Dutch I failed on 18a, having struggled to fit “silly” into it. Great fun.

    Thanks to Notabilis and to BD for the blog.

  8. Very nice puzzle. I had to guess 3d (and was lucky without knowing why) – never have played bridge. Thanks to Notabalis and BD

  9. So near and yet so far…. Needed the hint for 2d, and don’t think I would have ever got that. Managed the rest but some wordplay eluded me, so going for ****/****
    Favourite clue 28a.
    Thanks Notabilis and BD

  10. We were totally beaten by 18a. Even overnight cogitation did not help. Much of the time was spent trying to use the letters N I N E as being 9 literally as well as other unlikely combinations. Even knowing that we had a pangram did not help as we had all the letters accounted for by then. It is all now so blindingly obvious when we see the hints. A really good fun puzzle that both challenged and amused us.
    Thanks Notabilis and BD.

  11. The bridge clue stumped me, total guess and arrived at correct answer. The cricket clue was the last I parsed and on reflection can see no reason why it took me so long. Thanks to Notabilis and BD

  12. Yes, a real Toughie approaching five star Elgar territory for difficulty in respect of some of its clues, such as 18a, 2d and 3d. Some very clever intricate clues, too, such as 8d, 6d, 17d and 13a. Five star satisfaction for completing it eventually, too !

  13. Could not pick a favourite in such an enjoyable puzzle ,thanks very much Notabilis and of course BD 3d last in (eventually)

Comments are closed.