Toughie 1413 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1413

Toughie No 1413 by Samuel

Hints and tips by Toro

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

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

Those without a British upbringing might struggle with one or two of the references, but Samuel's second Toughie is a delight, and shows what can be done when good setters really apply themselves to their craft. All Tuesdays should be like this!

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 Baker, perhaps, set out in vehicle following all four directions haphazardly (10)
NEWSCASTER The four points of the compass in no particular order, followed by an anagram of SET inside a motor vehicle.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

6a Mistaek (4)
TYPO A mistake of the kind exemplified by the misprint in the clue.


9a Butler's sometime residence books girl for dance (10)
TARANTELLA Scarlett (O'Hara) Butler's plantation residence in Gone With the Wind + books of the Bible + a girl's name.

10a Rescue king trapped by charge (4)
FREE R(ex) inside a charge or levy.

12a Ban with this drink could make drunk abstain (4)
ASTI If anagrammed with BAN, the solution yields ABSTAIN.

13a With which wronged can in the end be getting even? (9)
VENGEANCE Anagram of CAN (b)E (gettin)G EVEN.

15a Flier, kind of overwhelmed by promotion, died like co-pilot or vice-captain (8)
HYPHENED A bird (flier) inside promotion or a buzz of publicity, then D(ied). (Have I missed something, or does Samuel think chickens can fly?)

16a Hound bachelor with property (6)
BASSET B(achelor) + a piece of property or item of wealth.


18a Shed last of paranoia in fast love (4-2)
LEAN-TO (paranoi)A inside a period of fasting in the Christian calendar, then O for love.

20a Get close to vessel orbited by satellite (4,2,2)
MOVE IN ON A blood vessel inside the earth's satellite.

23a Where Porterfield finally bags cracking century? (9)
EDGBASTON ...a famous cricket ground in Birmingham. (Wher)E (Porterfiel)D + anagram of BAGS + a century (or score of one hundred) in cricket. (William Porterfield is captain of the Ireland cricket team.)

24a Blackmail when former partner leaves -- that's wrong (4)
TORT A verb meaning to blackmail or obtain by threats, after deleting a former partner or lover.

26a Celebration from reversal of prenuptial agreement (4)
GALA The answer is hidden backwards inside PRENUPTIALAGREEMENT.

27a Get rid of old boy with healthy celerity (10)
OBLITERATE O(ld) B(oy) + healthy or lo-cal + celerity (swiftness).

28a Melchester's ultimate star (4)
RACE ...surname of comic-book footballing hero Roy of the Rovers. (Melcheste)R + a star or maestro.


29a In zero gravity, start to whisper: '1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9...' (10)
WEIGHTLESS W(hisper) + an adjective suggested by the sequence of numbers. Look carefully!


1d Record vino teetotaller's imbibed (4)

2d Labour provided parking for Nottinghamshire town (7)
WORKSOP Labour or toil + provided (?) + P(arking). (I'm struggling to see how 'provided' clues the two-letter word concerned.)

3d Secret study let Mafia regularly find suspect (12)
CONFIDENTIAL To study or gen up + anagram of LET (m)A(f)I(a) FIND.

4d Cover space for smooth-talking Irishman (8)
SLEEVEEN A cover (e.g. for a vinyl record) + a typographic space.

5d Studio location damaged in gale (6)
EALING Anagram of IN GALE.


7d Clothing displayed by youths and yobs? (1-6)
Y-FRONTS A feature of the words youths and yobs. A nice semi-&lit reference to young people's fashion for "sagging" (pictured).


8d Reach too far without being restrained by public finale (10)
OVEREXTEND A Latin prefix meaning without inside a word for public, then a finale or close.

11d Steamers foundering in rising river where Elmo lives (6,6)
SESAME STREET A river in NE England reversed around an anagram of STEAMERS.


14d Conservative passage upset Green contender (10)
CHALLENGER C(onservative) + a passage or corridor + anagram of GREEN.

17d Leader sacked from foundation -- an action leading to fewer significant figures (8)
ROUNDING A foundation or basis of knowledge minus the initial letter.

19d Core of band come together, initially introducing Collins in the manner of Gabriel? (7)
ANGELIC (b)AN(d) + to come together or cohere + I(ntroducing) C(ollins).


21d European sailor dashed up to tell story (7)
NARRATE E(uropean) + a sailor + dashed or raced, all in reverse.

22d Time to wear black? Sure! (6)
STABLE A word for black around T(ime).

25d This person sees empty dish (4)
MESS First-person pronoun + S(ee)S.


23a, 28a, 7d and 19d were my favourites but I thought the quality of cluemanship was uniformly high. 4d was a new word for me. Let's hear your picks and reactions.


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

48 comments on “Toughie 1413

  1. Thanks to Samuel for an enjoyable if not too challenging Toughie and thanks to Toro for the review.
    I thought that using Baker (who hasn’t cast the news for a third of a century) as an example of 1a was not very fair on younger solvers. What’s wrong with Bruce?

    1. Because I think the former would think of himself as a 1a and the lovely Fiona probably sees herself as a ‘reader’.

      1. I’d have thought the opposite. In the early days of TV news the newsreaders were often former actors who played no part in producing the scripts but just “read” what was put in front of them. These days the news presenters are generally journalists who are involved in production meetings and even write some of their own material.

  2. An enjoyable start to the Toughie week – I struggled in places but like everything else that’s not gone quite right today, I think I’ll blame the exceedingly high pollen count.

    Thanks to Toro and Samuel

  3. 25d in the paper reads “Samuel sees empty dish”, which had me foxed because I had assumed it was another obscure reference – finally twigged. Guess the compilers aren’t mentioned online.

    23a and 28a are beautiful &lits that were completely lost on me because I had never heard of Porterfield or Melchester and its fictitious hero – I hadn’t heard of Baker either (1a) but the clueing was clear enough. Anyway, googling Samuel didn’t help, guessed the answer for 25d, looked up to remind myself of the compiler and Bingo!

    This is only the second time I’ve seen odd/even deletion within anagram fodder (3d), the first time being last Friday’s toughie. Have the floodgates opened now, or have I led a sheltered life? 13d uses 2 last letters indicated within the anagram fodder.

    I liked 24a (Blackmail..) and 5d (studio location..) most, mainly for surface. I liked 12a,6a, &7d for quirky clueing. I really thought 15a was on the edge, apparently a light-hearted comment on the GermanAir tragedy. (and Toro, hens can fly just a little bit, can’t they?)

    I’m not sure if saggers wear this clothing! (7d) – great clue.

    Anyway I agree, it’s a pleasure to have Samuel’s second puzzle, and I look forward to more. Many thanks Samuel and Toro

  4. Well, I do have a British upbringing, although I’ve lived in the USA for 35 years. Except for 23A, I was able to work out all the “British” solutions from the wordplay. I needed Google to confirm 4D. I was sure of my answer for 28D and to be honest did not research the ‘why’. I thought 13A was very convoluted, but I did like 15A. Did Brett actually ever live at Tara?

    Thanks, Samuel and Toro.

  5. A very nice Tuesday toughie,4dn was a new word for me,some lovely word-play,many thanks to Samuel and Toro.

  6. Must admit that I didn’t bother to check which Baker was a newsreader as the answers was quite obvious.
    Did have to check the cricket player but as he was from Derby, it threw me off until I had enough checkers to remember the sport field.
    4d reminded me of my ex business partner. He used that word all the time.
    Was toying with Deputies for a while in 15a until the penny dropped. Good clue.
    Thanks to Toro for explaining the Tara of 9a and for the rest of the review of course.
    Thanks to Samuel. Can’t remember seeing that name recently.

  7. For me, not a particularly enjoyable puzzle I’m afraid. There seemed to be a lot of emphasis on general knowledge that overseas and younger solvers might possibly have had trouble with, however I’ll agree that the wordplay was fair enough. That said, when was the last time you saw ‘Roy of the Rovers’? I agree with Dutch’s point about the odd/even anagram fodder becoming more evident these days. Is it just a phase or is it the usual way of clueing by this particular setter in the ‘Listener’ ?

    Anyway, moan over. Thanks to Samuel for the puzzle and Toro for his review that I needed to confirm my wordplay for 25d

    1. Hi SL,
      Remembered the Melchester Rovers from last summer. Will google the site to find it but I definitely remember BD”s explanations.

      1. Used to follow Roy’s team and their exploits back in the early 60’s in various comics – he must be some age now! I believe he lost a foot in a helicopter crash (that must mean he’s only about 5 Ft tall now).

  8. Had a good go at this toughie and managed solving about three-quarters of it. Needed the review to finish it so many thanks to Toro and of course to the setter. 6a tickled me pink! Really enjoyed having a go at this puzzle. 4*/5*.

  9. I enjoyed this but wonder if there isn’t rather too much “gen nol” required [even for a toughie]? We can draw a distinction between clues that can be readily solved without the knowledge [you don’t need to have heard of Genesis to solve19d] and those where either the solution makes no sense even tho you can get to it [1a, 23a, 28a, 11d] or [the really naughty ones] you can’t solve it at all without the knowledge [9a]. There were also rather a lot of adjacent start or finish letters [13a, 23a, 19d]. And like Expat Chris I thought 13a was pretty forced but heigh ho…

    Particularly liked 12a and the kind of flier in 15a.

    Thanks to Samuel and to Toro for the blog.

  10. Melchester Rovers are a fictional team but we have a real team that could be fictional in the Premier League next season. BOURNEMOUTH!!!! Come on you Cherries!!!

    Great puzzle. Only got stuck on that 25d not realising that it referred to Big Sam himself. So thanks to him and to the much needed Toro for parsing purposes.

    1. We believe in Bournemouth.
      After Ryanair dumped us like old socks, we managed to make a deal with Flybe.
      Hyeres Bournemouth in one of those propeller jobbies. Scary!

      1. I quite like those ‘prop planes’. I lived in Paris during the 90’s and often preferred the Le Bourget/ City Airport flight with my to-and fro-ing between the two Capitals. Short take-off and landing I think they call them. Ryanair always land somewhere different to where they announce on the brochure. If you want to fly to Lyon for example you end up in Saint Etienne!

      2. Used to fly in and out of Gibraltar many moons ago on DanAir whilst the Spanish would not allow usage of it’s air space. Now that’s really scary! Not to mention flying into the old Hong Kong airport in the 70’s – they used to pull out TV aerials from the aircraft’s undercarriage. It’s all a bit easier now.

  11. I managed, and enjoyed, most of this Toughie – it was quite tough enough for me.
    I did need the hints to sort out the ‘yes, but why’ for several of my answers.
    When I first read 29a I just gaped at it stupidly and decided not to clutter my brain with it until I had a few letters in – that seemed to work!
    I really liked 6 and 12a.
    With thanks to Samuel, and to Toro for the necessary explanations.

  12. Thanks to those who have commented; it’s pleasing to see that most comments are positive.

    Regarding the level of ‘general knowledge’ required, I always think it makes a puzzle more interesting to have answers that are slightly off the beaten track. I know that I myself get bored of seeing grids filled with words that one would only see in a crossword (when did anybody ever use the word EWER in real life, for instance?), so it’s good to have variety – and a certain amount of quirkiness. It’s also the case that such references are not always foreseen when first filling a grid. For instance, RACE started out as a ‘normal’ clue; I was then sorting through some old books and found an old Roy of the Rovers annual, and only at that point had the idea for the &lit. And yes, “Baker” at 1ac was perhaps a bit tough on younger solvers. I spent a long time looking for a suitable surname that could appear at first glance to be a normal noun rather than a proper noun, and this was the only one that I could find.

    It’s perhaps also worth mentioning that the clue for HYPHENED was written some time before the German Wings crash, so no reference to that was intended. The argument as to the ability of hens to fly was also a debate I had; one definition of HEN in Chambers is simply ‘a female bird’ – I’m sure that at least some female birds can fly! The ‘kind of’ was added late on as a qualifier in this regard.

    1. Thanks for dropping in on us, Samuel. It’s always appreciated.

      I realised after posting the review that hens can in fact fly, so that was an unfair quibble on my part, and I for one didn’t think for a minute that 15a was a reference to the GermanWings disaster.

      Looking forward to your next puzzle.

          1. Chambers 12th – provided or providing [conj] (often with that) – on condition; on these terms; with the understanding

            1. Chambers or no Chambers, I still don’t see how “provided (that)” = “so (that)” though I’m willing to be persuaded provided you give me an example.

              Or that should be “so that you give me an example”?!

    2. Samuel, thanks ever so much for dropping in – this is something we really appreciate. It hoped the GermanWings thing was coincidental, but it is unfortunate being so spot on – didn’t he have promotion issues?

      I did think the &lits were brilliant, as was a lot else – thanks again

      1. It wouldn’t be the first time a crossword clue has had inadvertent echoes with the real world.

    3. Thanks for dropping in Samuel – I (for one) am always pleased that the setter takes the time to see what us mortals think about their puzzle. I do hope you haven’t taken offence by my comments, they were not meant to be derogatory and as I said, the wordplay was perfectly fair ( I certainly never thought for a minute that 15a was anything other than a crossword clue and a very clever one at that).

      I look forward to solving your next puzzle.

      Btw – what year was your ‘Roy of the Rovers’ annual? I’ve probably got it in the loft.

      1. The Roy of the Rovers annual that I found was from 1978, but I’m sure I have others around somewhere. Should I confess that I enjoyed reading it after all those years? Probably not! I didn’t know that Roy had lost a foot, however. I’m guessing that he made a comeback though, and that Roy’s Rocket was as powerful as ever…

    4. As far as I’m concerned any setter who combines a bit of quirkiness with “popping in” to add something to the comments or to explain something, or even just to say “hello” is on to a winner! to you.

  13. Just about managed this with only a small amount of help from the hints, so a good one for me. Couldn’t get 15a even after reading the hint that one defeated me. Had ‘sleeving’ for 4d, so 15a didn’t work….at one point I had ‘Zeppelin ‘ pencilled in…but obviously that wasn’t going to go far! I liked 9a, but was a bit puzzled as Rhet Butler didn’t live at Tara…..however the explanation made it clear….was Scarlett ever referred to in the book as Scarlett O’Hara-Butler.?…don’t think double barrelled worked in those days……at least not that type of double barrel! Thanks to setter and to Toro for the hints. Quite tough for me, so 3*/3*

    1. Hi Liz,
      Love the zeppelin.
      At least with my Deputies I had some kind of edulcorant for 14d which soon changed into some kind of edullergen at some point.
      I just love creating new words but a Z as a second letter would have sent me in a frenzy.

      1. Hi JLC. Yes edulcorant and edullergen are both excellent words! Well worth keeping in reserve for future reference.

        1. Since we’re on new words…can I add étourderie? Mephisto 2859. JLC? Finally finished the thing.

’s not the only word I had to look up.

    2. I don’t recollect her being referred to as O’Hara Butler either. But that aside, it’s actually common practice here for women to informally adopt their birth surname as a middle name on marriage, without the hyphenation. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy are probably the best known examples.

  14. Very enjoyable , though I did resort to hints for the last few, one of which included 4d. I knew, though I am not one myself but I know a few.
    I thought 29a and 7d were brilliant clues.
    Thanks Samuel and Toro.

  15. Thanks for thinking of us (and others) in your preamble Toro. We have actually put marks beside six clues that we would classify as ‘Droitisms’. However, none of these caused us any undue delay apart from a bit of Googling and we actually completed the puzzle in a time that was quite a bit shorter than we often spend on a Toughie. Brilliant clues that kept us chuckling throughout the solve.
    Thanks Samuel and Toro.

  16. I needed the hints for three, but got close enough to completion to whet my appetite for more. 4/5* by my standards, and lots of very good clues. I can’t choose between 9a and 29a. Many thanks to Samuel, and of course to Toro.

  17. On first pass I got the grand total of 5 clues. However since one was the hidden reverse of 26a, it was triumphant.

    The rest were slowly tweaked out with the odd ‘bungthethinginandhope’…1a and 15a.

    Even though some of the GK had to be checked, it didn’t matter, I found the whole puzzle felt fresh and innovative.

    And 29a was a joy. I guessed at the answer, pencilled it in and left it. It wasn’t until I came to look at it again did I understand. Brilliant.

    Many thanks to Samuel for the challenge and to Toro for an excellent blog. Hope the cricket is going well?

  18. Thanks Samuel I am old enough to have enjoyed it (28a being the exception and 29a probably the favourite) but I have been for some time encouraging one of my daughters to persist with the toughies and she found this largely well clued and frankly she says quite easy but her knowledge of newscasters ,comics etc etc before her time sadly was not up to scratch .I will try to convince her to continue despite this setback .
    Thanks Toro for an exceptional review

  19. Thanks to Samuel and to Toro for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, I managed most of the bottom half, but needed 8 hints to finish. Favourite was 29a. Found the GK clues interesting. Was 4*/3* for me. Great to see Samuel pop in to say hello.

  20. I’ve had this one on the go for a couple of days, dropping in and out as other commitments took up my time (back pagers, work, radio, sleep, food, music, staring out the window blankly) and finished it this morning. I loved it. I am a particular fan of GK in cryptics, as that is one of my strong points, and this offering from Samuel came up trumps. So thanks to him – and how good to see him not only popping in to say hello, but to engage with other commenters. He gets bonus points for that. Thanks too, to Toro for parsing assistance, especially 9a – the answer was obvious from the checkers, but GWTW is a blind spot for me. Never seen it, never read it, and am unlikely too. 3*/5*.

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