Toughie 1428 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1428

Toughie No 1428 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

I was panicking that this week’s Toughie parsing nightmares would culminate in a Friday blogger’s hell, but I needn’t have worried. Today’s puzzle didn’t feel much harder than the back-pager, though it did take me a while to get 8d, my last-one-in, and now my favourite since it contains a rather beautifully constructed mislead. Plenty of charming answers and clever surface readings made for an enjoyable solve, so it’s **/**** from me. I thought we might have a pangram but I’m missing Q (only).

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 Rumour president once put before us? (4,9)
BUSH TELEGRAPH: First word is the 43rd US President (president once) who started the war on terror, or maybe his father, the 41st US president. Second word is what is “put before us” when we solve the crossword, unless you are doing this online.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

9a Secure work after rejection, keeping fine with no sleep (4,2,3)
LAND OF NOD: Four-letter verb meaning secure, then reverse (after rejection) a two-letter verb meaning work (or party, strangely enough) which contains F(ine) as well as NO from the clue.

10a Chuck out English cape in black (5)
EJECT: E(nglish) plus C(ape) inside (in) another word for black

11a Bale possibly abandoned by eastern courtyard (5)
GARTH: Bale is a Welsh footballer playing for Real Madrid, we’re looking for his Welsh first name without (abandoned by) the E(astern) to give us a word for courtyard I didn’t know, now dialect apparently. “Bale, possibly” is read to indicate that no doubt there are many other surnames associated with this Christian name, Bale is just one example (hence a definition by example, which needs to indicated accordingly).

12a On reflection, what’s hidden by undercover status on street? (4)
CRED: A lurker, and a backward one at that (on reflection, what’s hidden by) in undercover. A tricky one, since you need to work out what constitutes the definition at the same time as trying to find the lurker

13a Beware getting caught by hail (4)
CAVE: The cricket abbreviation for C(aught) plus a greeting

15a Stop by snake and put it on road (7)
ASPHALT: A 4-letter verb meaning stop follows (by) a kind of snake

17a Smaller daughter wants more Sooty? (7)
DINKIER: Abbreviation for D(aughter) plus a word meaning more sooty or blacker

18a Stewards et al in carriage were boasting (7)
AIRCREW: Charade of a 3-letter word for carriage (or appearance or bearing) and the past tense of a verb meaning boast.

20a My weight’s massive after vacation (5,2)
STONE ME: Yes, thanks for reminding me. This expression of surprise is derived from a unit of weight followed by the first and last letters (after vacation) of M(assiv)E. The ‘S can be read as “has” in the cryptic reading.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

21a Identity of family held back after husband goes missing (4)
SELF: A word for family (as in ***** and blood), reversed (held back), without (after…goes missing) the abbreviation for H(usband)

22a Encourage doctor to cast off son (4)
URGE: A doctor of the operating kind removing (to cast off) the letters from SON.

23a Old person at peace regularly embracing unknown (5)
AZTEC: link AT from the clue to the even letters of pEaCe (regularly), then wrap this around (embracing) one of the last three letters of the alphabet typically used as algebraic unknowns

26a Eviscerate extremely smelly game (5)
GUTSY: a three-letter verb for eviscerate or remove entrails from (e.g. a fish, before we get too satanic), plus the first and last letters (extremely) of S(mell)Y.

27a Air foul footwear after short time (3,3,3)
TEA FOR TWO: Anagram (foul) of FOOTWEAR following the abbreviation (short) of T(ime).

ARVE Error: need id and provider

28a Married men touring that city meeting escorts in avenue abroad (6,7)
CHAMPS ELYSEES: The abbreviation for M(arried) surrounded (touring) by a 5-letter word for men, followed by a small UK city too often seen in crossword-land (that city), and a verb meaning escorts or goes out with. Or perhaps the “that” can be part of “touring that” as a surround instruction – your choice – I just liked “that city”, too good to let go.


1d Slob with nausea agog about fare from Italy (7,7)

2d Means of detecting boy raised in crime (5)
SONAR: Raise (in a down clue) the 3-letter word for boy from the bottom of a pyromaniac’s crime to the top

3d Provider of change following childish fall-out? (5,5)
TOOTH FAIRY: Cryptic definition for the winged person who leaves some money under your pillow in exchange for used body parts

4d Love copper to be hugged by bit of fluff in print (7)
LINOCUT: Place a letter that looks like the tennis score love plus the chemical symbol for copper inside (to be hugged by) a word for a bit of fluff (that you might find in your washing machine!)

5d Atlases, say, complete welcome surprise (7)
GODSEND: Charade of what Atlas is in Greek mythology, plural thereof, plus a word meaning to complete

6d Top banana ultimately wanting large muscles for audition (4)
APEX: Last letter (ultimately) in bananA plus (wanting) something that sounds like (for audition) the large muscles on your chest

7d Dislike consuming iodine, boring served up as mineral (9)
HAEMATITE: A four-letter verb for dislike containing (consuming) a reversal of (served up) the chemical symbol for Iodine and an adjective mean boring or domesticated. Luckily we’ve seen this word recently

8d This could be viewed as a plus sign for part of the UK (2,7,5)
ST GEORGE’S CROSS: Not a place in the UK! All becomes clear once we separate “plus sign” – we’re looking for the description of a flag which could be seen as the plus symbol.

14d Novel concerned with river turning blue (10)
INNOVATORY: Charade of a two-letter preposition meaning concerned or involved with, the reversal (turning) of a river that flows through Stratford, and the political party associated with the colour blue

16d Smashed CIA, partly struggling (9)
PARALYTIC: Anagram (struggling) of CIA PARTLY

19d Bug one father about being subservient to wife (7)
WIRETAP: The Roman numeral for one followed by the reversal (about) of a 5-letter word for father, all underneath (in a down clue, being subservient to) the abbreviation for W(ife).

20d Leak unfinished instruction to read elsewhere? (7)
SEEPAGE: Split (3,4), the answer could be the instruction to go look somewhere else in a book. It’s unfinished because we haven’t yet been given a number that would tell us exactly where

24d Gasquet’s last to wear hat in championship (5)
Newspaper version: Tsonga’s first to wear hat in championship (5)
TITLE: last letter in Gasquet is placed inside (to wear) a slang word for hat [I bet our setter wished he had put money on Gasquet reaching the Wimbledon semi-final today. BD]

25d Film industry in LA finally finds flapper who can speak (4)
MYNA: Take the last letters (finally) of the first four words in the clue to give the name of a bird that can be taught to imitate speech.

My favourite clue was 8d, but I also liked 19d, 12a, 26a, 27a, 16d. What about you?

38 comments on “Toughie 1428

  1. Agree with the ratings that Dutch gives which is a relief after the back page.

    I did have few problems. 23a was pencilled in but I couldn’t justify the unknown part for awhile. 20a was also a guess. Fortunately the long anagram of 1d and a few others went in quickly.

    I was also looking for a pangram that never arrived, blasted Q, perhaps he’s still helping James Bond.

    I’m stuck between 2 favourites. So I’ll just say that both 3 and 8d are a wonderful way to end the Toughie week.

    Many thanks to Sparks for a fantastic puzzle and to Dutch for a first-class blog.

    Have a good weekend all.

  2. I enjoyed this. No real hang-ups, though I never did parse 2D. Favorites are 12A, 20A, 3D and 8D. Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

    By the way, the image for 1D looks suspiciously like mortadella.

    1. I’m quite curious about the image for 18a. I’ve flown with a lot of airlines over the years and don’t remember any of the staff looking like that.

      I’m sure you could send bookings sky high if you did.

    2. oops, yes it does look like mortadella – it came up on a search for bologna – the other pictures looked even less appetising

          1. You may need some rehab. There’s a reason that in America it’s called Baloney!

  3. Really enjoyed this offering from Sparks.
    A mixture of easy clues that gives us enough checkers to parse the most difficult ones.
    8d was one of the first one for me along with the three other peripheral answers.
    9a took a while.
    Favourite is 2d.
    Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch for the great review.

  4. Flushed with success after completing yesterday’s Toughie, so thought I’d give this one a go.
    Really enjoyed it although it took a while to unravel. 3*/4* for me.
    Needed to look up 11a & 7d and had the last word for 8d a long time before the rest fell into place – if only one of the G’s had been a checker!
    Last two in were 17 &21a.
    List for the podium includes 1,20,26&27a plus 8&16d – favourite has to be 3d.

    Thanks to Sparks and also to Dutch for an excellent review.

    Paper version differs on 24d – clue begins ‘Tsonga’s first…………..

  5. What a splendid Toughie. Managed to finish it – well there were not asinine Australian place names called Gladstone in this one! That really was a step too far.
    Absolutely loved 3d and, of course, 8d
    My 24d also had “Tsonga”. The result was the same but who is/was the gentleman? Can’t be bothered to search Google.
    Thanks to Dutch and Sparks.

    1. Tsonga and Gasquet are both French Wimbledon tennis players – as to their hat wearing habits, you’ll have to ask a pro.

    2. Thank you. I’m sure they do not wear roofing material on their heads! Haven’t heard a hat called that for a long while.

  6. I have to say what I’ve said so many times before and that is that I’m really not Toughie material – if it’s called a Toughie then I really can’t do it.
    I did give it a go having been spurred on by the comments from Dutch and Hanni – in my defence I was also watching the tennis with the other eye.
    I got a few answers – had this been a back page crossword I would have had more confidence and carried on – none of this was stuff that I shouldn’t have been able to do.
    Dutch – I think that you’re brilliant, not to mention very brave – taking on doing the hints for a Toughie is amazing – taking on doing the hints for a Friday Toughie is, as far as I’m concerned anyway, verging on completely barking mad.
    With thanks to Sparks and thanks and admiration to Dutch.

    1. PS – I spent way too much time trying to make 1d something to do with lasagne or lasagna.

  7. Although this one was on the easy side Sparks seems to be establishing himself well amongst the Friday team of ace setters. Some lovely clues of all types in this puzzle and I particularly liked 17a [how cute is that] 20a [My!] 3d [a cryptic def that’s both cryptic and witty] and 25d [flapper who can speak].

    Many thanks to Sparks and to Dutch for an excellent blog.

  8. Many thanks to all for on-the-whole very positive comments. In reply to both BD’s parenthetical comment at 24ac in the blog and the “Tsonga’s first/Gasquet’s last” representation of T pointed out by Jane, JB and Dutch, I provided (as pre-planned with Phil MacNeill) an 11th-hour Gasquest after Tsonga was knocked out: evidently the online version didn’t get updated.

    And everyone missed the glaring “Nina at 8d” … so to speak …

        1. Oh good heavens! Staring us in the face, symbolically speaking. Never occurred to me, but that’s not unusual. But why horizontal first? Belay that…just got the entirety. How very clever…and how very devious.

        2. Goodness – not surprised we all missed it!
          Well done, Sparks.
          Thank you yet again Gazza.

        3. arrgh – I was looking! – lots of o’s in line one, then i saw fun and saint, didn’t go on to look for the cross


  9. Sparks submitted the comment four times using two different email addresses and then deleted three of them. Unfortunately the one that was left needed moderation, which is why you couldn’t see it until now.

    1. I kept on resubmitting it because my little mucker Sparky didn’t appear as my Avatar … and now I see that I used two of my three email addresses that weren’t connected to my wee chum. BTW, did anyone enjoy the Times 26147 (on the same day)? ;-)

      1. I only do The Times on a Sunday sorry. However your Nina was suberb, gosh I never spot them.

        Great ears on Sparky btw.

      2. Yes, I did the times yesterday (Friday), took me ages to get mrs mop – don’t tell me i missed another nina… wait a minute, i did see “spot the ball”, is there any thing more? (I’m worried now I should be trying to find a ball in the grid – I can see two E’s…and a “loud”….?) was this also a Sparks?

        1. Hi Dutch: “A Sparks by any other name …” ;-)

          Generally, a Nina in all Monks, Sparks and Anonymonks. Never a theme, as the Ninas are simply used to seed the grid from the squillions of possible combinations.

          1. Thank you, that’s a useful bit of information – congratulations again on the toughie nina, it fits nicely with clue and grid. And thank you for dropping in, we appreciate it when the setter says hello and comments, adds a lot of value to the blog.

  10. I couldn’t get a couple (14d and 5d – although now l know what they are l can’t see why l found them difficult) so 3*/4* for me. 8d was my favourite. Thanks to Sparks for the tussle, and to Dutch for helping me fill the gaps.

  11. Very enjoyable ,favourite (just) 3d .More of the same please ,thanks Sparks and of course Dutch

  12. Really enjoying this as it is pleasantly doable and made all the more so by seeing the delightful Sparky. Thanks to Spark and to Dutch whose help I may need in due course.

  13. I enjoyed this very much, although it took me three sessions to get across the line. Some beautiful clues and hard to pick a winner, but Im going for 8d as an inspired combination of wit and misdirection. I also loved 3d, which would have been a shoo-in on any other day, and 17a, which made me grin when I finally got it. Many thanks to Sparks and to Dutch, for eloquently parsing many that I didn’t fully understand but knew had to be right. 4*5* for me.

  14. Yes. Having been Nina-d to SPOT T/H/E BALL along the central row, there was O/R/B down the lower right-hand side. Simples!

    1. Yep. Quite glaring, really – should have seen it.

      many thanks for the enlightenment

  15. Belated thanks to Sparks for an excellent crossword (I wouldn’t have seen the Nina in a hundred years) and to Dutch for a superbly clear review. I needed help to parse 28ac, answer was obvious but I missed Ely!

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