Toughie 1439 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1439

Toughie No 1439 by Dada

Hints and tips by Bufo

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

This was an enjoyable puzzle with some nice clues but it was not particularly tough. I wish that Dada would up the difficulty level. Or is it just me who’s always on the right wavelength for Dada puzzles?

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    Squat is round behind back of lodgings (6)
STUBBY: Squat (short and thick) = S (last letter of lodgingS) + round (plump)

4a    Line on map in black — I fly around it (6)
ISOBAR: B (black) inside I and ‘to fly’

8a    Very fast comet, I reckon, only a third of it breaking up (8)
METEORIC: An anagram (breaking up) of COMET I RE (a third of REckon)

10a    Withstand onset of sweating in further test (6)
RESIST: S (first letter of Sweating) inside an exam (test) taken by someone after they failed it the first time

11a    Playwright from Dublin cut short, furious (4)
WILD: Remove the last letter from the surname of a playwright born in Dublin

12a    In ecclesiastical crime, cant interpreted as holiness that’s insincere (10)
SANCTIMONY: An anagram (interpreted) of CANT inside the buying or selling of an ecclesiastical benefice

13a    Slipping off swing initially, a circus artist unfortunately faces stretcher (12)
CARICATURIST: An anagram (unfortunately) of A CIRCU ARTIST, i.e A CIRCUS ARTIST less one letter S (first letter of Swing). The answer is someone who draws faces that are distorted so as to appear comical

16a    The main course? (8,4)
SHIPPING LANE: A cryptic definition for that part of the sea (main) where vessels travel

20a    Middlesex opener bowled, cricket side is getting squeezed by medium pace player (10)
TROMBONIST: M (first letter of Middlesex) + B (bowled) + one of the sides on a cricket pitch + IS inside a pace between walking and running = a player of a musical instrument

21a    Jump in waste receptacle (4)
SKIP: 2 meanings: jump/waste receptacle

22a    Sign, say, pointing to the left, car following it (6)
GEMINI: A sign of the Zodiac = a reversal of ‘say’ + a small car

23a    He, for example, puts limb behind head a second later (5,3)
NOBLE GAS: Here He is an atomic symbol. A head + a limb of the lower body + A + S (second)

24a    One not crossing one’s heart? (6)
TICKER: This slang word for the heart may also refer to someone marking something right (as opposed to marking it wrong with a cross)

25a    Pink paper that is alongside blue, odd parts wanting red (6)
LEFTIE: The even letters of bLuE + the newspaper that is printed on pink paper + ‘that is’


1d    Playwright from Dublin having adventure novel to deliver, and incomplete (8)
SHERIDAN: The surname of a playwright born in Dublin in 1751 = the title of a novel by Rider Haggard + ‘to deliver (or set free from) + AN (‘and’ with the last letter removed)

2d    Tip to get ahead before finishing line (2-3)
UP-END: ‘Ahead’ + the finishing line

3d    Artful Arabist, an artist with arabica? (7)
BARISTA: An anagram (artful) of ARABIST = a person who is employed to make coffee (arabica)

5d    Final operatic parts producing titters (7)
STRETTI: An anagram (producing) of TITTERS

6d    In Swiss city, police requiring a copper, possibly? (4,5)
BASE METAL: A Swiss city goes round the London police force and A

7d    Revolution is going in circle (6)
RISING: IS inside a circle

9d    Eating / disorder (11)
CONSUMPTION: 2 meanings: eating/a disorder (an old name for TB)

14d    One for whom the rest is proving elusive? (9)
INSOMNIAC: A cryptic definition for someone who has trouble sleeping

15d    Private, one not at liberty to cover it up (8)
INTIMATE: A person confined in an institution round a reversal of IT

17d    Upset, Isolde going after Tristan’s third love (7)
IDOLISE: I (the third letter of TrIstan) + an anagram (upset) of ISOLDE

18d    Inept luminary (7)
NOTABLE: A luminary or person of distinction. When split (3,4) it also means ‘inept’

19d    Minister sticks his nose in treacle, firstly (6)
PRIEST: ‘Sticks his nose in’ + T (first letter of Treacle)

21d    Fish / was picked up by the nose (5)
SMELT: 2 meanings: a fish/picked up by the nose

No problems with sorting out the wordplay this week

29 comments on “Toughie 1439

  1. Good to have an easier toughie when you’ve a busier day. Last in was 13a for which the definition caused some head scratching – d’oh! Thanks to Dada for the enjoyment.

    1. Hi J&G,
      A little green monster inside of me would love to believe that you are not actually ‘real’ people but a figment of BD’s imagination designed to torment us lesser mortals! Doubtless that is far from the truth but I would really like to know how the two of you became such expert solvers. I have yet to see you comment on any puzzle without saying how easy it was.
      Any hints, suggestions or advice you may feel able to pass on would be gratefully received.

      1. Hi Jane.
        I can assure you we are real (and quite ordinary). We do have an advantage being a couple with wildly different, but complimentary skills (Janet is very logical and I’m… not). It is only by good fortune that we have not had too much trouble since we recently decided to look at the toughies daily. We stared blankly at our early attempts at toughies, and accumulated a large backlog (some puzzles could last a week) that we have not quite yet conquered. Sheer persistence (with help from BD etc.) has seen us through. Keep on truckin’ and never say die. Gavin.
        PS from Janet – Gavin’s skills are vocabulary, general knowledge and bizarre suggestions that occasionally put us on the right track.

  2. Oh please don’t ask for tougher toughies, this was quite tough enough for me !
    My favourite was 23a, it took a while to see it.Other great clues included 18d, 26a, 8a, 9d and several others.
    Thanks Dada and Buffo.

  3. For me, by far the best Toughie of the week. 24a and 9d jint favourites

    For me, by far the best Toughie of the week and competing with Rufus for best crossword of the week. Didn’t enjoy any of the others at all. 24a and 9d joint favourite clues

  4. Very enjoyable even with the Lego building blocks of 20a and 25a.
    14d seemed familiar.
    Liked the He of 23a and the copper in 6d but favourite is 19d.
    Thanks to Dada and Bufo for the review.

  5. 1*/4* a pussycat of a puzzle compared to today’s backpager (and Toughies in general).

    1. Hi CS,
      I would pretty much give the reverse opinion of today’s two puzzles. Leaving aside the obvious aspect of your far greater experience, it never ceases to amaze me how much variation there can be in opinions on any given day.
      I guess that’s all part of the ‘fun’ – but when one’s wallowing in the slough of despond it doesn’t feel much like it!

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this. For some it might have been an easier Toughie but it was a delight, for once, to be on the same wavelenght as the setter. Favourite? 16a

  7. For some reason l struggled a bit with this and needed hints for the two Dublin playwrights (although one of them was so simple it should really have been my first in). 3*/3* on balance. I’m not utterly convinced by 13a, even taking into account the “face”, but l did like 23a. Ta to Dada, and to Bufo.

  8. Promised Expat Chris that I’d give this one a ‘look’. Lack of GK forced me to resort to Mr. Google for four of the clues and complex wordplay defeated me on several others.
    I did really enjoy 16a plus 6&9d but overall it was ‘above my pay grade’!

    Thanks to Dada – I will keep trying – and thanks to Bufo for the deliverance.

  9. Thank goodness for that.

    After the back page, which I have yet to comment on, I wondered if my brain had somehow melted overnight.

    Loved it. The lego bits of 23a, outstanding anagram/wordplay of 3d, having to double check 1d. Favourite clue goes to 16a. A joy from start to finish.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Bufo for blogging, especially 25a which I couldn’t parse. Got the FT bit but couldn’t figure out the rest. It seems obvious now, it just made no sense at the time.

  10. Enjoyable but a bit tame (1d & 11a as examples – although I did start to look for a theme). I thought the clue constructions were good with clear definitions with only 13a stretching it a bit – OK..a lot

    I’ll go with 20a as my favourite as the topical misdirection was clever.

    Thanks to Dada for the puzzle & Bufo for his review.

    Now, tea is over, so back to the cricket.

    1. Hope you enjoyed yesterday?

      I had to turn my phone to silent thanks to helpful friends texting me every bit of the action. Fantastic stuff.

      1. I had the choice of Day 1 or Day 4 – by the look of it, if I had opted for Saturday, I would have been looking for a refund

        Regards yesterday, I’ve commented on the back pager blog.

  11. Enjoyed this a lot, I didn’t think it was that easy, some nice original wordplay and some brilliant cryptic definitions (16a, 9d, 14d).

    I so loved 3d. More than an alliteration. beautiful.

    Having spent 7 years in the swiss city of 6d, I should have seen it earlier but had Bern stuck in my head.

    5d was a new word.

    1a, 13a, 24a, 25a were other clues I had ticked for having exceptional merit.

    Many thanks Dada, and Bufo for the review

  12. You win some, you lose some. In a week of much harder toughies, according to the star difficulty ratings, this one gave me the most trouble and took by far the longest to complete. 9D and 13A took forever! I had swim for 21A. Well, you don’t “jump in” if you can’t, do you? I thought the ecclesiastic crime in 12A was sin, so could not fully parse the answer.

    I so wanted cannibalism to be the answer for 9D!

    Absolute favorite, when I finally worked it out, was 23A. Thanks to Dada for the workout, and to Bufo for the review.

    1. 21a gave me issues – I simply don’t equate jump with skip. Shades of school days and what we used to refer to as the ‘hop, skip and jump’ event at sports days!

  13. One of our special treats in life that we look forward to is a Dada Toughie. We never fail to enjoy them. Their level of difficulty suits us just fine and we are guaranteed plenty of chuckles. What more could one (or even two) ask for.
    Many thanks Dada and Bufo.

  14. “Faces stretcher ” really floated my boat in an otherwise straightforward and rather humdrum puzzle. Why can’t we have Paul’s tough stuff?

    Thanks to Dada and Bufo.

  15. There are a couple of ‘couples solvers’ here. I am really interested how you do a puzzle together and still stay married! I’m fiercely independent with my cryptic and toughie puzzles and woe betide anyone who picks up my print-out! We both do the daily Quickie and the Sunday GK, but at separate desks and on separate print-outs and only consult if we’re absolutely stuck. So, do you both work off the same page, or separate ones? Is there a leader and a follower? Or does one or the other look at a clue and say “This one’s yours.”

    1. Hi Chris.
      I don’t think we have ever thought about it, Janet taught me the ways of the cryptic some years ago, and we have always done them together (mainly in the pub). We both work off the same page, quite often from opposite corners. We too are fiercely independent but nearly always collaborate when the going gets toughie, and do not like third party interference. The only competitiveness we have is the the weekly backpage prize puzzle, I do the across clues and Janet does the downs (I am dexter and Janet is sinister) and it invariably results in a draw.

    2. You’re lucky, my wife has zero interest in crosswords, but has the annoying habit of glancing at my one unfinished clue and without batting an eye suggesting the right answer. I hate that.

      1. Exactly the same as my OH. He considers them a pointless hobby but can occasionally solve a very difficult clue. Infuriating.

  16. Only ten days behind…but many thanks for the review and for a super puzzle, I must agree with the ‘easy’ bunch today since I managed it in one sitting which is very rare even for a back pager! I do like Dada’s sense of humour…

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