Toughie 1440 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1440

Toughie No 1440 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Ha! By pure chance I just came across a week-old email from the Telegraph with a £50 amazon voucher for winning the Sunday Prize crossword – it was in my spam folder! Anyway it’s valid till February 2024 (8 and a half years?). Sure comes in handy, since the kids have been loading their Kindles before we leave for Parga (Greece) tomorrow. I’m looking forward to 3 weeks of sunshine, although the weather in Macclesfield doesn’t look too bad today. Todays puzzle I would suggest is ***/***, though there were three clues that I still had to parse once the grid was full (11a, 20a, and 9d). I notice the first line across is interesting and there is a connection between 7d, 14d and 16d – can you see other clues that fit the pattern?

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 Tutor prepared scripture class for martyr (7)
TORTURE: Martyr here is a verb. Anagram (prepared) of TUTOR plus the abbreviation for R(eligious) E(ducation)

8a Church warning signal is hollow (7)
CHAMBER: The abbreviation for ch(urch) plus the traffic light colour than signals warning

10a Maybe floats over in French river are freezing out (9)
OSTRACISE: Reversal (over) of a word meaning floats (as in milk floats or carnival floats) inside (in) the name of a French river (tributary of the Seine). I am confused about the present continuous (plural) in the clue apparently translating to simple present (singular) in the answer, not sure if I am missing something.

11a Fact regularly buried in incomplete computer memory printout? (5)
DATUM: The even letters of fact (regularly) inside (buried in) a 4-letter word used for the transfer of memory content onto disk or paper, normally to help analyse a problem, without it’s final letter (incomplete). I first imagined fact was the definition, but since it is used in the word play, we must have an all-in-one, or an extended definition.

12a Sports car bringing 22 back in a flash (5)
GLINT: reversal of another word for the quantity described in 22d inside (bringing 22 back in) the 2-letter abbreviation associated with a sporty car version.

13a Separate sulphur in faintly glowing coal (9)
DISMEMBER: Place the chemical symbol for sulphur inside (in) a 3-letter adjective for faintly glowing (as in a lightbulb) plus a piece of coal that has been burning (and might well also be faintly glowing)

15a More orderly foreign gentlemen detained by judge? (7)
TRIMMER: the plural abbreviation for Messieurs (foreign gentlemen) goes inside a 5-letter word that would describe a judge (or someone who is attempting something)

17a Drain that’s essential to sniff at, I guess (7)
FATIGUE: Hidden (that’s essential to) sniff at I guess

18a Flanders battle site scattered Rouen dead (9)
OUDENARDE: An anagram (scattered) of ROUEN DEAD gives this place in Belgium which was the scene of a major battle in the War of the Spanish Succession fought on 11 July 1708.

20a Stop recalling short fashion (5)
FORGE: Take a 6-letter verb meaning to stop recalling, i.e., the opposite of remember, and remove the last letter (short)

21a Dogs and Man, say, one inferior, carrying tail forward (5)
ISLES: Dogs and Man are examples of this. Take the Roman numeral for one, then add a four-letter word mean inferior or smaller from which the last letter is moved to the front (carrying tail forward)

23a All-round experts brewing malty hops (9)
POLYMATHS: Anagram (brewing) of MALTY HOPS

24a Surround six within energy corporation in scandal (7)
ENVIRON: Place the Roman numeric notation for six inside a disgraced energy company

25a Spanish agreement, liberal and pretty clearly resounding (7)
SILVERY: Spanish for yes, plus the abbreviation for L(iberal), and a 4-letter word meaning pretty, as in extremely

ARVE Error: need id and provider


1d Having excess embellishment in various colours holds installer up (10)
PRETTIFIED: A 4-letter word meaning in various colours (think of a piper from Hamelin) contains (holds) the reversal (up) of a person who installs (eg a kitchen)

ARVE Error: need id and provider

2d Turn of Britain and NI to stand by oil exporter (6)
KUWAIT: Two-letter abbreviation of the country consisting of Britain and NI, reversed (turn of), plus a verb meaning to stand by in anticipation (or bring food to a table in a restaurant)

3d British monarch comprehending Irish quipster’s puzzle (8)
BEWILDER: Abbreviation for B(ritish) and the usual abbreviation for our queen, into which is inserted (comprehending) the name of a famous and much-quoted Irish playwright

4d Dismiss letter read out in fit of passion (6)
ACCESS: Homophone (read out) of a word meaning to fire or dismiss plus the nineteenth letter of the alphabet gives a word meaning a fit of illness or passion, but more usually means having the ability to enter or be admitted (eg to a building, or a computer account)

5d Socialist faction was already gone, outflanking Republican (4,4)
HARD LEFT: Two words (3,4) describing someone who has already gone, surrounding (outflanking) the abbreviation for R(epublican)

6d An objection to touch (4)
ABUT: The 1-letter indefinite article plus a word used as an objection

7d Suppressors of dissent for all that concocted plot to kill in US (7,6)
THOUGHT POLICE: A six letter word meaning for all that, or nevertheless, plus an anagram (concocted) of PLOT, plus a 3-letter word in US criminal slang meaning to kill.

9d Stopping upcoming prophet, a bit underhand, without compunction (13)
REMORSELESSLY: A 4-letter word for prophet or soothsayer is reversed (upcoming) and filled with (stopping) a 6-letter word meaning a bit, as in a bit of food perhaps, all followed by a 3-letter word for underhand or foxy

14d A show of reducing captive population’s surveillance? (3,7)
BIG BROTHER: A clever cryptic definition for one of the worst reality TV shows ever, unfortunately invented in Holland.

16d The cloth tax behind skimpy dresses (8)
MINISTRY: Take a word for very short dresses and follow it with (behind) a word meaning to tax (someone’s patience)

17d Most inadequate wages brought happiness (8)
FEEBLEST: A 3-letter word for wages or retainer, followed by a past participle meaning brought happiness

19d Feel sorry for doing wrong, being confined again? (6)
REPENT: This word can also be read as re-confined

20d Smoke-covered skin of brill or flounder (6)
FUMBLE: A 4-letter word for smoke surrounds (covered) the outer letters (skin) of brill

22d Left almost too much to be sold on (4)
LOVE: The abbreviation for L(eft) plus the first 3 letters (almost) of a 4-letter word meaning too much (or a series of balls in cricket)

Many nice clues, but the one that brought the biggest smile for me was 17a. How did you like the puzzle, and which were your favourite clues?

21 comments on “Toughie 1440

  1. Notabilis is the setter who gives me the most pleasure to unravel. In all the clues I get the feeling that I know what I should be looking for and trying to find the right answer is always a terrific challenge.
    18a took a while even as an anagram as I was on a totally different war.
    Favourite is 20d.
    Thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch for the review.

    1. Couldn’t agree more with your first sentence, IMHO one of the best setters at the moment. Thanks to Dutch and Notabilis

  2. Quite a nice way to end the Toughie week.

    17d was bunged in, didn’t see the hidden.
    20d initially went in as ‘fuming’ which caused a few question marks re 25a.
    I didn’t know the river for 10a so just guessed at the answer..also confused about the singular in the answer.
    7a went straight in but I didn’t know you could use martyr in that sense as a verb.

    7 and 14d get the Orwell favourite award with 7 and 8a coming second. What a dark themed crossword. Brill.

    Many thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch for a great blog and encouraging me to try it.

    Well done on you prize crossword. Enjoy your holidays.

  3. I think 10a is OK, Dutch. “We are freezing out” = “We ostracise”, surely?

    1. Ah thanks, good example. I wasn’t thinking plural in the answer for some reason – glad you told me, it was driving me mad. So using it as plural is quite clever really, matching surface.

  4. Just finished this between blogging and watching England cruise to victory at Edgbaston. Well done lads.

    A very enjoyable puzzle to get to grips with, as you would expect from Notabilis. Some really super clue construction and a theme, to boot. Could pick out several clues as favourites, so I will not single out any one in particular.

    Thanks to Notabilis for the puzzle and Dutch for his usual excellent review.

    Congratulations on your win and have a great holiday (although I can’t think why you wouldn’t just stay in Macclesfield

  5. I made this 2*/3*, and l suppose 24a was my favourite clue. A reasonably satisfying puzzle, for which thanks to Notabilis. Thanks to Dutch for the review; have a splendid holiday.

  6. Well – I stumbled and fumbled my way through without the hints but with the odd sneaky look at the comments!
    Doubt I’d have got 7d in a hurry without the knowledge of a ‘theme’ and that gave me an ‘in’ to 10a (no, I didn’t know the French river!).
    Couldn’t for the life of me parse 4d and didn’t recall the archaic form of blessed in 17d.
    Had to cheat with an anagram solver for 18a and needed Mr. Google to explain the definition of polymath – not a word I’ve ever had the need to understand!

    Sometimes I feel that setters – particularly Toughie setters – put in too many irrelevancies ‘just because they can’. 11a could easily have been clued as ‘fact’ and 21a would have been obvious given ‘dogs and man’. Ah well……….

    Thanks to Notabilis, who will have no difficulty in believing that I was out of my league here – and to Dutch for making me understand the whys and wherefores. Smiled at the Crispian St. Peters blast from the past!

  7. A top quality puzzle once again from our fellow-countryman. Not a speedy solve for us but enjoyable all the way. One that needed a bit of investigoogling was 19a but we knew it was an anagram we were looking for so very straightforward to find. We had not noticed the 1984 theme so thanks Dutch for pointing it out.
    Thanks Notabilis and Dutch.

  8. Jane especially to note ….. we have not quite finished today, but will be mulling over the weekend, although we know that we don’t know 18a, so are already defeated on the battlefield.

  9. Well, what a ignominious end to the toughie week for me. I am so far from Notabilis’ wavelength, it’s as if we are from different countries. I have 10…count ’em… answers and am too dispirited to fight any more. You beat me, guv. I have not yet looked at the review, but no doubt will over the weekend.

  10. Just finished this after coming back to it on successive nights as bedtime reading. I have a pile of unread books but keep being tempted by crosswords – and how could I resist a Notabilis puzzle?

    I’m very pleased indeed to finish a Friday Toughie (ok, a 3* for difficulty, but still!) with hardly any cheating at all. Like Janet and Gavin I fell at the battlefield but with the fodder and checkers it wasn’t hard to find. I had to check the definitions of 4d and 7a, and had the same confusion as Dutch with 10a.

    Thanks to Dutch for the usual great review – I hope you are having far too much fun to see this until you get back – and to Notabilis for the top-quality crossword.

  11. Thanks for the comments and blog.
    The explanation for the Nina is that this is the puzzle after my 100th Toughie, so several answers are associated with Room 101.

    1. Thanks Notabilis. I remember checking to see if it was Orwell’s DOB or something similar. I should have thought cryptically. Very it.

    2. Congratulations Notabilis on the 100th toughie. I am in awe of that achievement. And thank you for making your puzzle even more exciting with the room 101 (which I hadn’t picked up on as suggestive of a centenary, although i saw the 1984 connection. Thanks, great, great stuff.

  12. And another Toughie bites the dust! To think that a year ago, I couldn’t get a single clue in a Notabilis puzzle…OK, I needed to check the blog for a couple of parsings, and Google for the spelling of the battle, but that’s all. Thanks to Notabilis, thanks to Dutch, and most of all thanks to BD for this wonderful site, I’ve learned so much.

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