Toughie 1447 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1447

Toughie No 1447 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Most of it went into without difficulty but the last few needed more effort. This was partly due to self-inflicted problems such as consistently reading ‘galley’ in 16 across as ‘gallery’. The bit of a theme (14 across) helped the solving especially with 11 down where I was not familiar with the other definition. There are three subtractive anagrams in the puzzle (see 14 across) which I am not very keen on.

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    Herb’s grand old gun (8)
BASILISK: A herb + IS (‘s) + a letter denoting a grand (£1000) = a brass cannon throwing a shot of about 200 lb. I didn’t know this meaning of the word

5a    Singular persuasion needed for strip (6)
SCREED: S (singular) + persuasion (system of belief)

9a    Sit on the fence with fiddle, led astray? (8)
STRADDLE: A valuable violin (fiddle) + an anagram (astray) of LED

10a    14 is donkey to hit wicket (6)
BURROW: A rabbit’s 14 = the Spanish word for donkey + W (wicket)

12a    Charlie’s discharge interrupted by moderate truce (9)
CEASEFIRE: C (Charlie) and ‘to discharge a gun’ round (interrupted by) ‘to moderate’

13a    Reserve‘s chance to appear regularly with Harlequins’ First — ‘e’s on the wing (5)
CACHE: A reserve (hoard) = alternate letters of ChAnCe + the first letter of Harlequins + E

14a    Sailor missing so ordered retreat (4)
LAIR: An anagram (ordered) of AILR, i.e. SAILOR without the letters S and O. This form of subtractive anagram is not my favourite kind of clue (and there’s others at 1 down and 7 down)

16a    Reportedly annoy sappers in galley (7)
TRIREME: A homophone (reportedly) of ‘annoy’ + a corps of engineers in the British army (sappers)

19a    Defendant‘s account gone through (7)
ACCUSED: A 3-letter abbreviation for ‘account’ + ‘gone through’

21a    Essence of alcohol taken as 14 (4)
HOLT: An otter’s 14 found as the central characters (essence) of alcoHOL Taken

24a    14‘s ‘Listener’ article curtailed (5)
EARTH: The 14 of a badger or fox = the organ you listen with + the definite article with the last letter removed

25a    Conveyance fixed bar a hitch (4,5)
BATH CHAIR: A conveyance for invalids is an anagram (fixed) of BAR A HITCH

27a    No returning by cargo area when delayed (2,4)
ON HOLD: A reversal of NO + that part of a ship used for cargo

28a    Dwarf skull in a tin, strangely? Turn it round (8)
DOMINATE: ‘Turn it round’ tells you to put an anagram (strangely) of A TIN inside a skull (rather than putting the skull inside the anagram of A TIN). The answer means ‘to dwarf’ or ‘to make to appear small’

29a    Dump rubbish around hotel? Rich do! (6)
THRASH: Rubbish round H (hotel) = a party (rich do)

30a    Privy Seal’s incomplete and muddled 14 (8)
VESPIARY: An anagram (muddled) of PRIVY SEA (SEAL minus the last letter) = a wasp’s 14


1d    Nuts and bolts loose in briefcases? Repaired free abroad (6)
BASICS: An anagram (loose) of BICASS, i.e BRIEFCASES with the letters R, E, F, E from an anagram (repaired) of FREE removed (abroad)

2d    Tweed’s on the rise, my man! (6)
SIRRAH: A reversal of a place associated with the weaving of tweed

3d    To illustrate, reduced unemployment benefit’s brought up as 14 (5)
LODGE: A reversal (brought up) of ‘to illustrate’ and unemployment benefit with the last letter removed. The answer is the 14 of a beaver or an otter

4d    Bond embraces Ivanova — initially in private (7)
SOLDIER: ‘To bond metals’ round I (first letter of Ivanova) = a private in the army

6d    Endlessly boorish fellow going to cool Cambridge college (9)
CHURCHILL: A boorish fellow with the last letter removed + ‘to cool’

7d    Decorated chandelier’s crafted eschewing aluminium (8)
ENRICHED: An anagram (crafted) of CHNDEIER, i.e. CHANDELIER minus the letters A and L from the atomic symbol of aluminium

8d    Innocent action chokes River Yare at source (4-4)
DEWY-EYED: An action round the name of a river on the Welsh-English border and Y (first letter of Yare)

11d    14‘s flag (4)
SETT: 2 meanings: a badger’s 14/a paving stone (flag). I’m not sure whether I knew that this word meant a paving stone

15d    Playwright imaginatively uses alchemy — but no space for printing here (9)
AESCHYLUS: An ancient Greek tragic dramatist is an anagram (imaginatively) of USES ALCHY (ALCHEMY minus the space in printing EM)

17d    Proceeds to mail third party in confidence? (8)
GATEPOST: Proceeds (or takings at a sporting event) + mail = the third party in confidence (as in ‘between you and me and the ********’)

18d    Most music dear to the French in summer 1976, say? (8)
SCORCHER: Music with the last letter removed + the French word for ‘dear’ = a period of heat (as summer 1976 was)

20d    Ready to put up son’s offer (4)
DIBS: A slang word for money (ready) is a reversal of S (son) and ‘offer’

21d    Make an impression with strike back in the UK? (3,4)
HIT HOME: ‘Strike’ + ‘back in the UK’ (that’s assuming that you’re not one of our overseas solvers)

22d    Eventually having good fortune to hold ace (6)
MANANA: A Spanish word which can mean ‘at an unspecified time in the future’ = ‘good fortune’ round A (ace)

23d    Put fish in to cook plainly (6)
FREELY: A fish with a long body inside ‘to cook in oil or fat’

26d    Wave caught highest point of promenade, swamping verge (5)
CRIMP: ‘To wave hair’ = C (caught) and P (first letter of promenade) round a verge

It seems to have taken me a long time to write this review


21 comments on “Toughie 1447

  1. I found this particularly difficult and indeed left it to cogitate while I went to a presentation on the proposed changes to our pension scheme – I’m none the wiser as to whether I will be better or worse off but the break away from staring at the crossword meant that I was able to fill in the missing – mostly in the NE corner – when I returned. I did know the ‘flag’ definition of 11d, it just took me a long time to remember it.

    Thanks to Firefly for a real live Toughie and to Bufo for the explanations.

  2. I found this pretty hard , although the very good clues about the theme helped enormously.I hadn’t heard of the old gun in 1a, but got there via Google.
    Having the checking letters of 15a presented a possible solution that I am sure the Telegraph would never allow, which I seem to recall came up before and was spotted by Miffypops possibly.
    I liked all the “retreats” , as well as 4d, 28a,
    Thanks Bufo and Firefly.

  3. My brain hates me now. First the PJ then this.

    Never heard of 1d before in terms of a cannon. A mythical beast yes, not a cannon.

    I put in ‘burros’ for 10a.

    It took me awhile to get 14a so that didn’t help.

    Had to check that 2d was the correct meaning…I’m sure I’ve heard it before but wasn’t sure.

    Needed the hints for 16a and 4d as I forgot about ‘that’ type of bonding. Amazing as it comes up in crosswords all the time. Incidentally 4d was my favourite clue.

    Glad to have finished and some very clever clues.

    Many thanks to Firefly for one heck of a challenge and to Bufo for blogging. Where would we be without bloggers.

    It may be a Thursday but a drink may be in order tonight after those solves. It’s almost the weekend.

  4. An enjoyable Toughie to get one’s teeth into as long as you got 14a at an early stage in the solve. Well constructed clues and a few laughs along the way. I will go for 17d as today’s favourite.

    Thanks to Firefly for the puzzle and Bufo for his review.

  5. Thanks to Firefly and Bufo for the blog.
    I did know (having lived in Manchester) that a sett is a paving stone but I didn’t know that 1a was an old cannon. I also don’t remember seeing sappers being used for REME instead of RE – the BRB says a sapper is a private in the Royal Engineers.

  6. Thought the PJ training would have set me up for this one – silly, silly girl.
    Didn’t know the gun at 1a, the galley at 16a or the wretched playwright at 18d – more or less got them through the wordplay but then needed to check with Mr. Google.
    Needed Bufo’s hint for 2d, although I should have known that one.
    Favourite by a mile is 17d.

    Thanks to Firefly and also to Bufo for a magnificent job on the review.

  7. Yes. 14 was pushing it a bit. A flag is more of a slab but years ago the old cobble stones were known as granite sett’s. Still a good one though for a Thursday.

  8. We got stuck, to various extents, on the last four Toughies. An early pint with a big session on BD hints and we have a clean sheet ready for Friday. Many thanks to the setters and explainers.

  9. This was clever and memorably entertaining, and thus more enjoyable than one or two recent easier Toughies. I liked the theme and the complex wordplay involved in solving quite a few of the clues. 1a, 2d, 14a, 30a and 8d were excellent clues amongst many. Thanks Firefly and Bufo !

  10. I found this one quite tricky and ran out of time to complete it yesterday. This morning I avoided looking at the blog (great test of will-power) until I had finished off the NE corner. Needed a list of Cambridge colleges to help and had to check the second meaning of 11d. Thank goodness for the mini theme that helped get a few checkers into the grid. Good fun.
    Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  11. Didn’t have much time for this and gave up on 17d and 29a. Is a rich do a synonym for a party? I must get out more.
    I agree with Gazza that sappers = Royal Engineers [my dad’s old mob] and certainly not REME, a different outfit altogether.

    Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  12. I completed better than three-quarters of this but in the end needed Bufo’s hints to fill the SE corner. 4*/4* by my standards, and 17d as top clue. To Firefly l say “respect!” for beating me and thanks for the work-out. To Bufo goes my thanks for enabling me to avoid the ignominy of an un-filled grid.

  13. Early evening here but late there, and I am just getting back into this. A quick perusal early this morning ( and by early I mean middle of the night) revealed nothing, but over a cuppa later I began to make a bit of headway. I am still a long way from completing the grid so not looking at clues or comments since they might give hints. Maybe by tomorrow I will have a more respectable “score” than I have now. And then again, maybe not.

  14. Went rather well but it was impossible for me to get 2d and 11d.
    Thanks to Bufo for the solutions and to Firefly for the challenge.

  15. A handful of clues took far longer than I would admit (SE corner ) but I did enjoy 17d .Thanks Firefly for the challenge and Bufo for confirming how thick I am

  16. Phew. Bit of a struggle with this one. Bizarrely I managed to get all the 14-related clues before I got 14 itself. Liked it though, but I needed Buf to explain quite a few bung-ins for me. Thanks to him and Firefly

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