Toughie 1448 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1448

Toughie No 1448 by Sparks

Little Egypt

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

Sparks entertains once again, but with a puzzle that, for me, didn’t reach the degree of difficulty usually associated with a Friday Toughie.

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    European runs round clubs after swell exotic performer (5,6)
BELLY DANCER: a European national and R(uns( around C(lubs) all preceded by a verb meaning to swell or increase

7a    Officer: extremely effectual … (7)
COLONEL: expand the punctuation and then add the outer letters (extremely) of the final word in the clue

8a    … crack invader of old, in time, repelled Soviet Russian? (7)
THUNDER: an old invader inside T(ime) and the reversal (repelled) of a Soviet Russian

10a    Show regret, covering over bare back (5)
REVUE: a verb meaning to regret around the reversal (back) of [o]VE[r] without its outer letters (bare)

11a    Source exercise in a ‘rowing’ machine? (4,5)
SEED DRILL: a source or origin followed by exercise, particularly that involving soldiers gives a machine that sows in rows

12a    Peacekeepers containing force mutinied? (7)
UPRISEN: the usual peacekeepers around a verb meaning to force with a lever

14a    Issue published by company taking on yours truly (7)
OUTCOME: a three-letter adjective meaning published is followed by CO(mpany) and the first person objective pronoun (yours truly)

15a    Contract split finds mum left on the outside (7)
SHRIVEL: a verb meaning to split with an exhortation to keep mum or quiet and L(eft) around (on the outside)

18a    Booted out after finally pressing to retire (2,2,3)
GO TO BED: an anagram (out) of BOOTED preceded by the final letter of [pressin]G

20a    Well-known brand set in stone (9)
EXCALIBUR: a cryptic definition of a well-known brand or sword that was set in stone

21a    Type of screen separately taken from 8 for one fixing keyboards? (5)
TUNER: start with the answer to 8 Across and drop separately the two letters that represent a type of TV screen

22a    Plays with wife, at last, when husband is out getting plant (3,4)
TEA TREE: start with a general name for plays or dramas, and the final letter (at last) of [wif]E and drop (is getting out) the H(usband)

23a    City in which anything old appears not good (7)
NAUGHTY: The two-letter abbreviation for a US city around (in which … appears) an old word for anything

24a    Postpone travelling round with the Parisian urbanites (11)
TOWNSPEOPLE: An anagram (travelling) of POSTPONE around W(ith) followed by the French (Parisian) definite article


1d    Statesman wants nothing, as it happens, to appear briefly in court (7)
BOLIVAR: this statesman who left his mark on South America by driving out the Spanish is derived from O (nothing) and a four-letter adjective meaning as it happens without its final letter (to appear briefly) inside a court of law

2d    Breather before battle’s final thrust (5)
LUNGE: an organ used for breathing followed by the final letter of [battl]E

3d    Old leader isn’t half likely to be blotto (7)
YELTSIN: this old Russian leader comes from an anagram (to be blotto) of ISN’T with the second half of [lik]ELY

4d    Small boy, one month old, showing a certain style (3,4)
ART DECO: an abbreviated (small) boy’s name followed by the abbreviation for one of the months of the year and O(ld)

5d    Conservative leading up-to-date revolutionary takeover (4,1’4)
COUP D’ÉTAT: C(onservative) followed by an anagram (revolutionary) of UP-TO-DATE

6d    Spaniard‘s brace riding up in jumper (7)
RODRIGO: this Spanish name used by, among others, the composer of a famous concerto for guitar is derived by reversing (riding up) a verb meaning to brace inside the shortened form of an animal that is known for jumping

ARVE Error: need id and provider

7d    Cautious course, one I altered to head off mere guesswork (11)
CIRCUMSPECT: start with a course or route and change (altered) the I to the initial letter (head) of M[ere) and some guesswork

9d    Flash car having stop light raised in accordance with fast race (6,5)
ROLLER DERBY: a colloquial word for a flash expensive car followed by the reversal (raised in a down clue) of the colour of a stop light and a preposition meaning in accordance with

13d    London street proverb about poor Oliver (6,3)
SAVILE ROW: a three-letter word for a proverb around an anagram (poor) of OLIVER

16d    Plan again, given hand without a trick (7)
RECHART: a verb meaning to hand or touch without the A from the clue followed by a trick or wile

17d    Books in fiction regularly trash feminists (7)
LIBBERS: two of the abbreviations for B(ook) inside a fiction or untruth and followed by the even letters (regularly) of [t]R[a]S[h]

18d    Fish carried by north European river (7)
GARONNE: a three-letter fish followed by a preposition meaning carried by, N(orth) and E(uropean)

19d    Spirit served by bar on Shetland, say, that’s closing early (7)
BANSHEE: a bar or prohibition followed by most of (that’s closing early) an animal an example of which (say) is a Shetland (and it’s not a pony or a dog!)

21d    Best  businessman in America (5)
TRUMP: two definitions – if ever a clue deserved a question mark then it is this one!

Well, if there’s something concealed in this grid then it has fooled me.

OK, I looked and I missed it so thanks to the 2Kiwis. If you are still struggling then T-1448

ARVE Error: need id and provider

27 comments on “Toughie 1448

  1. An enjoyable puzzle, without too many difficulties, although there was some confusion with 7d due to the use of ‘off’ rather than ‘of’. Many thanks to Sparks and BD. We’ll have to spend the weekend with the backlog of back page puzzles.

  2. It was tough enough for a Friday when the courgettes need picking. Virtually all the clues were exceptionally well crafted with decent surfaces – making it difficult to select stand-outs, but I did chuckle at 9d once I eventually figured out what kind of derby it was [yes, I know flash car is a gimme but I was obsessed with a Russian V ending for 8a [having decided the screen to be removed for 21a was TV]. So my last in/best picks are 8a, 21a and 9d.

    Thanks to Sparks for a quality puzzle and to BD for a quality blog.

  3. You must be right about it being on the easy side, BD – I got through this one with almost no problems.
    Needed to confirm the 18d river and the 1d statesman but otherwise I was home and dry.
    Needless to say, I really enjoyed it! 2*/4* for me with first place going to 7a.

    Many thanks to Sparks and a BD for the delightful clip at 6d.

  4. Can’t have been too Tough as I finished it quite easily. Great fun, with clever surface readings, thanks to Sparks. It all rather makes up for the slog that I made of yesterday’s back-pager

  5. Sparkly Sparks.

    I didn’t find this as easy as some as I had to check a few answers…1 and 18d leap to mind. 8a was just a plain old guess as I could figure out the word play. Oh just remembered that I needed to check 11a too.

    Favourite is 3d with 9d getting a mention.

    Many thanks to Sparks and to BD for blogging. I cannot find a Nina anywhere?

    1. BD..I forgot to add earlier, the other day we had four Spitfires fly over. Battle of Britain flypast at some point evidently. The noise was biblical. The sight was just….no words.

  6. I missed out on 7D. Just couldn’t work it out even with all the checking letters. Otherwise not too bad, though there were a couple of bung-ins, one of which was 20A. Well known brand of what? I particularly liked 7A and 11A, but my favorite has to be 21D. Very topical here right now. Thanks to Sparks and to BD for the review.

  7. Not tough but very entertaining. Those pesky ‘punctuation’ clues get me every time. I couldn’t spot a Nina either

    Thanks to Sparks and BD.

  8. An enjoyable afternoon romp in ‘Toughieland’ with a lot of well crafted clues. I agree with BD that it was quite benign for a Friday offering but it didn’t give up it’s secrets too easily. 20a did make me smile as it was a word to be clued over a year ago in the monthly clue writing competition. My entry was ‘A legendary brand of unknown quality, one hears’ – I only managed 4th, I think (message to self: must do better). All in all a fine way to end the week.

    If there’s something hidden, then I can’t see it – where’s Dutch when you need him (I know he’s on holiday)

    Thanks to Sparks for the puzzle and BD for the review. Have a good weekend all.

  9. Are we really the first people to have spotted the cleverness? We had noted Gazza’s advice yesterday and went looking for the NINA. Yes we found it and this pointed to a cleverness in the puzzle that we had hitherto not noticed. Won’t say anymore so as not to spoil others Aha moment, but it certainly put the icing on the cake for us.
    We just loved this one.
    Thanks Sparks and BD.

      1. I had noticed that all the answers had an odd number of letters in my vain search for the Nina but needed your hint to actually find it. Thanks.

  10. Relatively easy for a Friday Toughie but very nicely clued: 2*/4*. Plenty of candidates for top clue, but 7a gets it for sheer cheek. Thanks to Sparks for the entertainment, and to BD.

  11. No, still can’t see what it is so well done the 2K’s for finding it and the rest of you for seeing it as well – whatever it is.

    1. It’s a ‘thing’ SL. Not a thing I can see, at all, but there’s definitely a ‘thing’.

    2. If you want to give up – as I did – there’s a magic little ‘click here’ button appeared at the end of the review!

      1. There’s a little Grinch sitting on my shoulder who keeps saying ” Who cares if there’s a Nina? “

  12. Not easy to keep up as it is The Weekend of the year. The whole of France is on holidays and I feel that I’m the only one working.
    But managed to come to terms with the crossword and the only one I couldn’t parse and properly bunged in was 7d.
    I can’t see any indication to put spec in the circuit or am I imagining it?
    Thanks to Sparks and to BD for the review and to 2K for the Nina thing.

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