Toughie 1460 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1460

Toughie No 1460 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Well, last night Elkamere/Anax (bass) & I (guitar) did the open mic session at the Goose (or SnowGoose in full) in Macclesfield. This was a first, and none of it was prepared. I was petrified, but we got through a number of songs with varying success rates and even returned for a second “set”. Anax happily tells me near disasters are the most talked about (in a mountaineering context), so there’s my consolation. There were some “moments” though, and some people even said they liked it. Thanks for all the kind comments on yesterday’s Toughie blog; I’m flattered people even remembered this was happening.

I did this puzzle when I eventually came home – perhaps not the best of plans – but managed to get through it without any problems. It is on the gentler side of the Toughie scale. I originally gave it two stars for enjoyment because as I was solving it, it felt somewhat mechanical, without the rewarding aha moments or laughs or smiles or the other emotional responses to which I am prone. When I put together the review, though, I developed a greater appreciation for some of the clues, so now it’s 3* (with 2* for difficulty).

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    New wine Her Majesty’s put by for inspection (6)
MUSTER: A word meaning new wine or partially fermented grape juice with the usual abbreviation for queen appended (put by)

4a    Marsupial‘s credible (but brief) expression of doubt (6)
POSSUM: An informal short form of possible (new to me, but in brb) followed by an expression of doubt or hesitation

8a    Keep pace? (8)
FASTNESS: Double definition, with the first referring to a castle or stronghold

10a    Dispatching missing millions is invalid (6)
AILING: Another word for posting (dispatching) without the M (missing millions)

11a    Game licence update delivered, Oliver heads for employment (4)
LUDO: Use first letters (heads for employment) of words 2 to 5 in the clue.

12a    Coo! If Diana performs, I’m a fan! (10)
AFICIONADO: Anagram (performs) of COO IF DIANA

13a    Honest and quiet player (7,5)
UPRIGHT PIANO: The player here is an instrument which is described by combining a word for upright with the musical term for quiet

16a    Surrogate husband’s going into space (8-4)
STANDING ROOM: An expression for surrogate (5-2) followed by a word for husband (at a wedding)

20a    Sadly, end is down to fatal errors (6,4)
DEADLY SINS: Anagram (down) of SADLY END IS

21a    Riotous time at Cambridge, perhaps? It’s saucy, too! (4)
RAGU: The riotous festivity undergraduates have, typically to raise money for charity, followed by the abbreviation for University (Cambridge, say). Interesting, the whole clue can be read as an extended definition for the first part of the wordplay

22a    Instruments made from curious jawbones we dug out (6)
BANJOS: Anagram of JA(W)BON(E)S with the W+E removed (we dug out)

23a    Hack doubly in hurry (4-4)
CHOP-CHOP: A word for hack occurs twice (doubly)

24a    Totter throwing books into pit (6)
HOBBLE: The abbreviation for b(ook) repeated (since books is plural) inside (throwing .. into) a four letter word for pit

25a    Playing footsie with standoffish female? That’s futile (6)
OTIOSE: Anagram of (F)OOTSIE without the F (with standoffish female)


1d    Confession – food thrown over copper by secretary (3,5)
MEA CULPA: Food (as in a breakfast, lunch or dinner) surrounding (thrown over) the chemical symbol for copper followed by a 2-letter abbreviation for a personal secretary gives this Latin admission of guilt

2d    Struggle to get started (3-2)
SET-TO: With hyphen we have the noun in the answer, without the hyphen we have a phrasal verb with the second definition

3d    Rhubarb  lotion (7)
EYEWASH: A common-enough product, apparently. Double definition, a lotion for the eye can also mean rubbish (rhubarb)

5d    Firm up part of oratorio to include new instrument (7)
OCARINA: A reversal of the abbreviation for Company (Firm up), followed by a song in an oratorio which surrounds (to include) the abbreviation for n(ew).

ARVE Error: need id and provider

6d    Left inside, squander the Telegraph’s brilliance (9)
SPLENDOUR: Put L for Left inside a verb meaning to squander or pay out, followed by a 3-letter pronoun meaning belonging to us (and which could replace “Telegraph’s” in for example Telegraph’s readership or Telegraph’s community). A device often seen in the Guardian puzzles

7d    Note part way through brooding solo (6)
MONODY: The abbreviation for N(ote) interrupts (part way through) a word for brooding or sullen. New word for me

9d    Cut bits of plant on saucer, resulting in injury (7,4)
SLIPPED DISC: First word is a verb meaning took cuttings from a plant, and the second word is a flat thin circular body like a saucer

14d    Undercover work? (6,3)
INSIDE JOB: An all-in-one with a cryptic definition: a word for undercover (e.g. under a roof) followed by a word for a piece of work gives this secret and illegal activity

15d    My Parisian bird – rat-slayer extraordinaire? (8)
MONGOOSE: French (Parisian) for my followed by bird of the duck family (and for me, another reminder of last night).

17d    A handy girl to call up – but lacking ‘bottom’? (7)
ABYSSAL: A from the clue, a two-letter preposition meaning at the side of or next to (handy), and the reversal (to call up) of another word for girl

18d    One’s possibly to make a discovery? (4,3)
NOSE OUT: How you might clue ONE’S with an anagram (first word being the anagram, second word being the anagram indicator)

19d    Being of a high order, and special, is given initial honour – about time (6)
SERAPH: This winged celestial being of the highest rank in the angelic hierarchy is obtained from the abbreviation for sp(ecial) followed by the first letter (initial) of honour, all surrounding (about) a 3-letter word for a (longish) period of time

21d    Brief cotton regularly appearing in Page 3, perhaps? (5)
RECTO: Even letters (regularly appearing) of Brief cotton gives a word meaning right-hand page, which would describe page 3 in a newspaper.

My favourite clue is 25d (playing footsie) – I think it has the best surface. A close second is 21d, where I liked the “page 3, perhaps” definition. And I liked 21a (riotous time), where I was intrigued by the all-in-one definition for a part of the wordplay. Which were your favourites?

23 comments on “Toughie 1460

  1. To comment or not to comment, that is the question.

    I enjoyed this crossword, just as I enjoyed yesterdays. What is/was missing from both of them is the required amount of challenge required for both the crossword to qualify as a ‘Toughie’ (especially a Friday Toughie, which used to be famed for their extra ‘toughness’) and for someone who is now in their 46th year of solving cryptic crosswords. The Toughie ought to take longer than the inside back pager (the back page has three different fully clad ladies today)

    Thank you Firefly – I see you too have borrowed a couple of words from Mr Manley’s Book of Obscure Words for Crossword Setters – and to Dutch too.

    PS: If you have time to spare, or even if you haven’t, I highly recommend today’s Arachne in the Graun. Worth doing for 21a alone.

  2. Hands up – there were four new words and one new ending (17d) for me in this one. However, all very fairly clued so didn’t call for Mr. Google!
    Not sure that 3d is actually a ‘lotion’.
    Smiled over 15d when I guessed that you were on duty today!
    Bet you had some fun looking for the 17d pic.
    My only problem came over picking the anagram fodder for 20a and justifying the ending of 6d.

    16a wins my prize for clue of the puzzle.

    Thank you, Firefly – I had a lot of fun with this one – and many thanks to Dutch for soldiering through after the ‘boys night out’!

    1. brb has eyewash = lotion for the eye, and lotion = a liquid preparation… but I know what you mean, I also think of it as a cream.

  3. Agree about the lack of difficulty as I finished it before going to bed last night.
    Mind you, I just sat down and completed the Don too in no time.
    25a was a new word for me and so was 7d.
    Love the picture for 16a. If it was up to O Leary, we would be standing in his planes.
    Thanks to Firefly and to Dutch for the light hearted review.

  4. I enjoyed this too and learned a couple of new words. 19D was my last one in and I filed to parse it. Didn’t realize sp meant special. 16A is my favorite. Thanks Firefly and Dutch.

  5. ***/****

    I liked this.

    Started off quite strongly, thinking it was going to be quite easy.

    I guessed at 3d but just didn’t think it was a lotion so didn’t put it in.

    Like Jane I couldn’t see the anagram for 20a. In fact I answered the clue and figured it out after, in the waiting room at the dentist. 21d was new, possibly.

    All in all good stuff.

    Great pics today. The one for 11a reminds me of some of my chess sets, I have lots. ‘Shot chess’, ‘Beer chess’ and ‘Wine chess’ are good fun.

    Many thanks to Firefly and to Dutch for blogging after his debut at The Goose.

  6. Ha! Flushed with yesterday’s success I started this with confidence…and actually did quite well, though needed the hints today. Fave clues include 18a, 25a and 5d. Glad the gig went well. I grew up not too far away from there. Thanks to Firefly and Dutch

  7. I really enjoyed this , it is just about within my level of competence , as an improver. There were no new words , as far as I could see, although 7d was right at the back of my memory .I particularly liked 13a , 16a and 9d.
    Thanks Firefly and dutch.

      1. There had to be someone, Chris! To be honest, I don’t think that’s going to stick in my memory bank too well….

      2. I’ve only ever seen it used once, in an early Martin Amis novel whose title might best be left unmentioned in the light of recent events, where it’s used to mean superfluous. Oddly it’s used to describe a pair of knickers (the book being set in the 70s, the decade that personal topiary forgot), so perhaps there’s a connection to 17d… :)

      3. I have definitely seen it in crosswords before , though it might have been the Sunday Times, which I have almost never managed to complete, though I still keep trying .To have seen it in a Giovanni is more likely.

  8. We spent quite a bit of time understanding the first word in 9d although we were sure we had the right answer. We enjoyed it all.
    Thanks Firefly and Dutch.

    1. I did take a crafty look to see whether there was such a complaint as a ‘snipped’ disc – seemed reasonable!

  9. I Found this quite hard, and had to use the hints to get a proper start. Only had to ‘cheat’ for a couple though, so I suppose that Is some improvement. Unlike CS, I found this a real challenge, but then, I’m new relatively to Toughie solving….perhaps in another 100 years or so I might find it as easy as others do. Enjoyed the challenge however 4*/4* for me. Thanks to Firefly and Dutch for the (much needed) hints.

    1. At least you gave it a try AND got there in the end – glad that you enjoyed the journey. There are countless times when I only get a handful of answers in Toughies (so much depends on the particular setter) but at least they don’t frighten me so badly any more!
      Warbler’s offerings are invariably good to have a go at – one of our few lady setters.

  10. 3*/4* ( and l use exactly the same criteria scoring a Toughie as l do a back-pager). 16a a worthy favourite. Thanks to Firefly and Dutch.

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