Toughie 1464 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1464

Toughie No 1464 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I worked through this systematically, 1a being the first one in, completing quadrants NW, NE, SW, giving me the illusion of control, but I found it hard to get an entry to SE. Eventually I saw 28a and 22a, then the rest followed with 26a as the last one in. This went sufficiently slowly to warrant 4* difficulty and to provide enjoyment with each new answer that was revealed. Doing the review highlighted just how many complex cut-and-paste lego-type clues there were, single letter additions and deletions, etc., taking a toll on the surfaces. Some people really like this, but for me it capped enjoyment at 3*. A greater variety of clue types might have raised that for me.

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 Best man‘s ability to secure a classic car (2,5)
MR RIGHT: A word for ability or power goes around (to secure) the abbreviation for an expensive car

5a Minute American beetle almost lashes out with it? (7)
MASCARA: Abbreviations for M(inute) and A(merican) followed by a word for a beetle ( the one that was sacred to Egyptians) without the last letter (almost).

9a One into spinning most of north Aran yarn (9)
NARRATION: Nothing to do with wool. The Roman numeral for one goes inside (into) an anagram (spinning) of most of NORT(H) ARAN

10a Brush horses, you’re told (5)
GRAZE: a verb meaning to pass lightly against (brush) sounds like (you’re told) some horses, named after their colour.

11a Filthy lucre associated with TV channel (7)
CULVERT: Anagram (filthy) of LUCRE+TV

12a Tax department loves to squeeze county council following second wind (7)
SIROCCO: Two letter abbreviation for our tax department, followed by the two letters resembling zero (from loves in tennis), one either side of (to squeeze) the abbreviation for County Council, with the whole lot following the abbreviation for S(econd).

13a Suitable edge missing in trial surrounding princess (9)
EXPEDIENT: Find a 10-letter word meaning test or trial, remove (missing) a 3-letter word for edge or lip, and insert (surrounding) the two-letter Princess of Wales.

16a Where the best song is out of earshot? (5)
ASIDE: This comment that is not intended to be heard can be split (1-4) to give the side of a single record that has the best song

17a Staff note about Conservative having departed without finishing (1,4)
C CLEF: This is a symbol on a musical stave indicating the position of middle C. One letter abbreviations for the latin C(irca) and C(onservative) followed by a 4-letter word for having departed with the last letter omitted (without finishing)

18a Treasury entering brief pointer about whose total includes fiddlers? (9)
ORCHESTRA: A five letter word for treasury or a strong box goes inside (entering) the reversal (about) of 5-letter word for a symbol or sign used as a pointer from which the last letter is missing (brief)

21a Regularly spurned parent grabbing single prize (7)
PREMIUM: Even (regularly letters of sPuRnEd followed by a 3-letter word for mother (parent) surrounding (grabbing) the letter that looks like 1 (single)

22a Mistress called round to trap Liberal (7)
DELILAH: A 6-letter word for called, as you might call a taxi in the street, is reversed (about) around the abbreviation for L(iberal)

ARVE Error: need id and provider

25a Lecture free of charge, some might think? (5)
ORATE: Split (1,4), this word for giving a talk appears to mean zero charge.

26a Close call concerned with getting put away (9)
TERMINATE: a 4-letter word for call or name, a 2-letter preposition meaning concerned or involved with, to which is added (getting) a 3-letter word meaning put away or consumed.

27a First day of month after a cold? Healthy if this (7)
ASEPTIC: How you might indicate the first day of the ninth month following (after) the letter A from the clue, all followed by the abbreviation for C(old)

28a Curse setter, perhaps that’s over the hill? (7)
DOGGONE: This mild oath is made up of a pet (setter, perhaps) and a word for disappeared (that’s over the hill)


1d One helps to improve a pupil’s performance (7)
MONOCLE: a cryptic definition where “a pupil” refers to a single eye.

2d Pastoral feature of Kazakhstan, literally so (5)
RURAL: Split (1,4), the answer can be read as a geographic feature of Kazakhstan, using the first letter as an abbreviation. The “literally so” could refer to the alternative reading, or to the fact that this is indeed a pastoral feature – or both – what do you think?

3d Clearing house ultimately supporting vacuous god-awful publicity (5)
GLADE: The last letter (ultimately) of house is underneath (supporting in a down clue) an emptied-out (vacuous) G(od-awfu)L plus a 2-letter word for publicity or a commercial

4d Finally appoint unfettered old American artist to make national symbol (7)
THISTLE: The last letter of appoint (finally) plus the name of an American-born painter who painted his mother as one of his more famous works, but without the first and last letters (unfettered = unrestrained or unshackled)

5d Timidness is absent – bad attitude (7)
MINDSET: Anagram (bad) of TIM(I)DNES(S) from which the letters of IS have been removed (is absent).

6d Grass suing when not in on secret (5,4)
SUGAR CANE: Remove the “in” from “suing” then add a 6-letter word meaning secret or mysterious.

7d Satin unexpectedly worn by chief Bolshevik? (9)
ANARCHIST: An anagram of SATIN surrounds (worn by) a 4-letter word for chief or main

8d Prime characters among lawmen, not a little inspiring (7)
AWESOME: Take letters 2,3,5 (prime characters) from lAWmEn. Add a word meaning “not a little” (as in **** nerve!) but confusingly it can just as easily mean “a little”, to get an expression my 10-year daughter uses with alarming frequency, also to describe herself.

14d Crime of passion after fine for breaking down (9)
PILFERAGE: A 4-letter word for passion or anger comes after the abbreviation for F(ine) inserted into (breaking) a word meaning down or fluffy surface of a fabric or carpet.

15d Shy, unlike papers ousting Queen (9)
DIFFIDENT: Take a 9-letter word meaning unlike or dissimilar, and replace the usual abbreviation for Queen with an abbreviation for identification papers (papers ousting Queen)

17d Director needs to suffer just half of film (7)
COPPOLA: The name of a film-director is given by a three letter word meaning to suffer or catch followed by the first half of a type of film that is self-developing

18d Accordingly upset, chemical giants once almost suppressing test relating to diffusion (7)
OSMOTIC: Reversal (upset) of a 2-letter word for accordingly, and the first two letters (almost) of a 3-letter Chemical company that is no more (once), surround (suppressing) an annual car test.

19d Church faced with trees (7)
CEDARED: Two-letter abbreviation for church followed by a verb meaning faced or challenged

20d He may run from parent when exposed for pinching permit (7)
ATHLETE: A 6-letter word for one of the parents with the extreme letters removed (exposed) surrounds (pinches) a 3-letter verb for permit or allow.

23d Flat or crooked? (5)
LYING: Double definition, the first refers to a position and the second to telling untruths

24d Plain score draw held up after European’s sent off (5)
LLANO: reversal (held up) of a tie score removing (sent off) the abbreviation for E(uropean)

Clues I particularly liked include 9a, 11a, 1d, 2d and 4d. How did you like the puzzle and which were your favourites?

26 comments on “Toughie 1464

  1. A Toughie worthy of the Friday slot – for me 5*/4* – too many ‘clues I liked to list’ and I spotted half the Nina (the bit in column 12) – if I could read my own writing I’d have seen the other bit too..

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch

  2. Thanks Dutch, especially for 13a with which I was just plain dim in parsing. Thanks also to Sparks for the lol moment at 22a.

  3. I liked this a lot. Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch for the review. Clues on my honours board were 28a, 2d and 24d.

  4. Now, that was a bit of exercise for the old grey matter indeed! I did enjoy it a lot but I have to agree with Dutch that the variety of clue types was sparse (to say the least). Is it just me or has this type of clueing become a trend over the past couple of weeks by setters – not only in the DT? As I said, I thought it was a very enjoyable solve with 22a as my favourite – do you remember last year that it was going to be banned at Welsh Rugby matches?

    Thanks to Sparks for the puzzle and Dutch for his excellent review.

  5. Not looking at hints or comments at this stage but just popped in to see what rating was given. Oh boy – was I relieved to see 4* for difficulty.
    West side completed but only two currently slotted into the east.
    Maybe time to take a breather……

  6. I tend to glance through the clues on an off chance there may be a R and W so my first clue in was 1d quickly followed by the West side. I agree that there seem to be many similar clues although I was slow to realise this at first. Unfortunately for me, Friday is the only toughie I have time to look at in the week!! This may be my last for a few weeks though because I have a commission to attend to….work is SUCH a nuisance! ??

  7. That was so, so tough for someone at my level, but to finally make it through without the hints was so, so rewarding!
    There was actually only one new word at 24d, a new ending at 18d and a bit of a dither over the correct note for 17a, but some of the wordplay had me in a real ‘two and eight’.
    Can’t pick a favourite but was particularly proud of getting the parsing for 13&28a.

    Thanks to Sparks for letting me win out in the end and to Dutch for the retrospective heads up on the parsing of the first part of 8&14d.
    The darkened room is calling…….

  8. Very glad that we had our usual partnership back together to tackle this one. Definitely at the top end of difficulty for us. The margins of our papers are just littered with lots of tentative answers that had been written out to try and work through the bits and pieces of wordplay. Lots of penny-drop moments. We did look for a Nina and spotted the word in row 10, but had missed the one in column 12. Wonder if there is even more that we have not found. (Have just re-read Dutch’s comment so looks like there is more).
    Good challenge, satisfying to get a completion.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  9. This took some cracking but part of the problem was that the grid is rather cornery. The NE and SW yielded first but the other two were more resistant, not helped by my failure to see 1A until right at the end.

    I still don’t really get 2d and I doubt that many Bolsheviks or Anarchists would have paused from slaughtering each other long enough [I’m thinking Russian revolution] to agree that they are synonymous [7d] . I agree with you Dutch about the balance of clue-types, even tho two of my favourites [13a & 15d] were very similar in construction. There’s also rather a lot of padding in some clues e.g. what is “for” for in 14d and 20d?

    On the positive side 11a is one of the best anagram clues for a while and altho 12a is indeed a bit “lego” it’s an excellent clue. I also thought 6d was rather neat.

    Many thanks to Sparks for the workout and to Dutch: in particular for the parsing of several that I couldn’t explain – 26a, 14d and 17d [I was looking for a movie!].

      1. Just one small point before bed – is IR (Inland Revenue) still acceptable in crosswordland as an abbreviation without ‘archaic’ reference? Surely it’s now HMRC – try fitting that into an answer

        Mind you, Here’s My Real Concern – they’re still a bunch of Income Robbers (that’s my polite term)

  10. Managed to finish it and it was the NE corner that was the hardest for me.
    Wasn’t too keen on all these truncated words such as whistler in 4d and father in 20d, the scarab in 5a, the reversed arrow in 18a,etc.. but the most strange was I.C.I in 18d. Can we really allow a shortened acronym?
    But I’ll forgive the setter as some clues were just great such as 8d, 16a and 25a.
    Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch for the review.
    Will look at the back page later on Saturday.

      1. I think Jean-Luc was complaining about shortening an acronym to IC. That also grated me, you can do almost anything if you start doing gymnastics with acronyms, not a world I fancy.

  11. Personally, I thought this was a definite 5* difficulty. We finished today’s (Saturday’s) Times quicker than the last few on this!

  12. I know this is late but I can’t understand why no one has referred to 2dn. If the answer can be split 1,4 and the first letter (R) is used as an abbreviation, what is it an abbreviation of?

    1. You’ve used a different email address so your comment had to be moderated.
      R is the abbreviation for river, so split 1,4 the answer could mean River Ural.

  13. Thanks gazza. I was thinking of the Ural mountains – didn’t know there was a river!! You’re never too old to learn! I’ve used this email address on this site several times now so I wonder what the problem is. BillyB

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