Toughie 1548 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1548

Toughie No 1548 by Samuel

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I’m swapping with Toro this week – he is busy today and I leave this weekend for our annual skiing trip. Samuel gives us a great Tuesday puzzle which took a little less than standard Toughie time despite stopping for a breakfast of pancakes. Some lovely clueing provided quite a few smiles.

Definitions are underlined. 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    Rogue talks about freestyle boxing ring (11)
RAPSCALLION: A 4-letter verb meaning talks, these days often as a rhythmic monologue over a musical background, the 1-letter abbreviation for about, and a (3,2) wrestling term for freestyle that surrounds (boxing) the letter that looks like a ring

9a    Left unwise to adopt Right’s facility (9)
OVERDRAFT: A 4-letter word meaning left and a 4-letter word meaning unwise or foolish surrounding (to adopt) the abbreviation for Right

10a    Group of prison rejects in Porridge? (5)
GRITS: If G7 = “Group of 7” for seven economically powerful countries, here we have a “Group of prison rejects”, i.e. G + the reversal (rejects) of a 4-letter word meaning prison. Porridge is capitalised in a nice misleading reference to the TV series. Remember capitalising to mislead is fine, de-capitalising is not

11a    Heartlessly shake very big drink (6)
TREBLE: Another word for shake without the central letter (heartlessly) gives you a drink that’s bigger than a double

12a    Copier, one with German schedule from the east (8)
IMITATOR: The Roman numeral for one, the German word for with, and a reversal (from the east) of a 4-letter word meaning schedule or roster

13a    Saint framed by libertine died excited (6)
ROUSED: The 1-letter abbreviation for saint is surrounded (framed) by a 4-letter word for a libertine or a rake, followed by the abbreviation for died

15a    Support adopting suitable backing, or close (8)
STIFLING: a 3-letter word meaning suitable or apt is reversed (backing) inside (adopting) a word for a support, e.g. for a broken arm

18a    Denial about bottom is sincere (8)
REBUTTAL: A 4-letter word for sincere or genuine “is about” an informal American word for bottom

19a    Easy infection by hospital department (6)
FLUENT: A 3-letter viral infection, of which the man-type is the absolute worst, followed by our usual hospital department

21a    Ineffectual player, fool to turn over King and two Queens (8)
TINKERER: Reversal (to turn over) of a 3-letter word for a fool, followed by the chess or cards abbreviation for king and two times the usual abbreviation for queen

23a    Drive around start of tailback? (6)
DIVERT: A nice little all-in-one clue: an anagram (around) of DRIVE followed by the first letter (start) of tailback

26a    Allow that man to find oblivion (5)
LETHE: A 3-letter verb meaning allow followed by a pronoun meaning that man. I once knew a bar called this – always thought it was a great name

27a    Praise grown-up concealing a negative bit of information in review (9)
ADULATION: A 5-letter word for a grown-up goes around (concealing) the letter A from the clue, then a reversal (in review) of a 2-letter response meaning negative and the first letter (bit of) information

28a    Tea brewed with their cup is beneficial (11)
THERAPEUTIC: Anagram (brewed) of TEA + THEIR CUP


1d    Bird runs with Bertie when topless? (7)
ROOSTER: The abbreviation for runs plus the surname of the character Bertie in P.G. Wodehouse stories without the initial letter (topless)

2d    Annoy Prince Bertie’s man unlimitedly? (5)
PEEVE: The abbreviation for prince is followed by the name of the valet of the same character Bertie as in 1d, without the first and last letters (unlimitedly)

3d    Most huggable idle stud condemned by Conservative (9)
CUDDLIEST: Anagram (condemned) of IDLE STUD follows (by) the abbreviation for conservative

4d    Welshman’s second and second to last in record jump (4)
LEAP: The second and second-to-last letters of Welshman go inside (in) the abbreviation for a vinyl record album

5d    Prisoner keeps note close (8)
INTIMATE: A 6-letter word for prisoner contains (keeps) a musical note on the sol-fa scale

6d    Dancing reel this time could be lengthier (5)
NIGHT: An anagram (dancing) of REEL + (the answer = this time) could produce the word LENGTHIER

7d    Grid has dodgy wiper (7)
DISHRAG: Anagram (dodgy) of GRID HAS

8d    Rant promoted assistance to be leading race (8)
DIATRIBE: Reversal (promoted) of a 3-letter word meaning assistance or help goes in front of (to be leading) a word for race or a set of people

14d    In Beirut, possibly an inhabitant there? (8)
URBANITE: An anagram of BEIRUT contains AN from the clue (in …. an)

16d    Make criticism of playing unfit and lame (9)
FULMINATE: Anagram (playing) of UNFIT + LAME

17d    Celebrity benefit for such as Capaldi when compared to Davison? (8)
NAMESAKE: Capaldi and Davison are both British actors with the first name Peter (who have both played Doctor Who). Take a 4-letter word meaning a celebrity or a famous person and add a 4-letter word meaning benefit, as in “for the **** of”

18d    Resistance fighter expels British snake (7)
RATTLER: The abbreviation for resistance, and a word for fighter or struggler from which the initial B is removed (expels British)

20d    Head off scare following flier’s doomed craft (7)
TITANIC: A 5-letter word for scare or alarm without the first letter (head off) follows a 3-letter bird

22d    Result such as 4-3 at the start? (5)
EVENT: Description of a number such as 4 (or 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, etc.) and the first letter (at the start) of 3 or three

24d    Put out command to include 5, not 500 (5)
EVICT: A word for command or order in which the Roman numeral for 500 is replaced by that for 5

25d    Head upset amateur swimmer (4)
TUNA: The reversal of an informal 3-letter word for one’s head, followed by the abbreviation for amateur

A lot to like today. Some of the clues that made me smile were 10a (group of), 11a (very big drink), 26a (my memories of a bar), 22d (quirky), 6d (nice compound anagram), 14d (I went to high school in Beirut) and 23a (nice all-in-one). Which are your favourites?

45 comments on “Toughie 1548

  1. Many thanks, Dutch – I needed your help to fully parse 1a plus 6&22d. With 1a I got so hung up on call=ring that I couldn’t see the proverbial ‘wood for trees’ and I fell into the doubtless intended trap of 4-3 not being an ‘even’ score in 22d. Should have picked up on 6d – it’s a construction we’ve certainly had before.
    Needed to check with Mr. G about 26a although the wordplay was very obvious.
    Think I’ll put 11a up for the honours – cheers, what a good idea!

    Thanks to Samuel for a nice Tuesday Toughie and to Dutch for an excellent review. Real smile moment in your 20d pic. and I reckon RD will approve of your choice for 3d!

  2. My confidence was shaken badly yesterday after failing miserably to make anything more than minimal progress with the Rookie Corner puzzle, so I approached today’s Toughie with trepidation. In the event it proved to be just the tonic I needed – a lot of fun but nicely challenging along the way.

    Many thanks to Samuel for a very entertaining puzzle and to Dutch, whose review I needed to parse 1a. I have heard of “all-in” in relation to wrestling but never before to boxing. Thanks too to Dutch for the picture for 3d – the icing on the cake for me! (Although I have to say that the picture for 20d was rather cute too).

    1. freestyle = all-in (in wrestling) – “boxing” is only used as the containment indicator for O (ring)

  3. What a great start to the Toughie week. I always enjoy Samuel’s puzzles and this was no exception. I had no idea about the definition for all so it was bunged in. Figuring out 1a was quite interesting…for that read difficult. Struggled with 6d.

    Highlights were 11a, 13a, 18a and 3d.

    Many thanks to Samuel and to Dutch for a great and nicely illustrated blog…with the exception of 18d. Oh dear God!

  4. Good way to start off the toughie week. A lot to enjoy and very little to grumble about (if at all). It’s a long time since I have seen the definition in the middle of the clue (6d) and I seem to recall having a discussion with Snape at The George about it last year. I suppose 17d is probably my least favourite as I wouldn’t have thought Mr Davison is that well known outside of the UK.

    Can’t really pick out one favourite as there are too many that I have ticks against.

    So thanks to Samuel for the enjoyment and to Dutch for his excellent review & pictures. I’m sure Rabbit Dave will appreciate 3d.

    In the paper version, the ‘Porridge’ is italicised to add to the misdirection – don’t know if the e-version is the same. Have a good trip.

    1. The online site has suffered from poorly-written software since its inception and doesn’t support formatting. What was particularly galling was that the author gloated about it on a now-deleted page at

        1. Your comment made me laugh…

          Did really write “best structured product to date”? Unbelievable.

    2. Def in the middle is not unusual for this particular type of clue – i.e., in compound anagrams, where the definition forms one component of the anagram fodder and the resultant anagram is presented elsewhere in the clue (lengthier)

      1. Just to make me jealous..where are you going skiing? Same place as last year…not that I can remember where that was.

        1. A little Italian village called Passo Tonale. Fly into Verona then take a bus up past Garda lake into the alps.

          1. Yup jealous. Plenty of snow, linked resorts for your ski pass and probably not as crowded as some places. Can’t tell what the off piste is like.

            I do hope you have a good time.

            1. Remarkably there are no queues at all even though it’s half term, and the kids ski school is at a civilised hour (10:30-12:30) unlike Austria or France. And the local food is great. With the kids in ski school in the morning we probably won’t make use of linked resorts – no real need anyway.

              1. queues at half term? What? As a rule I’ve generally skied in St Anton or the busier French resorts and I can’t imagine that. Sounds fantastic. :good: Enjoy.

                  1. It’s certainly changed a lot from when I first skied there, in fact that is where I learnt to ski (and the 9 year old child type thing). Hmm right I might have to start looking at an Easter ski trip.

  5. Thanks everyone involved. Re 5d, that note is spelled in two different ways. I once came across a Latin piece of writing. The first words or parts of words in each line turned out to represent the sol-fa scale names (but starting with Ut instead of Do, which came last) and based on that the spelling should be consistent. I guess consistency and crypticism! don’t really mix well.

  6. A really good fun puzzle for me that kept me smiling and chuckling all the way through. Dutch I think you have the wrong fish in your pic for 25d. The one shown has three names that I know of. It is a Dorado, Dolphinfish or Mahi-mahi depending on where you are in the tropical world. It is an amazing fish. Excellent fun to catch as it is a great leaping fighting fish, has most spectacular colouring and to top it all off, tastes absolutely delicious.
    Thanks Samuel and Dutch

          1. well i imagined this was a pretty good catch – the tail looks like a tuna doesn’t it? the picture came up on a search for tuna, but i am happy to be corrected.

  7. Terrific although I was surprised to see it got a three star rating for difficulty.Lovely clues, especially 9a, 13a, 14d, and 23a.
    Thanks Toro and Samuel.

  8. The only real problems I had were the parsing of 6d, and solving 17d, which I failed to do. Never hear of the gentlemen in the clue and I haven’t watched more than an isolated episode of Dr. Who in decades. 1a is my favorite because it’s such a lovely word. 10a is bottom of the list because i really hate grits. Thanks Samuel and Dutch.

  9. A fairly gentle start to the Toughie week. Main issues were the parsing of 6d and 10ac, even though the answers were pretty apparent.

  10. Thanks, Dutch, for the blog (and the excellent pictures!), and to those who have commented.

    Apologies to anybody who struggled with Capaldi and Davison at 17dn. I spent perhaps longer trying to think of two identically-named people whose surnames could misdirect in some way than I spent on the rest of the clues altogether. I finally gave up staring at the clue whilst Doctor Who was on the box, and that was that.

  11. Thanks for dropping in Samuel. Great puzzle. Had no trouble with 17d..I have a 9 year old child type thing and she can name the Doctors in order. 10a was the new one. Which episode was on?

      1. Face the Raven..yes it was. And Heaven Sent. I have a list of Doctors in order about which one is best. I find it best not to disagree…FYI apparently Matt’s doctor is number one.

        1. Tom Baker gets my vote! With David Tennant, Jon Pertwee and Peter Capaldi close behind. The precise order varies, but it’s always Baker on top. But not Colin Baker. Oh no.

          1. Agreed..Colin Baker is last. Capaldi, Tennant, T.Baker and Matt’s would be my order..if I was allowed one. And The Weeping Angels as the number one enemy. Oh gosh I know far too much.

          2. Sorry guys, the only real Dr.Who was William Hartnell. Bit like the only real Bond being the gorgeous Sean Connery.
            Thanks for popping in, Samuel – great puzzle even if I did have to check on Messrs. Capaldi and Davison!

            1. William Hartnell is the original and set a high standard but he is not the best Doctor..oh and you are wrong about Sean Connery too. Sean Connery is not gorgeous for one thing.

              You are right about most things…not this. :cool:

              Even though this has gone off on Doctor V Doctor and Bond theme…it was a great puzzle Samuel. Thank you.

              1. As a real Doctor Who freak, I must chip in late on this one.

                Best Doctor – Tom Baker, followed closely by David Tennant & Peter Capaldi
                Best Enemy – The Master as played by the wonderful Roger Delgado
                Best (Looking!) Assistant – a close run thing between Victoria and Clara, and, yes, the scene where Clara died at the hands of that bitch from Game of Thrones was a real tear-jerker.

                P.S. Great clue for us Whovians, Samuel!

  12. For some reason, after taking a lighting fast peep at the setter’s name on the online site early this morning, I set about the puzzle at lunchtime thinking it was by Sparks (The first letter was right!) I normally find Sparks puzzles a little tricky especially when getting started. This one had quite a few easy starter clues and I got off to a cracking start (4d seemed too easy to believe I was right, for example) A couple of words unknown to me provided a bit of a problem (26a was easy to work out and check in the dictionary but 1a was a challenge) and I was not too confident with 6d and 10a which crossed (I have a pack of genuine upmarket “10a” from South Carolina in the kitchen but cant picture the natives of SC showing interest in Shrimp and Porridge) so I was far from confident I was right.

    Thanks to Shamus, whoops no it’s Samuel, and Dutch. And apologies to Sparks who must be due soon

  13. Thanks to Samuel and to Dutch for the review and hints. I attempted this, but found it very very difficult. 10a,6,17,22d were all incomprehensible to me. Managed to solve 16 clues, got another 3 from looking up the definitions. Then got some more from the hints. Beyond my Ken, I’m sorry to say. Was 6*/3* for me.

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