Toughie 1582

Toughie No 1582 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Excalibur is the setter that polarises opinion more than any other and I dare say that I may have been critical of one or two of her puzzles in the past. But I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It wasn’t as difficult as I feared it might be when I first noticed the conciseness of the clues (which averaged less than 6 words each) and the small number of anagrams. I have only given it the extra half-star for difficulty because I was somewhat obtuse when it came to solving the last 3 or 4 clues.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


7a    It’s very chic. I’ll say no more (4,4)
LAST WORD: 2 meanings: the most up to date of its kind (it’s very chic)/the final remark in an argument (I’ll say no more)

9a    It can’t be shut up in a cage (6)
PARROT: A cryptic definition of a pet that is kept in a cage but which cannot be made to shut up or keep quiet

10a    Help animal to escape from a basset (4)
ABET: Remove the name of an animal from A BASSET

11a    Handing over, girl conceals qualms (10)
MISGIVINGS: ‘Handing over’ (7) inside a girl (4)

12a    Belted and not having buttons (6)
ZIPPED: 2 meanings: belted (moved very fast)/not having buttons but another type of fastener

14a    Before I spot going in for a cure (8)
ANTIDOTE: I and a spot inside ‘before’ = something that counteracts a poison

15a    Shines, showing wound dressing’s stuck to back of leg (6)
GLINTS: G (last letter of leG) + wound dressing + ‘S

17a    Make someone a good father (6)
ORDAIN: A cryptic definition. The good father is a priest or other holy man

20a    Complete or without last part (8)
DETAILED: ‘Complete’ or ‘giving full particulars’. It could also be taken to mean ‘without the last part or end’ and it is sometimes used this way in crossword clues to indicate that the last letter of a word should be removed

22a    People whizz by, creating danger (6)
MENACE: People (especially male ones) + a whizz or expert

23a    Wasted dog food (3,2,5)
BAG OF BONES: A wasted or emaciated person is said to be one of these. It could also be a sack of things that dogs are supposed to eat

24a    Missile launchers? Fiddlesticks! (4)
BOWS: 2 meanings: instruments for shooting arrows/things used when playing a fiddle (violin)

25a    Little, pre-twentyish? (6)
TEENSY: This word for ‘little’ could also be taken to mean ‘aged between 13 and 19’

26a    In pay cut, docking a hundred proves to be beneficial (8)
SALUTARY: Pay earned by working goes round CUT with C (a hundred) removed


1d    Betting it’s a diamante anklet? (8)
GAMBLING: A slang word for the human leg + a slang word for naff jewellery

2d    Leave it to the printer (4)
STET: A cryptic definition for the written direction telling a printer to leave something be

3d    Extracted information from me during brief conversation (6)
WORMED: ME inside a brief conversation

4d    Swimming terrapin’s not a fast mover (8)
SPRINTER: An anagram (swimming) of TERRPINS, i.e. TERRAPIN’S less A

5d    Intelligence leak (5,5)
BRAIN DRAIN: A cryptic definition for the continuing loss of citizens of high intelligence through emigration

6d    Ring that signifies love (6)
NOUGHT: This is represented by 0 (a ring) and it means ‘love’, as in a tennis score

8d    Bother! Is month and day in advance (6)
DISMAY: IS and a month of the year is preceded by D (day)

13d    Rip-off. Pop singer is no pop singer! (5,5)
PRIMA DONNA: An anagram (off) of RIP + the name of a pop singer (Ms Ciccone)

16d    Chests of candidates for junior basketball team? (8)
TALLBOYS: These are high chests of drawers. When split (4,4) they could also be youngsters who might be good at basketball

18d    Job in south of France? Well done! (4,4)
NICE WORK: A city in the south of France + a job or task

19d    ‘Glamour Boy’ showing is to follow Pearl & Dean production (6)
ADONIS: A handsome youth from Greek mythology = something produced by Pearl & Dean (2) + ‘showing’ (2) + IS

21d    English produced broadcast that’s wiped (6)
ERASED: E (English) + a homophone of ‘produced’

22d    Nearly all my catches lost in storm (6)
MOSTLY: MY goes round an anagram (in storm) of LOST

24d    Are they mad about cricket? (4)
BATS: This word means both ‘mad’ and people playing cricket (but not on the fielding side)

Surprisingly good


  1. Kitty
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Well, I approached this with considerable interest. Did about half with no probs before (with time ticking away) getting clicky with electronic help. From there it went even more smoothly apart from a little tangle in the SW because I’d put IE at the end of 25a instead of the single letter Y I wanted.

    My favourite is 13d (though as a rule I don’t care much for them).

    All in all, enjoyable and a bit different. Many thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo for the great review (btw, you’re missing the answer for 23a).

    • Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      I have written to Bufo asking hime for the answer to 23a. Usually when an answer is omitted I fill it in myself but, as is well-known, I never solve this setter’s puzzles.

      • Gazza
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        I’ve updated it.

        • Kitty
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

          Thanks Gazza. I’d have done it myself, but my editing rights don’t extend that far.

          • Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

            They do now.

            • Kitty
              Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

              Ooh – thanks, BD. I promise not to misbehave!

        • Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink


  2. crypticsue
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Whilst I can only award this crossword 2* for difficulty, I have to agree with the enjoyment rating awarded by Bufo.

    No particular favourites – thanks to Excalibur and Bufo too.

  3. Gazza
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I think that this puzzle is the most enjoyable I’ve ever solved from Excalibur – extremely succinct clues and very little sign of Yoda. Some of the cryptic definitions (e.g. 9a and 24d) seemed a bit weak but I really liked 23a and 13d. Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  4. Kitty
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Before I head off to do something useful here is a quick linky for 13d, since it was buzzing round my head only yesterday:

  5. happy days
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    The inimitable Excalibur has done it again. Lovely witty innovative clues. A joy to solve

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely loved it, smiled a lot, and checked off a number of clues. Favorites are 23A and 16D. Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  7. halcyon
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m with the consensus here – quite the most enjoyable [and readily solvable] Excalibur for some while. Unusually for me I seemed to be on her wavelength today and most of it went in easily but the last 2 [12a/13d] took a bit longer. Clues ranged from the old cliches [or old favourites if you prefer] like 17a and 5d to the neat and inventive [26d, 2d, 13d and my favourite for today 22d.]

    Thanks to the new improved Excalibur and to Bufo for the blog.

  8. stanXYZ
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    A bit of light relief from Excalibur after the recent “Toughie” back-pagers.

    Not too difficult but definitely 4* entertainment!

    There are many stand-out clues but 13d takes centre stage ♪♪ ♫ ♪♪

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Really surprised myself as I was on the right wavelength from the start.
    I am always more comfortable with short and concise clues.
    Only hesitated between teenie and teensy in 25a until the chest of drawers came back to me.
    A pleasure from start to finish and favourite is 19d although I liked 20a and 18d a lot.
    Thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo for the review.

  10. Hanni
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Not the trickiest Excalibur I have solved and it provided quite a few smiles along the way.

    120a, 23a, 2d, and 23d were great but the absolute star of the show is 13d. Great clue.

    Many thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo for a great blog.

  11. Shropshirelad
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    An enjoyable Toughie to finish off my day – had the feel of a ‘Goldilocks’ puzzle. No particular stand out favourite but 13d did bring a smile to my face especially after seeing the clip that Kitty posted. We have that DVD somewhere but I think that that scene is the highlight of it with Simon Callow and Ciaran Hinds ‘hamming’ it up quite brilliantly as Messieurs Andre and Firmin.

    Anyway, thanks to Excalibur for the puzzle and Bufo for his review.

    • Jane
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Hi SL,
      I’m sure I should know but – what is a Goldilocks puzzle?

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Think about it – Not too hard – not too soft :)

        • Jane
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

          Ah, thank you. I take it that’s the beds, not the porridge!

  12. Jane
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Lovely stuff from Excalibur – really enjoyed it.
    Ticks beside 9,23&24a plus 1,13 & 16d – maybe the rosette goes to 23a.

    Many thanks Excalibur and also thanks to Bufo – glad this one won you over a little!

  13. Gazza
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    proXimal tomorrow.

  14. Una
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    23a is a great clue , but 13d pips it.I kept trying to shoehorn “Sting ” into it .
    I also liked 7a, 11a, 25a, 26a and 6d.
    Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  15. 2Kiwis
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    We had to look up who Pearl & Dean might be and what we found confirmed our guess. It all went together relatively smoothly for us with lots of smiles and chuckles along the way.
    Thanks Excalibur and Bufo.

  16. Wolfson Bear
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    A very nice puzzle – I have enjoyed all the recent Excalibur crosswords. At first sight I thought it was a RayT owing to the lack of black ink in the clues but it was very soon clear it was not one of his. I would agree with the * ratings

    I found I would come up with a probable or very possible answer to quite a lot of clues but not sure sure it was right. So the guess got written in lightly, hopefully to be confirmed by checking letters later.

    My favourite was the “pop singer” clue

  17. Jon_S
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    It took a while to get used to the setter’s style, which seemed definitely off-beat, and this was definitely a **** for difficulty. Finished on 20 and 18/24 which, in retrospect, were quite easy. Perhaps last thing at night isn’t the best time to start solving these!

  18. Salty Dog
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Not quite as difficult as the back-pager (is this a new trend?); call it 2.5*/3.5*. The bottom half was rather easier than the top half, but perhaps that’s just me. As for a favourite clue, I was tempted by 13d, but I think 16d deserves the plaudits. Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  19. TheTeesdale2
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Recent crossovers from the cryptic, so still finding the step-up quite difficult, therefore many thanks indeed to Bufo for the hints, and followed Gazza’s advice again to reasonable effect, so thanks again to him too, and to Excalibur, who’s mind is obviously huger than ours!