Toughie 1602

Toughie No 1602 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Another quirky puzzle from Excalibur and another one that I enjoyed. Three corners went in fairly readily but the SW corner held me up for a time. This was partly due to my pencilling in the enumeration of 15 across as (4,3,4) instead of (4,2,5) because once I noticed this error the SW corner yielded fairly quickly

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    In a hurry to get drink before bell (7)
TEARING: A drink (not coffee) + ‘to bell’

8a    Aggravates British — and not only them (7)
BOTHERS: B (British) + ‘additional people’

10a    Enchanted to inform how to write ‘galumph’ (10)
SPELLBOUND: An instruction to name in order the letters of a synonym of ‘galumph’

11a    Yes, fancy consuming a piece of cake? (4)
EASY: An anagram (fancy) of YES round A

12a    Did they give little tinkles when girls shook their heads? (8)
RINGLETS: A kind of cryptic definition for long curls of hair whose name suggests that they ought to give little tinkles when shaken

14a    Understood with top off could be used as grater (6)
RASPED: Remove the first letter (top) from a word meaning ‘understood’

15a    Foolishly, take a fancy to some twit (4,2,5)
LIKE AN IDIOT: ‘To take a fancy to’ + ‘a twit’

19a    You hold it, mum! (6)
TONGUE: You hold this when you are mum or silent

20a    ‘No heart broken,’ I interposed, for all to hear (2,3,3)
ON THE AIR: An anagram (broken) of NO HEART round I

22a    Top-hole, if you’d like a swim (4)
LIDO: A top + a letter which could represent a hole = somewhere you might go swimming

23a    Stepping on it may break it (5,5)
SPEED LIMIT: If you step on it (the gas) you may drive faster than the law permits

25a    A necessity for football team unable to keep afloat (7)
AGROUND: When split (1,6) its something a football team needs

26a    Missing a pal, comforted to make happy (7)
PLEASED: PAL with A missing + ‘comforted’


1d    Don’t have hope of speaking French. Paris is out (7)
DESPAIR: The French word for ‘of’ + an anagram (out) of PARIS

2d    Said Albert may be shortened to Bert, ___ (4)
ORAL: You can shorten Albert by removing the first part to get Bert. Alternatively you can remove the last part

3d    Balinese travelling is in pieces, lacking permit (6)
ENABLE: An anagram (travelling) of BALNEE, i.e. BALINESE minus the letters I and S (IS in pieces), gives you ‘to permit’

4d    Thought to be reed waving in water (8)
PONDERED: Thought (as a past tense) = an anagram (waving) of REED in a small lake

5d    Figure it’s what happens if only eight cricketers get ducks (10)
THREESCORE: A figure or number (60 to be exact) is what the other players do if eight members of a cricket team get ducks

6d    More than one X in ‘vexations‘ (7)
CROSSES: 2 meanings: the plural of a word suggested by X/vexations

9d    Cheats — makes the two into a half? (4,3,4)
PUTS ONE OVER: If you want to make the figure 2 into ½ you have to write another number on top of it

13d    Billiard cue at the ready, cracking up (5,2,3)
GOING TO POT: If you have your billiard cue poised you will be ***** ** *** a ball (you hope)

16d    Service is, nevertheless, no good (8)
EVENSONG: An Anglican church service = ‘nevertheless’ (4,2) + an abbreviation for ‘no good’

17d    Leaves foil-wrapped, to mature (7)
FOLIAGE: An anagram (wrapped) of FOIL + ‘to mature’

18d    Tried to find water, but plant did without (7)
DIVINED: DID round a plant that produces grapes

21d    Let out having imbibed rum, walk unsteadily (6)
TODDLE: An anagram (out) of LET round ‘rum’ or ‘strange’

24d    What happened when bull chased me in the country (4)
IRAN: When the bull chased me * ***. The country is in the Middle East

Are Excalibur puzzles getting better or I have I just got used to her style?


  1. stanXYZ
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Quirky, maybe, but I always enjoy Excalibur’s sense of humour.

    ps. Apparently today is National Limerick Day! A shame that the master of the art, Micawber (aka Mick Twist), appeared yesterday and not today!

    • Hanni
      Posted May 12, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

      There once was a rapping tomato (that’s right I said rapping tomato)
      He rapped all day
      From April to May
      And also guess what?
      It was me.


      • Jane
        Posted May 12, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Sometimes, Hanni, I worry about you………..

      • stanXYZ
        Posted May 12, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

        There is a young man called Pommers
        He’s one of my favourite Bloggers
        He lives in Spain
        Hardly any rain
        No need for any umbrellas

        (I apologise to everyone!)

        • Jane
          Posted May 12, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

          No apologies necessary, Stan. At least I understood that one……..

          • Hanni
            Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

            There is a woman called Jane
            Who is really rather urbane
            She thinks my experiments are mad
            It doesn’t make me sad
            She just doesn’t get ‘science’.

            Nice one Stan.

            • Jane
              Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Metres and rhymes, Hanni, metres and rhymes.
              OK – I know I’m old-fashioned……….
              However, I will inform the daughters that you think I’m urbane. They may beg to differ!

              • Hanni
                Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

                Rules can be broken and I indulged in a little artistic licence.

                Plus I made all the effort to write you a lovely limerick and I get told off! I have been working on that for days. Days!

                • Shropshirelad
                  Posted May 12, 2016 at 11:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

                  2 out 10 – see me after class.

    • crypticsue
      Posted May 12, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Go ti today’s 5Live Breakfast on the Iplayer and click at 1:27:25 and you can hear Micawber talking about limericks.

  2. happy days
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Two witty Toughies in a row. Thank you Excalibur, thank you Micawber (yesterday) and thank you Telegraph.
    Excalibur in top form. Innovative and delightful as always

  3. dutch
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I really enjoyed this – there were a lot of very nice clues with a cryptic literal interpretation of the answer – of these, I particularly liked 15a (foolishly take a fancy to some twit), 5d (when 8 cricketers get ducks), 9d (cheats), 24d (what happened when bull chased me) and 12a (do they give little tinkles).

    I thought 19a (mum) was the only clue that seemed unnaturally worded.

    It was a quick solve (less than half the time of the back pager today!), but that did not detract one bit from the enjoyment. LOI was 9a (cheats) – took me a while to stop thinking the middle word was ‘and’

    Many thanks Excalibur for a quality puzzle and thank you Bufo for the review

  4. Jane
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Always enjoy the offerings from Excalibur and this one did seem to be one of her best.
    Last ones in for me were 2d and 19a.
    Sorry, Bufo, but it did make me smile over your enumeration slip – definition of the answer?!!!
    Wondered whether 6d might have been better written as ‘More than one X vexes’? The tenses didn’t seem to sit too well.

    Quite a long list of ticks – 15&23a plus 5,9,13&16d.

    Many thanks, Excalibur, that was fun – and thanks to Bufo for the much appreciated review.

    • Physicist
      Posted May 12, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Jane, I don’t see a problem with 6d. The two definitions and the answer are all (plural) nouns, surely?

      • Jane
        Posted May 12, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Umm….. I’m struggling to see a ‘cross’ as a vexation. It only makes sense to me in the verbal manner of ‘to cross’ = ‘ to vex’. Can you give me an illustration? More than happy to admit when I’m wrong!

        • Jane
          Posted May 12, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Just thought – as in ‘we all have our crosses to bear’? That makes sense. Sorry, Physicist, you’re way ahead of me!

          • Physicist
            Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

            No problem. It reminds me of the little girl who called her squinting teddy bear “Gladly” – as in the hymn “Gladly my cross-eyed bear”.

        • Salty Dog
          Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I’m with you Jane. I found this a rather unsatisfying clue, but the rest of the puzzle was fine. 2*/3* overall, and perhaps on the gentle side for this particular setter. I loved 9d, and 25a (although it’s not a word I like to hear used – especially not applied to me when I’m following Ratty’s advice and “messing around in boats”). Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I absolutely loved this and smiled the whole way through. I checked off 10A, 19A, 22A, 25A, 2D, 9D and 13D, with 10A coming out top. Thanks Excalibur and Bufo.

    • Jane
      Posted May 12, 2016 at 3:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Chris,
      How are the bumps and bruises coming along? Sorry, again, but I keep envisaging those airborne shrimp!

      • Expat Chris
        Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I’m fine, thanks. My arm’s purple in places but everything functions as it should.

  6. Una
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I loved this too.
    Starred clues included 2d,8a, 15a, 19a, 13d and 23a. and 24d.
    Thanks Excalibur and Bufo.

  7. Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed this. It took me a lot less time than the back pager, which was reassuring. I particularly liked 15a, loved 9d, and have marked as favourite 2d.

    Many thanks Excalibur and Bufo.

    No haiku from me today. I did just write a limerick, but it contravenes two rules of this blog and would get me banned, so will save it. Instead, I’ll share my favourite mathematical one:

    • Jane
      Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I remember that one, Kitty. Brought so many half-forgotten ones to mind!

      • Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Here’s another I just found. One for the real maths nuts:


        • Jane
          Posted May 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Sorry, Kitty – think I’ll throw in the towel now………

          • Posted May 12, 2016 at 6:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

            I can’t say I’ve verified that one either, Jane!

            • Mr Kitty
              Posted May 12, 2016 at 7:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

              It’s not as hard as it looks. I’m sure you could do it.

              • Posted May 12, 2016 at 8:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

                I am very out of practice. And I made things hard for myself by misreading the cube root as three times the square root. :wacko: … but yes, I got there.

  8. Hanni
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Nice solve.

    Agree about 6d though.

    Enjoyed 8a, 19a, 23a and 5d.

    Favourite is being chased in 24d.

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

  9. Sue Newbitt
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 5:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Loved it – most fun ever! Toughies don’t normally make me laugh out loud, but this one did ;o)

  10. crypticsue
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 6:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    proXimal tomorrow

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Loved every bit of it with the biggest penny drop moment coming from 9d. Last ones in were in the SW corner.
    Thanks Excalibur and Bufo.

  12. jean-luc cheval
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 8:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Found it a bit odd too but it grew on me.
    Quite refreshing in fact.
    I would love to have a go at writing a limerick.
    Here it goes:

    There was a guy named Edward Lear
    Whose play on words were full of wit
    A limerick he called it
    But what a git!
    He missed the rhyme in the last bit

    Thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo.

  13. neveracrossword
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 8:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    There was an old solver called “never”
    Who thought he was terribly clever.
    “Telegraph Toughie?
    To me light and fluffy!”
    But 2 down took him forever.

    • Jane
      Posted May 12, 2016 at 9:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That’s the style, ‘never’. You win my prize of the day!

  14. Expat Chris
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 8:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    There once was a puzzler called Chris
    Who’s solving was quite hit and miss
    The she found BD’s site
    He showed her the light
    And when she met him, she gave him a kiss!

  15. Heno
    Posted May 12, 2016 at 9:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, but needed 9 hints to finish.

  16. Shropshirelad
    Posted May 13, 2016 at 12:07 am | Permalink | Reply

    Not everyone’s favourite setter, but I thought it to be a lovely romp in crosswordland. An ‘Excalibur’ toughie was my first ever review, albeit impromptu (I think). If I recall – I may have had a glass or three of a fine crisp Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of our 2K’s homeland. Nothing changes :smile:

    Not an overly difficult puzzle but a lot to like – especially the ‘does what it says on the tin’ clues. 10a, 22a etc

    Thanks to Excalibur for the puzzle and to Bufo for his review.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted May 13, 2016 at 12:11 am | Permalink | Reply

      As an aside – not a limerick:

      She was only a farmer’s daughter
      But she let the ‘Borough Surveyor’…..?

  17. LetterboxRoy
    Posted May 13, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    More fun – we’re being spoiled!
    Me too, Kitty. Back pager took longer!
    Liked the literal clues; 10a, 15a, 23a and 25a.
    Thanks to all

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