Toughie 1628 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1628

Toughie 1628 by Warbler

Hints and tips by Kitty

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***


Hello everybody, and welcome.  Today is an excellent day to join the Tuesday Toughie club.  We have a friendly puzzle which could have flown over from the back page, brought to us on the wings of a cryptic warbler.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below. The answers are hidden under the  boxes. The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal the answer.

Do leave a comment telling us how you found it and what you thought.



7a    New currency is creating anxiety (8)
NEUROSIS: N(ew) and the currency of a union which has been on everyone’s lips lately, and is indeed the cause of much anxiety, followed by IS from the clue.  Not a good start, as I was planning to give that subject a very wide berth!

9a    Ghouls swirling about lakes in Eire (6)
LOUGHS: An anagram (swirling about) of GHOULS

10a    Drink, drink and drink again! (6)
NOGGIN: Take two drinks, one after another, and you end up with a third.  Yes, this is how drinking often works.  “I’ll just have a couple,” you think …

11a    Sycophant disguised as pirate (8)
PARASITE: An anagram (disguised) of AS PIRATE.  I have chosen to illustrate one (specifically, it’s a brood parasite) that is a whole lot prettier than some of the options available.  Do not image search this answer if you are of a nervous disposition!

12a    Most of merchandise free but useless (4-3-7)
GOOD-FOR-NOTHING: Four letters of a five letter word for merchandise or wares and then a phrase (3,7) meaning available at no charge

15a    Cut tail off bird (4)
SNIP: Remove the last letter from (cut tail off) a wading bird with short legs and a long straight bill (pictured)

17a    Ointment starts to soothe angry lesions – very effective (5)
SALVE: The first letters of (starts to) the final five words of the clue

19a    Wilder  inheritance factor? (4)
GENE: The forename of the actor who played Willy Wonka in a 1971 film is also a component of DNA

20a    Securing name for international field of science renewed belief in one’s abilities (4-10)
SELF-CONFIDENCE: An anagram of FIELD OF SC[ I  N]ENCE, after N(ame) has been included in place of I(nternational)

23a    Extraordinary  individual (8)
SINGULAR: Two definitions, both adjectives and neither requiring further elaboration from me

25a    Song at sunrise offered to the French at first (6)
AUBADE: Offered preceded by (at first) the French for “to the.”  I first encountered this dawn serenade courtesy of Elgar the setter, so here’s one by the other Elgar:

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

27a    Bridge opponents with energy welcoming my call to play again? (6)
ENCORE: Two opponents in bridge and the abbreviation for energy containing (welcoming) an expression of surprise: my!

28a    Queen’s hugged by terribly austere and valued friend (8)
TREASURE: R(egina) inside an anagram (terribly) of AUSTERE.  The valued friend is the treasure most worth having



1d    Palatine Rome plays host to emperor (4)
NERO: The beginning of the clue contains (plays host to) the emperor who allegedly fiddled

2d    Beginning to feel stiff and cold (6)
FRIGID: The first letter of (beginning to) feel.  Stiff or hard.  Putting those two together here results in cold or frozen

3d    Snake swallows ant’s head very quickly (4)
ASAP: The most popular crosswordland snake contains (swallows) the first letter (head) of ant

4d    Red mark of omission surrounds line (6)
CLARET: A mark of omission: ^ with L(ine) inserted.  The red is fermented from the grape and is one of life’s great pleasures

5d    Traitor in Paris who has support (8)
QUISLING: The French for “who is” followed by a support which, for a nice change, is not a bra (instead, it’s a support for a broken or damaged member)

6d    After refurbishment, the Co-op in centre of Wigan is striking (10)
PHOTOGENIC: After refurbishment is one of many anagram indicators today.  The letters to be rearranged are THE CO OP IN together with the middle letter of WiGan

8d    ‘Apollo! Horus! Ra!‘ being chanted, becomes dangerously high (3-4)
SUN-GODS: These are examples of the answer.  Being chanted musically then takes too much of a drug (becomes dangerously high).  I often think about Ra when it rains, because the superstition of it being bad luck to open an umbrella indoors may stem from the belief that it would anger him

13d    Icon Times destroyed, describing knight being a know-it-all (10)
OMNISCIENT: The letters of ICON TIMES anagrammed and wrapped around (describing) the chess abbreviation for knight.  The know-it-all knows a lot more than your common-or-garden smartypants

14d    Stocking many London stores (5)
NYLON: The second lurker of the day, signposted by stores

16d    Old college has good fortune to be multilingual (8)
POLYGLOT: An old type of college (these have all now all been “upgraded” to university status) then G(ood), and finally fortune or fate

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

18d    Remove hair by installing current in electronic metal sheet (7)
EPILATE: We are instructed to construct this verb meaning to remove hair by inserting the electrical symbol for current in between E(lectronic) and a metal sheet

21d    One selecting paint we hear (6)
CULLER: One selecting or gathering.  The word sounds like (we hear) paint – or it does to my ear, so I’m waiting for Gazza to demur!

22d    Decorate letter by employer (6)
EMBOSS: The name of one of the letters of the alphabet followed by an employer or person in charge

24d    Blast  animals (4)
RATS: Two definitions, the first being an exclamation – which some might well come out with on seeing these rodents (or perhaps you’d use a stronger four letter word)

26d    River  fish (4)
DART: We end with another double definition.  Oh dear!  I am not good at rivers or fish.  I had to check this one and it took a bit of fishing to find the swimmer of this name.  Given the number of both categories out there swimming about / flowing, I wonder if there are other valid answers to be found


I started with a groan (also the sigh of relief that comes when the first answer slips in easily) and also finished with a groan, but enjoyed the body of this.  Thanks to Warbler.  Now over to you.


34 comments on “Toughie 1628

  1. I raised the question earlier this morning as to what one called a Toughie that was more read and write and took less time than the almost read and write back pager. I’ve had a look at a list of antonyms and whilst I could use undemanding, gentle, simple, painless etc etc, I really like Warbler puzzles, despite their extreme user-friendliness, so I’m going to call this one a “Comfy”

    Thanks to Warbler and Kitty too.

  2. I most liked 4d (red mark of omission…), 6d (The Co-op in Wigan) and 8d (apollo & co).

    5d was a new word for me but I remembered 25a.

    many thanks Kitty for a lovely review (took me a while to spot the adoptee) and thank you Warbler for a nice gentle start to the week.

  3. The only one that gave me pause was 25A, because the answer was new to me and I think of bade as more told than offered. I did enjoy the puzzle, so thanks to Warbler, and to Kitty for the beautifully illustrated blog.

  4. Agree that this was mostly pretty straightforward but I did struggle a bit with the SE corner – the river was familiar but not the fish, and the song took longer than it should have. All pleasant enough, with some very concise clueing.

    Thanks to Warbler and Kitty

  5. I do enjoy a Warbler puzzle as it is normally an example of fine clue construction etc. and this one is no exception albeit very much at the easier end of the spectrum. No particular favourite but I’m not a great lover of homophones so 21d didn’t sit well. If pushed, I would say that 19a gave me the biggest smile.

    Thanks to Warbler for a ‘comfy’ start to the toughie week and to Kitty for her top class and well illustrated review.

    I hope you have checked, checked and checked again that all your ornithological picture hints are correct, as I know a certain lady from Anglesey who will be casting a shrewd eye over them………

    PS – with your comment about 1a, I forgot to say that I laughed my socks off when I saw the Matt cartoon on page 2 today.

    1. PPs – Where’s my cake? You said you had some but I can’t find it anywhere :(

  6. You know what you’re going to get with a Warbler Toughie – a puzzle short in duration but extended in enjoyment – and this one fits the bill. Thanks to Warbler and Kitty. My selections for favouritism were 10a and 8d.
    I have no problems with the 21d homophone.

    1. You are delightfully unpredictable, Gazza! When we next meet I will listen carefully to your accent.

      I like your description of Warbler Toughies. Reminiscent of the BRB definition of éclair.

  7. This Toughie gave 20a indeed. I struggled with 25a and the last to go in was 26d, which it shouldn’t have been since it is a river near where I grew up. Enjoyed the bird and animal pics very much. Many thanks to Warbler and Kitty.

  8. Warbler delivers the goods as always and brightened up a fairly dismal day on Anglesey.
    The dawn serenade was a new word for me and I tried to find another answer for 26d as that particular fish belongs in seawater, not a river and I would have expected that to bother today’s setter.
    Enjoyed 6d for its surface read, but top spot goes to 8d – only saw the parsing after I’d written it in!

    Thanks to Warbler for the ‘comfy’ Toughie and many thanks to Kitty for a great blog and the plethora of birdie pictures – the Cryptic Warbler is one I haven’t heard of before.

  9. Very little sleep for 2 days – v noisy London hotel room, then day 1 at Wimbledon, then a particularly uncomfortable sleeper last night – so this probably seemed harder than it was. I didn’t know 25a or the fish in 26d, so the SE corner put me into 2* time. It was fun, though, and I enjoyed 6d, 16d and 24d. One minor quibble, Kitty: how did you divine that the call in 27d was an expression of surprise?

    Thanks to Warbler and Kitty.

    1. I divine that you mean 27a, SD. ;)

      That was one of the few things I didn’t look up, so I’m gratified now to discover that Chambers defines “cor” exactly as I did: “An expression of surprise.”

      1. Ah. Now you have explained it, l cannot understand why I didn’t spot it immediately. I was vastly over-complicating the whole thing, trying to see how “my call” (coming from a Warbler) might fit into the solution! As I say, not enough sleep…

  10. I’m glad the dart turned out to be a bona fide fish – but I still don’t think it’s well known enough to be a definition in a crossword that is otherwise so straightforward. I may have spent as much time wondering if it was more likely that DART was a fish or DORY a river than over the whole rest of the puzzle!

    Nevertheless a nice gentle one to ease us into the week, thanks setter and blogger. 10a my favourite of the day I think, honourable mention to 8d.

  11. Checked if Dory was a river and if Duro was a fish.
    Apart from that, nothing to declare.
    Just came here to read Kitty’s review and the comments.
    Thanks to Warbler and to Kitty.

  12. Thanks to Warbler and to Kitty for the review and hints. I like the theme in the review. I found three quarters of this puzzle quite straightforward, but was completely bamboozled by the SE Corner. I’d forgotten 25a, cannot seem to get double definitions 23a,24&26d were no exceptions, I know what I have to do, but can never think of the right word. Most frustrating. Also needed the hints for 21d. Favourite was 4d, nice puzzle but hardly a Toughie.

  13. The river Parr did for me. Never heard of the song at 25 ac and failed to decorate the blank squares in 22d. Otherwise a bit rock and roll and like rock and roll I liked it a lot. Ta to Warbler and ta to Kitty who is the best illustrater Big Dave has.

  14. It all seems to have been said. A really pleasant romp of a puzzle and another excellent review. Not hard to guess what our favourite pic is and we have been assured that it was put in just to keep us happy, which it did.
    Thanks Warbler and Kitty.

  15. I always enjoy Warbler’s crosswords – I always enjoy Kitty’s reviews – I could do it – what else do I need to say?
    I did know 25a but goodness knows how – must be from a crossword.
    I admit to gawping stupidly at the clue for 8d but that was OK and I liked it.
    I also admit to starting off with ‘particular’ for 23a which did precious little for the rest of that corner until the light dawned.
    I really liked 7a (like Kitty I thought we were steering well clear of politics at the moment) and 3 and 5d. My favourite was 24d – I’m a simple soul!
    With thanks to Warbler and thanks and well done again to Kitty.

  16. A nice way to end the evening, 1.5*/3* with the last 0.5 of the 1.5* probably due to sluggish minds after a pub meal earlier.

    Favourites were 15a an 17a.

    Thank you, Kitty, for your normal lovely review and to Warbler for the fun.

  17. Many thanks for the review, Kitty.
    To quote the Stereophonics “I’m just looking, I’m not buying” as yesterday’s back-pager used up my daily ration of crossword brain-cells.
    Your hints are always great to read, I particularly enjoyed the cartoon.

    1. Thanks! Comments like these make Kitty purr! I was delighted to find that cartoon – discovering things like that and being able to share them is one of the chief joys of blogging.

  18. Kitty, I haven’t done this Toughie but I absolutely love to read all the hints, tips and posted comments – I find them fascinating and intriguing for some reason. Maybe it’s because I simply don’t know a single person who would be remotely interested in discussing the ins and outs of cryptic crossword clues. Are we all bonkers? Regarding this one, with the bloggers epithet and how you’ve contrived to get all those pictures of birds in, I can’t help thinking that you should change your handle to “Kitty hawk”. :-)

    1. I was Kittiwake recently. As for the birds, well, like so many Instagram users it seems I can’t resist posting pictures of food. ;)

  19. About equal to the back page today, but nice all the same.

    5d & 25a I had to check once I’d built the answer (new words to me).

    Enjoyed 8d, 10a but not overly keen on 21d.

    Still trying to finish 1626 though!

    Nice review Kitty – thank you.

    …and to Warbler for a kind puzzle.

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