Toughie 1696 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 1696

Toughie 1696 by Samuel

Hints and tips by Kate R

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


Hello everyone.  Kate R is back!  We couldn’t resist the temptation to share today, since both halves of us will be appearing again later in the week.  Sorry you all had to wait so long – the hangover’s almost gone now, just in time for York.  Today we have a lovely puzzle from Samuel which is just hard enough to keep things interesting while gentle enough to keep things light and fun.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the boxes.  Don’t feel obliged to follow instructions to clickety-click – only do that if you wish to reveal the answers.

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



1a    Like nothing  obscure (10)
ELLIPTICAL: O00h – a devious double definition to start.  The (not quite round) shape of the figure nothing or zero also means obscure, or dubious.  With 11d & 18d, Samuel has figures in mind today

6a    One revered having dropped a knife (4)
SHIV: One of the principal deities of Hinduism, along with Brahma and Vishnu – without the letter A from the clue

9a    Around noon, runner loses top to Reliant Robin’s inventor (5)
MILNE: A runner who runs a specific distance, in 4 minutes if they’re really good, loses the last R (top to Reliant) and goes around the abbreviation for Noon to give us the inventor of a character C. Robin in a story about a bear.  The character was named after his own son

10a    In which trawler endlessly sat at sea? (4,5)
SALT WATER: An all-in-one clue, an anagram (at sea) of TRAWLE (trawler endlessly) plus SAT

12a    Somehow acquit pedlar going round university once, then again and again and again (13)
QUADRUPLICATE: Time for the abacus – ready?  Once, then again then again then again – how many times is that?  To get the answer, take an anagram (somehow) of ACQUIT PEDLAR and put it round the abbreviation for University

14a    Capsize visible vessel (8)
OVERTURN: A word meaning visible or open to view, and a vessel or vase

15a    My poem on the radio, listener (2,4)
OH DEAR: This is Samuel’s tribute to Kath (no, it’s not a hidden clue).  “On the radio” means “sounds like,” so we have a word sounding like another word for poem, followed by the listener we have on the side of our head.  (We have another on the other side, usually, but just one of them is needed here)

17a    Left working and working – it won’t stick (6)
TEFLON: An anagram (working) of LEFT plus a little word that can mean working

19a    Wildest line in Ziggy Stardust’s ‘Time’? (8)
BLOWIEST: Ziggy Stardust was of course the alter ego of a famous musical innovator.  Place the abbreviation for Line into said musician, add the ‘S behind Ziggy Stardust, then add the abbreviation for Time

21a    Run from tramp after more left hostel in a reckless manner (13)
EXTRAVAGANTLY: We need to remove the abbreviation for Run from another word for tramp or hobo, place it after a word meaning more or additional, then at the end add the abbreviation for Left and a one letter hostel recommended by the Village People

24a    Morning Star journalist covers mobile library (5,4)
EARLY BIRD: The usual crossword journalist “covers” an anagram (mobile) of LIBRARY

25a    Gent nearly involved with this crime could be seething (5)
HEIST: The definition is in the middle here.  We are looking for a crime that, together with the first three letters (nearly) of GENT, will give an anagram of SEETHING (involved with … could be …)

26a    Board look back (4)
KEEP: A reversal (back) of a word that means a little look

27a    Hot men drinking rum? Quite the opposite, for the near future (5-5)
SHORT RANGE: Quite the opposite suggests that we don’t have hot men drinking rum, but rum drinking hot men.  So we need another word for rum or odd that covers (drinking) the abbreviation for Hot and an abbreviation for soldiers



1d    Award judge leaving force (4)
EMMY: Win this entertainment award by removing the abbreviation for Judge from a verb meaning prise or crowbar

2d    City group caught out French designer (7)
LALIQUE: A west coast city of the USA followed by an in-crowd without its leading C (c(aught) out)

3d    Rainy? Cape tour gets rearranged, just in case (13)
PRECAUTIONARY: RAINY CAPE TOUR is anagrammed (gets rearranged)

4d    During more certain times, ultimately, they provide cover (8)
INSURERS: A charade of during, more certain, and the final letter (ultimately) of times.  The cover is protection against, for example, loss or damage

5d    Finished no-good pollsters (3,2)
ALL UP: An American company well-known for its public opinion polls is missing a G (no good) from the beginning and then re-spaced

7d    Stop daughter entering gallery in exciting night out? (3,4)
HOT DATE: After a short exclamation meaning stop! or halt! comes D(aughter) inside (entering) a well-known London art gallery

8d    Showing backbone, lay vicar raised fee (10)
VERTEBRATE: More having than showing backbone.  Lay or wager and the short title of a member of the clergy are reversed (raised) and followed by a fee or charge

11d    You and I wear tight pants outside church – one wants to be slimmer (6-7)
WEIGHT-WATCHER: Start with a word meaning you and I, then add an anagram (pants) of WEAR TIGHT around (outside) a two-letter abbreviation for church

13d    Bronte regularly let cast kiss in confined space (10)
BOTTLENECK: Put together regular letters of Bronte, an anagram (cast) of LET, and a verb meaning smooch or canoodle

16d    Plant loaned out gutless engineer (8)
OLEANDER: An anagram (out) of LOANED and then the outer letters only (gutless) of engineer give us one of the most poisonous commonly grown garden plants, toxic in all its parts

18d    Ideal for 11, such could make fathers hers (3-4)
FAT-FREE: Food of this type might suit the one wanting to be slimmer in 11d.  “Fathers” would have to become the answer to produce “hers.” 

20d    See Welsh girl, delightful (7)
ELYSIAN: A holy see we see often here in Crosswordville and the Welsh variant of the name Jane.  While in Welshland recently, we saw this name on a Just Married banner on the car in front, which coincidentally also featured a Baby on Board sign

22d    Scotsman fails to start religious group (5)
AMISH: A Scottish name (not Dougal) without the first letter gives a Christian sect, notable communities of whom are found in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana in the U.S.

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

23d    Remain without a leader in enemy uprising? (4)
STYE: A word meaning remain without A followed by the first letter of (leader in) enemy.  The uprising is a swelling found on a certain part of the body.  I’m not swelling with enthusiasm for the definition here


Thanks Samuel.  Our favourite today is 24a, and we also liked 1a and 11d.  Which clue(s) hit the spot for you?


33 comments on “Toughie 1696

  1. I thought I was going to really struggle today as having worked my way down the Across clues, my first one in was 1d. The Down clues proved much more user-friendly and I finished in a Tuesday comfy-ish time. There did seem to be a lot of take a letter off clues but I bet if I had time to check, there may not have been quite as many as it seemed.

    Thanks to the “tipsy twosome” and to Samuel.

  2. Found this fairly straightforward and quite a pleasant solve apart from 23d – I thought of the solution long before seeing how the definition worked – it is quite high up my list of frequently used solutions (equal 5th in the Guardian archive – the only four that have more occurrences are EXTRA, ISLE, STUD and USED) – this must be because of the useful and unusual crossers. Liked 1a 24a and 27a.

    Thanks to Samuel and the dynamic duo

    1. Oh dear! Oh dear!! Shame on you!!! How can you illustrate the quintessentially English classic with a cartoon by Walt Disney? A.A.Milne did not “invent” Christopher Robin – he begat him! My uncle was at university with Christopher. He did feel the delightful books had blighted the poor man’s life. Such a tragedy.
      P.s. is the covetable cat in 2d for sale?

      1. I apologise to beery hiker! I posted a general comment and it intruded upon his entry. I don’t know how anyone else copes but I HATE I-PADS!!

      2. Agree with you about the Disney illustrations which is why I used the Shepard originals in my review of NTSPP 349

  3. Fairly straightforward until the SE corner, where I got stuck on 25a and 23d. Quite satisfying when the subtracted anagram at 25 and the cryptic def at 23 were eventually spotted so I’ll give the 2 of em the prize, along with the neatly done 8d and the devious 9a [spent a while googling the car inventor!].

    Thanks to Samuel and to Kate R/Kitty.

  4. I thought this struck the right balance of difficulty for a Tuesday Toughie and had some excellent clues. Great deception at 9a (which must be good because I don’t normally pick out individual clues). Thanks to Samuel and Kate R/Kitty

  5. I thought it was terrific and lots of fun. I particularly liked 14A, 17A and 5D, each of which earned a smiley face from me, and 9A once I’d eliminated the car designer from the equation. I didn’t cotton to either 19A or 23D (last one in). My favorite, though, is 24A because I am definitely one of those, often to be found with a crossword and a cuppa in the pre-dawn hours. My thanks to Samuel and to Kitty…even though she cast aspersions on my character!

  6. I’d just like to clarify for those that don’t know that the other half of Kate R is Dutch. Kater is a Dutch kitty (and also a hangover). Today, he went across and I went down.

  7. Good afternoon Toughieistas.

    A rare outing here for me on account of the continuing AWOLness of the puzzle in another place. Mostly pretty understandable but finished with four unsolved namely 1,6a and 1,2d. I thought 6a and 1d may be what it turns out they were but 2d was beyond my ken. I had no idea why 23d was what it was but it obviously was what it was.


  8. Thanks to Samuel and to Kate R for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much, at least it was almost doable. Needed the hints for 1&9a and 2,5,23d. Favourite was 19a. Was 3*/3* for me.

  9. Those pesky little words 23d and 25a were our last two to sort out too. It also took a bit of thinking before we got the wordplay for 1a. Plenty to enjoy and keep us smiling and all taken care of in reasonable time. Great to see the Kate R team back in operation.
    Thanks Samuel and Kate R.

  10. Thanks, Kate R, for the blog, and to those who have commented. As ever, the images have raised several smiles. It’s pleasing to see that some particularly liked 19ac; I’m a big Bowie fan, so the opportunity to include both Ziggy Stardust and a reference to the song ‘Time’ from the album Aladdin Sane was too good a chance to miss. There may be more Bowie references to come!

    1. Many thanks for dropping in Samuel. It is wonderful for the solvers to know which clues are special to you, it makes the whole thing more personable. I look forward to more Bowie clues.

    2. I enjoyed the Bowie clue immensely, in fact perhaps too much as it sent me down a rabbit hole of wondering whether it could probably be termed “Ziggy Stardust’s” Time rather than Aladdin Sane’s. So where were the solvers, when the setters tried to break our brains? etc

      1. The clue did start out precisely as you suggest, but I figured that while most solvers would probably have heard of Ziggy Stardust, fewer would be familiar with Aladdin Sane. As a result, I changed it first to Major Tom, and then finally to Ziggy.

  11. Very late on parade today – apologies Kate R.
    I liked this one a lot although I took ages to sort out the parsing of 25a and the Bowie clue only narrowly escaped condemnation as one of my non-words (sorry, Samuel!).
    1a was a definition I hadn’t thought of and 6a took a fair bit of memory searching.
    All my ticks were with the across clues – 9,10,12,14,15&24 crowding onto the podium.

    Many thanks to Samuel and to the hard-working duo. Thought we might have got a re-run of the stick men to illustrate 8d (loved that one!) and a 13d might well feature on my Christmas wish list.
    By the way, Kitty, I certainly remember your laughter when you spotted those car stickers!

      1. And there was me thinking it was for you! I absolutely refuse to take ALL the blame for our moderation* – even if your Mum and Dad do look at this blog!

  12. Another fun puzzle. I thought it was going to wrinkle the SD brow a bit, but it all fell into place not far into 2* time. 3.5* for satisfaction, though. I enjoyed 2d and 9a, but 27a gets my vote for best clue. Thank you to Samuel, and to Kate R for the review.

  13. An enjoyable puzzle that I was making pretty swift work of until I got stuck on 1ac/1d/2d and 6ac which took about as long again. 2d I think I might have got quicker earlier in the day, at this time of night apparently the names of cities that commonly appear in crosswords are beyond me. 6ac I thought was quite difficult, especially if, like me, you only vaguely remembered the deity. Liked the Bowie reference in 19ac amongst lots of good clues.

  14. Missed you guys.
    Took me ages to come across as Orly airport was under thick fog and all flights were delayed.
    Gave me enough time to tackle the Tuesday crosswords and was left with 1a and 1d which I couldn’t see.
    15a brought the biggest smile.
    Thanks to Samuel and to our reviewers.
    Off to Richmond to have lunch at Petersham Nurseries. Beautiful restaurant in the conservatory. I shall be comparing their garden to mine.

Comments are closed.