Toughie 1700 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1700

Toughie 1700 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Welcome, fellow grid-fillers.  It was lovely to see some of you at York over the weekend – and to those who have yet to attend one of the get-togethers, do let me recommend these friendly gatherings.  Your Kitty is a little bleary-eyed after a few late nights, but I’ve managed to cobble together a few hints which I hope are not a complete shambles.

Today’s Excalibur didn’t cause me too much head-scratching except for a couple of hesitations over parsing.  In particular, I am red-faced after meowing up the wrong tree completely with 2d.  I enjoyed most of it very much.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the half a century, not out boxes.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all.

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



1a    ‘Giddy-up‘ and irritate the creature (4,2,6)
MAKE IT SNAPPY: We leave the starting gate with an exhortation to hurry up or perhaps a descriptive phrase meaning put something into a tetchy state.  Telling me to do this would certainly have me baring my teeth

9a    Skier’s shown off, circling round and round novices (7)
ROOKIES: An anagram (shown off) of SKIER around (circling) the round letter (round), and another one (and round).  A fine collection of some of these novices are to be found on a wonderful corner of this very site

10a    Upsetting book – yours truly has exciting feelings (7)
EMOTIVE: This is the reversal (upsetting) of a heavy volume and then “yours truly has.”  The answer means arousing feelings

11a    Catch somebody slow but not at first (4)
NAIL: Catch or arrest … someone sluggish without their first letter (not at first).  (Click the picture for more)

12a    Wild creature that is captured (5)
IRATE: Wild or angry, a creature which the abbreviation for that is has captured

13a    Vehicle reversing, some going forwards (4)
PART: A light carriage going backwards (reversing) is, going forwards, a word meaning some (of something)

16a    Tough gag to crack, admitted author (7)
HAGGARD: This author (H. Rider) is an anagram (to crack) of GAG inside tough or stiff

17a    Not getting any prizes but two presents (7)
NOWHERE: Take two words meaning present: at this time and at this place, and put them together to get out of the running

18a    Ensure door can’t swing open when you drive round the bend (7)
UNHINGE: Literally to remove the joint around which a door pivots, or make crazy

21a    Among various places, one in particular (7)
SPECIAL: In (among) an anagram (various) of PLACES is the Roman numeral one

23a    Until now, it’s always been regarded as ugly (4)
TOAD: A charade of until with the abbreviation used to label the years in which we are currently living.  One of our bloggers has chosen this creature to represent him

24a    Mark is terribly antisocial when half cut (5)
STAIN: An anagram (terribly) of half (when half cut) of ANTIS[ocial].  I’m sure this doesn’t describe our favourite landlord, but it did bring him immediately to mind

25a    To be in recession is diabolical (4)
EVIL: To be or exist reversed (in recession)

(extra pic)


28a    Turn back to front (7)
RETREAT: A cryptic definition: literally to turn away from the front in battle

29a    What author won’t feel at having first story returned (7)
ELATION: The answer – exhilaration – isn’t what the author described in the clue would feel.  Take something which can mean first, consisting of an abbreviation and a Roman numeral (2,1), and a four letter story and reverse the lot (returned)

30a    Fickle, as hangers-on are not (12)
UNDEPENDABLE: One of those clues which is easier to solve than to hint.  Make an adjective of a hanger-on, then add a negating prefix



1d    Attaching to low loop (7)
MOORING: Low, as a bovine would, and a hoop

2d    Have successful reunion after getting plastered (4)
KNIT: This describes what bones do when healing (and thus usually having been put into a plaster cast)

3d    Under cover, I burnt having caught sun terribly (7)
INSURED: The I from the clue and a colour something burnt might be containing an anagram (terribly) of SUN

4d    To mollify, put little arm round (7)
SWEETEN: Take a Scottish adjective meaning tiny and around this put a machine gun

5d    Vera is with it, when it comes to cosmetics (4)
ALOE: This plant can be any one of a certain genus, but when vera is appended it refers more specifically to the species (or its juice) which is used in cosmetics

6d    Off the record, I laid on tax cuts before (7)
PRIVATE: I from the clue on top of (laid on) a type of tax; this is inserted into (cuts) a preposition meaning before

7d    Chef rants: ‘Drum out hot stuff!’ (6,7)
FRENCH MUSTARD: An anagram (out) of CHEF RANTS DRUM.  One for Jean-Luc?

8d    Either segregated the healthy or didn’t interfere (4,4,5)
LEFT WELL ALONE: Refrained from meddling with, or literally perhaps kept the healthy apart

14d    Not initially bright: not fine (5)
RAINY: A word meaning intelligent without its first letter (not initially) means not fine, as applied to the weather

15d    Master running, now back again (5)
OWNER: The master of a pet, for example, is an anagram (running) of NOW followed by the reversal (back) of a prefix meaning again

19d    Team being one down, following are told to cheer (7)
HEARTEN: One less than a team after (following) to be informed

20d    Qualify, needing points to top championship (7)
ENTITLE: Take two compass points and put them on top of a sporting championship

21d    Don’t save it up for investment. You’ve earned it (7)
STIPEND: If you don’t save your money or give it away, you would probably do something else to it.  Take that and insert (for investment) the it from the clue going upwards (it up)

22d    Not written charges? (7)
INVOICE: Split (2,5), the answer would mean orally (not written)

26d    Dog makes annoyance audible (4)
PEKE: A homophone of offence or annoyance is a small dog

27d    What door supplier verbally promises for tomorrow, not today? (4)
JAMB: This side post of a door sounds like something which in the saying (originating in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass) is promised for tomorrow, and never today




Thanks to Excalibur.  I liked 9a, and quite a few others.  Which clue(s) did you think where “hot stuff?”

That was my 50th solo blog.  I can’t quite believe that – it seems like only yesterday I stumbled upon this site.  At the same time, it feels like I have been here forever. 


26 comments on “Toughie 1700

  1. 1700th Toughie, 50th Blog and I notice, a debut elsewhere. I have to say by Excalibur’s high standards this puzzle didn’t quite match up to so many exalted occasions, but only because it was a little too straightforward for my liking. Still very enjoyable and so thank you to Excalibur and to Kitty for another excellent blog.

    1. How does one know that it’s Kitty’s 50th blog?

      There used to be a league table of all the bloggers in the right hand margin but it disappeared during the “troubles”.

  2. Excalibur is right up to standard. Lovely surfaces and the signature sense of humour Specially liked 1a (‘Giddy-up’) and 9a (Skier’s shown off) but my favourite is the funny 27d (What door supplier)
    Thanks for the chuckles both to Excalibur and to Kitty

  3. I have not done this one yet, so it will have to wait until after work, but I would like to second Kitty’s comments about York – it was good to catch up and to meet Jean-Luc, even if we let him down in the quiz…

    Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur

  4. Very enjoyable , although I was caught by 28a , thinking it was reflect , which did for 19d.
    1a and 17a were among my favourites.
    Thanks Kitty for blogging, a family concern I see, and to Excalibur.

  5. Oops. I had ‘kept well clear’ for 8D which fitted in everywhere except for 29A and so I ended up with a very strange word there (At I late reversed). Enjoyed the puzzle a lot. 2D is my absolute favorite. Thanks Excalibur and Kitty, especially for the parsing of 27D.

    1. Another Oops!

      8d – I originally had “kept well apart”.

      Thanks to Excalibur for the puzzle and to Kitty for the blog.

      Nice to see my favourite dog making an appearance in a Kitty blog at 14d – Thought he was cleverer than that!

  6. What a plonker.
    Bought the paper at Orly airport this morning and threw away the business supplement which contains the toughie.
    Having finished the back page before boarding, I was left with nothing to do on the plane.
    Security took my chilli jam which I bought in York and binned it before my eyes.
    Not a very good day again but I had a wonderful week in the UK.
    It was great to meet Beery Hiker and all the people who appear mostly on the Guardian blog. I totally forgot to ask him about his impressive database as heavy drinking took precedence. A good excuse for another get together.
    Didn’t manage to finish this Excalibur.
    Was left with 2d and 13a and put in “saint” for Mark in 24a until I realised my mistake.
    Thanks to Excalibur and to Kitty for the wonderful weekend and blog.

    1. I’m glad to see you got back ok, Jean-Loo, even if you did accidentally flush the Toughie. Can’t believe they threw away your lovely jam, too. What a waste.

      It’s a good thing I didn’t think of Saint for 24a. It works, apart from being a definition by example.

      In an ideal world heavy drinking can co-exist with impressive databases, but sometimes one thing takes precedence over another. As you say, next time.

      1. You’re right about drinks and databases.
        Just unfolded the tea towel I bought with the jam from York Brewery and it’s full of interesting information.
        Here’s is one:
        We’ve brewed approximately 27,250,000 pints equivalent to 6.2 Olympic sized swimming pools or a pint every 23 seconds we’ve been open.

  7. Both 12a and 14d held us up for a while. Five letter words with only the second and fourth checked is what we blame for that. Not a quick solve for us and we will go for 1a as our favourite today in what we found an enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Excalibur and Kitty and congratulations on your 50th.

    1. Yes, quite a few four-letter words, but I’m normally more concerned when I see those dreaded five-letter under-checked ones which the Kiwis mentioned. Those wee beasties are frequently my downfall on a Monday, so I think today I was just happy they went into their boxes without too much protest.

  8. I made rather heavy weather of this, but in retrospect it is hard to see why, as there is nothing too complicated about any of them. Maybe it was just a bit of an unhelpful grid, particularly the five-letter lights with only two checks, or maybe my brain doesn’t work as well after a day on the office.

    Thanks to Excalibur and Kitty

  9. 24ac. Surely the anagram on ANTIS is SAINT which the gospel writer is and which perfectly describes your favourite landlord. However that really messed up 20 and 21 down. Very enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to Kitty for the mention and thanks to Excalibur

  10. Like Kitty, I had a bit of a fight with some of the parsing – still not sure I’m totally comfortable with 30a – but this was an enjoyable solve.
    From a lot of goodies, I’ll give the top three places to 1&17a plus 27d.

    Thanks to Excalibur and to our Tuesday girl for coming up with another great blog, despite the bleary eyes! Many congrats on your 50th solo blog.

  11. I struggled a bit with this. 3*/3* or thereabouts, and I liked 23a. Ta to Excalibur and Kitty (for explaining how I should have arrived at some of my (correct) answers. As it was, ennui rather set in and I resorted to inspired guesswork.

  12. Yesterday I took the kids to Sheffield to go and watch Mr Strange in the 4DX cinema (whew you pay extra to get rained on) – I’d managed most of the puzzle before we went but somehow i managed to submit it before it was completed and then I couldn’t do any more with it – a trick I haven’t managed before. I think I was missing the dog and a few more. I remember getting annoyed at the 5-letter under-checked words, maybe I was missing some of those.

    Thanks everyone for the brilliant time in York, and thank you Beery Hiker for my pre-morning-shower-breakfast picture – a most impressive guitar, though – it was as light as a feather.

    Thanks Kitty for a brilliant review, setting the standards, and congratulations on your 50th blog.

    And of course thank you Excalibur

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