Toughie 1701 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1701

Toughie No 1701 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

There’s nothing too difficult today (though if you’re not well versed in cricket terminology 9d may be tricky) but I thought the surfaces were really excellent and I enjoyed it a lot. Thanks to Messinae.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Appeal for mate perhaps through healthy food catching on (8,2)
PERSONAL AD – start with a preposition meaning through then insert ON into some healthy food.

6a Find fault with fish (4)
CARP – two definitions.

10a Sound of strings conducted by Furtwangler (5)
TWANG – our first lurker.

11a Stay and drink beer (9)
SUPPORTER – ‘Stay’ here is a noun. A verb to drink is followed by a dark beer.

12a Doctor who might have described himself as a bird-watcher (7)
SPOONER – Crosswordland’s favourite word botcher. Even those who normally dislike such clues will, I think, appreciate this one.

13a Two pennies crossed (7)
CENTRED – ‘crossed’ as a football winger might have done to kick the ball infield. A penny is an informal way of referring to the smallest US coin – we need to join together two words for this.

14a Devious colonialists making waves (12)
OSCILLATIONS – an anagram (devious) of COLONIALISTS.

18a Tourist having punch round lido getting drunk (12)
HOLIDAYMAKER – a swinging punch (pugilistic rather than alcoholic) contains an anagram (getting drunk) of LIDO.

21a Engineer exhausted went to bed (7)
RETIRED – the abbreviation for the army engineers followed by an adjective meaning exhausted. I’m not at all sure that the abbreviation can mean a single engineer as opposed to the corps as a whole.

23a I can put back entering test for college (7)
TRINITY – insert I and the reversal of a can into a verb to test.

24a Wolf almost caught in Timor’s erupting volcano (9)
STROMBOLI – a verb to wolf or gulp down without its last letter goes inside an anagram (erupting) of TIMOR’S.

25a Sauce cropping up in a boat (5)
KETCH – crop UP from a type of sauce.

26a Variety of naan bread in India once (4)
ANNA – an anagram (variety) of NAAN gives us an old Indian coin.

27a He headed South to steal before catching the tube (6,1,3)
ROBERT E LEE – this is the general who headed the Southern armies in the American Civil War. Start with a verb to steal then insert an abbreviation for ‘the tube’ into a conjunction meaning before.

Down Clues

1d Volunteers to get in superior plant food (6)
POTASH – put the old abbreviation for our volunteer soldiers into an adjective meaning superior or swanky.

2d Blow up without a cause (6)
REASON – reverse a blow to the centre of the face around A.

3d Scratch the skin of America and you may find such mafia activity (9,5)
ORGANISED CRIME – this is a reverse anagram which results in the word [a]MERIC[a] after we’ve scratched off the skin or outside letters. The surface here is excellent but anagrams should really lead to real words and meric is not one although it is apparently (as Meriç) a place name in Turkey.

4d A dirty bus crashed, stupid thing (9)
ABSURDITY – an anagram (crashed) of A DIRTY BUS.

5d Preserve snake I caught (5)
ASPIC – string together the snake that reputedly did for Cleopatra, I and the abbreviation for caught.

7d A northern cafe without a foyer (8)
ANTEROOM – follow the A and N(orthern) with a genteel café without its A.

8d A day in romantic city, earth’s ideal place (8)
PARADISE – insert A and the abbreviation for day into a romantic European city then finish with the abbreviation for earth.

9d Batter tricked out when bowling thus? (5,3,6)
ROUND THE WICKET – an anagram (batter) of TRICKED OUT WHEN gives a way of bowling in cricket which involves the bowler running up on the opposite side of the stumps to normal. It’s much easier to solve this than to explain what the answer means to non-cricket fans!

15d Most stupid in any case (9)
LEASTWISE – split the answer 5,4 and it could mean most stupid.

16d Personality pours tea after tea (8)
CHARISMA – a facetious phrase (2,2) meaning pours tea follows an informal word for tea.

17d New York building providing accommodation above club (8)
FLATIRON – a type of accommodation precedes a golf club.

19d One’s fired religious Southern multitude up (6)
PISTOL – abbreviations for religious or holier-than-thou and Southern are followed by the reversal of a word for multitude or large quantity.

20d Some smelly cheese for dessert (6)
LYCHEE – our second and final lurker.

22d There’s a couple on second biggest church in Florence (5)
DUOMO – a couple followed by a second or instant give us the Italian word for cathedral.

I liked 12a, 25a and 9d but I’ll nominate 27a as my favourite. Which one(s) earned a kiss on your ballot paper?

16 comments on “Toughie 1701

  1. Messinae seems to be setting more frequently again, after a bit of a hiatus – and this was one of his best I think. Not too tough although the NW was relatively tricky for me and had to wait until the bottom half was done and the 2 long downs could be filled in. Favourites were the lovely 12a [I entirely agree Gazza] 27a and 16d. I also liked 3d which I interpreted as OK since meric is merely the anagram fodder even though the anagram is working backwards. [OK I know that’s a bit contradictory but the word going into the grid is a real one.]

    Thanks for the blog Gazza and thanks to Messinae for a fun puzzle.

    1. I take your point, halcyon, but I’m not really convinced. Surely it’s ‘crime’ which is the fodder that has to be organised.

  2. Lovely puzzle

    didn’t know the second penny, only just found it in brb

    My top clues are 12a, 26a and 27a.

    excellent surface readings

    Many thanks Gazza and Messinae

  3. Good afternoon Toughieistas.

    Had a go at this on account of the puzzle in another place being unavailable. Finished with eight unsolved (a1,12,13,124,5 d1, 2,16). Liked 14a anagram and 18a. Couldn’t see the reasons for 3d and 27a. Had solution for 13a but couldn’t see why.


  4. This seemed to fit the bill perfectly for a midweek Toughie. Enjoyable clues and a gentle difficulty factor. Thanks Messinae and Gazza. (I like how your second clue illustration could serve both 11a & 12a)

  5. My last one in was 12a and I just loved it and laughed out loud. The allusions in 13a had me head-scratching for some time until I did a bit of checking in BRB. All good fun and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Messinae and Gazza.

  6. It took me some time to work out the joke at 12ac. I still dislike anything to do with Spooner though.

  7. Half of this (mostly in the top) slipped in easily, but then I stalled. I used various cheats to nudge me on my way in a timely fashion because I have other things to do this evening. Even with more time, there are a few things I’d have needed to look up or check. (I’ll spare my blushes and your time by not itemising my ignorance.)

    I take Gazza’s point about 3d, but “meric” didn’t bother me at the time and I really liked the clue. I’m certainly glad that the editor allowed it to pass through so we could enjoy it.

    Many thanks to Messinae and to Gazza.

  8. Probably no-one left around now, but it’s still early evening here. I failed on 13A because I had ‘cover the wicket” for 9D. Well, it is a cricketing term! I don’t understand 12A at all, though I had the right answer. Couldn’t parse the last part of 16D. I rather liked 18A but my favorite has to be my favorite New York building at 17D. Thanks Messinae and Gazza.

    1. 12a Doctor Spooner might have described himself as a bird-watcher rather than a ‘word botcher’.
      16d The traditional question in a group when someone volunteers to pour the tea is ‘Shall I be mother?’ so ‘pours tea’ becomes ‘is mother’ or (as here) ‘is ma’.

      1. 12a: Absolutely – an excellent clue. Could we describe this one as an “indirect Spooner” and is it the first one that is truly a Spooner clue but doesn’t quote the normally crucial “Spooner” indicator?

  9. Still having problems accessing the site but – enough of that, on to the puzzle which had me doing a fair bit of head-scratching.
    12a – didn’t understand it and, despite Gazza’s reply to Chris, think it’s one of the worst Spoonerisms ever!
    13a – didn’t know either the second penny or the footballing reference.
    2d – haven’t heard of that particular ‘blow’ before today.
    9d – pure guesswork based on the checkers.
    Also needed Gazza’s help to fully parse 27a plus 3&16d.

    What a lot of fails for someone who did actually finish up with a completed grid!
    My favourite was 25a.

    Thanks to Messinae for the challenge and many thanks to Gazza for being my shining knight as ever!

  10. It’s never too late to post.
    So good to have a blog opened 24/7.
    And looking at the other side KiwiColin seems to be up very early.
    A bit like Big Dave when he came to my hotel in York to give me my uncollected monthly prize.
    The receptionist handed him the phone as she didn’t want to be the one responsible for waking me up.
    On the crossword side, I too found it pretty starighforward but have to admit that I totally missed the anagram fodder in 9d and checking the web I found “around the wicket” which sounded close enough to my guess.
    The spoonerism in 12a didn’t cut it with me and thought of butcher. Didn’t think of botcher at all.
    Thanks to Gazza for putting me right again and to Messinae for the fun.

  11. Actually needed some confirmation of a couple of my parsings (2d, 13a) so many thanks Gazza and also to Messinae for a crossword that I enjoyed much more than I thought I would after erupting out of the starting gates – quite a few clues that gave me genuine pause and just as many that made me smile. Excellent midweek puzzle!

  12. I started this one in bed at 11 pm last night and did about a quarter of it. I’ve started tackling more of these Toughies but I never finish in one session and sometimes it takes umpteen visits and up to a week to complete. But, as ever, I refuse to use the H + T to help me. Up to now, my favourites are 12a, 18a and 16d which, in my book, are all excellent bordering on brilliant.

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