Toughie 1714 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1714

Toughie No 1714 by MynoT

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment *

It might just be me being grumpy but I didn’t enjoy this one at all. There were too many obscurities, at least one error and a couple of answers that I had major problems in understanding. I solved nearly all of it fairly quickly. It would have only been a 2* puzzle had it not been for 20 across which I would have seen sooner had I spotted the quote in the perimeter of the grid.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Staff of authority getting left for first couple’s meal (8)
LUNCHEON: Replace the first two letters of a 9-letter staff of authority by L (left)

9a    Crowd right to wear minimal garment (6)
THRONG: R (right) inside a skimpy article of beachwear or underwear

10a    Venerate bishop embracing First Lady with ecstasy (6)
REVERE: A 2-letter abbreviation denoting a bishop round the first woman in the Bible + E (ecstasy)

11a    I can move; no, I can’t (8)
IMMOBILE: When split (1’1,6) it means ‘I can move’

12a    Big toe injured by Arthur, not Posh; it’s causing bone disease (14)
OSTEOARTHRITIS: An abbreviation denoting ‘very big’ + an anagram (injured) of TOE + ARTHUR with U (posh) removed + IT IS

15a    Document containing intelligence about leader of revolutionaries (4)
WRIT: A legal document = intelligence round R (first letter of Revolutionaries)

17a    Producing tension of muscles needs weight I see (5)
TONIC: A heavy weight + I + C (see)

19a    Elderly Yemenis return Syrian outer garments (4)
SABA: An ancient people of Yemen = a reversal of Syrian outer garments. I happened to know both of these obscure words but the clue is most unfair on those people who haven’t heard of either of them

20a    Players merely taking brief exercise on circuit to get honour in metropolis (3,3,3,5)
THE MEN AND WOMEN: This was the last one in and it took me some time to think of anything that fitted. It’s a continuation of the quote that begins in the perimeter of the grid and is concluded by “merely players”. The wordplay takes a bit of sorting out. It’s a brief exercise (5) + a logic circuit (4) + an honour (the Order of Merit) (2) inside a word for an enormous congested city (3) as in the great ***. Well done anyone who sussed that out!

23a    To wrangle with disease is beginning to exhaust (8)
ERGOTISE: A disease of grasses + IS + E (first letter of Exhaust). I failed to find the definition ‘to wrangle’ in Chambers at the first attempt. It is there if you look hard enough

25a    Join was first that became rotten (6)
ADDLED: ‘To join’ + ‘was first’

27a    Smoke in capital (6)
HAVANA: A fine-quality cigar made in the capital of Cuba

28a    Tailless dog in part of former Yugoslavia (8)
DALMATIA: Remove the last letter from one of 101 spotty dogs


1d    Eastern failure going West to become admirable man (4)
DUDE: A reversal of E (Eastern) and a failure. Maps are usually have North at the top not West

2d    Plan of action of church in half-term? (6)
SCHEME: An abbreviation denoting ‘church’ inside the first 4 letters of an 8-letter word for a university term

3d    Naysayer in Roman times (4)
ANTI: Hidden in RomAN TImes

4d    Counterfeit showing the Queen subordinate to small corporation (6)
STUMER: A counterfeit coin or note = S (small) + a corporation (belly) + our Queen

5d    Credits from magistrates with time for indefinite number (8)
TRIBUTES: Take a word meaning ‘magistrates elected by the plebeians in ancient Rome to defend their rights’ and change N (indefinite number) into T (time)

6d    In development lab, any ales must be capable of separation (10)
ANALYSABLE: An anagram (in development) of LAB ANY ALES

8d    Graceful European insect is holding on (7)
ELEGANT: E (European) + a social insect round ‘on’ (i.e. a side of a cricket pitch)

13d    Rear tooth’s decayed causing this? (4,6)
SORE THROAT: An anagram (decayed) of REAR TOOTH’S

14d    Popular char’s caught clothes moth (5)
TINEA: ‘Popular’ (2) inside ‘char (drink)’ (3) = the clothes moth genus

16d    Dry duck to put back in bag? On the contrary (8)
TEETOTAL: ‘Dry’ or ‘abstaining from booze’ = a reversal of a large bag for shopping inside a small freshwater duck

18d    Brother having strange lace fad (7)
CADFAEL: The brother who is the principal character in a series of historical murder mysteries by Ellis Peters is an anagram (strange) of LACE FAD

21d    Among the Spanish 12 points can be impressive (6)
EPICAL: The Spanish word for ‘the’ round a 12-point type size

22d    Ancient form of trial or treatment (6)
ORDEAL: OR + ‘treatment’

24d    Start to examine and tot up books (4)
EDDA: E (first letter of Examine) and a reversal (up) of ‘to tot’ = the name of two Scandinavian books

26d    Veil should be spread over this depravity (4)
EVIL: An anagram (spread over) of VEIL

Perhaps I should have had this week off as well and once more left you in Kitty’s capable paws. But perhaps not. Her claws would probably have been out by now.

16 comments on “Toughie 1714

  1. It isn’t just you, Bufo, as I sent out an email this morning which I finished by signing off as ‘Grumpy of East Kent’.

    Far too much to mutter at for my liking. One of the many ! I put by clues was by 18d. Shouldn’t there have been something to tell us he was a fictional brother? I did know the ‘city’ in 20a, but as usual, although I did recite the relevant quote in full, I failed to notice the Nina itself, but then what’s new there?

  2. Started of fine at the top and came to a grinding halt in the bottom half, not helped by stupidly bunging in Slovenia (I found some slovenian dogs in google, but on closer inspection they were just dogs from slovenia). My last one in was 20a and it was a guess, after several others, I didn’t manage to parse it – and I missed the nina, unfortunately, it would have much helped the enjoyment

    There were few things niggly things I didn’t like, West in a down clue 1d (and one component didn’t need reversing), the singular garment in 9a, having an obscure word (for me anyway) in both wordplay and definition in 19a and 23a (though I remembered the Syrian camel hair garment)

    I had not heard of the brother in 18d, so that clue was reduced to guessing once checkers were in

    4d learned a new word and that counterfeit can be a noun

    1a raised a smile and I liked 17a.

    Many thanks MynoT and thank you Bufo for working it all out

  3. Maybe we could change the title of the play and call it: As you don’t like it.
    Thought it was very clever and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    The Nina helped me get 19a and 23a.
    Loved the construction of 12a.
    Didn’t know who the setter was so thanks to MynoT and to Bufo for the review.

  4. 14d , 18a and 19d were completely un known to me , but I did enjoy a lot of it.
    My favourite was 20 a.
    Thanks to MynoT and Bufo.

  5. I came here not to praise but to bury the setter too – a clever Nina to be sure but wow were there a lot of, let’s not beat around the bush, poor clues, some requiring arcane knowledge to locate obscure vocabulary, others just too facile for words. I have been teasing Kitty about missing Giovanni when it’s not his turn on the Toughie, but I really did miss him today!

  6. We gave up on this one with 1d, 19a and 20a not solved and still don’t understand the wordplay for the first part of 20a. If we had spotted the Nina it might have helped but our patience had run out by that stage. Now that we see it all must admit that it was clever.
    Thanks MynoT and Bufo.

  7. Well – I’m even more grumpy than Bufo! Firstly, because Cloudflare is letting me write but not post and secondly because it’s taken me, Mr. Google and the BRB hours to get this one completed.
    I counted eight answers that I’d either never heard of or at least of one of the components and I can’t say that I really enjoyed the challenge. I did get 20a by sheer guesswork but didn’t know two of the required elements to parse it and only Bufo pointing out the Nina told me why it was correct.
    Best clues for me were in the top half – 7&9a plus 2&5d.

    Apologies to MynoT and many thanks to Bufo for all the hard work.

  8. I only tackle this one occasionally, but am a 30 year back pager. I often get around half of the toughie. This one I needed seven hints, and count myself triumphant !
    Sue was ‘grumpy of East Kent,’but I , with only seven clues missing, am ‘satisfied of East London’.
    Thanks to all for the help.

  9. I’ve only just got round to reading this. Thanks for the consideration, Bufo, but I slept very soundly last Wednesday night, and am happy that I was able to!

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