Toughie 1724 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1724

Toughie 1724 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Kitty

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****


Greetings, amigos.  Excalibur eases us into the Toughie week with a gentle romp full of cryptic definitions, anagrams and insertions.  The wordplay might be light and fluffy, but the overall tone feels rather dark.  This suits me fine, as an antidote to all the enforced jollity of the season.  There’s also something of an international flavour.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the 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    Disproof that crime doesn’t pay? (5,2,3)
WAGES OF SIN: According to the Bible, the answer is death, which would for most people be proof, not disproof, of Excalibur’s assertion in the clue.  However, empirical evidence might suggest otherwise.  Anyway, the literal interpretation of the answer would mean that wrongdoing pays.  I spent a while thinking this would be something along the lines of spoils of war, which fortunately didn’t quite fit.

6a    On reflection, return the call (4)
ECHO: The reflection of a call or sound

9a    It’s dark when headless horseman appears (5)
NIGHT: A dark period (and I don’t mean Monday-Friday) is found by taking a horseman and removing the first letter (headless)

10a    Turn it off when people come in for food (9)
NUTRIMENT: An anagram (off) of TURN IT contains some humans

12a    Silly ass I manage to capture: an alien (7)
RUSSIAN: This person from a foreign country is an anagram (silly) of ASS I which is to go inside (to capture) manage or direct

13a    In Home Counties, marry European (5)
SWEDE: Inside the two letters that can stand for the Home Counties is a word meaning marry

15a    Turns back to finding prices externally (7)
ROTATES: Reverse (back) to and place around this (externally) some prices or charges

17a    Wrap up and go off in pursuit of adjacent quarters (7)
SWADDLE: A word meaning make or become rotten (go off), goes after (in pursuit of) two adjacent points of the compass

19a    What the old man in paroxysm of wrath is on? (7)
WARPATH: “The old man” inside an anagram (paroxysm) of WRATH, give us something that a wrathful one may be said to be on

21a    Artist uses same plastic to frame ‘Model Reflecting’ (7)
MATISSE: An anagram (plastic) of SAME goes around (to frame) the reversal (reflecting) of model or pose.  Shown below: Catisse

22a    See what’s wrong when key is inserted (5)
WATCH: WHAT is anagrammed (wrong) and contains a musical key

24a    Going on board for a ride (7)
SURFING: We are not going on board a ship, nor a plane, train or automobile.  Doing this is to be on a board riding the waves

27a    Concerned with job, one needs a break (9)
REMISSION: Two letters meaning about, concerning or on followed by a job or calling.  That is the wordplay, and now one needs a definition: lessening or abatement

28a    Are hopelessly trapped in dead ends and fear the worst (5)
DREAD: The letters of ARE mixed up (hopelessly) and inside (trapped in) the outer letters (ends) of dead


29a    Injection that may be lethal (4)
SHOT: An injection or jab and also something ballistic, the latter not known for being administered medicinally

30a    Madhouse in which Goldilocks found the three beds? (4,6)
BEAR GARDEN: This is a turbulent assembly.  It might also be the grounds of the dwelling Goldilocks entered unlawfully, which could contain some beds of a different type to those in which the naughty burglar went to snooze.  Change just one letter in this answer and you find somewhere much more fun to be (though not necessarily more sane)




1d    Spelling aid (4)
WAND: Think of magical spells and this definition magically transforms into one which isn’t cryptic

2d    One of our crack composers (3,6)
GAG WRITER: These cracks are jokes, and we want someone clever enough to come up with them for money

3d    Positions, or places, one on the inside, standing up (5)
SITES: Places as a verb reversed (standing up, in a down clue) containing (on the inside) the Roman numeral one

4d    Thinks crushed ice is kept in coolers (7)
FANCIES: An anagram (crushed) of ice is inside (kept in) some cooling devices which work by moving air about

5d    Plans to get close in. Isn’t worried (7)
INTENDS: Put close or finish inside an anagram (worried) of ISN’T

7d    Stuff a pancake (5)
CRÊPE: A thin pancake or some material stuff

8d    Having no inclination whatsoever to be honest (2,3,5)
ON THE LEVEL: Two definitions, the first being flat and the second honest, open or fair


11d    Sun bronze held by tin sprayed and twinkling (7)
INSTANT: The twinkling of an eye perhaps.  An abbreviation for sun and a bronze colour are found inside (held by) an anagram (sprayed) of TIN.  Interesting to see essentially the same unusual anagram indicator used twice in as many days

14d    Writes in Chinese, perhaps, ‘Prepare to fight‘ (4,6)
DRAW SWORDS: Splitting the answer (5,5) could indicate writing in Chinese, where the characters are logograms

16d    Enlightens about every setback (7)
TEACHES: Around (about) a word meaning every, put “set” back

18d    Shook one’s head and said ‘Warped by cupidity’ (9)
DISAGREED: An anagram (warped) of SAID next to cupidity or acquisitiveness

20d    It’s climbing into cave, hackles up (7)
HOSTILE: Put ITS reversed (climbing, in a down clue) inside a cave

21d    Airmen flying over river to get man on board (7)
MARINER: An anagram (flying) of AIRMEN before (over, in a down clue) an abbreviation for River

23d    Rate of scoring (5)
TEMPO: The score is musical and this is its speed

25d    Smart to be given hand up, as foreign country (5)
INDIA: Smart or fashionable and then a helping hand backwards (up, in a down clue)

26d    Port that’s a sanctuary (4)
ADEN: This port is a charade of A from the clue and a living space


Thanks Excalibur.  I liked lots of this but will choose 28a as my favourite, with most of its across-going neighbours close behind, and 8d also up there.  How did you find the ride?


19 comments on “Toughie 1724

  1. As you say, fairly gentle but not without enough disguise to be a little tricky – I struggled a little to find the right wavelength, and I found this one very enjoyable.

    Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur

  2. Thanks to Excalibur for the puzzle and to Kitty for the entertaining blog. My anagram counter nearly overheated with this one – 11 anagrams! I was a bit bemused by 30a – the Nursery Rhyme definitely says that G went upstairs to hit the sack so how could the beds be in a 30a? (If the clue had said just ‘three beds’ I could accept that these were plots in the garden, but ‘the three beds’ must be referring to the Nursery Rhyme story).
    Nothing really stood out for me but if I had to pick a favourite I’d go for 24a.

    1. Agreed. Surely it should have been something like “Madhouse in which Golidlocks might have found three beds?”.

    2. G. 30a: I think the question mark indicates that the beds weren’t in the expected place. If the beds were the ones expected then the question mark wouldn’t be there because the clue would be a statement of fact rather than a mysterious/cryptic question.

  3. I thought this was trickier than Excalibur Toughies usually are – maybe just me.
    I had ‘master’ for the second word of 2d which was not only dim but also scuppered any chance I had of getting 12a – should have smelt a rat when 12a became impossible.
    My first thought for 24a was the other word that would have fitted with the clue – luckily I didn’t put it in.
    I was definitely not on the right wave-length today but enjoyed it anyway.
    I liked 19 and 24a and 7d. My favourite was 30a.
    With thanks to Excalibur and to Kitty.

  4. Crossword heaven. I just wanted the solving to go on all day Why must all good things come to an end? I can’t possibly chose a favourite. Too many contenders. Thanks, indeed, Excalibur and Kitty

  5. Went too quickly, enjoyed 8d, 14d, 24a. Many thanks Excalibur and thanks Kitty for a wonderful blog

  6. A slight hesitation getting the last couple of answers in the SW corner but over all a fairly straightforward solve that we thoroughly enjoyed.
    Thanks Excalibur and Kitty.

  7. Noticed that a lot of the clues had the same kind of construction and this made the solve much simpler.
    Didn’t understand 30a and hesitated on the first word. Would have preferred the other place.
    Ticked 19a.
    Thanks to Excalibur and to Kitty for the review

  8. I do enjoy an Excalibur puzzle – coupled with a Kitty blog, who could ask for more.
    For once, I remembered those ‘quarters’ but have to admit to not knowing the definition of cupidity – one to remember.

    Top slots go to 19a plus 2&8d.

    Many thanks to Excalibur and also to our Girl Tuesday who certainly made up for the lack of pics. during the fog! Thought the locks at 22a looked somewhat eye-watering – loved the Planet Earth clips.

  9. Rather more straightforward than Ex’s usual Toughie, but quite a pleasing solve: 2*/3.5*. My favourite was19a. One minor quibble – I suppose 30a works, but the beds in question were surely not in the garden. Still, fun while it lasted and thanks to Excalibur and Kitty.

  10. I thought it was lovely, and lots of fun to solve. My picks are 1A, 17A and 14D. Thanks Excalibur and Kitty.

  11. An enjoyable, fairly breezy offering. I struggled with a couple of the cryptic definitions, but the rest was pretty straightforward.

  12. This was the easiest Toughie I’ve ever seen. It all went in from top to bottom with no gaps. Took less than ******. I was a little disappointed as I like a struggle and the satisfaction if completed. * / ***

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