Toughie 1728 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1728

Toughie 1728 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Welcome everybody to Toughie Corner, the darker side of Big Dave’s blog.  Your Kitty is feeling uncharacteristically light and cheerful, ironically due to having been granted an escape from the fun for a few days. I always was a bit contrary.  You are still most welcome to offload any “bah, humbug!”s in the comments below – I like minty sweets.  Nom nom nom …

I found today’s puzzle worthy of the Toughie slot, but can’t decide whether it was me being slow.  Even slower than usual, I mean.  Who cares?  The ratings are a guide, and the hints are there so that those travelling at all speeds can get to the finish in the time they have available.  I hope I have managed to provide a safe and comfortable road for all travellers to get there, and I have also tried to include some nice scenery along the way.  Feel free to rest your feet in the comments at the end.

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    Thing that vexes drivers aplenty, for instance? (5,7)
FIXED PENALTY: This set punishment for some misdemeanours, including driving offenses, could be a cryptic clue for aplenty.  The first word of the answer can be an anagram indicator while the second is an anagram of APLENTY

9a    Steak or grouse? (4)
BEEF: A double definition.  Special thanks to Mr Kitty for reminding me of this video and allowing me to win the tussle of who gets to include it in a blog.  I will be singing the chorus all day now

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

10a    Your turn to have a bowl? (4,2,3)
OVER TO YOU: This can mean simply your turn, but taken more literally could be an invitation to bowl six balls in the sport that some people would like to have no mention of today

12a    Somewhat in rut, put back revival (6)
UPTURN: A rise is lurking in part of the clue (somewhat), going backwards (put back)

13a    It’s time to open cracker – revealing rubbish (8)
BELITTLE: IT from the clue and T(ime) put inside (to open) a good-looking lady (cracker). Rubbish here is a verb

15a    Weird and offbeat old haunts drawing one in (10)
OUTLANDISH: An anagram (offbeat) of OLD HAUNTS containing the Roman number one

16a    Starter motor’s beginning to get stiff; detach the front half (4)
MEZE: Take the first letter of motor (motor’s beginning), then add a six letter word meaning to stiffen with cold but discard (detach) the first half.  It’s the kind of starter you can eat

18a    Instrument‘s not broken, but short of odd fittings (4)
OBOE: Two words of the clue without the odd letters (short of odd fittings)

20a    Sensitive old MP I challenged near upper chamber when losing heart (10)
DIPLOMATIC: An anagram (challenged) of OLD MP I followed by a rooftop room without its centre (losing heart)

23a    Wide-ranging – it’s the same in The Odyssey maybe (8)
EPIDEMIC: A long saga (of which The Odyssey is an example) contains the Latin for the same

24a    Fundamental character of book by Maxim – revolutionary (6)
BOTTOM: Take an abbreviation for book and add the reversal (revolutionary) of a maxim or saying

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

26a    Craftsman from Whitby who travels expensively? (3-6)
JET-SETTER: A wealthy socialite who travels extensively for pleasure.  Alternatively (and without the hyphen) perhaps one who creates jewellery from a minor gemstone for which Whitby is known

27a    Muscle temperature fell (4)
THEW: Body quality, muscle or strength – formed of an abbreviation for temperature and a verb to fell or cut.  A new word for me

28a    Pals and welcome supporters? (5,7)
BOSOM FRIENDS: Close mates or perhaps a cryptic indication of some supportive feminine underwear



2d    Conclude note with a line that’s outrageous (8)
INFERNAL: Don your party hats (or don’t – this should never be compulsory!) for a charade: draw a conclusion; note (abbreviated); A from the clue; and finally line (abbreviated)

3d    Divine chap‘s in capsized tender (4)
EROS: A love god is tender or painful going backwards (capsized)

4d    With girls in peril trembling, Earl’s able to seize … (10)
PREHENSILE: Some girls (either feathered, or celebrating coming nuptials, perhaps even both) inside (with … in) an anagram (trembling) of peril followed by E(arl)

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

5d    … dope from container upended over Joker (6)
NITWIT: A metal container reversed (upended) and placed over a wag to make an idiot

6d    Original outfit stretched out on sofa with no sides (7)
LAYETTE: The original outfit after the birthday suit.  Stretched out followed by a sofa without the first or last letters (with no sides)

7d    Not at all comely, our Wee Free (5,7)
YOU’RE WELCOME: An anagram (free) of COMELY OUR WEE. Don’t mention it

8d    Occupy oneself dubiously and scram (4,2)
BEAT IT: Scram!  Shoo!  Or, split the first word of the answer in half and engage in some naughty activity (actually, if you have a mind like mine, the clue works well enough without the need to split the first word … )

11d    Appearance of justice? No – fobbed off without foundation (3,2,4,3)
CUT OF ONE’S JIB: Remove from JUSTICE NO FOBBED a foundation or base; we need an anagram (off) of the remaining letters

14d    Provide commercial vehicles on short duration (10)
ADMINISTER: A commercial, a brand of motorcars which used to be small and still have the name suggesting they are, and then a period of time which is missing its end (short)

17d    The setter’s left with newspaperman to be introduced (8)
IMPORTED: How the setter would say he is, the nautical left, and our usual journalist.  My wine is this, from Japan:

19d    Sedatives this person consumed during manoeuvres (7)
OPIATES: How the setter would say he consumed inside (during) some military manoeuvres

21d    Accountant perhaps – one looking for scrap? (6)
TOTTER: This could mean one who adds up, but is in the dictionary as slang for someone who searches through rubbish for reusable or saleable items.  I didn’t know this so have learnt something, at least until I forget it again

22d    Canticle features duet with me, unfortunately (2,4)
TE DEUM: An anagram (unfortunately) of DUET with ME.  Anyone hearing me sing, solo or duet, is unfortunate indeed!

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

25d    Bank of Scotland? (4)
BRAE: A Scots word for a sloping bank.  Probably a chestnut, but it is the customary time of year to roast them.  Nom nom nom …


Many thanks to Firefly.  My favourite clue today is 8d.  I wish you all a happy time this weekend, and hope you are able to spend it as you wish.  Merry Thingy! / Bah Humbug!  [Delete as required.]


27 comments on “Toughie 1728

  1. I thought it was a tougher Firefly than usual but when I checked with a friend to see if it was just me trying to solve it with a muttering husband in the background, I was told that it was indeed me so I’m pleased to see that Kitty agrees with me.

    Thanks to Firefly and Kitty

  2. Yes, quite tough – but he can be sometimes. A steady and satisfying solve with the NE half more resistant than the SW. Favourites were 13a and the nicely smooth 23a.

    Thanks to Firefly and Kitty

  3. Thanks to Firefly for the enjoyable puzzle and to Kitty for the entertaining blog. 16a was my last answer (not helped a lot by the checkers) but when the penny dropped I liked it a lot. My favourite, however, is the excellent 1a.
    I don’t think that 28a works terribly well and I don’t see how ‘welcome’ contributes to the clue.

  4. I agree with your assessment that this was pretty tough by Tuesday standards. I thought I had left myself plenty of time but had to use a few of your hints to finish it. An enjoyable challenge.

    Thanks to Kitty and Firefly

  5. Was I the only one to read a different three word phrase into 8d? I was a bit surprised that it had passed the censor.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Richard.

      I didn’t think to split the answer (2,1,3) for an alternative wordplay, but Jane might have!

      1. I too was in the (2,1,3) camp with Richard. I didn’t consider (2,2,2) or even Kitty’s amusing alternative solution. It’s good that they are all plausible and they all get you to the same answer!

      2. Nope – my mind was working in exactly the same way as yours, Kitty and I put several exclamation marks by the clue!

  6. Just gave up on 11d and the pesky 4 letter 16a. 4 letter clues are, I think, the most difficult so was really proud of myself to get 27a without help.

    I shall miss these blogs while I’m away on my hols. I’m taking the DT book of Toughies with me as I’m going where the WiFi is erratic.

    A Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone

  7. Just wanted to confirm that 26d is indeed a chestnut, with my list containing nine appearances of the answer clued in that fashion (6 back pagers, 1 toughie and two quicks).

    The most recent was: Wed 2 Nov 16 CRYPTIC 28261 Couple lacking source of cash for bank of Scotland (4)

    1. Surprisingly it only has three appearances in my list of the Guardian clues since 1999:

      Audreus 25767: Some swear blind about bank (4)
      Crucible 25927: Slow down bypassing Kelvin Hill in Glasgow (4)
      Rufus 26598: Bank of Scotland (4)

      1. Hi beery. It’s interesting to compare publications, and also Toughie vs Cryptic in the DT.

        My databasing and analysis of the DT crosswords was of course inspired by your achievement with the Guardian – thanks for providing that.

  8. I was very relieved to see the difficulty setting , as I needed quite a bit of help.
    I never heard of 27 before so I couldn’t have gotten it.
    I liked 7d, 10a, and a number of others.
    Thanks to Kitty and Firefly.

  9. I was slowed somewhat by researching the life and works of Maxim Gorky. I thought misleading capitalisations had to be hidden by being the first word in the sentence. Still got there in the end. 27 ac was new to me, and made more difficult by me not knowing that fell could be – – – ,but BRB says it can.

    1. misleading capitalisations can be beautifully disguised by being at the beginning of a sentence, but they can be anywhere. Remember too that misleading by de-capiltalisations are not allowed

      1. or rather, normal capitalisations can be beautifully disguised by being at the beginning of a sentence…misleading capitalisations can be anywhere else..

  10. We were finally beaten by 16a although once we had the answer one of our team confessed to having heard of it. 11d took a real effort. Some of this was caused by thinking that the last word had to be JOB when we had J and B as checkers. We preferred the (2,1,3) split for the wordplay of 8d too. A good challenge and plenty to smile over.
    Thanks Firefly and Kitty.

  11. I only occasionally dip into the Toughie world, and what a cracker this proved to be. My rating is 5*/4* – very tough but very enjoyable.

    My only niggle (which stopped me giving 5* for enjoyment) was the enumeration of 7d. In my view (5,7) is unnecessarily unfair and misleading. I can live with ” ‘s ” not being indicated, but surely this one really has to be shown as (3’2, 7)?

    I needed Kitty’s excellent review to give me the correct answer to 16a having toyed with “mere” but failed to work out how it could be a starter. In any event, the three letters after the “m” would be more than half of a word meaning stiff, and the wrong “half” at that.

    I put “buddies” initially for the second word of 28a and that made a mess of the three down answers until the penny dropped.

    27a was a new word for me, but fairly easy to derive from the wordplay.

    This was great fun. Many thanks to Firefly and to Kitty.

    1. Yes, for some reason that I think Elkamere explained once and I am struggling to remember at the moment, apostrophes are never included in enumeration.

  12. Needed to reveal 11d as I didn’t know this expression. Not helped thinking that the last word was job.
    No problem with 16a. It’s on the menu at the moment. Real Lebanese stuff. Delicious.
    Liked 8d although we have seen it before and favourite is 10a.
    Thanks to Firefly and to Kitty for the review.
    Ich bin ein berliner.

  13. Only just got round to this. I am aching from 2.5 days assembling Argos flatpack high-sleeper bed with desk and sofa underneath – if anything drives you to drink… Anyway, daughter is happy.

    Many thanks Kitty for an incredibly splendid review with mega excellent pics.

    I must admit I saw, with some surprise, the (2,1,3) and (4,2) splits of 8d before I saw the (2,2,2).

    I got through this fine until i got to 11d, my last one in – actually i submitted a wrong answer with JOB first. I didn’t know the expression, now I do. Stupidly, 18a eluded me as well, so many thanks Kitty for clarifying.

    I agree with Gazza re 28a – unless I’m missing something…

    I thought this puzzle excelled in the use of surprise definitions.

    Many thanks Firefly and of course Kitty

    1. I did think that if 9a were “Grouse or steak?”, the question mark would have been next to the definition-by-example.

  14. Some of this was rather out of my league and I had to avail myself of Kitty’s excellent hints for the last four – 24&27a plus 11&21d.
    Didn’t know either the ‘muscle’ or the scrap man and haven’t heard the 28a expression before today, although I am familiar with ‘bosom buddies’ as a description of close friends.

    My favourite was 10a – one of the few bits of humour to be found in this puzzle.

    Thanks to Firefly and to our Girl Tuesday – sorry to be so tardy, family festivities are in full swing here!

  15. I’ve just finished. Well, all but 16A and I’ve never heard of it. NE corner was the hold up for me. I eventually got 13, but not the parsing. My favorite was 8D, and I am in the 2,1,3 split there. Tough but I did enjoy it. Thanks Firefly and Kitty.

  16. Thanks to Firefly and to Kitty for the review and hints. I don’t normally get anywhere with Firefly’s puzzles, so I was glad I had a go. Just needed the hints for 16,23,27a and 11d. Favourite was 1a. Very entertaining.

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