Toughie 1740 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1740

Toughie 1740 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello you.  Welcome to the Toughie corner of Big Dave’s crossword blog.  I hope you will like it here.

I don’t know if it was just me but I found this much tougher that I expected from Messinae.  Some of the parsing eluded me too.  I really enjoyed much of it, but a few things seemed just a stretch too far and took some of the shine off for me.

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    In reality show amateur is put in a spot leaving first (2,1,6,2,4)
AS A MATTER OF FACT: A nice meaty one to start with.  A show (3) goes right at the end, and before that (first) is: A(mateur) inside A from the clue, a spot or small amount (7), and leaving (3).  Phew!  Thanks to Verlaine for his help with this one.

9a    Decide to put off working (9)
DETERMINE: To put off plus a working, or some workings, underground

10a    Excitement following constantly (5)
FEVER: F(ollowing) followed by always

11a    Change keyboard arrangement of rock group with a piano (5)
REMAP: Put together an American rock band, the A from the clue and the musical notation for piano/quiet

12a    Report of Blair encouraging his wife’s clumsiness (9)
GAUCHERIE: This sounds like something (2,6) Tony Blair might say to his wife to encourage her (or alternatively to tell her to get lost)

13a    A script collecting National Theatre award for Little and Large perhaps (8)
ANTONYMS: An indefinite article and a two letter abbreviation for a script contain the common name of an American theatre award (The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre)

14a    Prosecute red teacher at Harvard? (6)
DOCENT: This is a US name for a lecturer at college or university.  A two letter word which can mean (informally) to prosecute and then something which I can’t equate to red a very small quantity of money.  Thanks to Gazza, Mr Kitty and others for pointing me to definition 9 of red (noun)in Chambers which I’d managed to miss despite my searches

16a    Eminence of home crew (6)
HEIGHT: H(ome) and a rowing crew

18a    Hardy, to a greater extent, having rule over Keaton? (8)
ROBUSTER: A charade of abbreviations for rule and over with the nickname of a Mr Keaton

22a    One in love at dances having preserved honour (9)
INVIOLATE: I (one) IN LOVE AT is anagrammed (dances)

23a    What’s upset Welshman? An immature flighty thing (5)
NAIAD: A Welsh masculine given name, a diminutive form of Dafydd (David), together with the AN from the clue, all reversed (upset)

24a    Reminder it’s grand going in with nothing on (5)
NUDGE: G(rand) inside another word for naked.  This might be repeated and followed by a couple of winks

25a    Snakes haul back source of poison (9)
TOADSTOOL: Start with snakes in the sense of contemptible people – choose a different creature instead.  Then take a haul or plunder and reverse it

26a    What makes some Christians ecstatic – throwing out of brief bar on cycling (7,8)
TORONTO BLESSING: Throwing or flipping goes around (out of): a chocolate bar which has been in the news for getting gappier, minus its last letter (brief) and with its letters “cycled” round a few places.  This one took me an age to parse



1d    Mountainous place with odd Scots (7)
ANDORRA: A conjunction indicating addition followed by a Scottish word meaning odd

2d    Casual worker engaged by attorney for trial (7)
ATTEMPT: One employed on a non-permanent basis inside (engaged by) an abbreviation for attorney

3d    A fall in sea level is something insignificant (1,4,2,3,5)
A DROP IN THE OCEAN: This phrase meaning insignificant could literally mean a reduction of the sea

4d    Rare scandalous doings (8)
THINGAMY: Rare or sparse and sensational or savouring of scandal. Doings here means a whatchamacallit device

5d    Blood factor needed in unit reviving patients around hospital (6)
RHESUS: The short form of an emergency department (not actually in my Chambers, but well known) goes around H(ospital)

6d    Enemy sympathisers press folk after interval (5,10)
FIFTH COLUMNISTS: Some people who write for the press after a musical interval

7d    Harmful jingle? (7)
ADVERSE: Split the answer (2,5) to get something which could describe a commercial (2) piece of music (5)

8d    It’s wrong to keep people suffering (7)
TORMENT: A legal wrong goes about (to keep) some people

15d    Complete pain housing old soldier getting fit (8)
DOVETAIL: To complete and pain outside (housing) an old soldier.  The fit is a bit of joinery

16d    Locks controller out in the rain (7)
HAIRNET: An anagram (out) of letters in THE RAIN

17d    Alien attacking popular Star Wars character (7)
INVADER: Popular and an iconic character in Star Wars.  When searching for illustrations I googled Darth invaderDo not do that

19d    Stumble upon oil working in Middle Eastern city (7)
TRIPOLI: A stumble or fall precedes (on, in a down clue) an anagram (working) of OIL

20d    Female Left supports previous Labour leader in newspaper setting standard for his party (3,4)
RED FLAG: F(emale) and L(eft) under (supports, in a down clue) the given name of a former Labour leader.  All of this goes in an informal term for a newspaper

21d    Scrap over military display (6)
TATTOO: A scrap of little value plus over or in addition


Thanks to Messinae.  I liked 13a, 18a and 24a, and there were several smiles in the downs too.  I’m not sure that Messinae was bearing the surface of 8d in mind throughout the setting of this puzzle!  Which caused you 8d, and which one of its 13as?




35 comments on “Toughie 1740

  1. Thanks to Messinae and Kitty. Of course the best way to make sure someone Googles something is to advise against it! Blimey!
    My favourite (for the laugh) was 12a.
    One of the meanings for ‘red’ in the BRB is ‘red cent’.

  2. I didn’t find this too difficult but had never heard of the answer to 14a. My edition of the BRB has one definition of ‘red’ as ‘red xxxx’ to phase the second syllable of this clue.
    Thanks to Kitty and Messinae

  3. Most of this was pretty straightforward but I ran out of time trying to finish it in my lunch break because there were a few unfamiliar words and expressions in the last few (14a, 26a and the spelling of 4d), so I’ll have to call it a defeat.

    Thanks to Kitty and Messinae

  4. Thank you so much, Mr K, for explaining 26a which I’d never have got in a month of Sundays. (Possibly a typo in the review – Toronto spelled with two ‘r’s?) I’d spotted that Toronto fitted but it meant nothing to me. I’d never have got the chocolate bar bit! I’m annoyed about missing 4d which I’d spelled differently although I’d got to the right answer. Always thought it was spelled ‘gummy’.

    Toughie lived up to its name today but all cracked in the end. I really liked 12a, 13a and 25a.

    Can’t help you with 14a. I hope the setter drops by to elucidate.

  5. This seemed to fall into place quite easily apart from 26a, which I’d never encountered before. Then even when I’d looked it up I couldn’t parse it [chocolate bar indeed!].
    Otherwise the only highlights were 12a and 4d.
    Thanks to Messinae and to Kitty for the blog, in particular the puss pics and the enlightenment re 26a.

    ps – in 22a it’s 1 IN LOVE AT that’s anagrammed.

  6. I thought “red” and “cent” had an obvious connection, but if anyone can Google up any actual real-world *usage* of it, as in “there was nothing in my pocket but a handful of reds”, I’ll eat my pocket change!

    And odd little puzzle leaning heavily on obscurities and what has been described elsewhere as “doing a three point turn in a thesaurus”, but quite ejoyable nonetheless. Thanks Messinae & Kitty.

    1. I only remembered red = cent from a previous Messinae Toughie (1701) which I blogged, where the clue was ‘Two pennies crossed (7)’.

  7. Well, I did fill the grid, though I was wrong on 4D (thingums sounded good to me) I confess to not bothering to parse 1A. I’m not at all sure about 14A being a name for a lecturer at a college or university. Of course I could be wrong (and the BRB says I am) but I’ve only ever heard them called professors, even for Harvard. I’m wondering if it refers more to those that show people around the wonderful Harvard Museum. 26A was totally new to me, but since the only word I could fit into the first part was Toronto, I fiddled around and googled. I’ve heard of red cent, usually in terms of “he doesn’t have a red cent” (broke). Maybe it comes from the copper color? My absolute favorite was 12A. Thanks Messinae and Kitty.

  8. Very relieved to see the 4* rating!
    Never did sort out the parsing of 1a because I was fixated by ‘am’ for amateur, nor that for 26a – not helped by being unaware of the phrase.
    Other things I didn’t know included the Scottish term for ‘odd’, the American teacher and that spelling of 4d. I did, however, know the red cent!
    12a made me wince somewhat as did 18a – one of my hated non-words. Surely we would all refer to something as being ‘more robust’ rather than the answer given here?
    My favourite was 7d.

    Thanks to Messinae and to our Girl Tuesday, particularly for the help with parsing and the glorious selection of Kitty cats. Nice of you to include a bird for me as well!

  9. 26 Across was the killer for me! I worked out from the down answers but had never heard of the answer.

  10. I was far too lazy to decipher 1a and 28a although the solutions were fairly obvious.

    So thanks to Kitty for explaining them and for providing us with yet another wonderful selection from her catalogue of feline illustrations.

  11. Slowed down in the bottom half and but wasn’t getting anywhere with 26a, never heard of it and what a horrible clue, though I did manage to decide between the second word and ‘crossing’ once I finally got the checker from 15d – for some stupid reason, must be the shape, in my mind ‘bar’ doesn’t really apply to this brand, though i’m lost for a better word. Well done Kitty for making sense of that one (and 1a, which I just bunged in)

    I was lucky with 14a having seen the red recently and the answer being a common Dutch word for university lecturer.

    The 16a abbreviation isn’t in chambers but i did find it in Oxford online (home vs away games)

    Many thanks Messinae and thank you Kitty

    1. We over at the Times had 26a in a puzzle not too long ago, within the last 12 months I expect… I was very glad of this, as it meant I didn’t have to bother trying to parse the unusually elaborate wordplay!

      1. Sorry for making you bother to do a little extra parsing! At least I can feel good about being able to untangle that one …

  12. Interesting that Webster’s does not support the American usage part of 14a:

    The title of docent is used in many countries for what Americans would call an associate professor—that is, a college or university teacher who has been given tenure but hasn’t yet achieved the rank of full professor. But in the U.S. a docent is a guide who works at a museum, a historical site, or even a zoo or a park. Docents are usually volunteers, and their services are often free of charge.

    1. Yes. Oxford has “(in certain US and European universities and colleges) a member of the teaching staff immediately below professorial rank” as well as the tour guide definition. I’m guessing the “certain US” universities might be rather few in number.

  13. 26a gave us real problems. All new to us but we did track it down eventually. Then we sorted out the throwing part of the wordplay but still had not been able to find the cycled bar. 14a and the Scots odd in 1d also needed research. Must admit that researching obscurities rather distracted us from some of the clever clues that are also in here such as 12a, 13a, 18a.
    Thanks Messinae and Kitty.

  14. That was tricky, but quite brilliant in places. Wasn’t sure of 6d, 14a, 23a or 26a but fortunately I have become quite good a guessing!
    I’m going to have to write out 26a in order to get my head round it fully.
    Lots to like, 7d gets top spot closely followed by 12a & 13a.
    Thanks to Messinae and Kitty for sorting it out and finding so many kitty-pics.

    Now then, what was it we were not to Google… Oh, I see. That’ll learn me.

  15. Mrs Sheffieldsy is at her Pilates class, so this was a solo effort. For once, I was bang on the setter’s wavelength and breezed through three quarters of it really quickly, including all the long ones except 26a, which I’d never heard of but had to be to for the down clues. Neither had I heard of the Scottish word in 1d or the 11a teacher.

    Overall 2.5*/4*. Favourite for conciseness and the smile it gave me was 7d.

    Kitty, with Mrs Sheffieldsy being away I did of course Google what you told us not to. I even had a look at the site in the first hit. I was struck by the coincidence of the fourth item down.

    Thanks Kitty and Messinae

  16. Found most of this fairly straightforward, but it took me ages and I needed help with some of the clues. Only found 26a by googling toronto.

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