Toughie 1747 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1747

Toughie No 1747 by proXimal

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

Two weeks ago when Dutch emailed me to ask if I’d like to stand in for him this Friday while he was off on his travels, we discussed who we thought the setter might be today.   I was hoping  for a Toughie setter I hadn’t blogged before, just to be able to tick them off on my list of setters I’d like to review,  and for that person to be someone whose wavelength I usually understood.   Well,  I got one of my wishes in that this is the first of this setter’s Toughies I’ve had to review!   As usual, proXimal and I had our usual battle while I was solving (I didn’t quite get to the point where I was going to have to give in and ‘phone a friend’), hence my awarding it the full 5* for difficulty. However, although  some of the clues are ‘easier to solve than explain’, drafting the review made me really appreciate some excellent surface readings.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Advocate scrubbing up exhibit (5)
SPORT Remove the letters UP (scrubbing UP) from a simpler way of saying advocate

4a           Protestant female new, replacing prison’s first head of religion (9)
  PANKHURST  This female was a lady who protested (brilliant definition helped by Protestant being at the start of the sentence!) – to get her surname, take the name of a prison on the Isle of Wight and replace the R (head of religion) with N (new)

9a           State of increased activity finished Verdi off (9)
OVERDRIVE Another way of saying finished followed by an anagram (off) of Verdi

10a         Scout told to disable base (5)
RECCE A slang word meaning to reconnoitre –  a homophone (told) of a verb meaning to disable by destruction followed by a letter used in maths as the base of natural logarithms

11a         Misguided 22 half-heartedly containing strong attack die (4,3)
CONK OUT An informal way of saying die – insert a slang  abbreviation for a strong attack into  an anagram (misguided) of the solution without one of the letters in the middle (half-heartedly) 

12a         Kudos being related to comedian (7)
LAURELS   Had these honours an apostrophe before the S, they’d  indicate a relationship with a comedian who was part of an early comedy double act

13a         Distinguished circles graduate rejected for mates, maybe (6)
SEAMEN  Insert a reversal (rejected) of an abbreviation for a graduate into a verb meaning  distinguished in the sense of made out, noticed

15a         Put a note in garment to be returned (8)
ASSERTED   A (from the clue) followed by a reversal (to be returned) of a garment into which has been inserted the seventh note of the tonic sol-fa scale

18a         A breeze over the pond is nothing very amiss (4,4)
DUCK SOUP  An American (over the Pond) slang term for something easy to do – the word used to indicate a zero score in a game of cricket, an adverb meaning very and a way of saying that something is happening.

20a         Masonry crumbles over abandoned ancient place (6)
SMYRNA An ancient Greek city in what is now Turkey – an anagram (crumbles) of MASONRY without the O (over abandoned) 

23a         Practical surface‘s better on run (7)
WORKTOP A verb meaning to better goes on or after a verb meaning to run or operate

24a         Release Frenchman’s one son in field hospital (7)
UNLEASH The Frenchman’s word for one, a field or meadow into which is inserted the abbreviation for S, the result followed by the abbreviation for Hospital

26a         Drink well, consume in The Queen Vic (5)
  SOAVE  A dry Italian white wine –  another use of the two letter word meaning very or well followed by the way a Cockney standing in the Queen Vic pub 

27a         Swerving ball from key footballer (9)
INSWINGER A key found on your computer keyboard and a footballer who plays in a particular position on the pitch

28a         One to divulge information twice (9)
SINGLETON Two ways of saying divulge information, the first one being an original US slang term, combine to give us an object distinguished from a pair or group (one)

29a         Range on header from Geoff Hurst (5)
  GROVE  Misleading capitals again– this particular Hurst is a type of wood and to get another one add a verb meaning to range to the ‘header’ from Geoff


1d           Hut holding old toilet art student originally exhibited (9)
SHOWCASED A type of hut holding the abbreviation for old, an abbreviation for a toilet, and the original letters of Art and Student

2d           Offer up period dramas here (5)
ODEON This could be an ancient building for dramatic performances or the name of  your local fleapit, both being places where dramas could be seen.  A reversal (up in a Down clue) of a verb meaning to offer followed by a long period of time

3d           Young European with a bit up top (7)
TADPOLE   An Eastern European goes after a small amount of something.   I did wonder as the word ‘young’ didn’t include a reference to certain amphibians, whether the solution could be used as a slang term for young, but my investigoogling didn’t produce anything apart from a reference to a term for young men who go out with older women!!

4d           Incisive one in local Welsh town (6)
POINTY I (one) inserted into an abbreviated name that  a native of a particular Welsh town in the Rhondda would use for his home town

5d           One with eye on boat as luxury (8)
NEEDLESS A sewing implement with an eye goes on the abbreviation for ship (boat)

6d           Unshaven artist hosts posh opening of exhibition (7)
HIRSUTE  Insert the letter used to indicate that something is ‘posh’ into the surname of a British artist and finish with the ‘opening’ of exhibition

7d           Cathedral city‘s ambassador welcomed by rectors all over the place (9)
ROCHESTER A cathedral city that our setter, Gnomey and I know quite well!   The abbreviation for His Excellency the Ambassador inserted into, or welcomed by, an anagram (all over the place) of RECTORS.  I picked this illustration as Kent has been looking like this all week, beautiful colours in the sky at sunrise and sunset, probably caused by the freezing temperatures that haven’t warmed up very much at all,  day or night – brrrr!

8d           Elders, perhaps, about to split gang up (5)
TREES  The two-letter preposition meaning with reference to (about) inserted into (to split) a reversal (up in a Down clue) of a gang or group

14d         Quietly leaving restless Persian cat to settle (9)
  ASCERTAIN  An anagram (restless) of PERSIAN CAT once you have removed the P (P, piano, quietly ‘leaving’)

16d         Some distance northwards, husky announced as load-bearer (4-5)
  DRAY-HORSE A reversal (northwards) of a distance followed by a homophone (announced) of husky, perhaps through illness or shouting

17d         Expert raised underside of calico steed’s muzzle (8)
GUNPOINT   A slang term for an expert plus another name for a calico horse which has its last letter (underside) ‘raised’ or moved further up (into second place) 

19d         Having IT installed, very good for Texan poet (7)
  SITWELL – To get the surname of Dame Edith the poet, install IT (from the clue) into an American (as used in Texas for example) word for very good 

21d         Having a zero taken from $1,000,000,000 is crushing (7)
MILLING If an American was to look at the amount of money, he’d use a word for that number plus the abbreviation for a thousand dollars.   Remove the O from the number word  to get a synonym for crushing or grinding

22d         Numbers diminished coming from South American city (6)
TUCSON A reversal (coming from South) of the abbreviation for numbers and a verb meaning diminished 

23d         Ones playing together with reptiles (5)
WASPS The abbreviation for With and some reptiles

25d         Grief from back after carrying monarch once (5)
AGGRO Both ‘grief’ and the solution are slang terms for aggressive behaviour – an adverb meaning from the past (back) ‘carrying’ the cipher of any one of six old British monarchs

Dutch returns next week – I wonder who he’ll get to review and whether it will be a proper “Friday Toughie” like this one.


23 comments on “Toughie 1747

  1. A proper Toughie as CS says and very enjoyable – thanks to proXimal and to her. I didn’t know the 18a American phrase or the meaning of a calico horse. I liked 4a, 27a, 29a and 5d but my favourite was 11a for the fond memories it brought back of John Le Mesurier who had his death announced in the Times, saying that he had ****** ***.

  2. A tough Toughie. It took me a long time, but in the end I was defeated only by 4d; I missed the significance of ‘local’ to indicate abbrieviation. Thanks to proXimal and CS.

    1. I read it as ‘what the locals call their home town’ rather than ‘local’ being an abbreviation indicator.

  3. I still don’t get 21d. I thought that a one followed by nine zeros was an American billion not a million. Can anyone help?

      1. Thanks Gazza. I see now but rather over contrived for my taste as were too many of the clues. I never got on the right wave length.

      2. Am I confused or what?

        The word play is 1m minus an ‘o’, but the figure given is 1bn. Remove a zero and it’s one hundred million.

        If the ‘m’ comes from the Roman numeral for thousand (as in m million), we have no instruction to replace the ‘b’ with ‘m’ ? :wacko:

        Been a long day…

        1. I think that a billion is a million thousands or a million grand to the Americans.
          This is a milliong. Then remove the ‘o’ to give the answer.
          Yes, it is very contrived.

  4. Apart from 26a, got there eventually by bolting words systematically together. Had nothing at all on first read. Needed the hints to check my answers and may have accidentally cheated on one or two guesses – after today’s back-pager it has been a long haul today. :phew:

    Liked 5d, though I think the ‘as’ is superfluous and the definition is debatable; 4d also worth a mention but top spot goes to 28a, even though I think I’ve seen that before.

    Compared to today’s back-pager, I cannot put my finger on why I enjoyed this, but not so much the Giovanni. Anyone else, or am I just in a wibbly-wobbly world of my own?

    Well done and thank you to CS and to proXimal.

  5. Didn’t get the 4’s, 10a, 17d and 26a.
    Was on the wrong track for 4a as I was looking for the name of a female vicar. The clue required a bit too much GK for my liking.
    4d also required a lot of specific knowledge.
    To understand 17d, I definitely need more info. Still can’t see it.
    Quite a frustrating solve as some clues like the poet in 19d and the city in 22d just wrote themselves in.
    A little visit to BD’s mine gave me 27a straight away too.
    Thanks to Proximal and to CS for the review.
    Hope that Dutch is having a great time in Freiburg.

  6. We were eventually beaten by 26a despite having all the checking letters. Everything else we had sorted out correctly after a long hard slog and much use of reference sources.
    Thanks ProXimal and CS.

  7. Had more time than usual to devote to this one so got almost 2/3rds of the way through it – something of a record for me with this setter!
    I was surprised to see just how many slang/local words were included – is this a recognised proXimal trademark?

    Of the ones I got by myself, 28a & 16d took the 12a’s.

    Thanks to proXimal and to CS for an impressive blog – well done, indeed.

  8. Gave in and looked at the hints with five to go in our second sitting with this rascal. Imagine our surprise to see laurels for 12, since we had lauders with much the same reasoning – lauder (n.) means praise in the BRB and Harry Lauder was a comedian. Hmmmmm. Feels like a totally valid alternative answer.

    However, certainly worth its 5-star rating although some clues were a little contrived. 28a the pick of the bunch for us.

    Thanks Crypticsue and proXimal.

  9. There’s been a lot going on in my world today that has garnered most of my attention, so I have had little time to spend on this puzzle. The time I did spend didn’t get me far at all, I’m afraid… a scant three answers. I’ll have another look at it tomorrow but ProXimal usually defeats me so I don’t hold out much hope.

  10. Kudos can’t take an apostrophe. Americans thinks it’s a plural word, bless them. It does make the parsing tricky.

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