Toughie 1751 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1751

Toughie No 1751 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

It feels like a Sparks puzzle has been overdue, but this was worth the wait. Plenty of fun clues to keep you amused before you get ready to come to Big Dave’s party in London. It took me a while to spot the Nina, but there it is in plain view, symmetrically distributed as usual (well, most of it is). Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow.

The definition parts of the clues below are underlined. The hints may help you get the answers but you can always reveal them by clicking on the HAPPY 8th BIRTHDAY! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Mum getting frightened about lower accommodation (7)
COWSHED: A 2-letter interjection for mum or silence is surrounded by (about) another word for frightened or intimidated

5a    Plot has University occupying lead hostelry (7)
BREWPUB: Another word for to plot or contrive is followed by the abbreviation for University inside (occupying) the chemical symbol for lead

9a    Crash lectures, a sign of imminent trouble? (9,6)
COLLISION COURSE: Another word for crash plus a word for a series of lectures

10a    Prize fighter once given old gold coin (5)
LOUIS: A professional American boxer is also an old French gold coin

11a    Teenage years of solvers having hard time around thug (9)
YOUTHHOOD: A pronoun describing the solvers (from the setter’s perspective) plus a reversal (around) of the abbreviations for H[ard] and T[ime] plus another word for thug

12a    Obscene house run with payments taken by muscle (9)
ABHORRENT: The abbreviations for HO[use] and R[un] plus monthly payment for accommodation say, all following (by) a stomach muscle

14a    Picture half-censored in plot (5)
GRAPH: The second half (half-censored) of a picture taken with a camera

15a    William’s unknown box (5)
TELLY: The Swiss legendary bowman plus an algebraic variable. Did anyone else enter BILLY trying to justify can=box?

16a    Red opinion confused with right wingers? (5,4)
PINOT NOIR: An anagram (confused) of OPINION + R[igh]T (wingers of ‘right’)

18a    Escort nurse pinched by workers, the leader being nameless (9)
ATTENDANT: A verb meaning to nurse is surrounded (pinched) by two 6-legged workers, with the one up-front (the leader) missing an ‘N’ (being nameless)

21a    Glimpse name in report (5)
SIGHT: A homophone (in report) of a verb meaning to name

22a    Rank of chief given place by resident (5,10)
FIRST LIEUTENANT: A word for chief or foremost, a word for place (as in ‘in **** of’), and a word for resident or occupier

23a    Central Americans initiated compact vocalised rhythm (7)
CADENCE: The initial letters of Central Americans plus a homophone (vocalised) of a word meaning compact or closely packed

24a    Might it leave you other than dry? (7)
HYDRANT: A semi-all-in-one anagram (other) of THAN DRY



1d    Girl‘s extremely cute eyelashes (7)
CECILIA: Theextreme letters of C[ut]E plus a biological word for fine hair-like structures that also means eyelashes. I wasn’t aware of the latter use but it is in Collins


2d    Lewd hosteller up for chewing fat (4-11)


3d    Sitting in armchairs, praying for something to hold back the waves? (9)
HAIRSPRAY: Hidden in the clue (Sitting in…)

4d    Char paper, of a sort (5)
DAILY: Two meanings

5d    Forbid body of workers — airline operators — to overturn former reservation (9)
BANTUSTAN: A 3-letter word meaning forbid or prohibit, the abbreviation for T[rade] U[nion] (body of workers) plus a reversal (to overturn) of the abbreviation for N[ational] A[ir] T[raffic] S[ervices] should lead you to a word for South African reserved land for black inhabitants during the apartheid era.

6d    Last bit of Cornish ice-cream picked up by first grandson? (5)
ENOCH: A reversal (picked up) of the last letter of [Cornis]H plus a type of ice-cream (or more specifically, a type of edible ice-cream holder) will give you Adam & Eve’s grandson.

7d    Undesirable and mostly arrogant, opens up (7,3,5)
PERSONA NON GRATA: An anagram (up) of AN[d] (mostly) + ARROGANT + OPENS

8d    Liberal view of money presented on covers of Telegraph (7)
BREADTH: A slang term for money followed by the outer letters (covers of) T[elegrap]H

13d    Stress stage is entered after the setter suffers withdrawal (9)
EMPHASISE: Another word for stage into which IS from the clue is ‘entered’ goes after the reversal (suffers withdrawal) of a pronoun that the setter can use to describe himself

14d    Ambassador involved in opening gloomy place on Tyneside (9)
GATESHEAD: The abbreviation used for an ambassador goes inside (involved in) the concatenationj of a word for opening or entrance and a word for gloomy or sorrowful

15d    Illegally push several vehicles (7)
TRAFFIC: Two meanings


17d    Speaker finally raised three cheers after which one may enter? (3-1-3)
RAT-A-TAT: The last letter in [speake]R followed by a thrice-repeated reversal of a 2-letter word for cheers

19d    One avoids liking taboo (3,2)
NOT ON: Remove the Roman numeral for one from a word meaning liking or fancy

20d    However, after husband leaves, it’s harsh (5)
TOUGH: Remove the abbreviation for H[usband] from a word meaning however

I think my favourite, for expert misdirection, is 16a. I thought 2d (chewing fat) was brilliant and it made me laugh, the 3d hidden was clever and I liked 24a – took me a while to see any wordplay! Which clues did you like?

17 comments on “Toughie 1751

  1. Thanks to Sparks and Dutch for the write-up. I also initially put in Billy for 15a. Top clues for me were 1a, 2d and 24a.
    I looked long and hard for a Nina but couldn’t (and still can’t) find it.

  2. I found it more 4* than 3* but I did enjoy the puzzle – I didn’t fall into the ‘Billy’ trap. However, I can’t find the Nina, but then what’s new there

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch too

  3. Loved it, especially 2D and 6D. Had the right answer for 24A but totally missed the anagram. Thanks Sparks and Dutch. Nina? Oh. Now I’m going to have to look…

  4. Great fun. The only one I sweated blood over was 5a – a term I’ve never heard of. !d was my first one in and I wondered if we would be treated to some Simon and Garfunkel. Thank you Dutch and setter.

  5. I thought it bordered on 4* – NE corner was proper tough for me (5d??). Billy was first thought for 15a, but soon had 15d and the penny dropped. I too appear to be suffering Nina-blindness – I’m just making myself feel dim looking for it now…

    All good so thanks to Sparks and to Dutch.

  6. Sparks always has a nina: start with 4d, and look at the symmetry-related 5-letter grid entries (but you can add the adjacent Y for the last one)

    just noticed Jean-Luc & shropshirelad at the bar – see you later…

    1. Thanks Dutch – I’d never have spotted that.
      Hope you have a good night and I’ll see you all tomorrow.

  7. We enjoyed this muchly and must have been on Sparks’ wavelength. Answers flowed as freely as the beer. After checking in with Dutch we went looking for ninas and found a 3-4 which reminded us of a catchphrase from a sitcom from our youth but suspect there’s more to it than that.

    1. We crossed in the post with Dutch and see it now, so not as much on the wavelength as we thought. Never mind, carry on drinking. Wishing you party-goers a great weekend.

  8. As it was a Sparks puzzle we spent time searching but failed to find one. Had another look this morning after Dutch told us there was one and still came up with a blank until we read Dutch’s comment at #6.
    A really good fun puzzle that had plenty of head scratching moments including the need to reassess our first attempt (billy) for 15a. 5a was something we had not come across before. Really good fun to solve.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  9. Really good one and enjoyable. Needed 2 nudges but getting into it now. Knew 1d as cilios in Portuguese my second language.
    What’s a nina please?

  10. We found this a difficult start, but then it was great fun. 3*/3* from us.

    3d was our favourite.

    We left the paper in the pub, so now we can’t see the Nina!

    Thanks Dutch and Sparks.

    1. Using the clues above, refresh your memory on 4d, 15a, 14a & 20d, plus possibly the letter to the right of the bottom of 20d.
      Hope that helps, I know how niggling it can be to have missed something. :smile:

  11. 3*/3.5*, but I didn’t know the biblical grandson. 16a was my favourite, and I’ve still got half a bottle left from last night. Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

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