Toughie 1753 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1753

Toughie No 1753 by Warbler

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

After yesterday’s ‘fluffy Toughie’ we have another one today which doesn’t impose too much of a strain on the little grey cells. Thanks to Warbler.

It was great to meet so many old and new faces last Saturday – I hope to see you all again next year.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared with the puzzle and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Joint creative work yours truly left in dubious auction (12)
ARTICULATION – put together some creative work that may hang in a gallery and ‘yours truly’ then insert L(eft) into an anagram (dubious) of AUCTION.

8a Pass on legal tender in Costa Rica (5)
COLON – a mountain pass followed by ON.

9a Recollect about cars in front of church (9)
REMINISCE – assemble a preposition meaning about, small cars and one of the usual abbreviations for church.

11a Bird struggled verbally against empty retaliation (3,3,3)
TIT FOR TAT – charade of a small songbird, what sounds like (to some – not to me) a verb meaning struggled and the outer letters (empty) of against. Recycling is good so here once again is an image from last week:

12a Teacher training isn’t rearranged to include English (5)
INSET – teachers in the UK get five IN-SErvice Training days a year. Include E(nglish) in an anagram (rearranged) of ISN’T.

13a Nervous greeting? (9)
HANDSHAKE – cryptic definition of a greeting which sounds a bit ‘trembly’.

16a Dance leader’s replaced by variable system of exercises (5)
ZUMBA – I’d never heard of this system of exercises conducted to dance music so I initially looked up the word with second letter A before finding the right one. Start with a rhythmic dance and replace its first letter with one of the algebraic variables.

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18a Who believes in hiding dagger signs? (5)
OBELI – the word ‘hiding’ in the clue is somewhat of a giveaway.

19a Pampering provided by Conservative gent is so unusual (9)
COSSETING – an abbreviation for Conservative precedes an anagram (unusual) of GENT IS SO.

20a Famous Mr Miliband — David? (5)
NOTED – split the answer 3,2 to differentiate one Miliband brother from the other.

22a Lily endured time inside botanic garden (9)
ARBORETUM – a type of lily contains a verb meaning endured or suffered and the abbreviation for time. A bit Yoda-like.

25a Reprimand total oddball guarding monarch (7-2)
TALKING-TO – an anagram (oddball) of TOTAL containing a monarch.

26a Foreign article contains false statement (5)
ALIEN – an indefinite article contains an untrue statement.

27a Coward’s subject in song exposing certain properties (7,5)
STATELY HOMES – cryptic definition of what Noel Coward warbled about.

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Down Clues

1d Suddenly cat left alone goes berserk (3,2,4)
ALL AT ONCE – an anagram (goes berserk) of CAT L(eft) ALONE.

2d Dance to beat with energy (5)
TANGO – concatenate a verb to beat and a synonym for energy or vigour.

3d Damned old dog starts to snarl and threaten (5)
CURST – this is an old spelling of an adjective meaning damned. A dog is followed by the starting letters of snarl and threaten.

4d Immense missile exploded around centre of Scotland (9)
LIMITLESS – an anagram (exploded) of MISSILE goes round the central two letters of Scotland.

5d Old car puts one new learner in a state of agitation vocally (3,6)
TIN LIZZIE – insert the Roman numeral for one and abbreviations for new and learner into a homophone of a word meaning a state of agitation or dither.

6d Rock band‘s place of rest (5)
OASIS – double definition, the second a place of rest in the midst of hectic activity.

7d Mushroom‘s cooked best with no hot touches of capsicum, chilli and nutmeg (6,6)
SCOTCH BONNET – I thought that this was a pepper rather than a mushroom but Chambers came to my rescue again by informing me that it’s also a fairy-ring mushroom. It’s an anagram (cooked) of BEST NO HOT and the first letters of Capsicum, Chilli and Nutmeg.

10d Disaffection of irregular soldiers captured by 26 (12)
ESTRANGEMENT – an adjective meaning irregular or eccentric and some ordinary soldiers go inside our usual film 26a.

14d Wander aimlessly after trip out in car in powdery snow (9)
SPINDRIFT – a verb to dawdle or wander aimlessly follows a short trip out in a car (normally for pleasure) to make a word for powdery driven snow (and the pseudonym of a regular commenter on the blog).

15d Shrewd financial backer in Russian port (9)
ARCHANGEL – an adjective meaning shrewd or cunning is followed by a financial backer (e.g. of a play).

17d Supports leading volunteers in South (9)
MAINTAINS – string together an adjective meaning leading or principal, the old abbreviation for our volunteer soldiers, IN and S(outh).

21d Smallest room I put out for rent (2,3)
TO LET – remove the I from the smallest room (leaving a space in its place).

23d Bar lacking a cooked hot soup (5)
BROTH – remove the A from ‘bar’ and add an anagram (cooked) of HOT. I’m not as meticulous as Silvanus in tracking down duplications but even I noticed that this is the second use of ‘cooked’ as an anagram indicator.

24d Province in Brazil’s ready with motorway (5)
REALM – Brazil’s currency and the abbreviation for motorway.

Highlights for me today were 13a and 20a. Which clue(s) earned your approbation?

The wonderful Arachne has returned to the Guardian today if you’re in need of a real treat.

54 comments on “Toughie 1753

  1. We thoroughly enjoyed this Warbler puzzle. It had good combinations of clues, a nice range of difficulty, smiles and penny-drop moments all around. But wait, what’s this? Yes, for the second day in a row the Sheffieldsys have finished very promptly, so we award it 2*/3.5*.

    We particularly liked 16a and 5d (an expression I only just remember and way beyond the younger Mrs Sheffieldsy’s memory span), but best of the lot was the lovely 20a.

    Many thanks to Gazza for the review and Warbler for the fun.

  2. I really enjoyed this. I’m only familiar with 7D as a pepper (much too hot for me!) but a trip to t’internet set me straight. I did know 2D, but have not tried it and doubt that I will. My favorites are 20A and 27A. To Warbler and Gazza.

    Having completed this yesterday evening and the back-pager early this morning, I turned to the Arachne puzzle. I confess I’m not making much headway there.

  3. I enjoyed it but only * for difficulty .
    Easier than even yesterday. Perhaps a run of luck this week ; just hapening to know 8, 16,18,27 a & 7 14, d.
    I confess I did nt parse 7d .
    Word plays v straightforward. Old enough to remember well cars of 5d.
    i feel I am being lulled into complacency and will come a cropper tomorrow. Or Friday.
    11.30 here and thunderstorm.

  4. I really enjoyed this ” fluffy “( it was quite hard enough for me ) puzzle.
    11a got me started and slow but steady progress after that.
    I don’t think I have seen 14d comment recently, perhaps I am wrong.
    Like Expat Chris above , I had only ever heard of 7d as a chilli pepper, however it fitted and that’s all that matters.
    Lots of smiles along the way.
    Thanks to Gazza and Warbler.

  5. I enjoyed this very much, and totally agree with Gazza’s wonderful description of it as a “fluffy Toughie”.

    I suspect that 5d was instrumental (excuse the pun) in some way in the naming of Thin Lizzy. 18a across was a new word for me, but good to see a proper Latin plural being used. I also didn’t know the unfortunate name for Costa Rican currency in 8a.

    I’ll go along with Gazza’s candidates for favourite: 13a & 20a; both are excellent.

    Many thanks to Warbler and to Gazza.

  6. Most enjoyable DT puzzle for quite a long while. (And I admit it was encouraging to get a Toughie I could finish unaided.) Many thanks Warbler and Gazza.

  7. Very enjoyable. I also liked 20a and 5d but my favourite I think is 13a. I also liked 10d.

    I just assumed the costa rica currency and russian port were what they were

    Interesting to see a pronounced abbreviation enumerated (5) so soon following the rookie review & comments.

    ‘in’ in 18a would seem to be there mainly for the surface?

    Many thanks Warbler and thanks Gazza

  8. 2*/3* for me. Thank you Gazza for the parsing of 12a (I thought they were called Baker days). I always confuse 16a and the president of SA. Thanks to the setter for the gentle enjoyment.

    • They started off as Baker days after Kenneth Baker who was the minister who introduced them (and who I can never think of without visualising his ‘Spitting Image’ puppet which was a slug).

    • Yes, they were unofficially called Baker Days (with a grimace). We also had GRIST (Grant-Related In-Service Training) and (my favourite) TRIST (TVEI-related In-Service Training) – where TVEI stood for the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative, so an interesting example of a nested acronym.

    • I think it depends how old your ‘children’ are as to what the day was/is called – I’d call them Baker Days

  9. Very enjoyable. I love it when I can finish a Toughie. Normally no more than 2 a week, but I’m improving, I think. I had to do a check on 7d. I thought the setter might have made a mistake – but no. Likewise, never heard of 8a but was able to work it out. 16a was an educated guess, not heard of that one either. 2*/5* for me. My favourite was 22a.

  10. I really liked this one and I’m not complaining that it’s too ‘fluffy’ – I’m all for a bit of ‘fluffiness’ sometimes.
    I confess to jumping to conclusions before engaging the brain and immediately thought 1a was going to be ‘co-authorship’ – luckily I didn’t put it in.
    I only know 16a because I’ve heard my Pet Lambs talking about it.
    I spent ages scouring Google for a Brazilian province for 24d.
    I liked almost all these clues so I’ll just pick a few – 13, 20 and 22a and 6d. My favourite just has to be 1d. Many years ago our two kittens did exactly what the one in the pic is doing – at the time I was varnishing a floor – shredded loo paper and varnish are not a good combination.
    With thanks to Warbler and to Gazza.

  11. All finished with no problems. Tougher than a back pager so more than enough were put in because they fit and solved backwards as it were. Finishing toughies means I am being idle. C’est le vie.

  12. Having counted 11 ” enjoyed ” or ” liked in the comments so far means I have achieved my aim. I have never consideredmyself ” fluffy “, but am willing to accept it as a back-handed compliment!
    Thankyou, bloggers one and all.

  13. Maybe I’m just having an off-day as I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as I would normally expect with Warbler. Or perhaps it has more to do with the fact that I didn’t know the dagger plural, the old dog, the old car or either of the two currencies!
    I also wasn’t familiar with that definition of 14d – only knew it as sea spray.
    I did like20& 22a and my favourite was 13a.

    Thanks to Warbler and to Gazza for the review.

  14. Fair bit of guessing from me today, too, (Jane). All well clued though and had to be what they were.
    Lots to like but I’ll go for 9a or 17d, must be in a Legoey mood today.

    Many thanks to Warbler and to Gazza for a couple of pointers.

  15. We had to make a bit of a guess with 12a but we did make a correct one.
    We are more than happy to add another “enjoyed” and also an extra “liked” to Warbler’s list. Good fun from start to finish.
    Thanks Warbler and Gazza.

  16. Had to check a couple of things on internet (Costa Rican currency, Noel Coward and the Ford T) but didn’t for 12a as the sequence of letters had to be that.
    Thanks for the explanations.
    Remembered the mushroom too.
    13a favourite.
    Thanks to Warbler who can add another “like” 👍 and to Gazza.
    Glad to see that Arachne is back again. Just printed it.

  17. Fluffy is a forehanded compliment as far as I’m concerned! (In most contexts, anyway.) Thanks to Warbler for the puzzle and for dropping in, and thanks to Gazza for the blog, especially the 1d picture. Needless to say, that’s my favourite!

  18. Since when did “fort” = ‘fought” (11a), other than in the strangulated patois of the English upper class? The same people are in the habit of inserting an extra ‘r’ in words such as ‘drawer’. Are these and other home counties linguistic offences just a tactic to further fox north of the border born Toughie fans like myself?
    Answers on a postcaahd. Baz from Deal.

    • Baz, you’ve changed your alias since your previous comment in 2013 – both should work from now on.
      I’m with you 100% on this but I feel we’re waging a losing battle against those who can’t or won’t pronounce the letter R.

    • How on earth do you pronounce the two then? If ‘ought’ isn’t the same as ‘ort’ then I’m verbally challenged. And I’m not!

        • Very good JL, your grasp of English continues to amaze me. Wish I could say the same for my French.
          I cannot discernibly pronounce the ‘R’ in ‘fort’ without sounding like I have a mouthful of jelly babies.
          Sorry to disagree, Gazza; we will discuss, I’m sure.

          • As far as I know most English speakers round the world do pronounce the rhotic R. However, most people in England do not, the main exception being the South-West where the R is pronounced (and is where I come from). It’s all explained in a lot more detail here.

    • Me n’all. Which Riding are you from? I originate from the roman capital of Britannia but moved to middle England with work & i’m now stuck here as both of my lads have settled here & the eldest has produced our first grandson.

  19. I found this rather easier than the back-pager, once I picked up Warbler’s style, but enjoyed it immensely while it lasted: 1*/4*. I ended up with little “potential favourite” ticks in the margin for 20a, 17d, 5d, 22d and 24d. Thanks to Warbler for brightening up my evening, and to Gazza.

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