Toughie 1756 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1756

Toughie 1756 by Kcit

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello and welcome.  Kcit eases us gently into the Toughie week with a puzzle which I would recommend to anyone who feels like they have a little more crosswording in them today.

I’ve been slow and sluggish lately, like a slow slug, so I was immensely surprised to find this puzzle putting up little resistance.  I can see why Kcit has been moved forward from his usual slot later in the week: this felt to me more like an average back page puzzle.  I quite enjoyed the solve, but a few repetitions became apparent during the review which took the gloss off a little.

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    Muscle – error mostly involving recall of another muscle (6)
BICEPS: Most of a four letter blunder (the fourth is H) around (involving) the reversal of (recall of) a(n abbreviated) chest muscle

4a    Dance hall‘s success involving everybody beginning to rumba (8)
BALLROOM: A success or upsurge containing (involving – for the second time in a row) everybody and the first letter of rumba

10a    End in victory after high score (5)
TALLY: Put the final letter of (end in) victory after high or lofty

11a    Bar covering archaeological work has soldier annoyed (9)
INDIGNANT: The kind of bar where you might get a drink around (covering) an archaeological excavation, followed by a soldier insect

12a    Sport in America includes nothing drastic (7)
RUINOUS: There is some of this sport going on at the moment.  Take two letters for that, add the IN from the clue and another two letters for America and insert the letter signifying nothing

13a    Mystical effect, showing happiness and sorrow both reduced (7)
GLAMOUR: Get some enchantment by taking a word meaning showing happiness and a verb meaning sorrow and chopping the end off each

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

14a    Main issue: alarm about a couple of lands warring about English (2-3,3,3-3)
BE-ALL AND END-ALL: An audible alarm goes around (about) the A from the clue and two lots of LAND anagrammed (warring), all around (about again) E(nglish)

17a    Don’t lose rag (or rug) (4,4,4,2)
KEEP ONE’S HAIR ON: An expression meaning don’t get annoyed could also mean to maintain a full coiffure

21a    Take notes days before bad smell returns around river (7)
OBSERVE: Days before and a personal smell are reversed (returns) and wrapped around R(iver)

23a    NASA’s concern: alien interfering in moon samples? (7)
ROCKETS: These are part of NASA’s concern: put crosswordland’s favourite space creature inside some objects which could be samples from the moon

24a    Back down about amount of energy in fading light (9)
AFTERGLOW: A nautical word for rear or back and down of mouth around (about) the old (CGS) unit of energy

25a    Be special in final performance? (5)
EXIST: S(pecial) inside a way of departure

26a    US city is enthralled by source of computer data denying Democrat corruption? (8)
CRONYISM: The two letter abbreviation for a US city and the IS from the clue are inside (enthralled by) a disc containing computer data not including (denying) D(emocrat)

27a    My job has little time for old tree (6)
MYRTLE: MY from the clue and a word for job or position in which the O(ld) has been replaced by T(ime)



1d    Live, being host to a pulse? A habit of the clean-living (8)
BATHROBE: A two letter word for live or 25a, contain (being host to) A from the clue and pulse or beat.  The habit is worn

2d    Improve knowledge of belief system that is to limit tax (9)
CULTIVATE: To devote attention to or foster.  A religious belief system and the abbreviation for that is around (to limit) a type of tax

3d    Vote to limit Scottish town staff list (7)
PAYROLL: Vote containing (to limit – again, again!) a town in Scotland

5d    A follower’s strained, having accommodated day in hostile situation (2,7,5)
AT DAGGERS DRAWN: We start with the A already given and add a follower along, the ‘S, and then an adjective for strained or tense.  This all contains (having accommodated) D(ay)

6d    Late arriving? Force girl to stay up (7)
LAGGARD: A type of force (or a verb to draw by forge) and a dialect word for girl all reversed (to stay up)

7d    New Zealand area identified in religious texts from the past (5)
OTAGO: Some religious books and past or since.  One of my favourite people grew up here

8d    Responsible male character not providing name (6)
MATURE: M(ale) and character or essence without its leading N(ame)


9d    Tingling feeling in leg, smooth, and mostly uncalled-for (4,3,7)
PINS AND NEEDLES: String together an informal term for a leg, smooth with some abrasive paper, and most of a word meaning uncalled for or unnecessary

15d    One who takes clarinets to play (9)
LARCENIST: An anagram (to play) of CLARINETS

16d    Cordial brewed in estate (8)
ANISETTE: Things keep happening in pairs in this crossword.  An anagram (brewed) of IN ESTATE

18d    Show left some sunshine (7)
PORTRAY: Nautical left and a beam

19d    Boxing edge – Clay possibly displays transformative power (7)
ALCHEMY: Around (boxing) a word for edge goes an anagram (possibly) of CLAY

20d    Descriptive of stone tablets or collections of stones (6)
MOSAIC: This could (with a capital) describe the biblical tablets of Mount Sinai, or a decorative arrangement of stones

22d    Started a fight (3-2)
SET-TO: Without hyphen, it’s the past tense of a verb to get going; with it, it’s a quarrel


Thanks Kcit.  My favourite today is 25a.  Which did you find special?

I’ll be around for a while to comment below, but after that I’m taking a break from crosswords.  So I’ll see you next week.


16 comments on “Toughie 1756

  1. Found this a bit tricky at first, but there were lots of helpful crossers so nothing too challenging. All pleasant enough.

    Thanks to Kitty and Kcit

  2. I would agree with the 1* difficulty, as I too tore through this, but crucially it was a 1* difficulty due to fair and unambiguous cluing, and not through just being a bit weak generally. Rather enjoyed, thanks Yttik and Kcit.

  3. We found this rather harder than you did, Kitty, but we enjoyed it very much – 3*/4*.

    We got the four long answers quite quickly but struggled for no apparent reason in the bottom half, especially the SE corner.

    Favourite was 21a – big smiles when we finally worked out its parsing, with 27a a good second.

    Thanks Kitty and Kcit – another two Ks!

  4. Not tuned in today, maybe Mr K did my head in with his obscurities challenge. I struggled with most of it – doesn’t help having never heard of 5d, 7d nor 16d. Think I need a break too. Oh well, many thanks to Kcit and to Kitty

    1. I often seem to differ from others in what I find more or less difficult (as can be seen above), so I wouldn’t worry, LbRoy.

      I’ve been weighing up the idea of a break for a while now, and yesterday decided it. I hope I’ll be refreshed and raring to go when I return.

      1. Kitty, if you genuinely rated this as a 1* for difficulty, I see no reason why you need a break. Seems like you’re firing on all cylinders right now – to me anyway.

        You have a case of “hyphenitis” under the “click here” for 14a.

        1. Thanks, Sheffieldsy. I think this one may have just been a blip. I’m not a fast solver generally and this took me so much less time than my usual Toughie range that I didn’t feel I could add more stars. As for the break, it’s from commenting as much as solving. More time away from the computer and more time to concentrate on other things. (“What – there’s more to life that crosswords?” I hear you say … well, I have heard that claimed!)

          Hyphenitis remedy applied – thanks.

  5. Hmm – stupidity has set in.
    I agree that this wasn’t difficult but getting 8d wrong made 13a impossible – I had ‘mother’ for 8d – M(ale) + character not providing name = (A N) OTHER – damn.
    Lots of good clues – I enjoyed this.
    I liked 14 and 17a and 1 and 6d. My favourite was 9d – it’s called ‘fizzy feet’ in our house.
    Thanks to Kcit and to Kitty.

  6. I found it a bit tricky in places, too. 13A and 8D were the last two in, in that order, and they held me up for a bit. Very enjoyable overall. 24A, 26A and 1D were my favorites. Thanks Kcit and Kitty.

  7. A couple of surprises for me in discovering that the 1a error is an accepted word and that 16d is described as a cordial.
    Had to ask Mr. G to verify 7d and left 26a well alone until all the checkers were in place.
    17a was probably my favourite – loved the cartoon!

    Thanks to Kcit and to our brilliant Girl Tuesday – that 20d really appealed.

  8. Way more than one star difficulty though I really enjoyed it.I needed help for two that should have been a shoe-in.
    My favourite is 1d.
    Thanks Kitty and Kcit.

  9. It was a pleasant change to see some NZ geography in this one but, after all, Kcit does live here so it is not too surprising. Had to give some thought to the word for error in 1a, not one we’re familiar with. We did ponder about the definition in 13a but a quick check in BRB confirmed that the setter had it right. Gentle and fun.
    Thanks Kcit and Kitty.

  10. 2kiwis are not going to be very happy with me as I thought 7d was starting with Oz then a for area and the rest remained a mystery.
    Didn’t get 13a and 8d either.
    Thanks to Kcit and to Kitty.
    Have a nice holiday.

  11. At the top end of 1* difficulty, but quite satisfying in its way. I liked 21a, but don’t really follow 13a (it’s hardly a “mystical effect”, surely?). Still, no worries. Thanks to Kcit and Kitty.

  12. An enjoyable, fairly straightforward solve, helped with a couple of lucky guesses along the way, and some generous longer gimmes. :-) Last in 20d and 21ac.

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