Toughie 1766

Toughie No 1766 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

An interesting puzzle in which Excalibur displays her usual quirkiness. A slow start while I was getting on the right wavelength was followed by a steady solve of most of the puzzle. I was then held up in the SW corner and finally spent ages staring at 24 across trying to figure out how it worked. But overall it was an enjoyable solve

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Parents wear identification (8)
PASSPORT: Parents (fathers) + ‘to wear’

5a    Fires consuming hotel and sheds (6)
SHACKS: ‘fires’ or ‘plunders’ round H (hotel) = ‘sheds’ or ‘huts’

9a    One is wrong about French word for ‘feelings‘ (8)
EMOTIONS: An anagram (wrong) of ONE IS round the French word for ‘word’

10a    Face beaten up, cut by a right, showing bottle (6)
CARAFE: An anagram (beaten up) of FACE round A R (right)

12a    Softens, going to pieces, doesn’t confess (5,4)
TONES DOWN: An anagram (going to pieces) of DOESNT + ‘to confess’

13a    All alone, missing one after drink (5)
TOTAL: A small drink of whisky + ALONE less ONE

14a    Double string and cut off end (4)
TWIN: Remove the last letter from ‘string’

16a    Witnesses witnessed entering with planks (7)
SEESAWS: ‘Witnessed’ inside ‘witnesses’ = planks balanced at their centres that children play on

19a    Prepares for test in French, dreams one’s got through (7)
REVISES: The French word for ‘dreams’ goes round IS (one’s)

21a    Unwilling to take laziness, head dismissed (4)
LOTH: Remove the first letter from ‘laziness’

24a    Vulgarity often rejected by editor, to be replaced by literary stars? (5)
CURSE: A vulgar word. An editor might replace it by a row of asterisks (literary stars)

25a    Shows animal inside, frolicking about (9)
INDICATES: A domestic animal inside an anagram (frolicking) of INSIDE

27a    No good cultivating fruit (6)
RAISIN: Remove G (good) from the end of ‘cultivating’

28a    Alleviate unsteady gait in time, undergoing treatment (8)
MITIGATE: An anagram (unsteady) of GAIT inside an anagram (undergoing treatment) of TIME

29a    More than one beautiful person breaks down, keeping quiet (6)
DISHES: ‘Breaks down’ round ‘Quiet!’

30a    Main salon’s modified according to time of year (8)
SEASONAL: The main + an anagram (modified) of SALON


1d    Quite dry, sheltering in quarry (6)
PRETTY: ‘Dry (abstaining from alcohol)’ inside ‘quarry (hunted animal)’

2d    Attempts to get evidence overthrown in courts (6)
SPOONS: A reversal (overthrown) of ‘attempts to get evidence’ or ‘pries’ = ‘courts’ or ‘woos’

3d    Is critical about one and is hurtful (5)
PAINS: ‘Is critical’ round I (one)

4d    Quickly try to get to end of precis (3-4)
RUN-DOWN: When split (3,4) it could mean ‘quickly try to get to’

6d    For just an instant, sound of organ (9)
HEARTBEAT: A pulsation of a bodily organ is used in the phrase ‘in a *********’ which means ‘immediately’

7d    Handbag in two parts? Nonsense! (8)
CLAPTRAP: ‘Handbag in two parts’ = ‘hand bag’ and the answer is a hand (ovation) + ‘to trap’ or ‘to catch’

8d    No good players left, having been pipped (8)
SEEDLESS: If all the best players were knocked out a tennis tournament then the tournament would be this

11d    We’re paying for it and it’s a burden (4)
ONUS: When split (2,2) it suggests that we are paying for it

15d    Plumbing installed to no purpose? (9)
WASTEPIPE: Something connecting a sink to a drain (given as 2 words in Chambers). It’s name might suggest that it’s superfluous

17d    Got reminder about antidote (8)
PROCURED: A reminder round an antidote or cure

18d    Sends up a lot too high (8)
OVERBIDS: A cryptic definition. The lot is one that’s being sold at an auction

20d    Steal / underwear (4)
SLIP: 2 meanings: to steal (move stealthily)/an item of underwear

21d    Advocate of traditional practices did ornate old instrument cases (7)
LUDDITE: An anagram (ornate) of DID inside (cased by) an old stringede instrument

22d    Riddle of motorway being obliterated in mist and downpour (6)
STRAIN: MIST with a particular motorway removed + a downpour

23d    Likewise, no member of the hoi polloi (2,4)
AS WELL: When split (1,5) it’s no member of the hoi polloi

26d    Blows caught mouth? (5)
CLIPS: C (caught) + the surrounds of the mouth

I enjoy Excalibur’s puzzles far more than I used to.



  1. crypticsue
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I’d give this the same star ratings as Bufo. Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo

  2. Liverpool Mike
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I had a different answer for 1a with wear=sport which I think fits better.
    Thanks to Bufo and Excalibur.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      I do too.

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Me too

    • Gazza
      Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      You’re right of course. I’ve fixed Bufo’s typo.

      • Kath
        Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        . . . and the answer to 2d?

        • Gazza
          Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          … also sorted. Thanks.

    • Kath
      Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      So have I but I should think it’s a typo in the answer under the ‘click here’ bit.

  3. jane
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Still fighting the SW corner. Not succumbing to the hints just yet………

    • jane
      Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      YES – all done and dusted – and I really enjoyed the journey.
      Masses of ticks on the page – 1&12a plus 1,7,8&11d all crowded onto the podium.

      Many thanks to Excalibur, whose puzzles I invariably have fun with and thanks to Bufo for coming up with the whys and wherefores of 24a.

      If there’s any of our ‘can do’ people around, the answer for 2d in the hints needs inverting!

      • Kath
        Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        You beat me to it with 2d.

  4. Sheffieldsy
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    A Toughie milestone for us today. We finished the puzzle, decided our ratings for difficulty and enjoyment then came to this site to find, for the very first time, that the reviewer has rated it more difficult than we did. 3*/4* from us – whoopee!

    It was a slow start, but the solving accelerated as we went – most enjoyable. We chortled about 27a but thought the best clue today was 21d.

    Thanks to Bufo for the fourth difficulty star and the review, and to Excalibur.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    The whole of the right half was completed before anything on the left. Then the NW quadrant fell. SW was the last to succumb and the toughest, I thought. Really enjoyed it, with 27A, 2D, and 21D getting a tick from me. Thanks Bufo and Excalibur.

  6. Kath
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Two good fun crosswords in one day – how lucky we are.
    I got the answer to 24a but only because I couldn’t think of anything else – I had no idea how it worked.
    I also got into a spot of trouble with why 7d was what it obviously was but got there eventually.
    15d was my last answer.
    I know we often get the French for ‘one’ and ‘of’ in clues but how far is it fair to go? Not a gripe – just a question really.
    I liked lots of these so just a few of them are 1 and 27a and 1 and 11d. My favourite was 8d.
    With thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo.

  7. happy days
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Another beautifully crafted puzzle from Excalibur Great surfaces, as always. A joy to solve. I particularly liked 19a (Prepares for test…) and 15d (Plumbing installed…)

  8. LetterboxRoy
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I could almost just ditto Expat Chris, except 2d was certainly not a favourite of mine, and also thought 24a was pushing it a bit.
    Very enjoyable, liked 1d & 8d, my pick is 7d. Thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo.

  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Our last one in was also 24a and we spent a lot of time trying to work out a much more complicated wordplay than was actually the case. We thought it rather strange to have the same word crossing in 4d and 12a so spent time unnecessarily looking for alternatives. A pleasant solve that we found quite challenging.
    Thanks Excalibur and Bufo.

  10. Gazza
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Osmosis tomorrow.

  11. CarlosAndreas
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Again, very enjoyable. Surprised by the rating. I thought a 3* difficulty. However, didn’t take away the pleasure – 4* from me. Bring on Osmosis tomorrow.

  12. jean-luc cheval
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    24a and 2d were last in also.
    But didn’t find the rest too difficult.
    The French clues were a nice touch.
    Thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo for the review.

  13. Jon_S
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    An enjoyable, fairly tough Toughie. Maybe *** for difficulty? Lots to like, 15d tickled me in particular.

  14. Philip Roe
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Still stumped on 4d. Run down could be pursue, hence quickly try to get to but what happens to “end of” in the clue?

    • crypticsue
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Welcome – I’ll have a look at Toughie 1766 and report back in a minute

      I’ve looked and I’d say it was just there to make a good surface reading for the clue.