Toughie 1771 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1771

Toughie No 1771 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Notabilis is living up to his cheeky parrot name. A great puzzle which delights in its devious clueing, without being impossibly hard. Very original and a joy to solve. There is even a Nina to feast on. Magnificent.

As always, the definitions are underlined in the clues below. The hints should help you arrive at the answers, but you can always reveal them by clicking on the KEA buttons


1a    Victuals including large sea bass for fruitless venture (5,6)
FOOL’S ERRAND: A 4-letter word meaning victuals or nourishment goes around the abbreviation for L(arge) and a word meaning a fish of the sea bass family

9a    Guess answer in second grade (4)
BETA: A 3-letter word for a guess or prediction plus the abbreviation for A(nswer)

10a    Blunt quality of British-American female figurehead advancing new ship (11)
BRUSQUENESS: The 2-letter abbreviations for British and American followed by her majesty (female figurehead) with the N(ew) moved one position towards the front, and the abbreviation for steamship (phew)

11a    Give a little black object (4)
BEND: The abbreviation for B(lack) plus a word meaning object or aim

14a    Bellow perhaps in a way to cause violence? (7)
ASSAULT: The first name of the Canadian-American writer Bellow (Pulitzer prize winner and Nobel Prize winner for literature alongside Dylan) goes inside A (from the clue) and an abbreviation for street (way)

16a    Many a crock is needing attention in that case (7)
EARTHEN: A 3-letter word meaning attention (lend me your ***) and a 4-letter word meaning in that case

17a    Fry hearts for anyone denouncing veggies (5)
YOUNG: The central letters (hearts) of the last 3 words in the clue

18a    Use ears when shady dealer gets nose cut off (4)
HARK: A shady dealer (I’m thinking of a loan-*****) without the first letter

19a     What do sheep have to say about lake, one in Wales? (4)
BALA: The vocal expression of a sheep goes around the abbreviation for L(ake). 

20a     Trainee‘s heel and toe vacantly twisting (5)
CADET: A 3 letter word for heel as in despicable person, plus a reversal (twisting) of T(o)E without the middle letter (vacantly)

22a    Work without reward like a wet kiss? (7)
SLAVERY: two meanings, the first a noun describing forced labour, the second an adjective

23a    Old dress split across train (7)
RAIMENT: a word meaning split or torn goes around a word meaning train, as in point a weapon towards

24a    Musical intro to happy tune (4)
HAIR: The first letter of (intro to) Happy plus another word for tune or melody

28a    Jogger‘s sources of information about music expressing brooding resentment (4-7)
AIDE-MEMOIRE: A reversal (about) of a 5 -letter word meaning sources of information such as the papers, tv, etc., then a 3-letter type of music which features brooding or introspective lyrics, plus a word for resentment or anger (phew)

29a    Disgusting basis of class system (4)
RANK: two meanings, the first an adjective meaning foul or offensive, the second a position in society

30a    Man on board hoarding number of long fish caught? Cruel punishment for him (11)
KEELHAULING: The name of a chess piece contains an ***-****, which would describe a number of long fish caught


2d     Partial mark of upright lady’s fingers (4)
OKRA: Reverse hidden (Partial … upright)

3d    Strokes of a cat, not male or female (4)
LASS: This cat’s a whip, so take the strokes thereof and remove HE (not male)

4d    Smoothly place empty barrel in drug loading area (7)
EQUABLY: put B(arre)L inside the 1-letter abbreviation for a recreational drug plus the area of a port which is the loading zone

5d    Daughter’s off booze in sporty venue (4)
RINK: Remove the initial D(aughter) from a word meaning booze

6d    Brush cut up, fed to horse — in this? (7)
NOSEBAG: The reversal (up) of a twig broom without the last letter (cut) goes inside a 3-letter horse

7d    After 29, went sober (5-6)
LEVEL-HEADED: after a synonym for 29a, we have a word meaning went or moved towards

8d     Player possibly broken by depression about golf score in Palace event? (6,5)
GARDEN PARTY: The first name of golfer Player contains a word meaning depression (like the one in my car) which in turn contains a word meaning the average golf score

12d    Get immersed, certainly eliminating interior pressure, in this thing? (11)
BATHYSPHERE: An interesting all-in-one: A word meaning to get immersed, as in swim or wash, a word meaning affirmative or certainly without the middle letter, the abbreviation for P(ressure) and a word that could mean in this thing or in this place

13d    Work up to Russian power grabs (11)
USURPATIONS: An anagram of (work) UP TO RUSSIAN

15d    End of import sanction for wine from central Europe (5)
TOKAY: The last letter (end) of (impor)T plus a word meaning sanction or approve

16d    Penetrate guts, but not all the way (5)
ENTER: A 6 letter word meaning guts or entrails without the last letter (not all the way)

20d     Split with no love in heart, a character flaw (7)
CREVICE: Take a 4-letter word meaning heart or centre and remove the O (love), then add a word meaning character flaw or sin

21d     Lipid substance seen over cheese cloth (7)
TAFFETA: The reversal (seen over) of a lipid substance that makes you look flabby, plus a Greek cheese

25d    Ring declined after female becomes bishop … (4)
BELL: Replace F with B in a word meaning declined (as in the Roman Empire)

26d    … similarly, frustrate a simmering state (4)
BOIL: …and do exactly the same as the previous clue in a word meaning frustrate

27d    Coarse food ingredients common to intellectual and physical strength (4)
BRAN: The 4 letters that are common to two 5 letter words indicating intellectual and physical strength

I think my favourite today was 12d, though there were plenty of candidates – which clues did you like?

19 comments on “Toughie 1771

  1. 4*/5* from me – lots and lots to enjoy and even a helpful Nina, the first part of the Down bit helping me to work out which letters I needed for those clues in the SE corner that I couldn’t see for looking at.

    Thanks to Notabilis for a proper Friday Toughie and to Dutch too

  2. Thanks to Notabilis for the best Toughie of the week and to Dutch for the review. I did spot the tasty Nina but not until I had a full grid so it didn’t help the solving process. My last one to parse was 28a because I’d never heard of the brooding music.
    There’s only one anagram – is Notabilis working up to emulate Beam in having none at all?
    Top clues for me were 10a, 30a and 27d.

  3. Been busy celebrating No.1 daughter’s 40th so haven’t had time to make a start on this yet.
    Looks from CS’s comment as though it could be above my grade but I’ll give it my best shot!

  4. Really enjoyable end to the Toughie week – 4*/4* here, we thought.

    Favourite clue was 22a for the penny-drop moment.

    We completed without hints, but we couldn’t fully parse 28a because, like Gazza, the music was new to us. We hadn’t a clue there was a Nina!

    Thanks to Dutch and Notabilis.

  5. Started quite well but came to a complete stop in the NE and couldn’t get 28a at all.
    Had to resort to the hints for the last five.
    Still haven’t spotted the Nina.
    Thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch for the review.

  6. Like Gazza we did not spot the Nina until we had a full grid but it did give us an extra laugh at that point to add to all the others we had enjoyed throughout the solve. Our last act was sorting out the wordplay for 28a as the music expression was new to us. A significant challenge and great fun.
    Thanks Notabilis and Dutch.

  7. I thought this was easier than Wednesday’s, which CS felt was fairly straightforward. It still took me some time but I enjoyed the challenge. I couldn’t fully parse 28a or 8d without the help of Dutch. Many thanks to him and Notabilis.

  8. Haven’t had the chance to take on the Toughie today – so I will save it for over breakfast in the conservatory tomorrow. It seems to have hit the spot with some of the usual suspects so thanks in advance to Notabilis for the puzzle and to Dutch for his review. Have a good weekend everyone.

  9. Trick one today 4*/3* for me. I needed the hint to confirm 14d – never heard of that American.

  10. Often visit this excellent blog to confirm/understand parsing and occasionally for a solution. Thought it was about time I put my head over the parapet. DNKO Saul Bellow and didn’t spot the Nina until prompted here. A very satisfying solve… echo crypticsue’s closing comment.

  11. 28A beat me. I didn’t see the nina either. I have a number of ticks on my page but I’m going for 12D and 30A as my favorites. Thanks Notabilis and Dutch.

  12. Made it across the finishing line but only with a fair bit of help from Mr. Google to plug gaps in my knowledge.
    As I said earlier, rather above my grade!
    Top two places go to 22a & 20d.

    Thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch – who makes it all seem so simple!

  13. I didn’t quite finish this but really enjoyed most of it – needed the hints to explain quite a few of my answers.
    I’ve never heard of the music and haven’t found the Nina yet but I’m just about to have another hunt.
    I liked 10a and the combined 25 and 26d.
    With thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch.

    Re 24a – this week a friend sent me a picture of an allotment with a lot of shady stuff across the top – the caption was “this is the awning of the cage of asparagus”. If I was smart enough to know how to do it I’d put it here, but I’m not! :sad:

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