Toughie 1788 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1788

Toughie No 1788 by Warbler

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello gridfellows, and welcome. I was all set to bring you a bare bones blog today so as not to give the gremlins much to feed on, but pictures and a video have somehow found their way in regardless. In any case, normality, such is it is, seems to have been restored. Hip hip hurray!

Your Kitty gobbled up this Warbler: it slipped down nicely with only a couple of very slightly chewier mouthfuls. It was a light meal, but there is some accompanying lubrication to go with it and some dessert too, so I’m satisfied. I’ve had smoother Toughie solves, but not many and not by much.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the ”Hi D” buttons. The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all.



1a    Spot animal with mushrooms on the way back (7)
SPECKLE:  We start by going backwards: the reversal (on the way back) of a deer and some mushrooms

9a    Old ban is overturned in lacklustre metaphor (8)
PARABOLE:  More reversing. Overturn the abbreviation for old together with a three letter ban and put inside lacklustre or wan to find this comparison. This song suggested itself to me for the line at 3:11

10a   First male worker is obstinate (7)
ADAMANT:  The first man, according to some scriptures anyway, and a worker insect

11a   Put at risk as nitrogen in grenade exploded (8)
ENDANGER:  The chemical symbol for nitrogen inside an anagram (exploded) of GRENADE

12a   Northern association’s gold capital (6)
NASSAU:  Make your way to this capital city by stringing together abbreviations for Northern and association and the chemical symbol for gold

13a   Popular exam in English ultimately takes guts (10)
INTESTINES:  Take a deep breath and link the following in order: popular, an exam, IN from the clue, English (abbreviated) and the final letter (ultimately) of takes

15a   Dry and endlessly coarse (4)
BRUT:  Most of (endlessly) an adjective meaning coarse. It is wine that is dry. Wine certainly tends to dry up when I’m around

16a   Hear me playing line on record — it’s short-lived (9)
EPHEMERAL:  An anagram (playing) of (HEAR ME) and the abbreviation for line following (on) a two letter type of music record

21a   Current politicians can appear as naughty children (4)
IMPS:  The symbol for electric current and some of our politicians

22a   American lizard is squashed on the road and died (6,4)
HORNED TOAD:  An anagram (squashed) of ON THE ROAD plus the abbreviation for died. I can’t help finding this chap rather endearing

24a   PM in charge of paradise! (6)
EDENIC:  Not our current PM, understandably flavour of the month for setters, but a past one. Add to him the abbreviation for in charge

25a   Consider strange because of stewed tea (8)
RUMINATE:  Strange or odd, a preposition which can mean because of, and an anagram (stewed) of TEA

27a   Difficulties? Initially surrealist artist struggles (7)
STRAITS:  After the first letter of surrealist (initially), ARTIST is jumbled (struggles)

28a   Call for help about lawful petitions (8)
SOLICITS:  An appeal for rescue surrounding (about) legal or allowable

29a   The way to learn things is through courage (2,5)
BY HEART:  If you’ve learned something thus, you’ve, well, learnt it. The two words of the answer mean through and courage respectively, so that the whole could also mean through courage. I find it’s possible to learn quite a few things through cowardice too



2d    Being troubled I pay Dr to provide foot treatment (8)
PODIATRY:  An anagram (being troubled) of I PAY DR. TO. I was halfway through typing in PEDICURE before realising that the letters didn’t match

3d    Pitch affected vision we’re told (8)
CAMPSITE:  Affected or theatrical and a homophone (we’re told) of the sense which gives vision

4d    Misguided lad, using, keeping in hotel with Ecstasy, became depressed (10)
LANGUISHED:  An anagram (misguided) of LAD USING containing (keeping) abbreviations for hotel and the setters’ favourite drug

5d    Flyer’s new beginning (4)
DAWN:  A feathered creature of the crow family and new, abbreviated

6d    British like alternative rock (6)
BASALT:  An abbreviation for British is followed by like (two letters) and an abbreviation for alternative

7d    Monsters rage every now and then about silly people? Quite the reverse (7)
GORGONS:  Alternate letters (now and then) of rage inside (quite the reverse of about) some silly characters, perhaps Milligan, Sellers and Secombe. These monsters had snakes for hair and would turn to stone those who set eyes on them. I think I was six or seven when I played Medusa in a school assembly, for which role I wore a box on my head. I don’t think any costume has ever suited me better …

8d    Is she possibly captivating king and earl? One has prospects (7)
HEIRESS:  An anagram (possibly) of IS SHE containing (captivating) abbreviations for king and earl

11d   Suddenly former office worker gets alternative opening in education (9)
EXTEMPORE:  Charade time again: our usual two letters meaning former, a worker, a word meaning alternative, and the initial letter of (opening in) education

14d   Angrily listen first of all to dog yapping repeatedly in a shrill way (10)
STRIDENTLY:  An anagram (angrily) of LISTEN together with the initial letters of all of (first of all) the next four words of the clue

17d   Plain theory regularly worried scholar (8)
LITERATE:  Alternate letters (regularly) of “plain theory” followed by worried or upset

18d   Small publisher? One’s very speedy (8)
SPRINTER:  One letter to stand for small chased by a producer of hardcopy publications

19d   Treasure buried in pitcher is hidden (7)
CHERISH:  A lurker, with the answer buried in the later part of the clue

20d   Put a small piece of something on top of the French pudding (7)
CRUMBLE:  A small piece of something, usually food and often bread, finished off with a French definite article

23d   European Union’s fine for this woman (6)
EUNICE:  The abbreviation for the European Union and fine or ok

26d   Thanks and thanks again so cheerio (2-2)
TA-TA:  Repeat a short word of thanks to give a goodbye – and an appropriate finish for a light and fun crossword


Thanks and thanks again to Warbler. My favourite today is probably 22a, just because I’m in that kind of mood. Which would you put in your top spot?


36 comments on “Toughie 1788

  1. 1.5*/4*. There was nothing remotely tough about this but it was certainly very enjoyable.

    Surely 24a should include the qualification “old”; but thanks very much, Warbler, for the “American” in 22a. I am not totally convinced by “because of” leading to “in” in 25a. Can the ever inventive Gazza (or anyone else) provide a suitable example please?

    My favourite is a toss-up between 22a & 3d.

    Many thanks to Warbler and to Kitty.

        1. I raised an eyebrow at that too. I think “in the circumstances” is explicitly a positional thing, “because one is surrounded by the circumstances”… you can’t just go using “in” for “because” willy-nilly thereby. Do I overthink these things? Perhaps I do.

          1. On reflection you’re right…once is enough… Crossword land may take a different view.

            1. I couldn’t think of any, just checked it in Chambers and left it to Gazza. I still can’t. I fear only Gazza can save us now.

                  1. Or one husband too many? I’m sure you’d hate to be accused of being sexist, MP……….

  2. Nice start for the week – not too testing , but why the ‘quite the reverse ‘ in 7d ?
    Thanks to Warbler and Kitty

      1. Yes. I’ve added to the hint.

        Further amendments will have to wait until later as I’m off through the catflap in a sec.

  3. About **/** for me – I certainly didn’t have any huge objections to anything here, but neither was it easy to find any really outstanding surfaces or wittiness in a post-solve trawl for highlights. I would name 22ac as my favourite, just because it’s a colourful creature with a fun (if violent) clue to match. Thanks Kitty, Warbler and Phrynosoma Cornutum.

  4. A nice gentle start to the Toughie week but very enjoyable. Took me slightly longer than the back-pager. Didn’t help that I’d written the answer to 11a in the spaces for 9a and it took me a while to realise my mistake! 22a was definitely my fave. Nice surface.

  5. This was only held up by my poor handwriting. Just how can the letter A look so much like the letter R? After the first pass it wasn’t far from a read and wonder what I had written, work out the letters I had written were and write in the answer to cause problems elsewhere. Oh well thanks to Warbler for saving the life of the creature at 22ac and to Kitty for showing us that it hadn’t passed away or passed over.

    1. Similar syndrome for me. I was mystified for a while by my checkers for 22a as I misread the last letter of the first word as a P even though I had scribbled D.

      1. Yep, happens to me all the time. I also sometimes put the separator in the wrong place for multiple word answers. Doesn’t help at all.

  6. I agree with the ratings and I loved the illustrations , Kitty.
    29a was my favourite.

  7. Great blog from our Girl Tuesday to accompany a most enjoyable puzzle from our nature-loving Warbler.
    Don’t think I’ve previously come across the specific terminology used in 24a and I had, yet again, forgotten that abbreviation of a ‘flyer’ but no other problems to report.
    Particularly liked 1a but 3d takes the gold medal.

    Thanks to Warbler and to Miss Kitty – interesting choice of music clip for 9a and I’m still considering my answer to the question posed at 25a!

  8. A very nice stroll with a few stiles along the way. Some interesting clues but 3d favourite
    I also had one or two ‘not sure about that’ moments, but going back over, all seems fair.
    Many thanks to Warbler for a very engaging puzzle and to Kitty for the review.

  9. Another ‘Toughie’ that falls foul of the Trades Description Act. Pleasant enough but as tough as a limp lettuce leaf.

    1. I could agree with that sentiment but think those who follow the hints on sites such as this have risen to a higher level of solving prowess. I too found this easy (apart from 9ac). I think there will be plenty of people in the puzzliverse finding this beyond their ability.

      1. Those people are catered for by the back pager are they not? The DT web site announces the Toughie as ‘our most devious cryptic puzzle ever’ – hardly an accurate description of this one!

        1. I think there are many of us who started out with the sole ambition of actually completing the back-pager on a regular basis and then, as confidence grew, wanted to have a stab at the Toughies. If all the Toughies were pitched at the Elgar level, I doubt we’d ever have been able to make the transition. As it is, I can now handle a few of the Toughie setters but know that I still have a long way to go.

          It’s also worth bearing in mind that it would be impossible to maintain exactly the same level of difficulty in every puzzle, back-pager or Toughie, and the ‘wavelength’ issue also plays a big part.
          I think that every puzzle teaches us something, be it technique, vocabulary or layout – let’s just enjoy them all.

        2. No need to be disparaging. We were all “those people” once, new to crosswords and eager to learn. I agree with Jane and MP. While I was disappointed in this particular puzzle, there has to be a bridge from back-pager to toughie once in a while that encourages the transition. Elkamere may not be tough as compared to, say, Elgar, but his puzzles do open the door to the toe-dippers. Once they get here and see the level of support, they tend to stay and grow. I did.

          1. The Toughies certainly span a much wider range of difficulty than the back pager, but I think this is a good thing (except on a purely selfish level when trying to deciding on a difficulty rating!).

            The real experts have the likes of Elgars and proXimals to get their teeth into, but even they’d not want one of those every day. Midweek Toughies are often pleasantly tough without being impossible and are enough to keep experts and lesser mortals amused alike. As for some of the easier offerings, I’d agree with Jane et al. I think Warber, Samuel and some others provide a wonderful stepping-stone towards the trickier ones.

            It’s also worth remembering that a more experienced solver might not notice certain complexities which are present in many “easy” Toughies but would not be found on the back page. You just get used to a wider range of “stuff” and move on. Time was, I’d look at the Toughie on a “wrong envelope day” or be lured across by “took me less time than the back page”-type comments and utter a few choice words. Now I’m generally with that crowd, but very much doubt that Toughies have actually become easier!

            I’ve waffled on. I think I wrote a long rambling comment because I was too tired to leave a short pertinent one. Time to sleep. ‘Night all, and thanks for commenting.


    2. Difference between back pager and a toughie for me is only time or Elgar. The back pagers fly through and the toughies take a bit longer. I rarely have time to tackle toughies which is why I do not comment much. I save Beam and Elgar to take on holiday just in case there is not much else to do but gaze upon Saint Sharon’s beauty and wait for the next lot of shellfish or Elgar’s Doh moment

  10. 22a was our favourite too in a puzzle that gave us plenty of smiles and very few stumbling blocks.
    Thanks Warbler and Kitty.

  11. From memory, Warbler has never been too tough on us but always provided us with elegant crosswords.
    Thanks to Warbler and to Kitty for the review.

  12. Enjoyable, say ** for difficulty? The flyer at 5d eluded me, but there was little else it could be. The spelling of 9ac was new to me, I kept wanting it to be one letter shorter. The correct monster was the last one I thought of at 7d.

  13. Thanks to Warbler and to Kitty for the review and hints. I’m sure this was at the easy end of the toughie spectrum, because I actually managed to complete it. Nevertheless it was great fun. Needed the hints to parse 14d. I laughed at 23d, last in was 29a.I thought 22a was a good clue, but my favourite was 1a, because it conjured up an image of an elk eating mushrooms, surreal. Was 1*/3* for me.

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