Toughie 1823 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1823

Toughie No 1823 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

What we have today is a rare sighting of a Telegraph Toughie crossword that does what it says on the tin. A challenging  solve, with plenty of entertainment along the way, requiring a serious amount of thought to both solve the clues and then parse/explain them.   There is a nice helpful Nina which assists when trying to decide whether you are on the right lines with your thoughts on a couple of the Across clues.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Frothy stuff evident in famous sermon (6)
MOUSSE Evident in faMOUS SErmon

5a           Public transport retains functions causing concern (8)
BUSINESS A form of public transport retains some trigonometrical functions

9a           Expert admitting set song note is discordant (2,8)
AT VARIANCE An expert ‘admitting’ an abbreviated household ‘set’, a type of song and the abbreviation for Note

10a         With skill one may be an outstanding nuisance (4)
WART Lovely definition.   The abbreviation for with and a skill

11a         Very unpleasant banker has regrets, displacing knight (8)
GRUESOME Remove the N (displacing a knight in chess terminology) from a banker often associated with Zurich and replace with some regrets

12a         Reckon on wrecking weapon in childish battle (6)
CONKER An anagram (on wrecking) of RECKON

13a         Audible sounds from stable point (4)
NAZE A flat marshy headland sounds like some noises coming from a stable

15a         Writer, regressing, left inside to dwell in a wood (8)
MELVILLE   Insert a verb meaning to dwell and the abbreviation for left into a type of wood and then reverse the result (regressing) to get the author of Moby-Dick

18a         Space connected to ears, relating to non-verbal communication (8)
EMOTICON A space used by printers, an adjective meaning on or related to the ear, and a word meaning related to

19a         Ideal venue for one PM (4)
EDEN This ideal venue is also the surname of a British Prime Minister

21a         Linguistic figures recalled area away from coastal town (6)
TROPES A reversal (recalled) of a coastal town without the A (area away)

23a         Attorney-General about to interrupt, rudely touching (8)
ABUTTING The abbreviation for Attorney-General goes ‘about’ a way of say to interrupt rudely

25a         Two sons trapping black bird (4)
IBIS The Roman numeral for two and the abbreviation for son ‘trapping’ the abbreviation for black produces one of crosswordland’s most useful birds

26a         Noble craft protecting lives against bow drawn back (10)
ARISTOCRAT  The skill we met in 10a is now a ‘craft’ into which should be inserted (protecting) a verb meaning lives, a word meaning in a fixed position (against), usually applied to a door,  and a reversal (drawn back) of something curved in shape (bow)

27a         Church to measure variable space for graves (8)
CEMETERY The abbreviation for the Church of England, a verb meaning to measure [a rate of flow] and a mathematical variable

28a         Religious expert to ponder expression of joy or pity (6)
MULLAH A verb meaning to ponder and a two letter expression, which depending on how you say it can express joy or pity


2d           Cycling route away from the centre (5)
OUTER An anagram (cycling) of ROUTE or the more likely parsing is, as Gazza says, that the R at the start of outer is cycled to the end

3d           Upcoming great acts around set before time is right for audience (5,4)
STAGE LEFT A reversal (upcoming in a Down clue) of some great acts goes around a verb meaning to set, the abbreviation for Time being added at the end, to give us an expression used in the theatre when actors go off in the direction which to a member of the audience would be on the right hand side

4d           Someone inventive such as Sheeran gets broadcast? (6)
EDISON Loving the understatement of ‘someone inventive’ – Split this particular inventor’s surname 2, 2 2 and you might say that young Mr Sheeran was being broadcast

5d           Cobblers start off agitation with landed gentry ultimately feeling unassailable? (6,9)
BUNKER MENTALITY  An informal  word for rubbish (as is cobblers here), another word for agitation or excitement without its first letter (start off), a rare past participle of a verb meaning got off or landed and the ultimate letter of gentry

6d           One has unlimited potential for development, putting bow on short string instrument (4,4)
STEM CELL  Another meaning for bow (see 26a) this time we have the front end of a ship, another word for which should be put before almost  all (short) of a string instrument

7d           Hopeless, having been elected today? (2-3)
NO-WIN   Without the hyphen and split 2,1 this expression meaning hopeless could describe someone elected today, or possibly next Thursday

8d           In Washington keep an eye on certain houses to hide Liberal (9)
SURVEILLE The ‘it’s an Americanism haters’ will love this one.   It is a genuine American verb (as used in Washington) derived from a noun meaning close observation or supervision.  Insert into a synonym for certain a verb meaning to hide or conceal and the abbreviation for Liberal

14d         Be hugging foot of commander worthy of respect (9)
ADMIRABLE  The definition is obvious, there’s only one word that fits those checking letters but how does it work?   it took me  a while to ‘see’ that  BE from the clue is  ‘hugging’ the last letter (foot)  of a naval commander

16d         One would almost be tempting: for Arabs, the same (9)
IDENTICAL An abbreviated way of saying ‘one would’, almost all of a verb meaning to tempt, and the Arabic definite article (for Arabs ‘the’)

17d         Create ski runs, saving run to practise winter sport (3-5)
ICE SKATE An anagram (runs) of CREATE SKI, without (saving) the R for Runs

20d         Singular marker of infinitive in Latin with conventional usage (6)
CUSTOM The abbreviation for Singular, a two-letter word used to mark the infinitive of a verb, all inserted into the Latin word for ‘with’.   Thanks to Gazza who came to my assistance when I decided it was time to stop muttering at the wordplay which, for me anyway,  was less obvious than the definition/solution

22d         Task force reversing attitudes at last? (5)
POSSE  Take some ‘attitudes’ and reverse the last two letters

24d         Turbulent as any lake (5)
NYASA An anagram (turbulent) of AS ANY


Thank you to Notabilis for a splendid Toughie treat and also to the Crossword Editor for scheduling this one for the half-term holidays ;)

17 comments on “Toughie 1823

  1. Thanks to Notabilis for easily the best Toughie of the week and to CS for the review. My main problem was with 6d where I tried for some time (unsuccessfully) to justify ‘seed corn’ before getting 15a put an end to that line of investigation.
    My list of likes includes 18a, 7d and 22d.
    I don’t think that we need an anagram for 2d – we can just cycle the first letter of route round to the end.

  2. Either the LHS was not too tough or I was on wavelength there. The RHS however took buckets more effort to crack into properly, and spotting the first half of the nina was invaluable in that. I think I might still be floundering otherwise.

    I had to check lake Nyasa which rang bells so faint they may just have been tinnitus, and 8d which did not ring a sausage. I had to look up nase and then naze when that didn’t yield anything, so today I have also learned of the Naze (ah, that kind of point).

    I consulted with Mr K (who is becoming good enough at Toughies to keep me on my toes!) about the final part of 16d and he came up with a slightly different parse: AL being the Arab League = Arabs. That way, the definition can be “the same” which seems nicer, though that means for becomes a mere link word. I have a feeling that CS’s take was the setter’s intended working though.

    14d was, and so were many others.

    Many thanks to Notabilis and CS.

    I hope Kath is having a great day. Many Happy Returns to her. I shall put a :rose: in water for when she gets back.

  3. So, along with French, German, Spanish and Italian, I now need to know Arabic?!!
    Nearly got all the little squares filled – 21a defeated me which left me reluctant to slot in 22d (which I couldn’t parse anyway!).
    Other parsing that I needed help with included 26a plus 3,14&16d.
    Had to check on the lake and the unfamiliar 5d and guessed 15a.

    All in all, I can’t exactly claim a win but I got a lot closer than I expected at the outset.
    Thanks (I think) to Notabilis – funny, you look like such a pleasant gentleman from the London photos, not a fiend at all!
    Much gratitude to CS for unravelling the mysteries.

  4. By the time I had ground to a halt, I had all but 7. Of the ones I didn’t get, I’d never heard of the point in 13a, nor the Americanism in 8d. I am sure I should have been familiar with the writer in 15a, but sadly not. The others I should have been able to do, but didn’t quite have enough on the left hand side for a Nina to be apparent or helpful. In the end I was mildly disappointed, mostly in myself, for not being able to finish. My thanks – and admiration – to Notabilis and CS.

  5. We stalled after half a dozen answers, switched to the back pager then resumed the Toughie. Gradually we winkled out clue after clue and finished with a great sense of achievement. A marvellous offering. Our favourites were 3d and 22d with 13a LOI (with some electronic help).

    We needed the review to understand the parsing of 3d and 17a, though we were sure both were right.

    Thanks to CS and Notabilis.

  6. 13a was a new word for us and we did not get it. We settled on BASE as being a stable point with a homophone of BASS as the wordplay. It seemed to almost work at the time. Kicking ourselves now as if we had spotted the Nina it would have been a big help. A significant challenge in firstly filling the grid and then sorting out the finer points of the parsing. An excellent puzzle in our reckoning.
    Thanks Notabilis and CS.

  7. Needed hints for 21a, 24d & 28a – new to me though I should have worked out 21a now I see it. A good workout, if a tad flat.
    I’ll nominate 3d for the clever twist in the surface. Many thanks to Notabilis for the tussle and to CS for the nudges.

  8. A splendidly challenging Toughie that was enjoyable to tackle, It took a while to get going but all started to fall into place.

    Thanks to Madame and Notabilis.

    You may all like to look out for a rather special puzzle appearing very very soon!

    1. It still is part of a French verb – je surveille – but Chambers says that is a US verb meaning to keep under surveillance.

      1. Started on Monday, left it, finished Tuesday morning – very enjoyable, but I don’t get the relevance of the Nina ‘ MAGNETIC FIELD STRENGTH’ to the puzzle itself🤔

        1. MAGNETIC FIELD STRENGTH forms a large H in the grid, which is the physics symbol for magnetic field strength.

          1. Thanks for the explanation but I understand that H or Henry is a unit of electromagnetic inductance.
            Gauss was the unit of magnetic strength, or flux density, now superseded by the Tesla.
            But it’s good enough for a Nina!

            1. That’s all true of units, but H is the *symbol* for magnetic field strength, like P = power (whose unit is W = watt). It’s in Chambers, Collins and the ODE.

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