Toughie 1834 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1834

Toughie No 1834 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Bufo

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

A very enjoyable puzzle with a nice level of difficulty in that there were very few gimmes and yet nothing that caused a major hold-up. Just what was needed for a hot Thursday morning

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Destructive agent with strong desire to hold company back (6)
LOCUST: Strong sexual desire round a reversal of the abbreviation for company

4a    Spot light of more than one colour (8)
SPECKLED: A small spot + a semiconducting device used to light up electronic devices

9a    Ending in rout such as Hamlet is upsetting (6)
TRAGIC: The last letter of ROUT + a reversal of the product with the brand name Hamlet (which brought happiness in TV adverts)

10a    Rampaging All Black that is tackled by Perry? (8)
FRENZIED: The country of the All Blacks and ‘that is’ inside the first name of Mr Perry (the tennis star)

11a    Caught odd banger (5,4)
SNARE DRUM: ‘Caught’ (6) + ‘odd’ (3) = a percussion instrument (banger)

13a    Improvised revolutionary final passage around Beethoven’s Fifth (2,3)
AD HOC: A reversal of a final passage round the fifth letter of BEETHOVEN

14a    Chemical cutting down spy (8,5)
REDUCING AGENT: ‘Cutting’ down + a spy = a substance with a strong affinity for oxygen or the like

17a    Everyone is immediately engrossed by leader of military’s exercises (13)
CALLISTHENICS: ‘Everyone’, IS and ‘immediately’ inside the abbreviation for the officer in supreme command of an army + the possessive ‘S = exercises designed to achieve gracefulness, fitness and strength

21a    Top European team with half leaving field (5)
REALM: Take the first half of the name of a top Spanish football team

23a    Crack soldiers in alien kit (9)
EQUIPMENT: A crack (joke) (4) and soldiers (3) inside an alien (2)

24a    Presume European monarch will be overthrown as mediocre (8)
INFERIOR: ‘To presume’ + a reversal of the French word for ‘king’

25a    It’s for holding odd items from ledger (6)
FOLDER: FOR goes round the odd-positioned letters of LEDGER

26a    Aristocrats showing complete lack of talent leaving area (8)
NOBILITY: Remove A (area) from ‘complete lack of talent’ (2,7)

27a    Sell singular radioactive emission, lacking heart (6)
BETRAY: ‘To sell’ or ‘to rat upon’ = a stream given off by some radioactive substances (4,3) with the middle letter removed


1d    Most fashionable office is in Paris (6)
LATEST: This would have really puzzled me had this meaning of office not come up a few weeks ago (when it did really puzzle me). An abbreviated form of a lavatory (or office) (3) + the French word for ‘is’ (3)

2d    Larch growing wild round a standard thicket (9)
CHAPARRAL: An anagram (growing wild) of LARCH round A and standard or norm = a thicket of dense tangled brushwood. There was a high one in an old Western TV series

3d    Pay to remit including bonus (7)
STIPEND: Pay or salary = ‘to send’ round a bonus or gratuity

5d    Dock on isle and cross round base in carrier (11)
PORTMANTEAU: A dock or harbour + an Isle in the Irish Sea + a cross (named after a Greek letter) round the base of natural logarithms

6d    Soldier perhaps entertained by jazz fan with a classical item (7)
CANTATA: An insect that may be a soldier (3) inside a jazz fan (3) + A

7d    Bob’s losing head for old actress (5)
LEIGH: Remove the first letter from a conveyance with runners such as a bob to get the surname of the actress who won Oscars for Gone with the Wind and a Streetcar Named Desire. Other actresses with the same surname will do just as well

8d    Make devoted cadet die horribly (8)
DEDICATE: An anagram (horribly) of CADET DIE

12d    You could get to bathe if you do this! (4,3,4)
ROCK THE BOAT: The first word of the answer is an anagram indicator and the other two words are an anagram of TO BATHE. If you do this in a literal sense you might go overboard and hence get wet

15d    Cockney engaged originally in the role of nurse (4-5)
EAST-ENDER: The first letter of ENGAGED + ‘in the role of’ + a nurse (6)

16d    Shoot to trap soldiers parking in armoured vehicle (8)
SCORPION: A shoot or offshoot round army personnel who are not commissioned officers and P (parking) = a type of British armoured reconnaissance vehicle or light tank

18d    Wicked person whose memory will remain timeless (7)
IMMORAL: Remove T (time) from someone whose greatness will never fade or whose genius will be revered for all time

19d    Angry compiler about to be outed in press (7)
IMPLORE: An anagram (angry) of OMPILER, i.e. COMPILER less C (about). This was my last one in

20d    Robust analysis is about right (6)
STURDY: ‘Analysis’ round R (right)

22d    Small cake rising introducing fine TV programme that was popular once, briefly (2,3)
AB FAB: A reversal of a small cake soaked in a rum syrup round F (fine) = the abbreviated name of a TV sitcom originally screened in the 1990s

Thanks to Messinae for a pleasant brain work-out

16 comments on “Toughie 1834

  1. Lots to enjoy here but there’s one standout clue (12d) in my opinion. Thanks to Messinae and Bufo.

  2. Very enjoyable indeed but for me also very tough.
    What kept me going was that I thought I was doing the back pager, having clicked the wrong button by accident.
    12d is a magnificent clue but 11a is my standout clue and also my last one in.” Banger, very drole !
    Thanks to Messinae and Bufo.

  3. I attempt the toughie every day now and thanks to BD am slowly improving. This puzzle would have been beyond me not so long ago. I still have difficulty in making sense of some clues and some elude me completely. I did not know that the first part of 24 a was a synonym for presume. Thanks Bufo for explaining 22d which I bunged in.

  4. Great puzzle! Tremendous fun. Totally agree about 11&12. Genius! Still puzzled by by 5. I got parts one and two so guessed the rest. Bufo gave me the Greek letter but I’m afraid logs are a distant and painful memory!

    Thanks to Messinae and Bufo for loads of fun and explanations.

    1. Lower case “e” is the symbol used in mathematics for the base of natural logarithms – if you did logarithms at school they were probably to base 10.

      One of my favourite formulae is e raised to the power of 2πi=1 (where i is the square root of -1 (√ -1); why this is so great is because both e and π are transcendental numbers (which basically means you can never write them down) and i is an imaginary number)

  5. Hugely enjoyable puzzle for me. My only disappointment was, even with all the checkers, being defeated by 22d in that I was not familiar with either the TV programme or the cake. Many thanks to all.

  6. I found this quite tough, but also enjoyable. I too liked 11 & 12, but 4a is my fave, even though I think I’ve seen something like it before. I am another who struggled to parse the end part of 5d, but that just highlights my ignorance!
    Lots to like, so ****/**** for me.
    Thanks to Messinae and to Bufo for the education.

  7. The right side was alright but the left left me scratching my head for quite some time. I can’t even blame the heat now! Got there in the end, but I did have to look a few things up. Mr K gave me a Little Red Book as a present and it has already proved useful (but didn’t help with the 1d office).

    Thanks to Messinae and Bufo.

  8. We did not know the word for ‘office’ in 1d but worked out what it must be when we had all the checkers. Quite challenging and lots of fun.
    Thanks Messinae and Bufo.

  9. What a delight of a puzzle but I’m relieved to learn from the comments that I wasn’t alone in not knowing the ‘office’ and struggling to parse the last section of 5d. I’m also never completely comfortable with then = immediately. ‘There and then’ seems fair enough but ‘then’ on its own doesn’t quite ring true.

    I awarded a lot of ticks but agree that 11a & 12d deserve special mention.

    Many thanks for the enjoyment, Messinae and thanks to Bufo for explaining all the twiddly bits!

    1. Just a thought now that I’ve twigged the ‘office’. Isn’t it shortened form of latrine rather than lavatory?

  10. Great crossword and great sense of achievement to complete it with referring to the write up. Got the base in 5d, Mr Sheffieldsy having done maths at university, but strangely it was the cross that was new to us. Overall, 4*/4.5*.

    Thought 25a was an admirable clue.

    Thanks to Bufo for the review and Messinae for the fun.

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