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Toughie 1848

Toughie No 1848 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hi, and welcome all to another Tuesday Toughie.

The note by the puzzle in today’s dead tree edition of the puzzle reads, “Congratulations to today’s compiler on her 100th Toughie.”  A note from BD informs me that this is only her 98th, and our count from the list of compilers on the Telegraph website agrees.  Can anyone shed light on the discrepancy?

I didn’t find it quite as fun as Excalibur’s usual, but I hope that was just me.  I looked for but couldn’t find a nina though at one stage, with the first five letters in the fifth column filled in, I thought we were heading for one.  If I’ve missed anything, do tell me.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the answers in haiku: no no no no no, no no no no no no no, no no no no no buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all.



1a    Decide to deal with later, after page one (8)
POSTPONE:  A prefix meaning after, the abbreviation for page and the last word of the clue taken as is.  I wrote this hint last

5a    Among vast number retracted, offer stands (6)
ABIDES:  Inside the reversal (retracted) of a large number or abundance, put an offer or tender

9a    ‘Pearl Beyond Price’ — tear-jerking, doubtless (8)
TREASURE:  An anagram (jerking) of TEAR followed by a synonym of doubtless or certain

10a   Very loud — pack round to mute sound (6)
BAFFLE:  A pack or bundle goes round the musical notation for very loud

12a   Yesterday’s star performing as uncredited cast (6)
EXTRAS:  A prefix meaning former (yesterday’s) precedes an anagram (performing) of STAR

13a   Express excursion skirting southern runway (8)
AIRSTRIP:  Express or voice and a short excursion around (skirting) S(outhern)

15a   With key, opens up and takes a look (7)
GLANCES:  Take a musical key and add a word for opens up or pierces

16a   Dog with best time, according to announcement (4)
PEKE:  A homophone (according to announcement) of maximum (which could refer to time)

20a   Middle, beginning or end of course (4)
CORE:  Either the first or the last letter of the word course, expressed as (1 2 1)

21a   Partner does nothing right (7)
CONSORT:  Does as in swindles, the letter shaped like a zero and an abbreviation for right

25a   Mad about me — warped (8)
DEMENTED:  Around (about) ME from the clue is a word meaning warped, with a depression in the surface

26a   He parted from her in foreign country: a wrench (6)
SPRAIN:  First, we take her with he removed (he parted from her) to give us a single letter.  This goes inside a European country

28a   Answer  HMRC demand? (6)
RETURN:  Two definitions, the first a retort or comeback and the second something considerably less witty

29a   During much worse novel, give up (8)
FORSWEAR:  Inside (during) much – in the sense of much too … – is an anagram (novel) of WORSE

30a   Walked past home having dined, dropped in (6)
PADDED:  A home (perhaps that of a bachelor) and DinED having missed out (dropped) IN

31a   Saw one’s been taken in by crooked dealer (8)
REALISED:  The Roman one, with the ‘S from the clue, inside (taken in by) an anagram (crooked) of DEALER



1d    Spiel Father Time interrupts (6)
PATTER:  An informal, old-fashioned or facetious word for father, into which T(ime) is inserted (interrupts)

2d    Doctor hates hospital case (6)
SHEATH:  Form an anagram (doctor) of HATES and add H(ospital)

3d    Good enough, as port proved to be after dinner (8)
PASSABLE:  If you have done after dinner what you are meant to do with the port, then the port proved to be this.  This was a hard on to hint – I hope my effort was good enough

4d    How Carmen is shown to be heartless, as usual (4)
NORM:  If Carmen is made heartless, cryptically, the middle two letters are removed.  So there is … (2 1 1)

6d    Prepare something to eat, breaking up blackjack (6)
BRAISE:  Separating (breaking up) blackjack to give black jack is our first step.  We are then left with a simple charade of B(lack) with jack (up)

7d    Put off and fed up, went wrong (8)
DEFERRED:  Reverse (write up, in a down clue) FED form the clue, then add a word meaning went wrong

8d    Ram home (5-3)
SHEEP-PEN:  This needs to be interpreted as a home for a ram.  I’m not sure this enclosure can quite be considered a home but, well, cryptic license!

11d   Short of time, set aside criminal complaint (7)
DISEASE:  An anagram (criminal) of SEt ASIDE without the T(ime) (short of time)

14d   Says it with music? (7)
INTONES:  Says or chants in a singsong way or with little rise and fall of pitch.  Split (2,5) to mean with music

17d   Sharp decline in confectionery (4,4)
ACID DROP:  Sharp (4) plus decline (4) gives a sour sweet

18d   Put up the ladder and urge me to fake breaking in (8)
PROMOTED:  Urge or stimulate (4) with an anagram (fake) of ME TO inserted (breaking in).  There was a nice penny-drop moment when I realised that this ladder is a career ladder

19d   Support also waveringly given to suggestion (8)
PROPOSAL:  A support (refreshingly not a bra or a tee) is followed by ALSO, anagrammed (waveringly)

22d   Admission to course (6)
ENTRÉE:  Two definitions: the right to enter, or part of a meal.  I learnt recently from Mr K that, inexplicably, North American usage differs from ours

23d   Show how much you love jalopy referred to as ‘she’? (6)
CARESS:  The kind of vehicle which might be a jalopy with a suffix indicating that this one is a female.  This made me smile, partly because anyone familiar to the Indy blogs on Fifteensquared will be familiar with a certain Mrs Jalopy and her fabled drinks trolley

24d   Accustomed, coming from college, to turn left? (6)
INURED:  A higher education establishment, abbreviated and reversed (to turn), and left, politically

27d   Arrive to take care of number one (4)
COME:  The abbreviation for care of followed by number one, from the setter’s perspective


… and with that, we arrive at the end of Excalibur’s number 100.  Or 98.  Whichever it is, thanks to her.  Found lots of bits to smile at here, but I think my favourite is the light-of-touch 27d.  Which hit the right notes with you?



48 comments on “Toughie 1848

    1. Thanks LbR – no need to delete you! Today was a case of not leaving enough time to add words in between the pictures. Was busy making a last-minute correction to the hints too. Argh!

      1. (Just realised I made the mistake by counting four on from my last blog, forgetting that that was Thursday not Tuesday.)

  1. Found this one quite tough, partly due to being on the wrong wavelength and partly because the grid isn’t very friendly. In retrospect there is nothing too obscure so no excuses.

    Thanks (and congratulations?) to Excalibur and thanks to Kitty

  2. Another scintillating Excalibur Have there really been either 98 or 100? They seem to me to appear all too rarely I really loved 9a Pearl Beyond Price 20a Middle, beginning.. and 8d Ram home. As well as Kitty’s favourite, 27d. Keep up the great work, Excalibur and thanks to you and to Kitty

  3. I always wonder why the DT Puzzles team can put the name of the Toughie setter in the paper but not in the on-line version?

    My guess at today’s compiler was completely wrong! So, congratulations to Excalibur on No 100 … or maybe, congratulations on No 998?

      1. Hi Stan,
        Not a complaint (well, not really) but can you or anyone else explain to me why the abbreviation for mathematics has increasingly become ‘math’ rather than ‘maths’? I assumed it was an ‘Americanism’ but don’t know whether that is where you are based?

        1. As one who switches regularly between doing math and doing maths, I can say that math is definitely an Americanism. If it’s entering British English I’d blame US television and movies.

          But Z is still “zed”, not “zee”, correct?

          1. If I didn’t know you better, I’d say that you’re just trying to wind me up now, Mr. K!

            1. Jane, I’d never wind you up. Well, except perhaps about the AT IT/A TIT thing. And possibly for attributing Samuel puzzles to Shamus (although that did turn out to be a brilliant unmasking strategy).

              Being serious, I’ve never heard math used in the UK and certainly never encountered zee. Interchanging math and maths, and zee and zed are translations I need to make every time I get on a plane and it would be sad if such differences were to disappear.

              1. It would indeed be sad to see the differences disappear, which is why I was on the side of Brexit (oops, sorry BD – politics). I would hate to visit other countries and find them exactly the same as our own – vive la difference!

                1. very confused – Brexit will affect differences in culture? When we next meet you’ll have to explain.

                  1. I’ll give it a go, Dutch, but I suspect that you’ll be a reluctant listener!
                    PS In case you didn’t go back to the Indy blog, I did solve your latest puzzle when I got home from IOW – loved the crazy family and the pedestrian complaint!

        2. I’m just a poorly schooled son of Essex … ain’t it … but I noticed recently that one of my great nephews (aged 7) said “My favourite subject is math”.

          “Do you mean Arithmetic?” said I.

          He didn’t understand what I was talking about.

          Anyway, I just meant to type 98 not 998!

        3. Believe me, the difference between Maths and Math is not nearly as confusing as the difference beween old math and new math!

          1. I’m with you on that one, Chris. Had to give up on the attempts to help the girls with their maths homework whilst they were still in primary school! All I could do was to give them answers and leave them to work out the ‘correct’ methodology.

            1. What about Applied math and Pure (theoretical) math? Wouldn’t that make it a plural subject?

              1. Not to mention the fact that arithmetic is also one of the plethora of topics that comes under the umbrella of mathematics.

  4. I thought that this was one of Excalibur’s better Toughies – thanks (and congrats) to her and thanks to Kitty for the blog. Top treats for me were 21a, 6d and 23d.

    [I may be misreading the 24d hint but it seems to have a mixture of two different ways of parsing the clue.]

    1. Kitty is on her way to London, so I have unmixed 24d on her behalf. Thanks, Gazza.

  5. I came at this with some trepidation after my disaster with last Friday’s toughie. However, I ended up enjoying it very much. No real slow-downs at all – in fact I did this in ** time, and generally I almost always find myself on the longer side of the difficulty rating. No real stand-out favourites, but lots of precise and elegant clueing. Many thanks to Excalibur (98 or 100 is no small achievement!) and Kitty.

  6. All good and very enjoyable but a little tricky, especially if like me you put in ‘mu**le’ at 10a. Never did get 16a (forced to take a peek) and was not at all sure about 30a. Hard to pick out one clue since there are plenty to choose from, but I will nominate 14d – not fiendish but nice.

    Many thanks to Excalibur for the challenge and to Kitty for the review.

      1. …so did Verlaine and Dutch, it appears. Pleased to discover I’m in good company!

  7. I didn’t *love* this one – too many “boring” words (e.g. all the ones ending -ED) with boring crossers but nothing wrong with the cluing, and there were a couple of really fun ones I liked – 23dn and 8dn leap out.

    I had 10ac beginning with MU, 25ac centering on RANG and 19dn beginning with ESP at various points, so maybe some of my irritation was with myself for making a mess of the grid (in pen, always in pen).

    Thanks Kitty and Excalibur! The setter is worth ten of the solver (this particular solver, anyway).

    1. Oh, on a side note there’s currently a meetup being planned for Sunday 30th July in the convenient location of, er, New York City USA. I don’t know if there are many NY-based Toughie lovers out there, perhaps not, but of course they would be welcome to join me and the rest of the stateside solver crew!

      1. I know I said a while back that I would be coming to all of these things, but I think NY is perhaps just a little beyond what the depth of my pockets will allow. Next time, maybe. *hunts for a magic money tree*

  8. This was a crossword of four corners and a middle. But very pleasant. Just right for us for a Tuesday.
    Favourite 23d.
    cheers Excalibur and Kitty.

  9. I got off to a racing start up top then came grinding to a halt at the bottom. In the end I was left with a few blanks in sw. I’m glad I’m not the only one who started 10a with MU.

    The online version told me this was shamus and we have Elgar tomorrow. Never believe anything you read in the papers. I mean on line.

    8a was one of these clever rufusesque 2-word CDs disguised as a double definition.

    Many thanks Excalibur and thanks kitty for the enlightenment

  10. Being in the ‘mule’ gang meant that 6d was the last to fall along with 13a where I was convinced that I needed to put the excursion outside of a southern runway.
    Pleased to see that the question as to why 22d refers to a main course came up – shame that there doesn’t appear to be a definitive answer.
    Missed the parsing of 4d so needed Kitty’s help to understand the working of that one.

    Ticks went to 20a plus 8d with 17d taking the honours.
    Thanks to Excalibur for the continuing pleasure of her puzzles (whether this be 98 or 100 appearances to date) and thanks to our Girl Tuesday for her usual fun blog which I always look forward to reading.

  11. 3*/3*, and 7d my favourite clue. Thanks to Excalibur, and to Kitty for the review.

  12. Well I loved it and had lots of ticks on my page including 5A, 21A, 3D, 14D, 17D and 24D. Thanks Excalibur, and congratulations of your century [or near century, depending on how one does the math(s)].

    By the way, I read in the DT a couple of days ago that doing crosswords daily can shave ten years off the age of one’s brain. Pity it can’t do the same for the body.

  13. Hi all, I’m back from the third fail in short succession of some silly notion I had to give up alcohol for a little while to dry out after recent London and Macclesfield excesses. Hmm – maybe from tomorrow!

    Thanks to Mr K for sorting out my botched attempt at a correction, made while I was rushing out of the door and trying to do too many things at once. Today was a case of spending too much time hunting for pictures and not leaving enough to write the actual hinty parts. And unlike doing it the other way round, leaving a blog with pictures but bare of hints would probably be frowned upon. Must do better.

    I’m not going to make any political comments, or even talk about the correctness or otherwise of the s on the end of maths. What I will do is wish you goodnight, and thank those of you who, having solved the crossword, took the time to leave a comment. Much appreciated.

  14. Thanks to, and congratulations to Excalibur on her 100th Toughie, and to Kitty for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but I thought it was very gentle, as I actually managed to complete it! Favourite was 14d. Last in was 4d. Was 2*/4* for me.

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