Toughie 1857 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1857

Toughie No 1857 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

I made rather heavy weather of this though when I’d finished I couldn’t really see why because there were a handful of ‘old favourites’ to give a way in. Elkamere has, as usual, come up with a thoroughly entertaining puzzle.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

6a Life is tough without mum joining a foreign fleet (7,6)
SPANISH ARMADA – start with a word for the duration of one’s life and add IS and a synonym for tough containing an affectionate word for mother. Finish the whole thing with A.

8a Fix shed before end of June (6)
SCRAPE – a verb to shed or discard precedes the last letter of June.

9a Spider finally moving on fruit fly (3,3,2)
RUN FOR IT – the last letter of spider is followed by an anagram (moving) of ON FRUIT.

10a Right to invade military establishment (3)
YES – hidden.

11a Time to cover up informer’s mistakes (6)
ERRATA – a period of time contains an informer or snitch.

12a Boiling, as current when crossing river (8)
TROPICAL – an adjective meaning current or newsworthy contains the abbreviation for river.

14a Bring-a-bottle party? Impossible (2,3,2)
NO CAN DO – cryptically there might be no metallic containers at this party. This is a bit of an old chestnut but neatly done.

16a I go to see pair entering rally (7)
IMPROVE – I and a verb to go (in a board game perhaps) contain the abbreviation for pair.

20a Row on river that’s very high (8)
FALSETTO – a row or argument (3-2) follows the name of a river in Cornwall.

23a Passion starts to replace glory (6)
LUSTRE – a word for passion or ardour and the starting two letters of ‘replace’.

24a 1 in 10 is a peasant (3)
OIK – a less formal way of saying 10a contains the Roman numeral for one.

25a Husband actually hugs her, ultimately frustrated (8)
HINDERED – start with the abbreviation for husband and add an adverb meaning actually containing the ultimate letter of ‘her’.

26a Small dog, the most important you have heard? (6)
YORKIE – this sounds like ‘the most important you have’ (your key).

27a If in shock, stop show (13)
MANIFESTATION – insert IF into a shock (of hair) and append a stopping place.

Down Clues

1d Painter of ancient people with a Hindu epic (8)
RAMAYANA – this is an old Indian
epic poem (I didn’t know this so thanks to Mr Google). String together the usual abbreviation for artist, an adjective relating to an ancient people of Central America and A.

2d A plantation in a very irregular delta (8)
VINEYARD – an anagram (irregular) of IN A VERY followed by the letter for which delta is used in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet. I’m somewhat puzzled by the A which starts the definitions in both this clue and 4d – in neither clue does it seem necessary or improve the surface reading.

3d XXX will keep spades dry (7)
THIRSTY – the number for which the Romans used XXX contains the abbreviation for the card suit spades.

4d A foreigner‘s smile, having to fit in (6)
GRINGO – a smile or smirk followed by a verb meaning to fit in or be in harmony.

5d Going north, I see rubbish in Italian city (6)
NAPOLI – bring together I, an exclamation meaning ‘see’ and a verb to rubbish or criticise. Now reverse it all.

6d Priestly devotion admits oracles must be reinterpreted (13)
SACERDOTALISM – an anagram (must be reinterpreted) of ADMITS ORACLES.

7d Rebuke cuckoo, wild type (13)
ANIMADVERSION – assemble a South American bird of the cuckoo family (not one I knew), an adjective meaning wild or crazed and a type or variety.

13d Clay perhaps, not quite stone (3)
PIP – what clay is an example of without its final letter.

15d Born, or rather ‘delivered’ (3)
NÉE – this sounds like a word which could replace ‘rather’ in a sentence such as ‘It will take years, rather decades to get rid of the deficit’.

17d Song featuring variety stars (5,3)
MILKY WAY – the song performed at every opportunity by Frank contains a word meaning variety or type.

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18d Stand, fall, stop (8)
RESTRAIN – charade of a verb to stand or position and a fall (of water).

19d Yucky fare, but not bad (7)
GOODISH – split the answer 3,4 and it could be describing yucky or messy food.

21d Small branch I had found in grass (6)
SIDING – insert the contracted form of ‘I had’ into a verb to grass or rat.

22d Answer hidden in awesome sentence (6)
TARIFF – the single-letter abbreviation for answer goes inside a slang word meaning awesome or excellent. This defines the limits of what a judge may hand down.

I had 6a, 24a, 27a and 17d in my list of likes. Which one(s) grabbed you?

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20 comments on “Toughie 1857

  1. A lovely Toughie treat – thanks to Elkamere and Gazza – too many ‘clues I really liked’ to list

  2. Nothing very exciting but, regarding today ‘s ridiculous sensibilities, I’ll be surprised if someone somewhere doesn’t think 4 d is racist. Followers of Big Dave, of course, have more sense!

  3. Consternation dumbly biffed at 27 held me up until I bothered to unscramble the unknown 6d then all fell into place. Great crossword indeed.Thanks to E and G

  4. The top half went in reasonably smoothly but I slowed down quite a bit at the bottom. The long 6d & 7d and the Hindu epic were new to me.

    Thanks gazza for the parsing of 15d

    Tons to enjoy – I quite liked 3D and 17d, also 2d, 24a, 26a.

    Many thanks elkamere for the usual excellence and thanks gazza

  5. Definitely a Toughie proper. 6d & 7d are new to me and will be soon forgotten, no doubt. Liked 9a, 3d & 18d in particular.
    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza for the review. ****/***

  6. Unlike Gazza, I know exactly why I made heavy weather of this one – because it was tough!
    I had to ask Mr. G about the priestly devotion and the Hindu epic but somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to recall that we’ve met the cuckoo before.

    Like Dutch, I have to thank Gazza for the parsing of 15d – never occurred to me.
    I parsed 26a slightly differently – ‘you are key’ seemed to fit the bill quite well. Either way, the answer when it came certainly produced a tooth-sucking moment!

    Top of my pops were 6,9,24&27a along with 3&17d.

    Thanks for the challenge, Elkamere, and thanks to Gazza for at least allowing this one 4*!

    1. I dithered between “your key” and “you’re key”, Jane, but the ‘have’ in the clue swayed me towards the former.

      1. I was thinking along the lines of ‘I have heard that you are key’ – but I take your point, Gazza.

  7. Went rather well for an Elkamere.
    1d took a while as I only knew of the marhabata in India mythology. Probably spelled it wrong anyhow.
    Guessed the abbreviation for terrific in 22d.
    Favourite 2d. The vendanges should start next week down here. Rather early this year. Everything is overripe with the heat we’ve been having.
    Thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza for the review.

  8. I found this a hugely enjoyable puzzle, and one which, despite poems, cuckoos, and priestly devotions that I hadn’t met, I managed to complete without too much difficulty. I am relieved that others seemed to have found this as challenging as I certainly did. Many thanks to Elkamere and Gazza.

  9. The top half I could do but I made a very lame attempt at the bottom half so the hints were definitely used.
    9a is my favourite . I never heard of 7d and I don’t expect to remember it either.
    Thanks to Gazza and Elkamere.

  10. What a little gem, a couple of new words and great wordplay that produced some smiles. Also a bit of relief from the travails of life. Our old lurcher, Sam, passing away unexpectedly on Sunday morning. Our knowledge of South American ornithology let us down and we’re left with one blank square. Many thanks to Elkamere and Gazza.

    1. Oh dear – sorry about Sam – how sad for you. Our Collie, Annie, was put to sleep almost three years ago at the age of 15+. I still cry about her sometimes and still miss her.

  11. Now I have some idea of what people mean by a proper toughie. Once I started this I became determined to finish it, which I managed eventually with the aid of my electronic BRB. Learned a few new words along the way. I liked 14a

    I took the inclusion of the initial A in 2d and 4d to be for misdirection. At least I was misdirected into thinking that the answers might begin with A.

    Thanks to Elkamere for the workout and to Gazza for an excellent blog that explained a few I hadn’t parsed.

  12. :phew: definitely a Toughie – well, that’s what it’s supposed to be.
    I can’t usually do Elkamere’s crosswords but, like last Wednesday’s Toughie setter, I associate him with Fridays.
    It was raining and I had a go – I’m glad that I did. Getting 6a and 6d was a good start.
    I finally finished it but needed a couple (?) of Gazza’s very clear hints to understand my answers.
    I knew all the three bits of 7d but the final word, the answer, was not one I’ve ever heard of.
    17d was easier once I realised that the 24a peasant wasn’t an ‘oaf’.
    Had to ask Mr Google about 1d.
    I liked 9a and 18d. My favourite was 19d – any answer that ends in ‘ish makes me laugh.
    Thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza.

  13. An excellent level of Toughie difficulty we thought and good fun from start to finish. One of our team knew both the priestly devotion and the Hindu epic and she felt very pleased about that as it gave plenty of checking letters. Much appreciated and enjoyed.
    Thanks Elkamere and Gazza.

  14. Much to my surprise when doing an Elkamere I completed it with one electronic help for 7d (unknown word and last in) and the encyclopaedia for a Hindu epic ending in RA. Many thanks to Gazza (for boosting my morale with 4* difficulty) and Elkamere (for letting me do more than 6 clues!)

  15. Great stuff – had to piece together the Sanskrit work from wordplay and thought MILKY WAY was really good.

  16. Late comment on this. I seldom comment as it is my habit to do yesterdays toughie early the following morning. Just have to congratulate Elkamere on the best crossword I have enjoyed in years. Learnt a few words 1d, 6d and 7d – all parsable with the aid of a dictionary to confirm my guesses. Didn’t need help from Gazza, but “Comment Etiquette” thanks his efforts! The crossword was not too tough, didn’t take too long and was full of fun and wit. Thank you Elkamere

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