Toughie 1864 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1864

Toughie No 1864 by MynoT

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment **

MynoT starts off the Toughie week – the difficulty rating being  a reflection of the fact that some of the clues definitely fell into the ‘took longer to explain than solve’ category

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Charm to change direction and become visible (6)
APPEAR Take another word for charm and change the letter at the end that indicates direction or side

5a    What is needed for spoilt wee runts? (3,5)
WET NURSE An anagram (spoilt) of WEE RUNTS


9a    Beginning and end of a new cupola welcomed by official beside sacred river (5,3,5)
ALPHA AND OMEGA The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet form part of a description in Jesus found in the Book of Revelations: “I am [the solution] the first and the last” – A (from the clue) N (new) and a cupola are welcomed by or inserted into a Turkish chief officer and then put beside or after the sacred river in Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (as opposed to the real river in Antarctica)

10a    Story set to music of old gunmen in honour of city (8)
ORATORIO The abbreviations for Old and the Royal Artillery (gunmen), a preposition with many definitions, one of them being ‘in honour of’ and, finally, a South American city

11a    Open with good mimicry (6)
GAPING The abbreviation for good and some mimicry

12a    Force unit‘s amphibian forward (6)
NEWTON An amphibian and a preposition meaning forward

14a    Revelation of public display on southern river (8)
EXPOSURE An exhibition or public display, the abbreviation for Southern and a river in North Yorkshire

16a    A wearing song — a curse (8)
ANATHEMA A (from the clue) inserted into (wearing) an official recognized song, and then the second A in the clue is added at the end

19a    Jones, perhaps, died entering deep blue (6)
INDIGO Insert D (died entering) into the Christian name of Mr Jones, a famous early architect

21a    Stone tree revealed by story-teller I ignored (6)
ASHLAR A dressed stone used in buildings – a type of tree and a synonym for a story-teller without (ignored) the I

23a    Prestigious French art abounded (8)
ESTEEMED I hope everyone remembered the ‘French art’ from yesterday’s back pager. The same word should be followed by another way of saying abounded

25a    Maybe me being found next to yours truly is mad (6,7)
BESIDE ONESELF A clue a bit like an old-fashioned riddle – basically what our setter is saying is that if he (me) sat next to himself (yours truly) he’d end up being like  a phrase that might  indicate being  very angry

26a    Men in Customs remove spirits (8)
EXORCISE – The two letters used to indicate ordinary ranks of soldiers inserted into customs duty

27a    Land area out of American city (6)
SETTLE A verb meaning to land is obtained by removing A for area from a seaport city on the West of America


2d    Plain song that is to pursue publicity (7)
PRAIRIE A type of song and the abbreviation for ‘that is’ pursue the abbreviation for public relations (publicity)

3d    Former wife Patricia is resident abroad (5)
EXPAT A former wife and the informal way we might refer to a lady called Patricia

4d    Again work out in back row (9)
REARRANGE – Synonyms for back and row

5d    Pleasant not to lose everything (7)
WINSOME If you split your solution 3,4 you’ll see that you didn’t lose everything

6d    Strip, though in New York no good (5)
THONG An American (in New York) or poetic way of saying though followed by the abbreviation for No Good

7d    Hidden film not used (9)
UNEXPOSED If a film in a camera hadn’t been used it would be said to be this. I wonder what the younger generation who’ve probably never used a camera with film in it made of this one?

8d    It’s a wrench for salesmen to return having embraced girl (7)
SPANNER A reversal (to return) of some abbreviated salesmen into which is inserted (embraced) a girl’s name

13d    Summer is late, irregular boarding fell (9)
TOTALISER An anagram (irregular) of IS LATE ‘boarding’ an upland tract of moor

15d    Futile love, overcome by not having beer? (9)
POINTLESS The letter that looks like a nought (love) ‘overcome by’ a way of saying that you hadn’t a beer (4,4)

17d    Boston Red Sox playing to provide this home for high-fliers with doors (4,3)
NEST BOX An anagram (playing) of BOSTON RED SOX will produce both a home for high-fliers and the word DOORS

18d    One to initially smell execrable is sour (7)
ACETOSE One in cards, TO (from the clue) and the initial letters of Smell Execrable go together to produce a sour smell like vinegar

20d    Cheerful atmosphere when rising in most of Gulf (7)
GLEEFUL A four-letter word meaning a general atmosphere or something is reversed (rising) and inserted into most of GULf

22d    Call to get one for nothing — more than one spoke (5)
RADII Replace the O (nothing) at the end of a way to communicate a message (call) with an I (get 1 for nothing)

24d    Upright before court (5)
ERECT An ‘old friend’ to finish – another way of saying before and the abbreviation for court

I’m not sure yet what I’m doing on the second Tuesday of my holiday, but if next Tuesday’s Toughie setter is someone I haven’t blogged before, Kitty (who had an appointment today and is standing in for Dutch on Friday) should prepare herself for a bit of arm-wrestling

16 comments on “Toughie 1864

  1. A very gentle start to the Toughie week – thanks to MynoT and CS. I’m not at all sure (13a) that a fell can be compared to a tor (other than the fact that they’re both high). The clues I liked best were 23a and 26a.

    1. Well if you insist – surprised at Jane missing it – her fine-toothed comb must be missing a tooth or two.

      1. I only bring it out at the weekend, CS – I figured that was probably about as much as you could take of it!

  2. Yes, I did remember the French art – but I may well not do so once a few more days have elapsed!
    Needed to check on the sacred river, the sourness of 18d and the 12a unit, but had fortunately already got the right answers via the wordplay.

    Top clues for me were 5&26a.

    Thanks to MynoT and to CS for taking charge of the review – I suspect you would have a battle on your hands to wrest next week’s slot from our Girl Tuesday, whoever the setter may be!
    BTW That’s some nest box – I presume it’s for owls.

  3. Yes, very easy – I might have allowed a difficulty of up to one-and-a-half stars due to some slightly unusual vocab in the SW corner, but much of this went straight in on sight of the clues. Thanks setter and Sue. If you’re going to arm-wrestle Kitty I want it to be filmed so we can all watch!

  4. Finished but I admit to needing a few hints to understand my answers – most of them were right.
    I completely gave up trying to untangle 9a and 17d and got into a muddle with the ‘A’s with 16a.
    If today hadn’t come after yesterday I wouldn’t have got 23a and I’ve never heard of 21a.
    I liked 19, 25 and 26a. My favourite was 5a because it was such an appropriate anagram.
    Thanks to MynoT and to CS for standing in for Kitty in the middle of what I know is a very busy week.

  5. Toughie setter in a benign mood to enable those of my ilk to complete without hint or help. The ones to come later in the week will reinforce my conviction that I am nowhere near decrypting a proper toughie but I will keep on trying.

  6. All over very quickly for us too. We must have met 21a in a previous crossword as we surprised ourselves by remembering it. An enjoyable solve.
    Thanks MynoT and CS.

  7. Thanks to MynoT and to Crypticsue for the review and hints. I found this quite tough, and good in parts. Needed 3 lookups and three hints to finish. Favourite was 5a. Was 4*/2* for me.

  8. Over too quickly to enjoy properly.

    Liked 5d but best was 25a.

    Not much else to say.

    Thanks to CS and MynoT.

  9. A couple of stubborn clues put me into 2* time, but l enjoyed the tussle. Top clues for me were 23a and 15d. The latter raised a definite smile. Thanks to MynoT and crypticsue.

  10. The fair clues directed me to the right answers in 21a and 18d which had to be checked .
    However 9a was a write in and parse later but totally forgot to get back to it when the crossword was completed.
    Thanks to MynoT and to CS for the review.

  11. Surprised myself by completing without too many recourses to the blog.
    Very enjoyable-favourite clue 5A

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