Toughie 1868 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1868

Toughie No 1868 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Alright me luvvers!  Today’s Toughie tips are brought to you from sunny Devon, where a clowder of kitty kin are gathered to celebrate the birthday of Mother Kitty.  Happy Birthday Mum!

I wasn’t on wavelength for much of this, though I tuned in for a while.  It may be the lack of cross-checked letters in the grid which contributed to the difficulty.  My last in were the intersecting 23a/19d which I spent a long time having no clue about.  I’m not sure whether it was the moderate quantities of wine yesterday, but I didn’t find quite as much humour and fun in this as Excalibur usually brings to the table.  I hope you did.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all.



7a    Result of bringing a murderer to book? (8)
THRILLER:  We kick off with a cryptic definition which I rather like.  A book featuring a murderer might well be of this genre

9a    A blithe ‘Come off it!’ (6)
ALIGHT:  The A from the clue and blithe or carefree.  For the definition, interpret the words literally rather than as the surface idiom

10a   This person’s got caught entering previously (4)
ONCE:  I or me, formally, containing (‘s got … entering) the cricket abbreviation for caught

11a   Within moment, composer’s feeling queasy in car (6-4)
TRAVEL-SICK:  Inside (within) an informal word for a moment is a composer together with the ‘S from the clue

12a   Stopped and took a good look round, saving energy (6)
CEASED:  Took a good look round (a “joint” perhaps) containing (saving) E(nergy)

14a   Spell out ‘Beelzebub’ perhaps (8)
EXORCISE:  A cryptic definition of using magic to get rid of evil spirits.  (It makes me sad that adding that neither of these things is real might still be controversial even now)

15a   Took dip before pools emptied. They’re wet (6)
SWAMPS:  Place a word meaning bathed before pools without its inner letters (emptied)

17a   I’m a linked pen friend, resident in Africa (6)
IMPALA:  IM and A from the clue contain (pen) a chum.  Can you find the third of these who is hiding somewhere on the page?

20a   Lingerie departments no longer stock these  slips (8)
BLOOMERS:  An old-fashioned type of underwear is also a word for mistakes.  An opportunity to include some vintage Sir Terry for Kath

22a   In boxing world, is on the increase (6)
RISING:  Into the area where boxing takes place, put the IS from the clue

23a   Smuggle in items that cost less here? (3,2,1,4)
RUN AT A LOSS:  The first word of the answer is a verb to smuggle and if you were to smuggle items to a place where they cost less then you would smuggle them (2,1,3).  I like the idea behind this but the execution doesn’t quite do it for me

24a   Catch in singer’s voice (4)
BASS:  A fishing catch and a vocal register

25a   Grate, cook and start to eat (6)
GRILLE:  To cook by radiant heat and then the first letter of (start to) eat

26a   Curious, not ending in an S (8)
SINGULAR:  Curious or unusual.  A word not ending in S might be the answer – but might well not, so surely this clue needs the addition of “perhaps” or a question mark?



1d    Yells, ‘Hurt! Send for transport’ (8)
THUNDERS:  Yells angrily.  An anagram (for transport) of HURT SEND

2d    Distance I left myself to cover (4)
MILE:  I and L(eft) have a word meaning myself around it (to cover)

3d    Newspaperman secures, dead chuffed (6)
ELATED:  Our usual newspaper person contains (secures) dead or deceased

4d    Parasite in record dispute over millions (8)
TAPEWORM:  Record followed by the reversal (over) of an argument and then M(illions)

5d    Where tots learn to be very good? (5,5)
FIRST CLASS:  Two definitions.  (Chambers has the second hyphenated, so I didn’t underline that one)

6d    Taking over hotel, gets rid of unsightly buildings (6)
SHACKS:  Around (taking over) H(otel) is a verb meaning gets rid of or dismisses

8d    You are funny, blushing up! (6)
READER:  Make an anagram (funny) of ARE and add a reversal (up, in a down clue) of blushing

13d   Cold in winter, say, as one going around wrapped up in fur (10)
SEASONABLE:  An anagram (going around) – or equally, a cycling of the letters – of AS ONE inside (wrapped up in) a type of fur

16d   Before painting was returned, said it would be? (8)
PRESAGED:  Before (3) plus the reversal of a French artist, and hence also a painting by him

18d   Unable to remember names, I confused capitals of Australia and Canada (8)
AMNESIAC:  An anagram (confused) of NAMES I plus the capital letters of the countries given in the clue

19d   Smart meeting place’s casual wear for men (6)
ASCOTS:  A race course with a fashionable dress code and the ‘S from the clue.  The name of this neckwear derives from the meeting place, so the whole clue also defines the answer

21d   What ensures museum isn’t stuffy? (6)
LOUVRE:  This is a kind of cryptic definition which relies on a double meaning of a word in the clue.  The answer is a famous museum and also a ventilation structure

22d   Object to ‘Penniless now’ (6)
RESENT:  Take a word meaning now and make it penniless by removing the P(enny)

24d   Cold with clear sky (4)
BLUE:  We end with another pair of definitions


Thanks to Excalibur.  I liked 9a, 8d and 18d and thought the four-letter words were nicely done.  Which had you singing with Billy?




11 comments on “Toughie 1868

  1. This was an odd mixture – the top half seemed very straightforward, but I also ground to a standstill with 18 and 23 outstanding. Thought of the solution to 23, but it didn’t convince me enough to write it in, and the neckwear was unfamiliar.

    Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur

  2. Seem to have a bit of a fight on my hands with this one – unusual for an Excalibur. Right hand side is done but most of the left still woefully blank.
    Will take a break and hopefully come back re-invigorated!

    Happy Birthday to your Mum, Kitty.

  3. Another romp with the inimitable Excalibur. I enjoyed solving it greatly, as I always do. Favourite was 7a Result of bringing a murderer to book? I particularly liked your 8d illustration, Kitty – and happy celebrations

  4. I thought this was trickier than Excalibur’s Toughies usually are.
    Several in the bottom half, most of them in the right corner, took me ages and I was completely defeated by 8d. Dim.
    I liked 7 and 20a and 18 and 21d.
    Thanks to Excalibur for the crossword and to Kitty for taking time out of the celebrations to do the hints and pics.
    Loved the Wonderful Wogan although I much preferred him on the radio – he was the only thing or person capable of giving me completely helpless giggles at 7.30 am.

  5. I thought that this was a bit of a curate’s egg. I don’t like 21d and 26a is just plain wrong. My favourite is 14a. Thanks to Excalibur and to Kitty (and Happy Birthday to the Queen Mother).

  6. I didn’t have any difficulty filling the grid, but it wasn’t a whole lot of fun today. The only clue that raised a smile was 9A. Sorry, Excalibur. I usually enjoy your offerings much more. Thank you Miss Kitty for the review.

  7. Goodness, I made heavy weather of some of that.
    Took ages to recall the item of menswear and I know we’ve met it before – silly girl. To be honest, several of the other answers that held out on me were also problematic due to ‘silly girl’ syndrome!
    I did eventually warm to 23a and thought the obvious objection to 26a could have been solved given an addition as suggested by Kitty.

    Top three for me were 20a plus the succinct 2d and (with apologies to Gazza) 21d.

    Thanks to Excalibur and to our Girl Tuesday for taking time out from the birthday extravaganza to bring us one of her usual fun-filled blogs. Nice to see a clip of the much missed Sir Terence.
    PS Vlad has never looked so good!

  8. We struggled with this one a bit more than we have done with Excalibur puzzles in the past. 23a gets our vote for favourite. With that enumeration we were expecting a write in answer but it took some thinking about. We enjoyed it.
    Thanks Excalibur and Kitty.

  9. Always read 1a first, so WHODUNIT went in straight away, immediately followed by the correct answer for 1d confirming, as we thought, that 1a was right too. No surprise, then, that we stalled in the NW corner until we sorted out our error. 2.5*/2.5*.

    We thought this was satisfactory, but nothing much to write home about. Liked 11a.

    Thnaks Kitty and Excalibur.

  10. I’m with everybody else as above. SW corner was sparsely populated until I got here. I didn’t know 19d and I still don’t understand 23a.

    Many thanks to Excalibur and Kitty.

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