Toughie 1894 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1894


Toughie No 1894 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

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

Good afternoon from South Staffs, where I’m doing an extra shift this week to cover for Bufo’s absence.

This is the second Toughie set by Stick Insect (the first was Toughie 1873) and I find myself echoing the comments Gazza made when blogging that one. This was a gentle Toughie which I finished in the sort of time I give ** to when blogging the Friday back page, so clearly at the easier end of the spectrum.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ANSWER buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. 


1a           Engine inlets for gas producers (11)
MOTORMOUTHS – Another word for engine followed by the sort of inlets people take food through, producing a figurative expression for those who talk too much and too fast.

7a           Web being rejected by Welshman creates strain (7)
TENSION – Reverse (being rejected) another word for web, then add a Welsh first name (no, not Dai).

8a           Drag fish westwards, in wind’s direction (7)
LEEWARD – Put together another word for drag and a notoriously slippery fish, then reverse the lot (westwards, in an Across clue). You get a nautical term for the direction in which the wind is trying to blow your boat.

10a         Pay hike is secured by overturning hearing (5)
RAISE – IS (from the clue) placed inside the reverse (overturning) of another word for hearing.

11a         Thinks too much of bowlers’ statistics (9)
OVERRATES – Split this (4,5) and you have a cricketing term for the speed (or lack of it) with which the bowling side gets through the required number of deliveries.

12a         Travel back in grief, upset and more gloomy? (7)
FOGGIER – Anagram (upset) of GRIEF wrapped around the reverse (back) of a word for ‘travel’.

14a         Reduced payments, discounting fine for tenants (7)
LESSEES – Another word for ‘reduced in quantity’, followed by some payments with the abbreviation for ‘fine’ removed from the front.

15a         Thoroughly awkward about daughter and husband (2,5)
IN DEPTH – Wrap a word for ‘awkward’ or ‘clumsy’ around the abbreviation for Daughter, then add the abbreviation for Husband.

18a         Sorcerer involves idiot in manipulation (7)
MASSAGE – An Eastern sorcerer (or possibly one of the Three Wise Men) wrapped around an idiot.

Image result for massage

20a         Spur factories to produce purple fruits (9)
EGGPLANTS – A verb meaning ‘spur’ or ‘incite’ followed by some industrial installations, giving us some purple fruits which don’t go into a fruit salad. We had the French word for the same fruit in Toughie 1892, and I don’t think I can improve on the picture Kitty used then.

21a         Beat the never-ending cheat (5)
THROB – TH(e) (from the clue) without its final letter (never-ending) followed by a word for ‘cheat’ or ‘steal’.

22a         Lacking O? (5,2)
SHORT OF – Double definition, the second referring to what ‘o’ can be used as an abbreviation for.

23a         Occasionally, finches followed maritime feature (3,4)
ICE FLOE – Alternate letters (occasionally) of fInChEs FoLlOwEd. A maritime feature to be found in Arctic or Antarctic waters.

Image result for ice floe

24a         Remarkably, VIP swaps starter of carpaccio for centre part of cutlet (11)
EXCELLENTLY – Start with part of the formal way of addressing a VIP such as an ambassador, then remove one instance of the first letter of Carpaccio and replace it with the middle letters of cutlet.


1d           Blokes with ring — that’s improving (7)
MENDING – another word for blokes followed by a ringing sound.

2d           Ibert composed for some people (5)
TRIBE – Anagram (composed) of IBERT.

3d           Managed most of royal household in enmity (7)
RANCOUR – Another word for ‘managed’ followed by the general term for those surrounding the monarch with its final letter removed.

4d           Painting skilfully, one might gush (3,4)
OIL WELL – A painting medium followed by another word for ‘skilfully’.

5d           Nothing comes up after article speculates … (9)
THEORISES – Put together a definite article, the letter which looks like a zero or nothing, and a verb meaning ‘comes up’.

6d           … surprise celebrity story — article’s dropped (7)
STARTLE – Put together a celebrity (especially one who has had a leading role in a film or play) and a story, then remove one of the instances of the indefinite article.

7d           Isn’t he first off in economy? (11)
THRIFTINESS – Anagram (off) of ISN’T HE FIRST.

9d           Take apart second answer in disguise (11)
DISASSEMBLE – Insert the abbreviations for Second and Answer into a word for disguise of one’s intentions.

13d         Short-sighted minx with band in charge of sandwiches put on (9)
IMPOLITIC – Put together a minx or naughty child, the letter which looks like a band or ring, and the abbreviation for ‘In Charge’, then wrap the result around ‘put on’ (the gas or a lamp).

16d         Party getting good’s over — that’s annoying! (7)
DOGGONE – Put together one of the usual crossword parties, Good, and a word for ‘over’ or ‘finished’, to get an expression of annoyance from the USA, the sort of expletive seen in cowboy films in days gone by, when real swearing was not allowed.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

17d         Henry adopts fund, exchanging halves to make a small number (7)
HANDFUL – Start by swapping the two halves of the word FUND, then put the result into a diminutive form of Henry.

18d         Model Eva is M&S great (7)
MASSIVE – Anagram (model) of EVA IS M and S. The surface obviously refers to that advertising campaign, so how can I resist…

Image result for eva herzigova wonderbra

19d         Gold to recover value, according to what’s heard (7)
AURALLY – The chemical symbol for gold followed by the sort of recovery of value you may see on the stock market.

21d         Male and female in race crime (5)
THEFT – A male pronoun and Female, with an Isle of Man motorcycle race wrapped around the result.

25 comments on “Toughie 1894

  1. Well, that was a light delight. Apart from two Americanisms, I really enjoyed it even though it was virtually R&W and much easier than most back-pagers. 21d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Stick Insect and to DT.

    1. No way was that easier than most back pagers.
      I normally finish the back pagers but I could not do this.

  2. Yes, this setter is sticking with the gentle difficulty level – for now …

    13d was unlucky for me, giving me more trouble than the rest put together.

    22a is my favourite. I also really liked 1a, and I smiled to see more of those purple fruits.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and Deep Threat – it’s great to see you here on the Dark Side!

  3. A gentle but enjoyable Toughie from Stick Insect – like Kitty I suspect that when he gets to grips with the genre he could ratchet up the difficulty level considerably. Thanks to him and thanks to DT for crossing the border and giving us a fine blog. The clues I liked best were 1a, 12a and 18d.

  4. Quite enjoyable and reasonably straightforward, just as well as my flu shot last week has given me the flu, which caused me to use some electronic assistance as my brain is on a go slow.

    Candidates for favourite – 12a, 3d, and 21d – and the winner is 3d.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and DT.

  5. As with his previous outing in the Toughie slot, this was a gentle offering from Stick Insect – just the sort of puzzle to encourage more of our commenters to tiptoe across to the ‘dark side’.

    Certainly a sprinkling of Americanisms which lead me to think that our setter is either USA based or of the generation much influenced by films and TV from across the pond. Not a complaint – merely an observation! Perhaps Rod will pop in later to enlighten us.

    Much to enjoy here from which my top two emerged as being 22a& 21d.

    Thanks to the Stick Insect and also to DT – both for the extra duties and the Marvin Gaye clip!

    1. Glad you mentioned the dark side Jane. I rattled through this mild Toughie like a back pager. Lots to like. Little to complain about. Glad you enjoyed it. Americanisms are merely the manifestation of an organic language.

  6. I enjoyed this very much, although, as others have said, it was on the gentler side. I found myself wishing this toughie had been published before yesterday’s because I don’t think I had met carpaccio before (answer to 2d in yesterday’s toughie), and here it is in the clue in 24d today! Many thanks to all.

    1. Rather than just meeting carpaccio, I would recommend eating it. Beef carpaccio is one of my favourite starters.

      1. I didn’t think it looked wonderfully appetizing from Gazza’s picture of it yesterday, but on your recommendation I will certainly give it a try!

  7. Have to agree this was among the easier Toughies. (Well, it’s not often I finish them unaided but I did today in about 1 hour).

    DT, can I suggest that your answer to 1a should read “Another word for engine”?

    The answer to 23a led me to recall that in “Schott’s Original Miscellany” (2002), it is revealed that there are official classifications of Iceberg sizes. Whilst many of these are mundane (“small, medium, large”) I like the “growler” of less than 1 metre height above water, and the “bergy bit” of 1-4 metres. “Ice floe” receives no mention but would seem to be one or other of these.

    OK, my family say that I am a mine of useless information and I guess that I just proved their point.

    regards to all,

  8. I don’t recall seeing Stick Insect before, so I was keen to try a new setter. I found this a solid puzzle with good surfaces. I did it in back page time, which is fine by me. I look forward to more

    Many thanks SI & DY

  9. Nice crossword and so nice to have a different setter for a change. Felt like we were right on Stick Insect’s wavelength and give it 1*/3*.

    One little quibble on 4d – wouldn’t “paint” rather than “painting” be a better way to clue it? As written it seems to lead one to “oiling well.

    Our favourite was 15a.

    Thanks to DT and SI.

  10. Yes, it was gentle for a Toughie. I gave some thought about why this was so and decided that it mainly had to do with the definitions. These were generally easy to spot and were rather generous to solvers. For example in 20a where the definition is ‘purple fruits’ it would be more Toughie-like if it had been just ‘fruit’. The clues were all nicely put together and a pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Stick Insect and DT.

  11. Rather disappointed. I had time to start the toughie today and save the rest for my early morning solve. Nothing left for the morning, and I didn’t even finish my cigarette before the crossword. Feel a bit cheated, but thanks anyway Guys.

  12. Thanks to Deep Threat for the review and to all for the comments. The feedback on what worked and what didn’t is gratefully received. Particular thanks to KiwiColin for the thoughts on definitions – a useful suggestion and something I will bear in mind for the future.
    As for the Americanisms, I’m definitely from this side of the pond but I do enjoy travelling there so maybe that’s influenced me. Or maybe Jane is right and I just watch too much TV! Thank you all again.

    1. Good of you to pop in, Rod – hope we get to try more of your puzzles. Perhaps you could be tempted to join us at the next BD birthday bash – it would be nice to be able to put a face to the name(s).

    2. Yes – nice of you to take part in the blog. Enjoyed both of your Toughies to date. I need reasonably gentle Toughies!! I particularly liked your 1a – reminded
      s me of a friend of mine!!!

  13. I took a while to get a foothold, but in the end finished well within 2* time. I enjoyed the tussle, though, and 15a gets my vote for best clue. Thanks to Stick Insect, and DT for the review.

  14. Thanks to Stick Insect and to Deep Threat for the review and hints. Definitely on the easy side for a Toughie, because I actually managed to complete it! Great fun though, really enjoyed it. I thought it was a bit harder than the back pagers. Last in was 24a. My favourite was 22a, short clue with short in the answer. Was 2*/4* for me.

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