Toughie 1898 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1898

Toughie No 1898 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I feel like I’m making a guest appearance today having been unavailable on a Thursday so often recently (and I’m missing again next week). I completed this puzzle in average time though there were several bung-ins that I then had to justify. I failed on one of them and I’m hoping that Gazza can add the explanation before he posts the blog online [I’ve done my best. Gazza]. It was a reasonable puzzle but it didn’t exactly grab me

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Belvedere that accommodates accountant and family (11)
SUMMERHOUSE: An accountant (or at least someone who adds up) + family

9a/10a    Could be varlet going abroad? (7,6)
FOREIGN TRAVEL: The answer provides a cryptic indication for VARLET in that the first word is an anagram indicator and the second word is an anagram of VARLET

10a    See 9 Across

12a    Capital experience Colin discovered (7)
TRIPOLI: A North African capital city = a hallucinatory experience + COLIN with the first and last letters removed (i.e. dis-covered)

13a    Hull ‘supporter’ departed for match (7)
EMULATE: The creature associated with Rod Hull + ‘departed’

14a    Give boost via this with toast, perhaps? (3,2)
EGG ON: A popular snack is *** ** toast

15a    Concerning Mother’s parking — it’s a gas! (9)
AFTERDAMP: ‘Concerning’ + mother + P (parking) = a suffocating gas in mines

17a    Cataract possibly, as usually seen twice a day at Southend? (4,5)
HIGH WATER: There are two tides a day at Southend

20a    Avoiding Palladium, pranged Sierra (5)
RANGE: Remove the letters P and D (Pd = palladium) from PRANGED

22a    Sucker giving millions to substituted player (7)
LAMPREY: M (millions) inside an anagram (substituted) of PLAYER

24a    Run swindle alongside immature US villain (7)
SCAMPER: A swindle + a slang US word for the perpetrator of a crime without its last letter (immature, i.e. not fully formed)

25a    Acting in prologue, time to enter (3,3)
PRO TEM: A Latin term meaning ‘for the time being’ = a prologue or introduction round T (time)

26a    Iris’s the first person free to accompany boy (7)
IRIDIAN: ‘Relating to the iris of the eye’ = a first person pronoun + ‘to free’ + a boy’s name

27a    ‘Vanguard‘ idle — engaged with refitting (7,4)
LEADING EDGE: An anagram (with refitting) of IDLE ENGAGED


2d    A fighter for the crown in Oxford and Rye, maybe (7)
UNICORN: One of the animals who were fighting for the crown in a nursery rhyme = the type of establishment that Oxford is famous for + seed of a cereal plant such as rye

3d    Begging from people? Sleuth finds it impossible (9)
MENDICANT: People + the abbreviation for a Detective Inspector + ‘isn’t able to’

4d    One leaving service — though not with Sappers latterly — is to join up again (5)
RETIE: Remove RE (Sappers) from near the end of a word meaning someone leaving service or giving up work for good

5d    Majority of L-dopa queries becoming more puzzling (7)

6d    Music man from Sacramento lacking credit and with no end in sight, sadly (7)
SMETANA: A composer is an anagram (sadly) of SAAMENT, i.e. SACRAMENTO minus CR (credit) and the last letter

7d    How to make book (like Mantel?) immediately available? (3-3-5)
OFF-THE-SHELF: The answer means ‘immediately available’ or ‘in stock’. The mantel is one over a fireplace

8d    Striving hard (6)
TRYING: 2 meanings: striving/hard or severe or testing

11d    Filming again, eager to keep each extra quiet on emperor’s entry (11)
REAPPEARING: ‘Eager (as in ****** to go)’ round ‘each’, ‘extra quiet (pianissimo)’ and the first letter of EMPEROR

16d    ‘Vessels’ in title needing changing — it’s a pivotal passage (9)
TURNSTILE: Vessels inside an anagram (needing changing) of TITLE = something that allows one person to pass at a time

18d    Awkward situation for gourmet — freezer being regularly empty (3,4)
GUM TREE: Alternate letters of GOURMET FREEZER

19d    Crushed fabric (7)
WORSTED: 2 meanings: crushed or defeated/a fabric

20d    Gathering 11 is fruitless (7)
REAPING: Remove the name of a fruit from the answer to 11 down

21d    It offers lip service, giving up censure on family (6)
NAPKIN: Something that may be used to wipe the lips after a meal = a reversal of ‘to censure’ or ‘to criticise harshly’ and family

23d    Country with sycophants? Not singular (5)
YEMEN: Remove S (singular) from sycophants (3-3)

See you in a couple of weeks.

15 comments on “Toughie 1898

  1. Typically Firefly on a Thursday I thought

    Thank you to Bufo for the fleeting visit, to Gazza for the help, and to Firefly for the crossword

  2. This was rated 3 star in terms of difficulty but was much tougher than yesterday’s 3 star toughie

  3. I found this another very enjoyable puzzle. On first glance it didn’t appear that I was going to do very well, but 7d led me to the SW corner and I was off and running – perhaps crawling might be a better description. 26a was my last in – I was not familiar with the term, but the word play checkers gave me the answer which Google confirmed. Many thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  4. Looking back at this I’m finding many interesting clues. I though 13a was clever, took me a while to get the Hull supporter. I liked 20a and 22a. 6d took me a while since I took no end of sigh(t) to be a T-remover, once I tried removing the last letter it all went swimmingly. I liked 21d as well. I thought 18d needed an “up a” somehow

    Many thanks Firefly and thanks Bufo

  5. Needed to look up several things – 1a belvedere, 15a gas, 20a symbol, 25a prologue and the 26a iris, so the enjoyment level went down a little. Not the setter’s fault, simply highlighted my shortcomings!

    Top two for me were 2&21d.

    Thanks to Firefly and to Bufo – nice to have you back if only fleetingly!

  6. If you superimpose today’s toughie and the back page you will find that 20a have the same set of letters in both.
    That’s very interesting, isn’t it?
    Removed the T of Sacramento at first as I thought it was the end letter of Sight that the setter meant.
    5d was very bizarre.
    Thanks to firefly and to Bufo for the review.

  7. We had to dig very deep into the memory banks to recall the Hull reference for 19a, but it was there. The 15a gas was new to us but got it from its similarity to firedamp, (incidentally BRB has the answer hyphenated). 26a was a new word for us too. Some of the parsing, eg 11d took quite a lot of thinking about so it was not a quick solve for us. Nice to see I got a mention in 12a, its usually Carol who gets into clues, especially at Christmas time. Enjoyable to solve.
    Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  8. I confess to needing 3 hints to complete (one of which was for 26a – a word l’d never met). 3*/3.5*, l think, and as l was born within sight of the town mentioned in the clue for 17a, that gets my vote for favourite clue. Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  9. More like a **** for difficulty here, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding the exact order of the letters for 6d. The least likely of the possible options turns out to be the right one. Gah. I made the mistake of Googling 22ac to see what one looks like and won’t sleep tonight.

  10. I had to check some new words, but no real difficulty getting the right answers and overall I rather liked the puzzle, especially 13A and 19D. Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  11. That was great.

    13a was the best clue we’ve seen for several week; we both laughed out loud – 2*/4*.

    Thanks to Bufo and Firefly.

        1. Yes, Jane, but here’s my/our difficulty: if filming again = reappearing then filming = appearing, which we can’t see. Appearing in a film isn’t the same as filming…it’s a bit like throwing and catching – they’re two ends of the same activity, but they are not the same as each other. Complimentary, but not in any way identical.

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