Toughie 1900 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1900

Toughie No 1900 by Dada

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hi all, and welcome to the decryption page for Toughie number 1900, crafted for your solving pleasure by Dada.  As we arrive at the turn of a century in Toughieland I glance ahead to the next millennium: if my calculations are correct — and if the series continues without interruptions — the 2000th will be on the 10th of April next year.  A month later, the 10th of May will see the only instance of the Toughie number being the same as the year.

I’ve done a number of these blogs now and am still very much enjoying writing hints and tips and then spending far too long on the embellishments.  I hope you find them useful and worth looking at.

Dada puzzles are always fun to decode, with moments to surprise and delight the solver, even if occasionally the surfaces aren’t entirely convincing.  For me this one was soft-shelled but hard-centred, in that I could sink my teeth into it fairly readily but found the last portion a bit chewier.  If I sound like I have food on the brain that’s because, (a) I generally do and, (b) the setter has included two sets of snacks in the clues and then a large something for afters with which to mop up the remaining wine (BYOB).

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the (the number is 100) buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative — click only if you wish to reveal all.



1a    Dismiss — throw out abruptly and hire anew (7)
CASHIER:  Start with a verb to throw (out), truncated (ended abruptly), and add HIRE written in anagrammed form (anew).  I wasn’t sure of this meaning of the answer, even though it’s the first definition in Chambers

5a    Opposite directions taken in trail to get back (7)
SPONSOR:  Opposite points of the compass inside (taken in) a track or trail

9a    Moment of truth is ace! (5,2,2,6)
POINT OF NO RETURN:  The answer could be a description of an ace in tennis (the shot, not the top player).  That explanation is not so useful as a hint, but the definition should get you there … and failing that:

10a   Smell engulfing less than brilliant sickly stuff (5)
HOKUM:  A slang term for a strong unpleasant smell containing (engulfing) passable or adequate.  Sickly in the sense of trite or sentimental

11a   Bully ever so tired after dispensing with Irish docker (9)
STEVEDORE:  Make an anagram of (bully) EVER SO TirED having left out (after dispensing with) IR(ish)

12a   Particular joke, one getting fired after a setback in company (9)
PUNCTILIO:  A wordplay type of joke (illustrated below) followed by the Roman numeral one and fired or ignited, together reversed (after a setback) and inserted into CO(mpany).  With complex wordplay for a not-so-common word (though its adjectival form is familiar), this did not yield easily

14a   Snacks, combining two placed in reverse (5)
BITES:  Make these little snacks by combining a prefix meaning two with a synonym for placed written backwards (in reverse)

15a   Tea finally taken between typically hot and cold snacks (5)
TAPAS:  The final letter of tea inside (taken between) some household devices which typically come in hot and cold

16a   Go on then, I’d like to entertain you (2,2,5)
BE MY GUEST:  This idiom means go ahead, literally being an invitation extending hospitality.  I recently saw this video of sand kittens and would like to entertain you with it.  Warning: cute overload at about 40s in

18a   First in month, then flower appearing (9)
INAUGURAL:  Join together the in from the clue, an abbreviated summer month, and a Russian river (flower)

21a   Uproar with cries of excitement, one way or the other? (3-2)
HOO-HA:  This noisy fuss or carry-on is formed of two excited interjections – and also two more, when written backwards!

22a   Bite and howl when beaten — corporal punishment gets to deliver a mean blow (3,5,3,4)
HIT BELOW THE BELT:  Follow an anagram of BITE and HOWL with some corporal punishment

23a   Screen in episode rerun backwards (7)
REREDOS:  The screen is lurking backwards in the clue

24a   Top Cornish apple? (7)
SWEATER:  Separated (2,5) this could mean an apple from the area of the country in which Cornwall lies.  Not a cooking apple, nor a cider one.  In the absence of apple pie or cider the top might be needed to keep you warm



1d    Nick gets hit with limp (7)
COPSHOP:  Nick and the answer are both slang terms for the same thing (a police station).  A charade of an informal word for gets hit with, and limp (on one leg).  This was the linchpin in my last trio to fall, the others being 1a and 12a

2d    Putting on fifty, one gluing bandages — like this one? (8-7)
STICKING-PLASTER:  The first part is putting or placing.  We then have the Roman numeral fifty, which a person who glues is wrapped around (bandages).  After the wordplay part of the clue, what’s left is “like this one” which isn’t quite the definition on its own but references that which precedes it.  So the “this one” is a type of bandage or dressing

3d    Prisoners keeping it up for friends (9)
INTIMATES:  Make some close friends out of prisoners containing (keeping) the it from the clue

4d    Game female meeting American king of old (5)
RUFUS:  A charade of three abbreviations — of a game played with oddly-shaped balls, of female, and of the United States — leads us to this early king of England (or legend of crosswords)

5d    Upset, sculptor is languishing — take stock from that (9)
STOREROOM:  The reversal (upset) of an English sculptor with languishes or deteriorates.  A place where stock is kept

6d    Too heavy, gong size at the limits (5)
OBESE:  An honour (gong) and the outer letters (at the limits) of size

7d    Jet carrying me home not designed to contain force, suddenly improvised (4-2-3-6)
SPUR-OF-THE-MOMENT:  Jet or gush containing (carrying) ME HOME NOT, anagrammed (designed), with the physics symbol for force included in the mixture

8d    Second in Premiership proves infuriating for Scottish team (7)
RANGERS:  The second letter of (second in) premiership followed by proves infuriating for, annoys or maddens

13d   Tough sailor about to be shelled in a storm (9)
LABORIOUS:  An anagram (in a storm) of SAILOR aBOUt, where the second word has to be shelled by removing the outer letters

14d   Star — or moon for children? (3,6)
BIG CHEESE:  The star is a VIP, and the answer is a silly description of the moon in terms of size and composition. The first descriptor is true, relatively speaking at least, while the second is rather unlikely

15d   There once dwelt with Gandhi conflict, though the anger all ending (7)
THITHER:  Take the last letters of seven of the words of the clue (all ending)

17d   Leaders in the ruck bearing down on player that’s powerful on the field (7)
TRACTOR:  The first letters of (leaders in) the ruck preceding (bearing down on, in a down clue) a player in a film or play

19d   Cupidity OK having skimmed off capital (5)
GREED:  OK/right/yes (6) missing (having skimmed off) the first letter (capital)

20d   Plant plenty around base of plateau (5)
LOTUS:  A large amount around the last letter (base) of plateau


Thanks to Dada for today’s enjoyment.  My favourites today are 9a, 21a and 14d.  Which did you think ace?



21 comments on “Toughie 1900

  1. Mostly fairly straightforward, though I must admit a couple of the longer once went in from definition, enumeration and crossers since I didn’t have time to check the parsings. As always with Dada there was plenty of invention, and some pretty clunky surfaces.

    Thanks to Kitty (I hope you didn’t work those dates out by hand) and Dada

  2. For me, another curate’s egg (I thought the same about today’s back pager) with the four 15-letter clues providing some much needed assistance.

    Favourite – 16a.

    Thanks to Dada and Kitty.

  3. Very enjoyable. Just the thing for a lazy day. A reminder of the old days when I really needed to tease every one out to solve a back pager. Paul/Dada is up there with my favourite setters. Thanks to him and thanks to Kitty for explaining 13d which like most I got from the definition and the checkers.

  4. A similar experience to our blogger, finishing with 12ac, 1dn and 13dn (because I thought the sailor would be an AB, and got very confused as a result); for 1dn I couldn’t work out why the last four letters meant “limp”, but it went in with a shrug. Like others I wasn’t really bothered enough to fully parse all the long clues: Dada is entertaining, but it didn’t seem *that* important to full resolve all the clues, in a puzzle that felt slightly throwaway.

    My favourite I think was 24ac. Thanks setter and Kitty!

  5. Dada is never less than entertaining even when (as here) being not too challenging. The clue which took me longest to parse was 2d where I spent far too long trying to make it work with ‘sticker’ being the ‘one gluing’. Medallists for me today were 9a, 24a and 17d.
    In theory the ‘turn of the century’ Toughies should always appear on a Tuesday and that’s true for 1800, 1700 and 1600, but 1500 was published on a Friday so something unusual must have occurred between 1500 and 1600.
    Thanks to Dada and Kitty.

  6. Just when you think that you have solved a Toughie unaided, Kitty mentions 1900 and the next millennium …

  7. Same here – 12a plus 1&13d being the last to fall. 12a was particularly annoying as I’d already thought of the more familiar version of the word and dismissed it as being too long to fit!
    Other things that briefly held me up were thinking that ‘sack’ minus it’s last letter was somehow involved in 1a, despite the fact that I couldn’t find a reversal indicator and – with the checkers that I had in at the time – wanting the month involved with 18a to be April.
    I’ve come across 16a quite recently – DT or elsewhere?

    Top three for me were 9,21&24a. Thought that 21a was a clever find on the part of the setter.

    Thanks to Dada and to our Girl Tuesday, to whom I send congrats on reaching your personal centenary. I laughed at the 6d cartoon and would love to see the sand kitten video but it won’t play. Any chance you can perform some magic on it?

      1. It certainly does – he was being SO brave right up to the very last minute…………
        Oh dear, think I might need a sand kitten!

  8. Took a bit to get into this, but enjoyed it in the end. I had to look up 12a, and I bunged in Runners for 8d, oblivious to the fact that it didn’t work and not feeling confident re Scottish footballers – but I have heard of the answer.

    The ask kitty for the parsing of 24, I don’t know my apples either, though I had the right answer, which I thought might perhaps be a Cornish Apple.

    I quite liked 15a – it helps that I’m a fan.

    Many thanks dada and kitty

    1. Speaking of being a fan – following on from your comment, I did look into more of the work produced by yesterday’s artist. I rather like his woodcut of ‘The Puddle’ but most of his output is rather lost on me. Sorry, Dutch, we seem to be destined to hold diametrically opposed views on many things!

        1. Absolutely not! You’re definitely down for a visit to Freckled Angel in Menai Bridge next time you come across.

      1. My little golden Penrose triangle that I think looks like a D for dutch if you close both eyes is featured prominently in Escher’s work, as well as many other depictions of impossible objects.

        Of course my scientific discipline is/was? crystallography, where symmetry is a big deal – I had various Escher prints scattered around the lab.

        Escher refused to do an album cover for the Rolling Stones, though.

  9. Good solid one, last two were 1 down (doh) and 12 across that I’ve never heard of. Was very happy to finally think of pun for the joke and the rest came.

    Nice maths at beginning. Thanks to all

  10. I finished this a bit quicker than the back-pager, just short of my upper 1* limit. I enjoyed 1d and 21a. Thanks to Dada and Kitty.

  11. Good stuff as ever from Dada, with three quarters going in in no time – helped probably by the fairly forthcoming longer answers. But then there was the NW corner. And, yes, 1d, 12ac and 13d to provide a little sting in the tail. *** for difficulty sounds about right, even if I did decide it would be a good idea to solve the Toughie when dog tired.

  12. Thanks to Dada and to Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, but found it very difficult. I had “release” for 1a,so that stopped me getting 1to4d. Once corrected, I got some more, but needed 9 hints to finish. Some of the wordplay was mind boggling! Still, it is a Toughie. 12a was a new word for me. I liked 23a, but my favourite was 21a. Was 5/3 for me.

  13. We took one look at 1a, decided it was a triple definition and wrote in RELEASE. That caused no end of trouble. Eventually got it all sorted and enjoyed it all the way. Solved in a B and B in Simla looking out over the mountains.
    Thanks Dada and Kitty.

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