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Toughie 1904

Toughie No 1904 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello there.  It does appear that we have a new setter.  A warm welcome to Donnybrook — and a big Tuesday welcome to you all too.

I can find nothing online about Donnybrook the setter, but find that it is a slang term for a brawl or riot.  Donnybrook Fair, a fair that was held in Donnybrook, Dublin, from the 13th century until the 1850s, has given its name to many things: an Irish jig, an upscale supermarket chain, a broadsheet ballad, a Broadway musical … and now it seems, to top it all, a crossword setter!

First impressions of our new kid on the block are that we have a bit of a tease here: I found this a stiffer challenge than many a Tuesday, while still being within the usual remit.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and selected indicators are italicised.  You’ll find the answers inside the tomorrow’s lottery numbers are: 1, 3, 11, 37, 49 and 58 buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative — click only if you wish to reveal all.



7a    Number moving right to snare volunteers retreating in war zone (7)
THEATRE:  A cardinal number with its R(ight) moved containing (to snare) the reversal of (retreating) the two-letter abbreviation for what the Army Reserves used to be called

8a    Order placed in fishmonger’s perhaps with husband out for seafood (7)
SCALLOP:  Order or demand (4) inside (placed in) a retail outlet which may perhaps be a fishmongers, omitting H(usband) (with husband out)

10a   Citizen in film embraces the Rhode Island girl (9)
KATHERINE:  The named citizen in an Orson Welles film goes around (embraces) THE from the clue and the abbreviation for Rhode Island

11a   One giving name after opening rounds (5)
DONOR:  An opening surrounds (rounds) N(ame)

12a   Fees set for law sessions (5)
TERMS:  Two definitions, to which I can’t add much: charges or fees — or periods of sittings (law)

13a   Getting on N66 with a boarding pass (9)
CONVIVIAL:  Getting on socially.  We need to split the N66 into N 6 6 and convert the numerals to the Roman style.  These, together with the A from the clue, are inside (boarding) a mountain pass

15a   Increase tax within European sheltered zone (7)
ELEVATE:  A type of tax inside (within) E(uropean) and the sheltered side

17a   French novelist to elect in reshuffle (7)
COLETTE:  The novelist who wrote Gigi is an anagram (in reshuffle) of TO ELECT

18a   Validate changes coming about with widespread feeling (5,4)
TIDAL WAVE:  VALIDATE is anagrammed (changes) and surrounds (coming about) W(ith)

20a   Mike in bar for jazz dance (5)
STOMP:  The letter represented by Mike in radio communication goes inside bar or block

21a   Shakespearean forest burning endlessly (5)
ARDEN:  Burning or passionate without its last letter (endlessly)

23a   Advertisement French king rejected reveals bottom (9)
POSTERIOR:  A large printed advertisement followed by the French word for king reversed (rejected)

24a   Some tuna utilise other sea creatures (7)
NAUTILI:  Our lurker today: these sea creatures (which are not the tuna mentioned in the wordplay, hence the “other”) are included in some of the clue

25a   Crucial match that turns ruddy chilly (7)
DECIDER:  The reversal (that turns) of a ruddy colour and very chilly or frozen



1d    Landlord with brains printed notepaper (10)
LETTERHEAD:  A charade of one who hires out and brains or loaf

2d    City fox marauding might be this! (6)
ATHENS:  Split (2,4) this is what a fox might be when on the prowl: after poultry

3d    Doctor bringing in nothing on average (8)
MEDIOCRE:  A doctor containing the letter which can symbolise zero, then our usual short word meaning on or concerning

4d    Boat’s back seat repaired by sailors (6)
ASTERN:  An anagram (repaired) of SEAT and then the abbreviation of the UK’s naval force

5d    School staff first to find baboon (8)
MANDRILL:  A verb to school or train, with staff (also a verb) preceding it (first)

6d    Intend getting litres into bowl (4)
PLAN:  L(itres) inside a shallow bowl

7d    Catch 125, possibly saving seconds — it’s what a guy must do (4,3,6)
TAKE THE STRAIN:  The guy is a rope.  Travel on the InterCity 125 perhaps (4,3,5) containing (saving) an abbreviation for seconds.  I had to look up the 125 as it’s a bit before my time

9d    Ruler beneath his crimson robe discovers insect (6,7)
PURPLE EMPEROR:  The head of an empire after (beneath, in a down clue) a crimson cloth worn in ancient times by kings and the ruler featured.  Click on the caterpillar to see the metamorphosis

14d   Faltering guards seen after one town sacked (2,3,5)
IN TWO MINDS:  Guards or watches over following (seen after) the Roman numeral one and an anagram (sacked) of TOWN

16d   Books I found among maps showing sunken land (8)
ATLANTIS:  Some Biblical books and the I from the clue inside (among) a book of maps

17d   Faithless lover leaves Cretan mountain (8)
CRESSIDA:  Some salad leaves and the highest mountain on Crete

19d   Home help beginning to articulate happy song (2,4)
AU PAIR:  Join together the first letter of (beginning to) articulate, happy (2) and a song or tune

20d   Draw and quarter old hangman (6)
SKETCH:  A compass point (quarter) and an infamous English executioner employed by King Charles II.  (I didn’t know him and assumed that this was an old name for an executioner.  Cue momentary alarm at not finding it in the dictionary, before a quick internet search let me off the hook and set me straight)

22d   Daughter with strange kitchen instrument (4)
DRUM:  Follow the abbreviation for daughter with a word meaning odd or strange.  I didn’t understand how the kitchen fitted in until I found definition 2 here


Thanks to the brawl for a fair puzzle.  I liked 13a, 23a and 25a best.  Which did you find a riot?



41 comments on “Toughie 1904

  1. Very pleasant solve, but more of a back-pager than a Toughie IMHO.

    Donnybrook being in Dublin, and given the number of setters who live in Ireland, I wonder if we are dealing with a known quantity. Any guesses/ breaking of confidences? Or will the culprit fess up?

  2. Despite some pretty generous starters, particularly near the bottom, I found this a little tougher to finish than many Tuesday Toughies, but the only one that really held me up was my last in 2d, which was also my favourite in retrospect. I don’t know who Donnybrook is but I suspect an Irish connection (N66 sounds like an Irish road too).

    Thanks to Kitty and Donnybrook

  3. Welcome to another new Toughie setter (they’re coming thick and fast these days) and thanks for a very pleasant puzzle with some lovely surfaces. I thought this was fairly gentle but with more GK content than we normally get.
    My top clues were 25a, 5d and 20d.
    Thanks to Donnybrook (the name could mean that he or she hails from Doncaster) and to Kitty for the review.

    [The missing husband has absconded from 8a]

  4. First toughie ever completed without help!😀
    Particular thanks to our new setter and of course to Kitty.
    2d my favourite too – caused a chuckle.
    From a daily, grateful Big Dave lurker!

  5. Welcome to a new setter! I enjoyed this. My one quibble is that I don’t consider purple to be crimson. Donnybrook is being recommended to today’s backpagers. What with that and the survey our bloggers might increase in number. Here’s hoping!

    1. JB, I too was originally concerned about what I took to be an element of colour blindness in 9d but the BRB says that historically crimson meant purple!

      1. Yes, and one of the brb’s definitions (no. 5) of purple is:

        A crimson cloth or garment worn in ancient times by kings and emperors (historical)

  6. This was my sort of Toughie: tougher than the back-pager but not impenetrable and great fun. It took me a little while to get onto wavelength but then it all came together nicely. I waited for a checker before entering the right answer for 6d as I thought it could equally have been “plot”.

    I don’t think 4d works; the definition calls for a noun and the answer is an adverb.

    My ticks went to 13a, 23a, 25a, 2d, 7d & 17d.

    Welcome and many thanks to Donnybrook for a splendid puzzle. Many thanks too to Kitty, especially for explaining the kitchen in 22d.

      1. Dutch, the definition “ship’s back” is a noun which would lead to “stern”. “Astern” is an adverb, e.g.: the buoy lay astern of the boat.

  7. An excellent work-out. Pitched well for a Tuesday though not too easy, and a nice mix of clue-types.

    In answer to Kitty, I think I will plump for the fox marauding, the insect beneath the cloak, and the N66, which sounded to me like a pretty convincing night-bus, until the PDM.

    Thanks Kitty and Donnybrook.

  8. A mix of not difficult and more challenging, and very pleasant it was too. 20A was my favorite because it took me back 50 years to dancing the night away to Bill Nile and the Delta Jazzmen. I also liked 2D and I confess to revealing the first letter of this one. It made me laugh. Welcome, Donnybrook, and thanks for a good time. Thanks also to Miss Kitty for the review.

  9. A typical Tuesday Toughie completed at a fast canter and very enjoyable.

    Joint favourites -13a and 7d.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and Kitty, particularly for the explanations of 20d and 22d.

  10. Well I for one had a bit of a tussle with this. Couldn’t fathom the ‘why’ for 22d, started 10a with a C, and generally, it was heavy going. All nicely done though so quite enjoyable. Favourites are 2d & 7d

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and to Kitty for the blog

  11. A rare excursion for me into Toughie territory but I didn’t find it a tortuous experience at all, in fact RD’s first paragraph perfectly sums up how I saw it too.

    My favourite was 20d, the hangman rang a distant bell and I thought the surface brilliant.

    Many thanks to Kitty and to Donnybrook, I will look out for your subsequent puzzles.

  12. Can’t let this one pass without comment. An excellent addition to the team. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Come back soon, Donnybrook!

    Very much agree with Rabbit Dave that crosswords don’t need to be impenetrable to entertain. Polished is the word I’d choose.

    Also agree 2d is the stand out.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and to Kitty for the wit that brightens Tuesday. Love the elephant!

    1. :) . I liked the elephant too. I think we can count ourselves lucky that the word to be illustrated wasn’t anterior

  13. I found this very easy indeed until I was given some pause in the NW corner… but generally speaking, well pitched for a Tuesday. I thought the cluing was by and large quite precise and fair, and enjoyed the large number of literary and classical references. My favourite clue by some way was 13a, great surface. Thanks new setter and old, er I mean “in their prime”, blogger!

  14. Here I am – fresh from my humiliating defeat in the back-pager spelling bee…….

    Can’t make my mind up about our latest Toughie setter – a few slightly cringe-worthy surface reads but he/she seems to know his/her seafood and butterflies so Brownie points awarded for that! Some of those were withdrawn by 7a – I hate those ‘cycling’ clues as we rarely get told how far said cyclist is moving.

    Thank you for doing the homework on 7,20&22d, Kitty, I don’t think I applied myself sufficiently earnestly to the available info. and have to confess to putting the answers in on a wing and a prayer. I did, however, manage to find the Cretan mountain all by my little own self!

    2d took the top spot for me.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and to our Girl Tuesday as she enters her second century. The Katherine Jenkins clip was much appreciated despite my lack of knowledge where the Welsh language is concerned and I thought the elephant cat was rather cute!

  15. Well I didn’t find it that easy, 3* for me. I put in the usual POT instead of PAN for 6d which made for a weird start.

    I really liked N66 since it is used cryptically, not so keen on 125 which I though was just a random train at first but thanks Kitty, it seems to have some significance so ok – still a bit too GK for me.

    I also had to look up the hangman, but then remembered that I had come across him before, well not personally, not sure how i’d get on with hangmen.

    Plenty more great clues,

    Congratulations on your excellent TT debut Donnybrook and I look forward to the next!

  16. With the GK and classical references this had rather a Times feel to it. It would be rated fairly run of the mill over at TfT I suspect.
    The 125 clue has a nice extra layer of subtlety, recalling the old British Rail slogan ‘Let the train take the strain.’

    1. Yes, I thought “this wouldn’t be that far out of place over at the Times” too… and there may be a reason for that!

  17. A most enjoyable debut – well done to Donnybrook and 2/4 from us.

    Favourite by a country mile was the marauding fox – a marvellous penny-drop moment.

    Thanks to Kitty and Donnybrook.

  18. The level of toughie that I can just about manage. Thanks Kitty for setting me straight on the parsing of 1a. I thought that the volunteers were snared by a jumbled up number- ether. Your explanation sounds more sensible. Welcome to the new setter.

  19. Pondering 13a (l was trying to romanise 66, rather than two sixes) took me into 2* time. I enjoyed 2d and 17d. Altogether a worthy early-in-the-week Toughie, for which thanks to Donnybrook. Thanks to Kitty for the review.

  20. An interesting puzzle but I felt a bit joyless, no ‘doh’ moments. A few answers needed reverse engineering and some definitions were new. Thanks to Kitty and Donnybrook

  21. Clever and enjoyable. Welcome Donnybrook.
    I had to google “ketch hangman” to check parsing and then doubly impressed with the clue that Ketch is rather macabrely known for cutting down one victim after half an hour and then drawing and quartering him
    Thanks also to Kitty for usual high standard review

  22. Another vote here for a *** for difficulty. I didn’t know the mountain, or the hangman bit, but the answers could be little else and, well, learning these things is half the fun, isn’t it? An enjoyable solve, welcome to Donnybrook!

  23. Thanks to Donnybrook and to Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, couldn’t quite get on the setter’s wavelength. Needed to look up 4 answers, and managed to get 3 more from the hints. Favourite was 2d, which I wouldn’t have got in a month of Sundays. Nice to have a new setter on the scene. Was 4/3 for me.

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