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Toughie 1910

Toughie No 1910 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

It’s some time since I’ve experienced the weird and wacky world of an Excalibur Toughie. I got on OK with this puzzle except that I struggled to finish the left-hand side mainly because I couldn’t think of one of the words of the answers clued by cryptic definitions. These clues can often cause problems because there is no wordplay to help you out

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Men from Madrid in secret group sacked loser (10)
CABALLEROS: Spanish gentlemen = a small group united for political intrigue + an anagram (sacked) of LOSER

9a    Love plant brought back somewhere in Ireland (4)
MAYO: A reversal of O (old) and the sweet potato = an Irish county

10a    Very little consideration (7,3)
NOMINAL SUM: A cryptic definition in which the consideration is a payment. It took me some time to think of the first word

11a    Thrusts male cat outside (6)
PUSHES: A male pronoun goes inside a cat

12a    Pacifies by doubling membership payments (7)
SUBDUES: The answer is made up of two different words (3 & 4) for a membership fee

15a    Make older me into younger me? (7)
REMODEL: An anagram of OLDER ME. The whole clue provides a kind of definition

16a    Disregarded by her, he resorts to tricks (5)
RUSES: HER less HE + ‘resorts to’

17a    Concluding, darn it, there’s no tip! (4)
LAST: Remove the first letter (tip) from ‘Darn it!’

18a    For desert, requiring vitamin shot beforehand (4)
GO: An Asian desert = a shot or attempt + the vitamin designation of thiamine

19a    Got right old worked up! (5)
RAGED: R (right) + ‘old’. I decided that the whole clue must be the definition

21a    A cop bust that female thief (7)
POACHER: An anagram (burst) of A COP + a female pronoun

22a    Student needs pound given by one on payroll (7)
LEARNER: L (pound) + a person who makes money by labour

24a    Hard and fast, imprisoning that Indian (6)
APACHE: ‘Fast’ or ‘at speed’ goes round H (hard) to give a Native American

27a    Not the property of your dreams? (4,6)
REAL ESTATE: This term for property consisting of land and the buildings on it implies that it actually exists and is not a figment of your imagination

28a    Got rid of for saying ‘Shut up’ in front of my boss? (4)
SHED: ‘Shut up!’ + the person in charge of a newspaper (or the crosswords therein)

29a    Make way. Lead with flickering candle inside (5,5)
STAND CLEAR: ‘Make way!’ = a leading performer round an anagram (flickering) of CANDLE


2d    See vanishing. Save one in river (4)
AVON: Remove the letters SEE from SAVE ONE

3d    Failed criminal at large (6)
AFIELD: An anagram (criminal) of FAILED

4d    Hide figure changed: a three (7)
LEATHER: The tanned hide of an animal = a Roman numeral + an anagram (changed) of A THREE

5d    Plant seen wherever gold was found (4)
RUSH: The name of this marsh-growing plant can follow gold to describe a stampede of prospectors to a newly discovered goldfield

6d    Vessel’s carrying more than enough for tests (7)
SAMPLES: The abbreviation denoting ‘steamship’ round ‘more than enough’

7d    Drank after having had session in bird bath? (6,4)
WASHED DOWN: This term for ‘helped the swallowing or digestion of food with a drink’ could also imply that a bird has cleaned its feathers

8d    Possibly major source of entertainment for little boy? (3,7)
TOY SOLDIER: This plaything (more associated with little boys than little girls) may have the rank of a major

12d    Bouquet delivered personally (4-6)
SELF-PRAISE: A cryptic definition where the bouquet is a compliment. It took me some time to think of the second word

13d    Working hard in the service of the queen (4,2,1,3)
BUSY AS A BEE: The queen is one that lives in a hive

14d    Tease American thrown over by sweetheart (5)
SUGAR: A reversal (thrown over) of ‘tease’ and American = a term of endearment

15d    Take pleasure in bar being raised (5)
REVEL: A reversal (raised) of a bar

19d    Returns, always turning right on street heading the wrong way (7)
REVERTS: A reversal (turning) of ‘always’ + R (right) + a reversal (heading the wrong way) of the abbreviation for ‘street’

20d    Late finish? There’s no way out of it (4,3)
DEAD END: ‘Late’ or ‘deceased’ + ‘finish’

23d    Let rock lantern free of base (6)
RENTAL: A let is an anagram (rock) of LANTER, i.e LANTERN minus its last letter or base

25d    Flop. A soap opera (4)
SAGA: ‘To flop (or sink)’ + A

26d    What erupted in ’23? (4)
ETNA: The name of a volcano is an anagram of the middle four letters of the answer to 23 down

A pleasant enough puzzle but not one of my favourites

16 comments on “Toughie 1910

  1. A couple of things held me up slightly but not that much – Life Bufo the first word of 10a took a while to come to mind and I also had TIN as my first word in 8d until it didn’t work for the across checkers

    Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo too

  2. Tricky but fun.
    I liked 10a, 7d, 8d, 12a, 13d and 27a.
    I missed 1a because I thought it was spelled with a “V”.
    Thanks to Bufo and excaliber.

  3. I was lucky with the cryptic definitions and this took me less time than the back pager.

    Thanks bufo for explaining 16a, I was desperately trying to remove HER, falling for excalibur’s occasional yoda-like construction – though wasn’t too bad today.

    Favourite is 21a.

    Many thanks Excalibur and Bufo.

    And as mentioned on the other side, please do give my Independent crossword today a go.

  4. Excalibur on song again. My favourite setter because of the lighthearted humour in her clues Best for me today were 15a Make older me into younger me? and 28a Got rid of for saying.. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole solve. Thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo

  5. Made it more difficult for myself by putting Self Picked in for 12d. Other than that I really enjoyed this from Excalibur. Thanks to Bufo too

  6. One or two things kind of irked here, like the apostrophe on ’23, and the bouquet one I thought was a bit ungettable really (on its own anyway), and ‘criminal’ for an anagrind, and… well whatever else but I admit that these these are personal foibles. Some nice things too.

    Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  7. I found it fairly tricky but not too bad once I remembered the setter and rewired my brain to “Excalibur” setting.

    Lots of laughs. Likes include 7d for the bird bath and 15a for its anti-ageing properties.

    Last to (mostly) yield was the NW corner where I was slowed down by at first having “minimum pay” for 10a. Nearly failed on 12d but then it popped into my head and generated a chuckle. Did fail on 5d. I bunged in ROSE – so no roses for me today. Not to mind – smiles are better.

    Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  8. Tricky – but I did it after a bit of a struggle not helped by having trivial and then minimal for the first word of 9a. I thought not a particularly fair clue – it relied on checkers – but maybe I’m wrong. Anyway – very enjoyable. ***/**** for me. I liked 24a and 2d but 7d was my pick of the day.

  9. I enjoyed this very much. I didn’t think I was going to able to finish it it, or even get a foothold, but the SW corner slowly emerged and I was off and running. I had ‘minimum pay’ as my first shot at 10a which slowed me down (even more), but again, the correct solution emerged once I had 1a and some of the down clues from it. I thought there were some very clever constructions (2d for instance). Many thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  10. Happily,I got the correct words for both 10A and 12D without any trouble, but I also had tin initially as the first word of 8D. 16A was my last in and I needed all four checkers before I got it. I needed the blog for the parsing of 1D, though the answer was clear from the checkers. 5D is my favorite today. Thanks Bufo and Excalibur.

  11. 3/4. I struggled with the LHS (l was on the wrong track entirely with 12d, and just too thick to spot the obvious hint in 13d). I enjoyed 1a, 28a, 29a, and the delightfully simple 5d. Thanks to Excalibur and Bufo.

  12. Pretty tricky today. I’m not convinced by 16ac – surely the her and he are in the wrong order, though of course that would ruin the surface reading? Also thought 2d needed an indication that the individual letters of “See” needed removing from “Save one”. I quite liked 26d, but the apostrophe’s a little naughty, as it plays no part in the wordplay, surely?

  13. Thanks to Excalibur and to Bufo for the review and hints. I’m amazed that I managed to complete this, my first Excalibur completion. I somehow managed to get on the right wavelength. Some very nice clues, I enjoyed this a lot. 11a made laugh, but my favourite was 7d. Last in was 28a. Was 3 ✳ /4 ✳ for me.

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