Toughie 1911 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1911

Toughie No 1911 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

A thoroughly pleasant and not overly challenging puzzle from Sparks today. There were a couple of things I didn’t know but they were easily looked up. If there is a Nina, I missed it.

The definitions are underlined below. The hints explain how the wordplay works, and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the Try the Independent 9690! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Musical work, one in scales, still including chanting in the middle (5,7)
TROUT QUINTET: A kind of fish (one in scales) plus another word for still or silent going around (including) the central two letters (in the middle) of chanting

8a    Brief watch perhaps retracted (5)
REMIT: Reversal (retracted) of something a wristwatch is an example of

9a    Court and English criminal gloss over this? (9)
UNDERCOAT: An anagram (criminal) of COURT AND E(nglish)

11a    Whizz-round makes route mostly confused (5,4)
COOK’S TOUR: Another word for makes or prepares (as in food) then an anagram (confused) of mostly ROUT(e)

12a    Perhaps wide on the right, but not the ends (5)
EXTRA: The definition is a cricket term, and is a word meaning ‘on the right’ DEXTRAL without the end letters

13a    Daily and regularly, oilman is providing specific stock (9)
CHAROLAIS: A cleaning lady (daily), the odd letters of OiLmAn, and IS from the clue

16a    Animals needing intelligence to grasp time (5)
NEWTS: Another word for intelligence or information contains (to grasp) the abbreviation for time

18a    Shout by one’s coach in vault (5)
CRYPT: A 3-letter word for shout plus the abbreviation for personal trainer

19a    Teams cancel, getting unexpected flak (9)
SIDESWIPE: Another word for teams and another word for cancel or erase

20a    Brief publication that is circulating an idea (5)
IMAGE: An informal abbreviation for a periodical publication has the abbreviation for that is circulating it

22a    Ex US president on call — lines sound familiar (4,1,4)
RING A BELL: The informal first name of the 16th American President follows a verb meaning to call or phone, plus two times the abbreviation for line (lines)

25a    Fossil of worm, one with well-worn exterior (9)
TRILOBITE: A 3-letter worm plus the Roman numeral for one go inside (with … exterior) a word for well-worn or hackneyed

26a    Credit fool with immense stupidity (5)
CRASS: The abbreviation for credit plus a 3-letter fool

27a    There’s no turning back, having hesitated (sic) disastrously (3,3,2,4)
THE DIE IS CAST: An anagram (disastrously) of HESITATED SIC



1d    Provisional speed on approximately 28 per cent of railway lines (9)
TEMPORARY: A 5-letter word meaning speed, 2/7ths (28%) of RAilway, plus the abbreviation for railway lines

2d    Who, originally on Antarctic, tendered extreme sacrifice? (5)
OATES: An acrostic semi-all-in-one

3d    Actual commotion successively cut short in city (5)
TRURO: A 4-letter word for actual or real TRUE plus a 3-letter word for commotion or argument ROW, both without their last letter (cut short)

4d    Given little employment, no-hoper wanting best friend gets exploited (9)
UNDERUSED: An 8-letter word for no-hoper, as in someone unlikely to win, without man’s best friend, plus a verb that means exploited. Pity the first half crosses an identical first half of 9a

5d    Even nerds will get twitchy in terminals (5,4)
NERVE ENDS: An anagram (will get twitchy) of EVEN NERDS, with an appropriate anagram indicator

6d    Soaring cheers honour old enemy vessel (1-4)
E-BOAT: Reversal (soaring=going up, in a down clue) of a 2-letter word for cheers (as in thanks) plus a medal of honour

7d    Shrink from circus performer (5,7)
TRICK CYCLIST: Two meanings, the first one being slang for a psychiatrist which was new to me

10d    With South annexed, first learnt about those wishing to change sides? (8,4)
TRANSFER LIST: An anagram (about) of S(outh)+FIRST+LEARNT

14d    Novel in transit (2,3,4)
ON THE ROAD: The name of a novel by Jack Kerouac and its literal meaning

15d    Overbearing musical backing engulfing ship (QE2) (9)
ASSERTIVE: The reversal of a musical contains (engulfing) the abbreviations for ship and the queen

17d    Fry a little morsel, adding shelled peas separately (9)
WHITEBAIT: A 4-letter word meaning a little plus a 3-letter word meaning morsel, into which the central letters (shelled) of (p)EA(s) are added separately, i.e. not together

21d    English novelist with husband following specific religion (5)
AMISH: The surname of an English Novelist (father or son) is followed by the abbreviation for husband

23d    Given more of these, you’ll want more (5)
NEEDS: A cryptic definition for a word meaning wanted things

24d    Port, a small volume, rather acidic to begin with (5)
ACCRA: A from the clue, the abbreviation for a small volume equivalent to 1ml, and the first letters (to begin with) of rather acidic

I liked 1d, 17d and I think my favourite is 26a. Or maybe 2d, which I also thought was very good. Which clues did you like?

26 comments on “Toughie 1911

  1. Not often I finish a Toughie, especially on a Friday, but managed this one.

    I got held up a long time by 16a and consequently 17d. For 16a I put T into “NOUS” to get NOUTS. Which when I looked it up is a term for “cattle”. Just goes to show!

    1. Hi ash, nice to hear from you again. I must admit I considered nous, but I never got to nouts!

    2. I did the same thing and came here to find out why no word would fit 17d. (I was falsely reassured by looking up ‘nout’ and seeing ‘cattle’ on the page but not reading the other spelling. It never occurred this was the mistake I was looking for!)

  2. Very pleasant, not too tough, and a good complement to today’s back pager.

    Several potential favourites, but I think the winner has to be 7d for clue brevity.

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  3. I think this is a typical Sparks trick – there are Ts in the corners and large ones in the grid (eight of each). Any further significance escapes me.

    1. There’s the reference to Oates and his story, the puzzle number is 1911, and in the centre we find three instances of the letter i.

      I would imagine this may be a reference to 1st November (1/11/1911) referring to the fateful day the team set off from base camp on the return journey which killed them all eventually.

      Just a thought.

  4. I was wrong on 11A. Cross-tour was all I could come up with. I presume a Cooks Tour is one of those “if it’s Rome it must be Tuesday” horrors. I also cheated and revealed letters for 25A. I’ve not heard of a lob worm before. Other than that, I quite enjoyed this. 7D and 11A get my votes. Thanks Dutch and Sparks.

      1. Yes – They’re still hanging on and thanks for the suggestion on the other blog to try this one. I usually do Toughies Tue-Thu and generally don’t have time / can’t complete Fridays’ without a bit / quite a lot of electronic help, but found this one very accessible (and I like Sparks too).

        Thanks to all the production team.

  5. Like yesterday, when I first started looking at this I didn’t think I was going to be able to find an entry point at all, but with one or two in the SW corner it was just sufficient for me to get launched and eventually complete the puzzle. There were one or two things that I was unfamiliar with and that held me up (the shrink reference in 7d for instance, and the stock in 13a). I very much enjoyed this, and felt a sense of accomplishment in finishing. Many thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  6. I found this tough and enlisted help for the last few. I could blame being tired, but know that would just be making excuses. Wouldn’t have had a hope of getting 1a on my own, didn’t know 11a (though perhaps would have guessed that on another day) and got 7d only from the second definition. At least the friendly wordplay meant that I did manage the unfamiliar 13a: not unlucky for some.

    Favourites? I think the easier ones which yielded early in the proceedings were smilers … if I can remember back that far. I also enjoyed the trickier bits — those I managed, anyway. :)

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch. I do always read and appreciate your reviews even though I struggle to get round to Friday Toughies these days.

    1. thank you Kitty. you have licence to do or not do whatever you want, so i am grateful for your comment.

  7. Very pleasant puzzle – thanks to Sparks and Dutch. I spent some time looking for the obligatory Nina but completely missed all the Ts. 1a and 11a were my top clues.

  8. Completed without assistance not far into *** time, so rather gentler than the usual Friday Toughie, but some smiles generated in the process. Uncultured git that l am, l have never heard of 1a, so had to look it up to confirm that the solution l had arrived at was correct. Always nice to learn something new! Thanks to Sparks, and Dutch for the review.

  9. I really have problems with the all in ones.
    Failed in 11a although I got the second word from the parsing but wasn’t sure at all in 23d even if the answer was obvious from the checkers.
    Being a Sparks, I also looked around for a Nina to no avail.
    Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch.

  10. So pleased to have completed a Friday Toughie. Thanks Sparks, this one was right up my street.

  11. My favourite was 2d and especially now I’ve read the comments about 1911 etc.

    12a was the last one I completed, getting it only this morning.

    Didn’t like 17d……”whitebait” appeared in a Toughie earlier this week and with a much better clue.

  12. Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much. I just fell short at the end. Needed the hints for 1a, which I’d never come across before, and for 11a, which I had heard of. Favourite was 7d. Was 3 ✳ /3 ✳ for me. Very interesting comment about 2d and the Toughie number.

  13. Shot myself in the foot by insisting 22a was “tete a tete” Well, it’s familiar and a there was a president called Tate which sounded like….

    Are the suggestions right about 2d? A pity that, today, such self sacrifice can be ridiculed by some – not, I hope, by we fans of Big Dave!

  14. I withdraw my comment about 17d, having belatedly realised that “fry” are small fish……

    Enjoying the comments.

  15. Thanks to Dutch for blog and to all for comments. The “Nina” was more of a seed, really: TT at the extrema of all perimeter entries signified Telegraph Toughie ;)

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