Toughie 1939 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1939

Toughie No 1939 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Many thanks Sparks. A slow and steady solve. A near pangram but missing the last letter. Hope everyone is ready for Xmas – I wish you all a lovely time.

Definitions are underlined, the hints explain the wordplay and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the Merry Xmas & Happy New Year! boxes. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought and how you got on


1a    More than one stocky American tosses caber — that’s out of order (10)
WOODCHUCKS: A verb meaning tosses and what a caber is a piece of – then reverse the order (that’s out of order). The answer is the plural of an American stocky(?) animal.

6a    Man of the cloth defrocked, and then again (4)
ERIC: Take an 8-letter word meaning ‘of the cloth’ as in belonging to a religious profession, then remove the outer letters (defrocked), not once but twice (and then again)

9a    Get better men with merit to secure European trophy (10)
RECUPERATE: A 2-letter abbreviation for army men plus a 4-letter verb meaning merit goes around (to secure) the abbreviation for European plus a 3-letter sports trophy

10a    Bob’s never-ending choice (4)
PLUM: Remove the last letter (never-ending) from a word for a bob, as in a piece of lead hanging on a string

12a    Possibly handy passage in unstable nuclear plant (6,6)
CARPAL TUNNEL: An anagram (unstable) of NUCLEAR PLANT

15d    Figure that’s new posted in old e-journal (6)
OBLONG: Insert the abbreviation for New into the abbreviation for Old plus a 4-letter e-journal like the one you are reading now

16a    Deliberately do away with retiring journalist caught in bar (8)
DESTRUCT: Reverse (retiring) the usual crossword abbreviation for a chief journalist, then insert the cricket abbreviation for Caught in another word for bar or supporting rod

18a    Things passed on in revolutionary prison stories going round (8)
LEGACIES: Reverse (revolutionary) a 4-letter word for prison, typically for captive animals, and surround that (going round) with a word for stories or fibs

19a    Motor fashioned from cube with odd bits of steel (6)
DIESEL: A 3-letter cube often used in board games plus the odd bits of StEeL

21a    Terribly OTT breach backing male or female gossips (12)
CHATTERBOXES: An annagram (terribly) of OTT BREACH followed by the reversal (backing) of another word for gender (male or female)

24a    Himalayan region uncovered by mountain dweller (4)
IBEX: A country in the Himalayans without the outer letters (uncovered) followed by the letter that looks like an arithmetic times or by

25a    Premier source of old crisis? (10)
KHRUSHCHEV: I think this is a reference to the person who supplied nuclear-capable missiles to Cuba in what became the Cuban missile crisis

26a    Every second in international homes, aspiring chefs making food (4)
NOSH: Take the second letter in 4 words in the clue

27a    Son occupying newly repainted flat (10)
PEDESTRIAN: The abbreviation for Son goes inside (occupying) an anagram (newly) of REPAINTED


1d    Promise daughter fight is over (4)
WORD: A reversal (is over) of the abbreviation for Daughter plus a word for fight or argument

2d    Boer War regulars embracing cold killer (4)
ORCA: The even letters (regulars) in bOeR wAr go around (embracing) the abbreviation for Cold

3d    Explorer‘s contacts arranged to tour island after school group (7,5)
CAPTAIN SCOTT: An anagram (arranged) of CONTACTS goes around (to tour) the abbreviation for Island which follows (after) the abbreviation for a school governing body involving teachers and parents

4d    Nice one — collecting rent for Green? (6)
UNRIPE: How someone in Nice would say one (feminine) goes around (collecting) a verb meaning rent or tear

5d    Turner maybe eager to embrace half of sportsmen (8)
KATHLEEN: A 4-letter word for eager goes around (to embrace) the first half of another word for track and field sportsmen

7d    Release north Parisian who interrupts enjoyment (10)
RELINQUISH: The abbreviation for North and how a Parisian would say ‘who’ go inside (interrupts) a 6-letter word for enjoyment or zest

8d    Totally allow English to consent to making case (10)
COMPLETELY: A 3-letter word for allow plus the abbreviation for English are surrounded by (making a case) a verb meaning consent or yield

11d    Immediately prefer the other one after fair (4,4,4)
JUST LIKE THAT: A (4,4) phrase that would mean ‘prefer the other one’ (as opposed to this one) follows another word for fair

13d    Kitty left following depression over topless part (10)
COLLECTION: The abbreviation for Left following a 3-letter depression or pass in a mountain range sits on top of (over, in a down clue) a 7-letter word for part or portion without its first letter (topless)

14d    Nationalists tire over disclaimers in report (4-6)
FLAG-WAVERS: Another verb for tire sits on top of (over, in a down clue – didn’t I just type that?) a homophone (in report) of disclaimers

17d    Principal male in diocese I don’t know (6,2)
SEARCH ME: A 4-letter word for principal or main plus the abbreviation for Male go inside (in) another word for diocese

20d    Brief course in fashion with extremely useful content (6)
MODULE: A 4-letter word for fashion or way contains (with … content) the outer letters (extremely) of useful

22d    Bond caught countryman (4)
THAI: A homophone (caught) of bond or fasten

23d    Shown round part of Nineveh that’s flat (4)
EVEN: Reverse hidden (Shown round part of …)


My favourite clue today is of course the one about Kitty (13d). Which clues did you like?


22 comments on “Toughie 1939

  1. Not often you get left with a tongue-twister as an earworm after you’ve solved a cryptic crossword but I appear to be stuck with the one about a 1a

    Took me a while to get going too – not quite Gnome’s Law, but saying to Mr CS ‘either it is me starting too late in the day, or this is a tricky crossword” seemed to work quite well as things speeded up after that, not least when I noticed his late father was the solution to 6a

    Thank you to Sparks and Dutch and Season’s Greetings to you and yours

  2. Thanks to Sparks for the enjoyable puzzle and to Dutch for the e-journal. Sparks always has some form of Nina but it’s eluding me – so I look forward to someone revealing it.
    25a doesn’t seem to be terribly cryptic but I can’t see any other explanation. Top clues for me were 1a, 11d and 17d.

  3. My favourite clue is obvious but I really liked the rest of this too. (I just wonder, who has Sparks been talking to?)

    Thanks Sparks, and thanks Dutch. A Very Merry Thingmas to you!

  4. Found this one to be relatively accessible although I did have a bit of bother sorting out three of the 4-letter answers – 6,10 & 24a. With the latter, although the mountain dweller was obvious, it took a long time to register the importance of ‘by’ in the clue.

    Leaving aside the obvious ‘friends’ choice of 13d, I awarded extra points to 12a (laugh out loud moment) and 14d.

    Thanks to Sparks and also to Dutch for the blog. Christmas hugs and turkey treats to Sparky.

  5. This is a red letter day! I finished a Friday toughie unaided which is not a common occurrence for me (although I did have to look up the spelling of the Premier in 25a). I was fully expecting the blog comments to suggest that this was a relatively easy Friday ride, I think possibly that it was, but I was pleasantly surprised to find this was not the general feeling (yet). However, I completely missed the Nina and thank you Gazza and Jane for pointing it out. If you will excuse me, I have laurels to go and lie on! Many thanks to all.

  6. Solo effort today for Mr Sheffieldsy and without Mrs Sheffieldsy’s sure hand to calm me down, I narrowly failed. Looking at Dutch’s review I soon found the problem. I had DRAW for 1d which kind of snookered any NW corner progress. Thought it was a reasonable answer: draw = promise (as in the draw/promise of becoming very famous) = D + RAW (fight = war, reversed (is over)). Boo!

    Favourite was 12a, not just because it’s fine clue but also for the realisation that you can make anything meaningful out of that set of letters.

    Thanks to Dutch and Sparks.

  7. We looked in vain for a Nina so congratulations Jane on spotting it for us all. We also went over the grid several times searching for a Z which we felt sure must be there somewhere but that too was in vain. 1a gave us the biggest chuckle but it was certainly not the only clue that we found amusing.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  8. Loved this crossword, so much!

    Last one 5d – wasn’t at all on Turner being a surname (lather, carpenter, rotator, changer etc!) but defo remember her

    No more toughies til after Christmas. Thanks Dutch, happy christmas all

  9. Only just finished, after several rests. Pat on the back -don’t often get near a Friday Toughie! Favourite was 1a. Missed the Nina.

    Thanks to all setters and bloggers this year when I have become much more involved in Toughies, and I echo best wishes to all.

    Maybe see you in the Ship on Christmas Day, Dutch?

  10. Busy, busy, busy so no time for puzzles. Just wanted to stop in and wish all my fellow Toughie solvers a wonderful Christmas!

  11. Many thanks to Dutch for a great blog and to all solvers, old friends and new, alike. Season’s greetings to one and all, and wags/woofs from Sparky and Brie.

    I’d also like to add (probably on behalf of all setters) that (a) it has been a huge pleasure to set for the TT under the fastidious, prompt, friendly and constructive editorship of Phil McNeill, to whom I wish all the best, and (b) I greatly look forward to working with Phil’s protégé, Chris Lancaster.

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