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Toughie 1944

Toughie No 1944 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Happy 2018 to you all.  Before moving forward I shall pause very briefly to insert the word cloud of Toughie answers seen twice or more in 2017 (click for a larger version):

The new year of Toughies launches with Excalibur who has given us one which I found of back pageish difficulty and providing enjoyment aplenty.  This is the true first day of the year to my mind: though I try to be sensible on the eve, the first of January is given over to metaphorical, if not literal, hangovers from the old.  It’s also this year the earliest I’ve managed to escape after the season of being made to do lots of things you don’t want to do and being obliged, salt-in-wound-rubbingly, to look happy about it.  As you read this I will have (trains permitting) fled to Dorset to recover with friends human and feline.

I feel almost like there is a theme here: 1a, 8d — perhaps in a 19d and 18as?! — suggesting looking forward to the year ahead (or the 7d) with determination that it should be 30a compared to the year past.  I’ll go with that.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the I WOULDN’T HAVE WON ANY OSCARS buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative — click only if you wish to reveal all.

As usual you may click on pictures to enlarge them.



1a    War of words? (8,4)
FIGHTING TALK:  A cryptic definition of some spirited words issuing a challenge or provoking a fight

9a    First home, one is met by wagging tail (7)
INITIAL:  Our usual crosswordland home (2) and the Roman numeral one placed before (is met by) an anagram (wagging) of TAIL

10a   A catch for paparazzo? (7)
SNAPPER:  A fish is also an informal word for a photographer

11a   In that case it’s what starts ’16’ (4)
THEN:  Split (3,1) this is the first letter of the answer to 16a

12a   Bird is headless chicken (5)
RAVEN:  A word for chicken or cowardly is headless, i.e. missing its first letter

13a   Audibly drinks in river (4)
TEES:  This river in northern England sounds like (audibly) some infused drinks

16a   Ill-equipped to find a clue for ‘luminary‘ … (7)
NOTABLE:  An adjective meaning luminary which would, split (3,4), mean incapable.  (As an aside, splitting it (2,5) gives the absence of a furniture item)

17a   … Greek lacking character to spell ‘aristocrat‘ (7)
GRANDEE:  To spell out the word “Greek” lacking the last character, you might say (1,1,3,1,1)

18a   The fins will get tangled in it (7)
FISHNET:  This anagram (will get tangled) of THE FINS is an open-meshed fabric which, as two words, is something that would catch aquatic animals.  Neither Chambers nor Oxford define the single word as the creature-catcher, and Collins does, but qualifies the usage as mainly N American (not that it was a hard one to catch)

21a   Something to wear at home (7)
HABITAT:  A garment (one worn by a nun perhaps) and the AT from the clue

23a   Bound to be fed up when disheartened (4)
TIED:  Fed up or weary missing its middle letter (disheartened)

24a   Late author such as G Eliot, deserted by husband (5)
TARDY:  Late or slow.  The author we want is described by Wikipedia as “a Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot,” which would explain the choice of example, but such as here means in the same form as: take his first initial and surname and drop the H(usband)

25a   Bottle — or part of one (4)
NECK:  Two definitions: courage or part of [a bottle]

28a   Went on to add grass outside (7)
RESUMED:  To add (up) or total with a long grass outside it

29a   In general, finished the lot (7)
OVERALL:  Finished or done plus the whole

30a   What may delay child’s lights out is quite different (7,5)
ANOTHER STORY:  This idiom taken literally might be a second (or third etc.) instance of a traditional pre-bed activity for a child



1d    Quick to contain anger, being most equitable (7)
FAIREST:  Quick or speedy surrounding (to contain) anger or rage

2d    Make a trap to catch (4)
GAIN:  A type of trap catches the A from the clue

3d    While still young, daughter quits farming (7)
TILLAGE:  Remove the D (daughter quits) from the end of a pair of four-letter words meaning while not old (till aged)

4d    Information that’s gathered obtains rising savings (4,3)
NEST EGG:  Information (3) containing (that’s gathered) obtains or acquires, all reversed (rising)

5d    Eleven is time I’m to leave: before midday (4)
TEAM:  “I’m” removed from (to leave) “time” and two letters standing for before noon

6d    Be informed by word of mouth (3-4)
LIP-READ:  A cryptic definition.  To decipher words by paying attention to the mouth rather than the sounds made

7d    Something to look forward to from afar (7,6)
DISTANT FUTURE:  A mildly cryptic definition where we need to think of time rather than space

8d    Wearing a gun? (7,2,4)
DRESSED TO KILL:  The clue suggests a more literal interpretation of the answer, which means attired to dazzle, attract and impress

14d   Be returning to get money, abandoning me in wood (5)
EBONY:  The reversal (returning) of the first word of the clue, then money minus (abandoning) me

15d   They’re woolly socks, you say (5)
LAMBS:  Sounds like (you say) socks or hits

19d   Not a bowler in Test troubled boy (7)
STETSON:  An anagram (troubled) of TEST plus a lad

20d   Put weight up? Rot and nonsense! (7)
TWADDLE:  Weight, abbreviated and reversed (up, in a down clue) followed by rot or go bad

21d   The first person died in ruined house — that’s ghastly (7)
HIDEOUS:  A first person pronoun and D(ied) inside an anagram (ruined) of HOUSE

22d   ‘Treatment,’ they say crossly, ‘is included’ (7)
THERAPY:  To tell off or speak sharply is included in the second word of the clue

26d   Issue in which sentence is printed back to front (4)
EMIT:  This is the reversal (printed back to front) of a stretch in prison

27d   It’s very cold, frozen in the centre, melting (4)
ZERO:  An anagram (melting) of the middle letters of fROZEn is very cold on most temperature scales (I checked for exceptions and found the Delisle scale, though that’s no longer in use)


Thanks to Excalibur.  I think 9a is my favourite today.  Which made your tail wag and why?


18 comments on “Toughie 1944

  1. Nothing too tricky here but it did take me a while to get back on the right wavelength for this. A pleasant enough challenge.

    Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur and happy new year to all.

  2. Not too tricky (although at first I took the ‘such as G Eliot’ to mean that we needed a female author using a male name) – thanks to Excalibur and Kitty.
    My favourite clue was 30a.

  3. Kitty, just a comment on 18a-you don’t actually say that it is an anagram (tangled) of ‘the fins’.
    As you say, a fairly gentle start to the year. Thanks to all.

    1. Kitty is on a train, so I’ve inserted the missing words in the 18a hint for her. Thanks for catching that.

  4. Must admit that I had a slight problem with 3d – the answer just didn’t ‘feel’ right so I kept looking for an alternative up until the last minute.
    Other than that, this was as enjoyable as ever from Excalibur. I liked the sneaky 11&24a but gave top billing to three of the long ones – 1&30a plus 8d.

    Many thanks to Excalibur and to our Girl Tuesday for the usual fun blog. I’m rather worried about that giraffe in the snow!

  5. What a lovely start to a New Year of Toughies. I particularly liked Excalibur’s characteristic humour in 1a (War of words?) 9a First home..) and 30a (What may..) A charming puzzle throughout. Thanks to Excalibur and Kitty

  6. I very much enjoyed this. However, I did need Kitty’s explanation to confirm why some were what they had to be (3d and 20d among them). I was fortunate in getting the long clues round the outside early on which helped with a relatively smooth ride for the rest of the way. Many thanks to Kitty and Excalibur.

  7. Like Jane I had the 3 down jitters — as opposed to the 3D jitters, which were entirely my own fault — and waited before putting that one in. But it was a flying start to the New Year, and I agree with commenters’ appraisal of the fine wit contained here.

  8. A nice start to the new year. Did anyone do yesterday’s Times jumbo? I wondered if Excalibur set that one, as twaddle and lambs featured in that as well!
    First time I’ve posted a comment here. After a few years of using this site, I’d like to thank everyone for the help obtained!

      1. I don’t know enough to be able to tell who the setter is without being able to read the name above the grid. It was the wordplay together with the answers that made me wonder.
        Good old coincidences….

  9. Thoroughly enjoyable and gentle start to the toughie year. I liked all the long perimeter clues particularly. Thanks Excalibur and thanks to Kitty for the blog.

  10. Putting in BEDTIME as the first word in 30a held us up a little until the down answers would not work so we read the clue with more care. That was probably our biggest hold-up in what we found a pleasant solve.
    Thanks Excalibur and Kitty

  11. Realised that, after reading the review, that I had 1a wrong. Wrote Fighting Tale
    Thought 3d and 17a a bit bizarre even by Elkamere’s standards.
    Thanks for the crossword and thanks to Kitty for the review.

  12. A day when the Toughie took less time than the back pager, ** perhaps for difficulty? Last in was 24ac which I thought was quite tough – if you didn’t spot the definition quickly, then the cryptic wasn’t really of much help with all that stuff about G Eliot unless you’re really hot on your ancient literature. :-) Enjoyable throughout, though, and I got there in the end, so I shouldn’t complain…

  13. Top end 1*/3*, l think. Nothing stands out for me in the way of a favourite clue, though.
    Thanks to Excalibur and Kitty.

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