Toughie 1967 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1967

Toughie No 1967 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A good and very satisfying Friday toughie from Sparks with plenty of inventive clueing. I found this fairly difficult and had to phone a friend for 5d. The bottom half went in much quicker than the top for me, and I’d made a mess by using a related word for 1a – I should have paid more attention to “pseudo”. Sparks usually has a Nina – and today’s is relatively easy to spot. It should have helped me with 5d.

As usual, definitions are underlined and the hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay. You can always revel the answer by clicking on the WHAT? Buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Pseudoscience with grand study of corporations (10)
GASTROLOGY: The abbreviation for Grand plus a pseudoscience relating to stellar bodies gives a word that generates satisfaction for the stomach. I filled in the wrong (pseudo)science at first which gave me problems – I also thought pseudoscience was the definition for a while, but I prefer this parsing

6a    General hospital that’s after no fee? (4)
FOCH: The abbreviation for Hospital comes after the abbreviation for Free of Charge

9a    Keep uncertain — half-heartedly confirm (7)
FORTIFY: A keep or stronghold followed by a 4-letter word for uncertain without one of the central F’s (half-heartedly)

10a    Tail cut off dog in old area around Whitefriars (7)
ALSATIA: A German Shepherd without the last letter (tail cut off)

12a    Singers taking exams in sweet devotion, shunning pressure (6,7)
CHORAL SOCIETY: A word for spoken exams goes inside (in) a short form of a sweet snack plus a 5-letter word meaning devotion without the initial P (shunning pressure)

14a    Virgin brides, unusually, put some of it about! (6)
UNUSED: Reverse hidden (put some of it about)

15a    Unruly daughter breaking image borne by prophet from the east (8)
INDOCILE: The abbreviation for Daughter goes inside (breaking) a reversal (from the east) of a word for an image or symbol which is inside (borne by) a 3-letter prophet

17a    Revealing jewellery worn by most of 70s group (8)
BLABBING: A slang word for shiny jewellery goes around (worn by) a Swedish pop-group missing the last letter (most of)

19a    University academic at first taken with joke book (6)
JOSHUA: The abbreviation for University plus the first letter (at first) of academic follows (taken with) another word for joke or hoax

22a    Act on suggestion of what bass may do? (4,2,3,4)
RISE TO THE BAIT: What a bass (or any other fish) might do when you attempt to lure it towards your fishing rod

24a    Two presents returned after husband and wife swap novel (7)
EREWHON: A reversal (returned) of two words meaning present, then swap the W(ife) and H(usband)

25a    Inscription of mine in middle of chapel following refurb (7)
EPITAPH: A 3-letter word for mine or excavation goes inside (in) an anagram (following refurb) of the central four letters (middle) of cHAPEl

26a    Patch of felt-like backing in skirt (4)
KILT: Reverse hidden (Patch of …. backing)

27a    Spoiler alert — finally LBW with knee at crease (3,7)
WET BLANKET: An anagram (crease) of (aler)T+LBW+KNEE AT


1d    Perhaps flat hook with handle (4)
GAFF: Two meanings. The first was new to me

2d    Sacked lecturer lusts at very strong material (10,5)

3d    Republican base harbouring single unknown source of shooting? (7)
RHIZOME: The abbreviation for Republican and a word for base or where you live containing the Roman numeral for one (single) and a letter typically used to represent an algebraic unknown. Ooh, tricky definition!

4d    Amateur drama scores uncovered (6)
LAYMAN: another word for a piece of drama and another word for scores or loads, 4 letters each – then remove the first and the last letter (uncovered)

5d    Audibly channel-hop in section of bar (5,3)
GRAY’S INN: A homophone of a slang word meaning to channel-hop on the TV + “in” gives one of the four Inns of Court to which lawyers must belong if they are to be called to the bar in England or Wales. Phew, thanks Gazza

7d    Dexter having to mark towards the goal? (2,3,5,5)
ON THE RIGHT TRACK: A (2,3,5) expression meaning dexter plus another word for mark or trail

8d    What makes use of strong guitar lead, say (5,5)
HEAVY METAL: Two meanings, the first being a type of music

11d    Dry wine left by professional (5)
SECCO: Remove (left by) the abbreviation for professional from an Italian sparkling wine

13d    What might wipe out narrow connector in goggle (10)
RUBBERNECK: Something that might erase pencil marks plus a narrow connector between a body and head of anything, eg a violin

16d    Exemplify fashionable point of view (8)
INSTANCE: A 2-letter word for fashionable plus a word for point of view or position

18d    With machismo, save children (5)
BUTCH: A 3-letter word for save plus the abbreviation for CHildren

20d    Instrument for blowing through air-con with its front off (7)
OCARINA: An anagram (off) of AIR-CON + A (with its front, i.e., with the first letter of air-con)

21d    Empty bunker with continually rising echo (6)
REVERB: A reversal (rising) of B(unke)R without the central letters (empty) plus another word for continually

23d    The tiniest bit of salt mentioned (4)
WHIT: A homophone of ‘salt’ as in clever or pungent commentary


I think my favourite was 3d for the penny-drop moment understanding the definition. I also liked “Spoiler alert”, “Virgin brides”, “General hospital”,  and 2d for the surface. Which clues did you enjoy?

27 comments on “Toughie 1967

  1. At last – a fine example of ‘what it says on the tin – the most fiendish crossword on Fleet Street’ as this is definitely the most difficult of today’s cryptic crosswords (and yes, dear reader, I’ve done them all) . For that reason alone, as it makes an exceedingly nice change, I’ve given it 5* for being a Toughie not a Fluffy, 5* for enjoyment as well as 5* for difficulty, with a 5* thank you to our setter

  2. Very enjoyable and, for a change, Friday’s Toughie was not the most difficult of the week for me (that was Tuesday’s) but I had to Google the old area around Whitefriars which I didn’t know. I’ll list 24a, 27a and 18d as ‘likes’ but my favourite was 4d.
    Thanks to Sparks for the puzzle (and for not hiding the Nina too trickily) and to Dutch for the blog.

  3. That certainly took some time! Like Dutch, I started out with the wrong ‘science’ in 1a and I also had to do a bit of homework on 10a. As for 24a – the answer I’d worked out from the wordplay looked so unlikely that I tried for quite a while to find an alternative before checking in the BRB – silly girl.

    Top two for me were 6&27a.

    Thanks to Sparks (and Sparky) and also to Dutch whose help I needed to sort out the extra ‘a’ in 20d and the full parsing of 4d where I’d been looking for two 4 letter words, both of which having their first letters removed.
    Enjoyed the cartoons!

    Oops – forgot to look for the Nina – will do that now.

  4. Dutch was clearly solving a different 13d from my edition of the DT which read “Narrow connector under protective goggle” (!). Although i solved this one, several were beyond me. A true toughie. Was the Nina “Doc Who” ?
    Thanks to all.

    1. I think the newspaper clue was better at making the solver think and work to get the first part of the solution – as for the Nina, look at rows 8, first going Across the crossword and then Down

    2. Presumably the newspaper version of 13d was deemed too risqué for the sensitive minds of us on-line solvers!

    3. Ha, funny 13d edit in the online version to remove protective! Nina is the central row and column, now I have to go hunting for doc who!

  5. Well that was on the hard side. I was endlessly dogged in the NE and had to cheat to get 10a. Also cheated on 6a – when I got that I may have said the answer aloud.

    5d only occurred to me once the checkers were in, including the one from the nina (which I’d forgotten to look for even though it’s Sparks) and then I still had to look up the answer to understand it. The hook meaning of 1d was new to me too and I don’t think I knew salt as meaning the soundalike of 23d.

    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  6. Bit of a head scratcher indeed. Never heard of the area in 10a, but gettable from the wordplay and checkers. Will have to try and drop 15a into a conversation this weekend (good luck with that) and not too keen on the homophone at 5d. Lots of favourites but 24a gets the podium for some really clever wordplay.

    Anyway, good fun from Sparks – thank you. Thanks also to Dutch for his review and reminding me to look for the Nina. Have a good weekend all.

  7. I really enjoyed today’s toughie (1967). Thank you Sparks. Lots of different clueing. Lots of “oh damn, of course” when the answers been staring you in the face. The only clue I didn’t really get was 6a, because Foch is known as a Marshal not a General. Otherwise well done (Sparks and me).

  8. I invite Cryptic Sue to use the spelling ‘Floughie’ from here on in :-)

    Which this certainly wasn’t.

  9. I’m not quite clear about ‘off ‘ in 20d. I would have thought ‘front off ‘ would just mean the first letter removed. The only way I can see for the a to be duplicated and placed at the end would require all batsmen to be right handed. What am I missing?

    1. I understand it as ‘air-con’ with another instance of it’s front (first letter) ‘a’ being ‘off’ (anagram indicator)

  10. We found this tricky and were finally beaten by 6a. When we revealed a letter we realised we had vaguely heard of the man but only referred to as Marshal and not General although we see now that that was his rank. Needed Google help with 10a too but that is not surprising. Also missed the Nina. Plenty to keep us interested and smiling.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  11. I very much enjoyed what I could do of this which was the bottom half and a handful of clues in the top half. In the top half there were just too many things I had not heard of be successful (the pseudoscience in 1a, the general in 6a, the Whitefriars area in 10a, both meanings in 1d, the source of shooting in 3d, and the bar section in 5d, and the wine in 11d). Many thanks to all for the assistance and filling in the many blanks.

  12. Don’s RE class (Scripture, as it happens) : Eli was of course a priest rather than a prophet, No, they aren’t the same!

  13. Just failed to finish this but hugely enjoyable.

    Dutch, I’m sure you’ve used the picture for 26a before.

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  14. Blimey, that was definitely tough. I failed in the end on the NE corner, having run out of time. I blame the priest / prophet mix up, as noted above, which I did spot, and promptly ignored…

  15. Certainly tough but fair. I, too, took a long time to complete this one. Plenty of clever clues; my favourites included 27a, 1a and 19a. Thanks Sparks and Dutch

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