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Toughie 1968

Toughie No 1968 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hi everyone.  Excalibur is here today to brighten Toughieland with a puzzle in her distinctive style.  I found it below average difficulty for a Toughie, but I had to stop and use my 28a in places.  I always have trouble deciding on enjoyment with Excalibur puzzles — there are usually plenty of smiles but also the odd bit that doesn’t do it for me.  Today the smiles won out.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the loading 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 or uncover hidden extras.



1a    Never mind  what stress counsellor might advise (3,2,5)
NOT TO WORRY:  The two definitions here seem rather similar, except the first is used as a shrugging “oh well” and the second is not something a stress counsellor would actually advise but the overall aim of the advice

6a    How do I feel? It’s fate to get rejection (4)
MOOD:  Ones general feeling or disposition is the reversal (rejection) of a (not very happy) fate

9a    Brush with police reported (5)
COPSE:  This brush is a thicket and it sounds like (reported) an informal word for police

10a   Our agent out East’s retinue (9)
ENTOURAGE:  An anagram (out) of OUR AGENT and E(ast)

12a   Bungle service perhaps for game (7)
NETBALL:  Split (3,4) this could be to hit the tennis projectile into the bit that goes across the middle of the court.  The game we want uses bigger round things.  (Put together the words that I have obviously been at pains to avoid in the hint and you will have the answer!)

13a   Small child. A very noisy kid (5)
CHAFF:  Join together an abbreviation (small) of child, the A from the clue and the musical notation for very loud.  Kid here is a verb

15a   In kennels, had it been drinking the St Bernard’s brandy? (7)
LURCHER:  A whimsical cryptic indication of a breed of dog (so one found in kennels) whose name suggests that it might have had one too many and thus be unsteady on its paws

17a   In earlier page, he made initial errors (7)
SPOONER:  Inside a word meaning earlier insert the abbreviation for page

19a   Fruit seen in description of fruitcake (7)
BANANAS:  This fruit lends its name to a slang adjective meaning loopy

21a   As announced, eliminates winter transport (7)
SLEIGHS:  A homophone of (as announced) eliminates or kills

22a   ‘Not a pretty girl,’ you say, ‘a chemist‘ (5)
NOBEL:  The Swedish chemist who invented dynamite and, after reading his own (premature, obviously) obituary went on to leave quite a legacy sounds like (you say) a phrase meaning “not a pretty girl” (2,5)

24a   Within confines of home, are most intimate (7)
NEAREST:  Inside (within confines of) a home is the ARE from the clue

27a   Becomes rather fat for skirts (4,5)
GETS ROUND:  As a dictionary entry the answer means skirts or circumvent.  The two words together could also mean becomes plump

28a   It’s working, I think! (5)
BRAIN:  If this organ is working one is thinking

29a   Minute is semi-eternity when tortured (4)
TINY:  An anagram (when tortured) of half of (semi-) eternity

30a   Chaps overwhelmed by a tender, moving loving word (10)
ENDEARMENT:  Some guys inside (overwhelmed by) an anagram (moving) of A TENDER



1d    Converse of southern warmth for which it’s known (4)
NICE:  Take the opposite (converse) of both southern and warmth, and abbreviate the former.  This leaves you with a French city which is known for its southern warmth.  I’m not sure what to underline as the definition here

2d    Game played by stingy cab fare fearing vituperation? (3,3,3)
TIP AND RUN:  This could be what someone who is ungenerous with their gratuity might do.  The game is an informal kind of cricket which wasn’t familiar to me.  Collins agrees with the enumeration given, while Oxford and Chambers have this hyphenated

3d    On time, in public (5)
OVERT:  On or above and the abbreviation for time

4d    Inoperable, treating all but last three outside (4-3)
OPEN-AIR:  An anagram (treating) of all but the last three letters of INOPERAble

5d    Animal tales requiring a deletion: they’re intended for infants (7)
RATTLES:  A rodent is followed by the second word of the clue missing the letter a (requiring a deletion)

7d    A meat ball served up somewhere in the US (5)
OMAHA:  Some meat is sandwiched between the A from the clue and the ball-shaped letter, all reversed (served up)

8d    Does make a home in it (4,6)
DEER FOREST:  A cryptic definition of the habitat of does and their ilk

11d   Open, is not stuffy (7)
UNCLOSE:  Two definitions: not shut, or not stuffy in atmosphere

14d   Travel on the red-eye that’s here today, gone tomorrow (3-2-5)
FLY-BY-NIGHT:  De-hyphenate the answer to give a description of travel by the red-eye

16d   Raymond caught absconding seeing policeman with dog (7)
HANDLER:  Novelist Raymond with C(aught) deleted (absconding)

18d   What ’17’ might ne’er have mentioned to psychiatrist? (9)
NIGHTMARE:  “Might ne’er” as 17a might conceivably have said.  This was my last entry, as I wasn’t expecting it to be as direct as it was

20d   Aftermath of summer outing with fancy buns and plenty of tea? (7)
SUNBURN:  A possible after-effect of being out in summer.  An anagram (fancy) of BUNS with a vessel in which tea or coffee is made in quantity

21d   In Wales, playing, dad’s lost a bundle (7)
SWADDLE:  Inside an anagram (playing) of WALES is dad – without his A (he’s lost a)

23d   Don’t get out the big stick (5)
BATON:  Split (3,2) would change the meaning of the answer to continue to play (not get out) in cricket

25d   Person in club taking top off — it’s still warm (5)
EMBER:  A person who belongs to a club or society losing the first letter (taking top off)

26d   One who’d slain in thriller (4)
UNIT:  Take an informal name for a crime thriller and remove from it the second word of the clue (which is thus slain).  I’d normally spell the thriller with an extra letter which might be why this was my last answer to understand.  A nice moment when it clicked


Thanks to Excalibur.  I really enjoyed 24a, 27a, 29a (true!) and 5d, but I think my favourite just has to be 28aHow did you feel?


28 comments on “Toughie 1968

  1. Definitely easier than some of the Tuesday toughies we have seen recently, but still very entertaining. The definition in 13a was unfamiliar to me, and I failed to parse 15a.

    Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur

  2. Very enjoyable and not too tough, so, I will agree with Kitty’s ratings – **/****.

    One or two for which the parsing was more difficult than the solving, and I had to wait for Kitty to explain 26d (and I agree on the extra letter, although the BRB has both versions).

    Favourite – a toss-up between 19a and 22a.

    Thanks to Excalibur and Kitty.

  3. 26d my last one in and then not absolutely sure why, and having stupidly put goes as opposed to gets in 27a for far too long made 23d a bit problematic

    Thanks to Excalibur and Kitty.

  4. Thanks to Excalibur for the usual quirky puzzle and to Kitty for the usual comprehensive blog. I thought that 1a (where there seemed to be a considerable overlap between the definition and the wordplay) and 15a were rather weak but I liked 12a, 13a and 22a. My favourite, because it held me up longest, was 26d.

  5. I thought this was harder than many Tuesday Toughies due to some strange cluing, but obviously not too hard (though 26d did indeed come closest to baffling, but what else could the answer be?). I was also slowed down by putting “goes” at the beginning of 27a, which seemed closer to the definition in my head after considering both possibilities.

    Quirky crossword but I did rather enjoy it. Thanks setter and Kitty.

  6. Brimming with humour and elegant surface readings, as always for Excalibur. Clues that made me laugh, among others, were 15a ( In kennels…)and 2d (Game played…) Keep them coming, please, Excalibur and thanks to Kitty, too

  7. I really enjoyed this. I particularly liked 17a/18d, 22a, and 23d. Standout favourite is 26d for the penny drop that finally occurred fifteen head-scratching minutes after the grid was filled. Thanks to Excalibur and to Kitty.

  8. Great fun from Excalibur as usual. The 17/18 combo was my favourite clue(s). A very clever twist on the usual way of setting this sort of clue!

    Thanks to Kitty for the help in solving 28a & 26d.

  9. I needed a number of hints , nonetheless , enjoyable.
    Thanks to Excalibur and Kitty.
    I thought there were lots of great clues and I opt for 20d as favourite . .

  10. Not too difficult with 28a and 26d last in. Have to agree with Kitty- 28a my favourite. Thanks both

  11. Loved the 17/18 combo too.
    Very enjoyable crossword with witty clues.
    Thanks to Excalibur and to kitty for the review.

  12. That wretched Reverend gets me every time – even when his name isn’t specifically mentioned! That combo plus the murderer in 26d were the last to fall.

    Enjoyable as ever from this setter and I placed 1a&14d on the top of the pile.

    Many thanks to Excalibur and to our Girl Tuesday for another great blog – lovely to have the illustrations back this week.

  13. I revealed a letter for 20D and still couldn’t parse the clue until the blog came up. Otherwise, this was plain sailing. A good few ticks on my page but the 17/18D combo is definitely top of my pops. Thanks Excalibur, and many thanks to Kitty for the blog.

  14. A lovely crossword and agree with Kitty as it being 2*/4*.

    We had ‘goes round’ for 27a for a while which meant that 23 was LOI, it being unsolvable until we corrected our error.

    Favourite was 26d.

    Thanks to Excalibur and Kitty.

  15. We also were held up a little by having GOES as the first word of 27a but overall it took us about the same time as the back-pager.
    Plenty of smiles.
    Thanks Excalibur and Kitty.

  16. A pleasant start to the week, not too toughie. Liked the 17 business a lot. 26d did not seem quite right (but as my spelling is pour… ). 8d last in. Thanks to K&E. It was good.
    Fire blazing, beer v good, curry to come, a good experience 😊

  17. I also had “goes” at first in 27a, which held me up getting 23d. Also didn’t like the clumsy answer to 11d.

    Main stupidity was finishing with “deep” instead of “deer” in 8d even though I realised what “does” are!

    Favourites 12a, 22a, 23d.

    Thanks to Excalibur and Kitty.

  18. A super toughie, which had I not been so impatient I could and should have solved without resorting to ‘cheating myself’ by peeping at the answers to 6a and 14d before I had many checking letters in place. I began mid afternoon amid the general hubbub of three grandchildren fresh home from school and finished in relative peace after our tea and the ‘babs’ had departed homeward. Some super clues and many laugh out loud moments – especially with 17a & 18d. Thanks to Excalibur and to Kitty.

  19. Just remembered something which didn’t make it into the review. I do a lot of electronic double-checking of anagrams when writing the hints (it’s so easy to put the wrong fodder), and Chambers came up with an interesting anagram of 30a.

    1. That, of course, is the only reason why you would ever look at an anagram solver! Must admit that, following your comment, I tried entering 30a into said anagram solver myself – only came up with one Portuguese and one Spanish alternative – what on earth did you find?

      Edit – Mr Chambers had other ideas!

  20. Very enjoyable – and I sped along very happily until the brakes slammed on trying to do 28d. With only a handful of possible words I still needed the hint so many thanks Kitty and thank you Excalibur for an enjoyable quirky puzzle..

  21. Not hard – say 2* – but lots of fun (particularly in the SE corner). I loved the 17a/18d combo, and my last in – 26d. Thanks to Excalibur, and Kitty.

  22. A case of all but five clues in about the time I’d expect to solve the back pager, and then those last few taking the same time again. Easier than I remember Excalibur being in the past, and entertaining throughout. Last in was 26d where I puzzled long and hard over the “whod”, mulling over a possible typo, or some outlandish word I’d not come across until now before the penny dropped.

  23. I did this yesterday but somehow am having problems commenting from my iPad.

    I thought it was a lovely puzzle with many clues I enjoyed – like JL I liked the 17a/18d combo, also 22a (though i married one), 24a, 30a and 20d

    Like JB I felt disappointed with 11d, but otherwise excellent stuff

    Many Thanks excalibur and kitty, especially for the whodunit that i missed in 26d.

  24. This puzzle appears both as a cryptic and again as a toughie in the puzzle website !
    Two ticks for 18D.

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