Toughie 1982 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1982

Toughie No 1982 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

It was a pleasant surprise to find a Micawber puzzle on a Thursday for the second time in a month. This one didn’t cause any real problem but it was very enjoyable nevertheless

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Is coaching at first to box (3,5)
TEA CHEST: ‘Is coaching’ + the first letter of TO = a wooden container (box) with a metal lining for transporting dried leaves

6a    Divert coach back into underpass (6)
SUBWAY: A reversal of ‘divert’ or ’cause to deviate from course’ and a public service vehicle

9a    Resist Old Pretender’s initial claim (6)
OPPOSE: O (old) + the first letter of PRETENDER + ‘to claim’

10a    Sends message beforehand, perhaps, to give excuses (8)
PRETEXTS: ‘Before’ + ‘sends message on a mobile phone’

11a    Position that applies to across clue after 90-degree rotation? (8)
BACKSTOP: This is a rarely-used fielding position in cricket (directly behind the wicketkeeper). If you rotate an across answer in a crossword anticlockwise by 90 degrees then the last letter will appear first. I don’t really get this because it’s the answer that’s rotating not the clue. Have I missed something? Though I suppose that if will apply if you rotate any clue that fits on one line.

12a    Book into space ship and board (6)
EMBARK: A space in printing + B (book) + Noah’s boat

13a    Decorative work the creation of lipstick-wearing drinker? (7,5)
STAINED GLASS: This is decorative work often seen in churches. It could also be something that a lipstick-wearing drinker ends up with

16a    Drink in kitchen, where you may hear a pin drop (7,5)
BOWLING ALLEY: A drink (from the vessel it’s served in) + IN + a kitchen on a ship

19a    One cutting words once on poster for Paris concert by Sonny? (6)
ETCHER: A poster in French advertising a concert by a duo from the sixties would contain the words ‘Sonny ** ****’

21a    Throaty — sounds like it might be to do with drainage? (8)
GUTTURAL: This could be a homophone for a word meaning ‘like a drainage channel’ if only such a word existed

23a    This bean’s distilled into alcohol (8)
ABSINTHE: An anagram (distilled) of THIS BEAN = a liqueur containing extract of wormwood

24a    It may be more difficult for Londoners to express warmth (6)
ARDOUR: A homophone of ‘more difficult’ as said by some Londoners

25a    Express frustration about rotten leek, having thrown away last vegetable (6)
CELERY: ‘Express frustation’ round an anagram (rotten) of LEE (Leek minus the last letter)

26a    Extremists in Twitter dying to be this? (8)
TRENDING: The first and last letters of TWITTER + ‘dying’. The whole clue provides the definition


2d    Cut off paisley pants making old-fashioned sight (6)
ESPIAL: An anagram (pants) of PAISLE (PAISLEY minus the last letter)

3d    One hatching plots against P Pan? (5)
CHOOK: An antipodean chicken could be P(eter) Pan’s enemy

4d    Looks at Express, say, or issue of Observer (9)
EYESTRAIN: ‘Looks at’ (4) + what could be an express (5)

5d    What bowler might use hits target at 16 (7)
TOPSPIN: What a bowler at cricket may impart to the ball = ‘hits (the ball) on the upper part’ + one of the targets in the answer to 16 across

6d    Kids’ coverage influenced broadcast (5)
SUEDE: Material obtained from a kid (goat) is a homophone of ‘influenced’

7d    Head of Research taken on by Auntie Eleanor’s drink corporation? (4,5)
BEER BELLY: The first letter of RESEARCH inside Auntie (the broadcaster) + a diminutive form of ELEANOR = the corporation (stomach) seen on a heavy drinker

8d    One replacing character, perhaps to avoid offending star (8)
ASTERISK: A star used to replace a letter in a rude word to reduce the amount of offence given

13d    Graceful, shy elk with lip trembling (9)
SYLPHLIKE: An anagram (trembling) of SHY ELK LIP

14d    Draw fleet out as vessels coming from Holland (9)
DELFTWARE: An anagram (out) of DRAW FLEET = a type of pottery name after a Dutch town (where I once remember nursing a mammoth hangover after overindulging on the overnight ferry)

15d    Location of card game vulnerable to robbery (8)
LOOTABLE: When split (3,5) this could be a piece of furniture used for playing a particular card game

17d    Fellows standing in for you and me in holiday month maybe make more (7)
AUGMENT: Take a month of the year when many holidays are taken and replace ‘you and me’ (2) by ‘fellows’ (3)

18d    Spin, following Sun’s lead? A body that does (6)
SATURN: The first letter of SUN + A + ‘spin’ = a planet

20d    Stylish artist regularly appearing with a couple of unknowns (5)
RITZY: Alternate letters of ARTIST + two different letters that can each represent an unknown quantity

22d    German joiner’s identity annulled (5)
UNDID: A German conjunction (joiner) + ‘identity’

I also enjoyed writing the review.

28 comments on “Toughie 1982

  1. Micawber on top form with this wonderful crossword. My top favourite (and there were many to choose from) was 3d

    Thanks to Micawber and Bufo too

  2. I have to admit that this one beat me, with 3 unsolved in the NW corner. I had seen both 1a and 11a as possible answers, but couldn’t parse them, and I agree with Bufo that 11a is a bit strange. 2d was the other one that escaped me, a word I hadn’t seen before.

    16a was COTD for me.

    Many thanks to Bufo and Micawber.

  3. This was a lot of fun from start to finish and nicely challenging without being too difficult.

    I put “portable” for 15d, parsed as “POR” (Point of Reference) = “location” and “table” = “card game” but I wasn’t happy with the latter part. I see Bufo has proposed an alternative answer but I’m still not totally sure about that either.

    I was going to protest that 11a is not a position but I was being narrow minded and thinking wrongly it was referring to cricket. Then I realised it can be a position both in rounders and in baseball. The equivalent cricket term is Long Stop and woe betide any captain who places a fielder there when I’m keeping wicket.

    Pants in 2d is a very amusing anagram indicator.

    7d was a LOL moment and my favourite.

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Bufo.

      1. Now I’ve looked up Loo, which I’ve never heard of as a card game that makes sense. When I read Bufo’s review I wondered why anyone would want a table in their toilet, let alone play cards whilst there.

        1. Like “ton” not enough of you have read Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels. You would know at once that this was a game. I’m waiting for “faro” to appear!

  4. I found this puzzle to be the trickiest so far this week. Some parts were very easy to figure out, then a few real head scratchers. ‘Pant’s was a new designation for an anagram for me, so I really puzzled over that clue – but I will remember that for next time! Then I had to look up the card game after running through the entire alphabet while knowing the last five letters.
    Then the cricket (garg) reference in 11a which I had to guess at.

    But all in all, very enjoyable today!

    Usual thanks to the setter – I don’t know how they do it!

  5. Superb fare today – thanks to Micawber and Bufo.
    I had no problem with 15d as I used to play “Ha’penny Loo” with my uncle and aunt as a child.
    There are masses of ticks on my printout but I’ll just list 19a, 3d and 7d as top candidates for favouritism.

  6. Most of the problems I had were of my own making. I spelled 21a incorrectly which made a mess of 22d and then I miscounted the regular letters in 20d, finished up with ‘ATT’ and added the unknowns ‘N’ and ‘Y’ to make NATTY. Perfectly acceptable answer to the clue but just wrong!

    I was OK with 11a courtesy of years of playing rounders at school but couldn’t quite justify the wordplay on that one.
    Like RD, I entered PORTABLE in 15d – not for his profound reason, simply because I didn’t know the card game and couldn’t come up with anything else that would fit!

    Plenty of clues that floated my boat but the simple 3d takes the laurel wreath from me.

    Many thanks to Micawber for the fun and to Bufo for the blog.

  7. All good, no stand out favourites, but 18d gets a nod. Thought both 11a and 5d a bit odd. Wasn’t keen on 22d. 15d last (bung) in.

    Thanks Micawber and Bufo ** / ***

  8. Our biggest hold up was of our own making. Probably influenced by the wordplay we had both mis-spelt the answer for 21a which stopped us getting the clever 22d for some time. As others have already said, an excellent puzzle that we very much enjoyed.
    Thanks Micawber and Bufo.

  9. 11a confused me a bit too. Favourite clue could be any of most of the others – great stuff. Thanks Micawber and Bufo

  10. Where does Micawber live? I was born in London and can assure you I do not drop my aitches! 24a

  11. 11a If you rotate something through 90 degrees the back becomes the top (or bottom ).

    1. Welcome to the blog Beano

      If you reread Bufo’s hint you will see that he takes issue with it being the clue that is rotated when it should be the answer.

  12. Mainly straightforward but difficult parsing for me . I still don’t understand 11 across. Amazingly as I’m apathetic ref sport I know the term as a position but I don’t get the 90 degree rotation . Bufo suggests an anticlockwise rotation but why not a clockwise one – nothing in the clue to direct and anyway still dont yuderstand the answer. Otherwise I enjoyed it

  13. Mrs taking 5 has been working the last couple of evenings and taking courage from the back page blog I’ve tackled the last 2 toughies to the soundtrack of my The Jam triple album. Pleased to get through though on both occasions needed a little help to confirm and a few hints to finish. Still must be making progress. Thanks to the setter and Bufo for the hints. Oh, and I had portable for 15d and loved 7d

  14. I had a bit of a struggle with this but got through it in the end, apart from having ‘portable’ in 15d. I had heard of the card game but not recently enough to remember it. I couldn’t parse 8d, as I didn’t realise that it was a double definition. 19a made me smile and was my favourite.

  15. Good fun as ever from Micawber. Fairly straightforward for the most part, until I got to the NE corner that is which put up some resistance, in particular 8d, 12ac and 6d, my LOI. Were any of the three that difficult in retrospect? No they weren’t, so there’s only one person to blame. :-)

  16. Thanks Bufo and all who have commented. In hindsight 11ac should perhaps have read “…that MAY apply to ANSWER…” As Reggie points out, I assumed an anticlockwise rotation, but these things can go either way!

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