Toughie 1994 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1994

Toughie No 1994 by Artix

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

It’s a new setter in Toughieland today and I must admit to having had difficulty getting on the right wavelength. But it all worked out fine in the end and I enjoyed the challenge. For once the pangram provided some help. The parsing of the last couple of answers helped contribute to the 4* difficulty rating.

Artix set NTSPP 201, which some of you may wish to [re]visit. BD

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Slacker ground he’d ply with ease (10)
SLEEPYHEAD: An anagram (ground) of HE’D PLY EASE gives a lazy person (slacker)

6a    Go alongside a vessel heading towards port (4)
ABUT: A + a reversal of a vessel (heading towards port = heading left)

9a    Material mentioned something to make vehicle theft easier? (5)
KHAKI: A homophone of what you use to unlock a vehicle

10a    Gas yet to be refined and stored by two Asian methane producers (6-3)
YAKETY-YAK: ‘To gas (or gossip)’ = an anagram (to be refined) of YET inside two occurrences of a species of Asian ox

12a    Terribly rude in extreme when one’s replaced by second wine from Bordeaux (5-4-4)
ENTRE-DEUX-MERS: An anagram (terribly) of RUDE IN EXTREME after replacing I (one) by S (second) gives a wine region in Bordeaux situated between the rivers Garonne and Dordogne

14a    Ball nearly potted by one using pool rest (8)
BREATHER: Remove the last letter from the ball worth one point in snooker and put it inside someone using a swimming pool

15a    Maybe young Brahmin‘s poem’s central to unbridled happiness (6)
HEIFER: Here the Brahmin is a variety of cattle. The title of a poem by Kipling goes in the middle of ‘happiness’ with the first letter removed. Or it’s something like that anyway

17a    Bug? Bug! (6)
EARWIG: 2 meanings: a bug (insect)/to bug (or listen in on)

19a    Dissident family endure half-hearted uprising (8)
REFUSNIK: A dissident Soviet citizen is a reversal of ‘family’ and ‘to endure’ with the double letter in the middle reduced to a single one. I’m not sure about ‘uprising’ in an across clue

21a    By way of illustrating age, mix a triple rum (7,6)
EXEMPLI GRATIA: This Latin term is an anagram (rum) of AGE MIX A TRIPLE

24a    What might transport Democrat around Ohio’s capital? (9)
MOTORCADE: An anagram (transport) of DEMOCRAT round O (first letter of Ohio)

25a    Burn mark on animal’s head (5)
BLAZE: 2 meanings: to burn/a white mark on an animal’s face

26a    Somewhat insane Roman? (4)

27a    PA‘s month absorbed by a brainwave? May, say (4-2-4)
AIDE-DE-CAMP: A PA (personal assistant) = the last month of the year inside A and a brainwave + one of 650 people such as Theresa May


1d    Cause that might make Abe slur his words (4)
SAKE: I’m assuming here that Abe is the Japanese PM Shinzo Abe. Drinking too much of this may make him slur his words

2d    Troubled teenager shelves new shelves (7)
ÉTAGÈRE: An anagram (troubled) of TEEAGER, i.e. TEENAGER less N (new) = a display stand with shelves

3d    International cartoon in Telegraph? It’s hard to swallow (5-8)
PAINT STRIPPER: An abbreviated form of ‘International’ and a cartoon inside an object such as the Daily Telegraph gives a caustic liquid. It’s almost certainly hard to swallow though I’ve never tried it

4d    Play in which leaders of doomed castle change places (3,5)
HAY FEVER: The name of a play by Noel Coward. Swap the initial letters of the two words and you get a word meaning ‘doomed’ and the name of a castle in Kent

5d    Joint favourite’s sixth to be passed by nag (5)
ANKLE: A joint of the body is formed by removing R (the sixth letter of FAVOURITE) from the start of a word meaning ‘to nag’

7d    Disturbed by a flea or something else floating in soup? (3,4)
BAY LEAF: An anagram (disturbed) of BY A FLEA

8d    Appropriate transport for kid to traverse south face (4,6)
TAKE STRIKE: ‘To appropriate’ and transport a kid might use round S (south) = ‘to face (or prepare to receive the ball in cricket)’

11d    Duty-free in far end of airport a bit excluded after refurbishment (3-10)
TAX-DEDUCTIBLE: T (last letter of AIRPORT) + n anagram (after refurbishment) of A BIT EXCLUDED

13d    Jack-of-all-trades? (4,6)
ABLE-SEAMAN: Here Jack is a sailor capable of performing all the duties of seamanship

16d    Fed up with drunken geezer losing head? Stop being frosty (8)
DEFREEZE: A reversal of FED + an anagram (drunked) of EEZER, i.e. GEEZER minus the first letter

18d    Change words in grid to have another go at prize puzzle (2-5)
RE-ENTER: 2 meanings

20d    The Falls Road’s beginning to be in once more resurgent area (7)
NIAGARA: R (first letter of ROADS) inside a reversal (resurgent) of ‘once more’ + A (area)

22d    Asian‘s picked up Cockney’s ill-pronounced pecking order (5)
IRAQI: How a Cockney might conceivably pronounce (or mispronounce) the word HIERARCHY (or ‘IERARCHY). Do setters put these things in just to annoy Gazza?

23d    Vehicle Joe leaps on and off (4)
JEEP: Alternate letters of JOE LEAPS

A promising Toughie debut by Artix. I look forward to the next one.


20 comments on “Toughie 1994

  1. I obviously didn’t take quite as long to get on the wavelength as Bufo but I enjoyed the crossword very much, falling nicely into the Toughie spectrum as it did

    I was in the German stream at school but I will say my Latin knowledge via crosswords is increasing daily.- 21a being an example of something I didn’t know before today

    Thanks to Artix – hope to see you back here soon – and to Bufo

  2. Welcome Artix! That was nicely challenging and a lot of fun.

    I was completely stuck on 15a and needed Bufo’s review to enlighten me. I also badly wanted 5d to be Arkle (although I don’t think the definition “nag” quite fits this noble beast) until I realised what the right answer is.

    Two unusual features are a Spooner-style construction without mentioning the Reverend’s name and a mispronounced homophone!

    The brilliant 8d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Artix and to Bufo.

  3. I enjoyed this a lot – thanks to Artix for an excellent debut in the Toughie slot and to Bufo. I thought that there were a couple too many anagrams and some of of the definitions appeared to be a bit ‘loose’ (e.g. “It’s hard to swallow”). The 22d clue contains ‘ill-pronounced’ so that seems ok (although, for me, 9a is also ill-pronounced).
    The clues I liked best were 6a, 10a and 8d.

  4. I found this quite tricky but nice and satisfying. The hardest work was in understanding a couple of my answers. I didn’t know who Abe was meant to be in 1d, so thanks to Bufo there for saving me from wearing out my domestic Google. I also met a new cow and learned* some new French, as well as yet more crickety stuff.

    My favourite is 14a and I also smiled at the buggy ones, 17a and 7d.

    Having said that, in 17a I’m not 100% sold on the first (or is it the second?) of the definitions, as bugging implies some recording taking place and to me the answer does not. (I’m sure it’s fine though – no need to throw any reference books at me!) Speaking of querying definitions, I thought 1a was just one in need of some zzzs, but Chambers says they can be lazy too. I’m ever learning.**

    Thanks to Artix, and welcome to Toughieland, and thanks Bufo.

    *as if I haven’t already forgotten it
    **and ever forgetting …

  5. Welcome Artix, to the ‘Land of the Telegraph Toughie’ :smile: I enjoyed this a lot and hope to see more of your productions in the near future. A few nice anagrams helped to get a foothold and good progress was made after that. No particular favourite but a lot of ‘smile’ moments along the way.

    Thanks to Artix for the debut puzzle and to Bufo for his excellent work in rising to the challenge of a new setter.

    1. PS – Bufo, I was thinking that the ‘happiness unbridled’ might have started with a ‘c’ and ended with a ‘y’ or an ‘s’. Just a thought :smile:

  6. I really enjoyed this, I have always believed doing a crossword is an education in itself, but there must be something wrong with me (ha ha), I am beginning to enjoy solving toughies and look forward to them, I needed the blog but still enjoyed this all the same.

  7. Thoroughly enjoyed this, perfectly tricky without being impenetrable. Like Gazza, the number of anagrams struck me, but they were all very nicely done, even the bitty subtractive ones.

    Right up my street, agree with the given assessment. Thank you Artix and Bufo.

  8. Add me to those who really enjoyed this. I was able to finish, but I was a little fortunate here and there (I was not familiar with the cricketing term in 8d for instance), and I needed Bufo’s blog to fully understand some of the word play (the Abe reference in 1d and others.) Many thanks to Atrix for a great debut, and to Bufo.

  9. I enjoyed this apart from the homophones. I naturally think of Lincoln when Abe is mentioned, which hindered my solving of 1d. One day I hope to spot a pangram. Thank you Bufo and Artix.

  10. A couple of little bits where we didn’t quite get the parsing sorted. We assumed that either Rex or Reg Ball was someone we had not met before and we had no idea on who the Japanese PM might be. 19a took us a long time to sort out as we refused to consider that ‘uprising’ would be used as a reversal indicator in an across clue.
    We spotted the pangram which was of some help in what we thought was a really good fun solve that certainly had us working very hard.
    Thanks Artix and Bufo.

      1. If you thought you’d bought The Times, the setter has scored a success. The Toughie was introduced by the paper’s editor in 2008 precisely to provide a puzzle comparable to the one in that other paper! Similarly The Times introduced its Quick Cryptic to appeal to those who want simpler crosswords (presumably more like those of the Telegraph). Having contributed a Toughlie and a Quick Cryptic on the same day more than once, I can only say that it is good for business, as far as I am concerned!

  11. I failed on 15a , 8d and 25a , but otherwise found it quite rewarding .
    I liked both 8a and 9a in particular .
    Thanks to Bufo and Artix .

  12. My heart sank a bit when my first two answers in necessitated using the BRB, but things improved as I went along.
    New for me were the French shelving, the breed of cattle, the wine and the spelling of the dissident plus the full phrase in 21a.
    The cricket term was also new but I managed it from the wordplay and then confirmed that I’d picked the right sport.

    No-one else has mentioned it but I thought there were some rather iffy surface reads along the way – I also thought ‘hard to swallow’ was a rather strange inclusion in 3d.

    Favourite spot goes to 14a.

    Thanks to Artix and to Bufo – particularly for the parsing of 1d which had me well and truly stumped.

  13. Plodded along with this , filling in pieces of the grid and reached about halfway, then a complete standstill. No amount of head scratching worked so I enjoyed reading the hints and explanations which shed some light on matters. Some I know I wouldn’t have solved without a lot of electronic searching and I do prefer to try to use the old grey matter . I found the puzzle enjoyable though and hopefully will tune into the right wavelength in the future with more practise.
    Thanks to Artix for the challenge and Bufo for explaining everything.

  14. All good fun, and not as difficult as some Toughies – maybe a *** for difficulty? 22d was my last one in, and didn’t really work for me, but oh well… 8d and 12ac were both new, but perfectly gettable. 4d I don’t think I would ever have got from the wordplay, but managed to dredge up from somewhere.

  15. A fine debut and we agree with Bufo’s rating.

    This puzzle felt like a world tour, what with French wine regions and shelves, middle Easterners (one as fodder, one as answer), a veritable herd of Asian cattle, Japanese PMs, American falls, dissident soviets and some Latin thrown in for good measure.

    Thanks to Artix and Bufo

  16. I thought this puzzle deserved its “Toughie” accolade and was very much enjoyed, in the 3/4 difficulty category for me. However, I thought the homophone should never have got passed the editor!

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