Toughie 1995 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1995

Toughie No 1995 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I always enjoy a Notabilis – everything is so tidy and accurate, with precise definitions nicely worked into the surfaces. The pangram helped to correct the answer I’d originally bunged in for 25a. There is an interesting reading in one of the rows, is there more?

As usual, the definitions are underlined, the hints aim to help you unravel the wordplay, and you can click on the Here is an Easter egg for you buttons to reveal the wordplay


1a    Hard to handle Brown’s blocking approach (10)
CUMBERSOME: A shade of brown goes inside (‘s blocking) a verb meaning approach

6a    The reverse of ‘assez damnée’, somewhat chipper (4)
ADZE: Reverse hidden (The reverse of … somewhat)

9a    Deviate holds rough lout embracing excited hedonist (10)
VOLUPTUARY: Russian dolls – a word for deviate or change contains (holds) and anagram (rough) of LOUT, which in turn contains (embraces) a 2-letter word for excited

10a    Duke, as before, in court (4)
QUAD: The abbreviation for duke has the Latin word for as, or in the capacity of, come before it

13a    Immobilise cylinder block’s cover for dipstick (7)
PINHEAD: To immobilise, as in wrestling, followed by a word for a cylinder block’s cover in an engine

15a    Clobber on thug revealing round figure (6)
NOUGHT: An anagram (clobber) of ON THUG

16a    Next-generation male writer recalled hack (6)
NEPHEW: The reversal (recalled) of a writing implement plus a verb meaning hack or cut

17a    Completely fiddle research needing experiments to be fair (2,3,10)
IN ALL CONSCIENCE: A phrase (2,3) meaning completely, a verb meaning fiddle or swindle, and the general name for research requiring experiments

18a    Range of sin: sloth’s about nailing it (6)
SIERRA: A verb meaning to sin or go astray has the reversal (about) of a 2-letter 3-toed sloth plus the ‘S around it (nailing it)

20a    Volunteer to pay attention when cycling (6)
ENLIST: A verb meaning to pay attention is cycled, in this case with the two last letters moved to the front

21a    Furthest Maidstone is off course, avoiding the A1 (7)
ENDMOST: An anagram of M(ai)DSTONE avoiding AI

22a    Once more or less good, Nixon’s vice-president (4)
ANEW: The name of Nixon’s vice-president without (less) the abbreviation for good

25a    Insult old wretch interrupting games and dance (10)
PEJORATIVE: The abbreviation for old plus a wretched person goes inside (interrupting) sports class at school plus a lively dance suited to 50’s rock&roll

26a    Outsiders from Euroland, glumly fretful (4)
EDGY: The outside letters of (outsiders from) EurolanD and GlumlY

27a    Europhile PM to cease mantra in faithless regions (10)
HEATHENDOM: A past Europhile PM (5) plus a verb meaning to cease and a syllable used as a meditation intonation


1d    Guinea pig: it comes out of a hole (4)
CAVY: Remove IT from a 6-letter word for hole

2d    Merging, lake feeds sea (4)
MELD: The abbreviations for lake goes inside (feeds) a shortened form of a sea

3d    Spar, putting energy above liveliness (6)
ESPRIT: A spar used in sailing is preceded (putting … above) by the abbreviation for energy

4d    Expose the female officer fairly loudly, in kind spirit? (8,7)
SOUTHERN COMFORT: A 3-letter verb meaning to expose, a pronoun meaning the (or that) female, a 3-letter abbreviation for officer and the abbreviation of a musical term meaning fairly loudly all go in another word for kind or type

5d    Marines probing tight, legless bloke found in sea (6)
MERMAN: The abbreviation for the marines goes inside (probing) a word for tight or frugal

7d    I dish up an omelette, initially stirred and cooked in layers ‘à la crème’ (10)
DAUPHINOIS: An anagram (stirred) of I DISH UP AN O(melette initially).

8d    Finish restoration of Monet’s frames with natural talents (10)
ENDOWMENTS: A verb meaning finish plus an anagram (restoration of) MONET’S containing (frames) the abbreviation for With

11d    No rush, secure in small room (6,4)
SNAIL’S PACE: A verb meaning to secure goes in the abbreviation for small and another word for room

12d    It’s not all bad: copper is worth say $1000 (7,3)
CURATE’S EGG: The chemical symbol for copper, a verb meaning ‘is worth’, the abbreviation for say, or for instance, plus the abbreviation for a $1000


13d    Drink to excite passion before gripping blade’s handle (7)
PHILTRE: A prefix meaning before contains (gripping) a word for a blade’s or knife’s handle

14d    Irregular drinker’s shakes diminished when imbibing spa water (7)
DEVIANT: An abbreviation for drinker’s shakes with the last letter removed (diminished) contains (when imbibing) a well-known brand of spa water

19d    Queen takes on board European extension (6)
ANNEXE: The name of a previous queen, the chess notation for takes or captures, and the abbreviation for European

20d    Slip from Versace, ample, cut in regular style (6)
ESCAPE: Even letters (cut in regular style) of Versace, ample

23d    Joke about Newton’s character (4)
KIND: To joke or tease goes around (about) The Physics abbreviation for Newton

24d    Give a wave to government leader hosting head of state (4)
PERM: The 2-letter abbreviation for the UK government leader contains the two-letter abbreviation for the UK head of state

Lots of quality clues – the one with the nicest penny drop for me today was 5d.  I like “takes on board”, I hadn’t seen that before. Which clues were your favourites?

15 comments on “Toughie 1995

  1. I thought this was one of the most difficult Toughies for a while and indeed had to resort to an email ‘Notabilis – me or him?’ which kick-started the Gnome’s Law process and I continued to battle to the end. Others may be pleased to learn that the answer to my question was ‘Him!’ . Thank you to ‘him’ for a splendid brain workout – luckily I had the time on this very rainy day off.

    Once I returned from my lie down in a darkened room and looked at it all again, I can’t really see what held me (us?) up. Lots of clues with *s by them but my first one was put by 6a so I’ll select that one for the gold medal

  2. Seeing the name Notabilis on a Toughie is a guarantee of enjoyment and today is no exception. I didn’t think it was one of his toughest puzzles but it’s full of quality clues.
    Thanks to Notabilis and Dutch.
    I liked 5d and and 24d a lot but my favourite (because it look me a long time to parse it) was 19d.

  3. I did have to resort to electronic help for some of these – 9&27a plus 13d – but the puzzle was well worth the effort.
    I also needed Dutch’s reminder of the sloth and info regarding the chess notation to fully parse the relevant clues.

    4d made me laugh when the penny dropped so I put that on the podium along with 12,14&24d.

    Thanks to Notabilis for keeping me away from the chores and to Dutch for both the excellent blog and the great cartoons.

  4. Just completed the puzzle after a long battle.I’m glad Dutch rated it as **** !
    I found the four letter clues to be the most difficult.12d was a new word and I have not seen 25a in print for a while..
    Anyway a pleasant time spent relaxing., liked 27a, don’t remember seeing this before either..
    Thanks Dutch for the pics,25a reminded me of the secretary who was sacked for typing’ if so fatso’ into a letter instead of ‘ipso facto’

  5. Phew! This took me a long time. I had to check the spar in 3d and the drinker’s shakes of 14d. I also needed Dutch to explain the X in 19d.

    Was surprised to see 7d without an E on the end (and I can’t see it spelled that way in Chambers). I delayed inputting 2d for a while, not quite seeing how the parts of speech of definition and answer can match.

    1d is cute, but I think I will have to choose the same favourite as our reviewer: 5d. Most amusing. I also really liked 14d. A few drinks here, what with 4d and 13d too. I might need a few drinks to recover!

    Thanks Notabilis and Dutch, and a very Happy Easter weekend to you all. May your to-do list look like the picture for 15a .

    1. Yes, I noticed that too. In French, you would say ‘Gratin Dauphinois’ which I’m happy falls into the category of well-known menu items. In English, i think you say Dauphinoise potatoes. For those who think it would then need a French indicator, I’m happy with “a la creme” vs creamed. Sorry about the spoiler for those who could not identify the illustration.

      No doubt you realised in 2d merging is a gerund, as in the the merging of the data.

    2. Re 7d, since it is a French adjective, it may have an e on the end or not, depending on the grammatical gender of the noun it’s qualifying, I guess.

  6. I rarely complete a Friday toughie, but this Notabilis puzzle has kept me happily occupied for quite a while today. Everyone else in the house seems to be suffering with some lurgy or other today, so I’ve let them have some peace and quiet whilst I’ve puzzled away. Most absorbing and entertaining – thanks to both setter and Dutch. Happy Easter to one and all. :-D

  7. Struggled with this, but got there in the end with a nudge or two. Quite slow going too, having to check quite a few. Satisfying though.
    It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of references such as 22a.

    Thanks Notabilis and Dutch for the hints ***** / *** for me.

  8. I have a great sense of accomplishment in having being able to finish today’s thoughie. For me the last to fall was 7d. I had all the checkers, I knew it was an anagram, but it took me a long time to figure out the creme layers that I was not familiar with. Otherwise, I slowed myself down by not immediately entering several correct answers that could not fully parse, but it eventually all fell into place. I very much enjoyed the challenge. Many thanks to Notabilis and Dutch.

  9. It is going to be a long evening, i am 3/4 through and loving the tussle but won’t finish till tomorrow. Notabilis and Dutch thank you

  10. Excellent fun that kept us occupied and amused for quite some time. Noting that a pangram was looking likely was a help with some of the last few to fall. Our very last act of parsing was sorting out 19d, a real penny drop moment.
    Thanks Notabilis and Dutch.

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