Toughie 2012 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2012

Toughie No 2012 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Warm greetings, gridfellows.  Well, what a surprise – one of the most recognisable setters, and I failed to guess who it was (setter information had not been updated when I solved this).  Perhaps 29a should have been a clue (well, it is a clue, but you know what I mean), but hindsight is etc. etc …  I made quite a slow start on this then picked up speed, completing the grid in the order SW, NW, NE, centre and finally in the home corner of the SE).

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the 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    Smart, having also protected reputation (8)
STANDING:  Smart or tingle painfully containing (havingprotected) a conjunction meaning also

5a    Happy days in Germany (6)
PROSIT:  A cryptic definition of a German toast

9a    Succeed in getting the last word (8)
FAREWELL:  Split (4,4) the answer could mean to get on successfully

10a   Passage direct, we’re told (6)
STRAIT:  This sounds like (we’re told) direct or undeviating

12a   Instructions for board perceived to be two-thirds incorrect (6)
RECIPE:  The board is of the edible sort, and the cryptic instructions are: to take two-thirds of PERCEIved and to mix them into an anagram (incorrect)

13a   Big, but not immeasurably so? (8)
SIZEABLE:  This adjective meaning big seems like it should mean of a quantifiable magnitude

15a   Back up against ropes, groggy, seen as target (7)
PURPOSE:  Reverse (back) the up from the clue and add an anagram (groggy) of ROPES

16a   Prefer when heart’s broken to be unattached (4)
FREE:  We get our answer when the central letters (heart) of the first word of the clue is anagrammed (broken)

20a   Full of energy, juvenile star (4)
LEAD:  A young male (juvenile) contains (is full of) E(nergy)

21a   They contain beer in pubs: about litre (7)
BARRELS:  Inside some drinking establishments we find an abbreviation for about or concerning and the abbreviation for litre

25a   Nice new pants, absorbing spilt ale (8)
PLEASANT:  An anagram (new) of pants containing (absorbing) an anagram (spilt) of ALE

26a   Ne’er-do-well son in clutches of drink (6)
WASTER:  S(on) inside (in clutches of) a drink (but not an alcoholic one)

28a   It’s handmade for someone’s smoking  jacket (6)
REEFER:  A cigarette containing an illicit substance is also a type of jacket

29a   What to give one’s bird on occasion? (8)
SEEDCAKE:  A cryptic definition of some bird food which sounds like it might be especially suited for a birthday etc.  This was my last in, and problematic

30a   Allowing oneself to be subject of a study (6)
POSING:  A slightly more tractable cryptic definition: the study is an artistic one such as a portrait

31a   Establish tenner is forged and catch Tom out (8)
ENTRENCH:  TENNER is anagrammed (forged) and followed by “catch” minus the feline (Tom out)



1d    Eastern outfit hosts a fine expedition … (6)
SAFARI:  A traditional eastern garment contains (hosts) A (from the clue) and F(ine)

2d    … swapping sun initially for cold, rambling about continent (6)
AFRICA:  An anagram of the previous clue (referenced by the …), swapping S (sun initially) for C(old).  My last to parse

3d    Terribly proud guards have heavy fall? (8)
DOWNPOUR:  An anagram (terribly) of PROUD surrounds (guards) to have

4d    Essence of loneliness rising in long-distance runner (4)
NILE:  A central part (essence) of a word of the clue reversed (rising, in a down clue)

6d    Definitely second, third and the fifth letters of ‘prairie’ (6)
RATHER:  The second, third and fifth letters of the last word of the clue, with the definite article from the clue inserted before the last.  I didn’t think this quite works, but am happier with it having written the hint.  What do you think?

7d    Case of minstrel who refused to strike (8)
SCABBARD:  Split (4,4), this sheath for a sword etc. could be a strikebreaking minstrel or poet

8d    Carried half of bitter inside — seemed drunk (8)
TOTTERED:  A word meaning carried with half of the word “bitter” inside gives us to walk in an unsteady fashion

11d   Key is certainly in hole (7)
FISSURE:  A charade of a musical key, the IS from the clue and a synonym of certainly

14d   Moves round about gunner, causing minor injuries (7)
SPRAINS:  Moves round (moves in a rotational manner) around (about) a member of the Royal Artillery

17d   Give ovation (some standing) for absolute rubbish (8)
CLAPTRAP:  Follow a word meaning applaud with the reversal (standing, in a down clue) of one meaning some or a portion

18d   Evergreen not having fruit (8)
DATELESS:  Evergreen in the sense of never becoming old-fashioned, or (4-4) a certain type of palm bearing having no fruit

19d   A lone, straggling cherry — climbing plant? (8)
OLEANDER:  An anagram (straggling) of A LONE plus a colour like cherry, reversed (standing, in a down clue)

22d   Back seat unusually taken by Navy (6)
ASTERN:  An anagram (unusually) of SEAT and then the abbreviation for the United Kingdom’s naval force

23d   Riddle found in song (6)
STRAIN:  Two definitions found here, the first being a verb

24d   Part of arm — its middle section — found in wood (6)
BREECH:  The back part of a gun: the middle letter of arm found inside the wood of a common forest-tree

27d   Cut hour and three quarters (4)
HEWN:  An abbreviation for hour followed by three points of the compass


Thanks to Excalibur.  My favourite is 16a, closely followed by 21a and 26a.  Which was the icing on your 29a?


14 comments on “Toughie 2012

  1. All pretty straightforward in retrospect, but the grid was unhelpful and a few of these took longer than they should have. I quite enjoyed the challenge.

    Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur

  2. Another treat from Excalibur. A thoroughly delightful solve As well as Kitty’s choices, I go for 26a (Ne’er-do-well) and 17d (Give ovation) as candidates for prize.Thanks and come again soon

  3. An enjoyable puzzle from Excalibur – thanks to her. Is 5a a tribute to one of her most enthusiastic fans (who, I’m sure, will be commenting shortly).?
    Thanks also to Kitty – unusually I’ve ticked completely different clues to hers. I’ve gone for 1a, 29a and 17d.

  4. Sticking point for me was 24d – I had ‘forearm’ in mind and it led me on to ‘forest’, despite not being able to parse the last couple of letters. Caused all manner of grief in the SE corner.

    Rather liked 6d despite your reservations, Kitty, but my top three were 26&29a plus 17d.

    Thanks to Excalibur and to our Girl Tuesday – I’d love to believe that the 1d pic wasn’t photo-shopped!

  5. I set off at brisk pace wondering if it may be a wrong envelope day (6d did not hold me up on the way through) – until I came to the SE corner whereupon I came to a shuddering and grinding halt. The penny-drop moment was the drink in 26a – so obvious in retrospect – after which, and after getting visions of elbows out my head in 24d, all was well. However, like Kitty, 29a was my last in – in the end I decided that it would be possible (even possibly well received) to give my lady friend the definition in question on her birthday, but maybe not quite like Kitty’s (wonderful!) illustration. I thought this was great fun, and thank you to Excalibur and Kitty.

  6. I managed to get through the left and middle then got stuck in NE & SE. A few hints from kitty got me going again. I was certainly off wavelength for 5a, is it really cryptic?

    I liked the 1d/2d ellipses s well as 18a, 21a, 8a, 3d and probably some more

    Many thanks Kitty and Excalibur

  7. Very entertaining and not too tough. Lots of good clues, I’ll add 31a to the goodies list.

    Many thanks to Excalibur and to Kitty for the blog.

  8. When we solved this it was a Mr Ron puzzle and we did of course play the ‘guess the setter’ game. The correct answer never crossed our minds. It all went together smoothly for us in a time that was slightly less than the backpager. Had to spend a little time working out how 2d worked as we are so used to ignoring an ellipsis that it caught us off guard when it was significant. Good fun right through.
    Thanks Excalibur and Kitty.

  9. We solved this SW, centre, NW, NE, SE. We don’t like this kind of grid where there are five parts and the corners only have one connection to the centre.

    However, grid grouching aside, we enjoyed this and thought 31a the pick of the bunch. We agree that 29a was problematic, but had no issue with 6d.

    Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur.

    1. Agreed, wot Beery hiker said – unhelpful grid . I’ve gone for 1a, 29a and 17d. In line with Gazza, Thanks to Warbler and Kitty

  10. Very enjoyable, but I didn’t get 29a and couldn’t parse 2d. Thank you Kitty and Excalibur. And so to bed.

  11. I haven’t solved this one, but have quickly read the review and noticed an interesting thing (well, interesting if you have a mind like mine) in the first two across clues. That cat on the sofa in 1a definitely isn’t PROSIT (pro-sit), the answer to 5a. :-)

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