Toughie 2040 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2040

Toughie No 2040 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hi everybody.  I didn’t have much trouble with most of this, but had to sleep on the last couple (9a/7d).  I’m not quite sure why, but it meant that I felt obliged to up the difficulty rating a little.  This is vintage Excalibur style and I found myself less won over by it than usual.  Again, I’m not sure why.  You may differ.

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.



5a    Coax, moment mother leaves, with wafer? (6)
ENTICE:  Start with “moment” without an informal (American) word for mother.  The wafer is a definition (by example, hence the ?) of a sweet food (illustrated), which we need a short word for

8a    On the whole, a nice eccentric partnership (8)
ALLIANCE:  A word meaning comprising the whole followed by an anagram (… eccentric) of A NICE

9a    Goes off, having installed bug for secret police (7)
GESTAPO:  An anagram (… off) of GOES containing (having installed) bug or wire

10a   Almost coy hesitation (5)
DEMUR:  Most of (almost) a word meaning coy or modest

11a   In final house-breaking, becomes violent (6,3)
LASHES OUT:  In final or endmost is an anagram (-breaking) of HOUSE.  (No actual violence in this clip, just a gentle warning)

13a   Desire to find out how one’s sins can be cured (8)
NOSINESS:  An anagram (how can be cured) of ONE’S SINS

14a   Dog dropping ball in does tricks (6)
DODGES:  The first word of the clue without (dropping) the ball-shaped letter goes in the penultimate word of the clue

17a   Under joint ownership for stated time (3)
OUR:  This sounds like (stated) a period of time

19a   A number in retirement earn (3)
NET:  The reversal (… in retirement) of a cardinal number

20a   ‘Wheelless car’ gets half column. Fall for it in America (6)
AUTUMN:  A word for a car missing the wheel-shaped letter (the one which was ball-shaped in 14a) and then (gets) half of column.  Gets is a controversial juxtaposition indicator, and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on it

23a   Said when — deters getting drunk (8)
ASSERTED:  When (2) and an anagram (… getting drunk) of DETERS

26a   Saved from flood, daughter sheltering is oblivious (2,3,4)
IN THE DARK:  Where one saved from the biblical flood would have been (2,3,3) with D(aughter) inside (sheltering)

28a   With which wizards begin and end to work their magic (5)
WANDS:  “Wizards” begins and ends with (1,3,1) respectively.  Put these ingredients together to produce a magical wizard’s stick

29a   Modifies commercials to entertain only (7)
ADJUSTS:  Some commercials containing (to entertain) only or merely

30a   Blazing wood, throw outside (8)
FLASHING:  A hardwood with a word meaning to toss around it (outside)

31a   Elected to get something done, unquestionably (6)
INDEED:  Elected (2) and an act (something done)



1d    Young lady has backing of editor in chief (6)
MAIDEN:  The reversal (backing) of our usual editor inside chief or principal

2d    Terrible mishmash masking defect (7)
BLEMISH:  The earlier bit of the clue is hiding (masking) this flaw

3d    Free with one’s money (3,6)
PAY RANSOM:  A cryptic definition of giving in to a kidnapper’s demands

4d    Gather ship skirts small boats (6)
SCULLS:  Our usual two-letter ship surrounds (skirts) to gather or collect

5d    Anti-glare device that’s often brown or blue (8)
EYESHADE:  Something to protect your peepers from bright light could also be, when split (3,5), something to enhance them with colour their colour (often brown or blue)

6d    Lugs to put in lift (5)
TOTES:  TO from the clue and put or place reversed (in lift, in a down clue)

7d    Fitting in better in the bag (8)
CAPTURED:  Fitting or relevant (3) inside better or recovered

12d   Twit causes missing cue (not altogether) (3)
ASS:  The second word of the clue without (missing) the letters in “cue” (which do not appear together in that word)

15d   Or else, taking turn for the worse, one is admitted (9)
OTHERWISE:  An anagram of (taking turn for) THE WORSE containing I (one is admitted)

16d   Working? No (6,2)
TURNED ON:  An reverse clue — and one with a reversal, so a reverse reverse clue, as it were.  The answer is a reversal indicator followed by NO reversed.  The answer describes something in operation (working).  Clear as mud?  ON when reversed (turned) becomes NO..  Being picky, I think the question mark really belongs to the “No”

18d   Ignoring bloomers, nude out of shape requiring change of diet (8)
UNEDITED:  The bloomers are mistakes.  Consecutive anagrams: of NUDE (out of shape), and of DIET (change of …)

21d   Back again with a captive listener (3)
EAR:  Reverse (back) a prefix denoting again; this has A (from the clue) inside it (with a captive)

22d   Isn’t bad, furthermore being installed as deputy (5-2)
STAND-IN:  An anagram (… bad) of ISN’T with an insertion of (… being installed) furthermore or also

24d   Bare bones of ‘4’ mentioned (6)
SKULLS:  This sounds like (… mentioned) the answer to 4d

25d   Condescend to accept small drawing (6)
DESIGN:  To condescend or stoop containing (to accept) S(mall)

27d   Building hard by river (5)
HOUSE:  H(ard) next to (by) a river


Thanks to Excalibur.  For all my minor grumbles, I found I had a long list of possibilities when I came to choose a favourite.  Being a bit backwards, I’ve picked 16d.  What did it for you?


These hints and tips are for anyone who might find them of use (and who doesn’t need help now and then?).  The asides and illustrations are to add a personal perspective and some colour.  The comments section is — or should be — for everyone.  Please do ask if you need anything clarified, have any suggestions as to how the blogs could be improved, or have anything else you’d like to say.


14 comments on “Toughie 2040

  1. I really enjoyed that , so it was probably not a very tough Toughie or else I’m improving .
    3d was my last one in and my favourite .
    Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur .

  2. I agree with your assessment. Mostly straightforward but a few tricky ones at the end – I did get 9a pretty quickly but 3d, 5a and 7d held out for ages – I always struggle with cryptic definition clues.

    Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur

  3. A delight, as are all Excalibur puzzles. My favourites are 3d “Free with one’s money” and 14A “Dog dropping ball in does in does tricks “

  4. A fairly typical Excalibur puzzle – thanks to her and to Kitty for the blog. With four anagrams in the first six clues I thought we might be in for some sort of record but it was not to be.
    The clues I liked best were 3d and 16d.

  5. Re 5a For what it’s worth I thought brown or blue referred to the commonest natural colour of the relevant organs. Would the enhancer not be ‘shadow’ ?

  6. An enjoyable solve with my only sticking point being 3d – last one to fall because, with the checkers in place, I’d convinced myself that the second word was ‘random’.

    3d therefore wins a place on the podium alongside 16d but my favourite was the ‘hairy otter’!

    Thanks to Excalibur and to our Girl Tuesday for the blog – not sure about the bonus pic in the preamble, not at all sure………

  7. Gentle but enjoyable – lots to like, 3d, 16d and 25d all up there.

    As for 20a ‘gets’ and 31a ‘to get’ – not keen, as to me it implies an insertion, not an appendage.

    Many thanks to Excalibur and to Kitty for the blog.

  8. We’re still trying to decide whether 3d or 16d gets top billing. Plenty to enjoy here and it all went together smoothly. We mentioned on the other side the plethora of 3 letter answers in today’s puzzles.
    Thanks Excalibur and Kitty.

  9. Oh rats I thought that was a tricky but nice puzzle. I liked the homophonic 4 and 24d but when I read the hint for 16d I had made a booboo I had TURNED IN as in gone to bed after work was done. Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur for exposing my cruciverbal failings again, but I will keel trying and keep improving.

  10. Re 20a I agree that “gets” is not great as a juxtoposition indicator but the rest of the clue made the answer fairly clear.

  11. Not on wavelength today, so many thanks to Kitty for explaining clues like 12d.

    Thanks Excalibur, I’ll try harder next time.

  12. The top half of the grid put up much more of a fight than the rest, but that’s still pretty relatively speaking as this was done in no time at all. For a Toughie, at least. Last in was 14ac where I kicked myself when I eventually spotted how the answer was almost literally staring in my face all along. A nice start to the Toughie week.

  13. Thanks to Excalibur and to Kitty for the review and hints. A very enjoyable Toughie, though probably not too tough, as I was able to get into it! Had the wrong beginning for 5d, had to look it up. Couldn’t think of 9a, despite being able to name several other secret police organisations. Managed to complete the rest. Favourite was 28a. Most entertaining.

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