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Toughie 2112

Toughie No 2112 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Welcome all.  Well, today we have come to the last Excalibur Toughie.  The end of an era, this is.  Fun, it was.

I found it quite a bit harder than usual for a Tuesday Excalibur, and considered rating it more for difficulty, but have a strong feeling that the trouble may have been with the solver rather than the puzzle.  Very enjoyable though, and well worth the brain strain.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the [27d] 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    Could join Mensa and is tempted (3,1,4,4)
HAS A GOOD MIND:  This colloquial phrase meaning is strongly inclined (to) could also mean is mentally able (though I know some in Mensa who I would hesitate to describe so positively!)

9a    Goody-goody scolds baddies (7)
PIRATES:  Arrr.  Our usual old-fashioned abbreviated term meaning sanctimonious is followed by a synonym of scolds

10a   Order the first student to come in (7)
THISTLE:  An order of chivalry associated with Scotland is formed as follows: take THE from the clue and insert an abbreviated way of writing first and the letter which stands for a learner

11a   Newly-wed making ends meet, in poverty (4)
NEED:  An interestingly indicated one this.  “Making ends meet” here means we take the four outer letters of newly-wed and put them together

12a   Double-page insert in ‘Home Repairs’ that’s not all there (5)
DIPPY:  Two copies of the abbreviation for page inserted into amateur home improvements (or should that be “improvements”?)

13a   Not raining, I will take long way round (4)
FAIR:  I from the clue with a word meaning a long way wrapped around it (will take … round)

16a   Back on night shifts, love (7)
NOTHING:  Reverse (back) ON from the clue; after this, NIGHT is anagrammed (shifts)

17a   Having slate loose, thought ‘Ought to quit to become kind of fighter‘ (7)
STEALTH:  An anagram (loose) of SLATE followed by “thought” minus “ought”

18a   Fought, getting quietly ejected — inflicted minor injuries (7)
SCRAPED:  Fought or scuffled with the musical abbreviation for quietly removed (getting … ejected)

21a   For retirement, a little spot outside N Western US state (7)
MONTANA:  The reversal (for retirement) of a tiny particle (include the indefinite article) around N from the clue

23a   Going back, add note to ‘American Birds‘ (4)
EMUS:  A verb to add and a musical note all reversed (going back)

24a   Shoots  game (5)
DARTS:  A double definition: to dash or run suddenly, or a pub game

25a   Socialist revolutionary seizes Yankee, one who could change silver into gold? (4)
DYER:  A socialist written backwards (revolutionary) contains (seizes) what Yankee stands for in the NATO alphabet

28a   Happy golfer taking easy shot to green? (7)
CHIPPER:  This word meaning in a good mood could also describe a person making a certain kind of golf shot

29a   Anagram done — have to finish clue after next (3,4)
ONE DOWN:  Make an anagram of DONE and finish with a word meaning have or possess

30a   Latest thing in child entertainment (7,5)
BEDTIME STORY:  A cryptic definition of a traditional end-of-day activity with kids



1d    Gather shaver is broken. I dropped it (7)
HARVEST:  SHAVER is anagrammed (is broken), and after this goes an I-dropped IT, i.e. IT without the I

2d    Assembles the article for ship’s cargo (4)
SITS:  Inside our usual steamship (for ship’s cargo) we have “the article” or the thing

3d    Try, with primitive weapon, to get bird (7)
GOSLING:  A try or attempt and a simple (but potentially giant-killing) weapon

4d    Sequel to ‘September Song’ that brings the sea to mind? (7)
OCTOPUS:  An abbreviated form of the month after September and a musical work

5d    Correspondence Irishman returned (4)
MAIL:  Postal correspondence is an Irish name reversed (returned)

6d    Two necessities for tennis, as a game (7)
NETBALL:  A couple of pieces of kit (three and four letters, respectively) for tennis and several other games

7d    First delivery (or address number one) (7,6)
OPENING SPEECH:  Two cryptic definitions.  The delivery, or address, is oral

8d    Law examination paper (6,7)
SEARCH WARRANT:  A cryptic definition of a legal document authorising an examination of a property etc.

14d   Getting mouth round sibilant, is unsuccessful (5)
LISPS:  Part of the mouth around the sibilant letter

15d   Woman’s named this price that’s very low (5)
PENNY:  A small amount of money is also a feminine name

19d   Rake money in, as usual (7)
ROUTINE:  A rake or coxcomb contains a slang term for money

20d   Draft a grid, new, in the morning (7)
DIAGRAM:  An anagram (… new) of A GRID followed by the Latin-derived abbreviation for in the morning

21d   Signs by which doctor is not perturbed (7)
MOTIONS:  One of the abbreviations for a doctor followed by an anagram (… perturbed) of IS NOT

22d   Some random person that the snatchers were after? (7)
ANYBODY:  Split (3,4) this could be the object of this activity

26d   Mark beats up (4)
SPOT:  Beats or bests, reversed (up, in a down clue)

27d   Very cold  duck (4)
ZERO:  The cricketing duck is also what a thermometer might read in a cold temperature (just how cold would depend on the scale)


Thanks Excalibur, for this and all your puzzles in their unique style.  My shortlist of favourites comprises 9a, 12a, 16a and 29a.  What stood out for you in this swansong?


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.


20 comments on “Toughie 2112

  1. Well I am sorry to hear that this is the last from Excalibur. I thoroughly enjoyed this, with 11a causing both pleasure (it was the first time I’d seen the mechanism) and consternation (does it work?), and plenty of gems. Naturally the overriding feeling is one of solving satisfaction, and I will miss these excellent puzzles.

    Thanks Excalibur and Kitty.

  2. I found this one a little tougher than many Tuesday toughies, perhaps more because of the unhelpful grid than the clueing – perhaps it was appropriate that 15d was last in! Sad that this is the last Excalibur puzzle

    Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur

  3. A gentle start of the week, elegantly clued

    Bye Bye excalibur, thank you for all your puzzles

    and thanks Kitty

  4. What a delightful swansong for Excalibur. Nicely challenging and fun, fun, fun all the way.

    I feel spoilt for choice as my favourite, but I’ll settle for 14d just ahead of 9a, 11a & 26a.

    Thanks Excalibur, RIP. Thanks too to Kitty.

  5. Thanks Excalibur; interesting puzzle.

    Thanks Kitty; I like the pictures. I’m not sure that I’m too enamoured by ‘the article’ in 2.

    I liked the child entertainment and the song sequel.

  6. Quirky-as-ever Excalibur goes out on a high. Thanks to her and to Kitty.
    My podium has on it 29a, 30a and 7d.

  7. Found this easier than the cryptic. Funny that both featured US states. I’m sorry this is the last Excalibur. Who will now brandish King Arthur’s sword?
    Thank you Kitty. Much preferred the joke picture to the real thing at 4d!

  8. A very fitting finale for Nuala Considine, I thought there were many excellent clues.

    I particularly liked 29a and 30a (the same as Gazza), but also 16a, 30a, 1d and 19d.

    Many thanks to our late setter and to Kitty.

  9. A very pleasant and elegant farewell which I enjoyed very much. Thank you to all concerned.

  10. I have always enjoyed an Excalibur puzzle, and this was no exception. I got it all apart from 2d (the steamship was the only part that I could make sense of). So sad that this is the last of her puzzles. Many thanks to her in memoriam, and to Kitty.

  11. I shall certainly miss Excalibur’s individual style – I’d selfishly hoped that there might be a few more of her puzzles in store for us.
    As it is, I’ll second Gazza’s comment that she went out on a high – my page is littered in ticks and I’ve got a crammed podium – 16,29&30a plus 8,19&22d all jockeying for top spot.

    RIP good lady and many thanks to our Girl Tuesday for bringing us the final Excalibur blog.

  12. Did anybody else think 6d was going to be “RACKETS” -well you need two of them for tennis, and rackets is a game in its own right.
    This idea clashed with 1ac (of course) and eventually I realised what 6d had to be.
    As others have said, RIP Excalibur and thanks to all.

  13. Much-appreciated and deservedly so, this fine setter. Sorry to see you go Excalibur.

    Very many thanks to you, and to Kitty.

  14. Well, I thought that 30a was a very fitting final clue for someone laying down the grid for the last time. RIP.

  15. Stuck for a long time on 2d because I put “had” instead of “has” for 1a, but eventually the 15d dropped!

    After that it was a most enjoyable puzzle and, like others, 30a was a favourite.

    RIP and many thanks Excalibur and thanks also to Kitty.

  16. As a relatively recent toughie attempted I have not knowingly worked on many Excalibur puzzles but I wanted to give this a go and enjoyed it immensely. I needed quite a few hints to keep me going so thanks Kitty. I too had had in 1a and arid in 13a.
    My favourite was 29a lovely clue.
    Nice obit in the telegraph too so I think Nuala will be missed.

  17. No time yesterday. Glad I retrieved this one this morning particularly since it’s the last Excalibur. Farewell and thanks. 29d was my pick.

  18. Felt like a mad hat was needed for this one just as it was for another of our dearly missed setters.
    Great fun.
    Thanks to Excalibur and to Kitty.

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