Toughie 2318 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2318

Toughie No 2318 by Artix

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A rather good puzzle from Artix, I thought, with plenty of enjoyable twists – though I confess surprise at one of the anagram indicators. 1a and 2d were my last ones in – it took me a while to see the devices being used, very nice!

As always, finding the definitions is half the battle – they are underlined in the clues below. The hints and tips are intended to help you untangle the word play in the remainder of the clue. Indicators from the clue are given in italics (summink* I learned from Kitty). You can reveal the answer by clicking on the One week to York button. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Series of notes scribbled over, perhaps (7)
DEFACED: Each letter is also a musical note

5a    What’s unfortunate answer by American jock in dock? (1,3,3)
A BAD JOB: The abbreviation for answer, then the abbreviations for American plus a musical ‘jock’ go inside a verb meaning to dock or cut, especially when referring to a tail

9a    Horse from south ready for the off on course (5)
STEED: The abbreviation for south, then a verbal golfing term (on course) which suggests being ready to take your first shot

10a    Mother, Catholic, wasting pound, spilt drink (9)
MACCHIATO: A 2-letter informal word meaning mother, then an anagram (spilt) of CATHO(l)IC without (wasting) the abbreviation for pound

11a    It helps pap progress from still to still (10)
AUTOWINDER: A cryptic definition of a camera attachment. The pap here is a person, not some mess in a distillation process

12a    Resourceful Left gaoled by President (4)
ABLE: The abbreviation for left is contained in (gaoled by) the informal first name of the 16th American President

14a    Time for those sitting to stand? (8,4)
ELECTION YEAR: A cryptic definition playing on the sitting and standing that is the job of politicians

18a    Agricultural cattle prods restraining unknown beasts (12)
PTERODACTYLS: An anagram (agricultural?) of CATTLE PRODS containing (restraining) a letter that can be used as an algebraic unknown.

I can see ‘cultivated’ clearly works as an anagram indicator, but I imagine that ‘agricultural’ means “related to cultivation”, which feels like a step removed from the action of changing stuff around – but I have no doubt Artix thought about this very carefully. Not unlike yesterday’s ‘tectonic’, which to me suggests “related to structural change” rather than the change itself, but I’m probably wrong again.

21a    Musk from peeled fruits? (4)
ELON: Big round fruits with the first and last letters removed (peeled)

22a    Details of plot politician found in small committee (10)
STORYBOARD: A conservative politician goes in between (found in) the abbreviation for small and another word for committee

25a    In shtook, muckiest pup’s head and hands aloft! (5,2,2)
STICK EM UP: An anagram (in shtook – yes, I had to look it up too) of MUCKIEST, then the first letter (head) of pup

26a    Starts off Tarzan impudently swinging a bone (5)
TIBIA: The first letters of (starts off) Tarzan and Impudently, then a 2-letter word meaning swinging (both ways) plus A from the clue

27a    Firm picked up Bo Derek’s score clip (7)
SHORTEN: A homophone of a word meaning firm or certain, plus Bo Derek’s score as in the name of a movie starring Dudley Moore (oh, and Bo Derek)

28a    ‘Unicorn’ worked to back up with computer from 2001 (7)
NARWHAL: The reversal (to back up) of a verb meaning worked or operated, the abbreviation for with, plus the name of the computer (one alphabetic shift back from ‘IBM’) in Kubrick’s 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”


1d    Vicious volte-face by ex-PM causes alarm (6)
DISMAY: A reversal (volte-face) of the first name of Mr Vicious, then the most recent ex-PM

2d    Party you’ll see when two Staffies meet nose-to-tail? (6)
FIESTA: Hidden in (you’ll see when …) 2 x Staffie, i.e. stafFIESTAffie

3d    Trash kid’s clobber (10)
CODSWALLOP: A word meaning kid or hoax, the ‘S, plus a word meaning clobber or hit

4d    French world cycling champion (5)
DEMON: The French word for world has two letters from the end ‘cycling’ to the front. I briefly hoped the answer would also be the name of a French cycling champion, which would have been an amazing clue – but if it is, I didn’t find it

5d    Does he transform his metal, adding in lead in coalescence? (9)
ALCHEMIST: A ‘semi’ all-in-one clue, where the whole clue is the definition. An anagram (transform) of HIS METAL, including (adding in) the first letter of (lead in) coalescence

6d    Long facial hair needs initial trim (4)
ACHE: An informal 5-letter word for some facial hair without the first letter (needs initial trim)

7d    Folk singer playing banjo with endless zeal (4,4)
JOAN BAEZ: An anagram (playing) of BANJO and ZEA(l) without the last letter (endless)



8d    Vital study to lay tracks around isle (8)
BIOMETRY: Another verb meaning to lay (money on) and an abbreviation for tracks or railway goes around a 3-letter abbreviation for an island in the Irish Sea

13d    Translation of ‘kleine’ brat? (5-5)
ANKLE-BITER: Now the whole clue is the word play and the whole clue is the definition, giving us a full all-in-one. An anagram (translation) of KLEINE BRAT gives exactly that

15d    Credit behind second half of incantation for Potter? (9)
CRAFTSMAN: The 2-letter abbreviation for credit, a nautical term for behind, the abbreviation for second, and the first half of an incantation while meditating. The definition is an example of the answer, and this “definition-by-example” is correctly indicated with a question mark. A potter, perhaps.

16d    Placates vegan primates? (8)
APPEASES: OK, vegan primates are primates that ‘eat’ or ‘consume’ vegetables, small round green ones in this case

17d    I’m in Oregon, travelling, and cry when leaving plane (8)
GERONIMO: IM from the clue goes inside (in) an anagram (travelling) of OREGON, to give something you shout as you jump out of a plane (so I’m told)

19d    Fort ready to defend our fliers (6)
CASBAH: A word for ready or money goes around (to defend) our national airline

20d    Junk received bad 1m sail with tops cut off (2,4)
ADMAIL: Remove the first letters from 3 words(?) in the clue (with tops cut off)

23d    Final farewell to Space Age (5)
RIPEN: A 3-letter abbreviation used as a goodbye to the departed plus a printer’s space

24d    Sketch head of Sarah Fox (small-size) (4)
SKIT: The first letter (head) of Sarah plus a baby fox, gratuitously illustrated here even though it’s not the answer (kinda like 27a):

My favourite clue today was definitely 21a for the penny-drop moment. Which clues did you like?

*summink taken from: (thanks Simon & Erika)



20 comments on “Toughie 2318

  1. I thought that this a bit less tough than Artix’s previous Toughies (or perhaps I’m just getting used to his style) but very enjoyable.
    I do like the use of innovative anagram indicators like ‘in shtook’ and agricultural. I presume that the latter is being used in its slang sense to mean clumsy (as used to describe a less than elegant shot at cricket).
    My ticks went to 4d, 16d and 23d.
    Thanks to Artix and Dutch.

    1. Way back in the 1970s I was a modest junior at golf and the concept of an agricultural swing ( ie wild, like a drunk with a scythe) was pretty common at least as an insult. I never played cricket seriously, but I guess it easily crosses borders. Given the horse/golf clue up in the NW perhaps the setter is a golfer

  2. I finished this, correctly, but the inability to parse so many spoilt the enjoyment. Thanks for the explanations. For me ****/**

  3. Liked the inventive constructions too except 1a. So many words can be described as a series of notes.
    Last one in was 11a. Good penny drop moment for someone who hates all in ones.
    Thanks to Artrix and to Dutch.

    1. There are only 3 words exactly 7 letters long made up of just A-F in this computer’s word list, which I think makes 1a’s wordplay sufficiently narrow.

      I know that, because that’s how I found the answer: thinking of words containing certain groups of letters is well beyond my brain. Whether the clue is reasonable is a different matter. But it’s a Toughie, so I’m not going to complain about clues that were beyond me.

      (The other two such words mean ‘erase’ and ‘agree’, if anybody wants to have a go.)

  4. Started in Palma, finished at East Midlands Airport. Liked it a lot but couldn’t parse the Bo Derek clue. More than happy with agricultural.

    Thanks to Dutch and Artix.

  5. To finish both the Telegraph cryptics without any help on a Friday is always pleasing and something of a rarity for me. However there were quite a few things in the Toughie that I did not know so I had to guess – and I groan at too many proper names appearing. That said I did laugh at the Musk one when the penny dropped. I think he is just about famous enough to be known to 18 year olds as well as pensioners. But the appearance of people famous in the 1970s (noticeable in the last two Friday Toughie’s) is not a good development for my taste. Strangely enough I took “agricultural” as an anagram indicator straightaway (in the sense suggested by Gazza) and by luck the answer flew into mind and I was off to a good start. Yesterday with the “tectonic” clue the answer leapt into mind (appropriately enough) and I then deduced it was an anagram.
    As the Mr SpaceX man made me laugh I would rate it ***/***

    Thanks to Artix and Dutch

  6. Definitely on the Toughie spectrum for me – 4 1/2* difficulty, average enjoyment – my favourites were 2d and 17d

    Thanks to Artix and Dutch

  7. Got there in the end but it took quite a long time to unravel it all – enjoyed the challenge.

    Thanks to Dutch and Artix.

  8. A challenge for my poor brain which took longer than it should have by stupidly entering ‘division bell’ for 14a on the first read through as the checkers from 3, 5, 7 & 13d seemed to fit. D’oh! Once I had spotted that misinterpretation, the bottom half soon revealed it’s secrets. In agreement with others, it is nice to see the use of alternative anagram indicators from this setter. My favourite of the day was without doubt 16d – the ? helped considerably.

    Thanks to Artix for the puzzle and well done to Dutch for deciphering it. Have a good weekend all.

    1. Well,if it’s any consolation, I also was firmly pursuing answers to fit in with “division bell” for far too long :)
      I liked the vegan primates best as a very clever device but agree with the above comment that 1 across was too vague.

      I also liked the unusual anagram indicator.

      Thanks all

  9. Not a quick solve for us and thoroughly enjoyable. Our last one in was 11a as we hadn’t twigged what ‘pap’ was all about. The penny eventually dropped.
    All good fun.
    Thanks Artix and Dutch.

  10. Too far up the Toughie spectrum for me but I enjoyed doing as much as I could and then looking at Dutch’s review for the remainder.

    Thanks to Artix for the puzzle and to Dutch for unravelling the mysteries!

  11. I fell short on 10A, 11A and 8D and there were a couple I couldn’t fully parse. I enjoyed the tussle, though. Ticks went to 2D, 13D (my favorite) and 17D. thanks Artix and Dutch.

  12. There is lots to laugh at here and lots to admire. Thanks to the setter for the unfinished workout. Thanks to Dutch for reviewing but especially the Joan Baez clip and the Bo Derek reminder that in my boozy youth I went to bed at 2 with a 10 and woke up at 10 with a 2.

    Ta to all

  13. We enjoyed this and found it a touch easier than Artix’s usually are. Our last in was 11a too, partly due to our ignorance about the ‘pap’ but we liked the two Staffies – rather a doggy image. Thanks to Artix and Dutch.

  14. I got further with this than usual if I attempt a Toughie, more than ¾ of the way through before requiring a hint (so further than on many backpagers, come to think about it), and enjoyed it immensely.

    I loved the nose-to-tail Staffies (2d), which was also my first in. So many others were also fun or inventive (or both) — the trimmed facial hair (6d), the folk singer (7d), the vegans (16d), the ‘Musk’ (21a), and the ‘tops cut off’ (20d), among others.

    I spotted pap in 11a, but that didn’t help because I hadn’t heard of the device, and I couldn’t work out the second word of 14a, even after parsing it correctly — I guess recently these things haven’t stuck to a predictable cycle.

    The Bo Derek film and Sarah Fox were also previously unknown to me, but were reasonable to include; I don’t see why setters should be restricted by the limits of my cultural knowledge.

    Thank you to Artix and Dutch for providing so much fun.

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