Excalibur – Page 11 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

Toughie 197

Toughie No 197 by Excalibur
Put through the Mangle

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

There are some good clues in this puzzle, but the overall effect is spoilt, for me, by the way the word order in many clues is mangled in an attempt to improve the surface reading. Also there are many (too many?) very short answers, a lot of them double definitions; too many of any one type of clue can make the whole puzzle unbalanced. I’d love to hear your views on it, and please take the time to cast your vote for the enjoyment factor by clicking on one of the stars at the bottom of the review.

Continue reading “Toughie 197”

Toughie 184

Toughie No 184 by Excalibur

Hitting the Target

+ – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment **

Thanks to Big Dave for helping out last Thursday when my PC and laptop got the equivalent of man flu.   Now working again, I was happy to swap duties and tackle today’s challenge from Excalibur.  I know that this particular setter’s work hasn’t been well-received round these parts, so I tried to tackle this with an open mind.  I have spent about four hours wrestling with this puzzle today and although I consider myself a reasonable solver, some of the clues just defeated me completely.

When I tackle a tough challenge (like last Saturday’s Independent Prize Puzzle which was by another Toughie setter), I normally have a sense of achievement.  However, I just didn’t get that with today’s, I’m sad to report.

There are some clever  and interesting clues, but there are also one or two that don’t make sense.  The overall puzzle is not helped by the grid itself, which means that you only get help from clues within that corner.  I was lucky to solve the four ten-letter answers, but it didn’t offer me any help with the top right corner and I was staring at a completely  blank corner for over two hours.

The best way I can decribe a few of the clues is to say that in archery terms they hit the outer bull, rather than the inner bull.  When I compile my puzzles, I aim to ensure my clues are precise and hit the inner bull every time, I just felt that a couple here didn’t achieve that.

Let’s take a look at today’s clues, then.  I am afraid there are a couple where my explanation may seem vague,  and if you can help make sense of them, please feel free to comment.  As usual, new posters may take a little while for their first posts to appear, this is purely a precaution against spammers gumming the board up.

Continue reading “Toughie 184”

Toughie 175

Toughie No 175 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment **

Apologies for the late posting of this review. Big Dave normally does the Friday Toughie but he has suffered a catastrophic hardware failure and cannot get on-line, so I’ve done a quick mini write-up in his place. He also asked me to apologise for the late arrival of his full review of last Sunday’s puzzle – he’ll post it as soon as he is able.

As for today’s effort, I found it more irritating than satisfying – but there were a couple of clues I liked.

Continue reading “Toughie 175”

Toughie 167

Toughie No 167 by Excalibur

More of the same

+ – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

My dislike of puzzles from this setter is well-known, so I will let you decide for yourself.  I wonder if visitors to the Excalibur household are asked “Tea, a cup of, would like you?”.

Continue reading “Toughie 167”

Toughie 159

Toughie No 159 by Excalibur

This one makes the others look good

+ – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

For some sadistic reason the price we have to pay for getting an Elgar puzzle every fortnight is one of these on the Fridays in between.  While there are some good clues, the whole style irritates me – silly words and phrases and wordplay where the normal order of words is sacrificed in a futile attempt to achieve good surface reading.  That it only achieves three stars for difficulty owes a lot to the fact that I have become used to the style.  Roll on next Friday!

Continue reading “Toughie 159”

Toughie 151

Toughie No 151 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment *

After yesterday’s brilliant Toughie we come down to earth with a bump today. This is the 151st Toughie and I’ve done nearly all of them, and this is my least favourite of the lot. There are a few nice clues but these are overwhelmed by many with poor wordplay and/or surface reading.

Continue reading “Toughie 151”

Toughie 143

Toughie No 143 by Excalibur

A good puzzle, spoiled

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

There was much to enjoy in this puzzle, but, for me, it was totally spoiled by the silly phrases and by wordplay in which so much is sacrificed to achieve good  surface reading.  I fail to see how A B on C means A on B is C, but once you get used to the silliness of the construct the puzzle is not that difficult.

Continue reading “Toughie 143”

Toughie No 134

Toughie No 134 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Tilsit

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

Greetings from the hospital again!  I have quite enjoyed solving on line with the Telegraph site something I didn’t do prior to admission.  Indeed my collection of 50+ pencils in their very own kidney bowl is a constant source of amusement to the nurses and worry to the Doctors, who feel I may have a touch of OCD.  The fact that when I am admitted to hospital, the first thing I pack every time is my Chamber’s and Bradford’s is another worry for them too.

My initial solving reaction was that I quite enjoyed it, but as I have begun to look deeper, I find quite a few things that both trouble and irritate me.

Continue reading “Toughie No 134”

Toughie No 123

Toughie No 123 by Excalibur

Toughies don’t come Tougher than this!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Was because it was the morning after the night before, or was it really tough, let me know?  I struggled with this and after half an hour had managed about four clues.  I did get to the end without calling on the CluedUp letter hints, but it was heavy going.

Continue reading “Toughie No 123”

Toughie No 108

Toughie No 108 by Excalibur

A difficult Toughie with some tenuous clues

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I found this a difficult Toughie and, for me, it was spoilt by the tenuous nature of some of the clues.  It’s always difficult when 1 across, often the key to open the whole puzzle, is as awkward as it has been today.

Continue reading “Toughie No 108”