Toughie 553 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 553

Toughie No 553 by Warbler

Heads you win…

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Bufo is in transit today so BD kindly offered me the chance to blog today’s Toughie. Little did I know that I would have a nice gentle Warbler crossword to review. Her crosswords are always fair and usually at the easier end of the spectrum of the Toughies. Today’s is one of her easier crosswords but none the less enjoyable. My only minor criticism is that there is a heavy reliance on using the first / last / middle letters of a word as part of the solution. However as I am a man of “superb taste” I hope that Warbler will forgive me!

I have highlighted my favourite clues in blue. I am on spring cleaning duty today so will be back later to add some pictures and look at any feedback.


1a Enlarge head of deltoid by endless exercise system (6)
{DILATE} – A word meaning enlarge (as your pupils might in the dark) comes from the first letter (head of) deltoid followed by a fashionable exercise system with the first and last letters removed (endless).

4a Opener hit back after cross over (8)
{DOORKNOB} – An opener (used to open an entrance) comes from a type of cross found at the entrance to the chancel in a church reversed (over) followed by a word for hit (which also has other connotations!) also reversed (back).

9a Follow on to bend in fairway (6)
{DOGLEG} – A bend on a fairway (or indeed a road or other route) comes from a word meaning follow and cricketing term for “on”.

10a Take responsibility for repairing old hurdles (8)
{SHOULDER} – A word meaning take responsibility for comes from an anagram (repairing) O[ld] HURDLES.

12a Restricted group in centre start to demonstrate (8)
{CORSETED} – A word meaning restricted (as a lady wearing the associated undergarment may be) comes from a word for a group inside a word meaning centre followed by the first letter of (start to) demonstrate.

13a River craft’s a beaut following refit (6)
{BATEAU} – A river craft (coming from the French) is an anagram (following refit) of A BEAUT.

15a Rogue had mower fixed en route to place of origin (8-5)
{HOMEWARD BOUND} – A phrase meaning en route to the place of origin comes from an anagram (rogue) of HAD MOWER followed by a word meaning fixed (as in set in place).

18a Muscle’s arterial construction beginning to lose shape (13)
{QUADRILATERAL} – A type of shape comes from a four letter word for one of the body’s muscles followed by an anagram (construction) of ARTERIAL with the first letter (beginning to) of lose at the end.

22a Slash, perhaps, as one cutting costs (6)
{AXEMAN} – An informal word for someone who ruthlessly cuts costs also describes someone who wields a tool to slash things. If anyone has a better explanation for this clue, please let us know. Addendum – Slash is the name of an axeman (guitarist) in Gun’s N Roses. Clearly such music to far too high-brow for my tastes!!

24a Find Iceland’s head of cod-fishery in port (8)
{DISCOVER} – A word meaning find comes from the International Vehicle Registration Code for Iceland and the first letter (head of) cod-fishery all inside one of the ports on the South-East coast of England.

26a Is her art nouveau comparatively worthless? (8)
{TRASHIER} – A word for something that (as a comparative) is more worthless comes from an anagram (nouveau) of IS HER ART. I liked the use of nouveau in the clue as the anagram indicator here.

27a By the middle of session card game gets serious (6)
{SOMBRE} – A word meaning serious comes from the middle letter of session followed by a card game usually played with 40 cards by three players.

28a With training idle Northern git becomes industrious (8)
{DILIGENT} – A word meaning industrious comes from an anagram (with training) of IDLE N[orthern] GIT.

29a Kind entrepreneur nurtures apprentice (6)
{INDENT} – An old fashioned word for an apprentice is hidden inside (nurtures) kind entrepreneur.


1d Work out final bit of coded extract (6)
{DEDUCE} – A word meaning work out comes from the last letter (final bit of) coded followed by a word meaning extract.

2d Record finding yellow flightless bird in uncontrollable flow of words (9)
{LOGORRHEA} – A word meaning an uncontrollable flow of words (no it is not prolix) comes from a three letter word for a written record, one of crosswordland’s usual indicators for yellow or gold and a final four letter word for a flightless bird, a native of South America.

3d Water secreted in nearly all treated timber support (3,4)
{TIE BEAM} – A form of support (used to prevent walls bowing outwards) comes from an anagram (treated) of TIMBER with the final letter removed (nearly all) with a two letter dialect word for water (or a flowing river) inside.

5d Run out of pigment for groove (4)
{OCHE} – This groove or line where darts players stand comes from the name of a pigment with the R removed (run out).

6d Voicing regret with hurtful remark? That’s codswallop! (7)
{RHUBARB} – A word meaning codswallop comes from a homophone (voicing) of a word meaning regret followed by a four letter word meaning a hurtful remark. I am not a great fan of homophones that do not lead to a word in their own right – see also 14d – but this is a personal preference as the device is regularly used in cryptic crosswords.

7d Encourage fatty to change top (5)
{NUDGE} – A word meaning encourage (as in prod) comes from a word meaning fatty (as may be applied pejoratively to someone who is above average weight) with the first letter changed.

8d Dark-red ruby dug out around central section of Kenya (8)
{BURGUNDY} – A word for a dark-red colour (a colour of fine wine) comes from an anagram (out) of RUBY DUG around the middle letter (central section) of Kenya.

11d Tidal barrier starts to strengthen estuarine area’s defence (3,4)
{SEA WALL} – A kind of tidal barrier comes from the first letters (starts to) strengthen estuarine areas followed by a word for a defence.

14d Dietary requirement for adolescent, they say (7)
{PROTIEN} – A dietary requirement (alongside carbohydrates, vitamins and other essential dietary constituents comes from a word meaning for (as in supporting) followed by a homophone (they say) of teen (adolescent).

16d Translation of a blue novel, not English, does not inspire affection (9)
{UNLOVABLE} – A word for someone who does not inspire affection comes from a anagram (translation of) BLUE NOVEL with one of the Es removed (not English).

17d Group, including core of nutters, occupied building (8)
{SQUATTED} – A description of a building occupied by those who do not own it comes from a word meaning a group (in army or football terms) with the central letters (core of) nutters included.

20d Motorists steer round old animal (7)
{RACCOON} – An animal with a black-striped tail an face native to America comes from a word for motorists who are members of one of the motoring organisations (not the AA) and a word for steer (as in guide or direct) around the abbreviation for old. My favourite clue.

19d Reckless driver smashed a door hard against edge of gutter (4,3)
{ROAD HOG} – A phrase describing a reckless driver comes from an anagram (smashed) of A DOOR H[hard] followed by the first letter (edge of) gutter.

21d Bard entreats with passion intrinsically (6)
{ARDENT} – A word meaning with passion is hidden (intrinsically) inside bard entreats.

23d Story arising about old lady’s message (5)
{EMAIL} – A form of electronic message comes from a story (untrue) reversed (arising) around a two letter word for an old lady.

25d Piercing wail (4)
{KEEN} – A double definition. A word meaning wail also means piercing.


On-line solvers will not have seen this, which appears below today’s Toughie in the paper:

“Just fancy that

Regular solvers may recall this clue from Toughie 336 by Petitjean: Seaside location report of scandal
involving BBC man (7)
Answer, if needed, tomorrow…..”

Life imitates art imitates life. The answer is, of course, {MARGATE}.

25 comments on “Toughie 553

  1. As Prolixic says, a gentler Toughie but so enjoyable – very nice clues and for the fact that the solving process flowed so nicely, well it did for me anyway. My favourite clues are all the same as Prolixic’s. Thanks to Warbler for the fun start to Thursday and to Prolixic for the review.

  2. Re. 22a. I invite you to consider the name of the guitarist in the original Gun’s N Roses line up!. The Axeman cometh mate! ;-). This was one of my favourite clues along with 4a and 18a in what was an excellent puzzle in y opinion – a really fun solve for me.

    Thanks to Prolixic for the review and Warbler for the entertainment.

  3. Very enjoyable toughie which I’m afraid to say I did not find as easy as suggested, in fact it took me longer than yesterday or the day before, funny how we are all different. My personal favourites were 4a and 18a. Thanks Warbler for a lovely puzzle and Prolixic for a super review.

  4. I too did not find this particularly easy, but hugely entertaining nevertheless. 8D could be following on from the theme from the periphery of the previous warbler offering. 22a and 26a favourites. Thanks to Warbler and Prolixic

    1. Also 15a would have been a favourite except now I cant stop humming the Simon and Garfunkle version……

  5. Nice crossword – I still fail to get the nuances of 22a ,however 2d ,4a my faves .

  6. I thought that today’s Cryptic & Toughie were inter-changeable, both in difficulty and enjoyment grades. Thanks for the professional stand-in job, Prolixic, and to our Lady Setter.

  7. A not-so-tough Toughie, but highly entertaining.

    Nice compact clues (no hint of 2d), with plausible surface readings. I enjoyed this one a great deal.

    Gnomethang is, of course, absolutely right about 22A; “AXEMAN” is a colloquial term for a rock guitarist, and Slash is a “definition by example” (hence the “perhaps”).

    I think that the Americanism in 2D is forgivable because it’s a great word, even with that spelling.

    Many thanks to Warbler for the entertainment, and to the Loquacious One for the the review.

  8. Being laid low with ‘flu, I found the comments very cheering. Thankyou. Also thanks to Mr Prolixic for his ” tasteful” review,

  9. A most enjoyable Toughie today some really nice clues in which my favourites were 8d and 20d, Thanks to Warber and to Prolixic for his comments.

  10. “Just fancy that…. Is this a new feature in the DT?

    “Marr – gate” – Seems like there should be some sort of injunction?

  11. I thought this was easier than the back page cryptic today and only failed on one – 29a – have never heard the word and spent ages trying to think of a five letter word for entrepreneur so that I could stick an ‘L’ in the middle somewhere to make a six letter word meaning ‘kind’ – talk about barking up the wrong tree!! Needed the hints to explain lots of the other clues though.
    Thanks to Warbler (and best wishes for a speedy recovery) and to Prolixic for the hints.

  12. Back from the spring cleaning. After three days’ work we have finally proved that our garage has a floor! Many thanks to all for comments. I have updated the blog with the Axeman reference. Far too high-brow for my tastes!

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