Toughie 160

Toughie No 160 by Notabilis

An elegant Toughie that shows how it should be done

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

There are a number of excellent Toughie setters and Notabilis, aka Kea and Nestor, is certainly one.  There is hardly a letter out of place, and this could be given as an example of how a crossword does not need obscure words, girls or boys names or exotic places to be a good puzzle.


7a Minister outwardly admits lapse that is less sober (7)
{MERRIER} – take the outside letters of MinisteR and put them around (admits) to ERR (lapse) and (IE (Id Est / that is) to get a word meaning less sober, or more drunk

8a A woman will account for varnish (7)
{SHELLAC} – this charade of SHE’LL (a woman will) and AC(count) gives a type of varnish

10a Fare that’s stranded in rank past eight (9)
{SPAGHETTI} – this fare that comes in strands is an anagram (rank) of PAST EIGHT

Gravelly Hill Interchange

11a Protest against new fiend (5)
{DEMON} – the protest is a DEMO – add N(ew) to get a fiend

12a Truce remains partially withdrawn – come again? (5)
{RECUR} – hidden (partially) and reversed (withdrawn) inside tRUCE Remains is a synonym for to come again

13a Means of getting around central London, perhaps essential for cyclists under pressure? (5,4)
{INNER TUBE} – a pair of cryptic definitions that lead you, via the London Underground, to the inflatable part of a bicycle tyre

15a Obstruction of light work by a financial district (7)
{OPACITY} – this word meaning obstruction of light is a nice charade of OP (work) and A CITY (a financial district)

17a Cultivated exotics get on reasonably well (7)
{COEXIST} – cultivated here tells you that an anagram of EXOTICS will give you a word meaning to get on reasonably well

18a I have out-of-this-world travel expense consuming my French gold (9)
{COSMONAUT} – this person who has out-of-this-world travel comes from COST (expense) around (consuming) MON (my, French) and AU (the chemical symbol for gold / aurum)

20a Paving prepared with edges of iroko (5)
{PATIO} – this paving, typically found in the back garden, comes from PAT (prepared, as in having something off pat) with IO (edges of IrokO)

21a One dispenses with standard measures to elect one conservative (5)
{OPTIC} – one of these dispenses standard measures of spirits in a pub – OPT (to elect) I (one) and C(onservative)

23a Exhibit western epic shot in Oxford, say (9)
{SHOWPIECE} – this exhibit is derived by putting W(estern) and an anagram (shot) of EPIC inside an Oxford SHOE – if Oxford doesn’t refer to a shirt, then it’s probably a shoe

24a Religious instruction niche in church had turned to hopelessness (7)
{DESPAIR} – a charade of RI (Religious Instruction) APSE (niche in church) and ‘D (had, as in I’d meaning I had) is reversed (turned) to give a synonym for hopelessness

25a Suspicious about the thing producing generous impulse (7)
{CHARITY} – the synonym for suspicious that you are looking for is CHARY, when put around IT (the thing) it produces a generous impulse


1d React badly with nannies perhaps wrapping heavy clothing (10)
{GREATCOATS} – an anagram (badly) of REACT with GOATS (nannies, perhaps) around it (wrapping) gives these items of heavy clothing that appeared in DT 25944

2d Dry up in company of the Queen (6)
{WITHER} – a word meaning to dry up is a charade of WITH (in company of) and ER (the Queen)

3d What might guy I served with tart leave (if he liked it)? (8)
{GRATUITY} – not quite an all-in-one clue, but enjoyable nonetheless – this is an anagram (served) of GUY I and TART to give what the guy might leave if he liked the tart

4d How Wise Men interpreted star attribute (6)
{ASSIGN} – the Wise Men interpreted the star AS a SIGN – put them together and you get a word meaning to attribute

5d Police officer, for example, turned up holding complete weapon (8)
{GENDARME} – this French policeman is derived from EG (for example) reversed (turned up) around (holding) END (complete) and ARM (weapon)

6d Purple swelling with base coming to head (4)
{PLUM} – this is a purple colour that can be produced by taking LUMP (swelling) and moving the last letter to the front (with base coming to head)

7d Post-nuclear effect involving airborne fungal spores? (8,5)
{MUSHROOM CLOUD} – a post-nuclear effect that is cryptically defined as airborne fungal spores

9d Abandoned, once forty, nice sweet things (13)
{CONFECTIONERY} – abandoned signals that an anagram of ONCE FORTY, NICE is required to get some sweet things

14d Flying away from settlement? (2,2,3,3)
{UP IN THE AIR} – a double definition of a phrase that can mean flying or undecided

16d Unassailable as one leaves sarcastic youth? (8)
{IRONCLAD} – an excellent example of a charade which combines IRON(I)C (sarcastic) without the I (as one leaves) to give a word meaning unassailable

17d Fail to impress, appealing to receive base coin (3,2,3)
{CUT NO ICE} – a phrase that means to fail to impress comes from CUTE (appealing) around (to receive) an anagram (base) of COIN

19d Insist upon a lock-up (6)
{ASSERT} – to insist comes from a now familiar construct of A and TRESS (lock, as in hair) reversed (up)

20d Tree from the ends of the earth with soft interior (6)
{POPLAR} – this tree is POLAR (from the ends of the earth) with P (soft) as its interior

22d Piece of apparatus known for sharp projection (4)

{TUSK} – a cryptic definition of a sharp projection from an elephant
Hidden (a piece of) inside apparaTUS Known is a sharp projection from an elephant – thanks Gazza & Libellule, that one passed straight over my head!

The only downside of a puzzle like this is that I can find very little excuse to set up my favourite links!  But I can live with that. [I did manage to manufacture a few excuses!]


  1. bigboab
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly enjoyable crossword!

  2. nanaglugglug
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyed this puzzle – very straightforward. Favourite clue was 13a

  3. Libellule
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Good crossword, but not sure it should have been a Toughie.

  4. libellule
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Dave, re 22d. Its a hidden clue:
    Piece of appara (tus k) nown for sharp projection

  5. Posted June 14, 2009 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    No complaints about the clues – Notabilis is a very good setter – but the difficulty didn’t seem to fit the “Toughie” bill – something like 20% quicker than an average Times puzzle. 9D’s “old geezers slightly past it” surface reading raised a smile.