Toughie 210

Toughie No 210 by Notabilis
A Pleasant Surprise

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

The reason for the surprise is that Tilsit was due to do this review but has had to go for a scan this afternoon, so you’re stuck with me! That’s a pleasant surprise for me, not necessarily for you!
I really enjoyed the puzzle, but I’m sure that if Tilsit were doing the commentary he would complain about the “cornery” grid, which really splits it into four separate areas. In fact I had completely finished three-quarters of it at one stage and still had the top left-hand corner totally blank.
Comments as usual are welcomed and appreciated.

Across Clues

1a  Fires fed by woman with hot tip (9)
{BAKSHEESH} – the definition is tip and it’s a word from Persian which is constructed from BAKES (fires) with SHE (woman) inside and finished off with H(ot).

9a  Rot’s beginning in thick bit of wood crack up on the boards? (6)
{CORPSE} – put R (beginning of Rot) inside COPSE (dense area of woodland) to get an informal term for breaking into a fit of giggles on stage.

10a  Bitter German’s certainly not cut up (9)
{JAUNDICED} – the definition is bitter. Start with JA (yes, certainly, in German) and add an adjective meaning not cut up.

11a  Don’t hold back rent twice! (3,3)
{LET RIP} – two different meanings of rent.

12a  Coronation Street delayed when one’s missed match (9)
{CORRELATE} – the affectionate nickname for this soap is CORRIE. Add LATE and remove the I (one’s missed) to get a verb meaning match.

13a  Someone holding another’s hat above the peak (6)
{CAPTOR} – a charade of CAP (hat) and TOR (peak).

17a  Sports are what kept princess awake (3)
{PEA} – do you remember the Hans Christian Andersen story about the very sensitive princess? This is what kept her awake even though she had umpteen mattresses. Sports are PE – add A (are). I was a bit surprised to find that A is a recognised abbreviation for ‘are’.

19a  Small vehicle circling craft in the drink (7)
{MARTINI} – the small vehicle is a MINI – put ART (craft) inside.

20a  River blockage keeps slowing down westbound duck (7)
{MALLARD} – river blockage is DAM – put inside this RALL (short for the musical term rallentando, becoming slower) then reverse the whole lot (westbound, in an across clue).

21a  Burst into song? (3)
{POP} – double definition.

23a  Kundera’s hero in parts behaving less 29 (6)
{RASHER} – a hidden word means behaving in a way less like 29a. I wish the setter could have linked this to 30a as well.

27a  Not normally rue day, nor every day? (4-5)
{YEAR-ROUND} – an anagram (not normally) of RUE DAY NOR.

28a  Have potential for cloaking rolling fat? It does (6)
{CAFTAN} – have potential is CAN – put an anagram (rolling) of FAT inside (cloaking) to get a garment which hides one’s body shape.

29a  Days lived surprisingly sensibly (9)
{ADVISEDLY} – an anagram (surprisingly) of DAYS LIVED.

30a  Mark seen in bacon and right through other meat (6)
{STREAK} – put R(ight) inside a nice bit of rump or sirloin.

31a  Get to the bottom of babble about troubled teen (9)
{PENETRATE} – babble is PRATE – inside this put an anagram (troubled) of TEEN.

Down Clues

2d  An area dwindling south of America? (6)
{AMAZON} – this is a beautiful all-in-one clue. Put A ZONe (an area dwindling, i.e. without its last letter) after (south of, in a down clue) AM (America) to get the geographical area where the rainforests are indeed dwindling.

3d  One has to watch small part of log (6)
{SENTRY} – someone who is a lookout is constructed from S(mall) and ENTRY (part of a log).

4d  Suppress swallowing cap of boletus up like some mushrooms (6)
{EDIBLE} – to suppress a syllable in verse is ELIDE (for example, using o’er instead of over) – insert the first letter (cap) of Boletus and then reverse the whole lot to get an adjective meaning able to be eaten, like some mushrooms.

5d  Energy stored by sulphur explosive put in protective case (7)
{SHEATHE} – the definition is put in protective case, and this verb is made by putting together S (sulphur), HEAT (energy) and HE (high explosive).

6d  Jumping up to a level with expenditure of energy? (4,5)
{POLE VAULT} – another nice all-in-one clue – what’s needed is an anagram (jumping) of UP TO A LEVEL without one of the Es (with expenditure of energy).

7d  Song originally accompanied by religious series of actions? (9)
{SPIRITUAL} – why stop when you’re on a roll? – we have yet another fine all-in-one clue. String together S (initial letter of Song), PI (religious, short for pious), and RITUAL (series of actions) and you get a black American religious song.

8d  Outlaw not quite accurate when holding agents up (9)
{DESPERADO} – accurate is DEAD ON – take off the last letter (not quite) and insert REPS (agents) backwards (up) and you have an outlaw.

14d  Vague horror on the increase around bankers’ district (9)
{IMPRECISE} – put together IMP (wicked spirit, horror) and RISE (increase) and insert EC (postal district of the City of London, where the bankers hang out when they aren’t off spending their bonuses) and you get a synonym for vague.

15d  It may come from clashing forces, sir! (9)
{CROSSFIRE} – a “nearly” all-in-one comes from an anagram (clashing) of FORCES SIR.

16d  Absent smile might result from blowing it (5,4)
{MILES AWAY} – the definition is absent and the answer is what you might write in a clue if you wanted to signal an anagram of smile, preceding it with “blowing” as the indicator.

17d  Narrowly defeat seed (3)
{PIP} – double definition.

18d  Unit needed for electric guitar? (3)
{AMP} – an abbreviation with two meanings.

22d  Late bloomer’s core vegetation yields resistance (7)
{OVERDUE} – bloomer’s core is the letter O – follow this with VERDURE (vegetation) without R(esistance) to get a synonym for late.

24d  Ship’s company’s reported for voyage (6)
{CRUISE} – a homophone (reported) of a word meaning ship’s company is a voyage.

25d  Definitely not from resident in close (2,4)
{NO FEAR} – start with NEAR (close) and insert (resident in) OF (from) to get an interjection meaning definitely not. Are you happy with of as a synonym for from?

26d  Decorative chain lifted from hostel knapsack (6)
{ANKLET} – hidden (from) and reversed (lifted) in the clue is a decorative chain.

There are some really good clues here (so much so that, having written up the down clues, I’ve increased the Enjoyment stars from 3 to 4). I liked 10a, 12a, 6d and 7d, but my clue of the day is 2d. Agree or disagree? We’d love to hear your views, and please don’t forget to vote below.


  1. Libellule
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, I had exactly the same grid issue. Three quarters of this done and a big blank space on the top left. Otherwise not a bad Toughie. Certainly better than Tuesday’s :-)

  2. CastorFool
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Most enjoyable; I agree about 17a, obvious answer but A as an abbreviation for ARE was new to me. It is of course ARE as the metric unit of area.
    Learn something every day. Ho hum….

    • gazza
      Posted September 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the explanation of the metrical unit. I’d never heard of an ARE.

  3. Harry Shipley
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I agree about the grid. I too found myself with completed corners and blank ones at the same time. It breaks up the flow of the puzzle, starting four times from scratch and getting a very short run as each corner falls. But it’s a Telegraph failing, and I suppose by now almost a feature.

    Harry Shipley

  4. bigboab
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Pride comes before a fall!, just when I thought I was getting quite good at the toughie, one like this comes along and I realise I am not yet ready to play with the big boys. I could never have solved this without your assistance for which I am extremely grateful. I hope Tilsit will be OK soon.

    • gazza
      Posted September 3, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      We all have days like that. I thought that this one was harder than the average Toughie, hence the four stars for difficulty.
      Don’t be put off by one bad day – I’m sure that you’ll crack tomorrow’s as usual!

  5. fletch
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    sorry bigboab pride goeth before destuction and a haughty spirit before a fall !

  6. Anna Gramme
    Posted September 4, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Agree with gazza and libellule. Big blank space on top left for ages. Got ‘baksheesh’ eventually, but needed gazza’s hint for ‘jaundiced’. I must read, mark, learn and inwardly digest that ‘ja’ is the German word for ‘certainly’.

  7. Posted September 5, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    This was tough for me, though my last corner was the top right – 6, 7, 9 and 13 were the last group to fall. ‘Nuff said in the past about the DT’s set of grids.

    • Posted September 5, 2009 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Thanks to Gazza for helping out at short notice. Leg is still a mess, but hey ho I have the rain and a trip to Irlam to look forward to this afternoon referee watching (the other hobby!)

  8. Cephas
    Posted September 5, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I don’t dislike this grid although I prefer the similar one with the middle square being white making 2×15-lettered words. It has no double unches, although there is nothing wrong with double unches per se. It is interesting to note that the Guardian introduced this grid fairly recently