Toughie 400

Toughie No 400 by Notabilis

Have You Got the CD?

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This is one of those puzzles where, having toiled to get through it, I wondered why it had taken me so long. All the clues are very fair and there’s a welcome absence of very obscure words. There’s also a Nina associated with the number of the puzzle (if you can’t spot it see the end of the review).
As always, we’d love to get a comment from you.

Across Clues

4a  Where criminals ended up flogged, having cased diner (8)
{SCAFFOLD} – a place of execution (where criminals ended up) is a synonym for flogged or disposed of around (having cased) a slang term for a diner (in the sense of a place to eat).

8a  Approximately nothing in sparsely populated country (6)
{CANADA} – an abbreviation meaning about or approximately is followed by the Spanish word for nothing.

9a  Having something rammed down one’s throat because fault briefly returned? (5-3)
{FORCE-FED} – start with a preposition meaning because or on account of and then reverse all but the last letter (briefly) of a synonym for fault or flaw.

10a  Neck rings in weak light (8)
{CANOODLE} – neck isn’t necessarily a noun!

11a  Phlegmatic Conservative wearing tartan (6)
{PLACID} – put the letter standing for Conservative inside (wearing) a piece of tartan used as part of Scottish Highland dress.

12a  Excessive desire of one after prize with heartless song (8)
{CUPIDITY} – an excessive desire for money or material possessions is formed from I (one) coming after a trophy or prize and before a simple song with its middle T dropped (heartless).

13a  Tilting incorporated with internal padding? (8)
{INCLINED} – the definition is tilting and it’s a charade of the abbreviation for incorporated followed by a word meaning that material has been applied to the inner surface.

16a  Not quite cool? Uncool person recalled issue (8)
{CHILDREN} – the definition is issue. Start with a verb to cool but without its final L (not quite) and add a technically competent but socially inept (uncool) person reversed (recalled).

19a  Dressed nice and loud, not ready for spring? (8)
{UNCOILED} – an anagram (dressed) of NICE and LOUD.

21a  Presses express triumph with Detective Sergeant (6)
{CROWDS} – start with a verb meaning to boast or express triumph and add the abbreviation for Detective Sergeant.

23a  Tofu to bring on, skipping starter in bit of sweat? (4,4)
{BEAN CURD} – the definition is tofu. We need a verb meaning to bring upon oneself without its initial I (skipping starter) and this goes inside (in) a drop of sweat (as may be seen on a fevered brow).

24a  Ex-leader collected icy cabinet, keeping French away (8)
{COOLIDGE} – we want a two-word icy cabinet (which is just a bit tautological) with the initial FR dropped from the beginning of the second word (keeping French away). This gives us the surname of the 30th President of the US (ex-leader), a man of few words, causing the society wit Dorothy Parker, on learning of his death, to ask “How can they tell?”. [Thanks to Sludgebucket for pointing out that the first four letters of the answer are a synonym for collected and that the icy cabinet is just one word.]

25a  Origin of Sunni or Shia belief in long recitation (6)
{SCREED} – the setter has given us two options for the start of the answer, i.e. the first letter (origin) of S(unni) or S(hia). Follow this with a formal statement of religious belief to make a long recitation.

26a  Catholic suffering assured in these? (8)
{CRUSADES} – for this semi-all-in-one start with C(atholic) and add an anagram (suffering) of ASSURED.

Down Clues

1d  Staff of authority almost catching water animal (7)
{MACAQUE} – put the staff of authority which is placed on the table of the House of Commons when the House is in session (which was famously seized and brandished by Michael Heseltine in 1976, resulting in his being given the nickname Tarzan) around (catching) the Latin word for water without its final A (almost). This produces a long-faced monkey.

2d  Accepting Article, like a top ecclesiastic (9)
{CANONICAL} – I’m not sure whether there’s something I’m missing in this clue which has an awkward feel, but it seems to be just a double definition. The answer means both conforming to the orthodox belief  (Articles of faith) of a church and relating to the chapter (i.e. the canons) of a cathedral (like a top ecclesiastic). [Thanks to Jezza and Gnomey for providing the correct wordplay, i.e. it’s a word describing the shape of a top (like a top) around (accepting) an indefinite article.]

3d  Hindu campaigner heading for shake-up after ousting English (6)
{GANDHI} – the surname of this Hindu campaigner is an anagram (for shake-up) of H(e)ADING after taking out E(nglish).

4d  Advantage given by 21 Easter Bunny films, edited with length cut (6,2,7)
{SAFETY IN NUMBERS} – the security (advantage) provided by 21a is an anagram (edited) of EASTER BUNNY FI(L)MS, with L(ength) removed.

5d  Top-class run with special pilot may take place here (8)
{AIRSPACE} – another semi-all-in-one is a charade of a representation of a grade meaning excellent, R(un) as in cricket, SP(ecial) and the word for a successful fighter pilot.

6d  Father raised vote for love goddess (5)
{FREYA} – put together the abbreviation for the courtesy title of father given to some priests and the reversal (raised, in a down clue) of the word used in the Commons to signify approval (vote for) (in the far more genteel Lords they use “content” instead). The result is the name of a love goddess in Scandinavian mythology.

7d  Where the atmosphere is still rising, editor is someone devious (3,4)
{LEE SIDE} – the definition is “where the atmosphere is still”. Put together the usual abbreviation for editor, IS and a description of someone who is slippery or devious, then reverse (rising, in a down clue) the lot.

14d  Devious concerning covers from then on (9)
{INSINCERE} – devious seems to be the word of the day. This time it’s the definition and to construct the answer put a Latin phrase meaning concerning or “in the matter of” around (covers) an adverb meaning from then on.

15d  Was in charge with flanks set up in advance? (8)
{PRESIDED} – a verb meaning was in charge could, cryptically, be interpreted to mean having its flanks erected in advance.

17d  Leafy spot below hospital shelter (7)
{HARBOUR} – put a leafy, shady spot after (below, in a down clue) H(ospital).

18d  Get a report from US agent over importing cheese (7)
{DEBRIEF} – reverse (over) the abbreviation for a US Federal Agent and inside (importing) put a soft cheese.

20d  Carriage pursuit overtakes one (6)
{CHAISE} – a synonym for pursuit goes round (overtakes) I (one) to get a horse-drawn carriage.

22d  Somehow a less incomplete country (5)
{WALES} – hidden (some) in the clue is the name of a country which is not fully independent (thus incomplete) but part of the UK. I hope that Mary is doing this!

The clues I liked included 9a, 10a, 1d and 3d, but my clue of the day is 7d. Let us know what tickled your fancy!
I’m sure that you’ve spotted the Nina by now, but if you haven’t it’s based on the Roman numerals for 400 (the number of the puzzle). The left-hand column in the grid is all Cs and the right-hand column is all Ds.



  1. Posted August 4, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the review, gazza, I needed it for 24a, 15d and 1d (which I sort of had but was a bit blank on!). I certainly found it hard but as usual with Notabilis completely fair and very enjoyable. Completely missed the NINA – it wouldn’t have helped me on 24a I am sure.
    Top clues for me were the excellent 4a plus 26a.
    Thanks to Notabilis too!

  2. Sludgebucket
    Posted August 4, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Totally agreed with the ratings , didn’t get 2d without the blog , thought the ‘cool’ in 24a came from ‘collected’ leaving only a 1 word icy cabinet. Thanks as usual for a wonderful review.

    • gazza
      Posted August 4, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that, Sludgebucket. I’m sure you’re right on 24a, that makes more sense. I’ll update the review.

  3. Jezza
    Posted August 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    This was too tricky for me in parts, and I needed help from gazza to finish it.
    Re 2d, could “like a top” be conical, accepting the article ‘an’ ?
    Thanks to gazza, and to Notabilis.

    • Posted August 4, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      I didnt look at that one in the review but this was exactly as I read it, Jezza.

    • gazza
      Posted August 4, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Yes – you’re both right. Thanks for that – I’ll update the review.

  4. crypticsue
    Posted August 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Definitely agree with your assessment, especially the bit about when you’ve finished you don’t know why it took so long. Needed lots of cogitation but well worth the tussle as some wonderful clues. I liked 4a, 8a and 10a the best. Thanks to Notabilis for the brain work out and Gazza for the review.

  5. BigBoab
    Posted August 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous crossword and a great review, thoroughly enjoyable. Like some of the above, I too needed your assistance with one or two clues ( 1d and 7d ) Favourite was 4d.

  6. John H
    Posted August 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Not only do all of of the across answers have a C at the front or a D at the back, they all contain C AND D!

    • gazza
      Posted August 4, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for pointing that out, John.

      [John H is Elgar for those who don’t know]

    • Posted August 4, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know what’s the matter with me, NINAs and Pangrams but I always fail to spot them. In this case spotting early would have helped a great deal!

  7. ChrisH
    Posted August 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Not quite on the wavelength today, two wrong assumptions didn’t help much.Thanks to Gazza for pointing me in the right direction. Quite amused by 10a, but not much of a Tofu man myself.

  8. Posted August 4, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I think it is a bit cruel, picking holes in Gazza’s review. But. as everyone else is doing it, surely the hidden word indicator in 22d is ‘incomplete’ rather than ‘some’. Otherwise ‘incomplete’ is superfluous.

    • gazza
      Posted August 4, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      I’m quite used to suffering the slings and arrows…
      I take your point, but I don’t like “incomplete” as a hidden indicator which is why I went with “some” and dreamt up the idea that incomplete meant that Wales isn’t a fully-fledged country. The more I think about it, the more I think that you are probably right, but I don’t think it’s cut and dried.

  9. Posted August 4, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for a fair evaluation Gazza – a slow and steady slog.
    The top-left corner was the last section to succumb.

    I’m afraid that for many clues, I worked out what the answer had to be before solving the wordplay rather than using the wordplay to arrive at the answer.
    10a and 19a were perhaps my favourite clues

    May I ask a wee question about these reviews of the ‘Toughie’? Where do the puzzle titles come from? My newspaper never gives them ay title at all. Is this title given in the on-line version or is it made up by the reviewer here? eg “Have you got the CD?

    If I’d seen that I might have spotted the NINA.

    • gazza
      Posted August 4, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      The blogger doing the review comes up with the title, so you won’t see it outside this blog. The intention (which sometimes works better than others) is to introduce a bit of humour or discussion point into the review.
      You aren’t the only solver to get an answer first and work out the wordplay afterwards – it happens to me quite a lot, especially with the Toughies!

      • Posted August 4, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Gazza

  10. Posted August 4, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Ooh!,Ooh! Can I put a shout out to the Crossword Massive for 10a’s definitition and answer? I forgot to say it caused strange looks on the train when I was LOLling!

  11. Notabilis
    Posted August 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all the comments. I think you got everything between you, except for the vaguely thematic reference in 4d, and the grid pattern chosen for the 4 Cs on their sides.

    • Posted August 5, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink


      Many thanks for pointing those out. You always manage to hide something from us!

      BTW your comment needed moderation as you used a different email address this time – either will be ok in future.

  12. Posted August 7, 2010 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Solved as part of a weekly go at the toughies in a bunch – best of the 4. Spotted 4D and the CD in left and right columns, but not the other thematic bits.

    Hidden indicator ini 22A must be “incomplete” – I don’t think Notabilis would let himself write one od those clues where you have to split a word like “somehow” into two words to form the cryptic reading.