Toughie 481

Toughie No 481 by MynoT

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment **

I lost interest in this puzzle when I was half-way through it but managed to struggle to the end eventually. At this point I had 3 or 4 tentative answers and several others which I hadn’t fully understood. I have since resolved all of my uncertainties

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Sign to return here? (2,4)
{DA CAPO} A cryptic definition. The Chambers definition is: (music) an indication that the performer must return to the beginning of the piece. MynoT uses a lot of musical terms in his puzzles and I often have difficulty with them.

5a    Suits one giving way to guesswork and doubts (8)
{SUSPECTS} Replace the I (one) in SUITS by a shortened form of speculation (guesswork) to give “doubts”

9a    Courteous woman is clothing accountant with, initially, evening coat (10)
{MACADAMISE} A courteous form of address to a woman is put round a Chartered Accountant (or chief accountant). This is followed by IS E(initially, evening) to give “to coat” in the sense of “to cover (a road) with small broken stones”

10a    Lots of current tent sites not opened (4)
{AMPS} Remove the first letter from places where you’ll find lots of tents and you get units of electric current

11a    Ceremony with character adds to a sudden slowdown (8)
{RITENUTO} Another musical one. A ceremony + the 13th letter of the Greek alphabet (character) + TO give a musical passage containing a sudden slowing-down of tempo

12a    Sham’s manufacturing us dope (6)
{PSEUDO} An anagram (manufacturing) of US DOPE gives “sham”

13a    Drink from West African not Chinese (4)
{ASTI} I decided that he answer had to be that Italian white wine much beloved of crossword setters but it took me a long time to work out the wordplay. Remove HAN (Chinese) from the middle of an inhabitant of central Ghana

15a    Sir Herbert’s knowing about music but essentially wooden (8)
{TREESHIP} The Sir Herbert in question was an English actor and theatre manager (1853-1917), a half-brother of Sir Max Beerbohm. Take his surname + ‘S + “knowing about the latest trends in music” and you get one of those words that appears in Chambers and possibly nowhere else. Can anybody suggest a sentence which uses this word?

18a    Dismal expression of good fellow Bill in solitary confinement (4,4)
{LONG FACE} G (good) + F (fellow) + AC (bill) all go inside “solitary” to give a dismal facial expression

19a    Watched by 16 we can be found keeping opponents apart (4)
{EWES} WE goes between two bridge opponents to give something 16 down look after

21a    Straight from here to broadcast (6)
{HETERO} An anagram (broadcast) of HERE TO gives straight (i.e. not gay)

23a    Hot pipe to be returned before any manifestation (8)
{EPIPHANY} A reversal of H (hot) PIPE is followed by ANY to give the manifestation of a god (or Christ to the Wise Men of the East)

25a    Lady’s got nothing for gardener (4)
{HOER} Put O (nothing) inside “belonging to a lady” to give a gardener who might be removing weeds

26a    ‘Make better honey’ I declaim after sample from apiary (10)
{AMELIORATE} A (sample from apiary) + honey (as used in pharmaceutical products) + I + “declaim” gives “make better”

27a    Wandering insect following president and bishop (8)
{ABERRANT} The nickname of the 18th President of the USA + the abbreviation of a title of respect for a bishop + an insect gives “wandering”

28a    He had proof as answer to Wood (6)
{ANSELM} An abbreviated form of answer + the name of a tree gives a saint who was Archbishop of Canterbury (1093-1109) and devised a proof for God’s existence


2d    A diploma one frames (5)
{ABACI} A + a short form of baccalaureate (diploma) + I (one) gives frames for counting

3d    Becoming aware of long broadcast in shade (9)
{AWAKENING} A homophone (broadcast) of a synonym of “to long” goes inside a covering (especially of canvas) used to shelter something from the sun

4d    Ordinary at Easter in Notre Dame is not unclear (6)
{OPAQUE} O( ordinary) + the French word for Easter minus the final letter S (is not) gives “unclear”

5d    Shopfitter heeds wild animal (4,2,3,6)
{SHIP OF THE DESERT} An anagram of SHOPFITTER HEEDS gives another name for the camel

6d    More drowsy fish return to jetty (8)
{SLEEPIER} A reversal of long smooth fishes + a jetty gives “more drowsy”

7d    Cheer earl that’s out of office (5)
{ELATE} E (earl) + “out of office” gives “to cheer”

8d    Bewildered perv I date in transport (4,5)
{TAPE DRIVE} An anagram (bewildered) of PERV I DATE gives part of a computer

14d    Southern donkey’s failure for producer of suspended particles (5,4)
{SMOKE BOMB} S (southern) + a slang term for a donkey + a failure gives something that will produce suspended particles after it explodes

16d    They were visited by night while seated (9)
{SHEPHERDS} They were seated on the ground when they were visited by a divine messenger

17d    Farewell remark about amateur artist (8)
{SAYONARA} “Goodbye” in Japanese id given by “to remark” + “about” + A (amateur) + RA (artist)

20d    The lowest points start to appear after a white note (6)
{MINIMA} A musical note + A (start to appear) gives the lowest points

22d    Flynn changed sides: that was a mistake (5)
{ERROR} Change L (left) to R (right) in the forename of Mr Flynn, the Australian actor noted for his swashbuckling roles

24d    In South Africa (and elsewhere) this day is celebrated (with greetings inclined to come from 27?) (5)
{NATAL} This is part of South Africa and this Day is celebrated in parts of Canada (according to Wikipedia) and the rest is a reference to the Nina along the diagonal from bottom left (27a) to top right, which was highlighted in pink squares in the newspaper, but not online.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    If you solve this crossword using a newspaper, you will be aware that the diagonal squares from the first letter of 27a across to the last letter of 5a are highlighted in pink – the letters in these squares spell out a seasonal message from MynoT – I take this opportunity to wish him the same in return.

    I struggled with this and thought it was down to a food shop/deliver presents to relatives before it snows outing, which meant I didn’t start the crosswords until four and a half hours later than my usual time, so I was pleased to note that Bufo struggled with this one too. Needed both Chambers and a list of musical terms to finish.

    Thanks to Mynot and Bufo for puzzle and explanations. Happy Christmas to both.

  2. Prolixic
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Re 15a – in the manner of the Quickie Crossword:

    I saw treeships come sailing in, come sailing in,
    I saw treeships come sailing in,
    On Christmas Day in the morning.

    I will get my coat and leave now!

    • Wayne
      Posted December 23, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Nice one Prolixic.

      • gnomethang
        Posted December 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        Gerroff!, yer rubbish! ;-)

  3. Prolixic
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    More seriously – yes really – many thanks to MynoT for a stern challenge. Merry Christmas to him and to Bufo with thanks for the review.

  4. lonny2
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly varied crossword. I’d politely suggest that the setter would have done better to use ‘theistic’ as a solution for 15a, ‘atheistic’ as an everyday word naturally brings it to mind whereas ‘treeship’ could be described as the sort of word that gives cryptic crosswords a bad name. Thanks to Mynot and all the other DT setters for their endless inventiveness and this site and its contributors for being such a lively browse.

  5. Werm
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Apologies, thick moment but how does “is not” equate to taking away the S in 4d please?

    • gazza
      Posted December 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      IS can be represented by apostrophe S (e.g. “it’s” for “it is”) so “is not” means remove the S.

  6. Digby
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Bufo – your hidden answer to 5a is singular when it should be plural, methinks. Thanks for your debrief – sorry you didn’t enjoy it.

  7. BigBoab
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    A Merry Christmas to you to MynoT and thank you for a really tough toughie, had it not been for the anagram at 5d and the seasonal greeting, I would never have finished this. Thanks Bufo for a masterly review ( I think one would have to ask the Ents in Tolkiens Middle Earth for a sentence which could possibly include the answer to 15a )

    • BigBoab
      Posted December 23, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Sorry about the missed letter o in “too”

  8. Digby
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Coincidence? 27a in the Toughie & 14d in the Cryptic.

  9. gnomethang
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to MynoT for the good Tough challenge. 9a and 2d were last in and I trawler the Mine for the slowing down musical bit.Merry Chtistmas to MynoT and thanks for the mental gymnasium you have provided this year.

  10. Digby
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    And, finally from me today, 27 Diagonal to all our setters, bloggers, contributors, Big Dave and especially Mrs BD for putting up with us!

  11. Phil McNeill
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Hello all, Telegraph Puzzles Editor here.
    On the subject of 15a: as you would expect, I try very hard to dissuade setters from straying into obscure vocabulary. Often they tell me that solvers enjoy learning new words — not the role of a crossword, I’d say — but this is one word I was really pleased to learn (and solvable, if I remember rightly).
    Undoubtedly my favourite new word of the year. Now I just need an opportunity to use it…
    Happy Christmas

    • Digby
      Posted December 23, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Phil – see Prolixic’s suggestion at #2. Have a great Christmas!

  12. Cathy
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    How does ‘transport’ in 8d come to be a computer please?

    • Posted December 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      The hint says “part of a computer” and tape drives were for a long time used to store and back-up data. This is the definition of a tape transport from Chambers:

      tape transport
      noun (computing)
      A mechanism within a computer or peripheral device which moves magnetic tape across the recording and playback heads

      Easy for someone like me who spent his entire working life programming computers, but perhaps not so easy for others.

      • Cathy
        Posted December 26, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        Thank you!
        It’s my first time out of lurking!