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Toughie 493

Toughie No 493 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I hoped for something more challenging this week and I got it. This was a proper toughie and thoroughly enjoyable with a set of perfectly fair clues. I did consider giving it 5 stars for difficulty but then decided that the few pints of porter I had in the Burton Bridge Inn last night might have contributed to my slow time. My one complaint about the puzzle is that the grid is another of those substandard ones that Big Dave likes to harp on about. This one has 4 isolated corners and a middle section containing more unchecked letters than checked ones. This particular diagram always makes the solver’s life difficult.

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    Elitist completely accepts women grow ever faster (8)
{SNOWBALL} W (women) goes inside an elitist + completely to give “grow ever faster”

5a    Some bang up politicians over dispute (6)
{OPPUGN} “To dispute” is hidden in reverse in bang up politicians

9a    A communist reduced business centre’s barbarity (8)
{ATROCITY} A + a word for a communist with the last letter removed + the business centre of a large town gives a barbarity

10a    Thesis wasted in bank jobs etc (6)
{HEISTS} An anagram (wasted) of THESIS gives possible bank jobs (i.e. robberies)

12a    Fellow in fix with travel restriction (6)
{CURFEW} The last clue that I solved gives F (fellow) inside fix (heal) + W (with)

13a    Step flat out to intercept 31 (8)
{FOOTFALL} A synonym of the answer to 31 goes around an anagram (out) of FLAT to give a step

15a    Decrepit old jet’s pushed around (7)
{JOSTLED} An anagram (decrepit) of OLD JET’S gives “pushed around”

16a    Animal cries from converted stables (4)
{MEWS} 2 meanings: animal cries (think cats)/stables converted into dwellings

20a    Fringe elements among insurgents play childish game (1-3)
{I-SPY} The first and last letters of InsurgentS and PlaY give this childish game

21a    Thickened milk containing mixed ingredients for taste? (7)
{CUSTARD} An all-in-one clue where the whole clue provides the definition and the whole clue also provides the wordplay. Milk thickened or coagulated by acid contains an anagram (mixed) of AST (ingredients for taste)

25a    Wellington doesn’t need one to secure account in Merseyside port (8)
{BOOTLACE} AC (account) goes inside a town near the entrance to the Mersey estuary to give something that a wellington boot doesn’t need

26a    River trap to provide odd fish? (6)
{WEIRDO} A fence or stakes set in a stream for catching fish + “to provide” gives an eccentric person (odd fish)

28a    Accept a brew container from an Irish speaker? (4,2)
{TAKE UP} When spoken in an Irish accent something you drink a brew from (3,3) sounds like “to accept”

29a    An inclination to stuff favourite bird (8)
{PARAKEET} An inclination (from the vertical or horizontal) goes inside a favourite to give a small colourful bird

30a    Medium supposedly taking one in as a first option? (6)
{EITHER} A medium assumed in the 19th century to fill all space and transmit electromagnetic waves goes round I (one)

31a    A single male imprisoned by evil idiot (8)
{BONEHEAD} An idiot is provided by a single + HE (male) inside evil


1d    Hardly ever cause permanent damage to church (6)
{SCARCE} Permanent damage + CE (church) gives “hardly ever”

2d    Turning model truck away from its top and carrying on (6)
{ORRERY} A model that turns to show how planets go round the sun is formed from a truck minus its first letter going round RE (on)

3d    A single male long entertained by bishop and peer mostly (8)
{BACHELOR} A male that’s still single consists of “to long” inside B (bishop) + a peer with the last letter removed

4d    Instrument that’s not musically loud? (4)
{LUTE} Remove F (musically loud) from a musical instrument to get another musical instrument (that is possibly not musically loud)

6d    Quite trivial, capturing rook (6)
{PRETTY} “Quite” comes from “trivial” put round R (rook)

7d    Barbarians, emotional but lacking any aspiration, ousted in election? (8)
{UNSEATED} Take barbarians + emotional and remove a letter H from each to get “ousted in election”

8d    Prepared sea-snail, to render not just in the mouth (8)
{NASALISE} An anagram (prepared) of SEA-SNAIL gives “to render (a sound) in a particular way”

11d    Want leader of party openly rejecting the Left? (7)
{POVERTY} A synonym for want (as a noun) is given by P (leader of party) + another word for openly with an L (Left) removed

14d    Strongly supporting stem (7)
{STAUNCH} 2 meanings: strongly supporting/to stem

17d    Shallow person: there’s an improvement in me, mostly after 3 (8)
{BIMBETTE} A shallow person (a particularly dim female) consists of an abbreviation of the answer at 3 + another way of saying “There’s an improvement in me” with the last letter removed

18d    Special salad plant engaging tooth (8)
{SPROCKET} SP (special) + a salad plant gives a tooth on the rim of a wheel or capstan for engaging the chain

19d    Routines given away by French monk keeping reverence up? (8)
{FREEWARE} A French monk (brother) contains a reversal of a word meaning “reverence” to give a computer program that can be copied without charge but not sold

22d    Possible explanation for Sue’s bad treatment? (3-3)
{ILL-USE} An anagram of SUE follows an anagram indicator to give bad treatment

23d    For instance, Zimbabwe is bordered by this decorative strip (6)
{FRIEZE} Take the first and last letters of FoR, InstancE and ZimbabwE

24d    Carried off wayward youth as usual (6)
{WONTED} Carried off (gained as a prize) + an unruly adolescent of the 1950’s gives “usual”

27d    After switching sections, approve floor (4)
{KAYO} Take a word meaning “to approve” and put the first letter at the end to get “to floor” (as in the boxing ring)

Excellent stuff

27 comments on “Toughie 493

  1. Notabilis has made a quick return to the fray after last Friday’s puzzle. I wondered then if he was going soft on us. I need not have worried as this was well up on the Toughie scale. Many thanks to the setter and to Bufo for the notes.

  2. Very good! Bottom right corner was the last to go in – I had to use a couple of hints to solve 19d and 24d, but got there in the end. Thanks for the explanation for 21a, which I solved, but missed the reasoning behind it.
    Many thanks to Notabalis for a brilliant puzzle, and to Bufo for the notes.

  3. Now that’s what I call a Toughie. I struggled very much with the SE corner, thanks to Prolixic for hisemail help and to Bufo for the hint for 24d which I don’t think I would ever have sorted out. Never heard of 17d but with hindsight, have met a few! Thanks to Notabilis for the mind bending and Bufo for the helpful hints.

  4. Fabulous crossword from Notablis which I cocked up as usual with a schoolboy error in spelling 26a, I also had culture for 21a which sounds ok but not as good as the correct answer, other than these I really enjoyed today’s struggle. Thanks Notablis and Bufo for the hints. Definite 5* all round for me.

  5. That was a tricky one, but very good.

    I missread 14D on the website as “Strongly supporting steRN”, which didn’t help!

  6. Too much for me! Managed all but the SE corner where the down clues flummoxed me completely. Solved with the hints so thanks Bufo!
    I too hate this grid! The 4 corners are like 4 seperate crosswords!
    Thanks to Notabilis even though he got the better of me today!

  7. A real challenge today but, as far as I am concerned, all the more enjoyable for that. I nearly got there but, in the end, had to have help with 26a and 24d (which I see others also found difficult).

    This was a real treat and certainly deserves all the praise it gets – thanks to the setter for the entertainment and to Bufo for his helpful review.

  8. I enjoyed this one as it has kept me away from the housework for most of the day!! The bottom right took me longest but like others I hate the “4 crosswords” format. 21a really got me, I had ‘culture’ first (latched on to ‘taste’ for that), then ‘buttery’ before hitting on the right thick milk! Thanks Bufo for the lovely clear explanations of the wordplay.

  9. Wow longest ever time to solve a toughie, a few new words added to the memory bank today. Along with others the SE Corner took the longest, new definition of inclination in 29a threw me for ages and new word 24d. Thanks to notabilis and bufo.

        1. Hi Notablis – allow me to add my appreciation to that voiced above. I did know what a nina is, but fail to spot a theme? And thanks for the help with the SE Bufo.

  10. Fabulous puzzle that I ultimately failed to finish – I missed 26a (although I shouldnt have) and 24d. I have just completed online to see the NINA (so ignore the ridiculous time) – Very good. Too many good clues but I would single out 18d and 19d as particular favourites. Many thanks to Notabilis and to Bufo for the review and plugging the gaps!.

        1. Thanks, gnomethang.

          Doesn’t get my Vote as a very good Nina (only just discovered what this is).

          Is it topical – or am I missing something?

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