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Toughie 503

Toughie No 503 by Warbler

Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

A very enjoyable puzzle from Warbler that had me scratching my head to explain a couple of the wordplays.

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1a    After training all but wild hybrid rook becomes a flyer (10)
{WHIRLYBIRD} – an anagram (after training) of most of (all but) WIL(D), HYBRID and R(ook) gives this flying machine with rotating blades

6a    Penniless rascal’s a cheat (4)
{SCAM} – remove the final P (penniless) from a rascal to get a verb meaning to cheat or swindle

9a    Fool without a smidgin of sense gambles away European collection (10)
{ASSEMBLAGE} – start with a three-letter word for a fool, drop the final S (without a smidgin of Sense), follow it ith an anagram (away) of GAMBLES and finish with E(uropean) to get a collection

10a    John Kerr regularly proves to be expert (4)
{ONER} – the even letter (regularly) of the first two words in the clue give an expert

12a    Self-willed, heartless but showing style (4)
{ÉLAN} – take one of several alternative spellings of a word that means self-willed, mischievous or tricky and drop the middle letter (heartless) to get this style or panache

13a    Protest about risqué form of government (9)
{DEMOCRACY} – a charade of a protest (4), a single letter abbreviation for about and a word meaning risqué gives this form of government

15a    Like Henry VIIIth’s bed? (4-4)
{KING-SIZE} – a large size of bed, fit for Henry VIII

16a    Tree’s fine after black wood’s tips cut off (6)
{BONSAI} – a dwarf tree is derived by putting a fine or first-class after a black wood without its first and last letters and the S from ‘s

18a    Posh man, short of money, returns water in disgust (6)
{NAUSEA} – take a single letter meaning posh and (M)AN without M(oney), reverse them and add a large body of water to get a word meaning disgust or revulsion

20a    Dubious place for cranky old boiler with no current (8)
{BORDELLO} – this dubious place is an anagram (cranky) of OLD BOILER without the I (no symbol for electric current)

23a    Officer in charge signed debt slips like a Jobsworth (9)
{OFFICIOUS} – a charade of OFF(icer), In Charge and some signed debt slips gives an adjective that describes a jobsworth –Chambers defines a jobsworth as someone who regards the rigid enforcement of petty rules as more important than providing a service to the public

24a    Salamanders on old railway line (4)
{OLMS} – these blind, cave-dwelling, eel-like salamanders are a charade of O(ld) and an old railway line that operated services in and around London, the Midlands, the North West of England, Mid/North Wales, and Scotland

26a    Support for party leader (4)
{PROP} – a support is a charade of a word meaning for followed by P (Party leader)

27a    Being tight, hiccupping, I start to sing soprano in gents (10)
{STINGINESS} – a word meaning being tight is an anagram (hiccupping) of I, S (start to Sing), the abbreviation for soprano and IN GENTS

28a    Appropriate sounding liturgy (4)
{RITE} – a homophone of a word meaning appropriate or fitting is a liturgy

29a    Rival school’s tie twisted round bunk (10)
{COMPETITOR} – this rival is a built up from a shortened version of a type of school, an anagram (twisted) of TIE and finally a reversal (round) of a word meaning bunk or nonsense


1d           Hit for pop duo (4)
{WHAM} – a word meaning to hit was adopted by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley – and no way am I going to insert a YouTube link!

2d           Initially injection neutralises salt content of pulp in hormone (7)
{INSULIN} – the initial letters of Injection Neutralises Salt, followed by the content of pULp and IN results in a hormone produced in the pancreas

3d           Jock’s chimney basically said to produce light (12)
{LUMINESCENCE} – a Scottish word for a chimney is followed by what sounds like (said) a phrase meaning basically to give the emission of light at a relatively cool temperature

4d           Male deer said to intimidate (8)
{BULLDOZE} – a male animal is followed by what sounds like (said) some female deer (plural) to get a word meaning to intimidate

5d           Émigré’s unorthodox course of treatment (6)
{REGIME} – an anagram (unorthodox) of EMIGRÉ’ gives a course of treatment

7d           Chats about fare at first entering taxis (7)
{CONFABS} – these chats are formed by putting a word meaning about (not re!) and F (Fare at first) inside (entering) some taxis

8d           Lehar work rewrite worried my wife (5,5)
{MERRY WIDOW} – an operetta by Franz Lehár is an anagram (rewrite) of WORRIED MY W(ife)

11d         Player is into arranging following agreement (12)
{ACCORDIONIST} – this musician (player) is constructed by putting an anagram (arranging) of IS INTO after an agreement

14d         He injects new petty officer being nursed by captain (4-6)
{SKIN-POPPER} – someone who injects drugs is built by putting N(ew) and Petty Officer inside (being nursed) a captain of a ship or team

17d         Look round special space at college and relax (6,2)
{LOOSEN UP} – a charade of a short word for a look (2), a round letter, S(pecial), a small space in printing and a word meaning at university gives a word meaning to relax

19d         It’s acceptable. Start to punish insolence openly (2,5)
{UP FRONT} – start with an abbreviation for acceptable (or posh if you are doing the acrosses!), add P (start to Punish) and a synonym for insolence to get an expression meaning openly

21d         Young English king, with time, exhibits a measure of 3 (7)
{LAMBERT} – a charade of a young sheep, E(nglish), the abbreviation of the Latin for King and finally T(ime) gives a unit of brightness, one lumen per square centimetre

22d         One after the other short sounds from flute are exquisite (3-3)
{TOO-TOO} – take a sound from a flute, drop (short) the final T and then repeat it (one after the other) to get a word meaning exquisite or extravagantly and affectedly sentimental

25d         Former despot, initially the supreme authority over Russia, banned America’s participation (4)
{TSAR} – this former despot is built up from the initial letters of The Supreme Authority followed by the IVR code for Russia after dropping the final US (banned America’s participation)

As early comments have pointed out, some of the wordplay is a bit tortuous.  I stared at 12a for quite a while – the definition was obvious but I had never seen the meaning self-willed for the other word before.

37 comments on “Toughie 503

  1. I thought this a bit harder than some recent Toughies and had a fair old struggle with it.
    Definitely 3* for me.
    Got there in the end – I really am beginning to think I might be improving!
    Liked 15a, I suppose any king would have done but it works best with Henry VIII – all those wives!
    Thanks to Warbler for the brain workout and to BD for the review.

  2. I really enjoyed this Warbler puzzle this morning – didn’t take me long to solve and had some lovely clues. Anyone else remember the TV series of the same name as Ia about these flying machines? Thanks to Warbler and BD.

      1. And me! … I sometimes have trouble with Warbler, but found today most enjoyable. Thanks to Warbler and BD.

  3. As did pommers, I struggled with this today.
    Re 24a, can ‘o’ ever be an abbreviation for ‘on’?
    Thanks to Warbler, and to BD for the notes.

  4. Although I quite enjoyed this crossword I did not think it was a very tough toughie, in fact I believe the cryptic today was equally as tough. Thanks Warbler and BD.

  5. BD, I wish you’d used a different title! I’ve now got that b****y song going round in my head and I can’t get rid of it!
    Going to try to overwrite it with a bit of Dire Straits!

    1. Coudl be worse – after all the discussions about DLT on the other thread, I am trying to get DLT’s “convoy” song out of my head. A dose of those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines is just the tonic!

      1. Could be worse. the other week I had that Supercaliwotsit from Mary Poppins after out local paper used the word as its headline!

        Aaaaarrgh – it’s back!!!!

          1. Is this some sort of punishment for Sunday? I’ve now got all the aforementioned competing for brain space!
            I might have to resort to some early Led Zeppelin !!!

            1. Just to add salt to the wound, you could always re-visit Anax’s NTSPP themed on Rolf Harris’s “Tie Me Kangeroo Down Sport”.

              … All together now …!

              1. I surrender! The Led Zep hasn’t worked, merely annoyed pommette who’s still building web sites.

                May have to try something completely different – Stravinsky perhaps, Petroushka beckons!

          2. yes-thank you for that at least!

            thought toughie was easier than cryptic or perhaps I’ve woken up now….

        1. When Gandhi was old he was very frail. He also went barefoot and was a vegetarian with the ensuing bad breath. What do you call such a man?
          A Super-Calloused Fragile Mystic Vexed By Halitosis


  6. Very enjoyable crossword from Warbler today. I too found it on a par with the backpage crossword for difficulty although some of the excellent worplay would not usually be found there! Many thanks to the setter and to BD for the review.

  7. I sometimes struggle between whether I’m seeing “excellent wordplay” and “over-complicated clues”. Surely if you get the answer without knowing how, and then have try and make the clue fit, it’s not a good clue. 1a, 16a and 3d fall into that category today for this ex-man from a Naval flying machine. But a very enjoyable puzzle, so thanks to all concerned.

  8. I agree with Prolixic and BigBoab about the difficulty of this one.

    Didn’t think that the “S” in 16A was properly indicated, but enjoyed the crossword quite a bit.

  9. Unlike some I didn’t find this all that easy although, in the end, managed to finish unaided. This setter often seems to give only the minimum of help which I find adds to the challenge and makes the whole thing more enjoyable. I liked it a lot.

    Many thanks to Warbler and to BD for the notes.

  10. Some excellent cluing IMHO but for the life of me I can’t fathom out 22d. I’m with honestjohn in not finding it particularly easy. Thanks to Warbler and BD

      1. I saw! Not an expression i’ve ever heard used, but a quick perusal of the dictionary confirms. Committed to memory.

  11. BD, thanks for 17d. I couldn’t see where the EN came from. Got the rest but never come across that before. One for the memory bank!

  12. BD – I’ll point it our before someone else has to bother – you’ve got the wrong sort of mail in the hint to 4d.

  13. I too managed to finish it today. Certainly learned a few new words (a Scots chimney!!)
    Many thanks to Warbler and Big Dave for the review

  14. That was tough!! Warbler got it right! Toughies can indulge in some super-complex wordplay provided that, when reading it back after the AHA moment, everything makes sense.

    My favourites are:
    9a & 27a for their complexity and smooth surface
    14d for its extreme cleverness

    A (small) objection: in 1d the duo is Wham!, not Wham. The ! is part of the name.

    1. I hope you noticed that if you hover over the picture of the pair of so-called musicians that the ! is there.

      Q. What is the difference between a Wham! single and a George Michael single?
      A. On the second one you can’t hear Andrew Ridgeley standing behind George Michael.

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