Toughie 504

Toughie No 504 by Firefly

Groundhog Day

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

Today is groundhog day and it felt like it when I was solving this puzzle, again and again coming across clues where you have to remove one or more letters from the fodder before you can work out an anagram. Writing the review did make me appreciate it more (and there are some very good clues) but I still think that there are too many of these convoluted anagrams.
Let us know how you fared with it and please remember to click on one of the stars below to show how much you enjoyed it.

Across Clues

1a  ‘Nice bum, Nancy’ inappropriate with one leaving ministry (10)
{INCUMBENCY} – a bit of a chuckle to start with. The answer means the holding of an office, especially an ecclesiastical one (ministry). It’s an anagram (inappropriate) of NICE BUM N(an)CY after AN (one) has left. Here’s a clip of Nancy and friends which goes some way towards illustrating the clue:

6a  Flier’s visibility restricted when moving to port (4)
{IBIS} – this large wading bird (flier) is hidden (restricted) and backwards (moving to port, in an across clue).

9a  Incident of dog trapped in setting concrete, time being short (10)
{OCCURRENCE} – the definition is incident. Put a synonym for dog inside (trapped in) an anagram (setting) of CONCRE(t)E which is short of T(ime).

10a  Marked extremity in Paris (4)
{PIED} – an adjective meaning variegated or having various colours (marked) is also the French word for foot.

13a  Odd bits of cash under rug promise onset of saving (7)
{CURIOUS} – the definition is odd. Start with a bit of each of C(ash) U(nder) R(ug), follow this with a promise to pay and finish with the first letter (onset) of S(aving).

15a  Discharge from sawn-off rifle left street without way in (6)
{UNLOAD} – this clue tells you to drop the first letter of a word in two different ways. Start with a firearm (rifle) without its initial G (sawn-off), add L(eft) and a synonym for street without its initial R (without way in). After all that you should have a verb to discharge.

16a  Bars where soprano stands out (6)
{SPOKES} – the bars that connect the hub of a wheel to its rim are S(oprano) followed by a verb meaning protrudes or stands out.

17a  Quaint practices put Rod off (7-8)
{PICTURE-POSTCARD} – an anagram (off) of PRACTICES PUT ROD gives us an adjective meaning traditionally charming and old-fashioned.

18a  Reportedly, river master’s infectious (6)
{TAKING} – this word means infectious or catching and it sounds like (reportedly) a Scottish river (the same one that we had in yesterday’s Cryptic) which is followed by a monarch or master.

20a  For part of recess minister goes to East Albania (6)
{REVEAL} – the abbreviation for a minister (the religious kind) is followed by E(ast) and the IVR code for Albania to make the side surface of a recess (a new meaning for me).

21a  You vacuous Frenchmen! One starts to esteem Russians as more attractive (7)
{YUMMIER} – we want an informal comparative meaning more attractive or more delicious. Start with an empty (vacuous) Y(o)U, add two titles for a Frenchman, then I (one) and the initial letters (starts to) of E(steem) R(ussians).

22a  Restraint shown by Armenian regulars (4)
{REIN} – take the even (regulars) letters of Armenian.

25a  A strong dish? (10)
{STROGANOFF} – this is a sort of all-in-one clue with the question mark indicating that a bit of lateral thinking is needed. The answer is, or can be, a strongly flavoured dish. It’s a reverse anagram – if you take the last three letters of the answer to be an anagram indicator and apply this to the fodder (the first seven letters) you end up with A STRONG.

26a  Killed in turn (4)
{SLEW} – double definition.

27a  Wanderer returned with very advanced disfigurement (10)
{ADVENTURER} – an anagram (disfigurement) of RETURNED with V(ery) and A(dvanced) leads us to a wanderer.

Down Clues

1d  Electronic gadget in mid-air above Hull? (4)
{IPOD} – the name of this gadget is the central (mid) letter of aIr in front of (above, in a down clue) an outer covering or hull. Apple are apparently bringing out a special version for police officers, to be called the Iplod.

2d  Lift pile of hay (4)
{COCK} – double definition.

3d  Harry rubbishes wine label featured in pathetic docudrama (6)
{MARAUD} – we want a verb meaning to plunder or harry. It’s an anagram (pathetic) of (doc)UDRAMA after DOC (the Italian equivalent of appellation contrôlée, in full Denominazione di Origine Controllata) has been thrown away (rubbishes, presumably in the sense of “move to the bin”).

4d  Temperature being down, I’m not persevering inordinately with ‘Sundrops’ (7,8)
{EVENING PRIMROSE} – this is yet another clue where we have to remove a bit of the fodder before we can work out the anagram. It’s an anagram (inordinately) of I’M NO(t) PERSEVERING with the T(emperature) being dropped. The answer is a plant with pale yellow flowers. Sundrops is apparently a variety of this plant, though I am confused (happens quite a lot) because the answer is a flower that opens at dusk whereas Sundrops opens at sunrise. Perhaps one of our gardening experts can explain?

5d  Thorny type of Conservative law — we object? (6)
{CACTUS} – the definition is a thorny type (of plant). It’s a charade of C(onservative), a synonym for law and the accusative or objective case of the pronoun “we”.

7d  Workman placing barrel on stack at top of tier? (10)
{BRICKLAYER} – start with B(arrel) and add synonyms for stack and tier to make this skilled manual worker.

8d  In tricky riding position Dad slides painfully on to earth (10)
{SIDESADDLE} – this tricky riding position favoured by some ladies is an anagram (painfully) of DAD SLIDES followed by (on, in a down clue) E(arth).

11d  Gets going with leads from politician involved in nothing but deceits (4-6)
{JUMP-STARTS} – there’s a nice bit of deception here. Seeing “leads” there’s a strong temptation to look for initial letters, but the definition is “gets going with leads”. Put the usual abbreviation for a politician inside (involved in) an adverb meaning exactly or nothing but, then finish with a synonym for deceits.

12d  Kick around with Newton in France — living in cutter (5-5)
{FLICK-KNIFE} – this is something that cuts. Put an anagram (around) of KICK followed by N(ewton) (the SI unit of force) inside the IVR code for France and a synonym for living. I thought it was slightly odd to use “living” here, since it’s virtually the same word as the one we want.

13d  Scots lad’s nasty, heartless lie (7)
{CALUMNY} – start with a male Scottish name (neither Ian nor Mac this time) and add the outer letters (heartless) of N(ast)Y to make a lie, specifically one that slanders someone.

14d  Except for underside, tapestry’s ruined in shower (7)
{SPATTER} – remove the last letter (underside? – I suppose this just about works in a down clue) from TAPESTR(y) and use what’s left in an anagram (ruined) to make a verb meaning to shower.

19d  This, if this, ends in being cleaned? (6)
{GUTTED} – this is a clever clue, though difficult to get without the checking letters. The definition is cleaned (like a fish, having its innards taken out) and if you apply the same principle to the answer itself (i.e. take out the insides) what you’re left with are the final letters (ends) of beinG cleaneD.

20d  14 cooked timeless meal (6)
{REPAST} – once again we have to remove a letter (Timeless) from some anagram fodder, this time the answer to 14d. If you cook what’s left you get a meal.

23d  Secure African upland (4)
{MOOR} – nice triple definition, the African being from the North-West of the continent.

24d  Opening of Armistice service held up — it’s a long way off (4)
{AFAR} – the initial (opening) letter of Armistice is followed by one of our armed services reversed (held up, in a down clue).

I liked 25a, 19d and 23d but my clue of the day is 11d. How about you?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Serves me right for enjoying the slightly ‘easier’ Toughies of late. Finishing off the stragglers took most of the morning in between bouts of the day job and I must thank the Gnome for a hint or two. My favourite clues were 10a and 25a, 10a in particuar being a splendid example of how easily one can be confused with a four letter word, even when you have two checking letters. Thanks to Firefly for the proper brain stretching and Gazza for the usual entertaining hints.

  2. Posted February 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Many Thanks to Firefly and Gazza. I must agree with crypticsue’s favourites along with the great triple def at 23d.

    BTW, regarding 1d, Apple are also bringing out a new player which is exclusive to jam-making women of a certain age. It only has one song on it – Jerusalem. Their marketing department are just finalising the name………..

    • honestjohn
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      surely the WI (as opposed to Wi).

  3. Qix
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    A tricky Toughie today. Liked 25A for its Wee-Stinker-esque-ness.

    Lovely stuff!

  4. Jezza
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I needed help from Chambers online word wizard to finish off the last couple, in particular 10a, which i don’t think i ever would have solved otherwise.
    Thanks to Firefly, and to gazza.

  5. BigBoab
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Extremely enjoyable toughie, thanks Firefly and Gazza for the review.Too many good clues to pick out a favourite. More please!

  6. Andy
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Gazza for the hints, with some more checking letters in am determined not to be beaten just yet so persevating a little longer!

    • Andy
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Hoo b****y rah. Finally! Those pesky 4 letter clues. Thanks to Gazza and Firefly for a real workout.

  7. honestjohn
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I liked this one which I did in two tranches. As often is the case answers which had eluded me the first time round just jumped out of the page on second viewing and I finished (unaided) without too much difficulty. There were some very good clues – I particularly enjoyed 25a – but I agree some of them were quite hard work!

    Many thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the notes.

  8. Nestor
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I loved this Toughie and tough it was! The word play was extremely clever in some clues.

    Absolute topper: 25a! What a trouvaille!

    Other very nice ones:
    13a because “odd” is nicely misleading
    11d: just so smooth

    In 3d : the anagrind refers to docudrama, and only THEN we are instructed to remove DOC. Is that cricket?
    Also the indication of the removal of DOC from the fodder is in the third person and does not read very well. Would “rubbished” not have been better? It can double as a past participle.

    Thanks, Firefly and Gazza!

    • gazza
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      I agree that 3d doesn’t read well.

  9. Rednaxela
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure that I can fully understand the clue-ing in 25a. The word “dish” is an anagram indicator, so if you mix up the letters of A STRONG, you get STROGAN.

  10. Rednaxela
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, that posted before I completed my question! Where in the clue is it indicated that you add the letters OFF? Or is that the reason for the ? at the end of the clue?

    • gazza
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      As I tried to explain in the hint it’s a reverse anagram and the ? indicates that a bit of lateral thinking is required. Dish is the definition – if you then take the answer as an instruction to make an anagram (OFF) of STROGAN you end up with A STRONG which is the rest of the clue.

      • Rednaxela
        Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        Gazza, thanks for your clarification. I now understand what you are saying. I was getting confused simply because, in this same puzzle, there are lots of examples of taking away letters – “sawn off” and “one leaving” but there was nothing in this clue saying “add on”! I got the answer from the checking letters from the down answers, but just couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Thanks again for your response. Thanks to Firefly for a tough toughie and to Gazza for setting my mind at ease. Much appreciated.

  11. pommers
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    This was definitly Tough with a capital T!
    Got there in the end with a couple that I couldn’t really explain. Gazza’s explanations have sorted me out on those so thanks Gazza.
    One was 25a where I too couldn’t see where the OFF came from. I don’t like these ‘reverse’ anagrams but fortunately they don’t seem to come up very often.
    Thanks also to Firefly.

    • Nestor
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink


      ASTRONG = STROGAN off = dish.

      If you view it as a “cryptic charade”, the reading becomes quite natural.
      I agree that such very récherché clues should be used sparingly but, hey, this is a Toughie and Toughies tend to go that bit further in confusing us.

      • Rednaxela
        Posted February 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        As you can see from my earlier comments, it certainly had me going. But now I fully understand it, it has become a “Mr Kipling” clue – exceedingly good!

  12. Firefly
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    To be fair to Rednaxela, he was nearer the mark in his post No 9, in that “dish” was doing double duty as anagrind AND definition, therefore can’t be set aside as merely the former. Thus “dish a strong” = “strogan off” = dish.

    I’m pleased so many solvers enjoyed the puzzle – thanks for all your kind comments.