Toughie 510

Toughie No 510 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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

This week’s Friday challenge is by the superb setter Notabilis and today’s puzzle did not disappoint. Lots of fine clues and a little gimmick with the central answers forming well-known phrases, although not jointly clued.

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. Favourite clues are highlighted in blue.


1a    NATO base is not so regressive in brief skirmish (8)
{BRUSSELS} If you have a skirmish with the law, you may be said to have this. Because the clue says “brief”, it means the word is incomplete and missing its last letter. Inside this goes a word meaning “not so” but because it says “regressive” it is reversed. This gives you the location of NATO’s HQ (base).

5a    Bunk overturned in Sergeant-Major’s rages (6)
{STORMS} When Henry Ford uttered his phrase “History is bunk!”, this was the meaning of ‘bunk’. This is reversed (overturned) inside S M S (Sergeant Major’s) to give a word meaning rages.

9a    Perigord’s exotic bird (8)
{PORRIDGE} A nice clue. Nothing to do with ornithology. An anagram (indicated by exotic) of PERIGORD gives a slang word for which ‘bird’ is also a slang word.

10a    Alkalinity index in dried-up area (6)
{SPHERE} Contestants in the Todmorden Quiz League were presented with this question in their Science Round this week: pH is a measure of whether something is acidic or alkaline. What does the ‘p’ stand for?
I’ll give you the answer later! Anyway, back to the clue. The name of the index of acidity or alkalinity goes inside a word that means dried-up.

12a    Lady Gaga’s one contrary person, say, wearing food (5,4)
{STAGE NAME} Your definition here is “Lady Gaga’s one”. Try to keep your thoughts clean here. The name for a person plus the abbreviation for say or for example are both reversed inside a word meaning food. Of course the aforementioned pop artist is noted for wearing a dress made of meat. I am sure there should be jokes about this, but I can’t think of any.

I would mention that in a recent quiz match I asked the question “By what name is the pop artist Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotti better known?” After some thought, the person given the question smiled and said “Oh, I remember, it’s Lady Doolally!”

13a    Exceeding volume in a half-plane (5)
{ABOVE} V (for volume) goes inside A plus half the name of a US aircraft manufacturer. This will give you a word meaning exceeding.

14a    Season with herb, as one’s told (4)
{TIME} A homophone for the name of a herb gives a word meaning a season or duration.

16a    Some from a Chinese bit of plant? (7)
{MACHINE} A hidden answer. Concealed in “from a Chinese” is a word meaning a piece of plant in a factory.

19a    Spread power with previous sovereign (7)
{PLASTER} A wordsum. P (for Power) plus a word meaning previous and ER gives a word meaning spread around.

21a    Choice of side in wedlock effort? (4)
{WORK} A little off the wall thought needed here. If you wanted to choose the sides of the word “wedlock” you’d choose – or -, which makes a word meaning effort.

24a    Charity expressing profound shock (5)
{AGAPE} If you expressed shock at seeing something surprising your mouth may be this, which is also a word meaning charity or Christian love.

25a    Glance confusing to accuser (9)
{CORUSCATE} An anagram (confusing) of TO ACCUSER gives a word meaning to sparkle or flash.

27a    Popularise musicality on purpose (6)
{ENDEAR} This is one of those clues where a definition is tagged on to another, so it’s a word meaning musicality tagged on to a word for purpose to give one which means popularise.

28a    Someone resigned, finding answer in lucrative catalogue (8)
{FATALIST} Something lucrative may be said to be this (as in “the ___ of the land”). A word for a catalogue or group of items is added to it and A for answer placed inside. This gives you a word meaning someone who is resigned to their lot.

29a    Press handler extremely involved in secret society (6)
{THRONG} “Extremely” is often used in puzzles to indicate the first and last letters of a word, i.e. the extremes. Here we have the extremes of “handler” inside the name of a Chinese secret society to reveal the word meaning to press.

30a    I may have work mounting, with rocks and ice (8)
{JEWELLER} A clever cryptic definition for someone who works with something that may colloquially be referred to as rocks and ice.

Apologies for the delay, back with the downs in a bit!

I think Tilsit is having a long nap, so I’ll finish the downs.


1d           Year parking in low, roundabout road (6)
{BYPASS} – put Y(ear) and P(arking) inside a word meaning  low or deep to get a roundabout road

2d           Contents of quart drinks encouraging mayhem (6)
{UPROAR} – put UAR (contents of quart) around a word meaning encouraging or in favour of to get this mayhem

3d           Take turns among breeziest (5)
{SEIZE} – a word meaning to take is reversed (turns) and hidden (among) inside breeziest

4d           Engage in sledging, having a joke in some cases (7)
{LUGGAGE} – put a verb meaning to ride a light toboggan lying on one’s back around a joke to get some suitcases

6d           Draw off reindeer: I’ll be hoofing it (3-6)
{TAP-DANCING} – a charade of  word meaning to draw off or siphon and one of Santa’s reindeer gives a “hoofer”

7d           Uplifting recitation with rich, contrived framing? (8)
{RHETORIC} – in this all-in-one clue, reverse (uplifting) a mechanical recitation inside (framing) an anagram (contrived) of RICH

8d           Stuck with more oblique editor (8)
{SKEWERED} – a word meaning stuck or transfixed is a charade of more oblique and ED(itor)

11d         King Edward held by genetically modified root (4)
{GERM} – put Edward Rex inside Genetically Modified to get a root or shoot

15d         I mean hint to be solved, generally (2,3,4)
{IN THE MAIN} – an anagram (to be solved) of I MEAN HINT gives a phrase meaning generally

17d         Seeming soft, sheltered by a guardian (8)
{APPARENT} – a word meaning seeming or visible is generated by putting the musical abbreviation for soft in between A and a guardian

18d         Pirate overwhelmed armed guard, out of bounds (8)
{MARAUDER} – this pirate is an anagram (overwhelmed) of ARMED and UAR (guard out of bounds)

20d         Joint strain often associated with ruin (4)
{RACK} – this torture involving joint strain is also often seen, with ruin, in a phrase which means a state of neglect and collapse

21d         Most of merchandise preserves distant conflict (7)
{WARFARE} – put 4 letters (most of) a 5-letter word meaning merchandise around (preserves) a synonym for distant to get this conflict

22d         Artist on phone as more than one spoke? (6)
{RADIAL} – put Crosswordland’s usual artist over (on in a down clue) a verb meaning to phone to get spokes diverging from a centre

23d         Doctor’s failed tenure (6)
{NEUTER} – a word meaning to doctor or castrate an animal is an anagram (failed) of TENURE

26d         Sons experience narrow escape (5)
{SHAVE} – combine S(ons) and a verb meaning to experience to get a narrow escape

What a treat we have had this week with Toughies from Beam, Elgar and today Notabilis (I’ve already forgotten the other one!)


  1. honestjohn
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Huge improvement on yesterday’s offering as far as enjoment levels are concerned with some very nice clues – 1a and 2a stood out for me but there were others. This puzzle was difficult enough to provide a real challenge – in my opinion anyway – and I had great fun solving it.

    Thanks to the setter and to Tilsit for the review.

    • honestjohn
      Posted February 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      I see from the notes that I got 24a wrong – I wasn’t really happy with ‘aware’.

  2. gnomethang
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Lovely puzzle and a great review so far, containg a dress made entirely from meat and a chemistry question to which I know the answer.
    I do have some time for Ms Doolally even being a metalhead. I also have a good deal of time for Notabilis’ excellent puzzles and this was no exception.
    Thanks to him and to Tilsit for the Demi-review.

  3. Qix
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable Toughie today.

    Interestingly, 24A is the same Greek term that formed the first part of 25A in Toughie 508.

  4. crypticsue
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    An excellent Friday Toughie from Notabilis today so thank you to him. I liked lots of clues but my particular favourites were 9a (wasted ages trying to get a bird out of the anagram :) ) 30a and 11d. Thanks to Tilsit for the review – I am sure the second half will be just as informative and entertaining.

    • Andy
      Posted February 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      As is so often the case it’s the 4 letter clues that stump me, and that includes 11d. I left this earlier then returned to it and the sub-conscious must have kicked in as the rest flew in pretty quickly!

  5. Digby
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Liked it a lot, and managed it without the hints, though I’m not sure about 3d. Awaiting demi-review part 2. Very much better late than never, as it helps to resist temptation!

    • Digby
      Posted February 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Now sure about 3d – “turns” being the operative word!

  6. Jezza
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    It gets a thumbs up from me! – Thanks to Notabilis for an excellent puzzle, and to Tilsit for the review.

  7. gazza
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Very entertaining puzzle – thanks to Notabilis and Tilsit (especially for pointing out the little gimmick, which I’d totally missed as usual). Favourite clues 4d and 6d.

  8. BigBoab
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable toughie today. Thanks Notablis and Tilsit. Loved 4d.

  9. Harry
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Hi,6 down is tap dancer???

    • Posted February 11, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Harry

      I’ve just this minute answered that one!

  10. Harry
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    no probs BD,sorry.Helluva crossword!!