Toughie 583

Toughie No 583 by Warbler

‘What the Dickens’

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

When I see that Warbler is the setter I know I’m in for a delightful puzzle, and today was no exception. I did think at one time that a pangram was in the offing, but V and X failed to appear.

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.


8a    Little difficulty appears when investigation’s incomplete (4)
{PROB} – to get this colloquial shortening of a difficulty drop the final E from an investigation

9a    Now and then you’re sure to find employment (3)
{USE} – every third letter (now and then) of yoU‘re SurE gives a word meaning employment

10a    Head of drama quits business in place of comedy (6)
{EALING} – drop the initial D(rama) from a word meaning business to get the location of the film company responsible for numerous famous comedies, including Passport to Pimlico (1949), Whisky Galore! (1949), Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), and The Ladykillers (1955)

11a    Lowest increase in prosperity restricts leaders in tourist trade (6)
{BOTTOM} – to get a word meaning the lowest put an increase in prosperity around (restricts) the initial letters (leaders) of Tourist Trade

12a    More stout, in a smaller package, needed for unwanted guest (8)
{SQUATTER – two/three definitions for the price of one

13a    Playing universal tune for nothing is hopeless (3,2,3,7)
{OUT OF THE RUNNING} – an anagram (playing) of U(niversal) TUNE FOR NOTHING gives a phrase meaning hopeless or having no chance

15a    Simple paintings discovered in small hollow (7)
{SPARTAN} – a word meaning simple or lacking comfort and luxury is created by putting some paintings (3) inside S(mall) and a hollow in the ground in which water collects in the rainy season, leaving a salt deposit on evaporation

17a    Choice for each is more generous (7)
{PLUMPER} – a charade of an adjective meaning choice or cushy and a word meaning for each gives a word meaning more generous or fatter

20a    27 for example (4,2,3,6)
{SIGN OF THE ZODIAC} – the answer to 27 across is one of a group of twelve

23a    One believing in completeness in time fails to adjust (8)
{FINALIST} – someone believing in completeness is an anagram (to adjust) of IN T(ime) FAILS

25a    Too much work left over (6)
{TROPPO} – a musical term meaning too much is created by reversing (over) a charade of work (2) and the nautical term for left

26a    C or ABC revised by head of nursery (6)
{CARBON} – the element represented by C is an anagram (revised) of OR ABC followed by the initial letter (head) of Nursery

27a    Cleopatra embodies a 20 (3)
{LEO} – hidden inside the first word of the clue is an example of 20 across

28a    Stone’s type of music (4)
{ROCK} – a double definition – a stone and a type of music


1d    Middle of column’s rebuilt with gold at the top as gilding (6)
{ORMOLU} – an anagram (rebuilt) of OLUM (middle of cOLUMn) is preceded by (at the top as this is a down clue) the heraldic term for gold to get gold-leaf prepared for gilding bronze etc.

2d    French screen a flyer’s day in Toulon (4-4)
{ABAT-JOUR} – a French word for a screen or shutter is a charade of A, from the clue, a flying mammal and the French (in Toulon) for day

3d    Convoluted English for lurid autumn novel (3,6,6)
{OUR MUTUAL FRIEND} – an anagram (convoluted) of E(nglish) FOR LURID AUTUMN gives a novel by Charles Dickens

4d    One’s left with debts concerning reversal following Celtic? (7)
{WELSHER} – someone who runs off without settling debts is derived from a word meaning concerning reversed and preceded by (following) a Celtic race

5d    Displaying zeal, I mount audit that reveals change of ownership (15)
{DEMUTUALIZATION} – an anagram (displaying) of ZEAL I MOUNT AUDIT gives (reveals) a change of ownership as in, for example, a building society becoming a public company

6d    Author reducing irresistibly to nine-year-old (6)
{BLYTON} – an author of children’s books is hidden inside (reducing) the last three words of the clue

7d    Joint accounts for shrewd newly-weds initially requiring advance (4)
{KNEE} – a joint in the leg is created by starting with a word meaning shrewd and moving the N (Newly-weds initially) being brought nearer to the front (requiring advance) of the word

14d    Born and reared in Aberdeenshire, predecessor appears cut-off (3)
{NÉE} – a word meaning born (applied to a female) is hidden and reversed (reared) inside AberdEENshire – it can also be derived by dropping the first letter from the answer to the previous clue

16d    Foreign character’s power is over (3)
{PSI} – a letter in the Greek alphabet is derived from P(ower) and IS reversed (over)

18d    So-so version of Comedie Francaise’s second feature being taken in (8)
{MEDIOCRE} – a word meaning so-so or rather inferior is created from an anagram (version of) of COMEDIE with the second letter (feature) of FRancaise inserted (being taken in)

19d    Inventor of races in time (7)
{WHITTLE} – to get the inventor of the jet engine insert the motorcycle races in the Isle of Man inside a period of time

21d    Mean times may be close (6)
{NEARBY} – a charade of an adjective meaning mean or stingy and times in the arithmetical sense gives a word meaning close or neighbouring

22d    One way of viewing a short risky investment venture essentially (6)
{ASPECT} – one way of viewing is a charade of A, from the clue, a shortened form of a risky investment and the middle letter (essentially) of venTure

24d    As prayer leader I start to meditate in the morning (4)
{IMAM} – this officer who leads the prayers in a mosque is a charade of I, the initial letter of (start to) Meditate and an abbreviation that indicates morning

Although this puzzle was not overly difficult, resolving some of the wordplay involved some head-scratching!


  1. Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    You’ve expressed my sentiments exactly BD – not difficult to solve, no real favourites but thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle. My only real trouble was misreading gilding as gliding!
    Thanks to you and to Warbler.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I did struggle a bit with the top of this lovely Warbler Toughie but overall it was an enjoyable experience. Thinking it was going to be a pangram did help me get a couple of the clues, even though it turned out not to be one. I was quite surprised to find the solution to 1a in Chambers. How times change! Thanks to Warbler for a great Toughie and to BD for the equally great hints and pics.

    • pommers
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Hi CS
      I was the reverse – the thought of a pangram held me up! I had 3 to go and spent ages trying to fit an X in one of them! D’oh!

  3. Jezza
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Warbler for a most enjoyable puzzle. Favourite clue – 18d.

  4. andy
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    For me closer to a 3*, only because I had to dig deep for 2d, which I initially thought was a lamp shade for some reason. Thanks for explanation for 21d, I forgot the maths “times by” so couldn’t be sure of having the correct answer in. Another lovely toughie from Warbler, and thank you BD for the hints.

  5. pegasus
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    A great start to the Toughie week I was also thinking a pangram was on the way but alas not to be, favourite clues for me were 10a 2d and 25a in what was a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to Warbler and to Big Dave for his comments.

  6. pommers
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    My sort of Toughie! Harder than a back-pager but accessible and enjoyable. More please Warbler!
    25a legged me up as I’ve never heard the term (should have asked pommette!). As an ex-chemist I have to rate 26a favourite.
    Many thanks to Warbler and to BD for the hints

  7. upthecreek
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t like this one . Too many dodgy clues ie 8 12 17 and 25. Spent ages on 2 and 8 only to find that 8 was not a word at all, although someone will probably point to some obscure dictionary. Luckily, 3 jumped out as it has been in another puzzle recently and the other 3 longies were quite easy. Bit of a waste of an evening really.

    • Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      An obscure dictionary like Chambers 11th edition!

      Prob (informal)
      * A problem

    • Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      I must also disagree, UTC. There were two words that I didn’t KNOW in the puzzle but both were clued fairly. 3d was the most problematical but the cluing left me in no doubt as to the answer. A brief visit to Chambers 11th confirmed.
      It could have been worse – there was another instance of SHADDOCK in the Times today!

  8. upthecreek
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I think that the lack of comment on this puzzle proves my point. What’s wrong with shaddock?