Toughie 616

Toughie No 616 by Excalibur

Rubber Chicken’s on The Menu

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

What a difference 24 hours makes. Yesterday I had a superb cryptic puzzle to blog and today I have a Toughie which (how can I say this without offending?) lacks sparkle. You may agree or you may have found it dazzling and stimulating – in either case give us your view in a comment.

Across Clues

1a  Lot of food in box (6)
{BUFFET} – double definition, the food being contractually bound to include vol-au-vents and tiny sausages on sticks. I have attended some of these where there wasn’t a lot of food!

4a  Skip over years in parts of book (8)
{PASSAGES} – parts of a book are a charade of a verb to skip over (as a Mastermind contestant may with a difficult question) and a synonym for years.

9a  Hit by rear end of this vehicle (6)
{STRUCK} – the rear end of (thi)S is followed by a vehicle.

10a  He is and they are not exceptional (8)
{SINGULAR} – an adjective meaning exceptional could also, in a grammatical sense, apply to “he” but not to “they”.

11a  Delivery service fellow provides (8)
{CHINAMAN} – as all cricket lovers know this is a ball (delivery) bowled by a left-arm bowler that spins in the opposite direction to his or her usual delivery. Put what a set of matching crockery (service) is made from in front of a synonym for fellow.

13a  Put away caricature (4,2)
{SEND UP} – this phrasal verb apparently means to sentence to prison (put away) so it has a similar meaning to the same verb with “down” as the second word. As (4-2) it’s a caricature.

15a  What bee hums returning to its hive? (4,5,4)
{HOME SWEET HOME} – well, I suppose this song title could describe a beehive, but the cryptic definition is pretty weak.

18a  Run with one hand tied behind one’s back? (6,7)
{EASILY MANAGED} – “run” here is a past participle rather than a present tense.

22a  Assessment of lecture (6)
{RATING} – double definition.

24a  Insect circumvents watery grave in drink (8)
{BEVERAGE} – the same insect that was humming away in 15a contains an anagram (watery?) of GRAVE to make a drink.

26a  Before you need to resort to violence and other mayhem (8)
{HITHERTO} – the definition is before or up to now and the “you need” just seems to be a bit of guidance to the solver on how to interpret the clue. Start with a verb meaning to resort to violence and add an anagram (mayhem) of OTHER.

27a  As one fool took residence in, due for demolition (6)
{UNITED} – the definition is “as one”. A word for fool gets inserted (took residence in) an anagram (for demolition) of DUE. The surface is horrible.

28a  Single sun ray dancing about catches it (8)
{SOLITARY} – this is an adjective meaning single. The latin word for sun is followed by an anagram (dancing about) of RAY then IT is inserted (catches),

29a  A party on Left that’s very popular (6)
{ADORED} – a charade of A, the usual Crosswordland party and the colour associated with the political left.

Down Clues

1d  Cut down the middle, little dry inside (6)
{BISECT} – a synonym for little (as in “I’m feeling a little fed up at the moment”) contains (inside) an adjective meaning dry (as a description of wine).

2d  Provides with vessel and trawls around (9)
{FURNISHES} – put a vessel (of the non-seagoing type) inside a verb meaning trawls for a catch to make another verb meaning provides with.

3d  Lapsed demand may make you say ‘Heavens!’? (7)
{EXCLAIM} – a charade of a prefix meaning former or lapsed and a synonym for a demand produces a verb meaning to ejaculate (say ‘Heavens!’).

5d  Among three notes, one is sharp (4)
{ACID} – put I (one) inside three musical notes.

6d  Division of soldiers occupying gets cracking (7)
{SEGMENT} – another word for soldiers goes inside (occupying) an anagram (cracking) of GETS to make a division or portion.

7d  Delightful out to start with, but very cold (5)
{GELID} – an adjective meaning very cold is an anagram (out) of the first bit (to start with) of DELIG(htful).

8d  Very short of money — it’s tied up (8)
{STRAPPED} – double definition.

12d  Take for granted when amount is increased by a quarter (6)
{ASSUME} – a verb meaning to take on trust is a charade of a synonym for when, an amount and a cardinal point (quarter).

14d  Meeting at which there might not be a soul you know (6)
{SEANCE} – weakish cryptic definition of a meeting at which gullible individuals are persuaded that dead people can talk to them.

16d  Painting showing former owner (3,6)
{OLD MASTER} – this can be either a painting or a painter. It’s a charade of synonyms for former and owner. Since there are few opportunities for pictures today, here’s a self-portrait by one of the best of them.

{SEARCHES} – why is the clue in capital letters? Who knows? Who cares? (apparently it’s only in capitals in the on-line version, so that’s even more odd). A synonym for chief has a verb meaning looks put around it.

19d  Disconnect line moment mother leaves. It’s not hard (7)
{LENIENT} – this is the opposite of hard or severe. It’s an anagram (disconnect) of LINE followed by (mom)ENT without the informal American mother.

20d  Gathered key was bent (7)
{GLEANED} – a verb meaning gathered (in two senses) is a musical key followed by a verb meaning was bent.

21d  Watched over when time was up (6)
{TENDED} – T(ime) followed by a verb meaning was up or was finished.

23d  A large drink beforehand. That’s all (5)
{TOTAL} – A and L(arge) are preceded by a drink.

25d  Leading, I got out of step (4)
{STAR} – a step with I removed.

I thought the best clue today was 10a. Let us know what you liked.


  1. BigBoab
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for a very gentle crossword and an excellent review, not toughie standard however.

  2. pegasus
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Mundane fare today of which I found 11a about the best, Thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for the notes.

  3. Posted August 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Manged eventually but it was a bit like pulling teeth – long and painful! I really cannot get on the wavelength of the sword lady!
    Thanks anyway to Excalibur and Gazza.

  4. crypticsue
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I have been solving cryptics for over 41 years and can probably count on my fingers the number of times that I have given up without finishing. Today’s Toughie was one where it took me ages to get started and I couldn’t get on with the top half at all, so I gave up and went and solved two very nice puzzles in the Times and the Guardian. Sorry, Excalibur, I do normally perservate with yours but not today. Thanks to Gazza for the review.

    • Posted August 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Not tried the Times yet but agree that the Grauniad is very good.

    • andy
      Posted August 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Strangely enough I found the North easier, but got in a rut in the SW which I did perservate with. I enjoyed todays Guardian offering (had to look up 7d and 24a, the latter being a LOL moment because I was actually logged into a system called ePACT at the same time. Will try the Times this evening.

  5. Posted August 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    I sailed through it, except for 1a, 9a, 1d and 3d, for which I’m grateful for Gazza’s help. Not much of a Toughie if I can breeze through 80% of it!

  6. Jezza
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Nothing too difficult today.
    The clue I liked was the one about the left-arm unorthodox spin delivered using the wrist, and which turns from off to leg (to a right-handed batsman).
    Thanks to setter, and to gazza.

  7. Posted August 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Q. Is 15A actually a song? As opposed to There’s no place like etc

    • gazza
      Posted August 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes – see here

      • Posted August 17, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        Hmmm – utterly unconvinced by the link I’m sorry to say unless (according to the first 3 offerings in the link) we should be familiar with the ouvre of ‘Guns n Roses, Mottley cru and Skid Row.

  8. birdie
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I can only echo Jezza’s comments, enjoyed the cricket clue but overall nothing too tough. Thanks to the setter and Gazza.

  9. crypticsue
    Posted August 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Shamus tomorrow :)

  10. Prolixic
    Posted August 21, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Sorry to be out of kilter in time and opinion. Solved this after a week’s away and found this to be enjoyable. Not as difficult as some of Excalibur’s crosswords but worth spending time to get to grips with. Many thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for the review.