Toughie 649 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 649

Toughie No 649 by MynoT

A Load of C

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Greetings from the Calder Valley. Bufo and I have swapped duties this week as I have a couple of hospital appointments tomorrow. Thanks to him for agreeing to this. I eagerly awaited the appearance of the puzzle at midnight and my heart sank when I saw it was by MynoT, who I have to say is not one of my favourite setters. My gloom deepened when I saw the grid full of double unchecked squares (another bête-noir) and so I set to.

However, I was pleasantly surprised and appreciated the effort that went into the puzzle. I am aware that for the gimmick hidden within the puzzle (all the answers contain the letter C) to work, you probably need to use a grid like this, so I’ll say no more on the topic (cue sighs of relief from the TCE!). Not up to the really high standards of the past few puzzles, but still a worthy member of the Toughie canon.

Incidentally I’d like to thank Phil McNeill for agreeing to let BD post the puzzles while the site gets sorted out. It does make things much easier.

Thanks to MynoT for today’s challenge. Favourite clues are highlighted in blue. 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.


1a    Enter into dispute about beginning to solve puzzles (5,6)
{CROSS SWORDS} Have seen this clue in a couple of other daily puzzles. Around S (beginning to solve) goes the name of the puzzles we all love to tackle. This leads you to a phrase that means to enter into dispute with someone.

9a    Hot cake cooked for secret police (5)
{CHEKA} The name of the Russian Secret Police from 1917-22 is an anagram of H (Hot) and CAKE

10a    On retirement help reviewer make mark of distinction (9)
{DIACRITIC} A word for marks such as umlauts, cedillas and accents is found by reversing a word meaning help and adding to it the name for a reviewer.

11a    Train European expected to hold tiger (7)
{EDUCATE} E (European) is added to a word meaning expected, and inside this goes the generic name for a tiger, lion, etc.

12a    A teach-in breaks up for refreshment (5,3)
{CHINA TEA} Something used to provide afternoon refreshment is found by taking an anagram of A TEACH-IN.

14a    Salesman reprimanded and substituted (8)
{REPLACED} The standard abbreviation for a commercial salesman is added to one referring to reprimanded to give something that means swapped or substituted.

15a    Old coins belonging to recusant (4)
{ECUS} A former currency is hidden within the word ‘recusant’

17a    Bounder to declare dead body (7)
{CADAVER} The word for a bounder or rotter is added to a word meaning declare or attest to reveal the name for a deceased person.

19a    No twitch of the ear (4)
{OTIC} The medical term meaning belonging to the ear is found by taking the letter that equates to no or zero and adding to it a word for a twitch or affectation.

20a    Observe old copper, calcium and selenium in pod (8)
{SEEDCASE} Another word-sum (quite a lot of them today!) Observe + D (an old penny) + CA + SE (calcium and selenium) = the name for a pod or something that holds things that grow.

21a    Versatile part of body to check some cellulite (4,4)
[STEM CELL} One of the most useful parts of the human body’s make-up is found by taking a word that means check or staunch and adding to it 50% of the word cellulite (the first half!)

23a    Additional law’s not accepted for passage (7)
{EXTRACT} The name for a passage from a book or article is revealed by taking a word meaning additional and adding to it one that refers to a piece of law, without A (accepted).

25a    Play for current firm (9)
{ACCOMPANY} An abbreviation for alternate current is added to another word that means a firm or business to give something that means to play an instrument.

26a    Odds in page 5 (5)
{PRICE} Added to P (page) is the answer to 5 down to give something that means odds in betting.

27a    Somehow sense cities’ requirements (11)
{NECESSITIES} An anagram (indicated by ‘somehow’) of SENSE CITIES gives a word that means requirements or essentials.

Off to my holiday home in Halifax, back later with the Downs!

[Tilsit has been delayed at the hospital, so here are the downs.  BD]


2d           Finally believe in wealthy psychiatrist (5)
{REICH} – put the final letter of believe inside a word meaning wealthy to get the surname of Wilhelm, an Austrian-American psychiatrist – yes, I guessed the answer and then looked it up

3d           Times for more food (7)
{SECONDS} – a double definition – units of time and another helping of food

4d           Cold Asiatic’s beaten pain (8)
{SCIATICA} – an anagram (beaten) of C(old) ASIATIC gives a pain in the hip region

5d           Take dessert: it could be creamed (4)
{RICE} – in a medical prescription the term recipe, abbreviated to ℞, means to take – add a cold dessert to get another dessert that could be creamed – especially if branded as Ambrosia!

6d           Small weight right for one who doubts (8)
{SCRUPLER} – a small weight of 20 grains followed by R(ight) gives someone who doubts or hesitates

7d           Becoming revitalised by return of more sensible money (9)
{RENASCENT} – a word meaning becoming revitalised is derived by reversing (return) of an adjective meaning more sensible and then adding some American money

8d           Object found between California and Indonesia a lecturer previously carbon dated (11)
{CALENDRICAL} – put an object or aim between CAL(ifornia) and the IVR code for the Republic of Indonesia then add A and a L(ecturer) preceded by (previously) the chemical symbol for Carbon to get a word meaning dated

12d         Complete clear-outs: an oxymoron, surely (5,6)
{CLEAN SWEEPS} – these complete clear-outs could be an oxymoron  when applied to people who clean chimneys

13d         Walks to give discharge to one of the French (7)
{ARCADES} – these  covered walks with shops along one or both sides are a charade of a  luminous electrical discharge, A (one) and the French for “of the” (plural)

16d         Expressing doubt in centaur barking (9)
{UNCERTAIN} – this adjective meaning expressing doubt is an anagram (barking) of IN CENTAUR

17d         Group of songs about morning with new flower (8)
{CYCLAMEN} – put a group of songs with related subjects around the Latin abbreviation of morning and then add N(ew) to get a plant with nodding flowers and bent-back outer petals

18d         The Spanish found in unusually chosen levels in hierarchy (8)
{ECHELONS} – put the Spanish definite article inside an anagram (unusually) of CHOSEN to get these levels in the hierarchy of an organization

19d         Commander on Channel Isles placed head at the back (7)
{OCCIPUT} – a charade of Officer Commanding (commander), Channel Islands and a verb meaning placed gives the back of the head

22d         Weapon Conservative found in narrow road (5)
{LANCE} – this weapon is created by putting C(onservative) inside a narrow road

24d         Some crystal-clear soft mineral (4)
{TALC} – hidden (some) inside the clue is the softest mineral on Mohs Scale of hardness

21 comments on “Toughie 649

  1. ManyT thanksT to MyonT for the crossword. The theme became apparent after the first few clues went in so it helped with a few of the tricker clues to know that the C word was there somewhere.

    Thanks to for the review Tiltsit.

  2. I have no idea how I managed to complete this puzzle, and be totally oblivious to the theme! I was only aware of it after reading a post on the cryptic page.
    Thanks to MynoT for a not too tricky puzzle, and to Tilsit for the notes.

    Tilsit – when is the next quiz television appearance?

          1. “Only Connect” – previous episodes are available on BBC iPlayer. Tilsit captains the “Listeners” – programme 6 in the current series.

  3. I did think when I saw MynoT’s name on the list of Toughie setters that there would be a theme and then forgot all about it. Not knowing the theme didn’t cause any problems when solving this fairly straightforward toughie, but it was very apparent afterwards that that was what it was.

    Thanks to MynoT for the crossword and Tilsit for the review.

  4. Stumbled on to the theme by accident, after constantly muttering, “what the **, another answer with a C”, then penny dropped. Never heard of 9a or 8d so committed to memory. Thanks to MynoT and Tilsit

  5. Put me in the (popular!) camp of both not noticing the ‘theme’ and finding this easier than the back page crossword.
    Special thanks to Tilsit for hiding the theme, as this is something I suggested a while ago. Should I feel humble that my suggestion has been adopted, or is this just coincidence?
    Thanks to compiler and reviewer, as ever.

  6. After the standard set by Shamus and Osmosis this was a tad disappointing, Favourites 12d and 13d thanks to Mynot and to Tilsit ( Good luck on Monday) for the review.

  7. Totally missed the theme here, not that I think that it would have helped with 8d. Never heard of it but glad to see it is in CD. Agree with many previous comments. Fav clue 1a. Thanks setter and Tilsit.

  8. I completed this in less time than the back pager and spotted the theme early on so I can’t say it was much of a challenge. The anagram at 27a was barely that – a glance at the relevant words in the clue threw up the answer and clues like 24a were befitting of Monday’s back page. That said, it makes a change not to agonise over the Toughie, for me anyway. Thanks to MynoT and Tilsit.

    Completely off topic, did anyone else read the rather strange notice on the Announcements page under “In Memoriam”? Amongst the usual tributes to lost family members is one to:

    ” CLAUDIUS – Roman Imperator Tiberius Claudius Drusus. Victor over Brittania, Mauretania and the Crimea but succumbed to mushrooms AD54. (Online ref: 95711)”

    I’m intrigued!

  9. I missed the “theme”, but after Shamus on Tuesday, Osmosis on Wednesday and today’s RayT back-pager this was a bit of light relief! Thank you very much, MynoT.

      1. Thanks Franco, I really enjoyed reading the interview – love the idea that he sits in a Crouch End pub with pen and paper and comes up with his fantastic puzzles, without even the most current version of Chambers. I also love his favourite clue. :) I will be up a mountain in France on Christmas Day, so I’m going to have to subscribe to the dreaded Clued Up in December and keep my fingers crossed that I can access his puzzle. Thanks for the link.

  10. Really enjoyed this, the easiest Toughie I have ever seen. Thanks to MynoT and for the explanations.
    Had a bit of trouble with 8d, think I have it now, but not sure why.
    What is TCE?

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