Toughie 650

Toughie No 650 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

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

I appear to have been the main beneficiary of Tilsit’s hospital appointment in that I get to blog today’s enjoyable and challenging puzzle rather than yesterday’s offering which was just about the easiest Toughie I have ever done. The main challenge in today’s puzzle arose from a number of unfamiliar answers. Fortunately they were all easily deducible from the wordplay (with the possible exception of ancient Iraq and the avian projections). Apologies for the slight delay in posting this blog but I’ve just had a hard morning playing table tennis.

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    In a state after party, Miles, Robert and Alun shortly set about Edward (15)
{DISCOMBOBULATED} A word meaning “in a state” is derived from a party (where records are played for dancing) + M (Miles) + a shortened form of Robert + a reversal of Alun with the last letter missing + a shortened form of Edward. The answer is then used in several other clues

9a    King on steroids? Not half — Queen’s a pleasure-seeker! (9)
{ROISTERER} A French king + half of the word “steroids” + the usual abbreviation for the Queen gives a pleasure-seeker

10a    1ac ‘Unison’ representative from Islington’s forgotten parts of speech (5)
{NOUNS} An anagram (indicated by 1 across) of UNISON without the I (first letter of Islington) gives parts of speech

11a    Scoundrel husband’s taking on newspaper, that’s plain (7)
{CURRAGH} A scoundrel + a newspaper + H (husband) is a plain in County Kildare noted for horseracing

12a    Once hideous profanity’s lodged in scallywag’s heart (7)
{LOATHLY} An archaic word meaning “hideous” is formed from a profanity inside LLY (the middle letters of scallywag)

13a, 24a, 16d & 18d    1ac? Ordinary grub involves limited bother, in God’s name! (3,2,1,6)
{ALL OF A DOODAH} A phrase roughly synonymous with the answer to 1 across is formed from O (ordinary) + grub round a 3-letter word for bother with the last letter removed. This is then put inside the Islamic name of God

14a    Gen Lord beginning to serve wraps (7)
{INFOLDS} Gen (information) + an abbreviation for lord + S (first letter of serve) = “WRAPS”

17a    Commercial studio returning blurb as attachments (7)
{ADDENDA} A commercial + a studio + a reversal of “blurb” gives attachments (such as supplementary material in a book)

19a    8’s relation said: ‘Young Weasley’s a tiny part — no charge’ (7)
{NEUTRON} A homophone (said) of an amphibian closely related to the answer to 8 down + the first name of the Weasley boy in the harry Potter books = an uncharged elementary particle

22a    Tea’s mostly pricy round port in ancient Iraq (7)
{CHALDEA} Tea + “pricy” with the last letter removed goes round L (left = port) to give an ancient region of Babylonia. That’s how I interpret it though I don’t remember ever seeing port = L before

24a    See 13 across

25a    Really old-fashioned remorse follows international (2,5)
{IN TRUTH} “Really” = an old word for remorse following INT (international)

26a    Cordial air at a fiancee’s gathering (7)
{RATAFIA} A cordial or liqueur flavoured with fruit-kernels (according to Chambers) is hidden (or gathered) in aiR AT A FIAncee

28a    Backs switch over against Samoa’s wings (5)
{DORSA} The plural form of word meaning “the back” is a reversal of a switch (used for punishment) + SA (first and last letters of Samoa)

29a    Tiny zips tend to get one 1ac (4-5)
{PINT-SIZED} “Tiny” is an anagram (indicated by 1 across) of ZIPS TEND I (one)

30a    Revolutionary reportedly hid patriarch in tree (3-7,5)
{RED-BERRIED ELDER} A revolutionary + a homophone (reportedly) of hid (put deep inside something else) + a patriarch = a species of tree native to Europe, temperate Asia, and north and central North America. I can’t find it in Chambers and needed Wikipedia to learn about it


1d    Radio enunciation, note admitted, gets better around middle of ‘Today’ (9-6)
{DIRECTION-FINDER} A radio receiver used in navigation = “enunciation” round the second note of the scale + “better” round D (the middle letter of Today)

2d    One may be caught out by such a traveller (5)
{SKIER} 2 meanings: a ball that you may be caught out off/a traveller over snow

3d    Culvert can be robust if wall all evenly constructed (7)
{OUTFALL} A culvert is made up of the even letters of rObUsT iF wAlL

4d    Big guns advanced in comfortable situations (7)
{BERTHAS} Big German guns are derived from A (advanced) in comfortable situations

5d    Bleat about stream conveying soda ash (7)
{BARILLA} Bleat (noise of a sheep) round a stream gives soda ash (an impure sodium carbonate produced by burning seaside plants). Thanks to Chambers for that information

6d    Cord — some covered in grease (7)
{LANYARD} A cord for hanging a knife, whistle, etc. around the neck is formed from “some” inside grease. This word (spelt differently) appears in today’s Times quick crossword

7d    1ac nude got the time off to get ‘fortified’ (9)
{TOUGHENED} An anagram (indicated by 1 across) of NUDE GOT THE without one of the T’s (time) gives “fortified”

8d    Footloose pair — ‘blue’ Sarah and chatty Ms Holden — build amphibian (5,10)
{DUSKY SALAMANDER} A three-letter word for pair (of performers) with the last letter removed + a shade of blue + a shortened form of Sarah + a homophone (chatty) of the first name of Ms Holden = an amphibian native to North America. Once again I had to resort to Wikipedia to find out about it. I don’t recall seeing “footloose” used before to indicate the removal of the final letter of a word

15d    1ac with infection, rested uncomfortably (9)
{FLUSTERED} A word synonymous with the answer to 1 across is a viral infection + an anagram (uncomfortably) of RESTED

16d    See 13 across

18d    See 13 across

20d    Our 1ac boy Earl’s on a roll (7)
{ROULADE} An anagram (indicated by 1 across) of OUR + a boy + E (Earl) = a roll

21d    New Orleans knees-up — um — a washout (2-5)
{NO-HOPER} NO (New Orleans) + a knees-up (dance) + an alternative to “um” for expressing hesitation = something or someone with absolutely no chance of success (i.e. a washout)

22d    Cut out dreadfully inaccurate avian projections (7)
{CARINAE} Keel-like ridges as in a birds’ breastbones is an anagram (dreadfully) of INACCURATE with the letters of CUT ignored

23d    Player cramming Mozart is terrible (7)
{ARTISTE} A player is hidden in MozART IS TErrible

27d    1ac? Head for famous setter! (5)
{FAZED} A word synonymous with 1 across is formed from F (first letter of famous) + the name of a crossword setter who has featured in The Observer for many years

Good stuff and a vast improvement on the last Firefly puzzle that I blogged


  1. BigBoab
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous crossword from Firefly, I really enjoyed doing it.Fav. clue 1a. Many thanks Firefly and Bufo for the review.

  2. andy
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Don’t think i’ve ever had to use electronic aids as much to clarify / confim answers but I did find it perfectly fair and very well clued. Got confused by the enumeration of (?) 13 24 16 18 as 3 2 1 6 whereas the grid suggests 3 2+1 3 3 but that’s probably pedantry on my part, seeing as it was one of my laugh out loud moments. favourites 30a and 8d, although there are a number of very close runner ups. Thanks Firefly and Bufo especially for 14a

  3. Gilbert
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    15d should be flustered

    • gazza
      Posted October 14, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Thanks – fixed now.

  4. pegasus
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    A truly tough Toughie took me ages to get 1a but onca solved made steady progress, Far too many good clues to single one out but I did like 1d. Many thanks to Firefly and to Bufo for the comments.

  5. chris
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Agree with the above comments.
    A fair workout with some puzzling moments.
    Although I am old fashioned I was unfamiliar with the use of “ruth” but there it is in Chambers.
    Some new bits like 5d and 22 & 26ac just show what a sheltered life I must have had.
    Curiously no problem with 22ac.
    Perhaps less happy about 2down. It is in Chambers under “sky” but I had not come across the alternative spelling before.
    But thank you to Firefly and to Bufo.Hope you are enjoying the sunshine!

  6. crypticsue
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    A superb Friday Toughie. There were times when I was 1a and 15d, not to mention 13/24/16/18 and I did have to check that 22d really existed. Definitely the most enjoyable Toughie of a great Toughie week, although I will agree that yesterday’s wasn’t exactly challenging. Thanks to Firefly for the wonderful puzzle and to Bufo – I bet Tilsit is very jealous that you got this one instead of him ;) . Do you always spend Friday mornings playing table tennis?

    • Bufo
      Posted October 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Tuesday and Friday are table tennis mornings. It used to be table tennis and badminton until a dodgy knee a year ago put an end to the badminton (for the time being at least).

      • BigBoab
        Posted October 15, 2011 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        I used to love a few sets of T.T. on my refreshment break when I was a Bobby ( a long time ago ) Dodgy knees , hips, ankles, wrists, hands etc., etc., put paid to all that. Now an ageing old bugger whose only fun comes from wonderful grandkids, kids and a long suffering wife and an addiction to Telegraph crosswords. Cheer up Bufo you have a long way to go I think. ( ps, I should have mentioned a long standing love affair with Man. City and Glasgow Rangers) Oh me miserum!

  7. Franco
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle – I nearly gave up without starting but somehow solved 1a as my first entry. Then, had to continue to the bitter end – with much help from electronic friends, Google etc!

    I had always thought that 1a was a made-up word by Ken Dodd! Or is that “Discomknockified”?

    • Shep
      Posted October 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      Discomknockerated, I think

  8. Jezza
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Having printed this off early this morning, I was unsure whether I would have time to get around to it; fortunately I did find a quiet spell at work mid-morning!
    Thanks to Firefly, and to Bufo for the analysis.

  9. upthecreek
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Wow! What a contest. Had never heard of 1a and that was the last one in , thanks to Onelook. Luckily, the other 3 outside clues were easy so that got me going. Didn’t like the 16/18 split as I don’t think they are words. Best were 9 11 12 15 and 29. Now for a lie down!

    • Bufo
      Posted October 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      The answer to 1a (or at least the infinitive of the verb) appeared in the Times Saturday crossword a couple of weeks ago and was still fairly fresh in my mind. The clue that day started with a dance.

      • Posted October 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        It was also in NTSPP-012 by Prolixic:

        1a Confuse – a dance album to be remastered (14)

        • upthecreek
          Posted October 14, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

          Is it acceptable to split a word as in 16/18? Although doo and dah may be proper words, though obscure, where was the definition?

  10. Posted October 15, 2011 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Sorry to be late again, but very enjoyable and a return to top form by Firefly.