Toughie 670

Toughie No 670 by Notabilis

A collection of things!

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

I tend to run out of superlatives when reviewing a Notabilis puzzle. This one hits exactly the right mark for the Toughie genre … and there’s a Nina running along the long diagonals to boot!

A selection of the very best clues are highlighted in blue – my favourite was the elegantly simple 4 down because there were a few moments before the theatrical penny dropped with a loud clang.

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    Spread tale with extremely sordid links? (4,3,4)
{KISS AND TELL} – a cryptic definition of an anagram (spread) of TALE S(ordi)D LINKS gives an exposé of one’s sexual adventures with a celebrity in this all-in-one/&Lit clue

9a    To indemnify French cathedral site, European must encase rough edge (9)
{REIMBURSE} – a verb meaning to indemnify is created by putting the site of a French cathedral and E(uropean) around (must encase) a rough edge to a line made by an engraving tool, which, when the plate is inked, gives a further quality to the line

10a    Regulator of volume brought in to see what’s in a pint? (5)
{VALVE} – this device used to regulate is constructed by putting V(olume) inside (brought in) V (vide, the Latin for see) and a beer (pint)

11a    Selection of quiches, typically stacked (6)
{CHESTY} – hidden inside (selection of) two of the words in the clue is a word meaning stacked or well-endowed

12a    Girl touring (along with maiden) subcontinent, perhaps (8)
{LANDMASS} – put a young girl around a conjunction meaning “along with” and M(aiden) to get a large area (subcontinent, perhaps)

13a    Book in large paper size — which one has back covers? (6)
{ISAIAH} – this Book of the Bible is derived by putting a large paper size (2) inside (which … covers) I and HAS reversed (back)

15a    Antonio disconcerted after Duke’s largesse (8)
{DONATION} – put an anagram (disconcerted) of ANTONIO after D(uke) to get this largesse or bequest

18a    Heroic character’s run through destiny (8)
{LANCELOT} –this heroic Knight of the Round Table is a charade of a verb meaning to run through or pierce with destiny or fate

19a    Deputy in convent dismisses six for display of affection (6)
{CARESS} – start with the abbess’s deputy in a convent and drop the initial two letters, which are the Roman numerals for six, to get this display of affection

21a    Pacific explorer crossing wild sea with Banks’s beginning patient record (8)
{CASEBOOK} – put this Captain who explored the Pacific around (crossing) an anagram (wild) of SEA and the initial letter ()beginning of Banks to get the record of a patient in a surgery or hospital

23a    Dear Father, as used in Irish letter (6)
{LAMBDA} – a charade or an informal word for a dear or loved one and an Irish word for father gives this letter in the Greek alphabet

26a    Head of nuclear authority reviewed a lake (5)
{NYASA} – start with the initial letter (head) of Nuclear the reverse (reviewed) authority and end with A from the clue to get a lake in east central Africa which is also called Lake Malawi

27a    Translation of casual Zen passage (4,5)
{SUEZ CANAL} – an anagram (translation) of CASUAL ZEN gives a passage between the Mediterranean and Red Seas

28a    Mo left behind the leader? (5,6)
{SPLIT SECOND} – this very brief interval of time is a charade of a word meaning left or departed and the one behind the leader


1d    Port area captured by king, cunning one (7)
{KARACHI} – this Pakistani port is created by putting A(rea) inside K(ing) and a word meaning cunning and then adding I (one)

2d    Brute strength with weight lifting (5)
{SWINE} – to get this brute start with a word meaning strength or muscle and then move (lift in a down clue the W(eight) from the bottom to near the top

3d    Decide a router’s initial connection speed? (9)
{ARBITRATE} – to get this verb meaning to decide, start with A and the initial letter of Router and then add the speed of transmission on an internet connection

4d    Deserted rescue vessel between runs (4)
{DARK} – a charade of D(eserted) and the vessel used by Noah to rescue pairs of animals gives an adjective used to describe a theatre between runs of a play

5d    Means of raising energy tax in part that’s mounting (8)
{ELEVATOR} – this means of raising someone from one floor of a building to another is created by putting E(nergy) and a tax levied on goods and services inside the reversal (mounting in a down clue) of a part in a play

6d    With head ten times bigger, intensely coloured black and blue (5)
{LIVID} – replace the initial letter, the Roman numeral for five, with the one for five multiplied by ten in an adjective meaning intensely coloured to get one meaning black and blue

7d    US thinker takes forever to span seas to the French (7)
{EMERSON} – the surname of Ralph, the American philosopher and poet, is derived by putting an exceedingly long time (forever) around (to span) the French for seas

8d    In leg it is slightly … itchy? (4-4)
{FLEA-BITE} – start with a word meaning to leg it or run away and then insert a two-word phrase meaning slightly (1,3) to get something that may irritate

14d    No retainer as ice man is sacked (8)
{AMNESIAC} – someone who finds it difficult to retain information is an anagram (sacked) of AS ICE MAN

16d    Flood or upsurge of volcanic material before long, around noon (9)
{AVALANCHE} – this flood is built up from the reversal (upsurge, yet another down-clue only construct) od volcanic material followed by a verb meaning to long or crave around N(oon)

17d    Great point between peaks above Greek mountain lake … (8)
{COLOSSAL} – this adjective meaning great or enormous is a charade of the point between peaks, a mountain in Thessaly, NE Greece, and L(ake)

18d    … French one mostly frozen and crisp (7)
{LACONIC} – start with the French for lake (the ellipsis indicates continuing on from the previous clue) then add most of a two-word phrase meaning frozen to get an adjective meaning crisp or brief

20d    Notice medium appearing in upcoming 1980s TV series (5,2)
{SMALL AD} – this notice in the classified section of a newspaper is created by putting M(edium) inside the reversal of the 1980s television series about the Ewing family

22d    Sauce or gravy? (5)
{BRASS} – a double definition – cheek (sauce) or money (gravy)

24d    Irish frontman welcoming good bit of percussion (5)
{BONGO} – put the frontman of my unfavourite Irish group around G(ood) to get a percussion instrument

25d    Handy boundaries for double fault (4)
{DEFT} – an adjective meaning handy is derived from the outside letters (boundaries) of the last two words in the clue

Tilsit is welcome to visit the nurses at the Calderdale Royal Hospital the next Friday that there is a puzzle by Notabilis!

If you haven’t spotted the Nina, reveal the answer between the curly brackets below:

{KIT AND on the NW – SE diagonal and CABOODLE on the SW – NE one}


  1. Qix
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Very nice puzzle, and sneaky nina.

    1a is an anagram (spread) of TALE S(ordi)D LINKS, and is supposed to be an “all-in-one” or “&lit” clue.

    Thanks to Notabilis for the Friday fun, and BD for the blog.

    • Posted November 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      I’m already eating humble pie on that one! I did look for an anagram, but at the time I thought the answer might be “show and tell”.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    A perfect Friday Toughie. The right hand side went in first, bit by bit, and then the rest of it put up a valient fight until the last penny dropped. Thanks to Notabilis – my favourites include 1a (like Qix I had spotted the anagram and & Lit – Gnomey please note:) ) 14d and 20d, my top favourite being 8d. Thanks to BD for the blog too. I am still looking for the sneaky nina.

    • Posted November 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Try using a ruler – that’s what I did!

      • Posted November 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        … and there’s a hint in the sub-heading!

  3. pegasus
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant offering yet again from todays setter favourites among a host of others 2d 4d 8d and 28a thanks to Notabilis and to Big Dave for a fine review.

  4. gazza
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Excellent stuff. Thanks to Notabilis and BD (especially for identifying the Nina which, as usual, I missed completely). My favourite clue (for the d’oh moment) is 8d.

    • Qix
      Posted November 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you and Sue – 8d is absolutely delicious.

  5. gnomethang
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Top quality as ever! 1a and 8d were sublime. I was defeated by the definition in 4d although I sort of had the word!
    Thanks to BD and Notabilis.

  6. Jezza
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    The best Toughie of the week! A perfect level of difficulty for a Toughie puzzle. The only one I failed to explain was 10a.
    Many thanks to Notabilis, and to BD for the review.

  7. Prolixic
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant as ever. Thanks to Notabalis for the challenge and to BD for the review.

  8. Posted November 18, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I can’t pretend that I solved more than a quarter unaided but it was very enjoyable. Thanks to the setter and the retriever.

  9. Bufo
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable. I toyed with BOATS at 22 down (sauce boats/gravy boats) but quickly decided that neither Notabilis or the editor would have sanctioned it.

    • Posted November 18, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      I’m in good company then!

    • Posted November 18, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

      Brass is certainly the answer that was accepted online – funnily enough I never even considered boats!

      • crypticsue
        Posted November 18, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

        I toyed briefly with boats but decided that wasn’t quite right for a Toughie clue, if you see what I mean.

        • Qix
          Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

          If the answer had been BOATS, it would have been two virtually identical definitions-by-example, without any further indication, which would be very weak.

          This is a clever clue, because it uses two synonyms for the DD, both requiring alternative, and quite different, meanings for the cryptic reading. Very nice.

  10. jaehancock
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe I actually finished this, but two answers were slight guesses and I had to come here to find out why. I guessed 4d because of D and rescue vessel, but did not understand the ‘between runs’ reference (I was convinced it was something to do with cricket – the theatre never occurred to me), and I didn’t understand the full explanation of 10a either – I understood volume and the beer part, but not where the extra v came from. Thank heavens for BD’s blog – otherwise my poor brain might have been forever pondering the ‘whys’. Thank you also to the brilliant setter who really stretched my brain (even if I didn’t understand all the ‘whys’ without help).