Toughie 697

Toughie No 697 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This was a very entertaining puzzle which was not too difficult (although my slowness to solve 10 across did add a few minutes to my solving time). The theme was not difficult to spot. I had already solved two of the thematic answers and so had an idea what 6 down would be before I’d even looked at the clue.

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    6 is over after one day (7)
{FRIENDS} An American 6 down (1994-2004), set in Manhattan, is formed from ‘is over’ after the abbreviation for one of the days of the week

10a    18 an acceptable retreat? Not vital (7)
{UNALIVE} A reversal of a synonym of the answer to 18 down + AN + U (acceptable) gives ‘not vital’

11a    Party workers in for discomfort (9)
{ABASHMENT} I don’t see how this clue works. The answer means ‘discomfort’ and the middle 7 letters make up ‘a party’ and ‘workers’ , but I can’t see where the first and last letters come from. I can’t equate them to ‘for’ [I’m sure there is a phrase in which at can be used instead of for, but does this make them synonyms? BD]

12a    Anvil’s casing of iron — copper’s added (5)
{INCUS} The anvil (a bone in the ear) = the first and last letters of iron + the atomic symbol for copper ‘ + ‘S

13a    Break up second protest? (5)
{DEMOB} ‘To break up’ might be read as protest B (i.e. the one after protest A)

14a    White vinyl emulsion, no filling required (7)
{ALBUMEN} The white of an egg = vinyl (a long-playing record) + the first and last letters of emulsion

17a    6 likes flying (5,2,1,7)
{BIRDS OF A FEATHER} A British 6 down (1989-1998), set in Chigwell, are creatures that can fly

19a    Bill Clinton’s opening line about America results in indictment (7)
{ACCUSAL} The usual two-letter abbreviation denoting ‘bill’ + C (first letter of Clinton) + L (line) goes round America to give an indictment

21a    Lot of Buddhists prepare to feed the soul (5)
{KARMA} The lot (destiny) of Buddhists = ‘to prepare (equip with weapons)’ inside the soul within a person (in ancient Egypt)

24a    Bandage offered by female physician? (5)
{DRESS} ‘To bandage’ = an abbreviation for doctor followed by a suffix that denotes a female

26a    Innocent Greek character cruelly killed (9)
{CHILDLIKE} ‘Innocent’ = a letter of the Greek alphabet followed by an anagram (cruelly) of KILLED

27a    Outside I’m great at watersport (7)
{SURFACE} A word for the outside of something when taken as two words (4,3) suggests someone who is great at a particular watersport

28a    6 quite reflective about agony (7)
{SHELLEY} A British 6 down (1979-1984 & 1988-1992) is a reversal of ‘quite’ round ‘agony’


1d    An attack stops female having kittens (6)
{AFRAID} An attack goes round F (female) to give ‘having kittens’

2d    Pacifist admires negotiated end to war (8)
{DISARMER} A pacifist is an anagram (negotiated) of ADMIRES + R (last letter of war)

3d    6, not 18, applications to collect little book (2,3,5)
{ON THE BUSES} A British 6 down (1969-1973) is an anagram of NOT (with the answer to 18 down being the anagram indicator) + applications round the abbreviation for a book of the New Testament

4d    Air force, European with very loud 18, admitting time’s up (9)
{LUFTWAFFE} The German air force is a reversal (up) of E (European) + FF (very loud) + a synonym of the answer to 18 down round T (time)

5d    6 20 11 (4)
{TAXI} An American 6 down (1978-1983), set in New York, consists of a synonym for 20 down + the Roman numeral for 11

6d    Funny show featuring model and short groom (6)
{SITCOM} A funny TV programme = ‘to model’ + ‘to groom’ with the last letter missing

7d    I think about — without exception — Romeo (8)
{REASONER} Someone who thinks in a logical manner = ‘about’ + ‘without exception’ (2,3) + R (Romeo)

9d    Staunch support (4)
{STEM} 2 meanings: to staunch/a support

15d    6 billion miss out on summer (10)
{BLACKADDER} A British 6 down (1983-1989) + B (billion) + ‘to miss out on’ + summer (one who sums)

16d    Sick, day after botched facelift (9)
{AFFLICTED} ‘Sick’ = D (day) after an anagram (botched) of FACELIFT

17d    Flatter on the flat side? (8)
{BLANDISH} This word for ‘to flatter’ could also be thought to mean ‘somewhat flat (lacking interest)’

18d    Nasty puncture keeps posh car in the same place (8)
{HORRIBLE} ‘Nasty’ = a puncture containing U (posh) + an abbreviation for a posh make of car + an abbreviation meaning ‘in the same place’

20d    6 of clubs, hearts and always spades (6)
{CHEERS} An American 6 down (1982-1993), set in Boston, = C (clubs) + H (hearts) + ‘always’ + S (spades)

22d    A radical actively cuts four in pieces (6)
{ACETYL} A radical (in chemistry) is an anagram (in pieces) of ACT(IV)ELY, where IV (four) has been discarded (cut)

23d    Swinging while leaning (4)
{BIAS} Swinging (sexually) + ‘while’ = a leaning

25d    6 therefore beginning to apply pressure (4)
{SOAP} An American 6 down (1977-1981) = ‘therefore’ + A (first letter of apply) + P (pressure)

An excellent start to my New Year blogging


  1. BigBoab
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Not as difficult as I had first thought but wonderfully themed. Thanks to Anax/Elkamere for a most enjoyable crossword ( and for letting us newspaper solvers know about the wrong clue at 6d, it really was most important, unless of course one is as clever as Crypticsue) Thanks also to Bufo for an excellent review.

    • crypticsue
      Posted January 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Not clever at all, probably too half asleep to notice that I had read it three clues above!!

  2. Jezza
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was quite fun. I got 6d straight away, and realising the theme made it an easy puzzle to complete.
    I am glad I was not the only one who could not quite make 11a work. Plenty of good clues; I liked 5d for misdirecting me for a while.
    Thanks to Elkamere, and to Bufo.

  3. crypticsue
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    This was one of those puzzles which took a while to get started, had some trickiness interspersed with the easier ones, and ended up being solved in about my usual time for a medium weight Toughie. I didn’t notice the duplicate in 6d mainly because I had already thought of the solution word when I realised what the theme was. Thanks to Elkamere for a nice Thursday Toughie and to Bufo for the explanations.

  4. andy
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Ditto all of above, but thanks to Bufo for explaining the 1st and 5th letters of 21a. And thanks to Elkamere too

  5. Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Afternoon friends, and many thanks to Qix for the review.
    A quick note on AT/FOR. This was queried at editing – my ‘justification’ was its informal uses in phrases such as ‘What are you aiming at/for?’ and ‘We got there at/for 8 o’clock’. Like I say, both are informal speech, but they do have some interchangeability in these forms.

    • pommers
      Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Oops! We seem to have cross-posted!

    • Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Oops me too – I meant Bufo, not Qix.

      • Qix
        Posted January 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        Thought I’d had a promotion for a second there!

        I understood “for” = AT in the sense of “towards” (as in Anax’ first example). It’s a little tricky, but it works OK for me. I don’t think that the two are synonymous in the second sentence, though, because “for” really means “in time for”, rather than at the precise time. However, that doesn’t matter, since there’s no need for them to be synonymous in more than one sense.

        I enjoyed this puzzle a good deal. I liked 16d a lot, and admired 22d for being a coherent clue for a none-too-easy word.

        Thanks to Elkamere/Anax and to Bufo for the blog.

    • Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink


      I’m sorry but I don’t agree with you. I got there at 8 o’clock means I arrived at 8 o’clock. I got there for 8 o’clock means I arrived in time for an 8 o’clock start, and could have been there some time before.

      • Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        Must be a regional thing Dave. Correctly, ‘for 8pm’ means ‘by’, i.e. at that time or beforehand. But I’ve heard people say things like ‘We were there for exactly 8pm’. They were northerners. Anything goes.

        • spindrift
          Posted January 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          Ey up lad! Tha’s asking for a thick ear if yer start avin a go at northerners. We know ow to speak proper tha knows!

          • pegasus
            Posted January 5, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

            Well said Spindrift.

          • pommers
            Posted January 5, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

            Hi Spindrift – Anax lives not far from Manchester so I think he counts as a Northener!

            • spindrift
              Posted January 6, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

              No – If he lives on other side of middin then he’s a manc

              • Posted January 6, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

                Even worse than that Spindrift, I’m a …… Cheshire setter. Aaaaargh! Life among the footballers of Wilmslow and Alderley Edge.
                But I’m sure you’ll know my ‘northerner’ comment was very much tongue in cheek, by ‘eck.

    • Posted January 5, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Does being able to replace one word in a phrase with another word mean they are synonyms?

      Chambers definition is: A word or term used as an alternative to another of the same meaning

      In the example “What are you aiming at/for?” the synonyms are the phrasal verbs aim at and aim for.

  6. pommers
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Can’t help with 11a I’m afraid. Perhaps Elkamere will explain!
    Otherwise a nice puzzle and quite enjoyable.

    Thanks to Elkamere and Bufo.

  7. spindrift
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Good to get out of that darkened room in which I was incarcerated by Notabilis yesterday. Although I think a few of our younger listeners may still be languishing in there if they don’t know some of Elkamere’s theme words from the last century! Thanks to he & to Bufo for the review.

  8. pegasus
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Good puzzle pity about the gaffe at 6d (the main clue to the puzzle) some really nice surface readings favourites 5d 20d and 26a thanks to Elkamere and to Bufo for the review.

  9. Posted January 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I’ll have to look at this later as I made a short start at lunch on the train then left the paper in my haste to get to the next job!.

  10. Franco
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    As a paper reader, I’m looking forward to seeing the apology in tomorrow’s DT about 6d. The Toughies are hard enough without the “theme” clue being completely wrong. Congratulations to all paper readers who solved this!

    • Franco
      Posted January 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      PS! Dear Mr Crossword Editor,

      Can you, please, explain why sometimes the clues are different in the paper version and the on-line version? Why?????

    • crypticsue
      Posted January 6, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      No apology in today’s paper.

      • Posted January 6, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        We shouldn’t be too harsh.
        Without going into boring detail, the way crosswords are supplied to the Telegraph differs to what most setters are used to. While most of us (probably) use Crossword Compiler to set puzzles we don’t send a CC file; instead we export the clues into a .txt document template which is formatted in a bespoke way which generates the correct grid, clues and their enumerations. It’s a sensible way of doing things – tiny filesizes, and the ability of the newspaper’s own software to feed off the text file instructions.
        However, nothing is perfect. As I’m sure you’ll know, working with DTP software such as MS Word usually means looking at the keyboard more than the monitor, especially if you’re very busy – you rarely use on-screen icons; for my part, almost every formatting or editing thing I do is via keyboard shortcuts. And I can’t tell you how many times I look up at the monitor to see Word has done something silly like auto-format dates, insert bullets, suddenly switch to overwrite text instead of insert… or an accidental finger on the shift key has resulted in rows of capital letters. It’s also easy to accidentally put something on the clipboard or to paste something already on the clipboard.
        Somehow the clue at 3d must have ended up on the clipboard and got pasted in the wrong place. It happens, and it’s incredibly easy to not notice.

        • Franco
          Posted January 6, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

          Disappointed that Today’s DT (paper version) didn’t offer an explanation / apology about yesterday’s gaffe regarding 6d.

          How long is it before a crossword is submitted to the DT before it is actually published? Surely, time enough to avoid such mistakes!

          • Franco
            Posted January 6, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

            Oops! I’ve just noticed the comments from Phil McNeill – below. (We all make mistakes!!)

  11. Posted January 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Hello all

    Very sorry about the wrong clue in yesterday’s newspaper. I certainly would have published a correction and apology today if I had known about it. If you spot something like that, please do let me know ([email protected]). It’s particularly helpful if the problem is online, as Daniella or I can correct it straight away.

    Despite Anax’s explanation, this mishap did not derive from him: I must have pasted the updated clue for 3d in the wrong place when editing the newspaper version. Many apologies, and to Elkamere.


  12. Posted January 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    P.S. The annoying thing is that the change to 3d was so insignificant (inserting “little” to indicate that HEB was an abbreviation), it would have been better not to have messed with it at all. As any sub will know, the most dangerous thing you can do is a correction because most published errors are actually perpetrated while correcting something else. This being a prime example!

    Happy New Year