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Toughie 730

Toughie No 730 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Tilsit

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley and it’s time for some mental torture from Notabilis, and this was a ferocious battle. Like most superlative puzzles, this draws you in with a few ‘easier’ clues and then when you are engrossed, the ‘nasties’ leap you and nab you.

I managed to make a mistake at 21 across and this held up completing the final clue at 19. There are so many elegant clues and clever definitions here and it shows why our setter is one of the finest around and up there on the top table of crossword minds. I looked for a Nina, but couldn’t see one.

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    Sulphur and oxygen extracted from muscle of a range of shades (8)
{SPECTRAL} We start with a word that means of a range of shades or colours. Take S (Sulphur) and the name of a muscle found in your chest, removing O (for Oxygen).

9a    Where Mandarin may be forced and English squashed by men seeing red (8)
{ORANGERY} I got the answer to this fairly quickly, but understanding how it works proved a real challenge. The definition is somewhere when mandarin (fruits) may be forced (grown). An abbreviation that comes in handy to retain in the memory bank (I didn’t) is OR for men. It’s short for ‘other ranks’ and men as in soldiers. Add a word meaning cross or livid and insert E (English).

10a    Initially sceptical about new diagnostic procedure (4)
{SCAN} The word for a diagnostic procedure that I am extremely familiar with is revealed by taking S (initial letter of SCEPTICAL) and adding CA (abbreviation for circa meaning about)and N (new).

11a    Former long-distance traveller’s small step closer, almost crossing line (5,7)
{SPACE SHUTTLE} One of the clever definitions in today’s puzzle. A durable traveller (through the heavens) is made up of S (small), adding a word that means a small step. To this goes a word meaning a closer of things, minus its last letter (almost) and inserting (crossing) L (line).

13a    Aristocrat in iron shackles, gutless or daring? (8)
{FEARLESS} A member of the aristocracy goes inside FE (iron) and SS (the outer bits – gutless of SHACKLES). This reveals a word meaning daring or bold.

15a    Sabre we rattle shows such a person encouraging ferment? (6)
{BREWER} Hidden in ‘sabre we rattle’ is the name of someone who ferments with yeast, or the name associated with the a dictionary that should be essential if you like solving puzzles.

16a    Page included in dry list of features (4)
{SPEC} P(for page) goes inside the term in wine that means dry. This gives you a descriptive list often associated with contracts and tenders.

17a    Green after cold, where focus might be on the weather? (5)
{CLIME} A meteorological word is formed by taking C (cold) and adding a shade of green.

18a    Day to inhale northern air (4)
{TUNE} Place N (northern) inside the abbreviation for one of the days of the week and you have a word that means a piece of music.

20a    Frozen deposit is restricting for one administration (6)
{REGIME} More meteorology. Inside the name for a type of frost (hoar frost, I think), goes an abbreviation meaning ‘for one’ or for example’. This reveals a word meaning a government authority.

21a    Worthless sheep enclosure, nearly empty (8)
{TUPPENNY} The name for a type of ram is added to an enclosure for it, plus NY (NEARLY empties – i.e the ends). This gives you an adjective meaning worthless or cheap.

23a    Confused elector accepts minutes, not speaking for one out of office (12)
{TELECOMMUTER} One of those business ‘buzzwords’ for someone who works away from an office on line or by phone. You can find this by taking M (minutes) and a word meaning silent or unable to speak and placing them inside an anagram (confused) of ELECTOR.

26a    Insincere drivel, endlessly echoed (4)
{GLIB} Something that means insincere or trite I found by taking a word meaning drivel or (nautical) waste, removing the last letter and reversing it.

27a    Musical group hosting venerable but paltry affair (3-5)
{NON-EVENT) Something that means a function that’s a bit of a damp squib is revealed by taking the name of a musical group (of 9 people) and inserting the abbreviation for venerable.

28a    Tube fare? (2,6)
{TV DINNER} A nice cryptic definition for a ready meal is found by taking a word that ‘tube’ is an affectionate name for and something that means food or a meal.


2d Tonic and mediant caught by device on electric guitar (4-2-2)
{PICK-ME-UP} A device fitted to most electric guitars that produces a different sound or timbre has ME (mediant) inside to give the name for medicinal compound, as the Scaffold called it.

3d Positive treatment for tic (nervous tic), liberating one (12)
{CONSTRUCTIVE} A word that means positive or beneficial is an anagram of TIC NERVOUS TIC, minus one of the I’S.

4d Harry’s braver at heart in Potter’s final years (6)
{RAVAGE} A word that means to harry or destroy comprises AV (the heart of braver) inside R (final letter of Potter) + a word meaning years.

5d Giraffe’s gait is half like a spaniel or some rabbits (4)
{LOPE} 50% of the description of the auricular features of spaniels and rabbits is a way that giraffes move.

6d Had competence to keep hospital laundry safe? (8)
{WASHABLE} A description of clothing and how they are laundered is found by placing H (hospital) inside an expression (3,4) that means could or had the ability to do something.

7d Message in time and out of time (4)
{TEXT} A type of message de nos jours is found by solving the following word sum. An abbreviation for time + the short word meaning formerly or out of + the abbreviation for time again.

8d Mild oath, possibly Orwellian (2,6)
{BY GEORGE} A minor expletive is found by taking a cryptic description of how a work is written if it is Orwellian or music by Harrison of the Beatles.

12d One’s operated by console in front of screen (two essentials for transplant surgery) (7,5)
{THEATRE ORGAN} The sort of musical instrument that was associated with Reginald Dixon, Nigel Ogden and Ena Baga is a phrase made up of cryptic descriptions of two things essential for a transplant operation, namely the room and the thing transplanted.

14d Stony knight taken in by bit of satire (5)
{SKINT} N (knight in chess notation) goes inside a type of short satirical comedy drama to give a slang word for which stony is an equivalent piece or slang.

16d Nearly abandon minute perusal (8)
{SCRUTINY} Something that means perusal or examination is found by taking most of a word meaning cancel or annul and add to it one that means very small or minute.

17d Lead king to cut third letter for some Americans (8)
{CHEROKEE} The name for one of the Native indigenous American tribes is found by placing a word meaning lead or star of a film, especially an adventure one, and K (king) inside the name of the third letter of the alphabet.

19d Tenuous connection with North America’s present indignation (8)
{NANOWIRE} The last one I entered today and probably one of the more obvious ones, although I had got one of the crossing ones incorrect. NA (North America) + a word meaning the present; add a short word meaning anger or rage and you should get a very thin or fine way of connecting two things in for example, a computer.

22d Very unpleasant word to deliver (6)
{PUTRID} Something that means nasty, vile is found by adding a word meaning to deliver after something that means to have a word or address.

24d Featureless, leaderless and lifeless (4)
{LANK} An adjective that means featureless or dull (think ‘___ verse’). Remove the first letter, (leaderless) and you get a word that means lifeless or limp.

25d Dog needs iodine for its second paw (4)
{MITT} The slang name for a dog has its second letter (U) changed to I (chemical symbol for Iodine) to give the name for a paw or a type of glove.

Apologies for the brevity today, have to dash off as I’m going to get my legs lagged by a lovely nurse.

Thanks to Notabilis for a fine challenge. See you all next week,!

11 comments on “Toughie 730

  1. Most of the ‘nasties’ I found to be in the bottom half of the puzzle; with the top half completed I had only two filled in beneath.
    Thanks to Notabilis for an enjoyable tussle, and to Tilsit for the notes.

  2. Bit different for me Jezza – I had all the righthand side completed and very little on the left ! It was eventually spottin 2d and 16d that opened up that side :roll:

    This was a wonderful and elegant puzzle IMHO and a perfect Toughie !

    Too many good clues to pick a stand-out favourite but 11a is worth a mention in despatches.

    Thanks to Notabilis and Tilsit.

  3. Very enjoyable toughie from Notablis, as Tilsit used to say, a bit of a curates egg. I really thought it was a dawdle at first with some fairly simple clues but then it just got tougher and more fun. Thanks to Notablis and to Tilsit for the hints.

  4. Ferocious Friday fun, thank you Notabilis. I got about two thirds of the way through and then had to leave it to cogitate while I was at the photocopier for an hour and a half. Tippex was employed in a few places, so easy to put the wrong word in – they did make sense at the time, honest.

    Thanks to Tilsit for the review too.

    1. I had LAIN, as in “lain to rest” = lifeless and (P)LAIN, D’oh! Didn’t help with 27a which I was beginning to think was something I’d never heard of!

  5. Not sure about 5* difficulty as I put Giovanni to one side, turned to Notabalis solved and returned still stumped to Giovanni! Probably 3* for me. Definite 5* for fun and entertainment – thanks to Notabilis for the crossword and to Tilsit for the review.

  6. Usual high standard from todays setter, lots of well crafted clues, favourites 8d 12d and 28a thanks to Notabilis for the challenge and to Tilsit for the dissection.

  7. after many days of hospital visits and all sorts of unpleasantness am trying to catch up, after much cogitation, alas not at a photocopier, I feel really good to have completed “ahem” this unaided, but I haven’t as because for the life of me I can’t make head nor tail of 22d. I know i will bang my head on the table when explained, but frankly i’d rather not break any more bones!! Any help much appreciated guys / gals. I did giggle at 28a, thanks to Tilsit and Notabilis

  8. Sackcloth and ashes time, bring on the birch twigs. As ever thanks Gazza. Am of the opinion that completeing a grid is not the same as finishing it, i.e. could I blog it!! Cap doffed. Am now in a wheelchair for a while as broke left ankle falling down a staircase in a crowd. Right wrist in plaster still. Live in a first floor flat and need help with Thabo so once again friends prove invaluable. This site should help me stay sane!!!!

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