Toughie 750

Toughie No 750 by Micawber

A Very Good Friday

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

Welcome to the first holiday weekend of the year and we are treated to a splendid Toughie by Micawber who for me if one of the finest of the new setters on the block. Our genial setter produces lovely clues, some with a topical bias and some that make you smile. Quite a few cryptic definitions in today’s puzzle, so a little thinking outside your Easter egg box may be required.

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. Favourite clues are highlighted in blue.


1a    Current international movements a response to ‘One good turn deserves another’? (5,5)
{TRADE WINDS} We start today with a double cryptic definition. The first refers to currents blowing toward the thermal equator and deflected westward by the eastward rotation of the earth, the second suggests swapping turns, but you need to pronounce the second word as if it has a “y” in the middle

6a    Knock back brandy and stuff (4)
{CRAM} The name of a sort of brandy is reversed to give something that means to stuff.

9a    Making money, millions, thanks to Sarkozy’s investment in fossil fuel (10)
{COMMERCIAL} Inside a type of fossil fuel goes M (millions) plus how Nicolas Sarkozy says thanks gives you a word that means cash generating.

10a    And I forgot to mention — liberal unionist got in (4)
{PLUS} The definition in this clue is “and”. An abbreviation meaning something added has L (liberal) + U (unionist) inside.

12a    A sacrifice, to marry sadly without love (6)
{MARTYR} A word that refers to a sacrifice is an anagram of TO MARRY minus O (love).

13a    Risk to make peace? (8)
{ENDANGER} Something that means to risk is cryptically described (3,5) as being to make peace, i.e. not to continue with hostility or rage.

15a    Not a screwball sitcom, funny about heartless men of letters (6,6)
{COMPOS MENTIS} A Latin phrase that means sane, not deranged is an anagram (funny) of SITCOM with a word that is cryptically defined as ‘men of letters’ [imagine if Rufus had put this part of the clue in one of his puzzles, what would he be referring to?], minus its middle letter (heartless)

18a    Signal of everyone staying at home? (7,5)
{TRAFFIC LIGHT} A phrase for a type of signal is the description of the bank holiday roads when nobody is going out.

21a    See you around Thursday (in passing) (2,3,3)
{BY THE BYE} A phrase that refers to in passing is an expression that means “See you” or “Farewell” around TH (Thursday).

22a    I’ve a ghostly air, perhaps to transfix (6)
{IMPALE} How a ghost would describe itself, when fused together, provides a word meaning to transfix.

24a    Instrument of ivory with note missing (4)
{OBOE} A type of musical instrument is found by taking O (of) and adding a word that means ivory minus N (for note).

25a    E.g. hock, lip or cheek as basis for recipe? (5,5)
{WHITE SAUCE} The basis for many dishes in cookery is revealed by identifying the type of wine that hock is and adding to it a word that means impertinence.

26a    Stripped back as part of redundancies (4)
{NUDE} Reversed inside the word REDUNDANCIES is a word that means stripped.

27a    Underworld figure, risqué, controlling clubs for wealthy elite (10)
{PLUTOCRACY} The word that relates to Government by the wealthy elite (hmm… we have 50 % of them at the moment!) is found by taking the name of one of the main gods of the Underworld in mythology, adding a word that means risqué or spicy and then inserting C (for clubs, in cards).


1d    Book about company not yet out? (2,4)
{TO COME} A phrase that means not yet available is revealed by taking a word for a volume of a book and placing it around CO (company).

2d    Advance money, in terrible surroundings, to find attractive rate (6)
{ADMIRE} A (advance) is added to a word that means dreadful or terrible and inside this goes M (money). This reveals something that means to find attractive.

3d    English opera at first opens pianissimo, crescendoing in the middle occasionally (5,2,5)
{EVERY SO OFTEN} Quite complicated this one. After E (English) goes the definition of the musical definition ‘pianissimo’ with O (the first letter of opera) inside it and the middle letters of CRESCENDOING afterwards, to reveal an expression that means occasionally.

4d    Old American food container missing base and lid (4)
{INCA} The name for one of the old inhabitants of (South) America is the name for a metal container minus its first and last letters.

5d    Detective professing limits to knowledge, but identifying problem (10)
{DIAGNOSTIC} An abbreviation for a detective is added to the name for someone who probably won’t be interested in today’s reasons for the holiday. This gives you an adjective that means identifying a problem.

7d    Downgrade Eurozone’s foremost member in valuation (8)
{RELEGATE} Another nice topical clue. A word that means downgrade is found by taking E (Eurozone’s first – foremost), adding something often defined in crosswords as a member and placing it all inside something that refers to a valuation.

8d    Suspect source of damp and decay (8)
{MISTRUST} Something that means suspect is found by taking words that mean fine damp spray and metal decay.

11d    People mentioned in France’s ‘I accuse’ forced to accept consequences (4,3,5)
{FACE THE MUSIC} After F (France) goes an anagram (forced) of “I ACCUSE” with something that refers to ‘those people’ inside. This gives a phrase that means to accept the consequences of an action.

14d    Strangely happy tale essentially receiving zero credit — spurious (10)
{APOCRYPHAL} A word that means spurious or by word of mouth is an anagram of HAPPY, plus AL (the ‘essential’ bit of TALE) with O CR (zero credit) inside.

16d    Raising objections, by nature awkward (8)
{STUBBORN} Reverse something that relates to objections and add a word that means ‘nature’ to give a description of someone who is awkward or obstinate.

17d    Drew on shoddy material to shorten dictionary (8)
{TATTOOED} A word sum. Cheap and nasty rubbish (often antique) + TO + the abbreviation for a famous dictionary (not the Big Red One) gives a word meaning to drew or etched on someone.

19d    Gap year’s coming up around second of October (not November) (6)
{LACUNA} The name for a gap in poetry is found by reversing a word relating to a year, removing N (for November) and inserting C (second letter of OCTOBER).

20d    This is the reason for report — to Inquisition? (6)
{HERESY} I suspect this clue may bring out the Marmite brigade! If you think of a way of saying “This is the reason that the Spanish Inquisition investigated things” and turn it into a homophone. This will give you the charge that most of the Inquisition victims faced. Usually…….

23d    Revise test? No, don’t revise (4)
{STET} An anagram (revise) of TEST gives a printer’s instruction meaning ‘let it stand’.

Thanks to Micawber for a splendid challenge that heralds a really good day of puzzles. Check out the other puzzles today in the Guardian, FT and Times, all splendid!


  1. crypticsue
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I was really looking forward to solving this Toughie and coupled with a post blog-writing cup of tea and hot cross bun it did not disappoint. For me it was 3* difficulty but definitely 5* fun. I have similar favourites to those Tilsit outlines in blue above, but my clue of the day has to be the d’oh of the day penny dropping moment when I realised why 20d was what it was.

    Thanks to Micawber – more please soon – and to Tilsit too.

  2. Posted April 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi Tilsit

    Love Marmite (had cheese, Marmite and coleslaw butties for lunch) and loved 20d :grin:

    This was my sort of Toughie – no themes and no really obscure words (apart from 19d perhaps which fell easily from the clear wordplay), just tricky clues very elegantly written – more from Micawber please!

    Thanks to Micawber and Tilsit.

    • spyndryft
      Posted April 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      I can understand the cheese & marmite but the coleslaw…I prefer a poached egg with the C&M combo on toast

      • Posted April 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        I know it sounds an unlikely combination but it does work. It was a favourte of a guy I shared a house with when a student so I had to give it a go and was pleasantly surprised.

    • crypticsue
      Posted April 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      I can’t eat cheese any more sadly, but if I could I certainly wouldn’t put that nasty black stuff anywhere near it!

    • Kath
      Posted April 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      … sounds absolutely ghastly – really can’t imagine anything worse, and this is coming from someone who can, and does, eat everything!

  3. Posted April 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Most enjoyable, all the more so for having completed it unaided. :-) A Good Easter to all.

  4. andy
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    ****/**** for me, sat solving at a beer festival so slightly distracted, hic hic. CS d’oh moment mirrored mine. Thanks Tilsit and Micawber

    • crypticsue
      Posted April 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Careful how you stand up – we don’t want any more broken bones :D

  5. pegasus
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Classy puzzle from a classy setter, too many favourites to mention but 20d was a bit special thanks to Micawber for a delightful experience and to Tilsit for the review.

  6. Kath
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Had a go at this one – started off really well and then ground to a complete halt and absolutely couldn’t get going again. :sad.
    Then had another try – nothing! I know this is a toughie and I’m not complaining at all – all I am saying is that this is too difficult for me. I’ve now resorted to the hints and have managed most (but not all) of them from the hint without needing to look at the answer. The only one that STILL defeats me is 20d – really sorry to be dim but I just don’t understand.
    Lots of clues that I did get and appreciate – 9, 22 and 27a and 5 and 11d.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Tilsit for the very much needed hints.

    • franco
      Posted April 6, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      20d – Here is Why = Here’s Y = Heresy.

      I still don’t understand 1a!

      • Posted April 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

        1a Current international movements a response to ‘One good turn deserves another’? (5,5)

        Current international movements – trade winds

        a response to ‘One good turn deserves another’ – trade (exchange) winds (as in turns)

    • upthecreek
      Posted April 6, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      Kath. 20d The 1st part of the clue can be written as ‘here’s why’. i am still struggling with NE corner and I think I will have to sleep on it.

    • Kath
      Posted April 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Franco and UTC – I would NEVER have worked that out!

  7. Qix
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    This was good, even by Micawber’s high standards. Top-notch stuff.

  8. Steve_the_beard
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Boy, that was hard! Excellent and enjoyable, but hard! Is the star rating on a logarithmic scale? Discuss…

    It is interesting to see how we all differ. I am in no way a medical man, but I got 19D from its medical usage; looking at the hints after completion (which answered a few “but why” question, thanks!), the reference to poetry would have told me nothing at all!

    Re 20D; after I’d done the Cryptic, and before I’d even looked at the Toughie, I saw in the Cryptic hints the comments about the wordplay in 20D, and STILL it was the last one in…

    Thanks to Micawber and Tilsit.

  9. spyndryft
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Judging by the lack of comments I do hope nobody got hurt by the number of towels being thrown into the ring…still it was good to get a good few answers in then look at Tilsit’s review to backsolve the rest. Many thanks to Micawber and to Tilsit.

  10. Jezza
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle! Managed most of it last night over a pint (waiting to collect our lamb curry), and finished the last couple this morning.
    Thanks to Micawber for the entertainment, and to Tilsit for the sterling review.