Toughie 753

Toughie No 753 by Messinae

I am not a number, I am a free man!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

This turned out to be a gentle solve which posed no significant problems. There is a bit of a theme in that 16, 21, 7, 14, 3 and 27 form a sequence.

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    Man’s quality as sinner (10)
{MALEFACTOR} Man (4) + quality (6) = a sinner

6a    Mad about pink (4)
{STAB} A reversal of ‘mad’ gives ‘to pink (pierce)’

10a    One brought in article to fence primarily (5)
{THIEF} I (one) inside the definite article + the first letter of fence = a person who might bring in an article to fence

11a    Actor McKellen after taking lead in ‘Troilus’ spoke with passion (9)
{TRAGEDIAN} The first name of the actor McKellen follows T (first letter of Troilus) and ‘spoke with passion’ to give an actor not noted for comic roles

12a    Beside expression of disgust, that is what this is (7)
{TOUGHIE} ‘Beside’ (2) + an expression of disgust (3) + ‘that is’ (2) is what you are solving

13a    What could make me a lord (7)
{EARLDOM} An anagram of *ME A LORD is what could make me a lord

14a    Press for the country to accommodate upper class (6,6)
{FOURTH ESTATE} A term for the press = FOR THE country round U (upper class)

18a    Mathematical expressions favoured getting worked out quite easily for the most part (12)
{INEQUALITIES} Mathematical expressions = ‘favoured’ (2) + an anagram (worked out) of QUITE EASILY after the final letter has been removed

21a    Gives support to company mentioned in dispatches (7)
{SECONDS} ‘Gives support’ = the abbreviation for company inside ‘dispatches’

23a    Temporary housing for European is fit (7)
{INTERIM} ‘Temporary’ = E (European) inside ‘fit’ (2,4)

24a    Aussie landmark serving sorry cake (5,4)
{AYERS ROCK} A landmark in central Australia is an anagram (serving) of SORRY CAKE

25a    See fit to be uncertain (5)
{VAGUE} A one-letter abbreviation for ‘see’ + a shivering fit = ‘uncertain’

26a    Information a little backward (4)
{DATA} Information is a reversal of A and an informal (originally North American) term for a little amount

27a    Uncanny feeling displaying wanton sexiness around Thursday (5,5)
{SIXTH SENSE} An uncanny feeling of sorts = an anagram (wanton) of SEXINESS round TH (Thursday)


1d    Change dog biting a European (6)
{MUTATE} ‘To change’ = a dog (probably a mongrel) round A + E (European)

2d    Dial apparently out of service (4,2)
{LAID UP} A reversal of DIAL + a reversal indicator = ‘out of service’

3d    Subversive element mount this cliff treacherously (5,9)
{FIFTH COLUMNIST} A subversive element (originally in the Spanish Civil War) is an anagram (treacherously) of MOUNT THIS CLIFF

4d    See centre around the fat turning up (9)
{CATHEDRAL} The central feature of a see (diocese) = an abbreviation for ‘around’ + THE + a reversal of a type of fat

5d    Speak out over speed (5)
{ORATE} ‘To speak out’ = O (over) + speed

7d    One in field’s subject of film (5,3)
{THIRD MAN} A fielding position in cricket = the subject of a film starring Orson Welles as the title character

8d    Count cut down in plot made powerless (8)
{BENUMBED} Remove the last letter of ‘to count’ and put it inside a plot (in the garden). This gives ‘made powerless’

9d    Harry Potter services exhibitions (14)
{RETROSPECTIVES} An anagram (harry) of POTTER SERVICES gives exhibitions

15d    Got out more than half of rugby ground in success (3,6)
{HIT WICKET} How a batsman might have got out = the first six letters of a famous rugby ground inside a success

16d    Sedate Douglas perhaps preceding emergency treatment (5,3)
{FIRST AID} ‘Sedate’ is preceded by the type of tree of which Douglas is a variety. This gives emergency treatment

17d    Maybe pirate’s trunk is painful when crew is around (3,5)
{SEA CHEST} A seaman’s trunk = ‘is painful’ inside a crew

19d    Monster to go slowly (6)
{DRAGON} A fire-breathing monster when split (4,2) = ‘to go slowly’

20d    French physicist a legislator before (6)
{AMPERE} A French physicist after whom an SI unit is named = A + legislator (2) + before (3)

22d    Oriental board game is sort of ‘Go-ish’ (5)
{SHOGI} The Japanese game of chess is an anagram (sort of) of GO-ISH. I didn’t know this word but it was obvious from the wordplay

I didn’t find this puzzle terribly exciting

From today’s Telegraph:

PHANTOM TOUGHIE 751:  On Tuesday we inadvertently published Toughie 758 instead of Toughie 751, by Warbler.  If you would like a copy of Toughie 751 plus its solution, please email [email protected] (putting ‘Phantom Toughie 751’ in the subject line), or send a self-addressed envelope to Phantom Toughie, Puzzles, Telegraph Media Group, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT.   There will be a new Toughie 758 on its rightful date of April 20.

Please note that this is not a regularly used email address, so emails sent to that address are unlikely to be read after this period.


  1. Jezza
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    A very gentle toughie, but I enjoyed it. Thanks to Messinae, and to Bufo for the notes.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Gentle but enjoyable. LIked the theme. Thanks to Bufo and Messinae.

    • crypticsue
      Posted April 12, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Forgot to say, I did really like 4d – what a change to have a ‘see’ related clue that didn’t refer to Ely.

  3. BigBoab
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Great fun but not very tough. Thanks to Messinae and to Bufo.

  4. pegasus
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Ditto all the above, favourites were 11a 15d and 27a thanks to Messinae and to Bufo for the comments.

  5. michaelswanston
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Confusion reigned for me with 6a. I had sore as an anagram of rose from pink. Nevertheless a most enjoyable puzzle. Thanks setter and Bufo.

    • gazza
      Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      None of the Telegraph setters would use a construct like that – it’s an indirect anagram, i.e. you have first to find a synonym then make an anagram of it. That is a two-stage process and is deemed to be unfair and therefore verboten.

      • michaelswanston
        Posted April 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that Gazza.

  6. wbgeddes
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Would anyone care to explain why the first letter in 25A should be a V?

    • crypticsue
      Posted April 12, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      The instant answer is ‘because it is listed under V in Chambers as an abbreviation for see’. Further research indicates that it is the abbreviation for Vide, the Latin word meaning see or look at as in Vide 63, see page 63

      • Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        This came up only two days ago in Toughie 751:

        19d See what I regularly called HGV perhaps (7)

        It’s a pity that newpaper-only solvers didn’t get to see this one (but it’s not too late to get a copy – there are instructions at the bottom of this post).

        • franco
          Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

          As a newspaper-only solver, thanks for the info regarding Toughie 751. The DT have replied very promptly! Astounded!

      • wbgeddes
        Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        Still don’t get it.

        • Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          In various publications one might see v or q.v. (meaning quod videt – that which should be seen) to refer you to another passage or reference. This makes them acceptable abbreviations for their english counterparts (v. recipe! ;-) )

          • wbgeddes
            Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            Oh how v silly of me. I V v clealry now.

          • wbgeddes
            Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

            Those that put in easy grammar school abbreviations for whole words for the back page will presumably be offerring B for well (bene) and Q for that (quad). Etc. It’s a coinceit and whilst allowable either only on a toughie or a 4* plus on back page.

            • Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

              But v. exists on its own. I wouldn’t like to see b. for ‘Bene’ or q. for Quod on their own in the same way that I wouldn’t like to see e.g. split but am happy to see it used for SAY. Its not really a conceit, more of an allowed convention.

              • wbgeddes
                Posted April 12, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

                It’s a conceit and for anyone who’s new to crypics needs to ne sidlelined as a 4* plus for the strokey beard bllx that it is

                • Posted April 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

                  I would disagree. I wouldn’t join a bridge club and expect to tailor the rules. I would expect to at least learn som conventions with appropriate reference material. Chambers (dictionary, thesaurus and Crossword abbreviations are a good start!).

                  • WB Geddes
                    Posted April 13, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

                    Point made and taken. I withdraw my criticism.

            • crypticsue
              Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

              I went to a grammar school but I did German not Latin but have acquired and remembered all these Latin abbreviations over many years and by solving many many crosswords..

  7. Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Agree with the assesments above – took a bit longer than the back-pager but I enjoyed it (and completely missed the ordinal numbers!). Thanks to Messinae and to Bufo for the review.

  8. upthecreek
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    I thought I was in seventh heaven with this one but it didn’t turn up. I liked the numerical theme which made it a bit easier. Favourite was 12 which gave me a laugh but I thought all the clues were very good. Two great Thursdays on the trot.