Toughie 821

Toughie No 821 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A few tricky down answers at the end pushed my time into the 4* difficulty zone. I’ll be interested to here whether other solvers had problems or whether I was having an off-day.

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,3a & 6a    Frequently t-t- … (4,5,4)
{TIME AFTER TIME} ‘t’ is an abbreviation for the first and third words of the answer and one of these words follows the other to give ‘frequently’

8a    … turducken, for instance, is warmed up (or not) at spread (11,4)
{PORTMANTEAU WORD} I’ve never heard of turducken but it turns out to be a dish eaten at Thanksgiving and the name is derived from TURkey + DUCK + chickEN. The answer is an anagram (spread) of WARMED UP OR NOT AT and is the type of term of which turducken is an example

9a    Stick notice in Telegraph Puzzles? (6)
{ADHERE} ‘To stick’ = a notice + where it would have been were it in the Telegraph puzzles when you were solving them

10a    Coax first of calves away from toxic plant (6,2)
{BUTTER UP} ‘To coax’ or ‘to flatter’ is obtained by removing C (first letter of calves) from a common yellow flower (which I didn’t know were poisonous)

11a    Tasteful China tea? On the contrary (8)
{CHARMING} ‘Tasteful’ is obtained from tea + china (from China). The ‘on the contrary’ indicates that you want ‘tea + china’ rather than ‘china + tea’

13a    Perversion follows a dismal passage (6)
{SADISM} A perversion is hidden in followS A DISMal. Hands up all those who have read Fifty Shades of Grey

15a    Having a tiff in a skiff? (6)
{ROWING} ‘Having a tiff’ is also how you propel a skiff

17a    Buffet guy in Basra with detonation (5,3)
{SALAD BAR} A buffet (of food) = a guy inside an anagram (with detonation) of BASRA

19a    Insurgent penetrates renowned computer plant (8)
{HAREBELL} An insurgent goes inside the name of the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey to give a blue flower

21a    Elite mountaineer, after French pulled back, bagging Himalayan peak (6)
{SHERPA} A member of a Nepalese people noted for their mountaineering skills is obtained by reversing the French word for ‘after’ and putting it round H (first letter of Himalayan)

22a    Three measures activists list at gathering (5,10)
{VITAL STATISTICS} An anagram (gathering) of ACTIVISTS LIST AT gives a woman’s bust, waist and hip measurements. I really must learn how to add pictures to my blog

23a,24a & 25a    Unconventional instruction on tablets for stomach? (4,5,4)
{TAKE LYING DOWN} ‘To stomach’ appears to be instructions that you probably won’t find on tablets (but which might be followed if you’re confined to bed)


1d    Maybe Flatley pranced a pirouette on table-top (3,6)
{TAP DANCER} Michael Flatley is one of these. It is an anagram (pirouette) of PRANCED A after T (first letter of table-top)

2d    Drug to transform extremes of insomnia (7)
{MORPHIA} A drug obtained from opium = ‘to transform’ + the first and last letters of InsomniA

3d    Stirring hint of nectarine in a weak gin — uncouth! (9)
{AWAKENING} ‘Stirring’ = N (first letter of nectarine) inside an anagram (uncouth) of A WEAK GIN

4d    Receptacle for bookies’ takings? (4,3)
{TOTE BAG} A large bag for shopping, etc. sounds as if it ought to be used a British bookmaker (named after a betting machine)

5d    Ortolans, etc, evenly cooked (5)
{ROAST} The even letters of oRtOlAnS eTc = ‘cooked’

6d    Flaxen curls we do hate on daughter (3-6)
{TOW-HEADED} ‘Having light-coloured or flaxen hair’ is an anagram (curls) of WE DO HATE followed by D (daughter). Did anyone try to justify ‘two-headed’?

7d    Peer underground to check amount of radiation (7)
{MARQUIS} A title of nobility (peer) = the French resistance in WWII round R (first letter of radiation)

12d    Censure about lash-up with Queen creates stress (9)
{REITERATE} ‘To censure’ goes round a reversal (up) of ‘to lash’ and ER (the Queen) to give ‘to stress’

13d    Climbing mountains, clamber over group leader displaying … (9)
{SPLASHING} A reversal of mountains (in Europe) + ‘to clamber’ + G (first letter of group) = displaying, e.g. on the front page of the newspaper

14d    … fatal lapse with mistral on changing course (6,3)
{MORTAL SIN} A fatal lapse is an anagram (changing course) of MISTRAL ON

16d    Note needed in old college song? Blow me! (7)
{OCARINA} N (note) goes inside O (old) C (college) song to give an egg-shaped wind instrument

17d    I shall replace last 25% of sweet courses (7)
{SYLLABI} ‘I’ replaces the last two letters (25%) of an 8-letter sweet (dessert) to give courses (of study)

18d    Wrap up books — one on pronunciation (7)
{BURRITO} A Mexican dish consisting of a folded tortilla (wrap) = a reversal of part of the bible and I (one) after pronunciation (in the throat of the rough sound of ‘r’)

20d    Artistic support starts in early at school, expanding later (5)
{EASEL} A support used by artists is formed from the first letters of Early At School Expanding Later

A pleasant puzzle which was trickier than I thought it was going to be


  1. Jezza
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I found the top half went in without too much difficulty, although I struggled to parse 7d (the french resistance bit). The bottom half took a little longer, finishing up with 13d and 21a.
    Thanks to Firefly, and to Bufo for the explanations.

  2. BigBoab
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this crossword very much but thought it on the easy side for a toughie. Thanks very much to Firefly and to Bufo. Favourite was 17d.

  3. Pegasus
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I also found it a game of two halves with the top breezing in and the bottom half much slower, favourites were 7d 8a and 18d thanks to Firefly and to Bufo for the review.

  4. Corky
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I usually struggle with the toughie but completed this one without help so I’m pretty pleased with the 4* difficulty rating.
    Favourites were 17d and 23/24/25a.

    (PS, I downloaded a sample of Fifty Shades of Grey. That was ample masochism for anyone.)

  5. tilsit
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Found this a nice warm up for tomorrow’s encounter with Vald the Impaler. Took it with me to a hospital appointment and completed in waiting room (the clinic was running late!)

    I too found top half straightforward and bottom half trickier.

    Thanks to Firefly and Bufo for a good challenge.

  6. crypticsue
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I too am a member of the top half straightforward bottom half tricky club but I did enjoy myself tremendously. I particularly liked 15a but 9d and 23/24/25 have dots by them too. Thanks to Firefly and Bufo too.

  7. gnomethang
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I’ll buck the trend. I found the middle bit tricky (honestly!).
    Thanks to Firefly for an excellent workout and to Bufo for the review. Thoroughly enjoyable!.

  8. Heno
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Firefly & Bufo for the review & hints. I don’t often venture into Toughieland, but was glad i did, needed 3 hints & 5 lookups to finish. Favourite was 8a, I loved the clue, but i hate portmanteau words, this is the worst one i’ve ever seen, especially the first four letters in a food word, not very appetising !