Toughie 929

Toughie No 929 by Notabilis

That was like throwing three pickled onions into a thimble!
(Sid Waddell 1940-2012 RIP)

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

When you see that Notabilis is the Toughie setter, you know you are in for a treat, and today is no exception.

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    Cover is more elegant without repetition (7)
{SMOTHER} – a verb meaning to cover is derived by dropping one of the repeated letters from an adjective meaning more elegant

5a    Notorious robber mostly got around injunction when trading was shaken up (3,4)
{BIG BANG} – most of one of the Great Train Robbers around an injunction – the definition is a reference, not to the possible origin of the universe, but to the changes in the system and rules of the British Stock Exchange, instituted on 27 October 1986 – I was working at the International Commodities Clearing House at the time and remember it well

9a    In Riviera’s setting, one is right about fabulous girl (7)
{MERMAID} – the three-letter abbreviation for the area which includes the Riviera around the reversal (about) of a phrase meaning one is (1,2) and R(ight)

10a    Banff setting theatre blatantly uses in review (7)
{ALBERTA} – the setting of Banff in Canada, not the one in Aberdeenshire, is hidden (uses) and reversed (in review) inside the clue

11a    Packing semi-automatic rifle, came to Land’s End (5)
{LIMIT} – a semi-automatic rifle inside a verb meaning came to land or alighted

12a    Unscramble hint before another turns up against it (2,3,4)
{IN THE CART} – an anagram (unscramble) of HINT followed by (before) another hint, this time reversed (turns)

13a    Threaten to break banks, as secondary school administrator must do (3,4)
{RUN HIGH} – a phrase meaning, for a river, to be close to overflowing could be what a secondary school administrator must do

14a    Unstable prohibitionist harnesses extra energy (7)
{DODDERY} – a noun, more usually used as an adjective, meaning a prohibitionist or teetotaller around (harnesses) extra, as in left over, and E(nergy)

16a    Enjoy loose domesticity with drudge when in drink (5,2)
{SHACK UP) – a literary or journalistic drudge inside a small mouthful of alcoholic drink

19a    Don’t speak with favourites about dam replacement (7)
{STEPMUM} – a word meaning don’t speak and some favourites all reversed give a replacement for a dam or mother

22a    Target for darts having last of poison contained by drug’s essence? (9)
{NINESCORE} – A charade of the final letter (last) of poisoN, a two-letter word meaning contained by, the usual single-letter drug, the S from ‘S and a word meaning the essence – it wouldn’t have been the same if Sid Waddell had called this out every time three darts went in the treble twenty!

24a    Group from central Somalia with Farah, say, on location in Sweden (5)
{MALMO} – the middle three letters (group) of SoMALia followed by the first name of Olympic double-gold medallist Farah

25a    Sport is ultimately a disappointment for a philosopher (7)
{RUSSELL} – the two-letter abbreviation for a sport followed by the final letter (ultimately) of iS and a disappointment or let-down

26a    Black stone carried in anger, to show it (7)
{BRISTLE} – B(lack) followed by ST(one) inside (carried) a four-letter word meaning anger gives a verb meaning to show anger

27a    Material providing strength and power for leading trio in film industry (7)
{PLYWOOD} – P(ower) replaces the first three letter (leading trio) of the place most associated with the film industry

28a    Lacking variations when contrarily stopping something they’re based on? (3,4)
{THE SAME} – a two-letter word meaning when reversed (contrarily) inside (stopping) a basis for things lacking variations


1d           Piece of embroidery is small, getting bigger (7)
{SAMPLER} – S(mall) followed by an adjective meaning bigger

2d           Disarray as roman type employed in galleys? (7)
{OARSMAN} – an anagram (disarray as roman) of AS ROMAN

3d           Detect sound of clock keeping seconds down (9)
{HEARTSICK} – a phrase (4,4) meaning to detect the sound of a clock around (keeping) S(econds)

4d           Sorrel or bay, main leaves seared on prepared food (7)
{REDDISH} – drop sea (main) from seaRED and add some food prepared and ready to eat

5d           Blooming after all the rest in part of garden (7)
{BLASTED} – an adjective meaning blooming or darned the position of being after all the rest inside part of a garden

6d           Billions overlooked in gibberish which underlies peak in housing? (5)
{GABLE} – drop one of the B(illion)s from some gibberish

7d           Male ejected from wedding when one’s raised high temper (3,4)
{AIR RAGE} – drop the M(ale) from a wedding and then move the I (one) up (raised0

8d           I must leave in a hurry after beginning to get very ill (7)
{GHASTLY] – drop the I (I must leave) from an adverb meaning in a hurry and put what’s left after the initial letter (beginning) of Get

15d        Lie marked out as unrealistic (5-4)
{DREAM-LIKE} – an anagram (out) of LIE MARKED

16d        Dash past with run for good place to get bronze? (7)
{SUNTRAP} – an anagram (dash) of PAST with RUN

17d        Pardon little woman for decorating home (7)
{AMNESTY} – put a Little Woman (the youngest of the March sisters) around a bird’s home

18d        Rising sea surrounds old place filled with inhabitants (7)
{PEOPLED} – reverse another name for the sea around O(ld) and PL(ace)

19d        What makes tongue tingle and female diarist’s heart flutter (7)
{SHERBET} – The female pronoun followed by the middle letter (heart) of diaRist and a flutter or gamble (thanks Pegasus) –  I originally thought this was a reference to Bridget Jones’ Diary, but I have never read the book nor seen the film, nor will I!

20d        One fired up in purpose in revolution’s territorial force (7)
{MILITIA} – I (one) and a verb meaning fired up inside the reversal (revolution) of a purpose

21d        Mass on Jovian moon topped landscape from millions of years ago (7)
{MIOCENE} –M(ass) followed by a Jovian moon and a landscape without its initial letter (topped)

23d        Deal with opening position of queen’s bishop’s pawn in commentary? (3,2)
{SEE TO} – sounds like (in commentary) the opening position of the white queen’s bishop’s pawn on the chessboard

They don’t get much better than this.



  1. gazza
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely superb – thanks to Notabilis and BD.
    For 11a I thought that the definition was just ‘end’ with lit being ‘came to land’.

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      11a That’s what I thought too.

      • pommers
        Posted February 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        Same here.

  2. Big Boab
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous toughie from Notablis, I’ve been struggling with it most of the morning but now it’s done I’m not too sure why I found it so difficult. Many thanks to Notablis and to BD for the hints. 5*/5* +.

  3. Pegasus
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I thought last fridays Toughie was difficult but this seemed a notch harder, many favourites including 8d 12a 19a and 23d thanks to Notabilis and to Big Dave for the review.

  4. pommers
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Agree with BB’s comment above. Took ages to unravel but looking at the answers now I wonder what the difficulty was. Splendid stuff!

    5*/5* from me too.

    Thanks to Notabilis and BD.

  5. crypticsue
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Superbly wonderfully tough Toughie – it took me on and off all morning (I did a bit before official start time and then carried on and off until just before lunch) it was a game of four corners SE NW NE and then finally SW but as Big Boab says when you have finished you wonder why it took you so long to see the wordplay, which is, of course,the mark of a very clever setter.

    Thanks to Notabilis for a really super Toughie and to BD for explaining it all.

  6. pommers
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    BTW, a truly horrible grid IMO – like 4 separate crosswords which I did solve one at a time (just for the hell of it)!

  7. tracker
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    superb- best setter on the grid by a mile

  8. Pegasus
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Dave Re 19d I read it as female-she diarist heart-r flutter bet.

    • Posted February 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Thanks – once I thought it was something to do with the over-weight diary writer I lost interest.

  9. Chris
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I am in awe of every one of you who could figure out the word play and completed this without hints. I managed about half on my own, with no real idea why my answer was correct except that it just made sense to me. Many, many thanks, Big Dave for the hints! I’d thank the setter, too, but I’m still reeling from the onslaught on my brain.

  10. Qix
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Extremely enjoyable stuff, great fun.

  11. jezza
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    An excellent puzzle, which I found quite hard, but not as tough as last Friday’s Elgar puzzle.
    Many thanks to Notabilis, and to BD for the review. 4*/5* for me.

  12. Only fools
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Toughest crossword that I have had the patience to complete ,but because it was so enjoyable .Completed NW,SE,NE and finally SW which took by far the longest but as others have said you think Why ?
    Thanks very much .

  13. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Took a lot of effort but we got there in the end and even managed to parse everything correctly. NE was the last in. Until we had the initial G for 8d even tried to justify putting “Big Dave” for 5a. At least the first word in the clue worked as a definition. Initially tried a much more scatological last word in 12a too. As you can see we had a lot of fun.
    Thanks Notabilis and BD.

  14. neveracrossword
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Managed to stagger over the line well behind the rest of the field.

  15. Vigo
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Tough but not as tough as last Friday! I actually managed to complete over three quarters without resorting to dictionary and only had three left when I resorted to hints (only had to highlight 19d – you are missing a fantastic movie BD. If you can’t face Bridget Jones try one of H Fielding’s other ones. Cause Celeb is on my top 200 list (along with many Jilly Cooper, Jane Austen and Julian Barnes titles).

  16. andy
    Posted February 16, 2013 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Going against the grain, a la Pommers last Friday, I really keeel hauled myself through this and I do have respect for the setter, No lol moments for me. Guess that is why I’m a mere solver and novice. Sorry Notabilis. Mea Culpa. ta BD for the hints

  17. Balliejames
    Posted February 16, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness the cryptic today was not time consuming which gave me a chance to do this beautifully constructed crossword. Thank you.