Toughie 1085

Toughie No 1085 by Notabilis

Another Masterclass

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

Greetings from the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool. We’re teaching three blokes called Len, Craig and Bruno and a woman called Darcey how to dance before some TV show at the weekend. Craig whinges a lot, Bruno flirts a lot and Len has a leery look in his eye. Darcey is charming but pirouettes a lot. This might be a challenge.

Speaking of challenges, we wind up the Toughie week with another elegant challenge from Notabilis, one of Crosswordland’s top setters. The puzzle is full of elegant and tough but totally fair clues, the perfect Toughie and certainly my favourite of the week.

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.

Across hints by Fred

1a    Yob on pipe, dismissing Ecstasy withdrawal (4-3)
{PULL-OUT} We start with a word meaning to pipe, minus E (Ecstasy), its last letter, placed before a word meaning a lout or thug giving something that means withdrawal.

5a    Gift that is coming after media reception (7)
{PRESSIE} A slang word for a gift is found after taking the abbreviation for ‘that is’ and putting it after a word meaning ‘the fourth estate’.

9a    Front seats as an alternative to box, when high in middle of clearstory (9,6)
{ORCHESTRA STALLS} Some seats in a theatre that usually give you a good view are revealed by taking a word for an alternative is added to a type of box. Add to all this a short word meaning when and something meaning high inside the two middle letters of cleaRStory.

10a    British veg are brilliant (5)
{BLAZE} This held me up and was almost the last to go in. B for British is followed by a verb meaning ‘veg’, to loll around.

11a    Train on this rail must set out with nothing on board (9)
{SIMULATOR} A device to enable you to train for a skill interactively, for example fly a plane, is revealed by making an anagram (set out) of RAIL MUST with O (nothing) inserted (on board).

12a    Facility for boarders of large ship on short journey round Korea’s margins (9)
{SKATEPARK} Nice misleading definition. The “outskirts” of KOREA (K and A) go inside a word meaning a short part of journey and a large ship favoured by Noah in the Bible. This gives a place where a certain type of person using a board can enjoy themselves. My local council provided one, which promptly filled with water when it rained and made the local kids ill who had used it as a swimming pool!



14a    Stroll about, clutching edge of nicotine patch (5)
{MANOR} A criminal’s word for his ‘patch’ or area he operates in is revealed by taking a word meaning ‘stroll’, reversing it and inserting N, the first letter (edge) of Nicotine

15a    Essential for non-vegetarian biryani? Gee & Tee (5)
{GOSHT} A word in Indian cookery for meat is found by taking a word meaning the exclamation ‘Gee!, My! Or Oh!” and adding the letter T.

16a    Applying for eternity ring worn by retreating private? (9)
{PERENNIAL} Something that means eternal (especially as in plants) can be found by taking a word meaning ring as in a bell and inside placing the reversal of something that means private or deep.


18a    Popular lord protecting grand fool is disguised (9)
{INCOGNITO} Something meaning popular, plus an expression meaning “Lord! or Heavens Above!” has G (grand) and a word for a fool inside this gives something that means disguised or unknown.

21a    Small brushing movement (5)
{SWIPE} S (small) goes before a word meaning a brushing movement to give what is literally a small brushing movement. Nice example of a clue called an “and lit”

22a    Likely an excavator at first, aware of record, one absorbed by early life? (15)
{PALAEONTOLOGIST} And here’s another! The first letters of likely an excavator is followed by something that means aware of, a record or diary and I (one). All of this goes inside a word meaning history or early life to give something defined by the whole thing! Nice.

23a    Metaphysical poet keeps archaic form for the most esteemed lady (7)
{DOYENNE} An archaic way of saying ‘the’ goes inside a famous poet called John (think ‘No Man Is An Island’ – poor confused Fred thought it was ‘Norman is an Island’) to give a respectful term of a noted lady.

24a    Scarlet woman’s habit, sharing duke’s satisfaction (7)
{REDRESS} If you contract something worn by a lady in scarlet by merging the last letter of the first word, with the first letter of the second word, you get something that means satisfaction.

Right, I’m off to polish my spats and will leave you with my glamorous sidekick….

Down hints by Ginger

1d    ‘Digger’ introduced to lead American version of Sun? (7)
{PHOEBUS} Insert a garden tool into the chemical symbol for lead and follow with the abbreviation for the United States (America) to get another name for Apollo, the Greek god of the sun.

2d    Without caring, have no platform, hostile about everything (15)
{LACKADAISICALLY} Three words meaning missing a raised platform and an adjective meaning very cold (hostile) into which is inserted a synonym for everything.

3d    Hedging before vote, public work too hard (9)
{OVEREXERT} Hedging indicates that an adjective meaning public, open to view, surrounds a poetic word meaning before and the symbol we use on a voting paper.

4d    Prosecution including testimony initially raised in book (5)
{TITUS} A biblical epistle – Insert the initial letter of Testimony into a type of civil proceeding (prosecution) and reverse (raised) the result.

5d    Expert at preparing scores with piano malarkey transposed (9)
{PLAYMAKER} A footballer who is often involved in passing moves which lead to goals (preparing scores) is an anagram (transposed) of P (piano) MALARKEY

6d    Say great things about sequence in index to library (5)
{EXTOL} Hidden in indEX TO Library.

7d    Singular part I have involves burning, burning completed structure some object to (5,10)
{SPLIT INFINITIVE} Start with  the abbreviation for singular (1), then insert into the abbreviation for part (2) the past participle of a verb meaning on fire (burning), a two-letter word indicating that the fire is burning, and a French adjective meaning done (completed),  and then finish with the short way of saying I have.

8d    One makes certain runes out before brief mistake (7)
{ENSURER} An anagram (out) of RUNES followed by two of the three letters of a word meaning to make a mistake or sin.

13d    Device with downloadable tool, one carried by long arm (9)
{APPLIANCE} The abbreviation for those tools one can download onto a smartphone, followed by a long weapon with a pointed head used by horsemen with I (one) inserted into it.

14d    Poisonous plant in US vicinity of priory? (9)
{MONKSHOOD} Brilliant. A slang term indicating that one might be in the vicinity of a male religious community (priory).

15d    Course favoured by politicians in network was fascinating (7)
{GRIPPED} Insert the three-letter abbreviation for a university course involving subjects of interest to future politicians into a network.

17d    Hamlet’s dispatcher put up collection of houses, land, etc (7)
{LAERTES} A reversal (up in a down clue) of a collection and an adjective meaning denoting or relating to immovable property such as houses or land.

19d    Gather acceleration when falling on slope (5)
{GLEAN} The symbol for acceleration of free fall followed by a verb meaning to incline or slope.

20d    Bond’s oeuvre periodically diminished reputation (5)
{ODOUR} Reputation(which can be good or bad) – Periodically diminished indicates the removal of the odd letters in bOnDs OeUvRe.

Seeing as Fred waxed lyrical in the prologue (that’s a polite way of saying ‘got carried away’), I will add the epilogue.

This crossword was, for me anyway, exactly what a Toughie should be. It was the right level of toughness, great clues and wonderful d’oh moments (not least when working out the wordplay for the review) and left me with a great sense of satisfaction and a smile on my face. Thank you Notabilis – hope it’s not too long before you are back again in the Friday slot.

PS: If there was a Nina, at least three of us can’t find it!


  1. Pegasus
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Cracking puzzle to finish off the Toughie week, favourites for me were 1d 12a and 14d thanks to Notabilis and the duo.

  2. Peter Vidgeon
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    If 5a is pressie then 8d should be ensurer, or am I missing something?

    • gazza
      Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Peter. It should be ensurer and it is now – thanks.

    • crypticsue
      Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Thanks both – I could say that I had left something for Gazza to find but it has more to do with typing my half of the blog while pretending I was typing some other document entirely

      • Deep Threat
        Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        Multi-tasking again?
        I think there may be a tweak needed to the hint for 7d. in that the ‘burning, burning, completed’ construct goes inside the two-letter abbreviation for ‘part’.

        Thanks to you and Fred for the hints, and to Notabilis for the challenge.

        • crypticsue
          Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          Indeed I might have been as I had to hurriedly find my dancing shoes following a request from Twinkletoes to join him on the dance floor.

          In my defence, I did send him that complicated explanation to check I had it right.

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Wow! What a workout for my poor old brain! But I have a real sense of achievement.

    I needed hints for just two (1D and 12A), and the answer for 15A (new word for me) and 19D. But although I had the correct answers, I did need several clues explained fully. Many thanks to the dancing duo, and to Notabilis.

  4. bernie
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness for your blog. Without it, I would have been completely lost on this one

    • gazza
      Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog bernie.

  5. Kath
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    I had a look out of curiosity – if I was a cat I’d be well and truly dead!
    I did manage five answers . . .
    With thanks to Notabilis and the duo.

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted November 15, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps Mr Kath should have been enlisted to help? :)

      • crypticsue
        Posted November 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Don’t get her going over here too! She’s already laying down the law in the other place.

        • Expat Chris
          Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Permalink


          • Kath
            Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

            I’ll reply to yours properly because I know you hate the little faces! So what are you chuckling at?!!

        • Kath
          Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

      • Kath
        Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

  6. 2Kiwis
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Well that was a challenge that took most of the afternoon but we did get there eventually. We tried so hard to justify ‘gangplank’ for 12a as it seemed perfect for the definition as ‘facility for boarders’. Last in was 15a where we ended up searching the dictionary for all possible g-s-t words.
    Thanks Notabilis and the team.

    • crypticsue
      Posted November 15, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      I wrote n gangplank first and then had to paint it out when it didn’t work with the down clues!!! Clever sneaky clue.

  7. halcyon
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Lovely, smooth as silk and totally fair clues. No gimmicks. A satisfying end to a rather iffy toughie week.
    I particularly liked 9a, 23a, 1d, 3d, 14d, 15d, etc, etc

    Many thanks to Notabilis and F&G

  8. Outnumbered
    Posted November 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been picking away at this in spare moments since yesterday evening. It took a long time but I got there in the end. Needed references for a couple, and needed to check here that I had 21a right as it didn’t seem too obvious. The wordplay for 22a was waaaaay beyond my understanding, so thanks for the hints.

  9. jaehancock
    Posted November 17, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle and thank you to Fred and Ginger. Came here because I got palaeontologist but couldn’t quite explain why – it was the LAE bit which, after reading F & G’s explanation, fell into place with a big ‘doh’. I know I’m nit-picking, but will put my neck on the block nonetheless, because 2d has too many letters. Should be ‘lackadaisically’ not ‘lacksadaisically’ I believe. Only noticed because I tried to insert the exact same, but it didn’t work. Aaaargh, here comes the axe!