Toughie 1336

Toughie No 1336 by Notabilis

The Return of the Magician

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

Another excellent puzzle from our Friday 4 Down. Words like quality and class come to mind. So many superb clues it is hard to pick a favourite, but being a lover of splendid words, Cleo’s going for 4 Down, while Antony has picked 22 Down (mainly because he initially got it wrong until the denarius dropped).

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 Cleopatra

2a Cruel to imprison thus and shoot foreign friend from Iraq area (12)
MESOPOTAMIAN: Take a word meaning cruel or nasty and insert into it (imprison) a conjunction meaning thus, a verb meaning to shoot (a creature) and the French (foreign) word for friend.

8a An element of bourgeois desire (4)
URGE: Hidden in part of (an element of ) bourgeois.

9a One’s worked for life’s ultimate complex polymer (8
EMPLOYER: The ultimate letter of life followed by an anagram (complex) of POLYMER.

10a Baggy shorts in parcel carried by sweet son (8)
CULOTTES: A word meaning sweet or quaintly pleasing into which is inserted a parcel or piece of ground. The result is finished off with the abbreviation for son.

11a Stick instruction in layout of classifieds? (6)
ADHERE: Split 2,4 this might be an instruction telling you where to put a classified advertisement.

12a Judge initially at sea, swallowing murderer’s story of seaside crime (7,3)
JAMAICA INN: J(udge), the initial letter of A[t] and a word for the high seas into which is inserted the name of the first murderer in the Bible.

13a Transatlantic counterpart of Co. (UK) providing text collection (6)
CORPUS: A body of writing – how our transatlantic counterpart, an American would abbreviate their word for a company and their nation in the same way as the clue has Co. and UK.

16a Corrupt European leaves tropical disease reduced by last quarter (5)
BRIBE: Remove the E from the first part of an eight-letter tropic disease and then remove the last two letters (reduced by the last quarter).

17a Spoke with hostility to listeners, to make unwelcome advances (6)
INVADE: A homophone (to listeners) of a verb meaning attacked in speech INVEIGHED.

18a Cunning about self-identified feminists, good in a smooth way (10)
SWIMMINGLY: – A variant spelling of women used by feminist writers in order to remove the word ‘men’ from the word and G (good) are inserted into a word meaning cunning.

21a Heavy object‘s width against small cube (6)
WEIGHT: The abbreviation for width followed by a number that is the cube of 2.

23a Soviet leader‘s fall, within a month (8)
ANDROPOV: A leader in the Soviet Union in the 1980s – Insert a fall in something into A (from the clue) and an abbreviated month.

24a Bird with an inclination to interrupt one that’s domesticated? (8)
PARAKEET: A (an) and an inclination from the vertical inserted into a domesticated animal.

25a Attempt to manipulate by following fuel cut (4)
COAX: Remove (cut) the last letter from a type of fuel and follow with the symbol used in maths to mean times or by.

26a Edition of album with reams in that is very big (12)
IMMEASURABLE: Insert into the abbreviation meaning that is, an anagram (edition of) ALBUM REAMS.

Down Hints from Antony

1d Wound Tarzan up, regularly missing mother (6)
TRAUMA: drop the even letters (regularly missing) from two words in the clue and add a two-letter word for mother

2d Accepting Farah possibly raced, made rough notes (9)
MEMORANDA: put the first name of athlete Farah and a three-letter verb meaning raced inside (accepting) an anagram (rough) of MADE

3d Fixed a problem with radio reception (6)
STATIC: two definitions – fixed as in not moving and a word for the crackle heard on a radio

4d Tricky performer‘s piano support that is enjoyed by me before a Glastonbury feature (15)
PRESTIDIGITATOR: P(iano) followed by the support used by a snooker player, a phrase meaning “that is enjoyed by me” (1,3,2), the A from the clue and a feature of Glastonbury (the town not the festival)

5d Desperate character about to stop recording moving performance (3,5)
TAP DANCE: the Desperate comic character and the single-letter Latin abbreviation for about inside (to stop) a verb meaning to record

6d Instant expression of impatience for the Scottish wander (5)
MOOCH: a brief instant of time followed by a three-letter Scottish expression of impatience

7d Two ways to mature, but not with contemporaries? (3,5)
AGE GROUP: start with two words meaning to mature and drop the W(ith) from the second one

14d Toughen control to benefit Anglicans (9)
REINFORCE: a control followed by a word meaning to benefit and the abbreviation for the Anglican church

15d Provide too little equipment for a pit’s description (8)
UNDERARM: split as (5,3) this could mean to provide too little military equipment, but it actually describes where on the body to find a pit


16d Set out to get into beer, say, and start to see dots (8)
BESTREWS: an anagram (out) of SET inside a word that describes a beer followed by the initial letter of (start to) S[ee]

19d Note inversion of flying creature’s major vein (6)
MIDRIB: the third note of the scale in sol-fa notation followed by the reversal of a flying creature

20d Sponge dessert with fruit served up that’s lovely (6)
LOOFAH: the reversal (served up in a down clue) of a dessert containing fruit followed by an exclamation meaning “that’s nice!” – we saw this exclamation a week ago!

22d Give a reflective look, a steady one, taking in lake (5)
GLAZE: a steady look around L(ake) – if you can’t work out how your answer works, and it has an “R” in it, think again!

Both Cleopatra and I were delayed because we were baking (her cakes, me bread!). We hope to see many of you tomorrow.


  1. Shropshirelad
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Loved every bit of this puzzle from Notabilis – so thank you for a true Friday toughie. Far too many brilliant clues to mention but I particularly liked the wordplay on 4d & 12a. I hope you all have a good time tomorrow in London (I must try to make it next year)

    Btw BD – just tried to post this comment but my name and Email seem to have disappeared. Hopefully it will now work. It obviously does so it must have me d’oh

  2. dutch
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle. I agree with words like “quality” and “class”. last one in was 6d, i had misspelt 1a with an “N” which left me wondering about what strange things Scots might say for a while – but found my error. I like all the clues – favourites were probably 9a (one’s worked for), 8a (element of bourgeois desire – very nice), 21a (a lovely new version of the old friend w + 8), and I loved the “not with contemporaries” in 7d.

    Many thanks Notabilis and Big Dave Antony & Cleopatra for the review – oops, only just noticed that should be upcoming review..

    • Dutch
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Many thanks for that edit – great review, I hadn’t realised the alternative spelling of women was to avoid using men..

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely loved it! I was sure of my answer for 21A but did need the review to explain the “spoke with hostility’ bit. Shouldn’t the hint for 18A be the 6-letter alternative word for women plus G for good?

    To many wonderful clues to choose from, but I’m settling for 18A, which made me smile (it’s also a US ‘redneck’ variant) 16A, 12A and 4D as my favorites.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Forgot my manners! Many thanks to Notabilis and to A&C for the review.

    • Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      So it should – thanks.

    • crypticsue
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Indeed it should, thank you. One of those more haste less speed moments. Anyone confused by this exchange of comments should note that I’ve now edited the hint.

  4. halcyon
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Top class puzzle as usual from Notabilis. Favourites 13a and 20d. I spent ages on 13a trying to fit “com” in [I already had the C] as the US equivalent of – which raises the question of why the clue was typeset as it was. It would have been even better [ie more misleading] as …counterpart of…but I quibble.

    Many thanks to Notabilis and to A&C.

  5. elcid
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    This took me three “goes” (due to pesky interfering commitments) but each “go” just got better as I went along and after completion, I realized what a joyful solve this was. Favorites – 10a, 12a and 21a. 6d was a new word to me. Many thanks to Notabilis and to A & C for their explanation of 17a – I had the correct answer but could not for the life of me think of the word for “spoke with hostility” – a doh moment.

  6. Jane
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Believe it or not I’ve completed this one, though admit to a couple of ‘bung-ins’ for which many thanks to A&C for the parsing. Big smile for 15d and favourite is probably 12a. Thought the definition of 6d should simply be ‘wander’ – ‘och’ being the Scottish expression of impatience?

    Thanks to Notabilis for giving me a well worthwhile foray into Toughie territory and to Antony & Cleopatra for making everything clear. 4*/5* for me (would have been 5* for difficulty but I save that for the many that I can’t complete!).

    ps I’d love to know how many of tomorrow’s party-goers will be able to pronounce 4d by the end of the day!!!

    • Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      6 Down duly corrected – thanks.

      I can’t even pronounce 4 Down when I’m sober!

      • Jane
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        That makes two of us – I’ll only be able to spell it again if I think back to the wording of the clue!

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Again we had to solve this one without knowing who the setter was as it was not on the Telegraph site (it is now), and once again we made a correct guess at who the setter might be. We thought for a while that we would get some help with the last couple as we were looking for a Q to complete the pangram. We even had a spare U waiting in 10a where we were sure it would go….. but it didn’t. Really good fun and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Notabilis and the team.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      I would rather not know who the toughie setter is, because there are a couple who intimidate me and I feel defeated before I’ve even started!

    • pommers
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      I thought pangram as well but I think there’s no V either.

      • Jane
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:12 pm | Permalink


        • pommers
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

          Should have gone to Specsavers :roll:

  8. Salty Dog
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    I thought l was on for a 2* completion, then l ran into the sand in the SW corner. 3*/4* on balance, then, and favouritism for 17a ( although 15d ran it close). Many thanks to Notabilis, and to Antony and Cleopatra for the review.

  9. Wolfson Bear
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Lovely puzzle which I managed to complete so I am quite pleased with that. Notabilis has now been promoted to be my favourite setter along side Ray T

  10. Hanni
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    I may have experienced some sort of 26a 1d doing this.
    I didn’t finish. 2 and 6d finally broke me. However I am still counting it as a victory. Mostly because I think my brain would never allow me to do another crossword again if I don’t.
    My some miracle I did actually get 4d correct but I had no idea if it was a real word. Oddly enough I don’t use it on a day to day basis.

    Many thanks to Notabilis and to A & C for a wonderful blog, with a mention to Pommer’s and Jane without whom I would have given up hours ago. :-) And Expat Chris.

    I’m getting a drink. Have a great time tomorrow.

    • Jane
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      Look at this way, Hanni – until very recently we probably wouldn’t have even LOOKED at a Toughie. Now, we sometimes give them a go. What is it Michael says – onward and upward!

      Enjoy your well-earned drink………….. I’ve still got a couple of weeks of the self-imposed dry season ahead of me.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

        It’s my belief that the self-imposed ‘dry season’ delivers such a shock to the system that it is, in fact, more detrimental to one’s health than maintaining the status quo. Cheers!

        • Hanni
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

          Re: dry season E.Chris, my OH closest friend is a GP. He has a fascinating insight on alcohol intake. Usually delivered whilst he has a drink in his hand!

      • Hanni
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

        I’m very impressed Jane.
        When it’s over, shall hold a party of sorts in the corner?

        You’re right about the Toughie, I never thought of it like that. Thank you. This blog is a marvel. A safety net for crosswording, filled with the best people. However I nearly had a cigarette when trying the Toughie today!

        • Jane
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

          Aah…………. giving up the evil weed is an altogether different story. Not one that I have ever managed to read.

          • Hanni
            Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

            That’s because you turn into a Cerberus type creature when you give up. I once ran, literally ran, 7 miles to buy them after I had stopped for 5 months. The irony was not lost on me that I could do the 7 miles without even thinking because I’d quit.

  11. pommers
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    “Quality and class” is spot on but you forgot to mention “tricky little rascal” – well, I thought so anyway.

    But entertaining nevertheless so thanks to Notabilis and the classical duo.