Toughie 1362

Toughie No 1362 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I was helped considerably by getting the four long answers round the periphery pretty quickly and this one didn’t pose too many problems until I got to my final couple of clues in the SE corner, where some head-scratching was required. I thought that it was a bit of a curate’s egg with a few good clues but also some (e.g. 8a and 16d) which I didn’t like.
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 Clues

1a In a tizz after dance, maiden has to curtsy, getting united with former date (15)
DISCOMBOBULATED – there are a lot of bits to assemble here. Start with a dance, then add M(aiden), a verb to curtsy, U(nited), an adjective meaning former or previous and D(ate).

8a Bit of assistance with how to kick? (3-2)
LEG-UP – as 3,2 this could be what’s needed before you can kick. Hmm.

9a Austerity, possibly — for now (8)
MEANTIME – split the answer 4,4 for what could possibly be a period of austerity. This reminds me of the, probably apocryphal, announcement made by a trainee at a radio station – “It’s six o’clock, green witch. ******** here is the news.”

11a Steel ignored girl (7)
CUTLASS – charade of a past participle meaning ignored or cold-shouldered and a girl.

12a Cut song-and-dance in ‘The Tempest’ (7)
TORNADO – charade of a past participle meaning cut or ripped and a song-and-dance or fuss.

13a Painting’s returned to southern state — hooray! (3-2)
TRA-LA – reverse some painting and add the abbreviation for a southern US state.

15a Taking off when introduced is rude — not right (9)
DEDUCTION – an anagram (is rude) of INT(r)ODUCED without the R(ight).

17a Leftover winds up as barbecue bites (5,4)
SPARE RIBS – charade of an adjective meaning leftover or surplus and a verb meaning winds up or teases.

20a Joint  top? (5)
MITRE – double definition, the second a top or headdress worn by bishops.

21a Protect plants with parachute, spread to keep out first hint of Arctic cold (5,2)
EARTH UP – I know nothing about gardening but apparently this phrasal verb means to cover the lower parts of a plant with soil to protect it against something or other (frost?, slugs?, marauding cats? – I’ve no idea). It’s an anagram (spread) of PAR(ac)HUTE, keeping out the first letter of A(rctic) and the abbreviation for cold.

23a Fixed  deposit (7)
EARNEST – double definition, the first an adjective meaning fixed or determined and the second a deposit (an instalment paid to confirm a contract).

25a Require two-thirds of 15 to go back into city (8)
ABERDEEN – string together a verb to require and two-thirds (4 of 6 letters) of a 15a or discount, then reverse it all.

26a Dawn’s announced as ‘Miss‘ (5)
MOURN – this verb sounds like a word for dawn or the early part of the day.

27a Cast net — Holmes scorns a chimera? (4,4,7)
LOCH NESS MONSTER – an anagram (cast) of NET HOLMES SCORNS gives us the creature that can be relied on to make an appearance when tourism is getting a bit slack.

Down Clues

1d With CIA-led involvement, leaderless parliament has upturn in store (12)
DELICATESSEN – start with an anagram (with … involvement) of CIA-LED then reverse (has upturn) the name of the Israeli parliament without its leading letter.

2d Asking what regular elements feature in vision (5)
SIGHT – regular letters from the first two words.

3d Sounding off among the aristos, taking a long time to get home (9)
ORPHANAGE – how the royals and other posh types pronounce ‘off’ is followed by a long time (2,3).

4d Floored base protects birds (7)
BEMUSED – the base (of a river, for example) contains (protects) very large birds.

5d Briefs initially survived being darned (7)
BLASTED – the initial letter of briefs followed by a verb meaning survived or endured.

6d More recent slate roof needs your attention (5)
LATER – ‘needs your attention’ is a novel way of telling you that close examination of the preceding words will reveal a hidden word.

7d Making mints? A tip — I beat and roll (9)
TIMPANIST – an anagram (making) of MINTS A TIP.

10d Voice conveying token meaning (12)
COUNTERTENOR – charade of a token (the sort used in a board game) and a word for general meaning or drift.

14d Vespucci bore a nautical upbringing, somewhat lacking in inspiration? (9)
ANAEROBIC – hidden (somewhat) and reversed (upbringing) in the clue.

16d Snappy judge? (9)
CAMERAMAN – cryptic definition. This was my last answer because, even when it became obvious from the checking letters, I couldn’t see how it related to judge. Unless I’m missing something the clue just means that this person is a judge of how and when to take a snap. It seems very weak – on the same basis any worker could be a judge (e.g. a doctor decides which drugs to prescribe, so could cryptically be a druggy judge). [Thanks to dutch and others for pointing out that a judge’s private office is called a camera, so cryptically a judge could be a ‘camera man’ in the same way that a farmer could be a fieldsman. That makes the clue a bit better but I still don’t like it.]

18d Thus reporter may get in print (7)
IMPRESS – a reporter may gain entry by announcing thus (1’1,5).

19d Rum sent off somewhere in chest (7)
STERNUM – an anagram (off) of RUM SENT.

22d Start to nose below lead flier (5)
HERON – the starting letter of nose follows the lead or star in a film or play.

24d Crow‘s feet on face? Relax, you still attract! (5)
EXULT – the bottom letters (feet) on the last five words of the clue.

The two clues I liked best were 17a (for the smooth surface) and 3d (for the laugh). Let us know which one(s) did it for you.



  1. dutch
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I struggled with the judge in 16d as well – Camera is a judge’s chamber.

    • gazza
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, dutch – I’d never thought of that. So a judge is a ‘camera man’? – I still don’t like it very much.

      • dutch
        Posted March 18, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        it does have a question mark for dubiousness..

  2. Pegasus
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I also had trouble parsing 16d and the only explanation I could come up with was a judge sometimes hears a case ” in camera” , favourites were 17a and 24d thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review.

  3. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Hello Gazza,
    Same problem with SE corner.
    Last ones where 16d and 23a.
    For 16d, I think the reference is that a judge can hear in camera, or in private.
    1a was quite a mouthful but I do like words made up of little bits.
    Enjoyable solve.
    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review.

  4. dutch
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Actually I struggled with a few more in SE. Wasn’t familiar with the deposit meaning for 23a, and I had found “empight” meaning fixed – oh dear, I thought. It took me ages to see the crows feet clue (24d), it is now my favourite clue – great surface and beautifully disguised. Took a while for 26a to dawn on me as well, even though I had parsed it correctly (Dawn’s announced as Miss)

    I also liked 17a (leftover winds up as barbecue bites) and 7d (making mints?..) – here the punctuation mislead me effectively. I loved “needs your attention” as hidden word indicator (6d).

    I enjoy novel twists on old chestnuts, unfortunately 11a didn’t quite qualify (steel ignored girl)

    Many thanks Firefly and Gazza

  5. Franco
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    1a – My favourite word in the English Language! Disappointingly, the BRB has little to say about the etymology!

    Discomknockerated that Ken Dodd didn’t make it up!

    • Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      It’s been used in a few earlier Toughies, including one by Firefly, as well as a back-page puzzle (DT 256741) and an NTSPP by Prolixic.

      Firefly’s earlier clue was “In a state after party, Miles, Robert and Alun shortly set about Edward (15)”

  6. markb
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to setters and reviewers. I too was totally at loss as to why the answer to 16d was correct, I hope that somebody will provide some insight later. Both puzzles provided terrific entertainment today, although I found the cryptic took longer than the toughie.

  7. JB
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    16d I’d wondered about a photofinish?

    • Rick
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      That was the best I could come up with too.

  8. Shropshirelad
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed 3/4 of this puzzle but did struggle to get the final few in the SE corner. After a bit of Googling and BRB research, I finally finished. I loved 1a as it is one of my favourite words but even though I now know that camera is a judges chamber (amongst others), I didn’t like 16d. I have one question: are there not enough words in the English language to avoid duplicate answers on consecutive days? 1d today and the back pager from yesterday.

    Thanks to Firefly for the puzzle and Gazza for his review.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Re 21a, here’s a link for growing potatoes where you have to earth up the new shoots. And may I add that even if you claim that Sir Walter Raleigh brought the spud in Europe it’s really Parmentier who managed to do something with it.

    • andy
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      I still 21a me spuds, albeit not in an allotment which I used to have but in potato sacks on the patio

  10. Franco
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    25a – I still find this sort of clue almost as bad as an indirect anagram … think of a 6-letter (?) synonym for the answer to 15a and then reduce it by 1/3?

    Foul, Ref!

    • gazza
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I agree that it’s as much a 2-stage process as an indirect anagram – but them’s the rules.
      I imagine that most solvers (me included) got it by working backwards. If you take the ‘require’ to be ‘need’ then how many 8-letter cities do you know that end in -DEEN? If you assume the obvious one what 6-letter word starting REBA- means 15a?

    • dutch
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      agreed, I was also quite surprised at the indirect synonym.

  11. KiwiColin
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Like most others, it was the SE that caused most problems. The biggest one for me was 24a where it took ages to spot what was going on. That has to be my favourite. Enjoyed the laugh from 3d too.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  12. gazza
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    It’s Elkamere tomorrow.

    • halcyon
      Posted March 18, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      Thank goodness for that!

  13. Expat Chris
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    I became completely 1A ( one of my late mother-in-law’s favorite words) in the SE corner, plus a couple in the NE, and eventually had to give in. Even the 8A from the hints didn’t always help. Hat’s off to all you successful solvers, grateful thanks to Gazza for the review, and much respect to Firefly. I did rather like 3D and 14D, and of course 1A.

  14. Salty Dog
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    3*/3* for me, even though l needed the hint for 21d. The SE corner was a bit iffy, l thought, particularly 26a. 3d was a fine clue, though, and gets my vote for favouritism. As Gazza said, once the four long solutions around the outside of the grid were in place, the rest of the grid became much less challenging. Thanks to Firefly for furrowing the Salty Dog brow, and to Gazza for the review.

  15. Wolfson Bear
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I agree completely with Gazza. I also failed to explain the “judge” one but there was only one possible answer