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Toughie 1364

Toughie No 1364 by Sparks

Escape from the Labyrinth

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

An excellent puzzle to end the week. My only problem was with the wordplay for 18 Across.

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    Round present nearly pops (6)
FATHER: an adjective meaning round or obese followed by most of an adverb meaning present or in this place

4a    Piece together with this means of suppressing report (8)
SILENCER: piece is a slang word for a gun, so what would you need to add in order to suppress its report?

In Scotland, a piece can also mean a sandwich! (click on the image to get a larger version)

10a    Mock brand, one from Milan, checked by females (4,3,2)
MAKE FUN OF: a brand, perhaps that of a car, followed by the Italian (from Milan) for one inside (checked by) a couple of F(emale)s

11a    Who’d want energy reduced, loosely? (5)
GREEN: an anagram (loosely) of of most of (reduced) ENERG[y]

12a    As some might say, disparage current dish (7)
GNOCCHI: a word-segment that sounds like (as some might say) a verb meaning to disparage or criticize followed by the symbol that is used in physics to represent electric current

13a    On which you could get jolly high (7)
RATLINE: a jolly or Royal Marine could use this to climb the rigging

14a    A little disconcerting about what goes into bangers (5)
NITRE: this constituent of gunpowder (what goes into bangers) is hidden (a little) and reversed (about) inside the clue

15a    Renegade orphan regularly sent back by express (8)
APOSTATE: the odd letters (regularly) of O[r]P[h]A[n] are reversed (sent back) and followed by a verb meaning to express or annjounce

18a    Possibly returns to secure pine frame (6,2)
STITCH UP: This one has defeated me – the second word could possibly mean to return or reverse a verb meaning to secure and there’s a verb meaning to pine in the middle of the answer returns can be interpreted as “puts back”, so reverse PUTS around a verb meaning to pine [Thanks Gazza et al]

20a    Loose relative forgoes introduction (5)
UNTIE: a female relative without (forgoes) her initial letter (introduction)

23a    Touchy-feely service upset enthusiasts at heart (7)
SHIATSU: this Japanese healing and health-promoting therapy using massage is an anagram (upset) of the inner letters (at heart) of [en]THUSIAS[ts]

25a    Successfully conclude long drawn-out vote, welcoming Independent (7)
ACHIEVE: a verb meaning to long or pine and V[ot]E without its inner letters (drawn-out) around (welcoming) I(ndependent)

26a    Try to get free ride due to whiff in vacant taxicab (5)
THUMB: a whiff or pong inside T[axica]B without its inner letters (vacant)

27a    Cool-temperature heavy fuel ultimately bearing flammable gas (9)
ACETYLENE: an adjective meaning cool or terrific followed by T(emperature), the final letters (ultimately) of [heav]Y [fue]L and a compass bearing

28a    Almost plan on result some time later? (8)
EVENTIDE: most of a plan or scheme preceded by (on in an across clue) a result or outcome gives some time later in the day

29a    These are loaded in black frame (3,3)
JET SET: these very rich people are derived from a charade of a black lignite and verb meaning to frame


1d    Livid at dropping new air freshener? (8)
FUMIGANT: start with an adjective meaning livid and the AT from the clue, then “drop” the N(ew) a couple of places

2d    Remove surveillance, not having succeeded (4,3)
TAKE OUT: a surveillance operation without the S(ucceeded)

3d    Competent, constant company has to quit (9)
EFFICIENT: start with a numerical constant used as a multiplier and drop (has to quit) the CO(mpany)

5d    Inane flirt with rope exercising heavenly body (8,6)
INFERIOR PLANET: an anagram (exercising) of INANE FLIRT with ROPE

6d    Reportedly put away crew, perhaps (5)
EIGHT: what sounds like (reportedly) a verb meaning put away or digested is actually the crew of, for example, a large rowing boat

7d    Scientist, primarily medical, intending to cut body part (7)
CHEMIST: the initial letters (primarily) of two words in the clue inside (to cut) a part of the body

8d    Internet exposed corrupt setter? (6)
RENNET: an anagram (corrupt) of [i]NTERNE[t] without its outer letters (exposed)

9d    Literally aim for something rather rare (3,2,1,8)
ONE IN A THOUSAND: A I M can be interpreted as the Roman numeral I inside the A and the Roman numeral M

16d    Mostly sensitive, kind secretary should do so (5-4)
TOUCH-TYPE: most of an adjective meaning sensitive followed by a kind or sort

17d    Principle broken by workers in slum housing? (8)
TENEMENT: a principle around (broken by) some workers

19d    Coach briefly interrupting hackneyed testimonial (7)
TRIBUTE: most of (briefly) a three-letter coach inside (interrupting) an adjective meaning hackneyed

21d    Dissertations about universal hero (7)
THESEUS: some dissertations around U(niversal)

22d    Fly sheet he put out, repeatedly flapping (6)
TSETSE: an anagram (flapping) of S[HE]ET without (put out) the HE followed by (repeatedly) S[HE]ET

24d    Foreign festival touring heart of tribal region (5)
TIBET: the Vietnamese (foreign) lunar new year festival around the middle letters (heart) of [tr]IB[al]

What was your experience of today’s eclipse? We were able to get an occasional glimpse through the clouds, but the sun didn’t come out properly until it was all over.

28 comments on “Toughie 1364

    1. His fourth word should be the number represented by the Roman numeral M not the number for which the abbreviation is M

  1. Not as tough as some Fridays but a very enjoyable Toughie to end the week. Lots to like but I think my favourite has to be 9d, literally for when I realised what ‘literally’ was all about.

    Thanks to Sparks and BD.

  2. Very good end of the week toughie.
    Some very clever construction.
    Liked 1d, moving the N further down and both 23a and 8d when the letters needed are inside another word.
    Even the all in one in 4a was great.
    Got 18a the same way as Gazza and remembered that I is for current in 12a.
    Could go on forever.
    Thanks to Sparks who, along with 27a caused an explosion of my brain.
    Thanks to BD for the review.

  3. I did enjoy this and was able to complete the grid in a rather respectable time, though I needed the review to parse 18A, 23A and 9D, and the internet for 13A. 9D was indeed very clever! 3D is my favorite, though I also liked 1D. Thanks to Sparks and to BD for the review.

  4. Just curious, hot is it possible that 9 down is one in a million, given the fact that the letters from the other clues form -h-u-a-d?

    1. See comments 2 and 3 above. Until you actually prepare a review, you will have no idea how easy it is to know that the solution is one thing but then type a competely different word/explanation.

  5. I really enjoyed this one. Thanks to Sparks and to BD for the review. My favourite is also the excellent 9d.
    Sparks often has a Nina or something a bit extra in his puzzles. The only oddity I can see here is that all the down answers contain at least one T. Additionally, in each of the columns which have two answers (i.e. columns 1,3,5,11,13 and 15) the last letter of the top words and the first letter of the bottom words are all T. That could be a coincidence but what are the odds?

    1. Perhaps that is what 9d is referring too, T being one of the letters in the fourth word , she said clutching at Ninas.

  6. Highly enjoyable (protracted) solve. I knew what I was supposed to be looking for re 13ac but had never heard of it before, so needed to reveal the answer (was trying to fit in a made up word involving a rotor..). Thanks to BD for the hints which I needed to explain a few of my answers and thanks to Sparks.

  7. Many thanks to all for comments. Just popping along to confirm ***T T*** Nina in all two-word down columns, as I always think of this as the Telegraph Toughie. (The little chap above is, appropriately, Sparky, my new little JR buddy

    1. Thanks for popping in Sparks – your new buddy looks to be a cheeky little chappie.

      1. Thanks to you too SL! Your description is just perfect: his tiny stature gives him a very high entertainment-per-cubic-centimetre quotient.

  8. A delightful puzzle that was right in our Goldilocks zone. Not too easy, not to hard. Started off with ‘poke fun at’ for 10a until it did not work and the wordplay for 27a took a bit of unpicking. We had actually managed to parse 18a correctly too. Good fun from start to finish with lots to smile about.
    Thanks Sparks and BD.

  9. I’m so glad CS suggested this. I’ve had a bit of a nightmare with Toughies all week, and I doubt I would have given it a go.

    Loved it. That’s despite the fact I made the odd error. For 1d I pencilled in ‘fumigate’, making 14a somewhat harder. I’m loathe to admit the stupidity of my next mistake, but I will. For 16d I put ‘takes note’, and although I got 11a I still couldn’t parse it until I read the blog.

    There was so much to enjoy with 8 and 9d really making me smile. Favourite goes to 12a.

    Many thanks to Sparks and to BD for a great blog.

    Although we had cloud the eclipse was still brilliant if not dazzling. We were fortunate enough to have quite a lot of dark cloud surrounding, with white above. It just added to the atmosphere. It was also quite interesting to see the start of it on my Sky eye app.

    1. Hi Hanni,
      Good one for 1d. But remind me. Was the Fumigate before or after the Watergate ?

      1. Love it J-L

        Fumigate was the post Watergate cover-up. Ford, afraid that his new administration may slide back to the standards of the old regime, ordered a mass cull of all ‘pests’, via fumigation.

        It has earned its place in folklore history as ‘The Lynx Effect’.

  10. A good end to the week with some smashing clues, enjoyed down my local with a pint (or two) of Everard’s Tiger

    I’m going with the flow with 9d as my favourite. So thanks to Sparks for the puzzle and BD for his review.

    Have just noticed the post from Sparks – as I said yesterday, it’s great that the compilers take the time to post on this excellent blog. Have a good weekend all.

  11. Enjoyed this, although it took some getting in to. Favourites were 11a [a nice all in one clue] 18a [puts back, when the penny finally dropped] and 8d [loved the misleading “setter”]. Minor criticisms – 6d is a rather dodgy homophone and, a propos 9d, has anyone ever heard “one in a thousand” actually used to mean something rare? In my experience it is always one in a million.

    Thanks to Sparks [good to see the regular Friday spot] and BD

    1. Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (always a fascinating read) says that one in a thousand refers to a man who is specially distinguished by his excellent qualities; similarly a wife in a thousand a perfect wife, or one that exactly suits the speaker’s idea of what a wife should be.

    2. I think the homophone in 6d is fine, but “put away” has to be read as the past tense, since the answer is a homophone of ate rather then eat. Admittedly pronunciation of “ate” varies, but I don’t think that makes it a dodgy homophone.

  12. Alas no time to comment yesterday but a nice puzzle – very enjoyable. In combination with what I thought was one of Giovanni’s easier puzzles it filled the time available perfectly. Certainly a touch easier than yesterday’s offerings
    I have never spotted a nina or pangram or any other construct. Basically I dislike the idea – it tends to constrain the setter, and leads to unnecessary use of obscure words which for me spoils the fun

  13. Thoroughly loved it – though I had never heard of the vietnamese festival. Loved 1a “piece together”, 16d “kind secretary”, 10a “mock brand, one from milan”, 8d “corrupt setter”, and especially the magnificent 9d “literally aim”.

    I did worry about using loose (vs loosen) to indicate a verb (20a) but brb tells me this is fine.

    Many thanks Sparks for contributing to the blog – I failed to spot the TT (well done Gazza!)

    thanks BD & Sparks

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