Toughie 1414

Toughie No 1414 by Kcit

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

When I first read through the clues I thought that this was going to be pretty tricky but once I’d established a base camp in the SE corner the rest all succumbed at a satisfactory rate and I even managed to drag the answer to 29a from the dark recesses. Thanks to Kcit for the puzzle.

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 Second company rejected investing in development of lens or lenses (8)
MONOCLES – start with a short period of time then reverse the abbreviation of company inside an anagram (development) of LENS.

5a Pounce, letting one escape? Letting one escape (6)
SPRING – a present particle meaning letting someone off or showing mercy to someone without the A (letting one escape).

9a Boys head off and climb rock in illustration (8)
SYMBOLIC – an anagram (rock) of (b)OYS and CLIMB.

10a Gold sovereign once accepted by one source of information (6)
ORACLE – start with the usual heraldic tincture of gold then insert the abbreviation for an old sovereign in ‘one’ in cards or dice.

12a End in trip to seabed, after wrecking? It might (9)
SPEEDBOAT – an anagram (after wrecking) of (tri)P TO SEABED.

13a Head of German army is someone without much presence (5)
GHOST – the first letter of German followed by an old word for an army.

14a Occupant of train in Euston Square (4)
NINE – hidden (occupant of) in the clue.

16a Jotted down evidence of continuing legal action? (7)
WRITTEN – if you split the answer 4,3 this could be evidence that the legal action has been going for some time. Hmm – I’m not keen.

19a A problem besetting one of many a colony of insects (3-4)
ANT-HILL – A and a problem or misfortune surround an adjective used in maths to refer to an unspecified member of a series (one of many).

21a Cut out last bit of fat? (4)
DIET – an all-in-one clue. An intransitive verb to cut out (like an engine that’s out of fuel) followed by the last letter of fat.

24a Ambition about to be held in check (5)
DREAM – a preposition meaning about or concerning is held inside a verb to check or block.

25a A synthetic flower, it seems, is made of stone (9)
ALABASTER – split the answer 1,3,5 and it could be an artificial flower developed by a scientist.

27a Commercial activities will accept suitable changes (6)
ADAPTS – the abbreviation for commercial promotions contains an adjective meaning suitable or fitting.

28a Unusually sullen, in dumps, losing heart, lack of interest (8)
DULLNESS – an anagram (unusually) of SULLEN inside the outer letters of dumps.

29a Complain, being against boarding boat (6)
KVETCH – this is a verb, from Yiddish, meaning to complain or whinge incessantly. The single-letter abbreviation meaning against (in sports fixtures, say) goes inside (boarding) a two-masted sailing boat.

30a Fine male voice incorporating fixed high notes? (8)
FALSETTO – F(ine) and a male singing voice containing an adjective meaning fixed or determined.

Down Clues

1d Poor employment is blocking source of inspiration (6)
MISUSE – IS goes inside (blocking) a source of inspiration for a creative person.

2d Not feeling US TV show should get theme tune? (6)
NUMBER – charade of an adjective meaning without feeling or anaesthetised and a US TV medical series.

3d Dull spot in college gaudy (5)
CLOUD – in the surface gaudy means a celebratory dinner held for old members of a college but for the wordplay it’s an adjective meaning brash or showy in a vulgar way. Precede that with C(ollege).

4d Bout is over, after going in deep, with pummelling (7)
EPISODE – IS and the cricket abbreviation for an over go inside an anagram (after pummelling) of DEEP.

6d Ripe green bananas doing for bird (9)
PEREGRINE – an anagram (bananas) of RIPE GREEN is sufficient to give us a bird.

7d Isle of Grain almost entirely undeveloped (8)
INCHOATE – charade of a Scottish word for a small island and an adjective describing a type of grain (of grain) without its final N (almost entirely).

8d Welcoming  evidence of unhappiness amongst the Scots (8)
GREETING – double definition, the second what a Scot may be seen doing when he’s unhappy (at losing a tennis match, for example).

11d Pack five letters (4)
STOW – split the answer 1,2,1 to get the five letters.

15d The old woman filling potty, in a manner of speaking (9)
IDIOMATIC – insert an affectionate term for one’s old lady into an adjective meaning potty or daft.

17d Book player notorious for his tackling? (8)
HARDBACK – split the answer 4,4 and you have a defender with a reputation.

18d Densely-packed travellers here having endless nerve and passion (8)
STEERAGE – charade of a verb to nerve (oneself) or muster one’s courage without its final letter and a word for passion or fury.

20d Bound to identify extra day? (4)
LEAP – the extra day occurs in the years that the Summer Olympics are held.

21d Count a hundred after doctor starts to use Latin again (7)
DRACULA – A and the Roman numeral for one hundred follow an abbreviation for doctor then we finish with the starting letters of three words in the clue.

22d Way ash, say, may be embedded in stone (6)
STREET – what ash is an example of goes inside an abbreviation for stone (that’s 14lb).

23d Picture menial worker keeping up with military leader (6)
FRESCO – reverse (keeping up) a menial worker in the Middle Ages and add the abbreviation for a military leader.

26d Charts end of descent into woe! (5)
ATLAS – insert the last letter of descent into an exclamation of woe.

Top clues for me were 15d and 17d. Which one(s) diverted you?



  1. Catherine
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    As usual I have to thank you gazza for the ones I couldn’t quite parse. 5a had me puzzled as all I could think of was to spring someone from prison as the second letting one escape. Then I still had one “letting one escape” too many! Did not think of “one” being “a” rather than “i”.
    Also missed the hidden word in 14a.
    Thanks again and thanks to Kcit for a very enjoyable puzzle.

  2. halcyon
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Like you, Gazza, I had trouble getting going but then it gradually fell into place. Thanks for explaining “one of many” in 19a, which I couldn’t parse – but no complaints and a chuckle at the synthetic flower in 25a. Also liked 12a, 21a and the elegant 21d.
    Thanks for the blog and thanks to Kcit for the challenge.

  3. dutch
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyable puzzle, fairly quick, though some loose definitions.

    I liked 14a (euston square) and 11d (5 letters)

    Thanks Gazza for full parsings for 5a 9a and 19a.
    5a, i was mislead into reading a double definition, since spring, as in spring from jail, is also valid interpretation of “letting one escape” – so the repetition came over as very confusing. I never made it to the “a”
    9a, I keep missing rock as an anagrind
    19a, didn’t see the “nth”

    IDIOM & MISUSE also came up in other crosswords today.

    Many thanks Kcit and Gazza

  4. Una
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    I only managed about 3/4’s before needing hints.I missed the anagram indicators in 9a and 12a which was rather stupid.
    One of the clues I did get was 29a and it immediately brought to mind another contributor who plays golf , goes on exotic holidays and doesn’t like Thursdays.
    Lots of great clues. I nominate 21 as an example.
    Thanks Gazza and Kcit.

  5. pommers
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Not keen on the grid of this one. There have been worse but it was a little like four seperate crosswords. The clues were pretty good though and I reckon 15d was the best.

    Silly me, I thought the five letters in 11d might be S,T,O and double U. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Thanks to Kcit and Gazza.

  6. jean-luc cheval
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    For my part it was the North East corner that gave me the most trouble.
    Apart from the falcon, the oracle and the ghost, I only penciled the answers to 5a, 8d and 16a. If the latter is supposed to be a homophone, I find it a bit poor.
    Didn’t get the two 4 letter words in the down clues nor 7d.
    So it’s **** for difficultly and only ** for enjoyment.
    Thanks to Kcit and to Gazza for the explanations.

    • gazza
      Posted June 17, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      16a is not a homophone (at least I don’t think it is). I think WRIT TEN is evidence that the legal action has already gone through WRIT ONE, WRIT TWO, etc. so if it gets to ten it means it’s continued for a long time. As I indicated in the blog I don’t like it, so any better ideas would be welcome.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted June 17, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        We have a game like that in France. You put your hand on the table and you say: Pince UN, (pince being slang for hand) the next person puts his and on yours and says Pince DEUX, you then put your second hand and say Pince THREE until you arrive at Pince SEPT, but the person who says it has the top of his skin twisted really hard because a pincette is a pinch.
        I think this game is as silly as the clue.

      • dutch
        Posted June 17, 2015 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        That is how I interpreted the clue – the ten seems arbitrary

      • Kath
        Posted June 17, 2015 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        I got the answer to 16a but didn’t understand why, and, I have to confess, still don’t really – never mind.

  7. Shropshirelad
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Phew!! That took some doing as I found it hard to get on Kcit’s wavelength. However, now that I’ve completed it, I don’t know what held me up. Well constructed clues and good surfaces – with the exception of 16a (I still don’t get it). Lots to like with 21d being my favourite.

    Thanks to Kcit for the puzzle and Gazza for his review. I shall now go and lie down in a dark room.

    • Kath
      Posted June 17, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      At the risk of sounding a bit on the risqué side please can I join you in the dark room!

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

        There’s always space in my dark room (I don’t get out much)

  8. 2Kiwis
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Pommers was not alone in thinking that the fifth letter was the second U of W. Much prefer the explanation from Gazza though. Last in for us was the SW corner where 29a was creating a problem until we got K as the starting letter. A steady solve where the answers came regularly but not rapidly. Good fun.
    Thanks Kcit and Gazza.

  9. Kath
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    I found that pretty tricky but did, eventually, finish it.
    I managed the bottom half without too much trouble. The top bit was a different matter.
    I always forget the kind of ‘second’ in 1a – stupid.
    I missed the 9a anagram.
    I still don’t really get 16a.
    I liked 12 and 13a and 6, 15 and 21d. My favourite was 11d – it reminds me of another long ago clue but can’t remember what it was – this is going to drive me mad!
    With thanks to Kcit and gazza.
    2/2 Toughies this week so far!

    • Heno
      Posted June 17, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      Re 11d, could it be A to M?

      • gazza
        Posted June 17, 2015 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

        In ST 2711 Virgilius had:
        Tiny piece using only half of alphabet (4)

        • jean-luc cheval
          Posted June 17, 2015 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

          That’s a good clue. Or should I say phab!

          • Hanni
            Posted June 17, 2015 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

            Bravo JL!

          • Kitty
            Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:02 pm | Permalink


  10. Heno
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Kcit and to Gazza for the review and hints. Favourite was 25a, second favourite was 22d. Couldn’t do this to save my life. Needed 15 hints to finish. Never heard of 29a. Was 5*/2* for me.

  11. Hanni
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Oh boy…

    Well it’s done. I needed to check the blog to confirm a few answers were correct and I made a complete pig’s ear of the SE corner. I did this by stupidly pencilling in ‘Ant farm’ for 19a. Missed the hidden in 14a and guessed at it. Oh and I initially thought 1d was ‘museum’.

    I’m now going to sit in a quiet corner.

    Many thanks to Kcit and to Gazza for your blog today. Goodness knows I needed it.

    Edit…that was very churlish of me not to mention that I enjoyed this. I thought 5 and 25a were very clever and 14a, when I finally understood it, made me smile. Thanks Kcit.

    • Kitty
      Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      Quiet corners are good. I’ve been taking refuge in mine for a while.

      • Hanni
        Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

        Wonderful aren’t they. In fact I’m going on holiday next week without any child type things or OH things in tow. I expect to return to chaos.

        • Kitty
          Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

          Yay! Apart from the returning to chaos bit

          • Hanni
            Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

            I’ve been writing lists for weeks.

            Do’s and don’ts, for God sake please remember to do this and ‘under no circumstances touch/attempt/try to do XYZ’, ever.

            I’m only away for 4 nights but there’s previous history.

            • Kitty
              Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

              Oh dear! I do hope they take heed of your instructions…

              Will you be away from the blog as well? With Jane away too, I’m feeling lonely and neglected :(.

              • Hanni
                Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

                No blog, no newspapers. No crosswords. Well I will print off a few to take with me. I know what you mean though, I miss Jane too.

                Really looking forward to the next birthday bash. Hope you, Jane and Kath will be there?

                • Kitty
                  Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

                  Well, good for you. I’m sure we will manage to cope without you somehow :). Have a lovely time.

                  I will be at all of the meets that I can sensibly attend. That should include most of the London ones. Very much looking forward to meeting you and Jane, and seeing existing friends again too

                  • Hanni
                    Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

                    Fantastic. See you there.

  12. Expat Chris
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m avoiding hints and even comments so as not to be influenced. I am having a very hard time with this. I can’t get on kCit’s wavelength at all. I finally have the right hand side almost complete but the left half is a desert. Maybe another go tomorrow will bring some enlightenment. Or maybe not.

  13. Angel
    Posted June 18, 2015 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    I found severaI clues completely impenetrable and simply couldn’t come to terms with this at all so have decided it’s definitely above my pay grade. And so to bed!

  14. Salty Dog
    Posted June 18, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    The 4th ODI coincided with my first stab at this last night, so it’s fair to say l was distracted! Finished this morning over coffee in total 3* time (the same for enjoyment, even though l always struggle with Kcit puzzles). The deceptively simple 14a was my favourite, and l confess that l’d never heard of 29a. But now l have, of course, so l’m grateful to Kcit for TFG e education. Thanks to Gazza for the review too.

  15. Tstrummer
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Tackled this one this morning after being awoken far too early by a call from my dentist telling me I should go and see her some time. I knew that already. Anyway, I found this a bit of a struggle and without Gazza’s typically concise hints, I would never have finished. Needed four or five of them. I also needed explanations for bung-ins, so thanks very much for the help. 21d was my favourite, but this was a bit too mind stretching to be great fun, si I’ll only give it 2*, with 4* for hardness

  16. billybusker
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Am I thick or what? After reading all the blogs I still can’t understand 5ac. Can anyone help this bonehead?

    • gazza
      Posted June 20, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Letting someone escape or letting them off is SPARING them. Let the A (one) escape to leave SPRING.

      • billybusker
        Posted June 21, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Gazza. What a chump I am!!