Toughie 1483

Toughie No 1483 by Micawber

What a difference a week makes!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This was much better than last Thursday’s trivial offering. I was well into the second cup of coffee by the time I’d finished it and very enjoyable it was too. The bottom half went in first without too many problems. The top half took a little longer and the puzzle had sneaked into the 4* difficulty zone by the time I had unravelled the last of the wordplay.

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    Promiscuous relationships producing victims (10)
CASUALTIES: Promiscuous + relationships = victims of war or accidents

6a    Sent away from edges of promenade for hairstyle (4)
AFRO: Take an 8-letter word meaning promenade and remove SE from the front and NT from the back

10a    Shock reversal — tried again (5)
RESAT: A reversal of ‘to give a shock to with a type of weapon’ = ‘tried again to pass an exam’

11a    Order a side of nachos in melting fondue (9)
ALIGNMENT: A + N (first letter of Nachos) in an anagram (fondue) of MELTING

12a    Unity ahead after division? (7)
ONENESS: A + head (AHEAD after division being A HEAD). Even the usual moaners can’t to object to the need to insert a space in this clue

13a    Found drink to be laced with acid (5,2)
START UP: ‘To found’ = ‘to drink’ round ‘acid’ or ‘sour’

14a    Violent grans, locked outside, broke the law (12)
TRANSGRESSED: An anagram (violent) of GRANS inside ‘locked’ or ‘having locks of hair’

18a    Lords not turning out to support ladies admitting excesses (12)
BACKWOODSMEN: Peers who seldom attend the House of Lords = ‘to support’ + ladies round excesses (or overdoses)

21a    Plain house around centre of France (7)
VANILLA: Plain, ordinary or standard = a large house round AN (middle two letters of FrANce)

23a    Tailback possibly recorded in TV presenter’s equipment (7)
AUTOCUE: A homophone of what could be a tailback of cars

24a    Combined honours between sporting and religious subjects? That’s taking on something meaty! (9)
PEPPERONI: A combined degree from Oxford University goes inside a sporting subject and a religious subject that contains ON to give an Italian sausage

25a    It’s not your fans who clap you in these (5)
IRONS: A cryptic definition for what you enemies might clap you in

26a    File capture failing to initialize (4)
RASP: A coarse file = ‘to capture’ with the first letter removed

27a    Get off with that girl from ‘ackney around fringes of London rave (3-7)
ALL-NIGHTER: ‘To get off a vehicle’ and ‘that girl’ with the initial H removed round LN (first and last letters of LondoN = a party that lasts till next morning


1d    Blinking thing perhaps gets one effing and blinding loudly (6)
CURSOR: A blinking thing on a computer screen sounds like someone who is effing and blinding

2d    Windows operating system may include these five tests following launch of server (6)
SASHES: A set of five test matches between the English and Australian cricket teams follows S (first letter of Server)

3d    Direct rocket’s nose to separate over the moon, according to rhyme? (2,3,4,5)
AS THE CROW FLIES: Direct (by the shortest way) = R (first letter of Rocket) inside ‘over the moon’ as suggested by the nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle

4d    Stationer‘s bizarre wigs (5,4)
TEARS INTO: An anagram (bizarre) of STATIONER = wigs (or scolds)

5d    More than one way to leave lover, once getting possessive (5)
EXITS: A former lover + a possessive pronoun

7d    Escape trial with extreme dispatch (8)
FLEETEST: ‘to escape’ + a trial

8d    Sons use drug company rearing spiders? (8)
OCTOPODS: A reversal of S (sons) + ‘to use’ + cannabis + company = creatures with eight legs

9d    Sign that wedding’s to be battle arena (10,4)
ENGAGEMENT RING: Battle + arena

15d    Playing, gets into a baby carriage (9)
GESTATION: An anagram (playing) of GETS INTO A. Carriage refers to carriage in the mother’s womb

16d    Ace paragraph about cattle’s cut in — quite good (5,3)
ABOVE PAR: A (ace) + an abbreviated form of ‘paragraph’ round ‘of cattle’ with IN removed

17d    Dozes after school, comprehending power in alcohol (8)
SCHNAPPS: An abbreviated form of ‘school’ + ‘dozes’ round P (power) = a strong alcoholic drink

19d    Go up to a price that’s around 100 (6)
ACCOST: A + COST round C (100)

20d    To cut corners carelessly’s right out (6)
CENSOR: ‘To cut material from books, films, etc.’ = an anagram (carelessly) of CONERS, i.e. CORNERS less R (right)

22d    Land in a ring (5)
ATOLL: Land (a type of island) = A + ‘to ring a bell’

More of the same please.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I had to check (a) that it was Thursday and (b) that it wasn’t just me that found this a proper Toughie 4*/4* for me too. Lots to enjoy so thank you Micawber and Bufo too.

  2. the dodger
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    A lovely work out of the old grey cells; I was about to get all grumpy about computer acronyms etc regarding 2dn when the penny dropped-very amusing. Thanks to Bufo for the clarifications of 6ac and 8dn and Micawber for a fine puzzle.

  3. JB
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    The answer to 12a is not entered correctly.

    Favourite? 9d

    Thank you both

    • Gazza
      Posted October 15, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Answer to 12a now fixed – thanks.

  4. Robin Hill
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Bufo’s assessment that this was an excellent Thursday Toughie in a very good week so far. 18a, 15d and 4d were among the cleverest clues, and 2d was also ingenious. I think there’s a typo in the answer to 12a. I’m expecting a fiendish puzzle tomorrow; I wonder which setter will deliver this ?

  5. halcyon
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Two lovely puzzles in a row – this one with the usual excellent and witty clueing from Micawber.

    Favourites were 6a [nice construction] 27a [ditto] 5d [excellent surface] and 16d [superb clue, I suspect quite difficult to do as elegantly as this].

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Bufo for the blog. BTW I think 22d is an “and lit’ – the whole clue being the def.

  6. stanXYZ
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I nearly finished this but failed on a couple – so near yet so far.

    Needed Toro’s help to explain 6a – the hairstyle and 18a – the Lords.

    I still don’t understand the wordplay in 24a but I got the sausage – Toro’s hint is even more convoluted than the clue itself.

    Good luck to Micawber & team in the next round of Only Connect – I think they’re still in it?

    • dutch
      Posted October 15, 2015 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Chambers says PPE is Philosophy, Politics and Economics, a combined degree (honours). Had me foxed.

    • stanXYZ
      Posted October 15, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Oops – it’s not Toro today,

      Many apologies, Bufo and thanks for the blog.

    • andy
      Posted October 15, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Bufo not Toro….

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted October 15, 2015 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Same problem with 24a. I had pep and peri for the sporting and religious spirit respectively taking on. But the clue didn’t make sense to me at all.

  7. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Quite disappointing really.
    Although I managed to finish in good time, I found some clues very clunky.
    6a ( sent away), 24a (combined honours), 9d (battle arena) and 16d ( ace paragraph).
    12a was quite clever.
    Not my favourite crossword by any means.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Bufo for the review.

  8. dutch
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks bufo for explaining the hairstyle (6a).

    Great puzzle. I hadn’t heard of this version of wigs (4d)

    I thought 12a was excellent with its clear indication for the lift-and-separate of “ahead” into “a head”.

    I loved 15d (baby carriage). Just brilliant. Also liked “Go up to a price..” in 19d.

    Thought 1a would have read better as “Victims of promiscuous relationships” – a great clue, though it’s been seen before.

    also liked 1d (just briefly, I was thinking they didn’t blink so much these days, but the last 3 I looked at did!), 18a, and many more.

    Many thanks Micawber and thanks buff for the review

  9. Kath
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I loved this, it’s taken me ages and there were so many at myself for being so dim.
    I needed Bufo’s hints to explain 6a and 8d.
    I don’t think I’ve heard of 18a before – or I’ve forgotten it.
    The 23a ‘tailback’, the 4d ‘wigs’ and the 15d ‘baby carriage’ took for ever for me to see.
    I liked the three that I’ve just mentioned and 1a and 9d and . . . lots of others too.
    With thanks to Micawber and to Bufo.

  10. Expat Chris
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Lovely stuff, even though I failed dismally on 23A, ‘article’ being the only word I could think of that fitted. Needed the review for the PPE in 24A and for 6D, and the BRB for the new definition of 18A. Many thanks to Micawber and Bufo.

    • Jane
      Posted October 15, 2015 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      I had ‘article’ in for ages!

  11. Jane
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Finished up with a completed grid but needed Bufo’s help to parse four of them – 11,18&24a plus 4d. Doubt I’ll be able to remember the combined honours for next time!
    Winners list includes 1&23a plus 15d.
    Very much enjoyed – a 4*/4* from me.
    Thanks to Micawber for an excellent puzzle and to Bufo for having all the answers.

    • crypticsue
      Posted October 15, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Try and remember the ‘honours’ – they turn up on a regular basis.

  12. Hanni
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink


    This took three sittings and a certain amount of pain. And it was worth every bit.

    The PPE part I didn’t struggle with. It was the rest that caused problems.

    Needed the blog to explain 18a and 2d, which are now my favourite clues. Genius.

    Many thanks to Micawber for a first rate puzzle and to Bufo for a much needed blog.

    I’m not sure I’m ready for tomorrows Toughie. Do we know who it is yet?

  13. Gazza
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    proXimal tomorrow.

    • Jane
      Posted October 15, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Scores on the doors for proXimal?

      • Gazza
        Posted October 15, 2015 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        For his last 10 Toughies the average BD Difficulty Rating is 3.35 and average Enjoyment Rating 3.5, but only 4 of those appeared on a Friday.

        • Jane
          Posted October 15, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          Umm – ‘nervous apprehension’ should just about cover it then?!!

          • Hanni
            Posted October 15, 2015 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

            Nervous apprehension, abject terror…it’s all the same thing.

  14. KiwiColin
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    18a was a usage that was new to me but had got the answer from the wordplay. PPE also had a question mark beside it. Really good fun to solve. Done in fits and starts as other activities kept getting in the way but did manage to write in the last answer before turning off the light last night. Good challenge, loads of fun.
    Thanks Micawber and Bufo.

  15. Wolfson Bear
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Catch up day for me as my crossword time yesterday was overpowered by work. So took on the the Wednesday and Thursday Toughies today courtesy of a very gentle RayT. Both were really enjoyable, both were in the “slow start” category for me. It always takes me a while to get on the Petitjean wavelength and today it was the same with Micawber.

    I failed to work out the reason for the hairstyle in today’s puzzle but it could not really have been any other answer – not seen many clues where one needs to peel of two letters on the edges.

    Many thanks to today’s and yesterday’s setter and blogger. This week’s toughies are distinclty better than last week so far for my taste

    And to RayT too

  16. Salty Dog
    Posted October 15, 2015 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m bound to say that either Bufo sets himself much more demanding time limits than l do, or he likes drinking cold coffee. On time taken, l score this 3* in terms of difficulty (although it felt harder). It certainly merits a 4*+ rating for enjoyment. Difficult to choose a favourite clue from so many contenders, but mine is 12a. Many thanks to Micawber for exercising the grey matter so thoroughly, and to Bufo for explaining how l should have arrived at some of my (correct) answers.