Toughie 1489

Toughie No 1489 by MynoT

Hints and tips by Toro

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

MynoT makes a rare but most welcome Tuesday appearance with a satisfying puzzle that tested and expanded my vocabulary.

Definitions are underlined. 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 Refrain from embracing European grandparent, for example (8)
FOREBEAR To refrain or show restraint, around E(uropean). (Not really ‘refrain from’.)

6a Set limits to Queen’s dances (6)
CAPERS To put a ceiling or upper limit on + the Queen’s, if written using her regnal initials.

9a Amazon area’s protected by maiden … (6)
VIRAGO A(rea) inside a constellation and star sign representing a maiden.

10a … one like this, perhaps, popular during loudly disturbed times (8)
FEMINIST Popular or fashionable inside the letter denoting loudly in music + anagram of TIMES.

11a American volume on alternative technology is primarily for intellectual elite (8)
LITERATI American spelling of a measure of volume + A(lternative) T(echnology) I(s).

12a Root for other fresh boxing unknown (6)
EXHORT Anagram of OTHER around a letter denoting an algebraic unknown. (In my book – not BRB as I don’t have a dictionary handy – the solution means to urge [someone to do something], not to root for [someone] or urge [someone on].)

13a Gismo that’s narrow stick on my appliance (12)
THINGUMMYJIG Narrow or slender + to stick or glue + MY + a device for guiding an object being worked with a tool.

16a Account of graduate female getting first for essay in medical journal (7,5)
BALANCE SHEET Letters after a graduate’s name, then a female + E(ssay), both inside a famous medical journal.

19a Learn to follow author’s thought (6)
PENSEE Literary word for an author + to learn or discover.

21a Engrossed with second ball found in a bit of garden (8)
ABSORBED S(econd) + a ball or sphere, inside A + a patch of garden where plants are grown.

23a Three notes have connected (8)
RELATIVE Three notes from the do-re-mi scale + shortened spoken form of have.

24a Desert that woman? Yes! (6)
RATHER To desert + pronoun meaning that woman.

25a European spirit for example lies in backing arts (6)
STREGA Latin abbreviation meaning for example inside ARTS reversed.

26a Murderer’s criminal objection (8)


2d Source of old gear at home (6)
ORIGIN O(ld) + a piece of equipment or gear + at home.

3d A Borgia returned not about to destroy (5)
ERASE One of the Borgia family from Renaissance times, reversed and with the letter meaning about or approximately deleted.

4d Bighead, say, going to Gulf state on international account (9)
EGOMANIAC Latin abbreviation meaning say or for example + a country in the Arabian Gulf + I(nternational) + AC(count).

5d Searching for grooving (7)
RIFLING Searching or ransacking, and the grooves inside the barrel that give a type of gun its name.

6d Search eastern valley (5)
COMBE To search thoroughly + E(astern).

7d Tea in cooking vessel variable at Indian village council (9)
PANCHAYAT A word for tea in-between a shallow cooking vessel and an algebraic variable + AT.

8d Hold back and wait in the face of bad weather (8)
RESTRAIN To wait or pause + a kind of bad weather.

13d Vehicle’s departed? One’s going to get express, clearly (9)
TRANSLATE A rail transport vehicle + S + departed or dead, then delete the Roman numeral one.

14d Frantic alerts given to mother in whirlpool (9)
MAELSTROM Familiar form for mother + anagram of ALERTS.

15d Frame traitor? (8)
CASEMENT A windowframe, and the surname of Sir Roger ________, human rights advocate and UK diplomat-turned-Irish revolutionary, hanged for treason in 1916.

17d Sow around wonder that grows in pools … (7)
SEAWEED To sow, around a word for wonder or amazement.

18d … go back and again sow, broadcast (6)
RECEDE Sounds like a verb meaning to sow again.

20d Heather‘s anger over accountant (5)
ERICA A word for anger or wrath, reversed, then an acronym for a qualified accountant.

22d One who makes estimates back to back? About time (5)
RATER A word for back or hind part, reversed, around T(ime).


15d, which rang only a distant bell, was my last in.

Loved 7d for cluing an obscure word fairly while conjuring a marvellous image. Others I liked a lot included 16a, 4d (I wonder which 4d he has in mind?) and 13d.

On the down side, there were a couple of imprecise synonyms that, if this were a rookie puzzle, I would guess were due to unthinking use of a thesaurus.

Over to you – please rate and comment on this puzzle below.


  1. Hanni
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 2:11 pm | Permalink


    Definitely a 3* difficulty, possibly more. 13a caused me the most problems. Mainly as I pencilled in the wrong answer. A similar answer but the wrong one. Had to look up 7d. But as Toro said, what a clever clue. I’ve never heard of it before but certainly getable.

    I’ve got stars by 8 clues but since Kath’s hosing her path I’m naming 3 favourites…7d, 16a and 26a.

    What a start to the Toughie week. Lush.

    Many thanks to MynoT and to Toro blogging.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Toro.
    Couldn’t get 15d at all even with all the checkers yet again.
    Not surprised really. Never heard of him.
    Took forever to find the right spelling for 13a as it was one of my first in and couldn’t parse “thingamajig” until I found the other version.
    Google helped me get the first part of 7d.
    Framboise would have been very helpful, having lived in India for so long.
    My first answer in 12a was theory. That slowed me down a bit too.
    All in all, a nice challenge,
    Favourite is 23a ( three notes).
    Thanks to MynoT and to Toro for the help.

  3. Jane
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t quite given in to using the hints yet but just wanted you all to know that I am unbelievably stuck with the SW corner.

    • Hanni
      Posted October 27, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Keep at it Jane. It’s definitely not easy that bit.

  4. halcyon
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you about some rather woolly defs Toro. And 8d is a tad wordy, but I liked 11a and 16a.

    Thanks for the blog and thanks to MynoT for the puzzle.

  5. Shropshirelad
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Finally managed to complete this after a fair amount of head scratching and leaps of faith. Not the fault of the setter, just me having apparently lost my ability to solve crosswords. Mind you, haven’t done a MynoT for a bit – so probably out of practise.

    Thanks to MynoT for the major headache and Toro for the blog to confirm my parsing.

  6. Jane
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Got there in the end but definitely had a couple of grumbles about the SW corner. I’d bunged in 15d but, like JL, hadn’t heard of the man and it didn’t occur to me that it was a surname! As for 19a – I know this is a Toughie but would still have thought that a nod towards the derivation of the word was in order here – maybe that’s just sour grapes because it took me so long to work it out.
    Definitely into 4+* time with a 2-3* for enjoyment.
    Rather liked both 16a&13d – favourite has to be 13a, such a useful word!

    Thanks to MynoT and also to Toro for enlightening me about Mr. 15d.

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    We rattled through this one quite quickly. There were a few obscurities that we had to check on, 7d and 25a for example, but we thought that, in Don Manley fashion, these were the ones with the most accessible wordplay. Good fun.
    Thanks MynoT and Toro

    • Jane
      Posted October 27, 2015 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      ‘rattled through quite quickly’?!!! That’s it ……..I’m off to lie down in a darkened room and nurse my shattered ego.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted October 27, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Sorry Jane, that room is already taken – try under the stairs.

        • Hanni
          Posted October 27, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

          I’m in my comfy corner pretending it didn’t happen.

        • Jane
          Posted October 27, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          Sadly, haven’t got any stairs, SL. However, I do spy an unopened bottle of red in the wine rack.
          By the way – trying to figure out your avatar. Very attractive, but I’m being ignorant (yet again!).

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted October 27, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

            It is the badge worn by qualified submariners in the RN. To qualify is a long hard slog, here’s a taste:


            • Jane
              Posted October 27, 2015 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

              Wow – that was certainly an interesting read, SL. Is the badge yours? Do tell us more.

              • Shropshirelad
                Posted October 27, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

                I’ll bring a set along to the Birthday bash and I’ll tell you more then – if you’re there (don’t want to clutter up the blog)

                • Jane
                  Posted October 27, 2015 at 7:08 pm | Permalink


  8. Expat Chris
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    The only rattling around here is the noise my chest is making, courtesy of this darned lurgy that apparently likes me too much to leave.

    I was actually doing quite well, despite new words that had to be verified and the unusual spelling of 13A, until I hit the SW corner and came to a screeching halt over 15D, 19A and 23A. Shamefully (and being fed up with banging my already aching head against the wall) I eventually revealed letters, otherwise they would have remained unsolved. Thanks to Toro for the review and thanks to MynoT.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted October 27, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      Sorry to hear you’re still poorly. Take less water with the whisky – you’ll soon forget about everything.

  9. kartoffel kopf
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Yes that was a pretty sore landing! Actually pleased that I could work out quite a bit of the wordplay but couldn’t make much sense of the answers. Got about 5 or 6 on my own but it was good to go through with the hints as a learning experience so many thanks to the bloggers for this.

    Without access to a darkened room or stiff drink on the train, got to drive at the end, I think I may have to actually read the paper to give my head a rest.

  10. dutch
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    My 29 yr-old daughter is visiting from Holland, she loves being with her little brother and sister (maybe not so little, they’re almost her height by now). We all went to see Spectre today – good fun.

    many thanks Toro for explaining traitor, I had no idea even with the answer.

    I also highlighted 16a and 7d, as well as 25a and 22d.

    thought pools was an odd choice in 17d, and pity 5 & 6d were both Search…

    Many thanks MynoT and thanks Toro

    • Paso Doble
      Posted October 27, 2015 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      Hi Dutch, we are feeling too feeble to embark upon the Toughie at this time of night – we always check out the ratings and anything over a ** is rather above our limits. We went to see Spectre last night – 10 quids-worth of pure entertainment, especially the opening sequence.

    • Toro
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 12:56 am | Permalink

      He means rock pools, I’m sure, which makes the association with seaweed pretty clear.

  11. Wolfson Bear
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    A few words and a traitor I had not previously come across added an element of difficulty. Quite a nice start to the toughie week. Hope it is as good as last week – I still have the Osmosis Friday puzzle in the “to do” pile due to a day off for beer adventures upnorf.

    • andy
      Posted October 27, 2015 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      The Osmosis well worth a solve WB

  12. andy
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Head held very low, BIFD 9a on train early this morning. Hours later seeing the parsing, d’oh. Cheers Toro and MynoT.

  13. Salty Dog
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    A definite glow of achievement once the last clue was solved, but it took some time. 3*/4*, and my favourite was definitely 13a. Thanks to MynoT, and to Toro.

  14. judetheobscure
    Posted November 4, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    My first proper attempt at a Toughie – ie. I got past only one or two answers!
    Was defeated by the SW corner. Five stubborn mules. I forgave myself on 15d, 19a and 25a but should have got 23a and 13d.
    Very enjoyable though and nothing that couldn’t be worked out with a bit more knowledge!
    How do the star ratings work here? Are they relative to toughies in general or relative to all the crosswords on offer?
    4*/3* if the latter :)
    Favourites 13a and 23a.