Toughie 1498

Toughie No 1498 by Micawber

Micawber Pulls It Off

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

We have another great puzzle from Micawber, a joy from start to finish. I may have mentioned once or twice that he is my favourite Toughie setter.

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 Rude blow — Britain lost domestic fixture (5-2,8)

9a Made fresh start to train with journalist after career changes (9)
RECREATED – the starting letter of train and our usual journalist follow an anagram (changes) of CAREER.

10a Jag regularly parked in Home Counties (5)
SPREE – insert regular letters from parked into the abbreviation for the area of the UK that we know as the Home Counties.

11a Celtic keeper’s back between uprights — Hibs wingers repelled (5)
IRISH – insert the rearmost letter of keeper between two upright letters and follow that with the outer letters (wingers) of Hibs reversed.

12a A Conservative runs into difficulty, getting rasher, in part (5,4)
BACON RIND – put A, an abbreviation for Conservative and R(uns) into a difficulty or predicament.

13a With which primarily door had to be rebuilt? (8)
HARDWOOD – a semi-all-in-one. We need an anagram (to be rebuilt) of W[hich] DOOR HAD.

14a Audio’s stored in memory and converted into money (6)
CASHED – this sounds like (audio’s) stored in computer memory for fast access.

16a France farewell — I must go to Portugal, it’s getting gradually clearer (4-2)
FADE-UP – string together the IVR code for France, a word for farewell without the I (I must go) and the IVR code for Portugal. Since the answer is a noun ‘getting’ must be a gerund.

18a Yen’s exchange rate mechanism over time not designed for quick profit (4-4)
LONG-TERM – a verb to yen or ache and the abbreviation for the exchange rate mechanism contain T(ime).

22a Outstanding  desert (9)
UNSETTLED – double definition. Desert, here, is an adjective.

23a Monitoring share of money in gold (5)
EYING – hidden (share of) in the clue. The spelling of the answer doesn’t look right but it is in Chambers.

24a Advertisement for Farah? (5)
PROMO – charade of a preposition meaning in favour of and the forename of the athlete Mr Farah.

25a Taking on ape? Retrograde appointment society’s held to be nonsense (9)
GIBBERISH – start with a small ape native to the forests of S-E Asia and take away the ON. Now reverse the appointment or engagement of a worker and insert the abbreviation for society.

26a Nurse getting into something like mud therapy for cold shoulder? (6,9)
SILENT TREATMENT – insert one of the abbreviations for a qualified nurse into the muddy stuff that’s deposited in an estuary for example. Add a word meaning therapy or medical care.

Down Clues

1d Cause to gleam like running water? (7)
BURNISH – this is how someone, especially a Scot, might cryptically describe the water running in a small stream.

2d In jug with no opening for parole, one’s increasingly irritated (7)
ITCHIER – inside a large jug without the opening letter of parole insert the Roman numeral for one.

3d Keep playing when tooth and gums so throbbing (3,4,4,2,2)
THE SHOW MUST GO ON – an anagram (throbbing) of WHEN TOOTH and GUMS SO provides an exhortation to keep playing.

4d What journalist would carry dead tree edition? (8)
NOTEBOOK – split the answer 3,1-4 and you’ll be describing it as being the opposite of modern technology.

5d Take sailor’s pipe (6)
ABDUCT – one of the abbreviations for a sailor followed by a pipe or tube.

6d Transported fish in dark, with net requiring this? (15)
DISENTANGLEMENT – the answer, as well as being what may be required for a net, is also here used as the anagram indicator for the fodder NET. Before that we need to insert a verb meaning transported or dispatched and a verb meaning to fish inside an adjective meaning dark or sombre. Clever but tricky to write a hint for!

7d Swimmer stupid to plunge right in (3,4)
OAR FISH – an adjective meaning stupid or doltish with the abbreviation for right plunged into it. I didn’t know this swimmer which is long (possibly very long) and slender with a red ribbon running the length of its body.

8d Letter wound up improved (7)
EMENDED – one of our 26 letters followed by a verb meaning wound up or finished up. This was my last answer as I was trying to find the reversal of a wound.

15d Shallow and cheap, a fellow doing a runner (8)
FORDABLE – an adjective meaning cheap or reasonably priced without the starting A and F(ellow).

16d To copy dad’s embrace of United is a mistake (4,3)
FAUX PAS – string together a verb to transmit an exact copy of a document, an affectionate word for dad and the ‘S, then insert the abbreviation for united.

17d I sloped off conveying plunder (7)
DESPOIL – an anagram (off) of I SLOPED.

19d Organisation‘s independence entered into demotion of head of Federal Reserve (7)
EDIFICE – start with the abbreviation for federal and drop its first letter to the bottom (demotion of head) and insert I(ndependence) into it. Finally add a synonym for the falsely-capitalised reserve.

20d Still warning to handle drink with care? (7)
MUGSHOT – split the answer 3’1,3.

21d Fix parking lamp (6)
PLIGHT – the abbreviation for parking and a lamp or illumination.

Lots of clues jostled for the lead but I’ll restrict myself to 12a, 1d, 4d and 20d. Which one(s) made your shortlist?


  1. Shropshirelad
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Fairly flew through this with the exception of the SE corner which took longer to do than the rest of the puzzle. Like Gazza, Micawber is in my top 3 favourite setters of the toughie, so there was enjoyment aplenty. 11, 13, & 22a were particularly splendid along with 1 & 15d. 10a was a new word for me, but my favourite is 25a.

    Thanks to Micawber for the puzzle and enjoyment and Gazza for the review.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

  3. Hanni
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 2:18 pm | Permalink


    Mmmmm. What a pleasure that was. Now I want to solve it again.
    Held up a bit with the word play for 16a and took me awhile to spot the hidden.

    I’ve got stars by 16 clues today. Naming a favourite is impossible. Joyful.

    Many many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for a first rate blog. The 26a picture scares me.

    La dolce vita.

  4. Kitty
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    A joy, and gentle enough even for a little Kitty too. Mostly. It’s been a day of failing to get one answer – in this case, 19d.

    My shortlist for favourites is not, so I will just mention 6d which required lots of 6d.

    Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I have so many clues checked off that it’s hard to pick a favorite. I’ll settle for 25A, 3D ( Foo Fighters eh?) and 6D. Is 16A some technical term I’m not aware of? I was defeated by 19D, but never mind. That didn’t spoil my enjoyment. Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      A fade-up is increasing the brightness of an image or the volume of a sound. It’s not very logical but I suppose that the construction is similar to the ‘warm-down’ that athletes now have after a race.

  6. dutch
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    That was great! First one in was 11a and a taste of things to come. I loved the all-in-one at 13a, the “mud therapy” in 26a. Got caught on 16a as it took me a while to parse France separately from farewell. Liked the Jag, nice capitalisation and a new meaning for me.

    Good surface in 2d.. 6d! I was trying to work out if it was an all-in-one when I finally realised no, the 15-letter answer is the indicator! pretty clever making that work. Took me a while to see the letter in 8d. For 4d I wasn’t sure I had the right parsing but same as Gazza’s, and 20d raised a smile.

    many thanks Gazza and Micawber!

    • Hanni
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Glad it wasn’t just me re 16a.

  7. Dr_Bob
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Agree with the ***/*****. An excellent puzzle that was great fun to solve. The blog helped a lot with understanding the wordplay for a couple of clues (4d and 19d) so many thanks.

  8. pommers
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I agree wth Shropshirelad about the SE corner being the tricky bit.

    The whole thing was great entertainment and didn’t frighten the horses too much. As a Toughie I’d go for ***/****.

    No stand-out favourite for me but I did quite like 7d as it’s quite apposite for this time of year in this part of the world. Swimming pools look so inviting in the bright sunshine but, believe me, they are Freezing with a capital F. If you’re a masochist (I’m not) you would have to just dive in as you’d never make it down the steps.

    Thanks a lot to Micawber and Gazza.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Where’s the mouse pommers?

      • pommers
        Posted November 11, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Slowpoke is on vacation. I came across this photo of me yesterday while sorting some stuff. It was taken in the Summer of 1954 – I’m nut pushing the mower but learning to stand by using it as a walking frame. Suppose I’ll be back to one of thos in a few years

        Slowpoke will be back.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Started solving with SW corner, which is quite unusual for me as it is often the one that gives me the most problems. But I suppose the French connection in 16a & d did help.
    Lasts in were 1d and 19d and although the first part of the clue made sense, I couldn’t parse them fully.
    Favourite is 20d followed shortly by the homophone in 14a.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza.

  10. halcyon
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle. Favourites were 25a [taking on ape!] 6d [v clever] and 16d [a gimme but a lovely surface].
    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  11. Markb
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Definitely a 5/5 for me. Great puzzle and really excellent review. Many thanks to both.

  12. 2Kiwis
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Lovely stuff. IVR codes are often our nemesis and 16a had two of the blighters but they did not present a significant problem today. We also needed a Google check for the 7d fish but pretty obvious what it had to be. Really good fun.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  13. Jane
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Much enjoyed but came across a few things I didn’t know:-
    Definition of JAG in 10a
    Terminology in 16a
    The ‘ice’ bit of 19d – still not sure of that!
    The fish at 7d
    All arrived at eventually through the word play apart from 19d which was a late bung-in.

    11a – what a long-winded clue! Given the checkers, I just wrote in the answer and worked it out later.
    Plenty of ‘ticks’ but I’ll give the honours to 20d – brilliant!

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for a very articulate review – what on earth did you put into Google to come up with the pic for 26a?!!

    • Expat Chris
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      If you put something by, or reserve it, you could to be said to be putting it on ice, perhaps?

    • Gazza
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Ice for reserve crops up quite often. It’s a noun meaning reserve, formality, coolness of manner, frigidity.

    • gnomethang
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      I read ‘jag’ just the other day in a book – I understood it in contect but looked it up to confirm. It wasn’t much of a jump from what I thought of as ‘a jolly’ to a spree.

    • Jane
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      Sorry to be late getting back to you all – had to go out to a meeting this evening.
      Thanks for the help – I’m ‘with it’ now regarding the ‘ice’ – stupidly I was looking for something far more complex!
      As for ‘jag’ – I must have come across it somewhere before because the odd very faint bells were ringing when I worked out the word play.

  14. Micawber
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all your comments, I’m pleased to see a good range of clues that differently stroked different folks.
    Re ‘ice’ at 19d, dictionaries give the noun as a synonym for ‘reserve, formality’, and as such it does crop up periodically in crosswordland, but your queries make me wonder whether I should consign it to the archive along with ‘acceptable=U’ et al. It doesn’t crop up a lot down at the Dog and Duck.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for dropping in, Micawber, and thanks for the super puzzle. Well done too for your team’s progress (so far) in ‘Only Connect’.

    • Kitty
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for dropping by, Micawber. The crossword stroked this Kitty nicely, as yours always do.

      “Ice” for “reserve” seems fine to me, but I wouldn’t mind seeing “U” for “acceptable” retired.

    • dutch
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for dropping in Micawber, makes our day. Brilliant puzzle.

    • Hanni
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for dropping in. Cannot like this puzzle enough.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Always great to see the setter popping in. So, thanks again for a super puzzle – I really enjoyed it.

    • Jane
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for dropping in, Micawber – great puzzle.
      Please don’t abandon ‘ice’ on my account, but perhaps use it again quite soon whilst its still in the forefront of my mind!!

  15. happy days
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    After a super Excalibur yesterday, a very enjoyable Micawber today. Totally different styles but both fun to solve

  16. gnomethang
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Great puzzle, thanks Micawber. When I saw the Strapline from gazza I thought that we were in for some innuendo (coughs).
    Thanks to gazza for the review and Kudos for the Dave Grohl picture (The finest human being ever to pick up a guitar or drumstick)

    • Expat Chris
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      Son and wife are big fans and went to his concert in Washington D. C. on July 4th. They said he was carried on stage in a throne! The verdict on the show was “awesome”.

  17. Gazza
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m a bit disappointed that nobody’s commented on the elephant picture which I thought was very amusing.

    • gnomethang
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      …and I just spotted that! Well Done!

      • Kitty
        Posted November 11, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it was. All of the pics are good today.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Aw, sorry. I thought it as sweet.

    • Jane
      Posted November 11, 2015 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

      Only just realised that there’s a second elephant almost totally submerged! Is that a baby following his Mum, I wonder?
      Sorry, Gazza, think I was still chuckling over your foray into mud wrestling.

  18. Salty Dog
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    I found this pretty hard, but completed – to my surprise, because it took me ages to get a foothold – well within 3* time. I filled the SW corner first, then most of the top half, then gradually chipped away at the pesky SE corner. Here l found my favourite clue – 20d. Certainly 4* for enjoyment overall. Thanks to Micawber, and to Gazza (particularly for the invisible heffalump!).

  19. Una
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Very satisfying and great fun.
    11a felt like a second mention in one week.My favourite is 3d. 14a deserves mention as do many others.
    I needed the hint for 7d.
    With thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  20. Brian
    Posted November 11, 2015 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Managed half then gave up, way above my pay grade I’m afraid.

  21. Alex Gordon
    Posted November 12, 2015 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    Thought it was going to be difficult but after getting a few it was quite easy but very enjoyable, though I didn’t really get 25ac. I know an ape is gibbon and society is s but after that… only got the answer because I had other letters. Can someone please explain? Thanks.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 12, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog, Alex,
      GIBB[on] without the ON is followed by the reversal (retrograde) of HIRE (appointment) holding S(ociety), so GIBB ERI S H.

    • Alex Gordon
      Posted November 12, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Thanks mate and as this was my first T toughie in ages l was delighted to finish it. Been doing the times now on Saturdays now for several months because it is cheaper and I enjoy their biggie in the supplement but I think I’ll go back to the telegraph, if only for the fun factor!

  22. Heno
    Posted November 12, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one a lot, I haven’t been able to get into a Toughie for ages. Lots of smiles, super entertainment. Needed the hints for 15d, and had to look up 19d, but managed the rest. Favourite was 1a great anagram. Was 4*/4* for me.

  23. judetheobscure
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I finished it. My first toughie ever finished so that’s got to be a 5* for enjoyment. Now I need to check on the parsing detail for seven answers!!
    3* difficulty. Favourites are 14a and 24a.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 14, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Well done!