Toughie 1523

Toughie No 1523 by Firefly

Somewhere over the Rainbow

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I’ve had to give this 4 stars for difficulty because of the ridiculous length of time it took me to see 5 down even with all the checking letters in place. In my defence I was out late last night and up early this morning so the brain wasn’t functioning at full capacity. Perhaps that’s why I also had difficulty sorting out some of the wordplay. But overall I thought it was a nice puzzle. The theme was evidently early on but the puzzle was still a worthwhile challenge. Apparently this is Firefly’s 100th Toughie so congratulations are in order

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    MGM‘s typical macho man? 16, hands down! (6)
STUDIO: A typical macho man + the middle two letters of the answer to 16 across. I assume that’s how it works and that ‘hands down’ somehow suggest the removal of both ends of the word

5a    Drips of understudies taking on board wizard’s tips — re overacting for starters (8)
DEWDROPS: An abbreviated form of deputies (understudies) goes round the first and last letters of WizarD and the first letters of Re Overacting

9a    A couple of overs tore down madly, but put no opener in difficulty (3,2,3)
ONE OR TWO: An anagram (madly) of O (overs) TORE OWN (DOWN less the first letter of Difficulty)

10a    Mysteries a rainbow’s genesis is able to answer? (6)
ARCANA: A + the first letter of Rainbow + ‘is able to’ + A (answer)

11a    Ruby’s last drink with forward fellow offering security (4,4)
YALE LOCK: The last letter of rubY + unhopped beer + a rugby union forward

12a    In bewitched style, digressing from stately address (2,4)
AT HOME: STATELY with the letters of STYLE removed + address

14a    Notice Louis, maybe, at play with odd slippers — far from clumsily (8)
ADROITLY: A notice + the French word for one such as Louis I to Louis XIX + the even letters of aT pLaY (the odd letters having slipped)

16a    See 25 Across

18a    Direct O’Toole in part as a member of the 5D band (4)
TOTO: 6 down‘s dog is hidden in DirecT O’TOole

19a    Marvel’s left note for Charlie during wrap for film (8)
MEMBRANE: The first (or left-hand) letter of Marvel + ‘to wrap’ with C (Charlie) replaced by N (note)

21a    Disturb / badger / bait (6)
HARASS: ‘To disturb’ or ‘to badger’ or ‘to bait’

22a    Disallow deliveries — pity — when crossing line (8)
OVERRULE: Six deliveries in cricket + pity round L (line)

23a    Buttery clafoutis waiter brought Adam for seconds, with depleted filling of cherry (6)
LARDER: A buttery (storeroom for provisions) = the second letters of cLafoutis wAiter bRought Adam + the middle two letters of chERry

24a    Munch noodles around Emerald’s van, where one’s idling (5,3)
LOOSE END: An anagram (munch) of NOODLES round the first letter (or van) of Emerald

25a/16a    Transfer rugby player like Noel, one for 5D’s team? (8,4)
COWARDLY LION: A rugby player representing the British Isles follows a word that could mean ‘like an English playwright named Noel’. The ‘transfer’ indicates that the rugby player comes first

26a    It’s awful to criticise Mum’s Latin (6)
DISMAL: A slang word meaning ‘to criticise’ or ‘to treat with disrespect’ + mum (mother) + L (Latin)


2d    Capital for transaction secured by partner, one in 5D’s company (3,3)
TIN MAN: The first letter (capital) of Transaction + ‘secured by’ + a male partner

3d    Bishop and I so busy outside church (8)
DIOCESAN: An anagram (busy) of AND I SO round an abbreviation denoting ‘church’

4d    In error over rise, get someone independent to do it (9)
OUTSOURCE: ‘In error’ + a rise or origin

5d    25 bloke excitedly touring Rhode Island; for him, and four others here, a fantastic route, but uphill all the way! (4,5,6)
DAOR KCIRB WOLLEY: An anagram (excitedly) of the answer to 25 across and BLOKE round RI (Rhode Island). The answer was followed from south to north and that is the way that it has to be read in the grid

6d    Hot springs with fish circling one of 5D’s troupe (7)
DOROTHY: An anagram (springs) of HOT inside a golden-yellow sea fish

7d    With ‘ideousness on the radio, I root around to find some music (8)
ORATORIO: A homophone (on the radio) of ‘ideousness + an anagram (around) of I ROOT

8d    One in 5D’s party has singular trouble over Conservative line (9)
SCARECROW: S (singular) + trouble + C (Conservative) + a line

13d    Soak and squeeze calico cloth, dislodging rinds from Camembert (9)
ALCOHOLIC: A soak = an anagram (squeeze) of CALICO LOH, i.e. CALICO CLOTH minus the first and last letters (rinds) of CamemberT

15d    Rented land using 16’s capital to alleviate reserve (9)
LEASEHOLD: The first letter (capital) of the answer to 16 across + ‘to alleviate’ + ‘to reserve’

17d    Run riot, as Alice does with cake? (8)
OVERGROW: At the end of Chapter 1 and the beginning of Chapter 2 of Alice in Wonderland Alice ate a cake and she became 9 feet tall

18d    Dry and rent-free? (8)
TEARLESS: This word meaning ‘dry-eyed’ could also mean without rents (or rips)

19d    He uses arm vigorously! (7)
MASSEUR: An anagram (vigorously) of USES ARM

20d    Without unusual delay, cast leading lady star from Oz (6)
GLINDA: An anagram of LADING, i.e. LEADING LADY without the letters of DELAY = the name of the Good Witch of the South in Oz

A Merry Christmas to one and all


  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Loved the theme as I love the movie.
    Let’s hope that 5d doesn’t become the norm as I can’t imagine crosswords having answers upside down or back to front.
    Congratulations to Firefly on his 100th toughie.
    Thanks to Bufo and best wishes for the festive season.

  2. dutch
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    a million things to do today but still found time for this enjoyable puzzle with, er, some innovative wordplay that had me convinced there was a typo in the enumeration. Only once I had confirmed the anagram did I twig 5d, having the K checker – I took the last 5 words in the clue to be the cryptic instruction for this surprise.

    1a, I took hands down to mean without left and right, and would suggest the exclamation mark is well placed.

    I was thinking Louis who? for ages.

    “depleted” confused me in 23a – is it needed? – a great clue with a very nicely hidden definition.

    Foi was 26a, loi were 15d and 18d.

    I particularly liked 10a (mysteries a rainbow’s genesis is able to answer) and 13a (soak and squeeze calico cloth)

    Many thanks Firefly, most enjoyable, and congratulations on your 100th toughie! and thank you Bufo for the review

  3. stanXYZ
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    5D – Never seen this sort of clue before … hopefully never again!

    • Jane
      Posted December 24, 2015 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Hi Stan, and thank you for the clip. Brilliant clue I thought, but perhaps only permissible in the Land of Oz, where everything is possible!

  4. Jane
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Filled me with horror when I saw how many interdependent clues there were and that the ‘main’ one appeared to revolve around rugby! Fortunately, 3&13d fell quite easily and I could only see one possible word to fit 16a. Pennies started to drop and I was off and away.
    No problems with 5d – the ‘k’ and the ‘y’ were in place and I was already humming the tune.
    Favourite was the theme and everything connected to it – lovely story. Shame that the red shoes didn’t get a mention!

    Thank you, Firefly, and congrats on your 100th Telegraph Toughie. A Merry Christmas to you.
    Thanks also to Bufo – I was struggling to fully parse 10a (wanted ‘arc’ to be the rainbow) and the last three letters of 14a. Hope you’re ready to start into the Christmas ‘cheer’ now!

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted December 24, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jane,
      Au contraire. Her shoes were mentioned with ruby and slippers.
      Have a lovely Xmas eve and see you tomorrow.

      • Jane
        Posted December 24, 2015 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Hi, JL. Wow – that’s a little like ‘clutching at straws’ but I’ll let you get away with it as it’s Christmas. The same cannot be said for your Nina attempt in the Cryptic!
        Being a paper-only solver and also being off to spend a boozy Christmas Day and night with a friend (female, purely platonic!) I won’t be seeing you tomorrow, so all the very best to you and I’ll be back with you all soon.

        • jean-luc cheval
          Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          I got the paper too today.
          Loved the 999 calls. And not only that beautiful story of the three years old girl but the bizarre calls reminded me of some comments and complaints people make on BD.
          As for the crossword, there was so many refs. MGM, the wizard, the rainbow, ruby, slippers, bewitched, film, oz and munch for the little munchkins.
          Almost every across clue was somehow related.
          Let’s hope it is going to be on French TV over the holidays.
          Still haven’t finished Elgar 2014. Double toughie indeed.
          Have a great time with your friend.

  5. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    We were very slow to get a foothold on this one and spent ages struggling to get a starting point with just a few answers scattered through the grid. The breakthrough came with a flash of inspiration that gave the 25a, 16a combination and led to other members of the team. Still 5d took ages. Don’t remember ever having encountered this device before. Certainly took us well into Hard Toughie time and good fun all the way.
    Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  6. neveracrossword
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink



    • stanXYZ
      Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:07 pm | Permalink




      • Kitty
        Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        ¡ʞןoɟ uʍop ǝpısdn noʎ ‘sɐɯʇsıɹɥƆ ʎɹɹǝW

        • Jane
          Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

          You clever girl – how on earth did you manage that?!!
          Love your Christmas kitty and his/her good wishes. Enjoy yourself and look forward to January.

          • Kitty
            Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

            Thanks Jane – have a lovely Christmas too.

            The type thing is easy enough to do. You can either turn the keyboard over or stand on your head.

          • stanXYZ
            Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

            I do yoga – everything becomes clear when standing on one’s head!

  7. Una
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I can work out how Neveracrossword and stanXYZ did that, but not how Kitty did it.Tseb sehsiw morf em oot.

    • Kitty
      Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      Hi Una. Mr K is an antipodean and he taught me how to write upside down so we could communicate without him always having to be the one doing the headstands.

      • Una
        Posted December 24, 2015 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        Ho Ho Ho !

  8. Jane
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m starting to think that those who do the Toughies have already made a start on the sherry trifle! Last time I popped across to ‘the other side’ everyone there was still behaving in a genteel fashion. Hic! xxx

    • Kitty
      Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t do this one, but there was fun to be had so over I came.

      Since I am here being silly I should probably add my thanks to all involved – and apologies that all your efforts were wasted on me. Thanks, and Merry Christmas, to Firefly and Bufo.

      • Jane
        Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        Still time to give it a go, Kitty – it’s a real ‘feel good’ theme, which you can guess from the review heading, and you already know the unusual answer!
        Don’t you dare tell Gazza but, once I’d got the 16/25 combo, I clicked as to what else would be likely to put in an appearance and looked for clues with the right number of letters in the answers. I don’t call that remotely cheating – just using my initiative!

  9. Expat Chris
    Posted December 25, 2015 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    Hello and Merry Christmas to all for whom it is already here and who are still awake. I needed help with 9A and never did get 5D, but never mind. It was a lovely puzzle and lots of fun. Thank you Firefly and Bufo.

    Going to print out the on-line puzzles now and maybe I can get a foothold on the toughie before the chaos that will be tomorrow.

  10. Heno
    Posted December 25, 2015 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Firefly and to Bufo for the review and hints. I’ve never seen anything like 5d before, I thought it was terrible. Not a puzzle for me, as I always disliked the Wizard of Oz from a very early age. Bah humbug :-)

  11. Lesley
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    only just had time to do this. had to cheat on 5d to get me started. then great fun. thanks guys