Toughie 1530

Toughie No 1530 by Dada

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I didn’t have many problems in filling in the grid but then it took me almost as long again to decide how the last couple of clues worked. It was all perfectly fair and I enjoyed 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.


1a    One curing heartbreak? Inspiring film song of the Fifties (4,2,6)
LOVE ME TENDER: ‘One curing heartbreak?’ (4,6) round the shortened title of a Spielberg film (2). The answer is a 1956 Elvis Presley song which featured in a film of the same name.

9a    Disappear, somehow like gas masks on worried faces (2,7)
GO WALKIES: An anagram (somehow) of LIKE GAS goes round (masks) the first letters (faces) of On Worried

10a    Serious / mark of a French writer? (5)
GRAVE: 2 meanings: serious/a mark (accent) used in written French

11a    Free country holding Nationalist officer back (6)
UNLOCK: ‘To free’ = our country round N (Nationalist) and a reversal of an abbreviated form of an officer

12a    Gangster, warmer one (8)
SCARFACE: A nickname of Al Capone = something worn round the neck to keep you warm + ‘one’

13a    Roman once dropping in by way of the country (6)
LATVIA: ‘Relating to ancient Rome’ with IN removed (dropped) + ‘by way of’

15a    Sloth, one I cannot fancy (8)
INACTION: Sloth (laziness) = an anagram (fancy) of I (one) I CANNOT

18a    Getting kiss finally, quickie, one’s off on a long journey (8)
SPACEMAN: S (last letter of kisS) + a quickie (fast bowler in cricket)

19a    In US, a Texas capital, possibly? (6)
AUSTIN: The state capital of Texas is an anagram of IN US A T (first letter of Texas)

21a    Seen before dawn, very rare bird (8)
REDSTART: ‘Very rare (as steak might be)’ + dawn (beginning)

23a    Survive hunger, as fit (6)
BELONG: ‘To survive’ + ‘to hunger’ = ‘to fit’

26a    Card player put in virtually double for joker (5)
CLOWN: A letter used to denote one of the four players in a bridge game goes inside ‘to double’ with the last letter removed

27a    Contents of cellar Neuburger and Claret — luckily all for opening? (5,4)
TABLE SALT: A form of NaCl (first letters of Neuberger and Claret luckily)

28a    I’m astonished! A shed converted into fruit shop! (12)
HABERDASHERY: ‘I’m astonished!’ (2) + an anagram (converted) of A SHED inside a fruit


1d    Practical joke on jerk (3-4)
LEG-PULL: On (one side of the wicket in cricket) + ‘to jerk’

2d    Maybe I am behind first of lapwings, flock of geese going overhead? (5)
VOWEL: A letter with the same shape as a flock of geese in flight + ‘am behind (in making payments)’ + L (first letter of Lapwings)

3d    Man secreting a note, as source for copper (9)
MALACHITE: A man goes round A and note to give a green mineral containing copper

4d    Orderly‘s contract (4)
TRIM: 2 meanings: orderly/to contract (reduce the size of)

5d    Who’s on an unmanned spacecraft keeping dry part of the rocket? (4,4)
NOSE CONE: ‘Who’s on an unmanned spacecraft?’ (2-3) goes round ‘dry (of wines)’

6d    Thirsty, English drink uncorked? (5)
EAGER: E (English) + a type of beer with the first letter removed (i.e. uncorked)

7d    Show characters around Asian island, as mystic (8)
CABALIST: The characters in a play round an island in Indonesia that’s a popular tourist destination = someone versed in a secret mystical tradition of Jewish rabbis or of any secret, esoteric, occult or mystic doctrine.

8d    Long-distance runner cut over peak in Nepal (6)
SEVERN: The name of a British river (a long-distance runner) = ‘to cut’ + the first letter (peak) of Nepal

14d    Rejected role, cross, having to go up a hole leading to the stage (4,4)
TRAP DOOR: A reversal (rejected) of a role + a reversal (having to go up) of a cross (e.g. one at the entrance to a church chancel)

16d    Wingers for Chelsea ineffectual, lacking goals (9)
CAUSELESS: The first and last letters (wingers) of ChelseA + ‘ineffectual’

17d    Kill fish then tailless rat (8)
GARROTTE: ‘To kill with a length of wire round the throat’ = a pike-like fish + a rat (despicable person) with the last letter removed

18d    Well-groomed / tree (6)
SPRUCE: 2 meanings: well-groomed/a coniferous tree

20d    Doffing cap, gallant on frequent occasions (7)
NIGHTLY: ‘Gallant’ with the first letter (cap) removed (doffed) = on frequent occasions (but never in the daytime)

22d    A fly going up bikini (5)
TANGA: A reversal of A and a small fly related to the mosquito but not a bloodsucker = a brief string-like bikini

24d    Elder beyond old, as native American (5)
OSAGE: O + an elder (man of great wisdom) = a Native American of a tribe living in Oklahoma

25d    Possibly sleeping in solitude, baby turning over (4)
ABED: Hidden in reverse in solituDE

A good way to start 2016’s Thursday puzzles


  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 7, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Found it rather tough also today.
    The SW corner gave me the most trouble.
    The only ones I couldn’t parse were 1a and 2d.
    Definitely liked the formula in 27a and favourite is 5d.
    Quite a few d’oh moments
    So thanks to Bufo and to Dada for the fun.

  2. dutch
    Posted January 7, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    All great stuff, my favourite is the all-in-one at 19a (Texas capital), and I liked the gangster in 12a, disappear (9a) with it’s disturbing surface, the free country in 11a, 20d (doffing cap, gallant on frequent occasions) and my last one to parse fully with a loud penny clunk was 27a (contents of cellar)

    Thanks Bufo for the parsing of 26a and 2d (flock of geese!)

    many thanks Dada

  3. halcyon
    Posted January 7, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Me too Bufo – the grid was OK but I failed to parse several of the clues. I didn’t see the anagram in 9a, nor the 4 initial letters in 27a – fair game, and very clever clues. But the one curing heartbreak in 1a is extremely fanciful and as for the letter shaped like a flock of geese……and the quickie [18a]……..The things some setters will do for a humorous surface!

    Thanks for the blog and thanks to Dada for the diversion.

  4. Jane
    Posted January 7, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Another fight to the death for me. Managed without the hints but had to come running to Bufo for help with some parsing.
    1a – could only see the Elvis film.
    9a – missed the anagram.
    21a – forgot about that wretched undercooked steak. Sorry, JL, I know that’s the way you like it!
    27a – determined to get some wine in there, in fact my original answer was ‘table wine’.
    1d – a cricket term too far for me!

    Really liked 2d (the overhead geese, brilliant!) plus 3,5& 8d.
    Thanks to Dada and to Bufo for the enlightenment.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted January 7, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jane,
      I wasn’t too keen on 21a as the colour of very rare is blue. Lamb and duck can be pink but red is not a colour used in cooking.

      • Jane
        Posted January 7, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        I had a feeling you might bring up the ‘blue’ thing.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted January 7, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Ps: I did like the bird though. In French it is called Rougequeue à front blanc.

  5. Sarah
    Posted January 7, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Sadly 2d sent me on a wild goose chase and I already had the relevant letter!!! Any clue with a cricket reference is wasted on me too. However I did manage quite a lot without help which is good because I don’t often have time to do the toughie so I lack the practice. Many thanks to Bufo and to Dada

  6. Salty Dog
    Posted January 7, 2016 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t get 12a, I’m afraid, I was just too thick to see “one” as “ace”. I enjoyed the rest of it, though. 3*/4* seems about right. My favourite clue was the deceptively simple 10a, over which I pondered for some time. Thanks to Dada, and to Bufo.

    • Jane
      Posted January 7, 2016 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      Your comment about 10a made me laugh, Salty Dog. I have to tell you that there are a tremendous amount of French writers whose names begin with ‘G’ and contain five letters. Need I say more!

      • Salty Dog
        Posted January 7, 2016 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

        I hate to admit to dreadful ignorance of the French literary oeuvre, but I can’t think of any!

        • Jane
          Posted January 7, 2016 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

          Not me that knew them, SD – but Mr. Google did!

  7. Paso Doble
    Posted January 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    We liked this a lot but couldn’t understand why some of our answers were right.
    Therefore, thanks to Bufo for the hints and to Dada for a challenging and entertaining puzzle.

  8. Expat Chris
    Posted January 7, 2016 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Ugh. Low on the enjoyment scale for me. The right hand half went in without too much trouble but a good few teeth were pulled to even get a foothold on the right side. I was left with 3D, 17D, and 18A unsolved. From the review, it is clear that the fault was mine. I have never heard of “Go walkies” meaning disappear, or the bikini in 22D. I did check 5A and 28A as good, though. Respect to Dada, though I can’t in all honesty thank him for putting me through the wringer. Grateful thanks to Bufo for the review.

    The way the week has shaped up for me, I’m dreading tomorrow’s toughie offering.

    • Jane
      Posted January 7, 2016 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

      Hi Chris,
      Yes it was a bit of a leap for me as well with 9a and 22d. I’ve heard of ‘go walkies’ with regard to our canine friends and ‘go walkabout’ with regard to people, but not the combination. As for 22d – as far as I know it’s only a ‘bottom’ covering, no doubt the BRB says otherwise!

      • dutch
        Posted January 8, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        brb says both: 1. a brief string-like bikini and 2. women’s or men’s briefs consisting of a waistband and a triangle of fabric so that hips are exposed

  9. Heno
    Posted January 8, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Dada and to Bufo for the review and hints. Just can’t get on the setter’s wavelength, completely baffling.