Toughie 1542

Toughie No 1542 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

A reasonably interesting puzzle of below average difficulty

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9a    Remove plant from container warehouse? (5)
DEPOT: This word for a warehouse could also be taken to mean ‘remove a plant from the container it’s growing in’

10a    See 12 Across

11a    Retired copper about to block crusty offering a helping hand (7)
SUCCOUR: A reversal (retired) of the atomic symbol for copper and C (about) inside ‘crusty’

12a/10a    Pin raises general malfunctions for Sky customer? (7,9)
AIRLINE PASSENGER: An anagram (malfunctions) of PIN RAISES GENERAL gives someone who travels by plane

13a    Ring dropped from tug by pilot originally — idiot! (5)
TWERP: A tug (something that pulls)with the letter O (ring) removed + P (first letter of Pilot)

14a    Kind of international organisation maybe winkles out hard line separately (9)
UNSELFISH: Kind (generous) = an international organisation + a creature such as a winkle with the letters H (hard) and L (line) removed

16a    Counterfeit tobacco ruling covering Home Counties almost successful (5,3,2,5)
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR: An anagram (counterfeit) of TOBACCO RULING round 2 letters denoting the part of England where the Home Counties can be found gives a North American expression meaning ‘almost but not quite successful’

19a    Smart Bernie Ecclestone making silly point possibly (9)
INFIELDER: Here silly point is a cricket fielding position close to the wicket and Bernie Ecclestoneis the man who for many years has been the chief executive of the organisation that runs Formula One motor racing. The wordplay is made up of smart or fashionable (2) + a phrase that might describe Bernie Ecclestone (2,5)

21a    Kind of setter perhaps that’s hopeless lush, icier with no clue (5)
IRISH: A kind of setter (dog) = an anagram of SHIIR (LUSH ICIER minus the letters of CLUE)

23a    Wizard egg and alfalfa sandwiches (7)
GANDALF: Hidden in egG AND ALFalfa

25a    Celtic’s torrent of words for football official (7)
BLATTER: 2 meanings: a Scottish word for a torrent of words/the surname of the Swiss football administrator currently barred from taking part in any FIFA activities

27a    Frank’s a toff, being his own boss (4,5)
FREE AGENT: ‘Free’ + A + ‘toff’

28a    Run home with dog (5)
INCUR: ‘Home’ + a worthless dog of low breed


1d    That is no time for date from the past (4)
IDES: Remove T (time) from the Latin phrase meaning ‘that is’

2d    Involved in mishap — a Cherokee Native American (6)
APACHE: Hidden in mishAP — A CHErokee

3d    Setting with leaky moat round (10)
ATMOSPHERE: An anagram (leaky) of MOAT + a round 3-D object

4d    Loosely a pure biting cold insight (6)
APERÇU: An anagram (loosely) of A PURE round C (cold)

5d    Two pairs of smalls under a popular offer? (8)
ASSASSIN: Here the ‘offer’ is someone who offs or kills. A + the abbreviation for small + the abbreviation for small + A + the abbreviation for small + the abbreviation for small + ‘popular’

6d    Brand has ears boxed (4)
SEAR: Hidden in haS EARs

7d    Two gin cocktails with vermouth in that will get you lit up (8)
IGNITING An anagram (cocktail) of GIN + vermouth + another anagram of GIN

8d    Nonconformists uninhibited with Winnie but not in a bad way (4,6)
FREE CHURCH: ‘Uninhibited’ + the surname of Winnie with ‘in a bad way’ removed

13d    Mattress can’t be used in this condition — or carpeting (7-3)
TICKING-OFF: A mattress can’t be used if it’s cover is removed. The carpeting is a reprimand

15d    Los Angeles detectives arresting Siberian run out to get result of tough workout? (6,4)
LACTIC ACID: The abbreviated form of Los Angeles and a branch of the Police Force employing detectives go round Siberian (or very cold) with the letter R (run) removed. The answer is a chemical produced by the body during power exercises

17d    Delinquent given nothing very strong before un-British drinking spree (8)
OFFENDER: O (nothing) + an abbreviation denoting ‘very strong’ or ‘very loud’ + a drinking spree with the letter B (British) removed

18d    End feud I fancy without resistance (8)
UNDEFIED: An anagram (fancy) of END FEUD I

20d    Put energy into endless barter in order to get discount (6)
REBATE: E (energy) inside an anagram (in order) of BARTE (BARTER with the last letter removed)

22d    Prudence — popular previously and perfect (6)
INTACT: ‘Prudence’ (4) follows ‘popular’ (2)

24d    Open a pot of jam? (4)
AJAR: ‘Partly open’ = A + a container used for jam

26d    Unusual /pink (4)
RARE: 2 meanings: unusual/pink or underdone. Is it time for the next discussion on the colour of steak?

I expect I’ll see some of you on Saturday.


  1. Jane
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Surely I can’t be first one in – where is everybody?
    Anyway, I really enjoyed this puzzle despite the cricket reference that had me fooled for a while and the Americanism in 16a which I only dug from the murky depths once the vital checkers were in place.
    Joint favourites (Kath will never know!) were 8&13d.
    Thanks to PJ for the fun and to Bufo for the review – hope to meet you on Saturday.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted January 28, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jane,
      In France we call it: The calm before the storm.
      Have to get organised for tomorrow’s trip.

      • Jane
        Posted January 28, 2016 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Same here, JL – although I’m not feeling particularly calm at the moment. So much to do, so little time!

    • halcyon
      Posted January 31, 2016 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      I was in Venice – no time for Toughies – but just done this on my return. Great fun and the SM hat was needed as usual. Loved19a [looked at it for ages before the penny dropped] 14a [winkles out] 5d [offer!] 8d [Winnie] and 15d [Siberian run out]. Not happy with 3d [neither leaky nor sphere] but otherwise bravo PJ.

  2. pommers
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Very nice puzzle but I’m glad I had my slightly mad hat to hand. De-pot indeed!

    Fav was 19a for managing to mix two of my favourite sports in one clue.

    Thanks to PJ and Bufo.

    • Jane
      Posted January 28, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      I just knew that someone would appreciate 19a!

  3. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Definitely on the easier side of Mr Pigeon but very enjoyable.
    Of course the expression in 16a was new to me. I rather liked it.
    The two pairs of smalls in 5d made me laugh.
    Thanks to Petitjean and to Bufo for the review.
    Not sure if I’ll get to do the back page. Might leave it for tomorrow.

  4. Shropshirelad
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Definitely ‘mad hat’ day although not too many ‘off the wall’ clues. Very enjoyable with lots of fun along the way although I think 19a stretches it just a bit tooo far. I have a couple of favourites, but I won’t take advantage of Kath’s absence by mentioning them all. :whistle:

    Thanks to Petitjean for the puzzle and to Bufo for his review.

    • Jane
      Posted January 28, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Be brave, SL – she can’t put us all in the naughty corner at the same time, there’d be no-one left to keep the comments flowing!

  5. Una
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Is this a new format or is it my computer ?
    I thoroughly enjoyed this, although I never quite finished 15d or 14a.
    I liked 16a best , as well as 13a, 25a.I kept thinking 25a had to be blarney but it just wouldn’t fit.
    Thanks Petitjean and Buffo.

    • Una
      Posted January 28, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      I forgot to add that I thought very little of that slur, or should I say shlur, on my nationality in 21a, although , of course it is a clever clue.

      • Jane
        Posted January 28, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        I should think that Shamus might have something to say about it as well!

        • Una
          Posted January 29, 2016 at 1:08 am | Permalink

          Irish setter indeed. I was a bit slow on the uptake, probably due to all that hard drinking.
          :bye: :bye:

  6. Gazza
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Osmosis tomorrow.

  7. KiwiColin
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    I kept thinking that 16a was going to be easy and give me lots of checkers. It was the other way around as I needed most of the checkers before the penny dropped. Good fun and lots of smiles.
    Thanks Petitjean and Bufo.

  8. Salty Dog
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Certainly a bit easier than the usual PJ puzzle: 2*/3*. I do have a couple of qualms though: “tact” and “prudence” aren’t the same thing (22d), and while I have heard many Scots complain about “blather” I have yet to hear one decrying “blatter” (25a). Apart from those minor niggles, though, I liked 19a and 5d. Thanks to Petitjean, and to Bufo.

  9. dutch
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    25a is brilliant (Celtic’s torrent of words) and I enjoyed the “egg and alfalfa sandwiches” in 23a. Also liked “two pairs of smalls” (5d) and “Kind of international organisation” (14a), very nice. Many more nice clues. Took me a while to twig Winnie in 8d, I was going for Pooh. Also took me a while to see the cricket reference in 19a. I didn’t know the word for mattress cover, had to check that too.

    Many thanks Petitjean and Bufo for the review

  10. Expat Chris
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    No surprise that I had no problem at all with 16A! I loved the puzzle, even 19A that I’m pleased to say I worked out all by my own self. At the front of my field are 1A, 14A (also last one in), 5D and 13D, with 5D crossing the finish line first. Thanks, Petitjean and Bufo.

    For all of you going to the Birthday Bash, I hope you have a great time…and have a drink for me!

    • dutch
      Posted January 28, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      I’ll have two for you

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted January 28, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        So you’re in the chair Dutch? Thanks for the offer, churlish to refuse. BTW – Is Dean making an appearance?

        • Dutch
          Posted January 28, 2016 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

          He said he might

  11. Werm
    Posted January 29, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Wow this must be an easy week for Toughies. Third day in a row I have finished unaided and i have never ever done that (not that my old brain can remember anyway) Thank you PJ and Bufo
    I really enjoyed this but probably biased given the circumstances. I will admit to not being able to parse the F1 Elder part though