Toughie 1550

Toughie No 1550 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I was on Firefly’s wavelength this morning because most of the answers went in during the first read-through and the rest followed fairly quickly. My impression when solving it was that there were too many bitty anagrams but I may be wrong about that.

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    A&E discharged water engineer after mishap in plant (11)
WINTERGREEN: An anagram (after mishap) of WTER NGINEER (WATER ENGINEER minus the letters A & E) gives a plant with an aromatic oil

10a    Relative or precise about English? (5)
NIECE: A female relative = ‘precise’ round E (English)

11a    Dish a turn over controversy (3,6)
HOT POTATO: A slang term for a controversial issue is derived from a food dish followed by the A from the clue, and an abbreviated instruction to turn over to the next page

12a    Source malicious, though at first kindly intended (4-5)
WELL-MEANT: A source of water + ‘malicious’ + T (first letter of Though)

13a    Cressida I liked rather in comeback for epic (5)
ILIAD: Hidden in reverse in CressiDA I LIked

14a    To sum up, cut twisted nonsense from tall story and rewrite (6)
LASTLY: An anagram (rewrite) of TALL SY (STORY less TOR which is ROT backwards)

16a    Crib score (high one) a possibility; get it! (6,2)
COTTON ON: A crib for sleeping in + a score of a hundred + ‘a possibility’ (as in “it’s a possibility”)

18a    Mollusc appears as gold among shimmering sunlit surroundings (8)
NAUTILUS: The chemical symbol for gold inside an anagram (shimmering) of SUNLIT

20a    Char takes whisky with Rector where time’s immaterial (6)
SCORCH: Take whisky from north of the border and change T (time) to R (Rector)

23a    Marked dip borders sides of terrace (5)
NOTED: ‘Dip’ goes round TE (first and last letters of TerracE)

24a    Landing direction of ‘Godspell’, Lloyd is delightedly choosing leads, the PA elaborated (5,4)
GLIDE PATH: The first letters (leads) of ‘Godspell’, Lloyd Is Delightedly + an anagram (elaborated) of THE PA

26a    Steel pans beginning to rattle here, confusedly (9)
SHARPENER: A steel is an anagram (confusedly) of PANS R HERE (R is the first letter of Rattle)

27a    Girl holding tanpura’s last to contribute Indian accompaniment (5)
RAITA: A girl’s name round A (last letter of tanpura) = an Indian dish of chopped cucumber in yoghurt

28a    With some tremulousness, the setter’s run into gritty case (11)
SHIVERINGLY: “The setter’s'” (1’2) and R (run) inside ‘gritty’ or ‘gravelly’


2d    Dream one shares (5)
IDEAL: ‘Dream’ (as an adjective) = I (one) + ‘shares’

3d    Hot time on island with footloose Ali … (7)
THERMAL: T (time) + one of the Channel Islands + AL (ALI with the last letter removed)

4d    … get hot again with Heather — topless and uninhibited! (6)
REHEAT: An anagram (uninhibited) of EATHER (HEATHER without the first letter)

5d    Cycle race’s start ain’t too haphazard (8)
ROTATION: An anagram (haphazard) of R AIN’T TOO (R is the first letter of Race)

6d    Bighead, say, is too much around (7)
EGOTIST: An abbreviation denoting ‘say’ + IS inside an abbreviation denoting ‘too much’

7d    Spotting problem at the Pole? (4,9)
SNOW BLINDNESS: A cryptic definition for a condition caused by excessive exposure to reflected ultraviolet light in polar regions

8d    Feign illness — no good turning up for detractor (8)
MALIGNER: Take a word meaning ‘feign illness’ and reverse the letters NG (no good)

9d    Infection from ‘the crancium’? (4,2,3,4)
COLD IN THE HEAD: Here ‘crancium’ has to be read as C inside CRANIUM

15d    Showy stand-in sets up net alternately with staff (8)
STUNTMAN: Alternate letters of SeTs Up NeT + ‘to staff’

17d    Writer opening up about desire (8)
TURGENEV: The surname of a Russian novelist = a reversal of an opening round a desire

19d    Searching in damaged Pathfinder, RAF ordered to abort (2-5)
IN-DEPTH: An anagram (damaged) of PTHINDE (PATHFINDER minus the letters R, A and F)

21d    Band gathers round Gorbachev and Ronald’s meeting-place (7)
CHEVRON: A V-shaped band is hidden between GorbaCHEV and RONald

22d    Glass Menagerie’s opening in Richmond for starters, then two runs across Ohio (6)
MIRROR: The first letter (opening) of Menagerie + the first letters (for starters) of In Richmond + R R (two runs) round O (Ohio)

25d    Spirit of the moon? (5)
ARIEL: 2 meanings: a spirit in The Tempest/a moon of Uranus

The easiest Thursday puzzle so far this tear


  1. pommers
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this one so **** from me.

    Apart from the Russian novelist who needed dredging up from the dim recesses of the brain it was about * for a Toughie.

    Many thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  2. dutch
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Well, I wasn’t on Firefly’s wavelength and though I really liked some of the clues, I found the puzzle a little frustrating overall with some indicators pushing the boundaries a bit. I missed TO for turn over in 11a, thinking T was an a dodgy abbreviation for turn – perhaps this got me off on the wrong foot. I liked 14a, though I’m not sure “to sum up” is exactly the same as the answer, which need not indicate any summing up is about to happen. I thought 18a was very poetic, and I liked the smooth surface of 26a. Not sure how much I liked “immaterial” as a deletion indicator (20a), or “uninhibited” as an anagram indicator (3a). I did not know the writer (17d) or the landing direction (24a), detracting a little from these otherwise very nice clues. Crancium (9d) might have been better if it were a real word, but that would also make it harder. It took me a long time to see 21d (Gorbachev and Ronald), and then a little longer to convince myself that “meeting-place” worked.

    Many thanks Bufo and thank you Firefly

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted February 11, 2016 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Have a great skiing holiday.
      A lot of people in Hyeres come from this part of the world. Great food indeed and usually very cheap.

  3. Jane
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m not a great fan of very wordy clues so those such as 24a left me a bit cold, but there was still quite a bit of enjoyment to be found in this one.
    Didn’t know the Russian writer so had to consult with Mr. G about him but everything else was within my pay grade, although 25a took a bit of head scratching.
    Liked the two long ones – 7&9d and will award the honours to 9d.

    Thanks to Firefly and also to Bufo for a most informative review.

    • Posted February 11, 2016 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      I thought 25a was particularly difficult. :smile:

      • Lesley
        Posted February 11, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        You are obviously not chefs with sharp carving knives!

      • Hanni
        Posted February 11, 2016 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

        Nigh on impossible clue..I still haven’t solved it.

    • dutch
      Posted February 11, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      I never got 25a either

      • Expat Chris
        Posted February 11, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        Me either :wink:

        • Lesley
          Posted February 11, 2016 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          shouldn’t this be nor I?

          • Expat Chris
            Posted February 11, 2016 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

            Excuse me?

    • Jane
      Posted February 11, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      OK, OK – I meant 26a, you wonderful friends. :cool:

      • Lesley
        Posted February 11, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        OK, my eyesight is so blunt that I believed it was 25a!

      • Expat Chris
        Posted February 11, 2016 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

        You know we love ya!

        • Hanni
          Posted February 11, 2016 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

          We do love you Jane. :rose:

      • Jane
        Posted February 11, 2016 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

        All right – I’m sufficiently mollified now. :smile:

  4. Lesley
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this lots. Had to use google for 17d. Otherwise got through with brain rests in between clues. Loved 28a. Final one in was 14a. Thanks guys.

  5. jean-luc cheval
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Had to wait for the review to get 25d. A double GK definition! Definitely not on.
    That put a damper to the whole thing.
    28a is probably in the top ten most awful words.
    Sorry to be so grumpy but I feel a bit disappointed.
    However, thanks to Firefly for the effort and to Bufo for the review.

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    For me the bottom half was more challenging than the top. I didn’t particularly like 4d, with hot in the clue and heat in the answer. i agree with J-L that 28A is a horrible word. I did not solve 25d. Not a lot of fun. Anyway, thanks to the setter and to Bufo for the review.

  7. Shropshirelad
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I rather enjoyed the majority of this puzzle although I do agree with some of the grumbles previously highlighted. 26a posed no problem as I started off working life as an apprentice butcher and it is a hard learnt skill to use a steel properly – I have the ‘nick’ marks on my left thumb to prove it. The NE corner & 28a were the last to fall – I do wish setters would refrain from using male and female names pulled out of a hat.

    I used to take part on a website with a clue writing competition set by the previous weeks winner and the word / phrase one week was to clue ‘Hot Potato’. The winner’s entry was – ‘Stolen vegetable?’. It still brings a smile to my face. So, for that reason I will go for 11a as my favourite.

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

    • Jane
      Posted February 11, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I like the stolen vegetable, SL – I shall remember that one. :yahoo:

    • Hanni
      Posted February 11, 2016 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

      Love it SL!

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted February 11, 2016 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

        Then you’ll probably like the winning clue for ‘President’.

        Answers on a postcard.

        • Hanni
          Posted February 11, 2016 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

          I really can’t set clues but the first thing that came mind was something to do with True Man.

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted February 11, 2016 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

            Nope – try ‘The Washington Post?’

            • Jane
              Posted February 11, 2016 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

              Oh balderdash – how simple but perfect. I was still in the realms of gifts and identities!

            • Hanni
              Posted February 11, 2016 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

              Brilliant! That is just brilliant.

  8. crypticsue
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Sparks tomorrow

    • Hanni
      Posted February 11, 2016 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      Yay Sparks on a Friday. :smile:

  9. bernie
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    too many substitute letters for my liking

  10. halcyon
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was going to be write-in but then slowed down for the last few in SE…and it took ages to think of all the girls names ending in a to try putting another a in [27a]. I think the subtracted anagrams at 14a and 19d were well done, as were 20a and 22d.

    Thanks to Firefly and to Bufo for the blog.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    The setter’s name was not on the site when we solved this one and we had extra fun trying to guess who it might be. Needless to say, we got it wrong. No complaints from us, we thought it a delightful puzzle to work through.
    Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  12. Una
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    The top half went in with some work, the bottom half was another matter.I never did get 26or 28a , nor 17d.
    A puzzle is a puzzle is my attitude.
    Thanks Firefly and Buffo.

  13. Jon
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    A fairly straightforward, enjoyable solve. 25 and 27 gave me a little difficulty at the end. Spent far too long trying to work out what SHIVER????? could possibly be. :wacko:

    • Gazza
      Posted February 11, 2016 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      You’ve shortened your alias so your comment needed moderation. Both variants will work from now on.

  14. Hanni
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Definitely not on wavelength today! Last one in was 9d. Having realised that it wasn’t an actual word it took all the checkers and what felt like an age to figure out what the answer was. Agree with J-L about 28a.

    Favourite goes to 11a. Lovely.

    Many thank to Firefly and to Bufo for blogging.

  15. Salty Dog
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid I was well OFF wavelength, so although I completed well within 3* time I did so with two left blank. I could see “Ariel” fitted 25d, but didn’t know it was also the name of a moon. I had a choice for 8d of an answer meaning to feign illness, or one meaning a detractor, and chose the wrong one. So I didn’t get 16a either! Still, I enjoyed the struggle. Call it 3*/4* overall. I loved the quirkiness of 8d, so that’s my favourite. Thanks to Firefly, and to Bufo.