Toughie 1557

Toughie No 1557 by Kcit

Ton-up Time

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

For reasons which are beyond me the online puzzles site is unable to display ‘special instructions’ or additional information about a puzzle, so online solvers will have missed the message in the paper which says “Congratulations to today’s compiler on his 100th Telegraph Toughie”. Luckily for me I have an inside source (thanks Crypticsue) who makes me aware of such titbits.

The information led me to look for a Nina which is indeed there and which was actually a help in solving the puzzle. So, thanks and congratulations to Kcit on reaching this significant milestone (though I’m standing by for a comment from BD disputing the arithmetic!). I thought the puzzle was enjoyable but quite tricky.

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 Sentence in visa identifying things you can do? (8)
PASTIMES – insert an informal term for a prison sentence into a visa or permit.

6a Go and complain having dropped a glass (6)
GOBLET – GO followed by a verb to complain or whine without its A.

9a Not commenting about a tense change (6)
MUTATE – an adjective meaning refraining from speech contains A and the abbreviation for tense.

10a Openings for members? New role has to accommodate opening for member (8)
ARMHOLES – an anagram (new) of ROLE HAS contains the opening letter of member.

11a Wet waste deposit turned dry with application of reel (8)
CESSPOOL – reverse an adjective meaning dry and add a reel or cylindrical device.

12a Lay down ring road beside important road North (6)
ORDAIN – string together the ring-shaped letter, the abbreviation for road, an important road in the UK and the abbreviation for North.

13a The characters in this have something to hide (12)
CRYPTOGRAPHY – I initially thought that this was just a fairly weak cryptic definition but it’s also (I think) Kcit’s hint that there’s something extra lurking in the completed grid.

16a Material from The Wall‘s most unlikely to be covered by a group of executives (12)
PLASTERBOARD – apparently (so Mr Google informs me) The Wall were a punk rock group from Sunderland, but the capitalisation here is just an attempt to deceive. Insert an adjective meaning most unlikely (as in “that’s the **** thing I’d have expected”) into a word meaning A (as in “50p a kilo”) and the senior executives in a company.

19a Part of bridal gear I overlooked, taking this group’s material (6)
VELOUR – something that a bride traditionally wears without its I is followed by a possessive adjective meaning belonging to this group.

21a Expecting amount to be collected in a vocal performance (8)
ASSUMING – insert an amount into A and what the BRB says is an informal noun for a vocal performance.

23a Painting not quite itemised in possession of arts graduate (4,4)
MONA LISA – a phrase meaning itemised (2,1,4) without its last letter is contained inside an arts graduate.

24a Heading off for part of golf course for a breather (6)
AIRWAY – remove the initial letter from part of a golf course.

25a Contents of tank (not tyres) providing problems? (6)
KNOTTY – hidden in the clue.

26a Go beyond disgruntled voters to get leads in every poll (8)
OVERSTEP – an anagram (disgruntled) of VOTERS followed by the leading letters of the final two words.

Down Clues

2d Keen insight shown by expert, note, without hesitation (6)
ACUMEN – an expert and the abbreviation of note contain an expression of hesitation.

3d Puzzles not set (not entirely) producing signs of grief (5)
TEARS – start with a word for puzzles or tricky questions and remove the first two letters of ‘set’.

4d Moneymen unhappy about second source of inspiration (9)
MNEMOSYNE – this was my last answer and I needed all the checkers plus the useful letter from the Nina to work out what it had to be and look it up. It’s the mother of the Muses from Greek mythology. An anagram (unhappy) of MONEYMEN contains the abbreviation for second.

5d Illuminated initial enveloping line one (7)
STARLIT – a word meaning initial or first bit (?) contains the abbreviation for line and the Roman one. ‘Initial’ can be an adjective, noun or verb but I’m not sure which one is meant to correspond with what we need in the answer.

6d Stew in large quantities good for Judge (5)
GUMBO – start with an adjective meaning extra-large and replace the J(udge) with G(ood).

7d Online connection: less important way to get together? (9)
BROADBAND – charade of a less important way or route (1-4) and a verb to get together or form a group.

8d Sense certainly retained by rowers? (8)
EYESIGHT – a response meaning certainly is contained inside a group of rowers.

13d One getting into orbit as moon shot is constrained by economy (9)
COSMONAUT – an anagram (shot) of AS MOON is contained inside the sort of economy or saving that our Chancellor is so fond of.

14d Female fight aboard — say — capsized schooners? (9)
GLASSWARE – a young female and an extended fight go inside the reversal of the abbreviation meaning ‘say’.

15d Attractive stone down next to bog (4,4)
BLUE JOHN – an adjective meaning down or depressed is followed by an informal (mainly US) word for a bog or loo.

17d British party, mostly a party showing swagger (7)
BRAVADO – string together the single-letter abbreviation for British, a noisy musical party without its last letter, A and a festive party.

18d Pointless dropping in with just first two of debutantes — come mob-handed! (6)
INVADE – a phrase meaning pointless (2,4) without its second ‘in’ is followed by the first two letters of debutantes.

20d Like bad weather in blocking element of sunshine (5)
RAINY – IN goes inside a shaft of sunlight.

22d Warlike figure chasing 1,000 horses (5)
MARES – the Greek god of war follows the Roman numeral for 1,000.

My favourite clue was 10a. Which one(s) would you throw bouquets at?



  1. JB

    I wish I was good at ninas. Finished this crossword in good time, for me! but the Nina escapes me. Help please.

  2. Shropshirelad

    A very enjoyable romp that started from the bottom and worked it’s way up. I somehow got it into my head that the top part of the Nina was going to be ‘got to my’ because of 8d – but that idea was swiftly chucked on the bonfire. 12a was my last one in – knew it had to be what it was but it took a bit of time before the ‘light bulb’ moment arrived. If I had one small grumble, I think ‘wet waste depository’ might have read better. But, Hey Ho – it’s the man’s 100th Toughie.

    I will really stick my neck out and choose both 9 & 10a as my joint favourites – I’ve not picked a favourite for a while, so I must have some in the bank Kath?

    Many congratulations to Kcit for reaching this milestone and thanks for the puzzle. Thanks also to Gazza for his review

  3. the dodger

    Many congratulations to Kcit for getting the ton up,a lovely puzzle. Thanks to Gazza for the review and the parsings of 3dn and 18 dn .

  4. Expat Chris

    Thanks for the info on Kcit’s achievement, Gazza! I had a completed grid, but that immediately led me to look for the nina (duly found) and highlighted an error I’d made in 15D. No wonder I couldn’t parse it!

    Lovely puzzle altogether, though by no means a fast solve for me. I needed the hint to parse 3D and Google to check 4D. My favorites are 11A and 13A, though I also checked 7D and 16A. Many thanks and congratulations to Kcit, and thanks of course to Gazza.

  5. jean-luc cheval

    The number at the bottom helped me get the second word in 15d as I could only think of blue moon but even if there is such a thing as a moonstone which incidentally is blue, it just didn’t make sense.
    Otherwise, I was in complete symbiosis with the setter and it was over before my tea got cold. Well my second cup really.
    Congratulations and thanks to Kcit and to Gazza for the review.

    • Shropshirelad

      You mean you’re an alien just like Teal’c in Stargate? You didn’t say that you were carrying a Goa’uld – that explains why you ate much more than any of us at the Chinese restaurant :yes:

        • Shropshirelad

          No….. just Google ‘Stargate’ and all will be revealed. In fact the chap / chapess who starred in the ‘Crying Game’ also played the alien dictator posing as the Egyptian God ‘Ra’ in the original 1994 film.

          • Hanni

            Oh I think I remember seeing the original film but I have never seen the TV series. Didn’t know there was one actually but I am up to date now.

  6. Hanni

    I am very pleased to see that I wasn’t the only one who thought ‘blue moon’ for 15d. Never heard of the actual answer. Unfortunately the Nina didn’t help me get the answer as once again I failed to spot it. Very clever though and I needed Gazza’s help re 3d.

    Lots to like with 9, 10 and 13a really standing out.

    Many thanks and congratulations to Kcit and to Gazza for needed and great blog.

  7. Lesley

    2d and 9a floored me. had to look up answers. needed hint to justify my answer for 6d and google for 4d. Absolutely loved 11a as an ex sewage treatment engineer who lives in the sticks. A few of our neighbours have one of the these – we have a septic tank! Most enjoyable, thanks guys

      • Lesley

        Maybe not fun, but much joy. It never needs tankers to empty it (as sized for 16 people, not just the two of us) and our water rates are half price as we don’t pay for the sewage treatment element. By Jove! The enjoyable comment related to the crossword, not the septic tank. Ha ha

  8. KiwiColin

    15d was totally new to me and as I had not been prompted to look for a NINA had to go to Mr Google for assistance with that one. 4d also needed a bit of checking on how the letters for an anagram would fit together. Quite challenging and good fun.
    Thanks and congratulations Kcit and Gazza for the review.

  9. Jane

    One good thing about Kcit puzzles is that, even when I struggle for the actual answer, the clue wording invariably leads me along the right path. Not so today with 22d. I had Mars for the god of war and sat staring at the ‘e’ for a long time. Sorry, didn’t know the other bloke! Ignorant of the lady in 4d as well.

    I did need help from the knight in shining armour to parse 18d and also to explain 9a. Never occurred to me that ‘T’ was an abbreviation for ‘tense’. Why does a word like that need an abbreviated form?

    10a definitely gets a tick but just gets beaten to the post by 15d – many a happy school trip I’ve spent in the Blue John mines.

    Re: the Nina – I also found ‘on last lap’ in columns 3&13. Intentional or coincidental?

    Thanks and congratulations to Kcit and thanks to Gazza for all the explanations.

    • Gazza

      t stands for tense in the grammatical sense.
      Well done on finding ‘on last lap’ but I doubt whether it’s intentional.

    • Physicist

      Re: t for tense; dictionaries (including the BRB) use it throughout to give the tense of irregular verbs.

  10. Jon_S

    There was a nina? Oh yeah… As good as we expect from this setter, not too difficult. Solved with half an eye on the annual farce that is the Brits Awards. Congratulations on the milestone, Kcit!

  11. Wolfson Bear

    Second toughie of the week and for both I have not known the setter until looking at this blog tonight. I did not guess either of them. I found both a bit trickier than the usual early-week fare and would tend to the blog view of “a star more for difficulty than fun”. However much better than having softies for toughies in the first half of the week. I also quite liked the previous Excalibur puzzle so it was nice to try another that was not easy but I did not find it quite as interesting as the previous one. I guess I have completed most of Kcit’s first one hundred but I find I still can’t spot the style and guess the setter.

    Congratulations to Kcit on his milestone puzzle, thanks to Excalibur for yesterday’s puzzle and to both bloggers

    From the blog I now know tomorrows setter’s name – however I think I would be 100% certain of the name within 10 seconds of looking at the print off (well there is less ink for starters!) Hope he is at his cheeky best and with few anagrams

  12. Kitty

    The grid did make me think of a nina, but I’d seen Gazza’s preamble which confirmed its presence by the time I had enough letters in to start hunting.

    Down below it was almost within the unaided reach of this bear of little brain, though I didn’t know the 15d stone. It was grim up north for me even though it was all fair and obscurity-free: Looking now I can’t see why I struggled. When I say grim, I am not suggesting for a second that the puzzle wasn’t good – it was an enjoyable challenge which didn’t do any of the things which normally infuriate me about Toughies. I think this was the first Kcit I have attempted … it won’t be my last :) .

    Congratulations to Kcit on his century and thanks to him and to Gazza for the review.

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