Toughie 1566

Toughie No 1566 by Kcit

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I got off to a slow start today but things improved once I had a few checking letters.

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    Information source against discretion (7)
CONTACT: A person you can call upon for information = ‘against’ + ‘discretion’

5a    French are following piano in ballad — they absorb lots (7)
SPONGES: P (piano) in a ballad + the French word for ‘are’

9a    Economic restriction and — what’s that? — abundant supply? (3,3,4,5)
CUT AND COME AGAIN: An economic restriction + AND + ‘What’s that?’ (4,5)

10a    Side that’s right in the money? (5)
PARTY: A 2-letter abbreviation for ‘right’ inside money earned

11a    Win gold? Then who’ll take it off you? (9)
SUCCESSOR: A win (7) + gold (2) = a person who follows

12a    Inclined to geekiness? Cachet nil, sadly (9)
TECHNICAL: An anagram (sadly) of CACHET NIL

14a    Barrack totally emptied in pillage (5)
BOOTY: ‘To barrack’ + the first and last letters of TotallY

15a    Daughter is leaving unconnected island (5)
CRETE: Remove D IS (daughter is) from ‘unconnected’ to get a Greek island

16a    Regarding city affairs, European city reduced independence, linking to China (9)
MUNICIPAL: A German city with the last letter removed + I (independence) + a china (or mate)

18a    Chopped sausage found in toilets in US city (3,6)
LOS ALAMOS: An Italian sausage with the last letter removed inside ‘toilets’ = a city in New Mexico

21a    Second growth turned over for fodder (5)
STRAW: S (second) + a reversal of a small growth on the skin

22a    Threatening item is concealed, I hope (no end of trouble if let loose) (8,7)
POISONED CHALICE: An anagram (let loose) of IS CONCEALED I HOP (i.e. HOPE without the last letter of troublE)

23a    Each is engaged in public stuff (7)
OVEREAT: ‘Each’ (2) inside ‘public’ (5) = ‘to stuff oneself with food’

24a    Graceful line penned by one initiating correspondence (7)
SLENDER: L (line) inside someone who dispatches a message


1d    Ready for fire with source of coal in control room? (7)
COCKPIT: ‘To make a gun ready to fire’ + a source of coal

2d    Some Russian music fan, crazy, entirely losing head (10,5)
NUTCRACKER SUITE: Music from a ballet by Tchaikovsky = a fan + ‘crazy’ + ‘entirely’ with the first letter removed

3d    It aggravates PA out of time (one expected to take note) (9)
ANNOYANCE: A public address (PA) system with the letter T (time) removed + the one in cards round N (note). I hope that’s right. This was a bung-in and it was only when writing the review that I stopped to think about it

4d    Repeated instances of point duty, we hear (5)
TACKS: More than one short nail is a homophone of duty (as paid to the Inland Revenue)

5d    Stop company taking out one line in wine (9)
SEMICOLON: A stop (punctuation mark) = a grape variety (or wine) with one letter L (line) replaced by CO (company). I didn’t know the grape variety

6d    A bundle picked up and taken away from detailed talk (5)
ORATE: Reverse a word for a bundle (e.g. of hay) and then remove it from a word meaning ‘detailed’ to get ‘to talk’

7d    Lack of concentration and hard work when customer with money enters (11,4)
GRASSHOPPER MIND: Hard work (5) goes round ‘when’ (2) and a customer (7) and M (money). I didn’t know this term for a lack of concentration

8d    Year amongst half-hearted environmentalists brought about end to very co-ordinated action (7)
SYNERGY: Y (year) inside a reversal of ‘environmentalists’ (6) with the double letter in the middle reduced to a single letter + Y (last letter of verY)

13d    Club regular brought in whip for soft cheese (9)
CAMEMBERT: A club regular inside a whip = a soft French cheese

14d    Male collared by sponsor wanting reduction in theatre area (9)
BACKSTAGE: A male (who goes to men-only parties) inside a sponsor with the last letter removed

15d    Windies music plays freely after start of crucial over (7)
CALYPSO: The first letter of Crucial + an anagram (freely) of PLAYS + O (over)

17d    Blue clothing? Nothing racy in this! (3,4)
LOW GEAR: ‘Blue’ or ‘depressed’ + clothing = something not engaged when travelling at speed

19d    Free round got in by miss (5)
LOOSE: O (round) inside ‘to miss’

20d    Strikes? Tons lost from investments (5)
SOCKS: Remove T (tons) from investments



  1. Lesley
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Well, I did complete, but needed the hint to understand 3d. I still don’t understand 6d, even with the hint. Last to go in, but absolute favorite was 5d. 7d was cute too.
    Thanks guys

    • Gazza
      Posted March 10, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      For 6d start with ‘elaborate’ (detailed) and remove the reversed bundle from the front.

      • Lesley
        Posted March 10, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        Oh my goodness – thank you. Although as a horse owner I wouldn’t call a bale a bundle – you need a tractor to lift a bale the size they are these days!

  2. dutch
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I found this quite hard – I wasn’t sure I’d parsed 3d (can’t account for “expected”), but my parsing is the same as bufo’s. I didn’t understand the definition to 4d – wasn’t sure what kind of tack – so “repeated instances of” just clues a plural? Ugh. Took me a while to see some of the other parsings, e.g.15a (daughter is leaving unconnected island, very clever), 6d (but I often find these subtractive charades difficult), 1d where I wanted to use C for source of coal, etc. – but an enjoyable struggle overall

    Favourite is 14a, clever use of barrack.

    Many thanks Kcit and Bufo

    • Expat Chris
      Posted March 10, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      For 3D, I thought the ‘last bit was the Scottish ‘ane’ , meaning one, around C for musical note.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted March 10, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        If that’s the case, I think Kcit’s taking a bit of a liberty by not using a ‘dialect’ indicator. Having said that, I think they work either way – which shouldn’t really happen in a crossword.

        • Hanni
          Posted March 10, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          That’s a good point from you both. If it is dialect then there should be something to indicate the ‘Scottish’ part of it. I saw sturgeon used as an indicator recently.

          Either way I just bunged that one in only half parsed.

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted March 10, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

            I’ve told you before – never, ever, ever mention THAT women’s name :negative:

            I’m still your friend though :yes:

            • Hanni
              Posted March 10, 2016 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

              I did think about putting asterisks for the whole name!! :wink:

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I loved it. Challenging but a great deal of fun. The only clue I didn’t warm to was 4D. Although I had parsed it the same as Bufo, It didn’t measure up to the rest of the puzzle for me. I double-checked 9A, 5D, 8D and 15D. Somewhere I have a recipe for 9A cake. Top spot goes jointly to 8D and 15D. Many thanks to Kcit and Bufo.

    • Una
      Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      I agree about 4d. Awful.

  4. halcyon
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I seem to agree with everyone else about this. Like Bufo I found it hard to get started [and I agree with the ratings] I had to look twice at both 3d and 6d. People may have had difficulties with em because the former has a redundant “expected” and the latter really shouldn’t start with the indefinite article. Also agree that 5d is today’s top clue.

    Many thanks to Kcit and Bufo.

  5. Shropshirelad
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyable challenge from Kcit and it did take a bit brain power to gain a toehold in the grid. However, once there, the rest went in quite smoothly. Too many ticks in the margins to pick one favourite.

    Thanks to Kcit for the fun & mental workout and to Bufo for his review.

  6. Dave lawes
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Have never heard the phrase in 9a in any context . Other than that , most enjoyable ( except I had 11a as conqueror, so caused a delay )
    Thanks to setter and bufo

    • Una
      Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      It’s a type of cake , I believe, a fruity Madeira cake.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        I thought it was the kind of herb or cultivar that kept growing after being cut like my basil plant. Endless supply..But wouldn’t make a cake with it.

        • Expat Chris
          Posted March 10, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

          It’s a type of cake, but some herbs are also called cut-and-come-again.

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted March 10, 2016 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

          You should try growing basil in my neck of the woods J-L…… Impossible.

          • Expat Chris
            Posted March 10, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

            Nothings impossible! Basil does like it warm though. I grow mine in big pots that can be moved around if necessary, or you can even grow it indoors on a windowsill. Cuttings will root and plants will thrive in just water, so I believe.

            • jane
              Posted March 10, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

              I’ve tried growing it indoors but the smell always reminds me of cat pee……….

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

                And that’s basil ruined for me.

    • dutch
      Posted March 10, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t know it either – but brb says abundant supply, as in being able to have a slice of cake again and again

    • Kath
      Posted March 10, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Then not a single one of you is a gardener – oh dear. (Please note, yet again, the lack of an exclamation mark).
      9a are plants, usually salad plants or herbs, which respond pretty well to having several leaves removed from them at any one time – you can use them and the rest of the plant carries on growing quite happily until you want some more. :smile:

      • Kath
        Posted March 10, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        PS – it really wouldn’t work with a cake – a cake would just get gobbled up and it wouldn’t grow again.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted March 10, 2016 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        I am so a gardener! I grow all my own herbs. Used to grow veggies too, until the tree rats (known to some as squirrels) became too numerous.

  7. Una
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Defeated by the south east corner , well by 22a in particular. An unusual definition and a very hard anagram.
    I really liked 9a , 5d, 17d, and 18a.
    Thanks Bufo and Kcit.

  8. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Great fun.
    Took a while to get the West Indies music as Windies didn’t make much sense at first. Never heard behing shortened before.
    No problem with the expressions and idioms, or the Public Address system in 3d. Used it so often at the theatre.
    But enough about me.
    I thought this was a superb crossword with a nice variety of clues and lovely sounding words.
    Hard to explain really but that’s how I saw it.
    Thanks to Kcit and to Bufo.

  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    We managed to get the two long down answers quite quickly which gave us lots of checkers to play with. Still not a quick solve with several that were bunged in and then justified later. very clever and a lot of fun.
    Thanks Kcit and Bufo.

  10. dutch
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    micawber tomorrow

    • Kitty
      Posted March 10, 2016 at 6:41 pm | Permalink


  11. Kath
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I loved this – I finished it although that doesn’t mean I understood how I arrived at every answer.
    I’m not going into detail – it’s late – I’m hungry and we’re about to have supper.
    I did get into a terrible pickle with 10a – dim, or what – couldn’t get beyond the one letter abbreviation for right.
    Just to be bloody minded my favourite clue was 9a. I also liked 11a and 1d.
    With thanks to Kcit and to Bufo.

  12. Jon_S
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Definitely a **** for difficulty, but very satisfying and enjoyable to solve.

  13. jane
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Unlike Bufo, I had a slow start, a slower middle and a very tardy end!
    Definitely had an issue with some of the parsing – thanks for the clarifications, Bufo. :good:
    Very much liked 9a – as with Kath, I thought in terms of growing salad items – but my favourite was 7d. The phrase always puts me in mind of the old TV series with the novice ‘Glasshopper’.

    Thanks to Kcit – found this one far more difficult than your previous one – and thanks again to Bufo.

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

    Really enjoyable solve and quite tricky.

    Lots of smiles with 9a, 11a and 1d being some.

    Favourite is 14a by a mile.

    Many thanks to Kcit and to Bufo for a great blog.