Toughie 1567

Toughie No 1567 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Greetings from sunny and soon-to-be-famous Macclesfield. Today’s Micawber went surprisingly smoothly to start with but I ended up with 4 clues that held me up, creeping into 3* difficulty (6a & 8d, 23d and last-one-in 21d – I just couldn’t for the life of me think of the women’s names..)

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    Criminal bosses’ secret source of power to bypass an economic system (10)
CAPITALISM: The plural form for head of the mafia plus an 8-letter word for charm or secret source of power without the final “an” (to bypass an)

6a    Destroyer without a weapon (4)
SHIV: The third god of the Hindu triad known as the destroyer without the final “a”

9a    Extras dead and gone (7)
ADDENDA: Anagram (gone) of DEAD AND

10a    Setter will knock back beer, knock out rector and get barred (7)
ILLEGAL: How the setter would say he will from his perspective (1’2) plus the reversal (knock back) of a 5-letter type of beer without the final “r” (knock out rector)

12a    Therapist involved in sharp practice? (13)
ACUPUNCTURIST: Cryptic definition with a pun on sharp

14a    Dog incessantly fed will change shape (6)
MUTATE: A general 4-letter word for dog (especially a mongrel) from which the last letter is deleted plus a 3-letter word that means ingested (I don’t think this is quite the same as fed)

15a    Snake holed up in plant (8)
ASPHODEL: A 3-letter snake and an anagram (up) of HOLED

17a    Asks how paper might be selling (8)
INQUIRES: Split (2,6), the answer could indicate in what quantity sheets of paper might be sold

19a    Eat up — it’s not serious, I hear (6)
INGEST: Split (2,4), the answer sounds like (I hear) a description of something that was done as a joke and should not be taken seriously

22a    Early adopter tried satnav, losing way around outskirts of Geneva (5-8)
AVANT-GARDISTE: Anagram (losing way) of TRIED SATNAV goes around the first and final letters (outskirts) of Geneva

24a    I tear around following Queen and country (7)
ERITREA: Anagram (around) of I TEAR comes after the usual Queen

25a    Press silver badge at end of metalwork period (4,3)
IRON AGE: A 4-letter word for press, the chemical symbol for silver, and the last letter (at end) of badge

26a    Follows men’s cycling (4)
TAGS: Another word for men’s (as in the ****-party was outrageous), then “cycle” all the letters one position to the left, with the front letter going to the rear

27a    Homework that’s been submitted again is so amazing (10)
REMARKABLE: A description of homework that is “able be evaluated again”


1d    Dressed up in bridal clobber (4)
CLAD: A lurker, reversed in (up in) bridal clobber

2d    Report of whales stranded (7)
PODCAST: A group of whales and a word that can probably mean stranded in a Robinson Crusoe sense

3d    What’ll make tune go wrong? It’s hard to say (6-7)
TONGUE-TWISTER: A reverse clue, where the second word in the answer is an anagram indicator acting on the first word in the answer to give TUNE GO (“wrong” seems to me an unnecessary extra anagram indicator)

4d    Boost for Brussels Hibernian association (6)
LEAGUE: Boost means lift up, so in a down clue this is a reversal indicator. Take a 2-letter abbreviation that people associate with Brussels, and a 4-letter word for a Hibernian (Irish) person and reverse.

5d    Two legal items in baggage (8)
SUITCASE: Join two four-letter words for a legal process

7d    He’d got free with one bound (7)
HOGTIED: Anagram (free) of HE’D GOT and I

8d    I, fired with a passion unconsummated, got over thy heartless inconstancy (10)
VOLATILITY: I from the clue, a 3-letter word for fired, A 4-letter word for passion without the final letter (unconsummated) all reversed (got over), + thy without the middle letter (heartless)

11d    Ragged chap who might be found in funny farm? (8,5)
LAUGHING STOCK: Ragged as in teased or made fun of. Read differently, the answer could be a whimsical reference to the animals in a funny farm

13d    Not altogether happy bathroom’s done up in style that’s supposed to be restful (10)
AMBIVALENT: A 3-letter word for bathroom is reversed (done up) inside (in) a type of background music that’s intended to create a restful and relaxing atmosphere

16d    Primates raised rebuke to create schism (8)
SEPARATE: Some primates are reversed (raised in a down clue) + a 4-letter word for rebuke or scold

18d    Displaying apprehension in the capacity of ruler (7)
QUAKING: A 3-letter Latin word meaning in the capacity of + a male monarch

20d    Jacob’s daughter perhaps snaring man from the south in tangled web (3-4)
EWE-LAMB: This Jacob is woolly and says ba-a. An anagram (tangled) of WEB contains the reversal (from the south) of another word for man

21d    Woman introducing social network to another (6)
EDWINA: When the 2-letter abbreviation for a well-established woman’s social network associated with making cookies is inserted into a 4-letter woman’s name, another woman’s name results.

23d    Internet phenomenon reinforced ego? (4)
MEME: A 2-letter word for ego is repeated (reinforced)

My favourite is 27a, because of the elegant way “so” has been worked into the clue. Which clues did you like?


  1. KiwiColin
    Posted March 11, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Excellent fun once again from Micawber and all sorted out in not rapid but reasonable time. Some of the finer points of the word play, 13d for example took a bit of head-scratching to sort out, and a bit of BRB checking for the first bit of 1a. Much enjoyed.
    Thanks Micawber and Dutch.

  2. Hanni
    Posted March 11, 2016 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    3/4 of this went straight in. But then came to a grinding halt. The same list as Dutch but add 13d and 20d..which was also my LOI.

    Really liked 3d and 22a. Favourite is 27a, great clue. Enjoyed the whole solve actually.

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Dutch for a great blog.

  3. halcyon
    Posted March 11, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    I made a good start with 1a and all went well until the last half dozen [13d and the rest on the RHS]. Eventually all fell into place but I failed to see the other meaning of “ragged” in 11d. Not convinced what he is up to in 14a [I can’t see what “incessantly” is doing and
    I agree with Dutch about fed = ate]. But it was all good fun and satisfying to solve. Favourites? 10a [so well constructed] and [last in] 8d.

    Many thanks to Micawber and Dutch.

  4. Sheffieldsy
    Posted March 11, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    A hard slog but well worth it.

    27a is our favourite clues a country mile. Our amusement when we got it proved how good a clue it was.

    3/3 stars for us
    Many thanks to Micawber for a great crossword and Dutch because, although we don’t need then hints I enjoyed the pictures.

    when we got it

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted March 11, 2016 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      What happened to tha ability to edit our comment? It’s badly needed, especially in this cas.

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

        It’s one of the possible causes of the slowdown ealier today. I’ll leave it switched off for the moment.

  5. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 11, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Last one in was also the woman in 21d which I guessed and couldn’t parse for a long time.
    For 11d, thought the first word was leathery as a synonym of ragged and it fitted my checkers at the time. Was getting carried away by 7d. When I checked the word, it gave me a lot of bondage explanations and the pictures were not for the faint hearted. Glad Dutch restrained himself so to speak.
    Thanks to Micawber for the challenge and to Dutch for the great review.

    • Hanni
      Posted March 11, 2016 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

      Very good of you to research 7d for the rest of us. :yes:

    • dutch
      Posted March 12, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      i rapidly decided against illustrating 7d

  6. Jane
    Posted March 11, 2016 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Definitely had a fight on my hands with some of this one and was extremely glad that Dutch was here to help out with parsing problems on 3,4&8d.
    Hadn’t come across ‘up’ as an anagram indicator before (doesn’t seem to make sense) and, whilst I’m fine with the notion of ‘cycling’ letters, shouldn’t there be some indication as to what moves where?
    The ending of 22a was a new one for me – thank goodness it was an anagram!

    Oh dear – obviously still a lot to learn, but I did love 20d. Anybody else prepared to admit that they now know the name of Jacob’s daughter?
    Thanks to Micawber for today’s lessons and thanks to Dutch for making sense of it all. Your pic for 1d was a most interesting ‘take’ on bridal clobber!

    • Hanni
      Posted March 11, 2016 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

      Didn’t have a clue about Jacob’s daughter. Not even close.

  7. Salty Dog
    Posted March 11, 2016 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    A bit more than 3* difficulty for me, say 3.5*. I went awry in the NE corner and needed a couple of hints to unscramble the resultant mess. I enjoyed 1a and 17a. Thanks to Micawber, and to Dutch.

  8. Expat Chris
    Posted March 12, 2016 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Not quite ready to give up the ghost yet, so avoiding the hints. I still have 10 to go so it might be S :phew: :phew: unday before I check in again. :phew:

    • Expat Chris
      Posted March 12, 2016 at 12:23 am | Permalink

      Oops. To many little yellow people. Well, you get the gist

  9. Expat Chris
    Posted March 12, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Well, finally at stupid o’clock this morning 20D leapt out at me, and then 27A. Most of the remaining ones fell into place except for 4D and 21D. I’ve kicked myself on the you-know-what so much I need a cushion to sit down. My favorites have to be 22A, 27A and the lovely 23D. Micawber, you put me through the wringer, but I love you anyway. Dutch, thanks for the blog, and especially for the two I didn’t get.

  10. Kitty
    Posted March 12, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Well that was a mixed bag. I made unusually good progress for a Toughie (though I just couldn’t fathom how 1a parsed) right up to the last half-dozen answers…

    [You’re unlikely to have any interest, but the list is 6a, 26a, 8d, 13d, 4d and 21d. What struck me was the pleasing symmetry of the unsolved ones.]

    … Then I did the crossword equivalent of a cartoon character, having run off a cliff and not noticed, looking down. I needed electronic help to complete and Dutch to sort out the last few bits for me.

    All very enjoyable. My favourites were 19a and 23d.

    Many thanks to Micawber and Dutch.

    • Kitty
      Posted March 12, 2016 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      P.S. After reading above, I had a peek at the images for 7d. I too am glad that our reviewer “restrained himself” – and that Jean-Luc by virtue of his witty phrasing provided an extra laugh.

    • dutch
      Posted March 12, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      It’s a clever setter who creates enjoyment through the symmetry of unsolved clues

      • Kitty
        Posted March 12, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        It is. Many Friday Toughies achieve the same effect more simply by putting all of the clues beyond my reach.