Toughie 1583

Toughie No 1583 by ProXimal

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello, and a very warm welcome to you all.  Nobody noticed the imposter in the chair last week, so I’ve been allowed back to cover for Dutch during his second week away.  When I saw who the setter was, I was quaking in my boots – and I certainly had to work for it today.

In parts I was tearing my hair out and in parts I was laughing.  There was quite a lot of playing with individual letters and moving them about, which was fun to sort out but fiddly to write hints for.  There were several clues for which I had answers and then had to spend considerable time teasing out the wordplay; others turned out to be delightfully simple and elegant.

Enjoyment is not quite the right word when solving to a deadline, and my difficulty rating is simply based on my finding it considerably stiffer than last week’s.  I’ll be interested to hear what you made of it, so do leave a comment telling us how you found it and what you thought.  Also, please let me know if you spot any errors, omissions or sillies in the hints.


The definitions are underlined in the clues below.  The answers are hidden under the you won’t find me at the bottom of a pint glass boxes.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal the answer.



1a    Journalists plot to divide mates, potentially (10)
SUBEDITORS: The kind of plot found in a garden or allotment inside (to divide) some potential mates or love interests

6a    Some ice around edges of leaf (4)
CALF: The ice is from an iceberg or glacier, formed of the two-letter abbreviation for the Latin about and the outside letters of leaf

9a    Honey bears move faster for drink (10)
DARJEELING: A honey or sweetheart holds (bears) an alternative spelling of the word used to encourage (a horse) to speed up.  The drink is a variety of tea

10a    This compiler had the Spanish over while away (4)
IDLE: How the setter would say he had followed by a reversal of the Spanish definite article.  To while away some time

12a    One liberates all but last of fit soldiers (12)
APPROPRIATOR: All but the last letter of a word meaning fit or suitable and some soldiers.  Liberates here has its delightfully facetious meaning of steals

15a    Very important border in China (6)
PRIMAL: First or fundamental.  The china we need is cockney rhyming slang, and inside our chum is a border or edge

16a    Jolly good shelter found by divers (8)
GLEESOME: A charade of G(ood), a shelter or cover, and divers as in sundry.  The answer is an archaic (but not too obscure) word for exuberantly joyful

18a    Instruments from demo car in a show (8)
OCARINAS: The instruments are hidden in the clue.  It was only when writing this very bit here that I realised I didn’t actually know exactly what these are.  Click the picture to hear more

19a    Pretty funny story after daughter’s become learner driver (6)
COMELY: Take a funny story and change D(aughter) to L(earner driver).  I have a soft spot for this word

21a    Superior satnav shows these (7,5)
STREETS AHEAD: This phrase meaning far superior is also, literally, part of what a satnav device displays.  Sometimes, even when you can quite clearly  see that in front of you is nothing but a field

24a    Cross after French place short of duck gives us cat (4)
LYNX: Put the cross-shaped letter after a town in France after having removed from it a duck (that being the usual crosswordland letter for zero)

25a    Diverting money extracted from admirers before organising charity event (4-6)
FUND-RAISER: Diverting or amusing and then an anagram of ADmIRERS with the M(oney) extracted

26a Top player felt disheartened (4)
SEED: A word for felt or appeared without its middle letter (disheartened)

27a    Pave estate and sell up (10)
TESSELLATE: An anagram (up) of ESTATE and SELL.  This anagram indicator was discussed recently, and I’ll quote Prolixic: “ ’I have no problem with ‘up’ as an anagram indicator as it can mean, variously, ‘in an excited state’ or ‘in revolt’ which indicate a change in state of the letters.”  Dutch responded, “I’m not going to be able to see ‘up’ as an anagram indicator ever again without thinking ‘in an excited state.’ ”  Now, neither am I



1d    Day overshadowed by dodgy American beer (4)
SUDS: D(ay) inside (overshadowed by) a slang term meaning dodgy or dubious.  I’m not sure I’d previously come across this informal American word for beer, but my friends and I like to call it “Foamy” after an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer entitled “Beer Bad” (from which comes my picture for 15a)

2d    Use up  running water (4)
BURN: Two definitions.  Consume, or a small stream or brook

3d    Judge quietly owns hugging spinster regularly reduces stress (2-10)
DE-EMPHASISES: Judge or consider, then the usual musical abbreviation for quietly, then a three-letter word for owns, containing (hugging) the odd letters (regularly) of SpInStEr.  The stress is not the kind that comes from blogging this crossword, but this type

4d    These 27 handles, only one pound (6)
TILERS: For the definition you need the answer to 27a (or the definition as underlined above).  Take some handles for steering rudders but include only one of the letters for pound.  I won’t tell you how long I spent trying to make the one pound the IL in the answer.  To quote three Kaths: oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!

5d    Call to attract seal (4,4)
RING PULL: Call on the telephone and then draw or lure.  The seal is found on a can

7d    Athletic 1 – United 0, gaining promotion without tested players (10)
AUDITIONED: An anagram of I UNITED O with a plug or promotion outside (without)

8d    Currency key to take out aboard jet with Sweden’s motif (5-2-3)
FLEUR-DE-LYS: The abbreviation for a currency and a computer key used to remove some unwanted type (key to take out) inside (aboard) jet (as a verb).  Follow this with S(weden) to get the stylised lily that is used symbolically.  This took forever to untangle: I know I’m not alone in forgetting about those kinds of keys, even though that particular one is one I’ve been hitting a great deal today

11d    Universal rollercoaster, perhaps, probed by sides in Florida court disaster (4,3,1,4)
RIDE FOR A FALL: A phrase (4,3,3) which could mean a rollercoaster available to everyone containing (probed by) the outer letters of (sides in) Florida

13d    Fluid samples to lead to strong medicine (5,5)
EPSOM SALTS: An anagram (fluid) of SAMPLES TO followed by the first letter (lead to) of strong.  My anagram blindness struck again and I spent far too long wondering what the fluid samples might be…

14d    Rubbish on Scottish island ends in grove being untidy (10)
DISARRANGE: Put together a slang word for rubbish or treat with contempt, a Scottish island, and the outer letters of (ends in) grove

17d    Upset European prosecutes comic and female entertainer (8)
DANSEUSE: Upset in the clue tells us to reverse everything which follows. That being: E(uropean), prosecutes at law, and an anagram (comic) of AND.  Not a word I use regularly

20d    Grey has half a ton of these spirits (6)
SHADES: These are literary spirits.  Keeping in the literary spirit, Fifty (half a ton) ****** of Grey gives the title of a book.  I got a bit tied up while doing that one and spent some time deviating from the correct parsing.  Well, I had to kick myself when I realised.  Anyway, I shall take this opportunity to show you my favourite Macclesfield hardware store:

22d    Ladies’ man oddly lacking around Jordan et al here (4)
ASIA: Reverse (around) the even letters (oddly lacking) of ladies man

23d    Bank in which fellow’s promoted for nothing (4)
FREE: A bank or ridge found at sea with F(ellow) moved to the front (promoted)


Thanks to ProXimal for the work-out.  My favourite was 11d because it made me laugh.  Which clue(s) raised your spirits?

I’m also going to take this opportunity to thank Dutch for believing I could do this when I didn’t – thank you.



  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Was totally defeated by 4d. So thanks to Kitty for the enlightenment.
    Found the rest quite a slow process in deciphering some of the convoluted constructions but enjoyed the challenge.
    Favourite is 25a.
    Thanks to Proximal and to Kitty.

  2. Gazza
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    This was a real Friday-level Toughie. Thanks to proXimal and to Kitty for the decipherment (is that a proper word?). Top clues for me were 9a and 10a.

  3. Shropshirelad
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Not very enjoyable I’m sorry to say, just all a bit too ‘bitty’ for me. So I shall say nothing more.

    Thanks to proXimal for the puzzle – I normally enjoy your crosswords more than I did today. Maybe it’s me not on ‘wavelength’ – sorry.
    Thanks also to Kitty who has produced 2 excellent Toughie reviews in Dutch’s absence – well done. :)

  4. jean-luc cheval
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Just realised I had 2d wrong!
    After discarding “wear” as in the river of course, I settled for “bore” as the Severn Bore we saw the other day. D’oh.

  5. elcid
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    It took me all morning but after a lot of electronic help I completed – phew. Thanks to ProXimal for the workout and Kitty for explaining the middle part of 9a – jee/gee!

  6. halcyon
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Very satisfying slow and steady solve so I agree with your ratings Kitty. Thanks for explaining 20d – I thought it might be one of those “is that all there is” clues but clearly not. Love the picture – do you find BD in there too?

    Favourites were 9a [honey bears] 4d [done well] 7d [stared at it for ages without spotting athletic as an anagrind] and 17d [comic and].

    Thanks for another excellent blog and thanX to proXimal for the challenge.

  7. pommers
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Not my cup of Rioja I’m afraid. Sorry. I think it might have been 1d that put me off.

    Thanks anyway to ProXimal and to Kitty for a fine job.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted April 8, 2016 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      Good Heavens pommers, you drink Rioja out of a cup? What time of the day does that occur? :)

      Edit – I’ve now noticed when I do an old fashioned ‘smiley’ with a colon and an close bracket, I get a ‘nodding’ smiley from the old range of funny faces.

  8. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Oops, looks like I have stumbled on a tough Toughie after a successful backpager.
    Oh well, here goes, at least I know I have Kitty to rescue me…

  9. KiwiColin
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    This puzzle took me ages. At the time it felt a bit like wading through treacle so I went for a walk around our usual beach/estuary circuit and that had the effect of unclogging the grey cells and I was able to polish of the rest. When I had finished and re-read the clues I appreciated it much more than I had when bogged down with a half-empty grid. I did think with sympathy about Kitty beavering away at sorting it all out. I need not have worried, well done Kitty.
    Thanks ProXimal and Kitty

  10. Sheffieldsy
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    We thought this was a peach of a crossword. Every clue was a delight and, tough though it was, it did slowly give up its treasures. We managed it entirely without help from the blog, which is unusual for one of this difficulty.

    Our ratings are 4*/4*, agreeing with Kitty and perhaps pushing 4.5* for enjoyment. Our favourite clues were 3d (mainly because we got it via the construction route rather than working out why it was right after the fact), 21a (which made us chuckle in unison), 13d (reminds me of a joke too rude to repeat) and 25a. 27a brought back memories of many happy hours at University reading Martin Garden’s column in back issues of Scientific American; I think the column in equation was “Tessellating the Plane”.

    Thanks to Kitty for a great blog and to proXimal for giving us so much pleasure.

  11. Wolfson Bear
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    For me it was a 5* stinker – which I much enjoyed. There were certainly many moments I thought I would never get to the end – and I now see I got 1d wrong – new terms to me in clue and answer – I thought it was soda even though I could not explain why and have never known this US word for “pop” be used for beer but then the US is not the ideal destination of a beer lover.
    Thanks to setter and blogger (whose outstanding bravery in the Friday Toughie slot is to be much admired)

  12. Jane
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Well – what a pathetic attempt I made at this one. Turned to Kitty’s hints at the halfway point and still had to reveal some answers – my fault, not yours Kitty!
    Of the ones I managed on my own, 21a comes out on top.

    Sorry ProXimal – I was definitely out of my league here. Many thanks to Kitty, both for all the explanations and the very enjoyable clips you fitted into the blog.

    The darkened room is calling……..

  13. Expat Chris
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Not even looking at the comments, let alone the hints, though I did note the difficulty rating. Had a long look at the puzzle in the wee small hours and got absolutely nowhere…two 4-letter answers. I’ve just escaped from the bell tower that I’ve been locked in all day and I’m ready to have another go, fortified by a nice glass of something soothing.

  14. TheTeesdale2
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Jeepers that was difficult! Think we managed about half a dozen on our own, then had to resort to Kitty’s H&T’s, and even with those still had to resort to revealing more than we’d care to mention, no reflection on your hints Kitty, merely our ineptitude at this level! Is there a Toughie day in any one’s experience which bridges the cryptic/toughie gap, got to go now, a cup of Rioja needs our attention. Thanks Kitty, and the setter- no hard feelings!

  15. dutch
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    haven’t had a chance to do the puzzle yet, took the ferry to hull last night and have just arrived in macclesfield . I wanted to drop in to congratulate Kitty on a top notch review – well done! I find proXimal one of the hardest setters.

  16. Kitty
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I’d just like to say thanks for the lovely messages. Toughie blogging may have been a reckless undertaking but I think I’ll take “outstanding bravery” instead!

    As a little extra, I’ve dug out the clue that occurred to me on the train back from Macc:

    Our blog master initially approaching Macclesfield hardware store for kinky stuff? (1,1,1,1)

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted April 9, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      We recently lost Cynthia Payne and Madame Claude. Are you going to be the next dominatrix?

      • Kitty
        Posted April 9, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink