Toughie 1586

Toughie No 1586 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A typical offering from Micawber which was most enjoyable without being too taxing. My only real problem was with 20 down where I didn’t know the drink and had to work it out from the wordplay

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Dorothy returned having had dinner already (2,4)
TO DATE: A reversal (returned) of a short form of Dorothy + ‘had dinner’

4a    Prince, in grip of frenzied love, turned musical (8)
OKLAHOMA: A reversal (turned) of a short form of Henry (as in Prince Henry) inside ‘in a frenzy’ and O (love). The answer is a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical

10a    Dish combining two starters from one branch of Islam and three from another (5)
SUSHI: the name of a Japanese dish is formed from the first two letters of one of the two main branches of Islam (5) and the first three letters of the other (4 or 5)

11a    Loaded lads’ gathering outside East German house (9)
REICHSTAG: Loaded (wealthy) and ‘lads’ (as in **** party) round E (East) = what was one the lower house of the parliament of Germany

12a    Knight heading west time after time, an Arthurian (7)
TRISTAN: T (time) + a reversal of the title of a knight + T (time) + AN = a Cornish knight of the Round Table who had a liaison with Iseult

13a    Knock back knockout toddy to get energy for public performance (7)
KARAOKE: A reversal (knock back) of KO (knockout) and a strong alcoholic drink made in Asian countries from toddy (4) + E (energy) = singing in public to backing music

14a    Put smart clothes on ahead of rendezvous — that shows things haven’t gone stale! (4-6,4)
BEST-BEFORE DATE: Smart clothes (as in Sunday ****) + ‘ahead of’ + a rendezvous

17a    Santa’s close to ring covering stove-top — how must he feel in that chimney! (14)
CLAUSTROPHOBIC: Santa’s second name a ring is close to (next to) a ring (or circle) on the terrestrial globe. This goes round the top of a stove (e.g. a gas cooker)

21a    Gold price recovery reported (7)
AURALLY: The atomic symbol for gold + a recovery (e.g. of share prices)

23a    Extremely fine / art expressing grief? (7)
KEENEST: 2 meanings: The superlative form of an adjective meaning ‘fine’ or ‘having a fine edge’/art wailing over the dead (where ‘art’ is the archaic form of the second person singular present indicative of the verb ‘to be’)

24a    Performer can depart flamboyantly (3-6)
TAP-DANCER: An anagram (flamboyantly) of CAN DEPART

25a    There’s nothing between the two where voter marks cross (5)
BOOTH: O (nothing) goes between ‘the two’ to give a partly enclosed compartment where you stand when voting at the polling station

26a    Has nudes developed, giving protection from light (8)
SUNSHADE: An anagram (developed) of HAS NUDES

27a    ‘Highly commended’ one sacked, forced out (6)
PRISED: Remove (or sack) A (one) from a word meaning ‘highly commended’


1d    Experimental container base set up to north of Spain (4,4)
TEST TUBE: A container used in a chemistry laboratory = a base and SET + E (Spain)

2d    Vicious introductory statement to girl possibly brought up in termination of contract (9)
DISMISSAL: Here Vicious refers to the punk rock musician who was a member of the Sex Pistols. The answer is a reversal (brought up) of what he might have said when meeting a girl for the first time (4,1’1,3)

3d    Broken nut with end missing and second-rate washer (4-3)
TWIN-TUB: An anagram (broken) of NUT WIT (i.e. WITH with the end missing) + B (second-rate) = a type of domestic washing machine

5d    Clip inside edge, getting ahead of Aussies — they’re pants (14)
KNICKERBOCKERS: ‘To clip or cut’ inside the edge of the pavement + a word for oafish uncultured Australians

6d    This area, in sum, got stuck (7)
ADHERED: ‘This area’ inside ‘to sum’

7d    Best open event (5)
OUTDO: ‘To best’ = ‘open’ + an event (party)

8d    Sportsman who uses landline rather than net? (6)
ANGLER: A cryptic definition for someone who catches things using a line and not a net

9d    Unhealthy ingredient in tart regularly ruined fantastic day (5,5,4)
TRANS FATTY ACID: A compound formed during partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils = alternate letters of TaRt + an anagram (ruined) of FANTASTIC DAY. Such compounds are associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease (unless someone’s shown otherwise by now)

15d    Pre-med perhaps given before operations — upon which they are carried out? (5,4)
TABLE TOPS: A solid medicine (which may be a premedication) + the abbreviated form of ‘operations’

16d    E.g. McDonald’s cheese more than half squashed (8)
SCOTCHED: A native of the country where a lot of people are called McDonald + the first four letters of a 7-letter cheese

18d    Free French articles on foolish resistance lost (7)
UNLEASH: ‘To free (the dog possibly)’ = the French for ‘a’ + the French for ‘the’ + ‘foolish’ with the letter R (resistance) removed

19d    Wellington may be reinforced here — he’s right outside Napoleon’s base (7)
HEELBAR: A place where footwear is repaired = HE and R (right) round an island to which Napoleon was exiled

20d    French drink wine in addition (6)
PASTIS: A French alcoholic drink flavoured with aniseed = an Italian sparkling wine inside an addition to a letter coming after the signature

22d    Get ready to produce rent before getting space (5)
RIPEN: A rent or tear + a space in printing

Writing the review was just as enjoyable as solving the puzzle


  1. crypticsue
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Lovely thank you Micawber – not as tough as your “friend” Morph in the Indy, but a lovely fun solving experience while it lasted.

    Thanks to Bufo too.

    • pommers
      Posted April 14, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      How strange. I did the Morph in about half the time that this took me. I guess it’s a good thing that we’re all different or the world would be a pretty boring place.

  2. halcyon
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Good, entertaining stuff. Plenty of straightforward clues to get one started but plenty of more ingenious ones too. Particularly liked 2d [LOL] 19d [lovely surface and construction] and last one in with the gold star – 23a.
    My only problem is with 21a, being unable to equate “reported” with the solution. Can anyone help?

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Bufo who needs to get out [to the South of France where they drink 20d by the boatload] more.

    • dutch
      Posted April 14, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      “His reported confession..”? it’s the sense of reported that we see used as a homophone indicator. I also think it’s the origin of “reporting” to your boss. You can argue about the adverb / adjective thing though and you would probably be right.

      It does seem a strange choice since something can also be reported in writing

      • halcyon
        Posted April 14, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        I think that both you and SSY below are confusing indicators with definitions. Used as an indicator of a soundalike clue then yes, aurally is interchangeable with reported [depending on the surface of course]. But as a definition/answer aurally is not synonymous with reported. His aurally confession?? No way.

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted April 14, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      We parsed ‘reported’ differently. Since aurally means to do with the ear, or hearing, we took reported simply to means ‘sounding like’.

      Does that help?

  3. dutch
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    didn’t get all the parsing today, so thank you bufo for explaining the old conjugation of to weep in 23a, and for highlighting the reversed introduction in 2d – there seemed to be girls everywhere I looked in that answer, miss, lass, di, sal. Not sure if I’ve come across the oafish australian before, i might have remembered. I think 21d would be a better clue without “price”.

    I enjoyed having the french drink in sidewalk cafe’s before dinner, very popular. And there was plenty more to enjoy in the puzzle, many thanks Micawber and thank you Bufo

  4. Sheffieldsy
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Quite tough but very fair – we loved it. So many good clues, but let’s pick out a few- 17a for the wonderful construction; 4a similarly; 7d because it’s so tight and misleading at first; 11a because loaded lads’ gathering was just brilliant; 9d just for getting that into a clue.

    3*/3.5* we thought.

    Thanks to Bufo and Micawber.

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted April 14, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      It was also a learning experience. The coarse Aussies was a new term for us, as was the drink in 13a.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Probably my fastest grid-fill ever for a toughie. Parsing of some took quite a bit longer. I still don’t really understand the explanation for the second definition of 23A (Hold the phone..just got it!). I’ve never heard of the Aussie word either. Loved 15D, 19D and 20D. Many thanks Micawber and Bufo.

  6. Hanni
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Found bits of this a tad tricky. The anagrams helped me get started and it took me awhile to figure out the ‘vicious’ bit of 2d and how it worked. 23a was bunged in and I just waited for the review.

    Nice to see 10a again.

    11a was certainly dragged from the memory banks and then I still Googled to check.

    I also have the songs from 4a going around my head.

    Many thanks to Micawber for a fantastic puzzle and to Bufo for a great blog.

  7. pommers
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I had a strange experience with this one. Spent about the time I would expect to take on a Micawber puzzle and found I only had about ten answers. Bufo’s blog wasn’t up at that time so I went away for a bit and when I came back the missing ones went in fairly quickly. Surprising what the sub-conscious can do.

    Thanks to Micawber and to Bufo for the almost needed hints.

  8. Shropshirelad
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable puzzle and took me less time than today’s back pager. The NE corner was the last to give up it’s secrets with 13a my last one in. Knew the answer but the parsing needed a bit of thought – well, a lot.

    Thanks to Micawber for the puzzle and for getting in the most ‘K’s in a single word. I’m sure I’ve seen them before, but can’t think where. Thanks also to Bufo for his review.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Not the easiest solve and was beaten by 23a.
    Lot’s of interresting constructions made the experience worthwhile.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Bufo for the review.

  10. crypticsue
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Notabilis tomorrow so that’s another :yahoo: from me. :)

  11. Kitty
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I always love a Micawber. No cheats today apart from needing the full explanation of 23a. I thought it would be something like that but couldn’t quite get it straight in my mind. Also hadn’t heard of 20d which made that one a bit of a guess. The SE was the last corner to yield.

    4a is quite wonderful and I now have “I Cain’t Say No” in my head. (And before Jean-Luc starts casting further aspersions on my good character, may I just say that I can say no, thank you very much!) So that will have to be today’s favourite. I also particularly liked 10a, 11a and 14a.

    Oodles of thanks to Micawber and to Bufo.

  12. Kath
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    A lovely crossword.
    It probably took about the same length of time as the back page cryptic – I’m guessing – I never time myself.
    With thanks to Micawber for the crossword and to Bufo for explaining some that I couldn’t sort out myself.

  13. Jane
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Overall I found this easier to complete than the back-pager although have to confess that some were parsed retrospectively.
    Forgot about our old friend Sid in 2d and missed the ‘art’ definition in 23a. Don’t think I’d come across the Aussie guys before today.
    Last two in were 7&20d which earns tham a place on the tick list, my other ‘likes’ included 11&17a plus 15d.

    Thanks to Micawber for some great clues and much appreciation to Bufo for the explanations.
    Shouldn’t 9d have shown hyphenation between the first two words in the enumeration?

    • halcyon
      Posted April 14, 2016 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      No. The usual convention is to hyphenate trans [and cis] only in formal chemical nomenclature. Thus: oleic acid is cis- octadecenoic acid whereas elaidic acid [a trans fatty acid with the same chemical formula] is trans-octadecenoic acid. I used to be a fat-biochemistry student [but never a fat biochemist].
      Hope that helps!

      • Jane
        Posted April 14, 2016 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the info, Halcyon. It was simply that, when I did a basic online search, it came up repeatedly as being hyphenated. Obviously not written by a biochemist!

  14. 2Kiwis
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    We got held up in the SE corner and never did manage to sort out the ‘art’ part of the clue in 23a. We liked your description of the Aussies in 5d Bufo but for us it did beg the question, “Is there another type?” Lots of fun and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Micawber and Bufo.

  15. Wolfson Bear
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    The Toughie week jumps into life after a slow start. A very nice puzzle with a few tricky clues. I got the “art” clue right but I still don’t get the second definition even after reading the blog
    Thanks to setter and blogger

    • Expat Chris
      Posted April 14, 2016 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      From Bufo’s explanation, I am interpreting the second definition of 23A as “thou keenest”, or as we would say, “You’re crying” . I get the intent, but if “art” were inserted, wouldn’t it have to be “thou art keening”? On the other hand, I could be completely off track, not for the first time.

      • Wolfson Bear
        Posted April 14, 2016 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

        My problem is I see no connection between “keenest” and “crying” – will have to have a look in the dictionary to see if “keen” has a meaning (as a verb) related to “cry” – if keen is a verb meaning “cry” then I do finally get it! Enough to bring tears to the eyes.

        • Expat Chris
          Posted April 14, 2016 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

          Keen is a a word of, I believe, Scottish origin, meaning cry or wail.

          • Wolfson Bear
            Posted April 14, 2016 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

            Thanks. A new word for me. Always keen to learn.

  16. Jon_S
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Quite tough, but rewarding to finish. I needed to look carefully at the wordplay on quite a few, only to arrive at an answer that should have been patently clear from the start. :-) 20d was my LOI as well…

  17. Salty Dog
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Towards the top end of 3* for difficulty, and 4* for satisfaction. This one furrowed the Salty Dog brow considerably, particularly 4a, which I found insanely difficult to parse – even though the answer was pretty obvious from the crossers. I loved 5d! Thanks to Micawber and Bufo.