Toughie 1592 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1592

Toughie No 1592 by Samuel

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Welcome everybody. This is the first Samuel puzzle I have attempted properly and I very much enjoyed it.  There was some fresh clueing which really hit the spot for me as well as quite a lot of reversing and a few insertions, all of which I personally like much more than charades.

I think this is a good one for Toughie-phobes to have a go at: there are plenty of anagrams and easier clues to help you get a foothold, but also some lovely wordplay displaying the extra variety and inventiveness which we get treated to here on the dark side.  And then some hard ones at the end to stretch you.

Having breezed through (relatively speaking) the first three quarters of the puzzle I was thinking this a not-Toughie, but then I had quite a tussle in the SE.


The definitions are underlined in the clues below. The answers are hidden under the there are no answers, only more questions boxes. The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal the answer.



1a    Simple writer gets taken in by redrafted handouts (4-3-4)
OPEN-AND-SHUT: Insert a writer into an anagram (redrafted) of HANDOUTS.  This went straight in, and as many residents of “Hinterland” have said before me, it is so nice when that happens with the first clue

9a    Car series with Clarkson, initially, according to a blueprint? (9)
FORMULAIC: A class of motor racing events (with the number rendered as a Roman Numeral) and the first letter (initially) of Clarkson

10a    Pitch some breakfast cereal making a comeback (5)
ERECT: The answer lurks in some of the clue, in reverse (making a comeback).  I know a joke involving the word “comeback” but it is not fit for the blog.  Googling for illustrations for this one was also not for the faint-hearted


11a    Fool with cash, getting return with ingenuity (6)
NITWIT: A slang word for money reversed (getting return) and some ingenuity or humour

12a    Allege criminal emptied safe: it could be confusing in court (8)
LEGALESE: An anagram (criminal) of ALLEGE followed by the outer letters (emptied) of SAFE. This reminded me of a brilliant clue for the same word by Beet in Rookie Corner.

13a    Fire nurse going grey (6)
ENERGY: An abbreviation for a type of nurse and then an anagram (going) of GREY

15a    Supplement that could make pet petition? (8)
ADDITION: Split (3,5), the answer describes how one would change “pet” into “petition”

18a    On vacation, rounding squall heading west in passage (8)
ALLEYWAY: Start with a four-letter word meaning on vacation; it’s outside (rounding) a reversal (heading west) of a word meaning squall.  Not in the sense of a sudden strong wind, which is the only one I was familiar with, but a loud cry

19a    City’s backing to adopt border proposal (6)
SCHEME: The postal district of the city of London and the ‘S from the clue reversed (backing) and containing (to adopt) a border.  I spent a little while trying to justify this ending with an A because I do like to make things difficult for myself

21a    Element of regret over narcotic (8)
EUROPIUM: Isolate this heavy metal by taking a word for regret, turning it round (over) and then adding a narcotic obtained from poppies.  Not the most common element found in crosswords or in the universe, but the wordplay is designed to get you there

23a    Prophet occasionally needs to lose it (3,3)
SEE RED: A prophet and then regular letters of NEEDS

26a    The Spanish and French, having caught cold, return (5)
ELECT: Spanish and French words for THE and AND respectively containing (having caught) C(old)

27a    Agony and ecstasy surrounding York plant (9)
HELLEBORE: Devilish agony and chemical ecstasy surrounding the old name for York, which I always forget.  This plant genus comprises approximately 20 species of herbaceous or evergreen perennial flowering plants (many poisonous) in the family Ranunculaceae – thanks Wikipedia

28a    Panics about Latin first part of play? They should hold on! (11)
STALACTITES: Some panics, flaps or tizzies around L(atin) and the beginning section of a play (3,1)



1d    Outrage from trafficker (7)
OFFENCE: A preposition meaning (among other things) from followed by a receiver of stolen goods

2d    Say ‘Return shortly, flier‘ (5)
EGRET: A crosswordland staple abbreviation for say and then another abbreviation (shortly), this time of return

3d    Retiring person undressed alone, humorously (9)
AMUSINGLY: A person without its outer letters (undressed) written backwards (retiring) and followed by a word meaning alone

4d    Bore  draw (4)
DRAG: The first definition is a dull person.  The second is to pull, or something one might do to a cigarette: take a long suck

5d    Farm had a terribly nice inside (8)
HACIENDA: HAD A from the clue has inside it an anagram (terribly) of NICE

6d    Atheist is leaving angry letter (5)
THETA: Take the first word of the clue and remove IS, then anagram it (angry)

7d    Bird pecked another (7)
BITTERN: The bird of the answer is formed of pecked or nipped and then another bird

8d    Moan about new reserve clergyman’s area? (8)
BENEFICE: Moan or complain outside (about) N(ew), followed by a word which means reserve if preceded by “put on.” I don’t think this synonym is quite right on its own, but in this case the rest of the clue is indeed put on *** so does that work?  in the sense of a character trait – thanks, Physicist!

14d    Puffed-up general transformed Germany (8)
ENLARGED: An anagram (transformed) of GENERAL and then the IVR code for Germany.  Another interesting choice of pictures

16d    Severe increase having changing sides (9)
INCLEMENT: A word meaning a small increase has its meaning transformed with the simple switch of an R to an L (having changed sides)

17d    Old woman‘s wild after graduate regularly larks about (8)
BABUSHKA: Wild land, commonly associated with that in Australia, comes after one of our usual graduates; this is followed by regular letters of LARKS, reversed (about)

ARVE Error: need id and provider

18d    Everybody comes round night before school’s first examinations (1-6)
A-LEVELS: A synonym of everybody is outside (comes round) a word meaning the night before.  Finish with the first letter of school

20d    Very long legs compared to legend’s? (7)
ENDLESS: The answer describes “legs” compared to “legends” The picture doesn’t quite illustrate the clue or the answer, but it made me laugh and I can’t wait for “legless” to appear as an answer so it’s in

22d    Ways in which quiet rap will be uplifting (5)
PATHS: If you have the first checking letter in, don’t be misled. The quiet from the clue is actually two letters, which are followed by a word meaning rap.  Then all of this is reversed (will be uplifting, in a down clue)

24d    Bed causes final couple to change places (5)
ROOST: This perch or bed for a bird is a word for causes with the last two letters swapped (final couple to change places)

25d    Rig swarming with this parasite could be fragile (4)
FLEA: An anagram of RIG together with the answer is FRAGILE


Thanks to Samuel for a great start to the Toughie week.  I liked many clues, but I think my favourite, beating 15a into second place, is 20d.  Which ones tickled your fancy?


36 comments on “Toughie 1592

  1. Some hard substitutions (like the plant) but got there in the end. SE was last for me too. I particularly liked 21a with its effective surface. Many other smooth surfaces and some fun cluing, but I don’t think the nurses will be happy with 13a. Many thanks Samuel & Kitty – brilliant blog that made me laugh more than once.

  2. Some fun clues and an equally fun review.
    Favourite is 23a.
    Thanks to Samuel and Kitty.

  3. I thought it was a toughie from start to finish – I even sent a “Samuel – just me?” email and was pleased to receive the response that it wasn’t just me.

    A nice change for a Tuesday – I’d give it 3.75 – 4* for difficulty – thanks to Samuel and Kitty too.

  4. Another fine Toughie from Samuel. Re: 8d, I think “ice” = reserve in the sense of a character trait.

  5. Pretty straightforward apart from the last 2 in, which were also my favourites for the extra challenge – 27a [I so wanted the York plant to be rose!] and 17d [regularly larks about].

    Thanks to Samuel and to Kitty for an amusing blog.

  6. After I failed miserably on last Friday’s back-pager the kind folk on the other side suggested trying that day’s Toughie. I got much further with that one and had a lot more fun with it, so thought I’d push my luck and visit Toughieland again today.

    Got off to a good start after a few well-signposted anagrams filled a lot of the grid with checkers. But I ground to a halt in the SE and needed some of Kitty’s excellent hints to gain a foothold there. I’m annoyed that I didn’t get 20d after solving its sibling 15a without a struggle. And now I have learned a new plant and the ancient name for York. But overall I found a lot of smiles and satisfaction in this mental workout.

    Favourite would have to be 15a. Thanks to Samuel, and to Kitty for a helpful and very entertaining blog. Great pictures too.

  7. Thanks to Samuel for a very enjoyable puzzle and to Kitty for the equally splendid review. Too many good clues to list them all but the ones that hit my spot were 9a, 15a, 23a and 6d.

  8. Thanks for the hints, Kitty, beautifully described.
    Ta to the setter for being responsible for much head-scratching…

  9. I thought that was tricky and it all went terminally wrong in the bottom right corner.
    Top half went surprisingly well, most of it anyway.
    I think this was the most difficult Samuel crossword I’ve done – all really good fun though.
    Whoever suggested that he was just ‘testing the water’ in his earlier Toughies was right.
    Too much good stuff to pick out any in particular – maybe 18 and 23a.
    With thanks to Samuel and thanks, well done and huge admiration for bravery to Kitty.

      1. No – not at all for lots of reasons.
        1. I’m fed-up with defending nurses – it doesn’t seem to do much good
        2. I’m not that kind of nurse – I’m what used to be an SRN – now an RN – rather than what used to be an SEN i.e. the first two letters of 13A
        3. I may be very grey but I still have plenty of 13a
        The one that really got me was when a ‘nurse’ was used as a synonym for a ‘bedmaker’ in a Friday crossword several weeks ago.
        Enough said I think . . .

      2. But the clue wasn’t saying anything derogatory about nurses – just painting a picture of one being dismissed for ageist reasons. That would be a bad thing indeed, but the difference is that nobody is describing nurses as simply “bed makers” or any such nonsense.

  10. A very enjoyable start to the Toughie week with some lovely surfaces and not too much mucking about with words moving ‘here and there’. I thought 9a was very clever and current – 1d wasn’t too bad either.

    Thanks to Samuel for the challenging puzzle early in the week and to Kitty for a splendidly written and humorous review. Well done.

  11. The reason I attempted this was that I was planning to do some gardening today and was thwarted by snow in SE London!

    I am glad I did as it was great stuff – both the crossword and the review! This was 4*/4* for me, with the SE corner proving to be the hardest part.

    I’ve got quite a long short list of potential favourites: 9a, 15a, 21a, 23a & 20d. Probably 23a just edges it for me.

    Many thanks to Samuel and to Kitty.

    1. Just snow – lucky old you – we’ve had everything – sun, torrential rain, hail and snow – gave up trying to do anything in the garden and went to sulk and play in the greenhouse.

        1. It was pretty settled for the most part here, but a few hours ago I was about to go running when a big black cloud darkened the sky. I thought, “hmm, maybe I’ll just wait a little and see if that passes” … and I’m glad I did, for it proceeded to disgorge a couple of bolts of lightning and then lots of fat snowflakes. Then the sun came out again, and so did I.

    2. Hmm – it’s now 3C – we’re less than a week away from the beginning of May – we have lit a big fire – ridiculous – :sad:

  12. Beautiful explanation of 28a, Kitty , which I really did not understand.
    7d and 20 d get my vote as top likes , among many lovely clues.
    Thanks Samuel and Kitty.

  13. Thought this was very good, the most enjoyable Toughie we’ve had for ages. About two thirds went in very quickly, and I thought this would be on a level with the back pager, but the rest took a lot more thought. Always fair, just follow the wordplay carefully and you arrived at the answer. Particularly liked 20d and 25d. Last ones in 24d and 4d – am I the only person to get consistently stuck on four letter answers at the end of the puzzle?

  14. Excellent fun both in the puzzle and the review. Not a quick solve but smiles all the way.
    Thanks Samuel and Kitty.

  15. Hats off to anyone who thought this was easy, because it gave me a lot of trouble, especially in the SE quadrant. It was a case of pick up and put down all morning and half the afternoon, but I got there eventually. I seem to recollect seeing a similar clue to 20D before with the same word break (maybe in the Rookie corner?) and there was discussion on whether that kind of unnatural break was kosher. I could be wrong, of course. My memory is far from infallible. Anyway, my favorites are 15A, 7D and 28A, which raised a big smile. Thanks Samuel and Kitty.

  16. Excellent and enjoyable, especially 15a when the penny finally dropped.
    Thanks Kitty and Samuel.

  17. A classy puzzle – 3*/4*. I found it very much of two halves: to the left of a SW-NE diagonal, it was pretty easy, but to the right it was tough indeed. I needed the hint for 21a, which I haven’t come across before. I liked 20d very much. Thanks to Samuel and Kitty.

  18. Thanks for the blog, Kitty, and to all who have commented. Great to see that this one has gone down well; I had been concerned that it was a bit dull.

    Fantastic pictures in the blog, and I promise I’ll try to use the word LEGLESS sometime soon. Also, apologies to any grey nurses out there!

    1. Many thanks Samuel for dropping in – that is always highly appreciated by everyone on the blog. Looking forward to the next puzzle

    2. Thanks so much for your comment, Samuel.

      I have used my picture for LEGLESS now, but I have a feeling that there may be other good ones out there. I always spend far too long hunting for pictures, so it’s great when they are appreciated.

      If this is “a little dull” then I have high hopes indeed for your next one!

  19. Thanks to Samuel and to Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, but needed 7 hints to finish, mainly in the bottom half. Favourite was 21a. Was 4*/3* for me. Found it very difficult to get on the setter’s wavelength.

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