Toughie 1607

Toughie No 1607 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Kate R

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


Hello boys and girls!  Yes, Kate R is back and looking forward to seeing many of you in Derby and London.  Congratulations to the three people who cleverly guessed Kate R’s identity – for those of you still in the dark, a look at the Wikipedia entry for KateR should prove illuminating.

Notabilis provides a wonderful crossword today with exciting wordplay that should satisfy a wide range of puzzlers.  It’s nice that there is very little need for electronic aids with a Notabilis puzzle – it’s all about the parsing: very satisfying.  This took 4* time, with 4* for enjoyment too.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below, and the answers are hidden under the it also means hangover! boxes.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.



1a    An American legal action barring one from the South (7)
AUSTRAL: An indefinite article, abbreviation for American and a court case without the letter I (barring one)

5a    Body‘s chief in the role of sister (7)
CHASSIS: Split (2,2,3) the answer becomes Ch(ief) playing the part of sis(ter)

9a    Horrible Regan almost crushed sister (6,5)
CHARGE NURSE: Anagram (horrible) of REGAN + CRUSHE(d)

10a    What’s hot for cuppa’s contents? (3)
CHA: A semi-all-in-one.  Replace C(upp)A’s contents with H(ot)

11a    Dispense with a regressive tax (5)
ALLOT: A from the clue plus the reversal of a tax, typically for using a bridge or road

13a    Retire superior when cutting attribution of thesaurus that had plates on the back (9)
STEGOSAUR: Reversal of (retire): An abbreviation for superior plus a word meaning when inserted into (cutting) the name of a widely-used thesaurus

14a    Ranking star value misses point for Briers’ part? (4-4)
PIPE STEM: Nothing to do with acting!  A ranking star plus a verb meaning to value or rate highly missing a compass point

16a    Clothmaker backtracks when one replaces a critical article (6)
REVIEW: Reversal of a clothmaker (one who uses a loom) with an I instead of an A

18a    Dish containing soft prize game? (3-3)
CUP-TIE: This dish is a person and contains the abbreviation for soft

19a    Small vessel’s behind limiting energy waves where there’s a wide margin (4,4)
SAFE SEAT: The abbreviation for small, then behind in nautical terms containing (limiting) the abbreviation for energy and a large area of waves

22a    Handheld device with withdrawn extra installed that subliminally affects behaviour? (9)
PHEROMONE: This secreted chemical is generated from a device for speaking to other people that contains a reversal of another word for extra

23a    Small cake‘s core of cassata ice cream (5)
SCONE: The central letter of cassata plus one form of an ice cream

25a    Somebody regularly taking MDMA (3)
ONE:    Split (2,1), the answer suggests regularly taking MDMA (Methylene-DioxyMethAmphetamine or ecstasy)

26a    Driving, not running, holding broken handset (2,3,6)
IN THE SADDLE: A word meaning not running or not working contains an anagram (broken) of HANDSET

28a    Unwise to engage personnel with a sharp manner (7)
SHRILLY: A word meaning unwise or foolish contains (to engage) an abbreviation of the department that was once called personnel

29a    Evacuation of the French city for Occupation (7)
TENANCY: Evacuate “the” by removing the central letter, and add a French city



1d    Electric light‘s argon holder (3-4)
ARC-LAMP: The chemical symbol for Argon followed by a device used to hold things firmly together

2d    Wrap belt up on top of its maker’s tool (5)
SHAWL: Belt up in the sense of be quiet and then a small pointed tool which might be used to punch holes in the aforementioned belt

3d    By quitting sport, it’ll make Balding less visible (3)
RUG: It’s a slang name for a toupee, found by removing BY (by quitting) from a sport

4d    Painter‘s large dog who has a view of the country? (8)
LANDSEER: This is a painter and also the dog breed named after him (from the painting below); split (4,4) the name suggests one who has an area in sight

5d    First called motoring company, going over list (6)
CAREEN: The adjective used in stating a woman’s maiden name followed by a motoring association, all reversed (going over)

6d    Wonder how seesaws might be constructed with built-in sign (11)
AWESOMENESS: An anagram (how … might be constructed) of
SEESAWS containing (with built-in) a sign or portent

7d    One living high life therefore spying group in weakened form? (9)
SOCIALITE: A charade of a short word meaning therefore, a group of spies and an adjective meaning low in calories or alcohol content etc.

8d    Winger‘s couple of disputes (7)
SPARROW: This is a winger in the crosswordy sense of one with wings.  Two different words, (4) and (3), for quarrel

12d    Reference that cites Timon – I allowed quotes (11)
TESTIMONIAL: It’s a magnificently long lurker: the clue contains (quotes) the answer

15d    Elevate favourite with protection of fellow who pulls strings (9)
PUPPETEER: A two letter word meaning elevate or raise then the usual favourite of crosswordland, all inside (with protection of) a fellow or equal


17d    Father passionate after he’s lost and covered ground (8)
PAVEMENT: A short word for dad is followed by passionate or fervent with HE removed (after he’s lost)

18d    Many records of Constable’s debt? (7)
COPIOUS: Split (3,4) this could be records of debt of a policeman

20d    People generally will keep regarding British in that way (7)
THEREBY: A word used to refer to those people contains (will keep) a two letter term meaning with reference to and the abbreviation for British

21d    Unassertive, lisping? Far from it! (6)
MOUTHY: Shy or unassertive with the S changed to TH (lisping) becomes loud and cheeky

24d    Happy to forget grand past (5)
OLDEN: Happy or prosperous without (to forget) G(rand)

27d    Lower head of pale bristly growth (3)
AWN: Take a word meaning pale and move the first letter (head) forward into second place (lower, in a down clue) to produce a stiff bristle that grows from the ear of many grasses


The clues for the three letter words particularly impressed today.  Which one(s) did you like?



  1. crypticsue
    Posted May 20, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was expecting to have a much tougher time when I saw Notabilis at the top of the crossword. 3*/5* from me.

    Lots of lovely d’oh moments, including my favourite 3d. 13a is notable both for the odd surface reading and the clue length which was tending towards “War and Peace”

    Thanks very much to Notabilis and the Tipsy Twosome.

  2. dutch
    Posted May 20, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I do like a Notabilis puzzle and I enjoyed this one a lot, but I agree with CS that some of the clues were noticeably and uncharacteristically long. Also minor pity in 13a that theSUARUS sounds like a definitive prehistoric beast possibly related to the answer.

    3d was my favourite too – I spent some time trying to see if there was any special all-in-oneish relevance to Balding, but as far as I can tell neither brother or sister really left sports becoming less visible

  3. Davelawes
    Posted May 20, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Nice one thanks to Notabilis and Kate , liked 13a and 16a , would someone explain the apostrophe in 5 a , and the capital o in29a ?

    • dutch
      Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Apostrophes like that are useful because they can imply ownership in the surface reading or ‘is’ in the cryptic reading, ie definition’s wordplay or definition is wordplay, is as in equals.

      The O is a mislead suggesting a historical event in the surface reading rather than the answer.You can have gratuitous capitalisation, but you cannot de-capitalise a word that should be capitalised in order to mislead.

    • Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The ‘s in 5a stands for is and it’s just a link word in the cryptic reading: definition is wordplay.

      In 29a, the capital O is just for the surface reading – to make it look more like it is a specific (military) occupation that is being referred to.

      Brier is an alternative spelling (the first given in the brb) of briar and is used to suggest the late actor Richard Briers.

      • Davelawes
        Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the info. Sad to hear that Richard Briers is dead. Always rather enjoyed ” The Good Life “

        • Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

          No worries, Dave. Seems you’ve had your questions answered in duplicate. Yes, The Good Life was brilliant.

  4. Posted May 20, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another fan of this setter here. I found this pretty tough. Just over half went in ok (mostly in the bottom) and then I had to dig much deeper. Some clues took much head-scratching to parse too.

    It always amazes me when a long (forward) lurker is hard to get – and this one was all on one line too. Very impressive.

    For 13a I kept wanting to cut up the thesaurus to get the saur part of the answer. D’oh! It reminded me of this: (link).

    I noticed in the clues two sisters very close together and a couple of handheld items. A joke comes to mind but I will restrain myself.

    Yes, the short ones were good, and I also liked 16a and smiled at 21d.

    Thanks to Notabilis for the puzzle. For the review, I will deliver my thanks in person tomorrow. Yay!

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink | Reply


      I hope that Miffypops doesn’t catch that part of your comment – you know what he’s like regarding ‘cutting up things’.

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted May 20, 2016 at 9:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Handheld? And I rember your comment not too long ago that your husband said just put it in, or similar. Should we begin to worry about you and the level of innuendo, Kitty?

  5. Jane
    Posted May 20, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Two humorous puzzles in one day – yeah!
    Either I didn’t know or had forgotten the alternative name for a Newfoundland and I did need KateR’s help with the full parsing of 14a, but otherwise didn’t do too badly with this one. Oh yes – almost forgot – 27d was a new word.
    19a was the last one in – looked for something far more scientific for the energy waves.

    Long list of potential favourites – 18a plus 3,6,18&21d all get special mention.

    Thanks to Notabilis for the puzzle and to KateR for the explanations. Great clip at 15d and smiles for the 26a.
    I’ve looked up KateR as instructed and have only come up with ‘tomcat’ – am I getting remotely warm?

    • crypticsue
      Posted May 20, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Vaguely in the right area but have another search and see if the penny drops

    • Kath
      Posted May 20, 2016 at 6:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I have too – now I’m bored.

  6. Davelawes
    Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh and also the spelling of briar

    • dutch
      Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      They are accepted alternative spellings (see brb) but Briers is used here to suggest the actor in the surface reading (another misleading capitalisation) – ah, I see Kitty has already said as much

  7. Hanni
    Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was a bit worried when I saw it was Notabilis but it wasn’t as scary as it could have been, not straightforward mind. It was also rather brilliant!

    A very long list of likes but none as much as 3d. So funny…as is the pic.

    So many thanks to all involved.

  8. Shropshirelad
    Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very enjoyable puzzle with a lot to like and only one to dislike – 13a. I think I fell asleep halfway through reading it. So many good clues it’s difficult to chose one, but if a gun were to be put to my head – I’d go for 3d as it really made me burst out laughing. The regulars in my Friday local gave me quite a few strange looks.

    Thanks to Notabilis for the enjoyment and fun, and also to Kate R for the review. I am definitely in agreement with Jane – I have no idea who you are. No doubt I will see who it is tomorrow at Derby.

    • dutch
      Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      You go to your Friday local quite early, it would seem. And I guess that means there are other locals for the other days – are they early too? :-)

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Got that one spot on. There are indeed lots of daily locals that I frequent on a lunchtime – I feel it is only fair to spread by my modest income between the publicans in my area. Can’t have them closing, can we! :whistle:

        • dutch
          Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

          No chance of that.

  9. stanXYZ
    Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Nice puzzle from Notabilis – thanks to Kate R for explaining the few that I did not understand.

    3d is my favourite – the ubiquitous Ms Balding will be even more ubiquitous (if that is possible) with Wimbledon & the Olympics fast approaching.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted May 20, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

      With her ‘God’ like status she is definitely ‘omnipresent’.

  10. 2Kiwis
    Posted May 20, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Lovely stuff again from our fellow-countryman. Our very last one to get in was 5a where it took us ages to sort out the wordplay even when we were convinced we had the right answer from the definition. An absolute pleasure from start to finish and it did take well into the time that justifies its Friday Toughie spot.
    Thanks Notabilis and Kate R.
    Glad that you are coming out of the closet Kate, even if it is just poking a couple of noses round the doorjamb at this stage.

  11. Sheffieldsy
    Posted May 20, 2016 at 10:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    There was so much to like here. We were in a pub in deepest North Wales where there is no mobile phone signal, so a completion without the internet gave added satisfaction. Favourites were 1a, 16a, 22a, 28a, 29a, 12d (a tour de force of a lurker, yet strangely misspelled in the blog above), 20d and 27d. Pick of the bunch has to be 27d for the light bulb moment when we got the parsing.

    Absolutely agree with 4*/4*.

    Thanks to JaneR and Notabilis.

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted May 20, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

      ….or even Kate R. No idea where JaneR came from!

  12. jean-luc cheval
    Posted May 20, 2016 at 11:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What I love about this blog is that it sometimes brings a whole new dimension to the crossword.
    So many clues to remind us of the different people commenting.
    1a was for the kiwis, 9a for Kath, 26a for Hanni, 8d whenever I see a bird is Jane. And not saying who 13a might remind me of.
    Was on the right wavelength to solve and parse. Chambers came handy for 27d having the exact same words for the definition, 14a although I was thinking of seed originally for the second word and 18a.
    29a favourite. It’s that Petain again!
    Thanks to Notabilis and to whoever is KateR for the sterling work.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted May 21, 2016 at 12:13 am | Permalink | Reply

      I have a feeling as to who HE might be.

      • Hanni
        Posted May 21, 2016 at 12:19 am | Permalink | Reply

        You have mail.

    • Hanni
      Posted May 21, 2016 at 12:17 am | Permalink | Reply

      Ohh I’ve never really thought of that J-L. Going to be on the look out for clues/solutions now that you connect to people who comment!

      Have a good weekend.

  13. Expat Chris
    Posted May 21, 2016 at 2:58 am | Permalink | Reply

    This took me a long time and lots of pick-ups and put-downs, but I got there in the end under my own steam. I have never heard of golden meaning happy or prosperous and did not make the connection between pip and rank so that one was a bit of a bung in. Not many smiles for me, I’m afraid, though I can certainly see that’s it’s all very clever. Thanks, Notabilis and KateR, whoever you may be.

  14. Margaret Butt
    Posted May 22, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We love the help that you give when we are having trouble with particular clues. What seems to happen now, though, is that the answer is displayed immediately – we would rather have a go solving the clue with your extra help rather than being given the answer straight away. We used to have to click on a box to display the answer. Has something changed?

    • crypticsue
      Posted May 22, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Welcome Margaret

      This seems to happen for some visitors to the site but not others. It is a mystery Bd is trying to solve. However, if you check the address for the site – if you start with http:// rather than https: the comments should be hidden.

  15. Notabilis
    Posted May 22, 2016 at 6:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the comments.
    There was a minor Nina here, not the kind that I’d expect people to get. Consecutive across answers 22, 23, 25 end with ONE, as this was my 111st Toughie puzzle; similarly, 5, 9, 10 start with CHA, for no particular reason.

    • Hanni
      Posted May 22, 2016 at 8:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Would never have spotted the Nina (I never do anyway)…but I like it!

    • dutch
      Posted May 23, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you Notabilis

      I looked for a nina – argh.

      best wishes

  16. Joehorn
    Posted May 23, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    KateR, is the definition ‘hangover’ more relevant by any chance?

    • Posted May 23, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s not the root of the moniker, but is a rather appropriate coincidence!

      • Joehorn
        Posted May 23, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        You cater for cats then!

        • Posted May 23, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

          The language (not German) is meaningful.

          • Joehorn
            Posted May 23, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

            So you’re a Dutch tom cat prone to drinking in excess!
            Next appearance the B&S bash tomorrow. Skol.

            • Posted May 23, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Here’s a recent picture of the mystery blogger

              • jean-luc cheval
                Posted May 23, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

                You’re just not being helpful. :scratch:

  17. LetterboxRoy
    Posted May 23, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Relatively simple.
    Got eight left on ProXimal’s 1603…
    All good fun! (ish)
    Thank you all folks.

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