Toughie 1616 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1616

Toughie 1616 by Busman

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


Hello everybody.  I do hope today finds you well and happy.  Busman eases us into the Toughie week with an anagram-rich puzzle (I have typed the A-word nine times below).  The wordplay doesn’t require a degree in rocket surgery: only a few less familiar words prevented this from being completely 19d.  Speaking of 19d, anyone coming early to the online edition will have noticed that there was an error where the lights were missing from the grid, while the answer was present in the clue list.  This has now been rectified.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below.  The answers are hidden under the If this is the answer, what is the question? boxes.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal the answer.

Do leave a comment telling us how you found it and what you thought.



1a    Formerly one German in control sent back wine (11)
NIERSTEINER: A four letter word (marked as archaic in Oxford and Collins but not in Chambers, and certainly familiar enough) meaning formerly or once and a German word for one inside the reversal (sent back) of control or check.  It’s a German wine, one that I’m not familiar with but would be happy to taste

9a    Bolt for twisted sellotape – last portions binned (5)
ELOPE: An anagram (twisted) of SELLOTAPE, after the letters in last have been removed (binned).  Should there be an indication that the deleted letters are in a different order?

10a    One embarrassed after spade’s dealt out – didn’t have heart (9)
DESPAIRED: The Roman number one and shamefaced, after SPADE is anagrammed (dealt out)

11a    Someone walking in street one cycles along (7)
STRIDER: The abbreviation for street and one who travels on a bicycle

12a    Some brass, two gases and particles (8)
CLARIONS: Knowledge of the periodic table comes in handy once again: two chemical symbols of gaseous elements which we follow with some charged particles.  I have never forgotten how I learned to distinguish between the two types of these: my chemistry teacher told us …

14a    Sleeper having terribly long wait outside (5-3)
WAGON-LIT: Wait, from the clue, is outside an anagram (terribly) of long

15a    They’ll help angler in Deeside spectacle, initially (4)
AIDS: The first letters (initially) of four words in the clue

17a    Councillor revises acknowledgements (7)
CREDITS: The abbreviation for councillor and a word meaning revises

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

19a    Story used regularly is genuine (4)
TRUE: The even letters (regularly) of the first two words of the clue

20a    Stones damaged alders and hollow elm (8)
EMERALDS: An anagram (damaged) of ALDERS together with the outer letters of (hollow) ElM

21a    Most carefree form of epitaphs (8)
HAPPIEST: An anagram (form of) of EPITAPHS.  People who know me would expect my illustration here to be grave, but I like to surprise people so here’s something otterly different

23a    Old bagpipes silent and placed inside (7)
MUSETTE: Silent or without speech with placed or put inserted (inside).  I vaguely knew that the answer was an instrument, but had no idea it was bagpipey

25a    Military supplies group of soldiers – one in battle (9)
MUNITIONS: A group of soldiers (4) then the letter that means one, all inside a battle of the First World War

26a    Has little to do around delis (5)
IDLES: An anagram (around) of DELIS.  There is always something to do around delis: eat!

27a    Label it fish delivered in Billingsgate perhaps (11)
MARKETPLACE: Three consecutive homophones (delivered): of label or brand, it, and a type of flatfish



2d    I give a hand – perfect! (5)
IDEAL: I, from the clue, and to distribute playing cards (give a hand)

3d    Noises heard during the news? (7)
REPORTS: These explosive noises are also the name of items on the news

4d    Fall after outing (4,4)
TRIP OVER: This fall might be alternatively interpreted as saying outing [is] finished

5d    Signs agreement without senior detective (4)
NODS: Split (2,2) we are lacking a Detective Sergeant

6d    Admonitions about first impressions? (8)
REPROOFS: A two letter words meaning about and early impressions of engravings

7d    Would he provide lagoon ride without a rent? (9)
GONDOLIER: A semi all-in-one clue; the wordplay is in the last five words of the clue.  An anagram (rent) of LAGOON RIDE once the a has been removed (without a)

8d    Spook seaman going round most of island (6,5)
SECRET AGENT: First split the seaman into sea man, then find another term for the man part.  Wrap him around all but the last letter (most) of a Greek island

12d    Making bed with charm, am I? Possibly (11)
CHAMBERMAID: This time we have a full-blown all-in-one, and it’s an anagram (making … possibly) of BED with CHARM AM I

13d    European journalist in smart lock-up (7)
SWEDISH: Our usual journalist inside (in … lock-up) smart or grand

16d    Lots of deliveries coming in benefit Channel swimmer (5,4)
DOVER SOLE: Sets of cricket deliveries inside an informal term for unemployment benefit.  The swimmer is a little fishy

17d    Reform movement has endless magnetism – time to get stuck in (8)
CHARTISM: This was a 19th century working-class movement for political reform in Britain.  An eight letter word for personal allure or magnetism without its final letter (endless), with T(ime) inserted (to get stuck in)

18d    One who vows to be silent (8)
TRAPPIST: The kind of gentle cryptic definition which would be at home on the back page.  He’s a monk who … well, what it says in the clue.  He also brews beer of the same name

19d    Model ordered ravioli, forgetting love of trifles (7)
TRIVIAL: A model of car, the first to be mass-produced, followed by an anagram (ordered) of RAVIOLI without (forgetting) the letter which denotes a love score

22d    Extremely pleasant. Not entirely, judging by the sound (5)
SONIC: A word for extremely and then three quarters (not entirely) of one meaning pleasant

24d    Islamic ruler appearing in Semiramide (4)
EMIR: The Islamic ruler is hiding in plain sight in Semiramide.  I looked up Semiramide to find out where it is, only to discover it’s an opera by Rossini.  Seems like a good note on which to end:

  ARVE Error: need id and provider


Thanks to Busman.  I don’t have any particular favourites today.  Did anything stand out for you?


37 comments on “Toughie 1616

  1. Had I not been wondering what one of my email correspondents was on about when saying that there was a problem with a clue, and trying to find said problem in the paper where everything was fine, , I’d probably have been even quicker solving this “toughie” – as it was it took me about an average time for a straightforward back page puzzle, so 0.5* toughie difficulty..

    Thanks to Busman and Kitty.

  2. This was very straightforward – held myself up once or twice because I was doing this one while thinking about the last few from a much more convoluted Guardian puzzle, which was making me over-think some of the clues here. Ticked GONDOLIER and SECRET AGENT. 1a was the only mild obscurity and the wine was very vaguely familiar.

    Thanks to Busman for the crossword and Kitty for another entertaining blog.

    1. apologies for quoting those solutions – must have been in another place mentally when I wrote that comment – feel free to censor the comment…

  3. The glitch in the on-line version that displayed a non-existent 19D clue (and answer!) was soon disregarded and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the puzzle, although I did not solve 1A and am not familiar with the wine. I have ticks against 9A, 25A, 6D, 8D, 12D, 16D and 22D. Thanks Busman and Kitty.

  4. Many thanks Kitty – a wonderful review

    Thank you also for covering for me. Kitty has done half the toughie reviews for several weeks running, no mean feat!

    I enjoyed 14a (sleeper), 8d (spook seaman) and 12d (making beds..).

    Plenty more to like (european journalist, channel swimmer, fish in billingsgate)

    At first I thought we just had a bonus clue (it was in the right place, but was numbered 0 with an enumeration of (0)) – looking at the puzzle online I didn’t even notice the lights were missing for 19d. I also didn’t see the answer somehow and had to work it out…

    I recognised the wine (not recommended) and I had to check the old bagpipe. It was there.

    many thanks Busman

  5. Nice to know the Grauniad doesn’t have a monopoly on online glitches – the first thing that jumped out at me was the lack of grid symmetry

    1. I’m a bit slow on today’s grauniad – though i just got the 15-letter one so i’ll carry on a bit.

      1. I don’t know what’s happened to the convention of not mentioning details ‘puzzles in other places’ on this site but you might not want to spoil other people’s fun.

        1. In mitigation those references were to clues not solutions but I’ll bear that in mind in future.

  6. Nothing here to frighten the horses. I found this easier than many a back-pager, but I did enjoy it. My only pause was to check that my answer to 23a meant bagpipes. The homophones in 27a made me laugh and this gets my vote as favourite.

    Many thanks to Busman and to Kitty, and I agree with Dutch about the wine.

    1. I recently looked up the origin of that phrase, which is becoming very well-worn round these parts. You might be interested to learn what the original activity that might frighten the horses was. Link. :)

      1. :smile: That’s something new I’ve learnt today other than old bagpipes.

        Thank you, Kitty.

  7. Pleasant puzzle with some very simple clues [21a,26a, 24d] but some nice ones too [27a, 7d, 12d]. Not entirely convinced by 4d and, a propos your comment about 9a Kitty, I think “portions” covers the order of letters in “last” but on the other hand we don’t need “twisted” because the remaining letters of sellotape are already in order.

    Thanks for a nice blog [love the otters] and thanks to Busman for the puzzle.

  8. I actually found this one harder than most of the other Toughies I’ve tackled over the past fortnight – only in parts of course, but quite a few held me up, in particular 1ac which I eventually cracked and looked up. The wordplay was simple enough with hindsight of course: maybe wines are another area in which I have only myself to blame for my lack of knowledge, like cricket?

  9. Knew the wine so, with a couple of checkers in place, was able to cheat and do a reverse parsing on that one.
    19a might have been a slight head-scratcher had we not seen exactly the same model in yesterday’s Rookie.
    Got 23a from the word play but had to ask Mr. G to verify that it did in fact refer to bagpipes.

    Top two for me were 14&27a.
    Thanks to Busman and also to Kitty for a brilliantly illustrated blog – well worth a look even for those who may choose not to tackle the puzzle!

  10. Thanks to Busman and to Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much, but it wasn’t really a Toughie. Had to guess 14&23a. Favourite was 12a. Was 1*/3* for me. In the thunderstorm phase now in Central London.

  11. There certainly were a lot of anagrams , which helped considerably.
    I liked all the clues Dutch mentioned.
    The wine and the bagpipes were new to me.
    Thanks to Kitty and Busman.

  12. Totally ignored 19d as there was no space for the word.
    Noticed the triple unches and thought it was a bit unfair and it’s only when the grid was almost completed that I understood what was going on. D’oh. Could have given me some useful checkers.
    The wine was a write in and the parsing made sense. We use to sell loads at the theatre when I arrived in the UK in 1982. That and Liebfraumilch were so popular then. I think Blue Nun is still in the top imported wines. Don’t recommend it to anyone though. Too sickly sweet for my taste.
    New word for me was the Reform in 17d. Chambers said it gave political power to the working classes. Never heard of such a thing.
    Managed to solve everything smoothly from top to bottom as every clue was easily parsed. That’s probably why I never saw the hiccup in the SE actually.
    Thanks to Busman and to Kitty for the great review.
    Listening to Rossini as I type.

    1. Don’t talk about wine JL – back in the mid to late 70’s my splendid night out with a favourite girlfriend comprised of going out to the Chinese restaurant for a meal which was

      Prawn cocktail for starter
      Sirloin steak, mushroom, chips and a zig-zag cut tomato
      Finished off with a slice of Black Forest Gateau

      All this was washed down with either – Blue Nun, Black Tower or Mateus Rose (they even encouraged you to take home the bottle to use as an ornament – Sophisticated or what :whistle:

      1. And did you stick a succession of colored candles in the take-home bottles and let them drip all down the sides to create lovely decorative table centerpieces?

        1. There’s a Wine Bar in London called Gordon’s next to Charing Cross.
          They haven’t dusted the place for over a hundred years. Wax still accumulates on port bottles dating back from that time.

        2. Of course we did :). It got even better when an Italian restaurant opened up.

          Their prawn cocktail was just as good as the Chinese
          The steak was much better and the chips were great
          They didn’t have Black Forest Gateau – but the ice cream was brilliant

          The best thing of all was, the previously undiscovered, Chianti! Now that bottle came wrapped in straw and many a table lamp was made from them :)

          Where’s my gravatar gone?

          Ah, it’s back.

          1. The first “proper posh” restaurant meal a boy ever bought me (i. e., one not involving chips or anything in a basket) was at The Trout Inn in Lechade. It was the early 60’s and I was 16 and trying hard to behave as if I was accustomed to dining out. I ordered the whole grilled trout (as you do). It came to the table with the head on and a green pea where the eye had been. It’s very difficult to eat the good part with a false eye staring at you balefully the entire time.

            1. Ah! Reminiscences …

              In the 60s, I invited a 16 year old girl to a newly opened local Indian restaurant. She was wearing a rather fetching mini-dress with a collar and large buttons all the way down the front. When we arrived, the manager offered to take her coat, which caused her to turn bright red.

              After a very filling main course (washed down with Black Tower, of course), the waiter, who had a very strong accent, asked my companion a question. She was obviously struggling to understand what he had said and, after a pause during which she appeared somewhat flustered, she somewhat hesitantly simply said, “er…no”. The waiter looked crest-fallen and retreated to the kitchen.

              It turned out she thought the waiter had said, “would you like anything else?”, when in fact he had asked if she had enjoyed the meal.

    2. Having read your comment and others, I can revise my statement at 1a. I am now quite happy to not be familiar with the wine. Dry whites for me. :yes:

  13. It did not take us long to work out what had gone wrong with 19d so it did not cause any problems for us. Must admit that our first reaction was, “Goodness! Triple unches in the Telegraph?” With 12a we initially got the two gasses and then thought of INET for the rest, despite it being woodwind rather than brass. Soon sorted. A gentle solve but one that kept us smiling.
    Kitty we think that sergeant is a bit junior for the assigned role in 5d, we think that Busman probably meant superintendent.
    Thanks Busman and Kitty.

    1. Hi, Kiwis. I noticed the odd-looking clue before I looked at the grid, so it was easy to work out where the glitch was. Like you I was drawn to 12a ending in -INET though it didn’t make sense. As for 5d, I did look up DS in the brb, which only gave Detective Sergeant. Then I double-checked with Wikipedia, just to make sure.

  14. I quite enjoyed this puzzle even though it was a tad too ‘anagram’ heavy for my liking. Having said that I think there were quite a few good clue constructs which added to the enjoyment. Of course the other source of enjoyment was reading my Tuesday co – blogger’s review.

    Thanks to Busman for the puzzle and to Kitty for her splendid review.

  15. The Toughie usually bounces straight back after a mellow week and pours on the venom. After a bit of a disappointing Friday challenge – albeit nice puzzle – this did not really lead the fight back

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