Toughie 1618

Toughie No 1618 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Another enjoyable but not too difficult Micawber offering. I was making very quick progress with it until I was interrupted and lost momentum. But I still managed it in average time and my only real difficulty was in parsing several bung-ins while writing the blog

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Serviceable bulb discovered after blown fuse (6)
USEFUL: Here ‘discovered’ has to be interpreted as ‘dis-covered’ or ‘with the cover removed’. So remove the cover (or first and last letters) of BULB and put the result after an anagram (blown) of FUSE. We had the discussion about ‘detailed’ the other day. So how do you feel about ‘discovered’?

5a    After drink, got sharper and was diverting (8)
SIPHONED: ‘To drink in small quantities’ + ‘sharpened’ = ‘was diverted (of funds, money, etc.)’

9a    It’s dangerous to drop litter like this! (5,5)
SEDAN CHAIR: A cryptic definition for a litter used to carry a person

10a    Time Out feature (4)
ITEM: An anagram (out) of TIME

11a    Member of Greens trashed cool crib (8)
BROCCOLI: A green vegetable is an anagram (trashed) of COOL CRIB

12a    What’s left — perhaps a hundred yen? (6)
LEGACY: L (left) + an abbreviation denoting ‘perhaps’ or ‘for example’ + A + C (hundred) + Y (yen)

13a    National match broadcast (4)
THAI: A national of an Asian country is a homophone of a match (in a sporting context)

15a    She seeks trophy — lock of invader’s hair? (8)
HUNTRESS: An invader who moved westwards and overran Europe + a lock of hair

18a    Lobby to return wilderness alongside volcano (8)
ANTEROOM: A lobby (waiting room) is a reversal of an upland wilderness and a volcano on Sicily

19a    Heard, saw tots (4)
ADDS: This word for ‘tots’ or ‘sums’ is a homophone a cutting tool with an arched blade. But this tool is not really a saw so have I completely misinterpreted this clue?

21a    Demanding American society leader (6)
ASKING: A (American) + S (society) + a leader

23a    Not too stodgy, risqué reading (8)
LITERACY: ‘Low in calories’ + ‘risque’

25a    Asian food served in heart of Uruguay (4)
TOFU: Hidden in hearT OF Uruguay. I wondered at first whether rugu was an Asian food but stopped wondering when it caused complications with 14 down

26a    Resentment of booming female? (10)
BITTERNESS: This word could conceivably be applied to the female of a bird of the heron family which has a booming call. I like it

27a    Persuade earl overcome by dissolute living to take Ecstasy (8)
INVEIGLE: E (earl) inside an anagram (dissolute) of LIVING + E (Ecstasy)

28a    Did you draw old pattern on fabric? (3-3)
TIE-DYE: ‘Did draw (a sporting match)’ + the old word for ‘you’


2d    Absolute ruler’s after that woman (5)
SHEER: Our ruler (queen) follows ‘that woman’

3d    Struggling chain’s cutting almost zero-cost concession (9)
FRANCHISE: An anagram (struggling) of CHAINS inside ‘zero-cost’ with the last letter removed

4d    Voter rejecting European academic (6)
LECTOR: Remove E (European) from the beginning of a voter to give a lecturer

5d    In the plate’s some fried food (7,8)
SPANISH OMELETTE: An anagram (fried) of IN THE PLATES SOME to give an egg-based dish

6d    Cabbage salad, nearly new, garnished with simple herb (8)
PURSLANE: A cabbage salad (4) with the last letter removed and N (new) inside ‘simple’ (4)

7d    Outstanding old part of building (5)
OWING: ‘Outstanding’ or ‘still to be paid’ = O (old) + part of a building

8d    Got to get trained (9)
EXERCISED: I bunged this in without thinking and realised when writing the blog that I didn’t know how it works. I think it must be a double definition, i.e. ‘trained’ or ‘get trained’ and ‘got to’ (perhaps in the sense of ‘troubled’)

14d    Passes / with ease (5,4)
HANDS DOWN: 2 meanings: passes (or transmits in succession or by tradition)/with utter ease (as in winning a race)

16d    Shuffle bottom and move all over the place (9)
REARRANGE: Bottom (the buttocks) + ‘move all over the place

17d    Diminutive setter perhaps with special interest in takeaway food (5-3)
DOGGY-BAG: A diminutive form of an animal such as a setter + a person’s particular interest or speciality = leftover food taken home for a restaurant. The word for the special interest is labelled as old slang in Chambers and I must admit to never having heard of it before

20d    Affirm where cricket fan may be found? (6)
ATTEST: The cricket fan may be ** ****, perhaps even at Lords today

22d    Harden section of power union after rise (5)
INURE: Hidden in reverse in powER UNIon

24d    Copper’s timid and soft (5)
CUSHY: The atomic symbol for copper + ‘timid’

Good stuff yet again


  1. dutch
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Fun puzzle. Was at first confused by both shuffle and move all over the place (16d), and I didn’t know the bird in 26a had a booming call.

    I was equally confused with got to get, and had the same interpretation of the homophone in 19a. Quite happy for the slang for interest or hobby – as in what’s your ***?

    Great definitions (5a, 9a, 11a, etc). Also liked the hidden in 25a and the quirky 28a.

    Many thanks Micawber and thank you Bufo

  2. Una
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 2:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    An interesting and enjoyable solve.
    I liked 5a and 17d in particular.
    I didn’t get the parsing of 26a until Bufo explained it.Perfectly logical in crosswordland.
    9a and 14d were quite tricky , which I liked once I got them.
    I’ve seen 20d somewhere else recently.Was it last Saturday ?
    Thanks to Bufo and Micawber.

    • crypticsue
      Posted June 9, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

      20d is definitely Crosswordland’s Chestnut of the Moment. It has appeared in more puzzles lately than I’ve had ,,,,

      • Una
        Posted June 9, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

        You are definitely taking the dieting far too seriously.

  3. crypticsue
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I didn’t have quite as much fun as I expected to have with Micawber’s name at the top of the puzzle. 1*/3.5*

    I did like 20a, as I’ve actually seen the elusive booming bird in question – and I knew as I wrote it in that someone (so far only Dutch) wouldn’t know it boomed.

    Thanks to Micawber and Bufo.

  4. jean-luc cheval
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Got beaten by 6d as I couldn’t get “parslied” out of my little brain (garnished with simple herb) and was looking for a mythological being in 15a.
    So thanks to Bufo for putting me straight.
    Didn’t understand the booming bit in 26a so thanks for that also.
    27a favourite for the great surface.
    Thanks to Micawber and for the third time to Bufo.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed this. 8d came from the checkers and I don’t fully understand it either. I did check whether the bird boomed. Favorites are 14D and 6D, which I now want to add to my herb garden because a check tells me it’s just packed with all good things. Thanks Micawber and Bufo.

  6. Hanni
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Struggled with bits of this and never did fully understand 26a (ta Bufo!). Also got held up by 9a, 6d and 15a. Can’t say I am a fan of ‘discovered’ in 1a but I think it’s fair.

    So much to like. 15a (when I finally got it made me smle), 5d, 10a, the diminutive setter in 17d and 11a. Favourite is 5a.

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

  7. JB
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 7:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I did know 26a boomed.

    19a. Is a plane for shaping wood – definitely not a saw!

  8. 2Kiwis
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 7:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We wrote in 19a very lightly as the definition of the homophone did not seem to be quite right. However when we had both checkers and looked at other possible options decided it had to be what was intended. The long anagram at 5d took much longer than it should have done, no idea why. A good level of difficulty with heaps and heaps to keep us smiling.
    Thanks Micawber and Bufo.

  9. upthecreek
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 9:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I had to comment on this as I thought 26 was brilliant. Luckily the long anagram at 5 was easy so that was a good start. Also liked 5a 12 15 [a bit like 26] and 23. 27 was last in but my paper says tablet instead of ecstasy which made it more difficult.

    • crypticsue
      Posted June 9, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

      There’s so much Ecstasy in crosswords these days, that when I saw ‘tablet’ I just thought E.

  10. crypticsue
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 9:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Elgar tomorrow :yahoo:

    • AndyB
      Posted June 9, 2016 at 11:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

      There are no sweeter words for this cruciverbalist.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted June 9, 2016 at 11:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Just after his Enigmatist in the prize Graun which took me three days.
      June has been quite hard work so far.
      Will definitely need some leave after that. I’m mentally exhausted but he is so unique. Shan’t miss it.

      • Hanni
        Posted June 10, 2016 at 12:25 am | Permalink | Reply

        I remember battling with an IO like that. But you are right….can’t miss this puzzle.

        Hope you get some down time soon.

    • Verlaine
      Posted June 10, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink | Reply

      Jeebus that puzzle is hard. I’ve just finished it with everything parsed to my complete satisfaction but I felt like a dentist pulling obstinate teeth. Heaven help anyone who gets stuck with me dentisting them for well over xxxxx

      • crypticsue
        Posted June 10, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink | Reply

        The convention here is that we don’t mention solving times unless they are expressed in pints of beer supped, cups of tea drunk etc. We also tend not to discuss ‘other’ puzzles on the pages for different puzzles.

        Come back at 2 and you can chat about it all you like.

        • Verlaine
          Posted June 10, 2016 at 12:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Oops, sorry! My newbiness is showing…

  11. Sheffieldsy
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 10:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    An enjoyable solve in two parts, interrupted by a bridge evening with absolutely awful cards our way.

    Favourites were 15a, 18a, 26a (we knew it boomed), and 28a. 3*/3*. Agree that the tool in 19a is nothing like a saw, nor is it a kind of plane – Google it and see the images!

    Thanks to Bufo for the review and Micawber for the puzzle.

  12. Verlaine
    Posted June 10, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink | Reply

    I thought this of a very reasonable difficulty and fun throughout but the Toughie does often throw me by being completely easy and transparent until one final clue turns out to be a real stinker of an unknown word. It was NIERSTEINER a few days ago, and today it was 6dn. It’s not that I object to some harder vocab, it’s just you don’t expect one answer to be in a completely different league to the rest! Perhaps I just haven’t spent enough time in my supermarket’s herb and wine aisles though.

  13. Skeeter
    Posted June 11, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A proper Toughie, I thought, that caused some head-scratching, though I got there in the end.

    • crypticsue
      Posted June 11, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

      You’ve changed your alias. Both should work now.

  14. BillyBusker
    Posted June 11, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    8dn doesn’t seem to have been parsed satisfactorily. Can nobody shed any more light on it?

    • Posted June 11, 2016 at 5:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      One of the definitions of exercise as a verb is to trouble, concern or occupy the thoughts of. Hence “got to” means exercised.

  15. Posted June 12, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink | Reply

    Another great Micawber puzzle, but like CS I tend to expect more fun from this setter. That’s the trouble with being too good: it just sets up expectations.

    I didn’t find it too tough at first, but that soon changed, and I found the second half or so a much more substantial challenge. Electronics may have been used to help me finish.

    Add me to the list of people who didn’t know that the 20a bird boomed. (Well, like so many things, now you tell me it rings a bell … or perhaps makes a different sound.) I also didn’t know the 6d herb (and, like JL, couldn’t shake parsley out of my head) and I needed the blog to shed further light on 19a and 8d (thanks to BD for the latter).

    27a is my favourite – mainly because I like the word, but it’s a nice clue all round.

    Thanks to Micawber and Bufo.

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