Toughie 1627

Toughie No 1627 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This took me into 5* time, but was nowhere near as time-consuming as last week’s proXimal. A very enjoyable puzzle from Notabilis despite what appears to be a small error.

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    Brief pause in war time after prisoners assemble (9)
CONSTRUCT: A 5-letter-word for a pause in war without the last letter (brief) plus the abbreviation for Time, all following a slang word for prisoners

9a    Gully moving near to restrict boundary score (6)
RAVINE: Anagram (moving) of NEAR to contain (restrict) the Roman numeral for a boundary score in cricket

10a    Asian kept in Asia, excited after withdrawal of English (9)
PAKISTANI: Anagram (excited) of K(e)PT IN ASIA without the E(nglish)

11a    Employee of prison filling up again returns when din is gone (6)
GAOLER: Reversal (returns) of a 9-letter word meaning filling up again removing ‘din’

12a    For one adhering to faith, expelling 51 is shocking (9)
EGREGIOUS: An abbreviation meaning for one, or for example, followed by a word meaning adhering to faith, or believing in a God, from which the Roman numeral for 51 is expelled.

13a    French scorer one greatly admired over Italian one (6)
GOUNOD: A French composer is derived from the word used for one greatly admired, as in a ‘rock ***’, or perhaps The Almighty herself, going around the Italian word for one.

17a    Notes a matter for the courts? (3)
RES: Double definition – the notes that come after Dohs, and a legal term for matter (as in *** judicata, a matter already adjudicated upon)

19a    Culinary plant discovered left among Iron Age roots (7)
OREGANO: A reverse hidden word (discovered left among)

20a    Trace unit loci’s limits, bounded by unity (7)
OUTLINE: The outer letters (limits) of UniT LocI, surrounded by the number referred to as unity

21a    Diminutive singer almost repeated high note (3)
TIT: Repeat the top note in the sol-fa scale (the one before you get to Doh again), and remove the last letter (almost)

23a    Favourite short cut around part next to arch (6)
INSTEP: Reversal (around) of a 3-letter word for favourite and a 4-letter word for cut, without its last letter (short)

27a    I must leave literary Ireland and Henry the rest, for a long time (9)
HIBERNATE: Remove the I from an 8-letter ancient and poetic name for Ireland, and also remove the H(enry) from ‘the’ in the clue to give the last two letters

28a    Tear into renegade captured by drone, say (6)
BERATE: A 3-letter word for renegade or turncoat goes inside a buzzing insect that could be a drone

29a    Bump off and an injury’s reported, for many cycles in time (9)
KILOHERTZ: Homophone of a 4-letter word meaning bump off or murder as well as of another phrase for “an injury’s”

30a    Loire city‘s stake in partnership for bridge (6)
NANTES: A 4-letter word for stake (in a poker game) goes inside a bridge partnership (not WE)

31a    To set in clay for bust is sensational, in a way (9)
OLFACTORY: Place ‘to’ from the clue inside an anagram (bust) of CLAY FOR


2d    Perhaps a navel ring catalogue? (6)
ORANGE: The letter that looks like a ring plus a word meaning to catalogue

3d    Shaving of metal getting one down (6)
SLIVER: A precious metal where the I (one) is moved down one position

4d    With answer stored, can again remember (6)
RETAIN: Put A(nswer) into a whimsical way of saying ‘can again’

5d    Tot in possession of ice cream to get stuck into (7)
CONSUME: A word for tot or add goes inside one form of an ice cream

6d    Singer‘s secretary changed, dropping a third but eating too much (9)
PAVAROTTI: The usual 2-letter abbreviation for secretary, then a 6-letter word meaning changed without the last two letters (dropping a third) around (eating) a 3-letter abbreviation meaning excessive or too much

7d    Grind energy bar up, ace for long periods (9)
MILLENNIA: Another word for grind (e.g. when making flour), the abbreviation for energy, the reversal of another word for bar or pub, and the abbreviation for A(ce)

8d    Instructed to get Eastern doctor in, being laid up (9)
BEDRIDDEN: A 6-letter word meaning instructed or offered contains the abbreviations for E(astern) and D(octo)r

14d    Common salt has one run away from wry secret agent (5,4)
IONIC BOND: A test of your high-school chemistry: Remove the R from a word meaning wry, and add a secret agent whos first name is James

15d    ‘Sparky’ strip went in dying form of publication? (9)
NEWSPRINT: This is an error in anagram fodder. It was intended as anagram (sparky) of STRIP WENT, but that gives us an extra T instead of the second N. The online puzzle has now replaced the clue with “Crowded city upped run for dying form of publication”. Brb has wen = an enormous congested city, as in The Great Wen = London. Reverse wen and add a 6-letter word for run.

16d    Reference book, dry in outlook, always in verse? (9)
GAZETTEER: the 2-letter abbreviation for dry or an abstainer goes between another word for look and a poetic version of ever (always)

17d    Ideas without sense, insufficient for mindless repetition (3)
ROT: Remove the last letter from a 4-letter word meaning mindless repetition

18d    I’ll need second round before ‘time’ (3)
SOT: A semi all-in-one. The abbreviation for second, the round letter, and the abbreviation for time

22d    Briefly endorse plaiting wig with all ends chopped up (7)
INITIAL: This answer becomes apparent when you chop the first and last letters (ends) off ‘plaiting wig’ and read backwards (up, in a down clue)

24d    Given sustenance in the usual way, leaving half in hat (6)
FEDORA: a 3-letter verb meaning given sustenance, then a 6-letter word for the usual way you would take sustenance without the last 3 letters (leaving half)

25d    Agitation turns out to involve European (6)
UNREST: Insert E(uropean) into an anagram (out) of TURNS

26d    Turns over, wanting introduction of electricity? No, it doesn’t (6)
STATOR: A semi all-in-one. Reversal (over) of a 7-letter verb for turns, without the introduction of e(lectricity), gives the name of a stationary part (right in picture) which contains a rotor (left in picture), for example in electric generators.

I liked the short 18d and I liked the definition in 14d. Which were your favourites?


  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Wasn’t very keen on this one.
    Firstly the grid made it extremely unfriendly. Had the feeling that if you manage to enter a corner, the massage was “stay there. There’s no way out”.
    Couldn’t get in the SW so that the whole thing remained blank.
    Got all the top alright but SE lacked a few too.
    Had to give up.
    Thanks to Notabilis and congratulations to Dutch for his achievement.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Notabilis does seem particularly fond of this grid with its four separate crosswords, one in each corner. An enjoyable Toughie despite the mistake – I was delighted to find that the French scorer I’d guessed at was a real person.

    Thanks to Notabilis for a nice Friday toughie and Dutch for the explanations.

  3. andy
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Second day running of usage of a very unfriendly grid, today with over half entries with unchecked start. Having spotted an artist in row 9 kept thinking there must be a Nina somewhere, if there is I can’t see it. Agree with ratings and highlights. Thanks to Dutch and Notabilis

    • Gazza
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      There’s another artist in row 7, but I can’t find any more.

      • Gazza
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Ah … two more in columns 7 and 9.

        • Hanni
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

          There is another artist in column 2.

          • andy
            Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Well spotted. Simply ran out of time

    • Verlaine
      Posted June 28, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Not only did I spot the Nina mid-solve, I actually used it to help me get to the finish line, by filling in the rest of the letter of the artist in column 7 when all I had was his first three letter, courtesy 17d!

      I though this was a a great puzzle by and large, really enjoyed it and especially the Nina. Who is the artist in column 2 Hanni? That’s one I just didn’t spot.

  4. Hanni
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    ‘Golly bongs’ to quote MP…’Oh dear’ to quote Kath, a swear word to quote me. That was tough. Where to start?

    12a was bunged in and just took so long to parse. Despite having heard of the French scorer it still took me a long time, 19a also bunged in and parsed later, never heard of the city for 30a (although I probably should), so that had to be looked up. 6d also bunged in and I gave up trying to work it out and I have never heard of a 26d.

    I think I quite enjoyed it although I appear to have broken my brain in doing so.

    Liked 14d as it reminded my of the mischief you can get up to in chem labs and then say a big boy made you do it and I agree with Dutch re 18d.

    I sometimes amuse myself playing, “Guess what the blogger Googled to get the pics they did?”. Today’s offerings are excellent. Seriously brilliant for 2d Dutch. That’s on a par with some of Gazza’s ones.

    Many thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch for a really good blog.

    Quick ride out earlier so I am happy.

  5. Gung-Ho-Joe
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Elgar’s last was easier than this! I capitulated early on. Tiredness I suppose. So is this a “proper” toughie Cryptic Sue? Thanks Dutch for the explanations!

    • Gazza
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Welcome to the blog, Gung-Ho-Joe.

    • crypticsue
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’d say so – you can usually rely on Notabilis to provide a proper toughie.

  6. Jane
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 7:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well, Mr Google and I got almost to the end – 14d defeated both of us (because I didn’t have a clue what to look up!) and I’d never heard of the 15d town so bunged in the answer without any hope of parsing it.
    13a&26d were done by wordplay (who’s a clever girl!) – both new to me.
    Obviously parsed 24d incorrectly – I took the ending to be ‘normal’ with half missing.

    Really liked both 8&18d.
    Think I’m relieved that this particular Toughie week is over.

    Thanks to Notabilis and great respect once again to Dutch. As Hanni said, the pic for 2d was brilliant!

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Reckon that this grid made the puzzle much tougher than it might have been. Not only the four virtually unconnected corners, but 18 of the clues start with an unchecked letter. That said we did eventually get it all sorted after a lot of time and effort. 27a took especially long to work out what was going on. We did have a quick look for a Nina as it was a Notabilis puzzle but did not spot any of the artists until they were pointed out in the comments above. A real challenge and satisfying to get a completion.
    Thanks Notabilis and Dutch.

  8. Shropshirelad
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 12:14 am | Permalink | Reply

    Haven’t managed to get to this – so I’ll save it for later on today. I’m sure that the setter and reviewer have been in fine form so thanks to both.

  9. Expat Chris
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 7:32 am | Permalink | Reply

    Finally called it a day with half a dozen scattered around the grid unsolved and it was a slog to get that far. I’ve not heard of the French scorer and I would not have worked out 14D in a month of Sundays. I did rather like 29A, though. Thanks to Notabilis and Dutch, and admiration to everyone who completed this.

  10. Wolfson Bear
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink | Reply

    The hardest Notabilis I can remember and an unquestioned 5* difficulty to me. As someone who quietly moans when crosswords demand knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays and Greek mythology I struggled on all of this puzzles scientific ones – an area where I do not have the excuse of ignorance!

  11. Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I only managed half of this on Friday, meant to come back to it over the weekend, and didn’t get round to it. Now time has run away and another Toughie week is very nearly upon us, so it’s to the review I have come.

    A very good, very tough one indeed, without being hard for the wrong reasons. Maybe I’d have done better at it on a different day … or maybe I’d just like to think that I would!

    Thanks to Notabilis for the puzzle, and to Dutch for the excellent review. As others have said, 2d was a masterstroke of an illustration. I also like your reference (13a) to the Almighty herself, though I rather think a female might have done a better job of things!

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