Toughie 1640

Toughie 1640 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***


Hello everybody from a sweltering South Kensington, where your Kitty is keeping cool by hiding in the shade, worshipping the gods of air conditioning (they’ll be scientists and engineers).

I wasn’t sure if I’d previously encountered Messinae, so had a look at the last time he made an appearance.  It seems I had, just the once, and deemed him a setter I could handle, so was hopeful that today’s puzzle wouldn’t give the lie to that.  It didn’t: my progress was steady and enjoyable, with the unfamiliar 10a the last one in.  It wasn’t my quickest solve ever, but that may well be down to the cooling drinks I’d imbibed shortly beforehand. 

The definitions are underlined in the clues below.  The answers are hidden under the click here! boxes.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all.

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



1a    Steps to block change producing disease (10)
PESTILENCE: Some steps you might use to get over a fence inside (to block) some small change

6a    Vulgar heartless fellow (4)
CHAP: Take a word meaning vulgar or tawdry and remove the middle letter (heartless)

9a    One will churn out speech and broach text for editing (10)
CHATTERBOX: An anagram (for editing) of BROACH TEXT


10a    See round satellite dish (4)
OLIO: Reverse (round) a short interjection meaning see or behold then add a satellite of Jupiter: its fourth largest moon.  The answer is a mixed dish of various meats and vegetables

12a    Last term, and university introduces Bible studies (6)
ENDURE: Term meaning conclusion, then two educational abbreviations: the first for university and the second for some school lessons in religion.  For me, Bible studies is browsing the brb, and prayer meetings are Sloggers and Betters events.  I may or may not be going to hell

13a    Drive off with solicitor following gun battle (5-3)
SHOOT-OUT: To drive off an unwanted creature by shouting this interjection followed by one who solicits (nothing to do with the law)

15a    Navigator for aeroplane circling Cape in trial run (5,7)
PILOT PROJECT: Put together one who operates the controls of a vehicle (perhaps the one in the clue or maybe a hovercraft or even a spacecraft), in favour of, and a type of aeroplane containing (circling) the abbreviation for Cape (as used on maps)

18a    Perfect score by Mozart (6-6)
TWENTY-TWENTY: Score accounts for the first word of the solution.  For the second, find where else the composer lies here.  Perfect!  (Rumours that I spent some time investigating the connection between Mozart and one of the words of the answer are scurrilous and completely unfounded)

21a    Munitions any power deployed (8)
WEAPONRY: An anagram (deployed) of ANY POWER

22a    Player run out by Compton, mostly (2,4)
DE NIRO: A player on screen.  Compton was an English cricketer who played in 78 test matches and also found time for a football career.  You’ll need to remove the last letter (mostly) from his name and follow it with the cricketing abbreviation for run out


24a    Police officer trails about Liverpool (4)
REDS: An abbreviated police rank comes after (trails) one of the usual crossword abouts to give a nickname for Liverpool F.C. (among others).  If you prefer science to football – or indeed, like both (it’s allowed!) – here is something to ponder about the strip:


25a    Offering of Savoy Hotel a prig spurned (5,5)
LIGHT OPERA: An anagram (spurned) of HOTEL A PRIG

26a    Note old part of London (4)
SOHO: A note of the sol-fa scale and then O(ld)

27a    Nuts start to hold back part of engine (10)
CRANKSHAFT: The nuts are eccentric characters, not things to eat.  They are followed by the first letter of (start to) hold and then back or rear



1d    Pale old Caledonian gathers energy from moving about (6)
PICKET: The pale is nothing to do with pigmentation or lack thereof but is the fence which one may be beyond if unacceptable.  An ancient Briton contains the abbreviation for energy which a body has due to its movement (kinetic energy, KE).  I’m more of a potential energy person myself

2d    Drink, with second available (6)
SHANDY: S(econd) and available or convenient

3d    Bar delivery follows Italian team (12)
INTERDICTION: Ban or prohibit.  Delivery in speech follows an Italian football team in its shortened form (the full version is F.C. Internazionale Milano, colloquially known as Inter Milan or Inter Milano outside Italy)

4d    Make Eric’s partner broadcast (4)
EARN: A sound-alike (broadcast) of the (single-syllable) nickname of a famous comedy Eric’s double-act partner


5d    Caught by policeman, hold criminal peasant (10)
CLODHOPPER: Inside (caught by) a policeman is an anagram (criminal) of HOLD.  I think this is a great word, but sadly could find no picture to do it justice

7d    Much-loved college was in debt (8)
HALLOWED: Revered.  A charade of a college and “was in debt”

8d    Organ in favour of the government (8)
PROSTATE: Another charade: “in favour of” plus the government.  This organ is one only men have (a compound tubuloalveolar exocrine gland of the male reproductive system, as I’m sure you already knew)

11d    What spins frequently with-it pieces of music (3,2,3,4)
TOP OF THE POPS: A clever all-in-one.  A toy that spins, then a poetic shortened form of a word meaning frequently, then “with it” (hep) and the plural of an abbreviation for pieces of music


14d    Dog that’s more cunning guarding territory (3,7)
FOX TERRIER: More crafty containing (guarding) an abbreviation of territory

16d     Officials make 10 poets lose their head (8)
STEWARDS: What 10a is a type of, then poets without the first letter (they lose their head, or rather, the word loses its head)

17d    Old queen with a husband appear round Eastern Terrace (8)
VERANDAH: The regnal cipher of a previous queen, a conjunction meaning with, A from the clue and H(usband).  These contain (appear round) E(astern) to give a roofed terrace

19d    Pictures upset people in covert organisation (6)
CINEMA: These pictures are moving ones.  The reversal of some people inside a civilian foreign intelligence service of the US federal government


20d    Composer has grounds for sale around Australia (6)
MOZART: Grounds for sale here means a place of trade: wrap it around an informal word for Australia


23d    Avoid star being around husband (4)
SHUN: Our nearest star around H(usband).  The bugbear of Silvanus here: two identical containment indicators in a row.  I only noticed it because of having to type it twice here


Thanks to Messinae.  I thought 11d the cleverest clue but love 18a for its neat little link and the simple, elegant surface.  Which clue(s) shone for you?



  1. Una
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was caught out by 1d , 10a and 24a.
    A not too tough toughie.Very enjoyable.
    Now that 18a has been explained , it’s my favourite.
    Thanks Kitty and Messinae.

  2. LetterboxRoy
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Same as that, Una. Other problem was I had to guess 14d which held me up.

    Got 18a* without a hint which is my favourite, too. Not familiar with 10a, but it was easily worked out; 13a & 1d get a ripple too.

    * It helped that I tend to start in the se corner, with the down clues, and work my way back to 1. I know that’s doing it ‘backwards’, but I also read the paper from the back – maybe it’s something to do with being left-handed!?

    Thought this was a great puzzle so it gets ***/**** from me.
    Many thanks to Messinae and to Kitty for tidying up my parsing.

    • LetterboxRoy
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Just looked up the ‘recipe’ for the dish at 10a.

      1) Cook some spaghetti
      2) Add whatever you want
      3) Pour oil all over it


      • Jane
        Posted July 19, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Roy – I was just about to look that one up myself! Sounds like spag. bol. to me!

      • Miffypops
        Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Chuck it in the bin and go down the chippy

  3. jean-luc cheval
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Was left with 22a and 20d.
    Didn’t help by thinking that the abbreviation for Australia was AU. Grounds for sale had to be “debt” and the composer ending up being Mr Debaut.
    Had to give up as I wasn’t getting any further.
    Didn’t know who Compton was so no luck there either.
    11d favourite.
    Thanks to Messinae and to Kitty for the usual excellent and fun review.

  4. dutch
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks Kitty for the full parsing of 22a (I didn’t know Compton – so it was a toss-up between De Vito & the answer – actually I just realised DeVito is one word – so not a toss-up), 4d (didn’t know the single syllable was also used) and I had missed the charade in 11d beyond what spins – because of the third bit.

    Some satisfying parsing in this one and plenty of clues I like such as Pale old Caledonian, satellite dish, etc.

    Many thanks Messinae

  5. Jane
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Like you, Kitty, I had absolutely no need to refer to Mr. G for the second part of 18a – just didn’t want him to feel left out.
    Spent a while trying to make 1d start with POC (no, pocket didn’t make sense!) and struggled to fully parse 15a, having forgotten the abb. for ‘cape’.
    10a was a new one for me.
    Liked 5d simply for the sound of it but my top two are 15a&14d.

    Thanks to Messinae for the excuse to sit idly in the shade for a while and to Kitty for another splendid review. I always try to guess what clips you’ll use – I’m almost invariably wrong!

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Apart from bunging in pocket for one down, failing to make the 16D/10A connection and therefore only half parsing 16D, and noticing the double Mozart mention and still failing to make the connection to 18A so not being able to fully parse that either, I did OK! I did know the Liverpool team nickname, though. I had decided on 17D as my favorite until the blog, and I’ve changed it now to 18A. Thanks to Messinae and to Kitty for a terrific blog, as usual.

    Is 11D still on the telly?

  7. Shropshirelad
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A pleasant puzzle to start off the ‘toughie’ week. Glad it wasn’t too difficult as I would probably given up due to the heat. Enjoyed 18 & 25a but, as an engineer, 27a gets the podium place.

    Thanks to Messinae for the puzzle and also thanks to Kitty for her fine blog. South Kensington sounds like a ‘posh’ area – no doubt you’ll be lying beside a pool on a roof top terrace that serves the penthouse whilst Mr K is busy mixing some pleasant cocktails. I’m in the back garden with my feet in a basin of cold water.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Kitty – Forgot to say re 15a, I think the BRB’s 2nd definition of pilot (a person who conducts ships in and out of harbour) is probably closer to the term ‘Navigator’ than the 1st definition IE person operates and controls etc. Not a criticism – purely an observation. :rose:

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yes, you’re probably right, SL. Thanks for bringing the extra clarity. :)

        As for your vision of the Kitties in the lap of luxury, well, our accommodation is just a weeny bit more modest than that! – but I’m not complaining. You were right about the cocktails though: Mr K does mix up a nice margarita. Those go down a treat in this weather (and you were out of email contact so we had nobody to call upon for wine recommendations).

        Tomorrow, however, it’s back to normal life. :cry:

  8. beery hiker
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Enjoyable and mostly straightforward, with a few that required a bit more thought. 10a was last in for me too – only distantly familiar – not sure I’d seen that spelling of the note before, but that was easy enough to deduce.

    Thanks to Messinae and Kitty

  9. geoff
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    For some obscure reason, when I click here on the click here position, I get a definition of click and here, but no answer. 10 across was my only failure and I still don’t know the answer. Many thanks to all, but even more thanks if I get a reply.

    • Jane
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Geoff,
      10a answer was ‘OLIO’ – nope, I’d never heard of it either! It’s a type of stew – hence the answer to the first part of 16d.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Geoff. The ever helpful Jane has already answered your question. I’ve no idea what’s causing the spoilers not to display, but if you can tell us which operating system and browser you are using I can … well, probably still be none the wiser to be honest!

      • LetterboxRoy
        Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Use the raw address ”” or “https://www.” rather than “http://www.”
        I’m guessing you’re using Internet Explorer <IE8 or Chrome with XP or Vista, neither of which support .net (dot net) properly. Or just use Firefox.

        If 'olio' is a stew, what do I call brisket and vegetables cooked in stock for four hours?
        'e olio' means with/and oil – not really a recipe or dish.

        My favourite recipe for stew.
        1x 4oz steak (optional)
        2x measures of dark rum.
        2x " " " white rum.
        2x " " " vodka.
        2x " " " brandy.
        1x " " " gin.

        Lightly fry the steak in a dry frying pan, pour all the alcohol
        over the steak then cook for a further minute.
        Remove the steak from the pan, put it to one side, and drink the gravy.
        The steak will taste fabulous

        • Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

          If it’s the known spoiler problem, https:// is precisely not what you want – it’s that which has been causing all the trouble. But Geoff says that he was unable to see the answers at all, which is a new one on me. :unsure:

        • Posted July 20, 2016 at 12:57 am | Permalink | Reply

          Kitty is right. The site does not support https:// and the www. is unnecessary ( it is resolved by a redirection).

          I’ve added a bit at the top of the FAQ which might help.

  10. geoff
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks Jane, if I wasn’t married, I’d ask you.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      There you are Jane – another admirer who is impressed with your skills as a ‘hinty person’. BD will be having you reviewing ‘Elgar’ toughies in the blink of an eye :)

  11. Verlaine
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought this was a very good puzzle, more Independent-strength than one of the not remotely tough Toughies that sometimes appear on Tuesdays in these parts. I hadn’t parsed 24a properly, thinking it must be somehow an abbreviation for roads around a vowel, so much obliged Kitty for elucidation. 11d definitely my favourite even if it did conjure up the smirking face of ex-Sir Jimmy Savile…

  12. Salty Dog
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I got stuck in the NW corner. Too thick to get 12a (but I can’t say I’m convinced by “term” equating to “end”, so I don’t blame myself too much). 1d was my last in, and a clever little blighter it was too, but I think 12a deserves the favourite’s accolade. 8d made me wince a bit, recalling a most unpleasant day about a year ago, but I’m glad to report that the organ in question has behaved impeccably ever since. Thanks to Messinae and Kitty.

  13. Wolfson Bear
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Nice puzzle – a few unfamiliar words put it in 3* country for me. Did not twig the reason for the 20-20 answer although it was obvious

  14. Heno
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Messinae and to Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, but couldn’t get anywhere near finishing it. Needed the hints for 9,10,24a&1,3,5d. I knew 9a was an anagram, but never thought of putting the X at the end. Never heard of 10a. Got 18a, but don’t understand it. Favourite was 8d. Was 4*/3* for me.

    • Posted July 20, 2016 at 12:07 am | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Heno. Score is 20 and Mozart is at 20d. Hence twenty-twenty.

      I’m really quite relieved to see how many people struggled with this one!

      • Robin Newman
        Posted July 21, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I am another one, despite having got 20D !

  15. hoofityoudonkey
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Kitty, lovely review.
    I liked the Peppa Pig cartoon. You can tell I have a 5-year-old granddaughter as I knew the names of all the ‘school children’!!

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