Toughie 1643

Toughie No 1643 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Notabilis’s usual smooth surfaces, clean elegant wordplay and nicely disguised definitions make for another enjoyable puzzle today. This took me over 3* time since I struggled to finish the left hand side. I first had 3* for enjoyment as it was solid fun, no laugh-out-louds but plenty of good penny-drop moments. As so often happens when you write up the clues and savour them again, the enjoyment goes up a bit. As always, the ratings are subjective, so please leave a comment telling us what you thought. Definitions are underlined.


1a    Reads pace, devised to catch one? It does (5,6)
SPEED CAMERA: A nice semi all-in-one to start. Anagram (devised) of READS PACE goes around (to catch) a 2-letter personal pronoun that can mean ‘one’

8a    Cooperating while in turn stopping grievance (11)
COMPLAISANT: A 2-letter word for while is reversed (in turn) and goes inside (stopping) a synonym for grievance

11a    Crowning achievement that one places at the front (4)
ATOP: First letters (at the front) of the 4 words that follow the definition

12a    Deer about to eat a leafy plant (4)
KALE: Reversal (about) of a deer related to the moose containing (to eat) A from the clue

13a    Winning, never hard in that kind of board game (7)
SUCCESS: Take a 4-letter adjective meaning ‘that kind of’ and a board game where castle is a move rather than a piece, and then remove all the letters H (never hard). 

15a    Sponge binding to stop back trouble (3,4)
BAD NEWS: A 4-letter cleaning implement contains a verb meaning stop, then reverse the lot (back)

16a    Ass maybe nearly half as far away (5)
EQUID: Take the first 5 letters (nearly half) of an 11-letter adjective meaning ‘as far away’ 

17a    Plant where swallow circles rook (4)
BURY: A verb meaning to swallow or believe goes around the chess abbreviation for rook. Quite clever with 3 alternative meanings – my last one in..

18a    Nothing on trunk to give firm identification? (4)
LOGO: The letter that looks like zero is added onto (on) a fallen tree trunk

19a    Delay over work’s vigorous set of steps (5)
GALOP: Reversal (over) of a word for delay plus the abbreviation for a work

21a    Hospital authority for travel covers area that’s grown impenetrable (7)
THICKET: A travel pass proving you’ve paid ‘covers’ the abbreviation for hospital

22a    Old ship said to put many a 26A in the dock? (7)
TRIREME: A homophone (said) of ‘hear in court’ + ‘a bundle of 26a’ 

23a    Some will avoid turning a bit round (4)
OVAL: A reverse hidden (some … turning)

26a    Call for power generation (4)
PAGE: The abbreviation for power plus a period of time (as in a different generation)

27a    A crit I composed in attack might be meant thus? (11)
SATIRICALLY: Another nice semi all-in-one. Anagram (composed) of A CRIT I goes inside a word for raid or attack

28a    Expert with receiver shifting hot steel pin (11)
TELEPHONIST: Anagram (shifting) of HOT STEEL PIN




2d    Strut that rotates on a plane (4)
PROP: A strut or support is also an informal short form of something that rotates on some aeroplanes

3d    Tyrant uncovered employment support (7)
ESPOUSE: Another word for tyrant without the first and last letters (uncovered) plus a 3-letter word for employment gives a verb meaning support or embrace

4d    Having no Ecstasy, budget for crack (4)
CHAP: Remove the E(cstasy) from an adjective meaning budget

5d    Cracking nuts is key to fool (7)
MISLEAD: A 4-letter key of the Florida variety goes inside (cracking … is ….) an adjective meaning nuts

6d    Venture needing name for small building for gliders? (4)
RINK: These gliders have special attachments on their feet. A 4-letter verb meaning to venture or take a chance with N(ame) replacing S(mall).

7d    Continue shots across green, receiving heinous abuse that may suspend play (5,6)
PAUSE BUTTON: An anagram (heinous) of ABUSE goes inside a (4,2) phrase meaning continue having shots on the green

8d    More than one instrument does something like telescope (11)
CONCERTINAS: As a noun musical instruments with bellows, as a verb collapses or slides into itself

9d    Article inside may keep hot nuts ready in packet? (4-4,3)
TAKE-HOME PAY: An indefinite article goes inside an anagram (nuts) of MAY KEEP HOT

10d    Visionary comprehends one’s short time, satisfied it will show upheaval (11)
SEISMOMETER: A 4-letter word for visionary goes around (comprehends) all of: the Roman numeral that looks like one, the apostrophe S, an informal abbreviation for a short time, plus a 3-letter word for satisfied

14d    Low-rise premises unofficially occupied (5)
SQUAT: Two meanings, the first being short and thick

15d    I’ve little tolerance, having nibbled around game (5)
BIGOT: A 3-letter verb meaning nibbled or put your teeth into goes around a board game

19d    Honest, artless young woman getting in late (7)
GENUINE: Take a word meaning artless young woman and slide the initial ‘in’ further down

20d    Socialist has to pop round in the early hours (7)
PREDAWN: A 3-letter word for socialist goes inside (has … round) a verb meaning pop or hock

24d    Following this mass of water could be a bit of snow (4)
LAKE: The abbreviation for following in front of the answer would give you a bit of snow

25d    Servicemen upset, hearts show dejection (4)
SIGH: Reversal (upset) of American servicemen plus the abbreviation for H(earts)

26d    Advantage of place north of America (4)
PLUS: The abbreviation for place goes above (north of) an abbreviation for America

I think my favourite was 7d, but I also liked 19d and the two semi all-in-ones. I also have a soft spot for 22a since the definition is the name of my local. Which were your favourites?


  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    All these four letter words made it a bit more difficult but they were all so clever.
    So was 1a (reads pace) 7d (continue shots) and 19d (honest).
    Thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch.

  2. halcyon
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Notabilis-lite this time but still the expected inventive clueing. Particularly liked 13a [never hard] and 19d [getting in late]. 21a is a bit Excaliburesque in its Yodaspeak but heigh ho.

    I think you mean an 11 letter word for 16a Dutch, but many thanks for a fine blog and many thanks to Notabilis.

    • Dutch
      Posted July 22, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

      yes of course I did, thanks now corrected

  3. crypticsue
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Notabilis with his ‘be kind to the solver’ hat on today but the usual high quality entertainment. Thanks to him and to Dutch.

    • LetterboxRoy
      Posted July 22, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

      ‘Kind’? Really? In that case Notabilis goes next to Proximal on the Groan-o-meter!

  4. LetterboxRoy
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I struggled with this mostly, but it did entertain.
    8a, 16a & 22a new words to me which held me up considerably. I had to cheat those, and 20d just didn’t come to me, I have never heard of ‘pop’ being used in that way. Also never seen 19a spelt with 5 letters.

    Some devious wordplay to enjoy but too many are too obscure for me. 1a, 7d & 5d get the nod. ****/***

    Thanks to all as ever.

  5. Jane
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Failed on one – 15a – although for a while ‘bow legs’ looked promising. Bowing the legs to stop back trouble? Ho hum – nice try but it left me in a mess over 5d. To be fair, I hadn’t made the isle=key connection, so was a little unsure that I’d got the right answer for that anyway!
    Needed Dutch’s input to parse 13a although it had to be what it was.
    Other than those, it all went far more smoothly than I expect from a Notabilis – the comment from CS didn’t surprise me in the least!

    Favourite was 7d with a mention for 22a.

    Thanks to Notabilis and also to Dutch for sorting out the couple of loose ends for me.

  6. Shropshirelad
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this to be quite a tricksy little puzzle and struggled with it until I got a foothold in the SE. It was then a case of working from the bottom to the top with the NE last to fall. Clever clueing and lovely surfaces as expected from Notabilis. Nice way to round off the toughie week. I will go with 27a as my favourite, purely as I spent far too long trying to fit in ‘sarcastically’ – I know – too many letters but it just wouldn’t get out of my head.

    Thanks to Notabilis for the puzzle and to Dutch for his usual excellent review.

    btw – thought the ‘Snow Goose’ was your local.

    Have a good weekend all.

    • Posted July 22, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      SL – Dutch’s local is considerably more local than the Snow Goose. I’d forgotten the name of it but do remember the pub cat, Vodka. :)

      • dutch
        Posted July 22, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

        The name is the definition of 22a…

        I did meet Anax and Shortarse at the snowgoose recently

        • dutch
          Posted July 22, 2016 at 5:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Eek! I mean Starhorse of course

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted July 22, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink | Reply


          • Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

            It’s an anagram. Given to him by the Countdown lot when he appeared on the show.

            • Shropshirelad
              Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Nope – you’ve lost me :wacko: Haven’t watched countdown since ‘twice nightly’ passed away.

              Now 9 out of 10 …… that’s a different matter.

  7. Posted July 22, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve done something weird to my neck/shoulder, and hoping that the pain from that explains why I’ve struggled so much more than others today and yesterday. Otherwise I’d have to blame my little brain, and I’m not sure what can be done about that!

    I cheated a lot to get all the answers, but the parsing was almost all my own work. Just missed the disentanglement of 11a – d’oh and 15a. No idea why those should have been the ones to elude me.

    Many thanks to Notabilis for another top quality puzzle and to Dutch for another top quality review.

    • dutch
      Posted July 22, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Ouch – can’t think what you did – I hope it gets better soon, so we can get back to red

      • Posted July 22, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Oh, it’ll be fine. I’m not after sympathy, just offering an explanation for my woeful performance.

        The black was for Nice, and now also for PJ. Given the news these days, it might be there for a while.

      • dutch
        Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

        You don’t have to be after sympathy to get it

        yes, news puts me in the black too. Not sure what’s going on Munich atm

  8. Expat Chris
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought this was tricky, too, but I did complete the grid correctly and with the exception of the “key” part of 5D, I managed to parse them all (admittedly some after I had the answer). 16A required a dip into the BRB since it was a new word for me. I really enjoyed this puzzle and there were plenty of smiles. 7D and 19D are my favorites. Thanks Notabilis and Dutch.

  9. Sheffieldsy
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 11:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Pretty tough but very enjoyable, 4/4 stars. We didn’t have to come to the review for answers, but only by a whisker. We agree with Dutch’s comments and selection of answers (worryingly, perhaps, we find we’re very much in tune with Dutch). Thought 12a was a lovely little clue that was worth a mention in dispatches.

    Thanks Dutch and Notabilis.

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted July 22, 2016 at 11:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

      If the jack plugs (pins) that old-fashioned telephonists used to connect calls were made of steel, wouldn’t that make 28a a fairly splendid all-in-one?

      • dutch
        Posted July 23, 2016 at 12:43 am | Permalink | Reply

        yes it would, i just wasn’t sure – thanks for pointing that out

    • dutch
      Posted July 23, 2016 at 12:41 am | Permalink | Reply

      My wonderful, beautiful Sheffieldsy friends,

      why on earth would it worry you to be in tune with Dutch?

      • Sheffieldsy
        Posted July 23, 2016 at 6:57 am | Permalink | Reply

        I was actually thinking it might worry you….

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