Toughie 1646

Toughie No 1646 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

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

A gentle crossword which I rattled off while waiting for the shingles jab that the doctor had persuaded me to have. I had no problems with finding the answers or with parsing the clues

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.


5a/7a    Spectacular springs, beyond question — autumn pales, sadly (7,5)
QUANTUM LEAPS: Q (question) + an anagram (sadly) of AUTUMN PALES = sudden spectacular advances (derived from a concept in physics)

7a    See 5 Across

9a    Claim a last (piece of) round sausage (6)
SALAMI: Hidden in reverse in claIM A LASt

10a    Hang around outskirts of Ilfracombe in frillies (8)
LINGERIE: ‘To hang around’ + the first and last letters of IlfracombE

11a    Stumped, judge gains point in ‘Mastermind‘ (10)
STRATEGIST: An abbreviation for ‘stumped’ + ‘to rate’ + the main point of a matter

13a    Cutting blow (4)
CLIP: This word for a sharp stinging blow also means ‘to cut with shears’

14a    Filming Monroe and Ekberg, perhaps? Heavenly bodies! (8,5)
SHOOTING STARS: ‘Filming’ + leading performers such as Monroe and Ekberg = meteors

16a    Swivel in space and dock (4)
MOOR: A reversal (swivel) of ‘space’ = ‘to dock’

17a    The bumf I’ll spread’s a minuscule amount (10)
THIMBLEFUL: An anagram (spread) of THE BUMF ILL

19a    Souvenir from ‘Tower Tipple’ (8)
KEEPSAKE: The central tower of a castle + a Japanese alcoholic drink

20a    Growing endless fruit (6)
RAISIN: ‘Growing’ with the last letter removed = a dried grape

22a/23a    Act thus for testing eating irons, etc? (5,7)
PLACE SETTING: The second word of the answer is an anagram of TESTING and the first word can act as an anagram indicator. Thus the answer can act as a cryptic instruction that leads to TESTING

23a    See 22 Across


1d    Gradgrind’s final answer: ‘Much obliged for facts!’ (4)
DATA: The last letter of GradgrinD + A (answer) + ‘Much obliged!’

2d    Free dentistry not unknown to be harsh (8)
STRIDENT: An anagram (free) of DENTISTR, i.e. DENTISTRY minus Y (unknown)

3d    Place a trap in the earth? (6)
PLANET: An abbreviation for ‘place’ + A + a trap

4d    Great game for a litter lout! (5,5)
PAPER CHASE: A cryptic definition for a game where some runners set off across country dropping stuff by which others track them

5d    Measure starting points for qualification using athletes’ reaction times (5)
QUART: First letters of Qualification Using Athletes’ Reaction Times

6d    Broadcasting after pain, one gets into muddle — like Ivana Trump perhaps? (13)
MILLIONAIRESS: ‘Pain’ (3) + I (one) + ‘broadcasting’ (2,3) inside a muddle (4)

8d    Alcohol‘s an insufficient slant on prison uprising (7)
SPIRITS: ‘A favourable slant on an item of news, policy, etc.’ with the last letter removed + a reversal (uprising) of ‘prison’

12d    Happy with Carol, creatively made-up? (10)
APOCRYPHAL: An anagram (creatively) of HAPPY CAROL

14d    Strand’s northward buttress (5,2)
SHORE UP: A strand (by the sea) + ‘northward’ = ‘to buttress’

15d    In classy bar I tempted bon vivant (8)
SYBARITE: Hidden in clasSY BAR I TEmpted

17d    Mock priest’s last service (3,3)
TEA SET: ‘To mock’ + the last letter of priest

18d    Exercising university chorus (5)
USING: U (university) + ‘to chorus’

21d    Birdies with red parts out of sight could be these? (4)
IBIS: An anagram (could be) of BIIS, i.e. BIRDIES minus the letters of RED

Perhaps next Thursday’s will be tougher.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A perfect puzzle for the back page (or in today’s case, the inside back page) of the paper, both of today’s Telegraph crosswords having taken me exactly the same time.

    Thanks to Firefly and Bufo – I share the latter’s hopes for next Thursday

  2. Una
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another crossword treat from Firefly .It is hard to pick a favourite ,perhaps 5/7a or 14a, or maybe 19a.
    Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  3. Jane
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I know Firefly doesn’t set the toughest of Toughies but I usually enjoy them more than I did this particular one.
    No difficulties beyond the complete parsing of 8d – for which, thank you, Bufo.
    Nothing really stood out although I did have a smile over 6d.

    Thanks to Firefly and to Bufo for the succinct review.

  4. Verlaine
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I didn’t cotton onto this one much, I don’t really see 22a as being an anagram indicator, thought the cryptic def in 4d quite week and made myself angry by having CHOP at 13a for a long time too. Still, acceptable midweek fare: thanks Firefly and blogger.

  5. mre
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good afternoon everybody.

    A rare outing on this page for me as A N Other had already done the back page puzzle and made a start on the puzzle in another place. After finishing that one I thought I’d take a look at the Toughie which was mostly straightforward although six remained unsolved when I had to go so not too bad for me.

  6. Kath
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I quite understand that lots of people who do the Toughies prefer a tougher Toughie than this but I was very happy with it and enjoyed it.
    Just to put my ignorance on display for you all I’d never heard of Gradgrind so googled him, fully expecting him to be someone from Harry Potter . . . Oh well, you live and learn. :oops:
    6 and 8d were my last answers.
    I liked 14a and 12d. My favourite was the 5/7a combination.
    With thanks to Firefly and to Bufo.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted July 28, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I agree with you Kath. I was happy with this and enjoyed it too. I also shared your ignorance of Gradgrind, and resorted to Google! I’ll even go along with your selection of particular likes and your favourite!

      Many thanks to Firefly and to Bufo.

    • Una
      Posted July 28, 2016 at 9:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I am a little surprised by the number of complaints, and a lot of the anagrams would have baffled newcomers on the inside back page.

  7. dutch
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Enjoyed this, not sure I knew the game (4d) – I thought of the answer as a bureaucratic exercise. And I’m not sure I’ve heard 14d but it had to be. I also had to check the answer to 15d in brb.

    I liked the simple 17d – and the reverse clue (22/23), though I can see Verlaine’s concern.

    Many thanks Firefly and Bufo

  8. JB
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    After yesterday, it was lovely to have a gentle toughie. I’m sure tomorrow’s offering will redress the balance!

  9. Sheffieldsy
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It held us up no end having put ‘chop’ for 13a. Other than that, a nice (and oxymoronic) gentle toughie.

    Liked 2d, 16a(though obvious), and 17d.

    Bufo, did you mean to put ‘to rate’ in the hint for 11a?

    Thanks to Bufo and Firefly.

  10. Expat Chris
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 7:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I liked it too. I have never heard of Gradgrind so looked him up, although knowing who he is was not necessary to parse the answer. But having read a bit about the character and a quote from the book, I think this was a particularly clever clue. I did need the blog for the stumped bit of 11A. Darned cricket clues! Loved 5/7 across, but 1D is my standout. Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 7:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We always feel a bit short changed with this grid as it only has 26 clues. When you add that 5/7 and 22/23 are both one clue for 2 spaces it makes it 24. No wonder it was all over a bit too quickly. It all fitted together smoothly for us and we did enjoy it.
    Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  12. Wolfson Bear
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 9:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    First chance to look at the blog this week for me. So far I was disappointed with the Excalibur as it seemed a fair bit easier than her recent ones (a setter I am really starting to look forward to), then a Dada I found harder than usual and today where I find Firefly was on his easier side and I agree with the 2Kiwis comment

    So apparently Sparks tomorrow. I have, to date, found him “hard” to “extremely hard”. This time I wish he falls on his gentler side as I don’t have a lot of spare time available for a prolonged battle tomorrow

    Many thanks to Bufo and Firefly (and retrospectively to Dada and Excalibur and associated bloggers)

  13. Posted July 29, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Certainly much more accessible than the previous Toughie. I had done most of it yesterday before being reminded that I was supposed to be elsewhere. By the time I got back and finished it I was not in the best of moods, but that’s not the puzzle’s fault! I don’t remember much of the crossword now but I did note a “hmm” at 4d, though I didn’t know the game so it’s a better clue than I gave credit for. I don’t have a particular favourite, but it was nice to be able to finish without any help (save checking st=stumped in the brb). Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  14. Robin Newman
    Posted August 1, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Liked 15D among others in this pleasant puzzle.

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