Toughie 1652

Toughie 1652 by Samuel

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***


Hi everybody.  I found this a steeper than usual start to the Toughie week, with some quite intricate wordplay.  No obscurities though, and plenty of places to get a foothold, so well worth a go for anyone venturing from the back page and wanting to stretch their cryptic legs.

Apologies for the lack of pictorial embellishments at the time of publishing.  I did not have time this morning, but will add some later
NOW UPDATED, you lucky ducks!

Each definition is underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answer inside the Chocolate! box.  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    Excitement about vaguely hot relative, 18 (10)
HYPOTHESIS: Excitement or puff around an anagram (vaguely) of HOT, followed by a short relative (the word is short, not necessarily the person).  The definition is the answer to 18d, so you may wish to come back to this one, or simply scroll down to find the underlined definition in that clue

6a    Trap one somewhere dry (4)
GOBI: Trap here is a slang term for a facial feature; we need to replace it with another one and then add the letter that means one.  A large arid region in Asia

9a    A mountain has no sun (5)
ALPHA: Take a mountain: perhaps Mont Blanc or the Matterhorn, and add the next word of the clue minus the abbreviation for sun to find the Greek A

10a    One facilitating export almost died at sea (9)
EXPEDITOR: EXPORT and DIEd (died almost) anagrammed (at sea)

12a    Fall into a trap? Quite the opposite (4,2,3,4)
RISE TO THE BAIT: The opposite, but also perhaps the same, if the trap is verbal.  Reading the answer literally, one might ascend (the opposite of fall) towards this trap and specifically the lure contained within.  One of those clues that’s easy to understand when you have the answer but a pain in the proverbial to hint

14a    I arc and curl around, being this (8)
CIRCULAR: An anagram of I ARC with CURL.  “This” indicates that the whole clue is describing the answer

15a    Permission to insist upon getting king to become knight (6)
ASSENT: A word meaning insist upon or maintain, with the abbreviation for king replaced with the chess notation for knight

17a    Knock sailor getting capsized by rubbish (3-3)
RAT-TAT: The reversal of one of our usual sailors (getting capsized) next to some rubbish or junk

19a    Game in which answers are entered by press? (8)
GRIDIRON: That in which answers are entered – your answers, here, right in front of you! – is followed by press (as in what you might do to your clothes) to give an American-football field, the name of which can also refer to the game itself

21a    Hardened criminal with old doyen swallows Ecstasy (4-2-3-4)
DYED-IN-THE-WOOL: An anagram (criminal) of WITH OLD DOYEN which contains (swallows) an E

24a    Director cheers tirade about abandoning pie-eyed icon (9)
TARANTINO: Cheers or thanks then a tirade.  After this, an anagram (pie-eyed) of IcON without the abbreviation for about.  His films include Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill

25a    Expression of love in south of France that’s taken the wrong way (5)
IDIOM: The letter that means love or zero inside the reversal (taken the wrong way) of the colloquial name for Southern France

26a    Get rid of what’s slung back by page (4)
DUMP: Something that is metaphorically slung when insults fly reversed (back) and followed by P(age)

27a    Something to make one go? (5,5)
GREEN LIGHT: A signal that it’s ok to proceed, which is often all that is needed to make things happen



1d    Big cheese and nut (4)
HEAD: The person in charge or the nut, noggin or noddle

2d    Person who hangs father for a monarch? (7)
PAPERER: This person pastes decorative covering onto walls.  Paste together an affectionate term for father, “for a” and the two letters which stand for our current monarch

3d    Change pair of trousers with dirt found in a state (13)
TRANSMUTATION: The first two letters of (pair of) trousers, A (from the clue) and then a state containing (with … found in) some dirt of the nudge, nudge, wink, wink variety

4d    Final city turned up supporting opening in Brussels (8)
EVENTUAL: An American West Coast city, reversed (turned up), goes underneath (supporting) an opening or aperture which sits inside the association for which Brussels is used as shorthand

5d    Enter Russian leader, cycling (5)
INPUT: Start with the Russian president’s surname and “cycle” it by moving the letters an unspecified number of places, wrapping the last letter round from one end to the other each time.  I’m sure you can work out how much cycling to do, and that it won’t be enough to tire you out

7d    Shock right during time with no power (7)
OUTRAGE: Do you remember recently when there was a clue that misled a lot of us into trying to take the P away from something?  Well here it is again – and again I fell for it.  As the saying goes, fool me twice, shame on me…  Anyway, take a period of a power cut (time with no power) and stick a R(ight) right into it

8d    Bishop punching two volunteers can start to get tiresome (10)
IRRITATING: The two letter abbreviation for a title given to a Bishop inside (punching) the Roman numeral for two, then some (former) army volunteers, then a metal can … then finally, the first letter of (start to) get.  Lots of bits to this clue – I didn’t mind, but perhaps for you the whole clue started to define the answer



11d    Fabulously attired to take somebody out? (7,2,4)
DRESSED TO KILL: Wearing clothes which are designed to make a big impression … or to murder?

13d    Hack exposed lunatic predicted to get rid of first official (10)
ACCREDITED: The inner letters (exposed) of hack and an anagram (lunatic) of pREDICTED once the first letter has been removed (to get rid of first)

16d    Unpleasant broadcast flourished to an extent (8)
GRUESOME: Put together a homophone (broadcast) of a word meaning flourished or thrive and “to an extent”


18d    Proposition unlikely hero having met up outside (7)
THEOREM: An anagram (unlikely) of HERO with the reversal of met (met up) around it

20d    Call about oxygen lines being subject to regular review (7)
ROLLING: Call on the phone enveloping both O(xygen) and a couple of instances of the abbreviation for line

22d    One attempts run during row (5)
TRIER: R(un) inside a row or rank

23d    Forget love with German (4)
OMIT: The same love we had in the south of France now lies next to the German for with


Many thanks Samuel.  Over to you.



  1. beery hiker
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Enjoyed this one – mostly fairly straightforward, but I had been toughened up by Imogen in the Guardian, and I probably didn;t parse everything properly. Not sure why you have [ld] in the explanation of 21a since all of OLD is part of the fodder. Liked the pair of trousers.

    Thanks to Kitty and Samuel

    • Posted August 9, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Oops – so it is. I’ll amend it now. Thanks. :)

  2. Una
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I didn’t help myself by having Boss for 1d for a long time.
    I know Chambers has theorem and hypothesis as synonyms , but they are not actually.
    I like all the multi-word clues.
    Thanks to Kitty and Samuel. I miss the kitty pics.

  3. Gazza
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed this one. It’s not too tough (well, after I’d crossed out EPSOM SALTS in 27a) but there are some good clues. I particularly liked 14a, 25a and 3d. Thanks to Samuel for the puzzle and to Kitty for the splendid review.

    • JB
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 6:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

      What a pity Epsom salts was incorrect.

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 7:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Reminds me of a joke about somersaults, but not for this forum.

  4. Jane
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thought Samuel had definitely upped the difficulty stakes a bit with this one.
    Like Una, I had ‘boss’ in for 1d until it made 1a impossible and 2d is one of those words which I tend to think shouldn’t be an actual word – I can’t imagine ever using it.
    I always forget about that ‘pair’ in 3d but, for once, didn’t fall into the ‘no power’ trap at 7d – probably due simply to its recent appearance!
    Didn’t know that 19a can refer to the game itself.

    Quite a challenge for me but an enjoyable one. Top three places go to 12a plus 11&16d.

    Thanks to Samuel and also to our busy Girl Tuesday – I’ll look back in later for the pics!

    • Jane
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Liked the ‘booby trap’!

  5. halcyon
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed this – a proper, but not too tough toughie to start the week.
    Favourites were 9a [last in and quite cunning] 25a and 8d [very bitty as you say Kitty, but very well done].

    Thanks for the blog and thanks to Samuel for the puzzle.

  6. Verlaine
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this very enjoyable – not too difficult but with a few stumbling blocks that needed to be surmounted with actual thought. Just the way I like it.

    Thanks to Samuel and of course the splendid Kitty too.

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed it too, but did need Kitty’s splendid review to parse 8D and understand the pie-eyed bit of 14A. I don’t understand at all why the answer to 20D should mean subject to regular review. My top three today are 9A, 27A and 3D. Thanks to Samuel and of course to Kitty.

    • Gazza
      Posted August 9, 2016 at 6:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

      In 20d rolling is as in a “rolling contract” (one which has no fixed end but which is reviewed at regular intervals).

      • Expat Chris
        Posted August 9, 2016 at 6:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thank you. I don’t think I’ve heard of that before.

  8. LetterboxRoy
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 6:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I had to wrestle with this for some time, and simply did not know 21a so lucky it was an anagram. I did manage the rest of it though, with a few hints. (Thanks Kitty). Guess it’s a wavelength thing, so unfortunately it a rather humourless trek for me.

    5d & 15a get a nod, a small one. ***/** (possibly a 3+)

    Thanks to all you folks as ever.

  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 7:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    27a became easier when we stopped looking for a diuretic although we did not get as far as Gazza’s Epsom salts. A puzzle that kept us smiling all the way through. It all went together smoothly although not too quickly. 3d was last in and gets our vote for favourite.
    Thanks Samuel and Kitty.

  10. Sheffieldsy
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Nice one, 3*/3*. The bottom half flew in, then we stalled and had to winkle the answers out one by one, demonstrating there are two ways of being satisfied by a crossword.

    Thought 5d was a really clever clue, with 18d the best mostly because ‘met up outside’ is almost inconspicuous yet contains two critical building instructions.

    Thanks Kitty for your usual entertaining review and to Samuel.

  11. Posted August 9, 2016 at 11:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the comments – especially the hat trick of splendids! Sorry about the delay in finding some illustrations for you.

    I had meant to include a comment saying that I’d started off thinking along the same lines as Gazza and the Kiwis about 27a. It’s a good thing that I couldn’t think of anything that would fit.

    Something else I forgot to mention is that like Sheffieldsy, I found the top much more challenging than the bottom.

    Anyway, that’s about it for now unless I wake up again. Sleep is calling … :yawn: Goodnight! :bye:

  12. Samuel
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:33 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks, Kitty, for the write-up, and I’m glad that most of those commenting enjoyed the puzzle. There wasn’t a conscious decision to make this one harder then previous Samuel outings; I think that things just generally find their own level.

    I’ve greatly enjoyed the pictures in the blog, btw, especially as we have four cats. I must confess that in the next two or three Samuel Toughies, I have purposefully chosen some of the entries as I think there are good picture possibilities; I look forward to seeing if I’m right about this!

    • Posted August 10, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

      How lovely of you to pop in, Samuel – thanks. I’m glad you enjoy the pictures, and knowing that there will be promising illustration opportunities I will look forward to your next puzzles even more than usual. I’ll do my best to ensure that you’re not disappointed! I am fast amassing pictures that are just waiting for the right word to come up – so if you want any suggestions for good words to include, just let me know. :)

      • Gazza
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

        … of course Samuel may turn up on a Wednesday next time! :D

  13. jean-luc cheval
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Fell in the diuretic trap in 27a too.
    Don’t we all love a bit of toilet humour every now and then.
    Thought 10a (one facilitating) was very smooth but favourite is 9a (a mountain).
    Thanks to Samuel for the crossword and to Kitty for the great review. Loved the picture for 12a.

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