Toughie 1657

Toughie No 1657 by MynoT

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty */**Enjoyment **

It’s turning out to be a funny old week in Toughieland – yesterday we had what I thought was the trickiest Tuesday puzzle for ages and today we have what, for me, was not far off a walk in the park (though I appreciate that the 1a phrase may cause some problems for non-cricket fans). The four peripheral phrases were a great help in providing checking letters and my only slight hold-up was with 14d where I didn’t know that the answer could mean to make light.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a To have always been in base, contrary to order (5,4,3)
CARRY ONE’S BAT – this is a phrase used in cricket to describe the achievement of an opener who has been in throughout an innings and remains ‘not out’ at the end. It’s an anagram (to order) of BASE CONTRARY.

9a Drink with only one very large group of birds (4)
BEVY – an informal word for an alcoholic drink with one V[ery] deleted. The answer can mean a large group of feathered birds but is also used onomatopoeically for a collection of bathing beauties.

10a Imperfect thread dropped in ink gets left out of the loop (2,3,4)
IN THE DARK – an anagram (imperfect) of THREAD has to be dropped into INK.

12a Introduction to open country noise (4-2)
LEAD-IN – charade of an open rural area and a loud noise.

13a Backbone of Green support in Europe? On the contrary (8)
VERTEBRA – the first letter of Europe goes between a noun meaning green, as an heraldic tincture, and a support garment. E is the abbreviation for European (in E-number) but not, as far as I know, for Europe.

15a Take in pan to festival in centre of Cracow for obsessive employee? (10)
WORKAHOLIC – the abbreviation for ‘take’ (as used once in medical prescriptions) goes inside a cooking pan. After that we have to insert a Hindu festival into the central two letters of Cracow. The surface is not great.

16a River of reported repute (4)
ODER – this European river sounds like a word meaning repute or regard (usually preceded by ‘good’ or ‘bad’).

18a Finished cut below (4)
NEAT – a poetic preposition meaning below without its final letter.

20a Gradually diminish dubious credo and account for it magnetically (4-6)
TAPE-RECORD – a verb to diminish gradually is followed by an anagram (dubious) of CREDO. I don’t like the definition much.

23a Cast off sin? Not her (3-5)
SHE-DEVIL – a semi-all-in-one. It’s a verb to cast off followed by a word for sin or wickedness.

24a Note about a distant expedition (6)
SAFARI – an old word for the seventh note of tonic sol-fa contains A and an adjective meaning distant.

26a I am the answer to your prayers, existing to have time for learner’s copying (9)
IMITATIVE – string together a phrase meaning “I’m exactly what you’re looking for” (1’1,2) and an adjective meaning existing or breathing with the L replaced by T. I can’t see that the surface means anything at all.

27a In a frenzy in the morning’s all right (4)
AMOK – the abbreviation for in the morning followed by an informal response meaning ‘all right’.

28a Lizard’s taken Ecstasy to measure delay (4,4,4)
DRAG ONE’S FEET – start with a type of lizard, plus the ‘S, containing E(cstasy) and add an imperial measure.

Down Clues

2d Play ‘Act I’ to be cast — that’s unusual (8)
ATYPICAL – those who’ve solved today’s back-pager will have a sense of déjà vu here. It’s an anagram (to be cast) of PLAY ACT I.

3d Check broadcaster’s rule (4)
REIN – this sounds like a verb to rule.

4d Grinding teeth, lions having a good time (2,3,5)
ON THE TILES – an anagram (grinding) of TEETH LIONS.

5d Leaves river on wartime service (6)
EXEATS – the definition (leaves) is a noun meaning formal leaves of absence. A Devon river is followed by the abbreviation for the women’s branch of the British army during WWII.

6d Law graduate, joining sailor’s plot, spilled the beans (7)
BLABBED – the letters identifying a law graduate in some countries (though not, apparently, in England) are followed by one of the abbreviations for a sailor and a plot or growing area.

7d Welcome Lions at home and maintain high standards (4,1,5,2)
TAKE A PRIDE IN – cryptically this could mean to welcome a group of lions to one’s home.

8d Fix engineers’ item (6)
REPAIR – charade of the abbreviation for the army engineers and an item or couple.

11d Maybe take a trip winsome blonde mainly organised (4,4,4)
BLOW ONE’S MIND – an anagram (organised) of WINSOME BLOND[e].

14d Make light of vocalise not about two notes in it (10)
VOLATILISE – remove a 2-letter abbreviation meaning about or approximately from ‘vocalise’ and insert two notes from tonic sol-fa.

17d In Kent perhaps, Norm dined apart (8)
SEPARATE – string together the abbreviation for the part of the UK where Kent lies, a word meaning norm or standard and a verb meaning dined.

19d A minute type of heather found in the country (7)
AMERICA – assemble a country from A, the abbreviation for minute and a word for heather.

21d Eloquent person in church mostly (6)
ORATOR – drop the final letter from a chapel used for private worship.

22d On beginning of action turn over smoothly (6)
LEGATO – stick together another word for the ‘on’ side of the wicket in cricket, the first letter of action and an abbreviation meaning ‘turn over’.

25d Grumble about insect that’s loud (4)
BEEF – an insect’s followed by the musical abbreviation for ‘loud’.

The clue that I liked best was 23a. Which one(s) lit your fire?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was held up by 1a and 14d so I’d say it was tending towards 3* difficulty for me. I’d agree with the entertainment rating.. My favourite was 9a.

    Thanks to MynoT and Gazza too

  2. halcyon
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Me too – quite straightforward except for 1a and 14d. I’d say 2*/2*
    Smiled at 7d once the penny dropped and thought 23a was neat.
    Thanks to MynoT and to Gazza for the blog [loved the cubs at 7d – is one of them doing the crossword?].

  3. crypticsue
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I meant to say earlier how amused I was by the fact that the word appearing in both today’s DT puzzles is “unusual”

  4. Shropshirelad
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought this was a breeze compared to the toughie yesterday but still enjoyable to an extent. 15a was my last one in and it took a lot of parsing – for me at least. I liked 7d for it’s simplicity but I’ll go with 20a as my favourite purely for the definition.

    Thanks to MynoT for the puzzle and to Gazza for his splendid review.

  5. Posted August 17, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A well-balanced Toughie difficulty wise, I thought. The first half or so went in without too much of a struggle but then I had to persuade my creaking brain to think a bit more. I usually enjoy not having to give star ratings in the comments, but will say today that for me the difficulty was probably a star more than Gazza’s – and ditto for enjoyment.

    I needed plenty of checkers for 1a and still had to laboriously work it out. The r = take in in 15a has appeared before in these parts but I had forgotten it, and I also had to check the Hindu festival. More double-checks in 5d to make sure I hadn’t just invented things. 14d went in from wordplay and checkers and the answer was perfectly plausible, but I would have had trouble with it in a concise crossword.

    A bit of a 24a today with lots of lions.

    23a is my favourite too.

    Thanks to MynoT and to Gazza for the review. I’m not sure why the 15a pictured needs to be sitting on the throne when he’s clearly not (well, hopefully not!) using it – there is a perfectly good chair behind his desk.

  6. jean-luc cheval
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A very mechanical crossword with surface reading that lacked sparkle.
    That’s the general feeling I got from today’s toughie.
    1a and 5d were last as I only spotted the anagram towards the end. I was looking for an expression like head over heels to no avail.
    23a good but seen before.
    Thanks to MynoT and to Gazza for the review.

  7. Brian
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Took a while but once I got the anagrams things started to fall into place. 14d was a new word to me that needed some electronic help. I loved 7d, best clue of the puzzle for me, a real smiler.
    For the experts probably a straightforward solve but for me a *** but quite enjoyable apart from some odd surface readings.
    Thx to all

  8. Una
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought 11d was very amusing and had a great surface , so it is my favourite. I liked all the multi-word clues .
    Caught by 14d and 20a .
    Thanks to MynoT and Gazza.

  9. Expat Chris
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I couldn’t get into the bottom left corner until I finally sorted out 11D and 18A, then everything fell into place. I thought 14D was very hard. 9A and 7D tickled my fancy but my favorite is 23A. Thanks MynoT and Gazza.

  10. Jane
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Your suspicion regarding 1a was quite correct, Gazza – even with all the checkers in place I failed miserably on that one! Not a phrase I’ve ever heard of before today.
    16a I really wasn’t too sure about despite the river being fairly obvious and it also took me a while to parse 18a.
    The first word of the 20a answer was my last one in – ‘wave-record’ looked quite promising for a while.
    Kitty was not alone in forgetting about the ‘R’ in 15a!

    Despite the surface not being the best, I loved the definition of ‘I am the answer to your prayers’.
    Had to check with Mr. Google about 14d – new word/meaning for me.

    Top two slots reserved for 23a and 7d.
    Thanks to MynoT and to Gazza for an excellent blog.

  11. crypticsue
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Shamus tomorrow

  12. JonP
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Certainly more straightforward than yesterday’s Toughie, but I needed electronic help with 14d and had RTS as a wartime service… Hopefully I’ll remember the correct abbreviation in the future but a pound to a gooseberry it’ll crop up again and catch me out.

    Thanks to Gazza and MynoT.

  13. 2Kiwis
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 7:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We got 15a readily enough from the definition and checkers but parsing it took much longer. Luckily one of us remembered the cricket phrase in 1a once we had worked out what the anagram fodder had to be. Enjoyed the cleverness of 26a. A pleasant solve for us.
    Thanks MynoT and Gazza.

  14. Salty Dog
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 10:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    2*/3* for my money. I enjoyed several clues, but 7d conjured up an amusing vision. I quite liked 26a too. Thanks to MynoT and Gazza.

  15. Wolfson Bear
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 11:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A very disappointing toughie week so far

  16. Heno
    Posted August 18, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to MynoT and to Gazza for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one, but would agree that some of the surfaces were a bit clunky. Still good fun though. Managed it all except for 14d, knew it probably ended with atilise, so only had 2 letters missing, but didn’t know the word, and couldn’t get the wordplay. Favourites were 13a. Was 3*/3* for me.

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