Toughie 1662

Toughie No 1662 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

An enjoyable puzzle of average difficulty in which only 4 down caused any significant head scratching

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Thus is car seat acquired for 14 (6,9)
MOVING STAIRCASE: The answer (another term for the answer to 14 down) can act as a cryptic indication for IS CAR SEAT. The first word is an anagram indicator and the second word is an anagram of IS CAR SEAT

9a    Plight of girl on back cover (7)
DILEMMA: A reversal of a cover + a girl’s name

10a    Depression envelops lovelorn Nola Tanner (7)
SUNLAMP: A depression into which liquid drains goes round NLA, i.e. NOLA less O (love)

11a    Erase message lacking introduction by Inland Revenue head (9)
EXTIRPATE: A message sent on a mobile phone with the first letter removed + IR (Inland Revenue) + a head

12a    Regularly scrummy, Iona’s seasoning (5)
CUMIN: Alternate letters in sCrUmMy IoNa

13a    American TV‘s shown in subway (3,4)
THE TUBE: 2 meanings: an American term for television/a subway or underground railway (especially the one in London)

15a    Discharge from point on island (7)
SECRETE: A point of the compass (2) + the largest of the Greek islands (5)

17a    Mark in carpet (4,3)
TICK OFF: 2 meanings: To mark something as checked, dealt with, required, correct, etc./to carpet (reprimand)

19a    Use extract of thyme as lessening for fever (7)
MEASLES: Hidden in thyME AS LESsening

21a    Blossom and live it up when setter’s out dancing? (5)
TULIP: An anagram (dancing) of L IT UP, i.e. LIVE IT UP minus I’VE (setter has)

23a    Singular spectacles case needed for 13 (6-3)
GOGGLE-BOX: A pair of spectacles with the last letter removed + a case = another term for the answer to 13 across

25a    Salt found in dope and speed (7)
NITRATE: A salt of the acid HNO3 = a dope or fool + speed

26a    Hail on enclosure occasions reservation (7)
ENCLAVE: An abbreviated form of ‘enclosure’ + ‘hail!’ = a reservation or area of land

27a    Environmental measure taken from miners’ track, maybe? (6,9)
CARBON FOOTPRINT: The answer is a measure of the extent to which a person, community or organization is responsible for the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere through use of fossil fuels. A miner’s boots or shoes might get covered with coal dust and therefore he might leave this on the track as he walks along


1d    ‘Absurd in the Extreme‘ is dramatised ineptly; take off air (7)
MADDEST: An anagram (ineptly) of DMATSED, i.e DRAMATISED minus the letters of AIR

2d    Man, very thirsty at first, downs beer (5)
VALET: A man (servant) = V (very) and T (first letter of Thirsty) round beer

3d    One big cheese? (6,3)
NUMERO UNO: The most important person is the Italian for ‘number one’

4d    Wander above beach — no place but here? (7)
SWANAGE: ‘To wander’ as in ‘to **** about’ + a fashionable beach with the letters PL (place) removed = a coastal town in Dorset

5d    Returns with one going down here (7)
ANSWERS: These are what you enter in the crossword grid and so one of them is entered at 5 down

6d    Alphabetic function is complicated initially (5)
RUNIC: ‘Relating to letters of an ancient alphabet’ = ‘to function’ + the first letters of Is Complicated

7d    An aborted escapade — two students snatching decoration – results in warning (5,4)
ALARM BELL: A + an escapade with the last letter removed (aborted) + LL (two students) round a decoration (order of chivalry) = a warning of danger

8d    Sweep of river encompassing prospects (7)
EXPANSE: A river of SW England round ‘prospects for gold’

14d    How to get a rise in 13 — send list up to Alec’s for correction (9)
ESCALATOR: An anagram (for correction) of ALEC’S + a reversal of a list

16d    Something unfortunately adorning babe‘s car placed insecurely (6,3)
CRADLE CAP: A form of dermatitis which affects a baby’s scalp is an anagram (insecurely) of CAR PLACED

17d    Huge bird leads to powerless hysteria (7)
TITANIC: A small bird + ‘hysteria’ minus the letter P (power)

18d    The two forward units in field gladly earmark bit of forest where privates can find cover (3,4)
FIG LEAF: The first two letters in FIeld, GLadly and EArmark + F (first letter of Forest)

19d    It can generate megatons mostly when exploding (7)
MAGNETO: An anagram (exploding) of MEGATON, i.e. MEGATONS minus the last letter

20d    Most enticingly endowed with ‘it’ — Essex partying? (7)
SEXIEST: An anagram (partying) of IT ESSEX

22d    Endless wine — including Australian — kept in quiet passage (5)
PIANO: A type of wine with the last letter removed round A (Australian) = a soft passage in music

24d    Fried veg from counter? ‘Whoopee!’ you might say (5)
BHAJI: Fried vegetables in Indian cookery. A homophone (you might say) of a counter (3) and ‘Whoopee!’ (3)


  1. Conrad Cork

    Very entertaining I thought. Thanks to the Glowing Worm and Bufo.

    Ashamed to say I didn’t get 24 down, despite living on a diet which is almost 100% Indian (emphasis on Satvika).

  2. Jeroboam

    Despite having the referenced 14d, my brain stubbornly refused to see the answer at 1a for way too much time. As a result the top half, especially the NE took as long as the rest of the puzzle put together. It’s not uncommon for me to ignore the obvious when solving these things. So very enjoyable with half a * off for a couple of very common answers at 9a and 25a. I’m new to commenting so no idea if that’s being (and I know how difficult setting is) a little harsh.

  3. Una

    I found pretty difficult , like Jeroboam very stuck on 1a .The SW and NE went in first.
    I liked 17a and 27a and 18d but 3d is my favourite.
    Thanks Bufo and Firefly.

  4. halcyon

    Trickier than the last 2 so I’ll give it 3.5 but 4* for enjoyment. I had “call” as the 2nd word of 7d which leaves an “A” unaccounted for and rather fouls up 15a, until logic forced a rethink.
    Favourites were 10a [I rather took to lovelorn Nola] and the neat 19d.

    Thanks to Firefly/Glowworm and to Bufo for the blog.

  5. LetterboxRoy

    This was quite tricky for me. Not knowing 11a was a problem and just couldn’t work out 5d, so gave up on those two. It’s too muggy for looking up new words today.
    I am not a fan of TV shows/celebrities etc in crosswords (don’t own a TV, never have), nor cross-referenced clues – so fair to say not really my cup of tea. However, it was something a bit different which is no bad thing, and I still enjoyed the challenge.

    Has to be ****/*** from me. Thanks to all as ever.

  6. Expat Chris

    I didn’t get 4D or 24D. Indian restaurants are not common here. Our influences are Mexican and Italian. So I have little experience of Indian cuisine and I certainly couldn’t work the answer out from the clue. I had to hard look at the hint for 24D before I interpreted it as counter being bar and whoopie being gee. If that’s correct, then I have to say that gee does not in any way mean whoopie in these here United States! But apart from that I enjoyed the puzzle though it was quite a slow solve for me. 1A and 5D get my top spots. Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  7. Kath

    Quite tricky.
    I couldn’t do 10a – was thinking more of something to do with leather – actually, I suppose it is!
    Couldn’t do 4 or 5d either – no excuses for those.
    I particularly liked 1 and 27a. I also have to confess to rather liking the 24d homophone although I know from the ‘other place’ that not everyone agrees with me.
    With thanks to Firefly and to Bufo.

  8. Shropshirelad

    A rather enjoyable romp in toughieland with quite a few head scratching moments, The NE corner was the last to fall as I had stupidly put down ‘call’ as the second word – so that didn’t help at all until the ‘clang of the bell’ resounded in my head. I liked the clue interaction between 1a, 13a etc – nowhere as devious as Elgar when he employs that little ruse (rather you than me Kitty) but enjoyable nonetheless. I’ll put 27a as my favourite of the day.

    Thanks to Firefly fro the puzzle and to Bufo for his review.

    Forgot to say – the onion dish (24d) seems to be the one to be mangled by the setters at the moment. I didn’t like this one either.

  9. 2Kiwis

    The geography in 4d was somewhat of a challenge for us but we did sort it out from the wordplay and then had a faint memory of having heard of it. We made steady but not rapid progress sorting it all out with the NW corner the last to fall. With the V in place for 1a we tried to put in devil’s as the first word which was decidedly unhelpful. All good fun and we did enjoy it.
    Thanks Firefly and Bufo

  10. Jane

    Came across a few stumbling blocks such as the parsing of 8d and waiting for the penny to drop over 5d. 4d needed Bufo’s hint – couldn’t figure out either of the two words I needed.
    For once I quite enjoyed the inter-related clues and confess that, like Kath, I found the 24d homophone quite funny.

    Top spot goes to 27a with 18d taking second.

    Thanks to Firefly for another enjoyable puzzle and to Bufo for the help when needed.

    Good luck to Kitty for tomorrow!

  11. Salty Dog

    Yes, 3*/4* is about right. 4d was my last in, and gets my vote for favouritism. It’s a good place to ride out a stiff westerly at anchor, too (although probably better if your crew don’t drop your outboard into the bay). Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  12. Kitty

    Done in snatches throughout the day, so it’s hard to gauge difficulty. No cheats then, but with a handful left when I returned I felt that it was time to rest my crossword muscles – and so to the blog I came!

    I’m slightly annoyed I didn’t get 4d because I considered the correct second element, but didn’t know that plage has entered the English dictionary. I see that it’s also a bright area in the chromosphere.

    I’m more annoyed that I didn’t get the other four I missed. You don’t need to know which they were, and I don’t need to tell you. So there. :)

    Unless my overheated brain is imagining things I think this is the second checked X we’ve had in as many days. Not very interesting, but I thought I’d share the observation with you.

    There is a long shortlist but I will stick a pin in it and name 1a my favourite.

    Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  13. Sheffieldsy

    This had to wait until after my bridge evening as Mrs Sheffieldsy had been out golfing until after I went to the bridge. She got wet, I got hot.

    Nice puzzle and not overly taxing – 2.5*/3.5*. Would have been 2* for difficulty but I bunged in excrete for 15a (a good synonym for discharge, I thought, and with an island to boot).

    Favourites were 8d for the nice surface and 24d because we laughed when Mrs Sheffieldsy got it.

    Thanks Firefly and Bufo

  14. Wolfson Bear

    Nice puzzle. Agree with rankings. I made a mess up by splitting 13a as 4,3 not 3,4 and never getting suspicious of my error. I became obsessed with the idea that “trek ups” must be an obscure term for escalator. The blog put me straight and made me laugh – how I could be so silly and not suspect my error

    Thanks to Firefly and Bufo


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