Toughie 1666

Toughie No 1666 by Kcit

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Another enjoyable puzzle of average difficulty. I was not really fooled by the incorrect enumeration at 3 down in the online version (or by the rogue white square in the grid). (Apparently these errors don’t feature in the paper version)

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Left something like pork covered in fat (8)
LARBOARD: An old word for the left or port side of a ship = a male pig inside solid fat used in cookery

9a    Record time to cross border and other trivial details (8)
EPHEMERA: An extended-play record + a period of time round a border = objects of limited worth or usefulness having no lasting value

10a    Equipped firm to lay off 40 per cent of staff (4)
ABLE: Remove ST (40% of STaff) from a word meaning ‘firm’ or ‘steady’

11a    Brought together to follow friendly expert (4-8)
WELL-INFORMED: ‘Brought together’ (6) follows ‘friendly’ (4,2) to give an adjective meaning ‘expert’

13a    Debris and rubbish used to conceal most of stock (8)
DETRITUS: An anagram (rubbish) of USED round ‘stock’ with the last letter removed

15a    Spear having end snapped off by a horned creature (6)
IMPALA: ‘To spear’ with the last letter removed + A = an African antelope

16a    Piano set to offer scope for movement (4)
PLAY: P (piano) + ‘to set’

17a    Office activity with second character wanting romance (5)
FILING: Remove the second letter from an office activity in which papers are put in order

18a    Opening in bridge, perhaps Ace and King (Clubs and Hearts) (4)
ARCH: A (Ace) + R (King) + C (Clubs) + H (Hearts)

20a    Keep gratified expression within control (6)
RETAIN: A gratified expression (Thanks!) inside ‘control’

21a    Criminal, writing about women, is to mislead (8)
HOODWINK: A violent criminal + ‘writing’ round W (women)

23a    Expert with children, i.e. Scot involved with bairn taking temperature (12)
OBSTETRICIAN: An anagram (involved) of IE SCOT BAIRN round T (temperature)

26a    King upset churchgoers (4)
KIRK: K (king) + ‘to annoy’ = the congregation of a Scottish church

27a    Name in note, name I initially chronicled as a reminder (8)
MNEMONIC: N (name) inside a note + I + C (first letter of Chronicled)

28a    One follows passion in embrace of love (6-2)
HANGER-ON: ‘Passion’ or ‘severe displeasure’ inside ‘love’ (as a term of endearment)


2d    Tidal wave crashing through a bar, not one of wood (8)
ARBOREAL: A tidal flood that rushes up an estuary goes inside A and a bar with the letter I (one) removed

3d    Stuff primarily used in development of watery beers? (8,5)
BREWERS’ YEAST: An anagram (development) of WATERY BEERS round S (first letter of Stuff). The whole clue acts as the definition

4d    A hairstyle lacking length could become a fetish (6)
AMULET: A + a hairstyle with a letter L (length) removed. According to Chambers this hairstyle is short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round.

5d    Consider ignoring rebuke in shop (4)
DELI: Take a 10-letter word meaning ‘to consider’ and remove a 6-letter word meaning ‘to rebuke’. That leaves you with somewhere that sells cooked meats and cheeses, etc.

6d    Mocking and following this person arrested by a lot of coppers (8)
CHAFFING: A 2-letter abbreviation denoting ‘following’ + I (this person) inside coins of low value with the last letter removed

7d    Direct empty hearse over fifty miles (4)
HELM: The first and last letters of HearsE + L (fifty) + M (miles)

8d    Not generous about American area needing a source of funds (4,4)
HARD CASH: My last one in. ‘Not generous’ or ‘severe’ goes round the area of the US that includes the city of Washington and A

12d    He stayed out for ages — considered late upon returning (3,3,6)
RIP VAN WINKLE: A cryptic definition of a fictional character who fell asleep for years in the Catskill Mountains and was presumed dead

14d    Editor dismissed from Scandinavian glossy? (5)
SWISH: Remove ED (editor) from ‘Scandinavian’

16d    Standard church feature contains little new, I’m sorry (6,2)
PARDON ME: ‘A standard or norm’ + a hemispherical structure raised above a large building round N (abbreviated for of new)

17d    Carefully regulate healthy air (4-4)
FINE TUNE: ‘Healthy’ + an air or melody

19d    Piece of classical music, feasible and sure thing to be adopted by company (8)
CONCERTO: ‘Feasible’ (2) and a sure thing (4) inside the abbreviated for of ‘company’

22d    Start in after cheque bounced? (6)
ORIGIN: IN follows a reversal (bounced) of a cheque

24d    Wings of sparrowhawk with opposite points twisted (4)
SKEW: The first and last letters of SparrowhawK + 2 diametrically opposite points of the compass

25d    Long cricket ground seeing opener dismissed (4)
ITCH: ‘To long’ = the ground between the wickets in cricket with the first letter removed

That’s the end of my crosswording for a while. I have a banister to paint.


  1. Jeroboam
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Definitely enjoyable but not too difficult. So I’d agree with the ***/**** rating from Bufo. Despite the number and the odd spark this puzzle never quite caught fire for me. Thanks Kcit for the puzzle and Bufo for the review.

  2. Posted September 1, 2016 at 2:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We may have hit upon how to complete a toughie in timely fashion – knuckle down to it before going to the pub. Quite a few answers came to us with parsing to be figured out after. So on that basis we’d agree with the rating. Cheers to Kcit and Bufo.

  3. jean-luc cheval
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thought there was something very strange to have that black square missing at the end of 3d but identified the mistake soon enough. Well, saying that, my last ones in were 3d and 16a.
    Big tick next to 17d and a bigger one next to 1a.
    Thanks to Kcit and to Bufo.

  4. Shropshirelad
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A relatively gentle toughie which was just as well as the ‘nearly back pager’ was, in my mind, a WED. As an ex matelot – 1a went straight in and I always feel that the rest of the puzzle goes in quite swiftly when that happens. Must have something to do with the frame of mind.

    So thanks to Kcit for the enjoyment and to Bufo for his review.

  5. halcyon
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Pleasant enough puzzle but as Jeroboam remarks it seemed to lack sparkle [perhaps the contrast with the last 2].
    Once the anagram fodder for 3d had been worked out [I started with “stuff u watery” ] the rest fell into place.
    The prize goes to 3d.

    Thanks to Kcit and to Bufo for the blog.

  6. Jane
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Slipped up by putting in ‘etcetera’ for 9a which led to ‘scoffing’ for 6d. Both fitted but, sadly, neither of them would parse so it was back to the drawing board. I also wasn’t aware of that particular abbreviation for ‘following’ so still finished up with a random ‘F’.

    Took a long time to discover the ‘stock’ in 13a – dim, as Kath would say – and must confess that 23a was entered from the definition and parsed later!
    26a worried me a little and I have yet to find confirmation that the answer can refer to the congregation as well as the church itself.

    A lot of clues ticked but I think I’ll make 17d the overall winner.

    Many thanks to Kcit and to Bufo for the review. I think the hint for 27a needs modifying to include the second ‘name’.

    • Physicist
      Posted September 1, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I think that kirk for congregation is an example of metonymy, or “container for the thing contained”.

      • Jane
        Posted September 1, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Physicist – you must be correct but I can’t say I’m very taken with it in this instance.

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted September 1, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Hi Jane – it was in common use in the West Coast area of Scotland where I was brought up to mean the congregation – the building itself was just that – a building where the ‘Kirk’ usually met.

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted September 1, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink | Reply


            This entry rather contradicts my memory of the congregation but it does go on to mention that the term ‘High Kirk’ leans more towards the congregation side of things.

    • Una
      Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I had etcetera , too, with the same scoffing .

  7. Dickiedot
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    17a fling, second character wanting Dickie forever lurking ;-)

  8. crypticsue
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Sparks tomorrow :yahoo:

    • LabradorsruleOK
      Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks to CS I “strayed” from the back page. I did find it slightly easier than the backpage: only needed one of Bufo’s hints & about half the time.
      Thanks to setter & Bufo for explanations especially the needed 4d.

    • Posted September 1, 2016 at 9:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

      We have been spoiled, getting the Elk and Sporks in the same week.

  9. Una
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I needed fewer hints than the BP and found it scintillating , in comparison.
    Thanks Buffo and Kcit.

  10. 2Kiwis
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 7:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The mistake in 3d held us up a little. We had worked out the last word and put that in and then wondered why the rest of it would not work. Then we noticed the enumeration anomaly and it all started to make sense and we were back in business. Sorting out the wordplay for 6d was the last hurdle for us. Plenty to enjoy and keep us amused.
    Thanks Kcit and Bufo.

  11. Posted September 1, 2016 at 9:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Grr – I thought my form, such as it is, might be returning.

    Oh well, I enjoyed this. Didn’t note down any favourites, but there could be quite a few contenders for the title.

    I like the horned creatures of 15a, so just for Jane I will add a picture featuring birds. Red-billed oxpeckers, according to the label.

    I was neatly misdirected at 28a, thinking that the love would be the usual suspect and not coming up with the required type of passion for a long time. The parsing of 8d also eluded me for ages: wanting the ungenerous bit to be hard. Got there in the end.

    It wasn’t quite a completion for me though: I just couldn’t see 6d. Not sure I knew chaff could be a verb with that meaning. I know now.

    Many thanks to Kcit and Bufo.

  12. Salty Dog
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 9:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Rather a doddle – certainly compared with the back-pager – but quite entertaining. 1*/3.5* seems about right to me. I enjoyed 4d and 22d, but surely one needs to be pretty long in the tooth to remember the reversed element of the latter. Thanks to Kcit and Bufo.

    • Posted September 1, 2016 at 9:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I have Adrian Mole to thank for my knowledge of the 22d cheque. :)

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted September 2, 2016 at 12:20 am | Permalink | Reply

      For me it was the early eighties in London.
      Everyone around me was waiting for their giros.
      Used to cost them money to cash them in too.

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