Toughie 1668

Toughie 1668 by Warbler

Hints and tips by Kitty

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***


Hello from a sultry South Kensington.  Today, Warbler has given us a very pleasant and not very difficult puzzle to enjoy.  It’s one for the anagram lovers: there are no less than ten whole or partial ones if I’ve counted correctly.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the [ANSWER] boxes.  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    Around hospital, pick out centre of dead plant (8)
CHICKPEA: Take the single letter abbreviations for about and hospital, follow them with an anagram (out) of PICK and finally add the centre of the word dead.  The plant is a legume with a proteinous seed.  There are plenty of tasty dishes I could use to illustrate this one, but instead I’ll take as my inspiration Wikipedia’s “not to be confused with …”

9a    Friend managed team, putting fun first (8)
PLAYMATE: An anagram (managed) of TEAM preceded by (putting … first) fun or amusement.  Some interesting picture opportunities here

10a    Song and dance over drunk (6)
STINKO: The song and dance here is fuss or trouble.  Add the letter which stands for over to get (an informal adjective for) drunk

11a    Loved piece about early form of transport (10)
VELOCIPEDE: This early bicycle is an anagram (about) of LOVED PIECE

12a    Silly tenor taken in by trick starts to sing soprano (7)
WITLESS: T(enor) inside a trick (more often seen pluralised and preceded by “feminine”) and then the initial letters of (starts to) the final words of the clue.  Einstein can’t be classed as this


14a    Kid runs off in street for a scrap (7)
SNIPPET: Inside the abbreviation for street is a word for a youngster without R(uns) (runs off)

16a    Yes, at heart, tapir is an animal (5)
OKAPI: Follow a short affirmative with the centre of (at heart) tapir to find a different animal: a zebra-esque giraffid which doesn’t look real

17a    Secrecy when account goes missing? That’s a convenience (5)
PRIVY: Remove AC(count) from a word meaning secrecy to get to an outdoor convenience

18a    Follow parent’s beliefs (5)
DOGMA: Follow or pursue and a parent (perhaps the partner of the one in 20d). The beliefs are a rigid doctrine

20a    Poor keep having nothing in for tea (5)
PEKOE: Brew this high-quality black tea by making an anagram (poor) of KEEP, and adding into it the letter which denotes zero (having nothing in)

22a    A setter worked out a true copy (7)
ESTREAT: An anagram (worked out) of A SETTER.  The answer is a legal term I was unfamiliar with: a true extract, copy or note of some original writing or record, especially of fines and amercements to be levied by bailiffs or other officers

24a    Horse, we hear, goes around exhausted – that’s annoying (7)
GALLING: Two letters which sound like a child’s word for a horse around exhausted (3,2)

26a    High-flying stunts from returning voluntary force during exercise (10)
AEROBATICS: These cunning stunts are formed by inserting the reversal of (returning) some former army volunteers into vigorous rhythmic exercise

27a    It’s comfortable in the outskirts of Londonderry (6)
HOMELY: A common crosswordland synonym for in is followed by the outer letters (outskirts) of Londonderry

28a    Occasionally working with old fellows (2-3-3)
ON-AND-OFF: Put together a word meaning working, a conjunction indicating addition and some abbreviations: one of old and a couple of fellows

29a    Thoroughly wet when most of planet’s destroyed (8)
SATURATE: Most of the name of a planet in our solar system and destroyed or corroded



2d    Toil here ruined one with pension? (8)
HOTELIER: An anagram (ruined) of TOIL HERE.  One who owns or runs an establishment which may be a continental boarding house

3d    Am I not able to celebrate rising support? (10)
CANTILEVER: A phrase (3’1,1) meaning “am I not able?” and the reversal (rising, in a down clue) of celebrate or make merry

4d    Except for end esplanade is in very ordinary condition (7)
PROVISO: Start with not quite all of the letters in (except for end) a short word for a place to walk, especially by the sea, then pop the IS from the clue inside abbreviations for very and ordinary

5d    Fruity variety of crab (5)
APPLE: A cryptic definition.  Appending the answer to crab gives a wild variety of a fruit

6d    Physicist‘s wildly romantic time away (7)
MARCONI: This Italian inventor and electrical engineer known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission and who shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics is an anagram (wildly) of ROMANTIC without T(ime) (time away).  I like the surface!

7d    Feign  slap (4-2)
MAKE-UP: Pretend or simulate, or the kind of slap that’s just cosmetic

8d    Window crafted from iron set of tables by artist (8)
FENESTRA: This window is made exactly as described in the clue: the chemical symbol for iron and a set of tables which store neatly inside each other, followed by our favourite type of artist

13d    King drowned in northbound river shoot (5)
SKEET: The things being shot are only pigeons, but the poor K(ing) is inside the reversal (northbound, in a down clue) of a river in northern England which finds its way to the North Sea near Middlesbrough.  I can’t resist including “Drowned” here as it’s the sister song to the one featured in 19d:


14d    Brat makes progress essentially (5)
SPROG: An informal word for a child is found included (essentially) in the clue

15d    A compiler with imagination meets resistance – one publishes abroad! (10)
PROCLAIMER: An anagram (with imagination) of A COMPILER is followed by (meets) R(esistance).  One of these publishes or declares abroad or publicly; two of these …


17d    Reportedly top American voiced disapproval in child’s game (8)
PEEKABOO: A homophone (reportedly) of top or summit, A(merican) and then a sound expressing disapproval or contempt


19d    Meeting about long novel using one language (8)
MONOGLOT: A meeting or assembly around an anagram (novel) of LONG


20d    Dad’s banter about model (7)
PARAGON: A short word for father has next to it a verb meaning banter, and at the end is a word meaning about or relating to.  Model as in ideal or epitome

21d    Share funny books in The Listener’s range (7)
EARSHOT: Make an anagram (funny) of SHARE and add some biblical books

23d    Sailor follows sailor – one’s intimidating (6)
TARTAR: There are many abbreviations and short words for sailor; here we want just one of them repeated, which gives us a ferocious person

25d    Note by very loud singer at first is annoying (5)
MIFFS: A note of the sol-fa scale, then the musical notation for very loud.  After this comes singer’s first letter.  Nothing (I hope!) to do with our Monday hinter.  This is the second “annoying” definition in the puzzle


Thanks to Warbler.  I liked 27a, 28a, 29a, 6d and 15d, but my favourite clue is 12a.  Which bits would you like to sing the praises of?



  1. dutch
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I particularly liked 17a and the 22a / 15d combination.

    Not too difficult and very pleasing.

    Though I had carelessly bunged in a G instead of a K in 10a

    The online version annoyingly has dads instead of dad’s (20d)

    Many thanks Warbler for a lovely puzzle and Kitty for a lovely review

  2. Jeroboam
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    22a was unfamiliar to me too. Even with 5/7 checking letters and the anagram staring me in the face, my ignorance of the word meant I started to wonder if I’d got the wordplay and definition the wrong way round. Not sure how you pronounce it but I’m assuming it doesn’t sound like Bruce Springsteen’s band.
    Apart from that no problems.

    • Jeroboam
      Posted September 6, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Of course I should be adding thanks to Warbler for the puzzle and Kitty for the review. I’m still getting my head around how this commenting business works.

  3. beery hiker
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Mostly straightforward, but I found a few of these pretty tough and completely failed with 10 and 22 – in both cases the solutions were unfamiliar. In mitigation my time was limited by the even more difficult Guardian puzzle which I was trying to do in parallel. An enjoyable puzzle nonetheless.

    Thanks to Kitty and Warbler

  4. happy days
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m afraid I found it rather bitty (extracts from words inserted and removed) and no fun to solve. Sorry Warbler and thanks Kitty

  5. halcyon
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Blimey Kitty! Only 2* for tough? I’m glad beery Hiker found something tough in it as I sure did. Just could not get into it and had to put it away for a couple of hours. On returning it started to fall into place, helped by finally spotting the well disguised anagrind at 15d and the obscurity at 22a. 1A was last in, even though it’s obvious in retrospect and elegantly done. Other faves were 24a[GG] and 27a [in].

    Thanks for a fine blog and thanks to Warbler for the challenge.

  6. LetterboxRoy
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I struggled, not on my wavelength I suppose. Some long forgotten words (8d, 17a,19d) twinned with some new words (20a, 10a) and new definitions (23d) made for slow going.
    Was pleased with those I did manage, all but had to resort to hints for the last in ( 17a, 17d & 22a).
    More like a ****/*** for me.

    Thanks to all as ever.
    PS 5d pic in the write-up made me laugh, Kitty!

    • Posted September 6, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      And here is a recent picture of Kitty (in Boots):

      • LetterboxRoy
        Posted September 6, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Hope that’s not Jane she’s carrying :exclaim:

        • Jane
          Posted September 6, 2016 at 8:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Well……… I think Kitty ‘loves’ me but not so much that she wants to eat me!!!

  7. ShropshireLad
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Pretty much what to expect from Warbler but definitely on her gentler side. Unfortunately it’s difficult to muster some enthusiasm to comment – not because of the puzzle though – it’s just that the day started sunny and bright at a pleasant 18 degrees and has now become overcast, humid and around 25 degrees. It’s worse than Hong Kong used to be during the rainy season.

    Somehow I thought 17a had a double ‘v’ in it – maybe it did in Scotland.

    Thanks to Warbler for the puzzle and to Kitty for her review and all other help.

  8. Jane
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 5:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Think I probably have heard of 10a but far more familiar with the term ‘blotto’. Certainly haven’t come across 22a before today.
    1a took far too long to figure out. Before anyone asks – no, it isn’t a sort of ‘tit’ just a very young Peacock! Must admit, I didn’t realise that it had its own entry in the BRB.
    20a made me smile. In the ‘good old days’ we used to have a weekly visit from a travelling food salesman and Mum always bought a packet of Flowery Pekoe Tips from him. As a non-tea drinker, I haven’t got a clue about its flavour.
    26a pic featured my favourites. The Red Arrows often use RAF Valley on Anglesey as a training base, so we get treated to rehearsals of their latest 26a’s. I guess it would be difficult to conduct these in secret!

    Top three slots go to 14a plus 3&7d with a special mention for the delightful anagram indicator in 15d.
    Thanks to Warbler and to our Girl Tuesday for her usual fun review. Great pic for 5d (must look out for one on the beach) and loved the clip for 17d.

  9. LabradorsruleOK
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 5:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Having seen Dutch’s comment on the backpager I thought I’d try the Toughie.
    Got about half then needed 3 or 4 of Kitty’s excellent hints & 2 lookups.
    For regular Toughie solvers Durch may be right but for me it was a good indicator of why it is called the Toughie.
    Thanks to Warbler but particularly Kitty for much needed explanations.

    • dutch
      Posted September 6, 2016 at 7:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I am really pleased that you tried it – you did well

      • LabradorsruleOK
        Posted September 6, 2016 at 7:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

        It didn’the really feel like it at first but I have resolved to dip my toes in the water more often.

  10. 2Kiwis
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 7:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We always look forward to a Warbler puzzle as they never fail to provide plenty of smiles. This one fully met our expectations. We needed to check in BRB that 22a really was a word. A fun crossword and a fun hints write-up, what more could one ask for.
    Thanks Warbler and Kitty.

  11. jean-luc cheval
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 9:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Last one in was 10a which I hadn’t seen before.
    Nice surface in each and every clue.
    Thanks to Warbler and to kitty for the review. Nice to see Tim Minchin again. Vous comprendez ! Just love it.

  12. Salty Dog
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 9:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed both the puzzle (2*/3.5*) and the review. What a splendid way to spend a muggy Cornish evening, to the accompaniment of what one of my old Captains used to call “a damp glass”! 24a was my favourite, although 16a and 17a received little ticks as well. Thanks to Warbler and Kitty for the entertainment.

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