Toughie 1675

Toughie No 1675 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I always look forward to a crossword by Notabilis, because I enjoy his clueing, and I’m normally confident I can do his puzzles. Today, though, I began to worry when for some reason I only had one clue after the first pass (12a). Fortunately, I found a toehold in SE (28a) and slowly worked my way back up to the top from there. In retrospect, as is so often the case, I’m not sure why I struggled at first.

As usual, the definitions parts of the clues below are underlined. If the hint doesn’t get you there, you can reveal the answer by clicking on the NOT YET! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought of the puzzle.


1a    Small bow when Monsieur makes scornful remarks (7)
SARCASM: The abbreviation for S(mall), a bow or a bit of a circular line, another word for when, and the abbreviation for M(onsieur)

5a    Note development of a cult based on truth (7)
FACTUAL: The 4th note on the sol/fa scale followed by an anagram (development) of A CULT

9a    Room cleaner receiving honour (7)
CHAMBER: A 4-letter cleaning lady contains a British medal

10a    A travesty of moronic character (7)
OMICRON: An anagram (a travesty of) MORONIC gives a Greek character

11a    Shower with plugs to knock pressure on the head? (9)
BRAINWASH: An outside shower (had lots earlier this week) plus the abbreviation for W(ith) goes inside (plugs) a 4-letter verb meaning to knock or beat

12a    Winter sportsperson mostly restricting velocity, to take it easy (5)
SKIVE: A winter sportsperson on the pistes without the last letter (mostly) accepts (restricting) the abbreviation for V(elocity)

13a    Unique object identifier after computing back tax (5)
TITHE: The unique object identifier is none other than the definite article at the start of this sentence, which comes after the reversal (back) of an abbreviation associated with computing technology

15a    In this month, recommend name connected with revolt (9)
INSURGENT: Inside (in) the abbreviation for ‘this month’, place a verb meaning recommend or press plus the abbreviation for N(ame)

17a    Identify men about to block certain replacement (9)
SURROGATE: A reversal (about) of to identify or label plus some soldiers goes inside (to block) a word meaning certain

19a    Penny and Oscar have a meeting put forward (5)
POSIT: P(enny – abbreviation of the coin) and O(scar – from the NATO alphabet) and ‘have a meeting’ or be in session

22a    Smoke rising after choice, there’s pope at last! (5)
PLUME: After a word meaning choice or first-class, we have the last letter of (pop)E

23a    Quote to cover redevelopment of spacy urban scene (9)
CITYSCAPE: A word meaning to quote goes around (covers) an anagram (redevelopment) of SPACY

25a    Inventory is the thing hiding the beginning of the end (7)
ITEMISE: Inventory is a verb here. A 2-letter pronoun meaning ‘the thing’ followed by a 6-letter word for ‘the end’ without the initial letter (hiding the beginning). Did anyone else get stuck trying to use the first 4-letters of the answer for ‘the thing’?

26a    Overlooking one at one, relief when withdrawing story (7)
NOVELLA: Find an 11-letter word meaning relief, subtract (overlooking) I-AT-I (one at one), then reverse (when withdrawing). My last-to-parse

27a    Good socialist playwright appearing in acceptable flier (7)
GOSHAWK: This flier is not a leaflet. The abbreviation for G(ood), then an Irish playwright known for his political views inside a 2-letter informal expression meaning acceptable or fine

28a    Uncontrolled area in middle of tarmac (7)
RUNAWAY: The abbreviation for A(rea) goes inside a strip of tarmac you might find at an airport



1d    Lay off only producer of old music (7)
SACKBUT: A 4-letter word for lay off or fire, and a word that can mean only or merely

2d    Scan fitting to make new modifications (7)
READAPT: A 4-letter word for scan or peruse, plus a 3-letter word for fitting or suitable

3d    In Arabic, the injunction for a martyr (5)
ALBAN: The arabic word for ‘the’ (think of an arabic tv station) followed by a 3-letter injunction or prohibition to give the first British Christian martyr. My high school years in Beirut helped me with the first part of this

4d    Cocktail spread? For the last two, cheers! (9)
MARGARITA: Take a word for a butter-like spread and replace the last two letters with a word meaning cheers

5d    What makes a head is a face, ignoring new head of hair (5)
FROTH: Take a word for face or forepart, remove the N(ew), and append with the first letter (head) of H(air)

6d    Something to keep a lid on bonds, barring a pitfall (9)
CHINSTRAP: A 6-letter word for bonds or shackles with the A removed (barring a), plus a 4-letter word for pitfall or snare

7d    Snubbing knight, do the opposite of commending place in high position (7)
UPRAISE: Take an 8-letter word (which I was surprised to find in the brb) that means the opposite of to commend or to laud, and remove the chess abbreviation for kNight

8d    Mild disagreement from Becker over stopping obstructed serve (7)
LENIENT: A reversal of how Boris Becker, the German tennis star, might express disagreement goes inside (stopping) a 3-letter obstructed serve (e.g., in tennis)

14d    English heather overruns lush, little-known stuff (9)
ESOTERICA: The abbreviation for E(nglish) and a 5-letter word for heather go either side of (overrun) a word for a lush or a drunk

16d    Resent fussing about small motivating payment (9)
SWEETENER: An anagram (fussing) of RESENT goes around the Scottish word for small

17d    Callow youth forming attachments with no end of excitement (7)
SAPLING: A 8 letter word for ‘forming attachments’  or joining together, as one might with multiple sheets of paper, without the letter T (with no end of excitemenT)

18d    Republican doctors denied initial source of stories (7)
REUTERS: The abbreviation for R(epublican), then a particular kind of ‘doctors’ that prevents offspring without its first letter (denied initial)

20d    Edge of Swiss roll around — what to do with it? (7)
SWALLOW: The first (or last) letter of Swiss plus a word meaning to roll around (like pigs in mud, for example)

21d    Unknown people accepting charge for counselling? (7)
THERAPY: A 4-letter plural pronoun that can refer to people in general goes around (accepting) a slang word for a criminal charge

23d    Possibly Bohemian-sounding threat to king (5)
CHECK: This chess term is a homophone of the nationality of someone from Bohemia

24d    Prime time not needed by such as Spielberg (5)
SEVEN: Spielberg’s first name without the T(ime)

4d and 5d had a lot of appeal for me, and I also liked the simpler 5a and 10a. Which were your favourite clues? Please let us know by leaving a comment


  1. crypticsue
    Posted September 16, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Lots to enjoy as usual from a Notabilis Toughie but I didn’t find it as tough as Dutch did – 2*/4* for me.

    I’d be interested to know if Notabilis has given up Ninas as this is the second one where I’ve looked and looked and couldn’t find anything.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  2. Gazza
    Posted September 16, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Notabilis on a Friday is always enjoyable and this one was no exception. Thanks to him and Dutch for the fine blog. My top clues (all of which produced a d’oh) were 5d, 6d and 18d.

  3. Jeroboam
    Posted September 16, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve had that near first pass blank many a time, but fortunately not today. I liked this the most of the week’s puzzles and would have to agree with CS’s rating. I lost 5 minutes solving time when our cat, Sooty, decided to plonk herself down on the puzzle leaving only 21d visible. Having satisfied her need for a fuss, I was then able to complete it having been previously stuck on 7d. The distraction obviously worked.
    Thanks to Notabilis and Dutch

  4. halcyon
    Posted September 16, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this pretty straightforward apart from 11a [no excuses] and 25a [which I couldn’t parse even once I’d realised what it must be]. As you say Dutch I struggled with “item” or “it” for “the thing” but just couldn’t see “demise”. Not helped by the def and the answer being verbs. Also failed to parse 26a even tho the answer was obvious from the v and the a.

    Favourites were 5d [lovely def] and the cute 3d.

    Many thanks for the blog and thanks to Notabilis for the puzzle.

  5. Verlaine
    Posted September 16, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Like Sue I too found this quite easy for a Notabilis, with only the SW corner offering any kind of stiff resistance, and even that mostly because I couldn’t parse 25a for quite a while, even when I was pretty sure I had the right word. Or maybe I’ve just gotten wise to a lot of his tricks now? He is one of my (surely everyone’s?) favourite setters after all.

    1a was my favourite I think, what a splendid surface.

  6. Jane
    Posted September 16, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well, it was quite hard enough for me!
    Needed help from Dutch to parse 25&26a plus 17&18d but was happy just to have filled the grid.
    Didn’t know the musical instrument in 1d prior to Tilsit & co’s appearance on Hive Minds – thanks for that one, guys!
    Fell into the trap at 23d. The line break in the printed version encouraged me to opt for the nationality which put me in a dilemma over 27a and demanded a backtrack.

    The laurel wreath goes to 5d with 22&27a close behind.

    Thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch for the reasoning.

  7. Posted September 16, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I parsed 25a in a slightly different way with IT replacing (hiding) the initial letter of [d]EMISE.

    • dutch
      Posted September 16, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yes that’s nice too. Perhaps that was notabilis’s intention

    • halcyon
      Posted September 16, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Looked at like that it’s an even better clue.

    • crypticsue
      Posted September 16, 2016 at 6:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Me too

  8. jean-luc cheval
    Posted September 16, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Spent a bit of time on 17a which finally unlocked the SW but needed Dutch help to get 18d. Still don’t know what doctors to look for.
    Liked 11a and top prize goes to 5d.
    Thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch.

    • Jane
      Posted September 16, 2016 at 9:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi JL,
      ‘doctors’ in the verbal sense.

  9. Expat Chris
    Posted September 16, 2016 at 11:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Only halfway through this. Have had very little time to spend on puzzling this week because I needed to make sure that all my paying projects were accomplished before vacation. It’s probably not going to get much better before we leave. I may be able to pop in from the UK from time to time. If not, I’ll see you when we get back!

    • Jane
      Posted September 16, 2016 at 11:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Do pop in when you can, Chris. I always look out for your posts.
      Good luck with getting all the ‘paying’ projects completed before you leave – not to mention all the ones you don’t get paid for!

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