Toughie 1676

Toughie 1676 by Samuel

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***


Welcome all.  London has returned to a dull grey state, a situation which is comforting in its normality.  The weather is perfect for rowing on the Serpentine and watching the birds.  On Sunday we saw one young moorhen learn two lessons: firstly, that if you try to climb up onto a float which is free to rotate, you will fall off inelegantly.  Secondly, if you do that in front of humans, you will be laughed at.

I think Samuel must have bent over backwards to create this puzzle for us, because I counted six reversals within the clues.  There are also quite a few instances of taking only the inner or outer letters of words, and a generous number of insertions too.  Difficulty-wise, there shouldn’t be much to make you sweat, and I had no moans during the solve (except while my last one in, 16d, held out stubbornly) although I did notice the odd repetitious element while writing the blog.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the 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    Car moves quickly over a Roman road? (10)
AUTOSTRADA: Take a general word for car and the reversal (over) of moves suddenly and follow these with the A from the clue to get an Italian (and hence possibly Roman) motorway

6a    Land in Calais after capsizing (4)
ASIA: The answer is contained backwards (capsizing) in the clue

9a    Register nurse backing limited learning (5)
ENROL: The abbreviation for a type of nurse (the first word of which includes the answer) and then most of a noun meaning learning, especially of a traditional kind, which is written backwards (backing)

10a    Flag system failing homes and just over half of parents (9)
SEMAPHORE: This is an anagram (failing) of HOMES together with just over half of PAREnts.  NUJV!


12a    Trader‘s exuberant cry worried leader with the French Resistance (7-6)
WHEELER-DEALER: Put together an exhilarated cry, an anagram (worried) of LEADER, a French word for the, and finally R(esistance)


14a    Stopped novel reader in street? Quite the opposite (8)
ARRESTED: Not an anagram (novel) of READER inside the abbreviation for street, but the opposite: the street is inside the reader.  The “quite the opposite” device is used to make the surface nice, because a street inside a reader would make no sense.  Unless, perhaps it was a Quality StreetTM – although this reader would find it hard to stop at just the one

15a    Sixth sense exposed trite wit (6)
ESPRIT: Wit or liveliness is formed of the initials of a phrase synonymous with sixth sense and the internal letters (exposed) of trite

17a    Accompany Spaniard who made his mark in Mexico cycling (6)
ESCORT: This conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under Spanish rule, has the letters of his name “cycled” – i.e. moved along some number of places, with the end letters wrapping around.  Here, two places to the right (or four to the left.  Or eight to the right or … well, you get the idea)


19a    Fiend familiarly hooked up with Greek characters in love (8)
MEPHISTO: A short word for hooked up goes outside the plural of a Greek letter, (with Greek characters in); after this comes the letter that denotes love or zero


21a    Brewed coffee ain’t hot, evidently (2,3,4,2,2)
ON THE FACE OF IT: An anagram (brewed) of COFFEE AIN’T HOT.  Did you know that you can make an owl appear by adding two Hula HoopsTM to a mug of coffee?  Pictorial evidence:

24a    Former partner runs from devilish services – that’s too much (9)
EXCESSIVE: A former partner, then R(uns) removed from a mix-up (devilish) of the letters in SErVICES

25a    Regret over being punched by heartless low-life in famous summer (5)
EULER: Regret reversed (over) containing (being punched by) the outer letters (heartless) of low-life.  Summer here indicates one who does sums, but this Swiss mathematician, physicist, astronomer, logician and engineer did so much more.  Here’s his famous identity on a building

26a    Bank that could make nut even more so? (4)
TIER: Appending the answer to nut would form a word that means even more nut-like

27a    Predict warning cries included cry of pain (10)
FORESHADOW: A charade of a golfer’s warning shouts, included, and an exclamation of pain.  My cries of pain usually have double the number of letters of the one here



1d    Help Lincoln City in third place? (4)
ABET: The first name of a famous Lincoln and the third letter of City (City in third place)

2d    Dispute grass exposed prize (4,3)
TURF WAR: A piece of lawn and the inner letters (exposed) of a prize or trophy.  Exposed was used in the same way in 15a, although I doubt many people other than Silvanus and I would have noticed this double exposure

3d    Pirate certain about fellow raiders gutted old-timers using net (6,7)
SILVER SURFERS: The surname of a famous literary pirate and then a word meaning certain around (about) F(ellow), and finally raiders with the inside letters removed (gutted).  These are older people who use the internet successfully (unlike the chap below)

4d    Determined, completed the Toughie again? (8)
RESOLVED: Splitting the answer (2-6) could indicate having decrypted something (perhaps the Toughie) once more

5d    Disagree with medic hugging bird (5)
DEMUR: One of the many abbreviations for doctor around (hugging) a bird.  For the purpose of this illustration, I will aver that the lady below is a doctor. You may disagree

7d    Elizabeth I after kisses, upset about nothing – movie-goers don’t want to see that (7)
SPOILER: Two letters that mean Queen Elizabeth come after the reversal (upset) of kisses or smooches around (about) the letter that signifies nothing.  This is information given too soon, which can mar enjoyment.  Bruce Willis is a ghost for an example

8d    President runs, with allowance for lapse (10)
ABERRATION: A president makes his second appearance in this puzzle and is followed by the cricketing abbreviation for runs and a word meaning allowance or quota

11d    She left reps with new order: keep the noise down and greet people (5,3,5)
PRESS THE FLESH: It’s a tactile way to greet people: SHE LEFT REPS, anagrammed (with new order), and an exhortation to be quiet

13d    Evil parent fast to capture animal (10)
MALEVOLENT: A two letter parent and then a religious fast containing (to capture) a small rodent

16d    Move faster to admit rising number of neutral people? (8)
GENEVESE: Something one might say to a horse to encourage it to go faster contains (to admit) the reversal (rising, in a down clue) of a cardinal number.  Switzerland being famously neutral, these are some Swiss people (specifically those from one of its large cities, hence the question mark)

18d    Attractive person grasps oddly cold skin (7)
CUTICLE: An informal term for an attractive person goes around (grasps) the odd letters of cold

20d    Hospital department leaves me under control in a comfortable situation (7)
SETTLED: Remove a US hospital department from the me who wrote the clue (not the me who wrote this hint) and append a word meaning under control

22d    Friend to work for another (5)
AMIGO: Put together a (French) friend and “to work” to make a new (Spanish) friend

23d    Government gets 26 to expand (4)
GROW: G(overnment) and a synonym for 26a


Many thanks to Samuel.  I haven’t 20d on a favourite yet.  Have you?



  1. Jeroboam
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Typical Tuesday fare I’d say (unlike last week). A busy puzzle for Mr Lincoln but in all honesty this sort of thing doesn’t bother me in the slightest as a solver. We’ve got a cat that considers herself to be like that, but then don’t they all. As they say a dog treats you like a god, while a cat reminds you you’re not. Thanks to Samuel for the puzzle and Kitty for the entertaining review.

  2. dutch
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks Kitty for a lovely review (though how can you fit a hula hoop in a cup of coffee?)

    I thought there was plenty to like – 6a is a nice new take on a chestnut, 25a (probably my favourite because the summer is so important), 26a (quirky), 3d (does that include me?) and 4d (nice reference to this puzzle and all of us).

    5d also made an appearance in the back pager

    Many thanks Samuel

    • Posted September 20, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

      You’re right, Dutch – I have added the capitalisations required for complete correctness. I wouldn’t like to eat a hula hoop either!

  3. halcyon
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe a tad more than 2* for difficulty – this took me a while to get into, but then fell nicely into place. Some witty & inventive clueing such as 17a [nice misleading surface] 11d [lovely surface here] and 20d [ditto].

    Loved your pics for 3/4d Kitty. I think the 2nd word of 19a is part of the def [as it isn’t his full name…pheles].

    Thanks for a fun blog and thanks to Samuel for a fun puzzle.

    • Posted September 20, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Ah, yes of course. Thanks, Halcyon. Now amended.

  4. Rabbit Dave
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Following Kath’s suggestion this morning, I decided to have one of my rare forays into Toughie territory today and I am glad that I did. This wasn’t too tough but it was very enjoyable, made all the more so by Kitty’s amusing review including nice pictures.

    It is quite a coincidence that the answer to 5d was also an answer in today’s back pager. I preferred the clue for this one due to the bizarre image of a medic hugging a particularly large bird.

    I was going to complain that 17a was an indirect anagram, but Kitty has provided enlightenment that it is not a full anagram but simply a cycling of the letters. I assume this means that indirect cycling is OK?!

    Many thanks to both Samuel and Kitty for the entertainment.

  5. Posted September 20, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another example of a 7d is provided by Dutch and RD, for someone who hasn’t yet got around to doing the backpager.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted September 20, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I can’t 5d with your example.

      • Posted September 20, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I forgive you, RD :) . It’s good to see you over here on the dark side.

  6. George
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I struggled a bit with this puzzle not knowing some of the European names for roads and old timers on the net! I had not heard of either. While I figured out the exposed in 15a, I did not catch on to it in 2d as I could not think what prize had to do with anything!
    Ah maybe a little dense this morning!

    4*/3* for me unfortunately.

  7. JB
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Been waiting since 9.30a.m. to post this. A lovely Toughie – quick, easy and above all humorous.

    Being one I loved 3d and how many times do Americans 11d?

    I had to Google 25a. as I’d never heard of the gentleman. My son tells me his mathematics are why the twin Towers collapsed. It is know as the Euler buckling load.

    Before I feel too smug I know that, for me, today is an 8d and tomorrow I’ll be once more tearing out my hair!

    Thank you Samuel and Kitty.

  8. ShropshireLad
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 3:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well, after a quick read through I thought oops – maybe I should come back later as I can’t see one single answer. After brewing a nice pot of coffee and whilst listening to El Divo in the background, a further read through produced several answers and I did wonder why I hadn’t seen them earlier – especially as there are several clue / answer combinations that have appeared in the ‘inside Back Pager’ what I wrote a review of today.

    Not one of Samuel’s harder puzzles and I thought it was a good start to the Toughie week. Quite a few clues that brought a smile to my face, in particular 10a. Back in the RN we had radio operators / signalmen who also doubled up doing duty using flags and the like….. ‘bunting tossers’ they were called. Still can’t fathom out why they never took to the nickname.

    Thanks to Samuel for the enjoyment and to our splendid reviewer Kitty for a fine blog.

    • Posted September 20, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Perhaps the signalmen thought bunting a rather disrespectful term for their equipment …

      • Jane
        Posted September 20, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I don’t know how you come up with those one-liners, Kitty, but they’re invariably ‘pearlers’!!!

  9. Jane
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Must admit that I had to look up the ‘summer’ and had never come across that particular word for kissing in 7d – don’t like it at all and the same goes for the expression in 11d.
    Think I’d assumed that people from that area of Switzerland would have ‘ANS’ at the end of their name – the correct term makes them sound rather like a type of cake!
    I did enjoy the puzzle though and 4d gets my vote today – both for the surface and for Kitty’s pic. although the 21a pic. gets illustration of the week.
    Thanks to Samuel and to our Girl Tuesday whose blogs are always extraordinary and brilliantly executed.

  10. Kath
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh – there was I congratulating myself on having finished a Toughie but having seen the 2* difficulty and read the previous comments I’m now feeling a touch on the deflated side. :sad:
    Oh well – onwards and upwards or whatever the expression is – I enjoyed this very much which, as far as I’m concerned, is the main idea.
    The one that caused me the most trouble was 20d – always forget the Americanism for A&E.
    17a made me sit up and think for a while and so did 19a.
    I’ve never heard of the expression in 11d – sounds pretty disgusting to me, as does the clue for 18d.
    I liked 1 and 21a and the 26a/23d combination. My favourite, on principle, was 4d.
    With thanks to Samuel and to Kitty – good crossword, good hints and good pics. :good: to both.

  11. crypticsue
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A very nice ‘Comfy’ thank you Samuel, although if I’d been testing it, I’d have certainly raised the “repetitious elements”, not least because I had to pause at the top of 8d when I thought “surely not, XXX again!”

    Thanks to Kitty too

  12. jean-luc cheval
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 6:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Learned a few new words and expressions so thanks for that. The one in 3d made me smile and the cartoon made me laugh.
    Like Kath, 11d made me cringe. Not a very nice sight.
    Everything was fairly clued and parsed without too much trouble.
    Hope that the signaling method is international as Nato is doing some exercise in the bay. 900 sailors looking for underwater mines. They called the operation “black olive”. Made me laugh again.
    Thanks to Samuel and to Kitty for the super review.

  13. KiwiColin
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 7:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Not too tricky and very satisfying to solve. Spent some time trying to fit net (ten reversed) into 16d before finding the longer number.
    Thanks Samuel and Kitty.

  14. Samuel
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 8:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks, Kitty, for the write-up — especially the great picture of the Hula-Hoop owl! Absolutely fantastic.

    Apologies for the repetition of Abe. There was a late change to one clue, and I blithely used this device again, completely failing to remember that it had already been used elsewhere in the puzzle. Hopefully it didn’t detract from anybody’s enjoyment.

    • Posted September 21, 2016 at 10:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Samuel. I enjoyed the puzzle immensely. I’m glad you liked the owl!

  15. Jon_S
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    About par for difficulty, though it must be said that I haven’t solved many Toughies of late. One advantage of the coming autumn, more time for crosswords. :-) LOI 16d where, it must be said, the checking letters weren’t particularly helpful. ?e?e?e?e… A good, enjoyable start to the week.

  16. Salty Dog
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 10:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My first pass threw up only one answer, then they started going in (albeit never particularly easily). For me – perhaps because I’ve been off crosswords for 4 or 5 days – this was more like 3*/3*. I’d never heard of the “summer” in 25a, and 19a defeated me. Still, thanks to Samuel and Kitty.

  17. BillyBusker
    Posted September 21, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink | Reply

    Re 7dn: What’s a spoiler when applied to movie-goers and what’s ‘Bruce Willis being a ghost for example’ got to do with anything?

    • Posted September 21, 2016 at 10:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi BillyBusker. A spoiler in that context is the premature revelation of an important detail of a film, and the one I included in my hint is a famous plot twist which is easily googleable should you wish to know more.

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