Toughie 1680

Toughie 1680 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


Hello ladies, gentlemen and others.  I wish you a happy Tuesday, if that is not too much to hope for.

Messinae eases us into a new week of Toughies with a charade-rich romp which should be within your reach if you can cope with a hard-ish back-pager.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the what answer are you expecting under here? 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    Star’s power running – in this? (10)
SPORTSWEAR: An anagram (running) of STARS POWER forms something one might use for running or other strenuous activities

6a    One not out opener for Surrey about to get bowled (4)
SCAB: The initial letter (opener) of Surrey, an abbreviation for about and B(owled).  One not out on strike

9a    Saxon king left less desirable pieces of meat (5)
OFFAL: The Saxon king known for his dyke (which I have chosen to picture instead of the answer) is followed by L(eft)

10a    American needs to mix effectively around communal area (9)
STAIRWELL: This communal area is not a social space but in a block of flats, for example, would be shared between residents.  A verb meaning mix needs to be wrapped around A(merican), then a word for effectively or competently added

12a    Join one more attractive man from Yale perhaps (13)
CONNECTICUTER: A charade of join or link, the Roman numeral one and more attractive gives a rather improbable-sounding resident of the US state in which Yale University lies

14a    Messes about with flawless cut flower (8)
LARKSPUR: Messes about or frolics then flawless or unadulterated without its final letter (cut)

15a    Poet providing humourless study (6)
DRYDEN: Take uninteresting or deadpan and add a crosswordland study room to find England’s first Poet Laureate

17a    Grassland and what to do with it around end of June taking a day (6)
MEADOW: What one might do to grass around all of: the last letter of June, A from the clue and D(ay).  The second answer in a row which I’ve seen recently

19a    Lover‘s exotic meals out (8)
SOULMATE: An anagram (exotic) of MEALS OUT.  Chambers only gives this as two words, but I and other dictionaries are happy with it as one (if you really want to know, Oxford only has it as one word and Collins lists both)

21a    Top technician arranged drug delivery mechanism (8,5)
NICOTINE PATCH: Another anagram: TOP TECHNICIAN is arranged to give this method of getting a certain drug into your system.  If you want to quit using these, you could take up cigarettes

24a    Independent outlaws’ domain for novelist (9)
ISHERWOOD: Follow the abbreviation for Independent with the forest in which dwelt some famous outlaws of folklore

25a    People honoured by Spain carrying great weight (5)
OBESE: People who have been awarded an order of chivalry and the IVR code for Spain

26a    Slippery creatures, mostly well-dressed, coming round (4)
EELS: The reversal (coming round) of glossy or prosperous in appearance without the final letter (mostly)

27a    Bureaucrats jail drug dealers (3-7)
PEN-PUSHERS: I first thought that the jail was an enclosure for animals, but checking now I see that it is also an abbreviation for a North American word for prison.  Follow this with a term for drug dealers




1d    Identify  location (4)
SPOT: A double definition, eerily similar to another we have had today.  The first definition is a verb, the second a noun

2d    Policeman having aversion to American assassin (7)
OFFICER: Having aversion to (3 letters) and a US slang word for someone who kills

3d    Who could deliver potent starlet (6-7)
TALENT-SPOTTER: An anagram (could deliver) of POTENT STARLET

4d    Worked in kitchen, being past it (6-2)
WASHED-UP: Without the hyphen this would mean worked in the kitchen (not cooking, but dealing with the aftermath); with the hyphen in place it means past it or done for


5d    Expect a carol singer (5)
AWAIT: A from the clue and a street singer of Christmas carols (more)

7d    Did see Conservative agitated (7)
CHEATED: An abbreviation for Conservative is followed by angry or impassioned.  The “see” misdirected me: with the first letter in place I thought for a while that it had to be part of the definition

8d    Old measure introduced by one making delivery, person to produce changes (4-6)
BELL-RINGER: An old measure of length, originally taken from the arm, inside (introduced by) a fetcher (one making delivery).  The changes are musical

11d    Interaction between different communities playing sectarian role (4,9)
RACE RELATIONS: This is an anagram (playing) of SECTARIAN ROLE

13d    Girl in song, fruity type (10)
CLEMENTINE: The name of a small citrus fruit is also the name of a girl in a famous American western folk ballad, a parody of a sad song


16d    Possibly made stock car to go faster, if this? (6-2)
SOUPED-UP: A car which is this has been modified to go faster.  For the cryptic bit, the type of stock you need to think of is a base for stews etc.

18d    Gangster’s trendy swallowing hard liquor (7)
ALCOHOL: The first name of gangster often seen in crosswords followed by trendy with H(ard) inserted (swallowing)

20d    Beset by pain, I have reduced effect (7)
ACHIEVE: I from the clue surrounded by (beset by) a dull pain and then the contracted form of have (have reduced).  A sense of déjà vu can be effected in a solver if the same answer is repeated in a short time frame

22d    Old Bill’s arrested that means to kill (5)
NOOSE: The bill, capitalised to mislead you, is a beak, and it contains (has arrested) (o)ld

23d Something of a spectacle in French city (4)
LENS: Part of a pair of spectacles (I’m not sure a spectacle works in the singular) is also a city in Northern France, which I’m not sure I knew of


Thanks to Messinae.  I didn’t note any outstanding clues while solving, but looking now I like the simple but effective 19a and also 6a, 27a, 3d, 16d and 18d.  How about you?



  1. beery hiker
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    All very straightforward except that the carol singer was unfamiliar, though I thought that had to be right. Liked 3d.

    Thanks to Kitty and Messinae

  2. dutch
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    12a sounds odd but apparently is correct

    20d didn’t quite work for me, the two parts are interleaved which I’m not sure is sufficiently indicated

    Took me a while to parse 8d and 10a

    I liked the bureaucrats, the drug delivery mechanism, the independent outlaw and the people honoured by Sapin

    Many thanks Messinae for the fun and thanks Kitty for the review

    ps wee typo in 3d fodder

    • Gazza
      Posted September 27, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

      For 20d I think you’re meant to put the I inside the pain, then add ‘VE (‘have’ reduced).

      • Posted September 27, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yup :yes: . Thanks Gazza!

      • dutch
        Posted September 27, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

        hm… I thought this, but didn’t like – have is never reduced to ve without a pronoun..

        • Gazza
          Posted September 27, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I’ve seen it used before and the BRB has “‘ve a shortened form of have”.

          • LetterboxRoy
            Posted September 27, 2016 at 10:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

            It’s in the Collins Big Blue Book too, still don’t like the clue much.

        • Physicist
          Posted September 27, 2016 at 7:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Would’ve? Should’ve?

          • dutch
            Posted September 27, 2016 at 7:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

            thanks – ok, fair enough – but still, it isn’t used by itself – though i hadn’t spotted the brb entry that gazza mentions. I think it’s going to be one of those things that will take me a while to get used to.

            • LetterboxRoy
              Posted September 27, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

              If it’s any consolation I don’t like it much either, whatever the logic.
              Never mind, novelty is fun :smile:

    • Posted September 27, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Now amended. Thanks Dutch :) .

  3. jean-luc cheval
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ll be back when the pictures are up.

  4. Rabbit Dave
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    After today’s straightforward back-pager, it was nice to have more of a challenge from this not too tough but very enjoyable Toughie.

    As a cricket lover who spends more time than I should at The Oval watching Surrey play, I will have to pick 6a as my favourite. This cleverly has a very smooth cricket related surface although the answer has nothing whatever to do with that wonderful game!

    Many thanks to Messinae and to Kitty.

    • Posted September 27, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m not a cricket lover, but even I managed to appreciate 6a.

  5. Gazza
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Fairly gentle start to the Toughie week but with some rather clever anagrams I thought (21a, 3d, 11d). Thanks to Messinae and Kitty.

  6. Jane
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Had a severe attack of cricketitis when I read 6a and 8d looked as though it might be following the same pattern – hence, NE corner was last in for me!
    Very slow to get 10a and thought 12a was not only something of a mouthful but also extremely unlikely. It actually wasn’t quite as bad once I’d stopped pronouncing it as the word play demanded………
    Cheery fellow, that poet – isn’t there a word for a person whose name suits their occupation – it’s gone completely out of my mind.
    Didn’t know the old street singer or the French city and thought the definition in 7d was teetering on the brink of acceptability.

    Top three for me were 27a plus 4d and Kitty’s terrific blog – it must take you hours! Special mention for the pics at 19a&11d and the latest escapade of Simon’s cat.
    Thanks to Messinae for a Toughie I could deal with relatively easily and to our Girl Tuesday for everything else.

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted September 27, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Jane. You’re right that the answer to 12a is unlikely (and unpopular: NY Times article). I lived there for several years and I never heard the word. But now I’m wondering – are you an Angleseyer? :)

      • Jane
        Posted September 27, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Hi Mr. K – according to HRH Prince William (for a few years our most illustrious islander) we are Anglesonians.

        • LetterboxRoy
          Posted September 27, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

          You’re lucky, folk round here are technically ‘Dorkinians’, but generally referred to as plain old ‘Dorks’.

    • dutch
      Posted September 27, 2016 at 4:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

      12a is in the online Free Dictionary (not in chambers, whereas californian is…)

  7. Jeroboam
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Actually managed to get this done early today before the brain got too cluttered with anything else; so a comfortable Tuesday toughie solve for me. After Friday’s Elgar that was just what the doctor ordered. Thanks Messinae and Kitty for the entertaining review. I think I’ll go with Simpson rather than Isherwood.

  8. happy days
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I feel short-changed when the long words in a puzzle are anagrams. It’s as though a robot has compiled it. I found the whole crossword rather flat. No smiles. Sorry to sound grumpy

    • Posted September 27, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Not living up to your name, Happy Days …

      Perhaps on occasions like this you could call yourself Grumpy Days. :)

  9. Una
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I agree with Happy Days above that there were quite a few anagrams , but not with his/her other comments.
    12a was my favourite , and I also really appreciate 24a. I hadn’t heard of the French city or the singers, but I thought 7d was fine.
    Thanks to Messinae and Kitty.

  10. jean-luc cheval
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    In fact I lied as the battery on my phone was almost empty.
    Could only post a small message until it went dead.
    Shame because I was in a very chatty mood.
    Didn’t realise who the setter was. I thought it was our usual Samuel trying out some new devices in 1a and 3d. All in one anagram thingies as I call them.
    The poet in 15a wasn’t a problem as he appeared in the Saturday Hieroglyph.
    Thanks to Messinae and to Kitty for the well documented review.
    I recognise the stairs in 10a. Definitely Vertigo this time.

    • Posted September 27, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’d love to say that was deliberately chosen for you, but just like SL last week I simply picked an image I liked the look of. If the answer had been stairs, I would have used this one:

      • LetterboxRoy
        Posted September 27, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Down. Definitely down.

        • Posted September 27, 2016 at 11:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Ok then – tell me, is the cat in this picture going up or down?

          • Jane
            Posted September 27, 2016 at 11:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Definitely undecided, I reckon!

          • LetterboxRoy
            Posted September 28, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink | Reply

            Well, did some quick maths and decided the the cat is in fact going both up and down simultaneously… according to Schrodinger, that is.

  11. LabradorsruleOK
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 4:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Accept this was a gentle Toughie but satisfying for me to only need electronic help for one, a bung-in for 5d & the answer for 23d. Heard of Lens – just had 0% recall.
    Thanks Messinae, for what was an encouraging bridge into Toughie-land. Grateful to Kitty for the purrfect review.
    Incidentally Tom Lehrer does a very good parody of 12d – wish I could do the linky things.

    • Posted September 27, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      • LabradorsruleOK
        Posted September 27, 2016 at 5:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thank you hope it doesn’the offend lovers of Mozart, G&S etc. As I said purrfect.
        Did you see the letter today:
        ” the affection of a dog is lovely
        But the disdain of a cat is better”

        • Posted September 27, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

          You’re very welcome. As you might have guessed from the speed at which I was able to post it, I’d already found that video. I wasn’t sure which one to use.

        • Posted September 27, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Ah, I’ve found the article you mention. The writer doesn’t sound much like a real cat person to me!

          • LabradorsruleOK
            Posted September 27, 2016 at 7:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

            My better half’s comment “A cat person gets much more out of their cats than she seems to.”

            • Posted September 27, 2016 at 11:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

              I agree with your better half. :yes:

              • LabradorsruleOK
                Posted September 28, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink | Reply

                I usually end up doing that too.

  12. Verlaine
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this fairly easy but quite congenially so – */**, *** seems exactly right.

    I always assumed that Offa was a Welsh king who build his dyke to keep the hated Saesneg at bay, which just goes to show where my loyalties lie!

  13. LetterboxRoy
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 5:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Mostly fairly simple, only 9a & 24a were in the ‘never-heard-of-it’ category, but they had to be, so I bunged ’em in.
    I’m with Verlaine on the stellar accreditation.
    Thanks to all as ever.

  14. JB
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    12a “unlikely”? More likely ridiculous!
    I liked 5d but…..I was in a National Trust property today and they were playing Christmas carols in the shop.

  15. 2Kiwis
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We had just returned from a couple of days grandparental duty in Wellington so a gentle Toughie with plenty of smiles was exactly what we were looking for, and got. Needed BRB for the 5d singers, hope we remember them for next time.
    Thanks Messinae and Kitty.

  16. Salty Dog
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 9:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I would have gone along with 2*/3* had I not been held up in the NE corner. I didn’t spot 10a at all (but for the life of me I cannot see why) and had never heard of the carol singer in 5d. I must take issue with 9a – those are the best bits! Thanks to Messinae and Kitty.

  17. Jon_S
    Posted September 27, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Fairly straightforward for a Toughie, though I did wait until my brain had begun to seize up for the day before I decided to solve it. The carol singer was a mystery but else could it be? 20d I really wanted to put IVE inside the ACHE but that was never going to work, was it? Perhaps I should start solving these earlier in the day.

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