Toughie 1682

Toughie 1682 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


Hello everyone.  Bufo is away, so you lucky ducks have a second helping of me this week.

I found this very difficult to get into.  Being tired and distracted last night meant that I was not a particularly smiley solver, but I appreciated the puzzle much more when writing the hints.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the nothing to see 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 and 4a:    Fine legs, then? Some doubt emerges! (5,8)
MIXED FEELINGS: A reverse anagram to start with signifies we might be in for some fun.  The first word of the answer is an anagram indicator, the second an anagram of FINE LEGS

4a    See 1a

10a    Some may be bound to book for destination on the Med (7)
MOROCCO: This goatskin leather (or sheepskin imitation of it) is also a North African country bordering the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Mediterranean Sea

11a    Add handy way to start play from the wings? (5-2)
THROW-IN: Another pair of definitions, the first being to add as an extra at no additional cost.  The second part of the clue is a cryptic description of a way of resuming play in a football match

12a    Following unknown into trap (4)
NEXT: Insert a mathematical unknown into trap or snare

13a    No navy wool in market (5)
AGORA: A type of wool from a fluffy rabbit (pictured) with the abbreviation for Navy (it’s the abbreviation for Navy, not navy, but is this splitting rabbit hairs?) removed (no navy).  Slightly Yoda-esque, but I liked it

14a and 22a:    Trifle with beak? It’ll cost you! (4,4)
MESS BILL: This is a charade of trifle or meddle and a bird’s beak.  The thing that’ll cost you is your communally taken meal

17a    Hungry? Rescheduled dinner hour’s due (14)
UNDERNOURISHED: One who is this would presumably be hungry, and certainly is in need of some good food.  An anagram (rescheduled) of DINNER HOUR’S DUE

19a    Upstart paparazzo pursuing jockey, maybe (14)
WHIPPERSNAPPER: A person who takes pictures is following somebody who might use a riding crop or similar (jockey, maybe)

22a    See 14 Across

23a    Reportedly cove’s to access material (5)
BAIZE: This sounds like a word meaning cove or inlet, taken together with the sound of the ‘S

24a    The setter’s right about going to press (4)
IRON: A charade of a personal pronoun (the setter), right, abbreviated, and about or regarding

27a    Dish sent back as one eats something to fill a gap (7)
SASHIMI: The reversal (sent back) of AS and the Roman numeral one contains (eats) a thin slip of metal, wood etc. used to fill in space or adjust parts

28a    Bull heads for exit, swerving toreador – that’s most ingenious (7)
NEATEST: Take a dialect word for a bull (or other bovine creature) and add the initial letters of (heads for) three words of the clue

29a and 30a:    Selling everything perhaps that may help students going up or down? (8,5)
CLEARING HOUSE: This could mean emptying your abode of all possessions.  It’s also a central pool of information, and clearing is the system by which students are helped to find last-minute places

30a    See 29a



1d    Twinkling people added to corporation’s impetus (8)
MOMENTUM: Start with a twinkling or second – but use the short form of the word, even though the full one is there in the answer.  Then add some people followed by corporation in its crossword-friendly sense of stomach

2d    Reproduced in spandex – or expensive material – that’s revolutionary (7)
XEROXED: Hidden backwards in the clue (theneddihclue will not catch on, which is fine as our recently-coined rekrul is a very pleasing word).  Reproduced is in the material indicated, backwards (revolutionary)


3d    Clip  weed and tie up in enclosure (4)
DOCK: A quadruple definition.  Cut (e.g. an animal’s tail), a plant with large leaves, moor or anchor, and the enclosure for the accused in a courtroom

5d    Unexpectedly Ritz reopens, even though short of volume, in initially depressed area (10,4)
ENTERPRISE ZONE: This area where development is needed and incentivised is an anagram (unexpectedly) of RITZ REOPENS EvEN with the v removed (short of v(olume))

6d    Mischief that’s often in the ascendant (4)
LARK: A frolic or mischievous activity is also a bird well-known for flying high as it sings


7d    Currently with us – or not? (7)
NOWHERE: Put together words meaning “at this time” and “at this place” to form one meaning not at any place

8d    Star’s raised a notch (5)
SINUS: Take the name of our nearest star together with what ‘S may stand for.  Reversed (raised) they form a cavity or indentation.  You’re likely to be most familiar with the air-filled cavity in the bones of the skull, connecting with the nose; it’s also a botanical term for a notch between two lobes in a leaf

9d    Mass advance around long, untidy allotment (14)
CONGLOMERATION: Advance or draw near goes around an anagram (untidy) of LONG; after this is an allowance or allocation

15d    Moonshine cloven through starlit pier (5)
TRIPE: Alternate letters of (cloven through – what an unusual indicator!) the last two words of the clue

16d    Clubs with society gossip – it makes one weep! (2,3)
CS GAS: Bring together abbreviations for clubs and society with a word for gossip to concoct an irritant used in riot control.  I think I will refrain from making the extra comment I was tempted to add …

18d    Bump into Miss Davis, perhaps, in dark (8)
BRUNETTE: A synonym for bump, but only when followed by into.  The into in the clue, however, indicates that this goes inside the first name of an American actress born in 1908 (this Miss Davis was in fact married four times)

20d    Matt sadly deserts crumbling stately home – one for a cleric? (4,3)
HOLY SEE: Each letter of MATT (not in that order, hence sadly) is removed from (deserts) an anagram (crumbling) of StatELY HOmE

21d    Climber ascending in a French valley, with passage blocked, receiving blame (7)
PARVENU: This social climber is found going upwards (ascending) in a charade of the following: one of the French words for a, valley minus a narrow lane (with passage blocked), and blame or punishment

22d    Austere graduate’s in charge … (5)
BASIC: A graduate, the ‘S from the clue and the abbreviation for in charge

25d    … Upright fellow, by all accounts (4)
PIER: This upright structure sounds like a fellow or contemporary

26d    14‘s hot (4)
HASH: An expansion of ‘s, and the abbreviation for hot together form a synonym of 14a


Thanks to Firefly.  I liked 1 and 4a, 13a, 6d, 7d and 15d.  Which clue(s) lit your fire?



  1. beery hiker
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Enjoyed this one – mostly quite straightforward but with a few tricky ones that took a while. Liked 1a, 1d and 18d.

    Thanks to Kitty and Firefly

  2. halcyon
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Like you Kitty I found this difficult to get into – then after 5d most of it started to fall into place leaving the RH edge. I had 22a but couldn’t see 14a [or 8d] so 26d remained a mystery [along with 21d]. Last to yield was 8 [the botanical meaning is a new one for me].
    Favourite [just the one] is the exceptionally cunning 26d which is tricky even when you’ve determined what the definition [14] should be!

    Many thanks for the blog and thanks to Firefly for the battle.

  3. Gazza
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Firefly and Kitty for the double shift. My kindling was provided by 1a, 3d and 7d. I agree that 18d just doesn’t work – a pity when several other verbs would have worked instead of ‘bump’ (e.g. ‘cycle’).

    • anax
      Posted September 29, 2016 at 7:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      In defence of my good colleague, 18d works fine for me, and Kitty’s reading is correct. The clue is, of course, cleverly deceptive as it forces you to see ‘bump into’ as a unit; however ‘into’ only serves as an insertion indicator. The definition match of bump/run is fine if you add ‘into’ to both. Because ‘into’ is there as the clue’s second word it muddies the waters, but in a misleading and fair way.
      Thanks for the reminder about tomorrow, Gazza – I’d forgotten as usual.

      • Gazza
        Posted September 29, 2016 at 8:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Dean – I should have read Kitty’s hint more carefully. I’m looking forward to your Toughie tomorrow.

  4. dutch
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I like reverse anagrams but wasn’t convinced by the use of “then” as an indicator (1/4a)

    14a is an expression that seems a bit strange and it’s not in the dictionaries – I don’t think of a mess as a place where you would normally be presented a bill – or am I missing something?

    I don’t really see how the definition works in 29/30a, surely there’s a more precise alternative

    I thought “cloven”, which I imagined meant cleft or split, was on the edge as a regular letter indicator

    All that, together with some more vague definitions, meant the puzzle didn’t generate a lot of excitement for me, whereas I normally like Firefly. I enjoyed RayT’s back-pager a lot more today.

    Many thanks Kitty for stepping in with a great blog. I didn’t know angora wool came from rabbits – always thought it was a goat. Do any long-haired cats produce wool?

    And thank you Firefly, hope to be more enthusiastic next time.

    • Physicist
      Posted September 29, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Members of an officers’ or NCOs’ mess certainly do have to pay mess bills.

      • dutch
        Posted September 29, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        yes thanks, have found that out in the meantime – still, it’s not a dictionary phrase and would have been better clued as two entries, in my opinion.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted September 29, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Or there’s no such thing as a free lunch as I’ve heard so often your side of the channel.

        • dutch
          Posted September 29, 2016 at 7:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

          very pleased to hear I can have a free lunch your side of the channel

  5. LetterboxRoy
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hard work for me today. Some great clues, agree entirely with Gazza’s assessment (18d is pushing it, plus 26d is hard to see).

    A very slow start, but once 9d, 5d, 17a & 19a were in, it gave a good start. Didn’t know 13a or 27a, and never thought about the meaning of 21d. Thought 1d a tad convoluted.

    Probably a wise move not entering your other thought for 16d Kitty!

    Overall quite tricky but very satisfying. Thanks to all as ever.

  6. Jeroboam
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Started like a hare, finished like a tortoise; which probably adds up to normal solving time overall. A bit of a curate’s egg, this one, with on balance more enjoyable clues than not. I knew the phrase at 14a so was surprised not to find it in the dictionary. Thanks to Firefly and Kitty for the ever entertaining review. I think I live near 7d.

  7. Gazza
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Elkamere tomorrow. :D

  8. Jane
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 5:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As I mentioned on the other side, I had no recourse to either the ‘bible’ or Mr. G today which meant that there was a bit of checking to do when I returned home – particularly with regard to the new word at 13a, the botanical definition of 8d and the correct spelling of 27a.
    Not sure that I actually knew the definition of 21d and failed miserably on the parsing of 26d. I was, however, familiar with the 14/22 combo.
    Couldn’t figure out 16d and finished up bunging in ‘is sad’ and wondering how on earth to parse it.
    Laugh of the day was completely missing the indicator in 15d and, having read the surface over and over again, thought it was a ‘load of old ……’ and thereby through frustration arrived at exactly the right answer!

    Podium places go to 1/4a & 19a plus 6&7d.

    Thanks to Firefly and to our Girl Tuesday for taking on the double duty for which she will no doubt be handsomely rewarded! Brilliant illustrations for 23a&2d and many thanks for the 6d pic and music clip.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I could easily echo what Dutch said about this puzzle.
    The first clue describes exactly what I thought of it.
    Liked 19a though.
    Thanks to Firefly and to Kitty for her devotion.

  10. Verlaine
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 5:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I have been ill this week so and took a good while over this one… I thought it was just me being subpar but perhaps it was harder than the average panda.

    No 1ac 4ac really though – thought it was a good, solid challenge with some pleasing twists and turns.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    29/30a was something we had not heard of in this usage but a bit of investigoogling confirmed our tentative answer. Not a rapid solve for us and we did find it good fun.
    Thanks Firefly and Kitty.

  12. Salty Dog
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 10:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A lot to wrinkle the brow here, but lots of pleasure amid the frustration: 3*/4*. I enjoyed lots of clues, but in memory of the pain inflicted on my frequently strained finances by years of 14/22 acrosses, l choose that combination as my favourite. I had not realised that the concept was known outside the Armed Forces. Thanks to Firefly, and to Kitty.

  13. Jon_S
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 11:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A mixture of clues that were fairly straightforward, a few trickier ones, and some that were extremely taxing. I couldn’t get the first part of 14/22 for an age, which meant I couldn’t see 26d, and couldn’t get 8d (which looks easy enough in retrospect, but the definition completely threw me TBH). 13ac was one where I could see the answer, but how the wordplay was supposed to lead me there was a bit of a mystery, so thanks for the blog. :-)

  14. Sheffieldsy
    Posted September 29, 2016 at 11:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This one failed to float our boat which is odd because we normally enjoy Firefly a lot. Couldn’t see the point of ‘access’ in 23a. 4*/1.5*.

    Thanks to Kitty and Firefly.

  15. Lesley
    Posted September 30, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink | Reply

    Well, I don’t know what to say! I really struggled with this one, partly because I couldn’t be bothered with the long anagrams. I thought 1d and 16d were very clever – I did need the hints. However, I thought that 25d and 26d were very poor. Nevertheless, thank you guys

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