Toughie 1686

Toughie No 1686 by Beam

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Thanks to Kitty for filling in last Thursday in her usual inimitable way. Today’s puzzle was one of two halves as far as I was concerned. The left-hand side went in easily but I struggled with the right-hand side. I didn’t help myself by filling in the answer to 19D in the space for 22D and not realising for quite some time. So I’ a difficulty rating of 2* for one half and 4* for the other which averages out at 3*

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Honour City men during night out (8)
DECORATE: ‘To honour’ is obtained by putting the postcode for the City of London and an abbreviation denoting members of the armed forces not holding commissions (men) inside a romantic night out

9a    Grant immunity to former politician in vacant employment (6)
EXEMPT: ‘Former’ + a politician inside the first and last letters of EmploymenT

10a    Race and then endlessly suffer (4)
ACHE: Remove both ends of the words ‘rACe’ and ‘tHEn’

11a    Go off returning hire car carrying one driving (10)
TORRENTIAL: A reversal of ‘to go off (decay)’ + something hired (e.g. a car) round I (one) = driving (like rain)

12a    ‘No … maybe … single?’ Wicket! Coming back with duck (6)
WIGEON: A reversal of NO, an abbreviation for ‘for example’ or ‘maybe’, I (single) and W (wicket)

14a    Heady ride’s half over in train (8)
STIRRING: A reversal of RI (half of RIDE) inside a train, succession, file or series

15a    Doctor with bandage’s last to cover gash’s infection (6)
GRIPPE: An abbreviation for the family doctor and E (last letter of bandage) round a gash = an old term for influenza

17a    Command heartless animal to bite that man (6)
BEHEST: A command = an animal (5) with the middle letter removed round a pronoun meaning ‘that man’

20a    Abrupt musical turned one of its stars old (8)
STACCATO: A musical term meaning ‘abrupt’ = a reversal of the title of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical + one of the characters in that musical + O (old)

22a    Swine’s practically obscene going after bird (6)
CURLEW: A swine or scoundrel + ‘obscene’ with the last letter removed = a wading bird seen on moorland

23a    Observation, gripping pulpit, occasionally giving praise (10)
COMPLIMENT: An observation goes round alternate letters of PuLpIt

24a    Depression‘s low depth (4)
MOOD: ‘To low (like a cow)’ + D (depth)

25a    Unconcerned seeing part of tomb lit hellishly (6)
BLITHE: Hidden in tomB LIT HELlishly

26a    Final passage in European Union not quite complete (8)
EVENTUAL: A passage inside EU (European Union) + ‘complete’ with the last letter removed


1d    Article admits every individual sharing hard exercise … (8)
TEACHING: An article (5) goes round ‘every individual’ with the letter H (hard) from both parts being shared

2d    … endured / pain? (4)
BORE: 2 meanings: endured/ a pain (something or someone that wearies)

3d    Checked design of Cubist Art analytically (6)
TARTAN: Hidden in CudisT ART ANalytically

4d    Show note about singer covering entry for Eurovision (8)
TELEVISE: ‘To show (on TV)’ = a note (2) round a singer (the King of Rock and Roll) round E (first letter of Eurovision

5d    Old, certainly early, oddly in hurry (10)
YESTERYEAR: A reply meaning ok or certainly then a verb to hurry containing the odd letters of ‘early’ [I’m not quite sure what happened there – it’s not the first time that Bufo’s computer has “lost” a clue.  I have used the hint from Gazza’s comment.  BD]

6d    Small problem ricking an inflamed neck initially? (6)
SPRAIN: The first letters of Small Problem Ricking An Inflamed Neck

8d    Trespasser gets up exposing escape route (6)
EGRESS: Hidden in reverse in TrespaSSER GEts

13d    See majestic old crown son’s wearing (10)
EPISCOPATE: A see or bishopric = ‘majestic’, O (old) and the crown of the head round S (son)

16d    Hypocrite‘s sanctimonious regard, almost stern inside (8)
PHARISEE: A hypocritical person (from an ancient Jewish sect) = ‘sanctimonious’ (2) and ‘to regard’ (3) round ‘stern’ or ‘severe’ with the last letter removed

18d    Sober support nearly complete imbibing dram (8)
TEETOTAL: A support for a golf ball + ‘complete’ with the last letter removed round a dram(of whisky)

19d    Stick about and start to open present (6)
COHERE: The single letter abbreviation meaning ‘about’ + O (old) + ‘present’ or ‘in attendance’

21d    Internet finally rumbles internet pests (6)
TROLLS: The last letter of Internet + ‘rumbles’

22d    States offering housing for India’s urban centres (6)
CITIES: ‘States’ round I (India)

24d    Fancy this compiler’s tough on the outside (4)
MYTH: ‘This compiler’s’ or ‘belonging to this compiler’+ the first and last letters of Tough. At first I wondered whether fancy was a slang term for crystal meth or some other variety of meth but it turned out not to be


  1. Gilbert
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink | Reply


    • Gazza
      Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

      What would your hint for it be?

  2. dutch
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    also found right hand side much harder.

    Many thanks bufo and beam

    • LetterboxRoy
      Posted October 7, 2016 at 3:04 am | Permalink | Reply

      Strangely, I started in top right, but after that it was a patchwork for me, more like filling in a Sudoku.

  3. Lis
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What happened to 5down?

    • Gazza
      Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Your comment went into moderation because you’ve changed your alias from your previous one. Both should work from now on.
      Why not have a go at writing a hint for 5d?

  4. Physicist
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I really enjoyed this one; not too difficult, with some fun clues. Favourite was 12a; very clever.

  5. Lis
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I couldn’t solve it so sorry cant do
    5 down
    Needed your o so useful hints

    • Gazza
      Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      A reply meaning ok or certainly then a verb to hurry containing the odd letters of ‘early’. The definition is ‘old’.

      • dutch
        Posted October 6, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

        the answer is a noun – i had to convince myself that worked ok with old in that meaning

        • Gazza
          Posted October 6, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

          As Tennyson wrote:
          “Ring out the old, ring in the new,
          Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
          The year is going, let him go;
          Ring out the false, ring in the true.”

        • Verlaine
          Posted October 6, 2016 at 8:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

          It’s substitutable in the phrases e.g. “men of old”, “men of yesteryear”.

  6. Lis
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    So simply when you see it

    • Gazza
      Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

      When you’re replying to a comment it’s best to use the ‘reply’ button (as I have here) so that all related comments stay together in the same thread.

      • Lis
        Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks will do

  7. Jeroboam
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This was one those crosswords which at first pass looked tricky but after a few answers went in, became a steady and not too taxing solve. A number of today’s commenters are showing that writing the tips and hints is not as easy as some may think it is. So thanks firstly to Bufo and also to Beam for the puzzle.

  8. Expat Chris
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Not too bad considering I’m very out of practice. I needed hints for 5D (Thanks, Gazza), 22D and 26A. Kicking myself for not getting the latter two. 12A made me smile so that’s my favorite. Thanks Bufo and Beam.

    • Jane
      Posted October 6, 2016 at 7:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

      So nice to see you back, Chris. How was the wedding?

      • Expat Chris
        Posted October 6, 2016 at 10:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks. It’s nice to be back in my usual routine though I miss the absolute peace of a village atmosphere where all you hear in the early morning is pigeons cooing and the clip clop of horse’s hooves. The wedding was fabulous, but I have to admit I didn’t last for the dancing!

        • Jane
          Posted October 6, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Whenever anyone makes that sort of comment, it always put me in mind of what I thought was one of Peter Kay’s best sketches – the ‘older’ generation dancing at wedding parties!
          The village sounds idyllic – did it not make you homesick for the ‘mother country’?

          • Expat Chris
            Posted October 6, 2016 at 11:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

            In some respects, but America has been home for a long time now. Each country has something special to offer and I’m lucky that I have been able to experience both sides of the pond in depth.

  9. Jezza
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A similar solving experience to Bufo, where the right-hand side was more of a struggle. I also toyed with meth for a while at 24d.
    Thanks to Beam, and to Bufo.

    • andy
      Posted October 6, 2016 at 9:12 pm | Permalink | Reply


  10. Jane
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another excellent puzzle from my favourite setter – I’ll even forgive the cricket clue as the answer was a bird!
    Impossible as ever to pick a favourite, but 11a and 24d probably raised the biggest smiles.

    Devotions to Mr. T and many thanks to Bufo – hope you enjoyed your holiday.

  11. pommers
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed this a lot. Just tricky enough to keep up the interest level without causing brain-ache. Unlike others I didn’t find the left harder than the right but more the top harder than the bottom.

    Favourite has to be 12a because it’s silly but I’ve heard similar stuff shouted between batsmen when trying to decide if a run’s possible but after all that waste of time if they go for it it usually results in a run out, possibly for a duck.

    Thanks to Beam and Bufo.

  12. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 7:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We had a major struggle with 4d. The definition was quite ‘open’, the singer could have been any one of thousands of humans or avians, the note was a second choice spelling option in BRB and all the checkers were unhelpful letters E E I E. However we did eventually manage to sort it all out correctly. 5d was the other clue that took us some time so the NE corner was our last and hardest. Good fun as usual from Beam and much enjoyed. Clue word count spot on again.
    Thanks Beam and Bufo.

  13. RayT
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Evening all. Setter reporting for duty with thanks to Bufo for the review and to all for your comments.


    • Jane
      Posted October 6, 2016 at 8:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Good evening, Mr. T and thank you for another most enjoyable puzzle. I was wondering – roughly how long does it take you to compile one of your offerings? I can’t imagine how you manage to find the time alongside your teaching duties.

  14. Salty Dog
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 10:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m afraid I lost patience and resorted to some hints. Nothing wrong with the puzzle; I’m just not in the right mood to persevere with it. I suppose it’s 3.5*/3* or thereabouts, and I liked 7a. Thanks to Ray T/Beam, and to Bufo.

  15. Sheffieldsy
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 10:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This took us two sittings to crack, but without need of hints. Thought 1d was excellent but favourite was 11a. Lots of really nice clues in this puzzle.
    We agree with Bufo’s ratings, and might even award 3.5* for enjoyment, so thanks to him/her and to Ray T for another fine crossword

  16. LetterboxRoy
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 2:53 am | Permalink | Reply

    Very good. Knew I din’t know 16d, so cheated and only didn’t put in 24d because I read that my suspected answer was wrong.

    Apart from those a steady, if somewhat thoughtful, plod. Had a quick look for Nina, but only found ‘see’ across the bottom of 13d.

    I had to write out 12a to make any sense of it; a baffling surface. ***/****

    Nice to see Mr T drop in, and with that, thanks to all as ever.

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