Toughie 1689

Toughie No 1689 by Dada

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Dada is never less than entertaining and there are some very enjoyable clues here, mixed with a few old chestnuts to give us some initial toeholds. Overall there’s nothing too scary for the equines.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Excitement as journalist finally put in copy (11)
STIMULATION – insert the final letter of journalist into a noun meaning copy or mimicry.

9a Strain appropriate in rescue (7)
AIRLIFT – charade of a strain or melody and a verb to appropriate or nick.

10a Hamburger manages to define it? (6)
GERMAN – a clever all-in-one with a hidden answer.

12a Call time, previously knocking back small amount of liquid (7)
DRIBLET – a call (by a tennis umpire, say) is preceded by the reversal of another slang word for time or stretch.

13a Capital — could it be holding small party back? (7)
TBILISI – a question (2,2) meaning ‘could it be?’ contains a small (in more than one sense) political party. Reverse the lot.

14a Probably time for bed, as first of girls ensnared by rakish revolutionary? (5)
NIGHT – the first letter of girls goes inside the reversal of an adjective often qualified as being rake-like.

15a Switch behind cooker (9)
REARRANGE – charade of a behind or backside and a cooker or stove.

17a Criminal suspect silent about one not going straight? (9)
LARCENIST – an anagram (suspect) of SILENT contains something that’s curved.

20a Short of time, you and I (5)
MINUS – the abbreviation for a period of time is followed by a pronoun meaning ‘you and I’ (or, more grammatically correct, ‘you and me’).

22a Futile incarcerating evil criminal (7)
VILLAIN – an adjective meaning futile or pointless contains a noun meaning evil or wickedness.

24a The setter covers soldier, perhaps with gold coat (7)
MANTEAU – the objective pronoun that the setter would use for himself contains a type of soldier insect. After that we need the chemical symbol for gold. I only knew this as a French word but the BRB has it as a woman’s loose gown of the 17c-18c.

25a Offspring refuse to clear up (6)
LITTER – double definition, the first being the offspring of an animal.

26a Agents about to steal painting — it could ruin everything (7)
SPOILER – reverse the abbreviation for a company’s sales agents and insert a type of painting.

27a Game changer, male emperor (11)
CHARLEMAGNE – I’ve underlined the whole clue here as this emperor had a major effect on the course of European history, so I think this is a semi-all-in-one. It’s an anagram (game, in the sense of spirited?) of CHANGER MALE.

Down Clues

2d One of three allowed to follow expedition (7)
TRIPLET – a verb meaning allowed follows an expedition.

3d A sticky substance injected into misshapen items, bones (9)
METATARSI – insert A and a black sticky substance into an anagram (misshapen) of ITEMS.

4d Kosher escape? (5)
LEGIT – split the answer 3,2 for an informal way of saying to escape or run away.

5d Piece of cake kennelling stray dog (7)
TERRIER – put a section or layer of cake around (kennelling) a verb to stray or transgress.

6d Address a punishment ultimately, legendary character belted around? (7)
ORATION – A and the ultimate letter of punishment are surrounded by the mythological Greek hunter who has a constellation, including three stars in a row referred to as his belt, named after him.

7d Passing affection in league (4,2,5)
HAND IN GLOVE – split the answer 7,4 and you have synonyms for ‘passing’ and ‘affection’.

8d Tiresome judicial process (6)
TRYING – double definition.

11d Sign of a product with dinosaur as American tourist attraction (5,6)
TIMES SQUARE – the sign used in mathematics to calculate a product is followed by a dinosaur or stick-in-the-mud.

16d Plant among bonsais I met rambling to the north (9)
ARTEMISIA – hidden and reversed in the clue.

18d Just short spiked with another drink, Elizabeth’s favourite? (7)
RALEIGH – an adjective meaning just or equitable without its last letter contains an alcoholic drink.

19d One no longer playing a part as an unreasonably demanding type? (7)
EXACTOR – split the answer 2,5 and you have a no-longer working thespian. A very old chestnut.

20d Start of the working week, thus getting on the blower (7)
MONSOON – string together the abbreviation for the first day of the working week, an adverb meaning thus and ON.

21d Old record player one’s eyed (6)
NEEDLE – I’m taking this to be a cryptic definition. It’s something needed to play a vinyl record.

23d Conductor‘s audacity (5)
NERVE – double definition, the first being something in the body which conducts or transmits impulses.

I’ll list 13a, 14a, 20a, 5d and 11d as enjoyable clues but my favourite is 27a. Which one(s) provided your 1a?


  1. dutch
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    21d, I think one’s eyed is a separate definition for the sewing implement

    I enjoyed the puzzle though I was surprised at the the chestnuts (1a, 15a, 25a, 19d – well actually I liked the surface in 25a)

    Then there were some “oh really?” clues where the final parsing wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be and I had to find an alternative that worked (Call in 12a, could it be in 13a)

    I remember (some time ago) thinking it was funny that McDonalds in Hamburg had a big sign “Hamburger Restaurant”. But somehow I wanted “it” in 1a to be him or her, so that the Hamburger in question could be a person, which I thought might have been the intention?

    Many thanks Dada and many thanks Gazza for great review and pics that made me laugh

    • Gazza
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I did dither for some time on whether 21d is a cryptic definition or a double definition and eventually plumped for the first, because if it’s a double definition both definitions are really the same thing.

      • dutch
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

        ah, I don’t think I was thinking quite that old a record player where it would have been more literal, maybe more an “old-record” player, but I guess you have a point (ha ha)

  2. Jeroboam
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four little hours. After yesterday this seemed particularly enjoyable. 16d is a lesson in cluing a more obscure word. Quite scary that the Boomtown Rats song was originally a hit over 37 years ago!. Thanks Dada and Gazza.

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I needed Google for 13A and it took a while to parse 12A. 11D was write in and then parse. Loved 6D, 11D (when I parsed it) and 21D. Thanks Dada and Gazza.

  4. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Held up a bit in the NW toying with “afflict” in 9a and “droplet” in 12a until I managed to parse them both.
    The rest didn’t cause much trouble and I enjoyed the solve.
    Liked 17a and 24a and favourite is 4d.
    Thanks to Dada and to Gazza.

  5. Verlaine
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This one had a couple more chuckles than yesterday but what you gain on those roundabouts you lose on the swings of interesting new vocab. Admittedly
    there was some excellently terse cluing here which is not something I much associate with yesterday’s setter.

    I thought was a very straightforward middle-of-the-road and middle-of-the-week puzzle, exactly what is needed to fill its niche. Thanks Dada/Gazza.

    A record player 21d isn’t eyed in the same way as a sewing 21d is, is it (certainly you don’t need to thread one), does that suggest it’s a double def?

    • Gazza
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      As I said above I wasn’t at all sure about 21d but if it is meant as a double definition I don’t think it’s a very good one. A double definition, in my opinion, should have two distinct meanings (like 25a) rather than slight variations on the same thing.

      • Verlaine
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I guess the two 21d do share similarities (small, pointy) but don’t try to use either of them to do the other’s job…

  6. LetterboxRoy
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very good puzzle today, lots to like. Had a bit of a hard time nailing the precise parsing to give me the spellings of 3d & 13a, was reluctant to put in 12a until the last. Couldn’t see 7d at all until I had most checkers and I did check some of my answers as I went along.

    27a nearly misled me, 18d was slow to realise, too. I also (Dutch) read 21d as a double def.

    Old chestnuts at 4d, 8d & 19d; favourites 27a & 20d.

    Overall quite a workout, but a very enjoyable one, so I’ll grace it with a ***+/****

    Thanks to Dada & Gazza, and all else who contribute.

  7. Kath
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Apart from a couple of problems this went surprisingly well until I got down to the bottom right corner where it all went horribly wrong.
    I was completely fixated on the 26a ‘painting’ being ‘art’ and couldn’t get beyond that and I failed totally with 24a and, rather stupidly, 21d. Oh dear.
    I’ve really enjoyed this crossword even though I couldn’t quite finish it.
    I liked 25a (very true!) and my favourite was 7d.
    With thanks to Dada for the crossword and to Gazza for the hints and pics.

  8. halcyon
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A step up from yesterday – but just the one. The only clues to raise a smile were 20a [short of] and 11d [sign of a product].
    Anyone have any idea what “to steal” is doing in 26a?

    Thanks to Gazza and Dada. BTW vinyl is played with a stylus, shellac with a needle.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Halcyon,
      You’ll find that “to steal” is the containment indicator as ” to pocket” for example.

      • halcyon
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks J-L, but whilst I can see “pocket”as “containing something” I’m finding it difficult to imagine “steal” having the same sense of containment . It relies on “pocket” having 2 meanings: one means to nick/pinch and the other means to put inside.If you see where I’m coming from, “steal” does not mean “put inside” because the meanings of “pocket” to which each is related are different.

      • halcyon
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

        It’s also redundant as far as the wordplay is concerned. “Agents about painting” is sufficient – but of course the surface is then rubbish. There’s a lot of it about.

        • LetterboxRoy
          Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

          The ‘about’ indicates the reversal of the outer part, the ‘steal’ means takes in or ‘pockets’, ‘oil’.
          Otherwise the ‘about’ would be doing double duty, ie there would be no indicator for the reversal of the outer part, I think.

          • halcyon
            Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Sorry LBR [and J-LC] Ignore my second post. I’d forgotten about the reversal. But the comment in my first post stands. Just because steal = pocket and pocket = put inside/take in doesn’t mean that steal = put inside /take in. Because the 2 meanings of pocket are different.

    • dutch
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

      actually i didn’t like “sign of a product”

      i think a product is the result of a multiplication, the sign comes way before that.

      • Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Ok, but it’s the sign of (or used for) making a product. Close enough for me (but then, I’m in a good mood).

  9. Gazza
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Shamus tomorrow.

  10. Sheffieldsy
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We enjoyed this, 3*/3*, though this may be tempered by doing it in the pub over an early livener or three and doing the back pager first. However, no hints needed although we did find this a bit harder than yesterday’s toughie.

    We liked 13a (good penny-drop moment when the precise parsing became apparent), 4d for a good chuckle and 28d.

    Thanks to Gazza and Dada.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good fun as ever from this setter. It all went together in a reasonable time with lots of chuckles along the way. We read the anagram indicator in 27a (game) as having the meaning of lame or deformed but either works.
    Thanks Dada and Gazza.

  12. Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Most of this was at a nice level of difficulty for me, but I gave in with 12a and 13a unsolved and looked at the blog.

    I had 21d down as a double definition. I liked the sign of a product (11d). 14a is my favourite.

    Thanks to Dada and Gazza. Great cartoons. :good:

  13. Jane
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Completely defeated by 13a despite having come up with the right elements and rather slow to get 12a. Beyond those, it was the SE corner that took the longest time.
    Favourite was 4d, despite LetterboxRoy’s assertion that it’s an old chestnut.

    Enjoyed the solve, mostly completed whilst sitting in the car as Kitty collected cowrie shells off the beach!

    Thanks to Dada and to Gazza for pointing out a couple of nuances I’d missed. Liked the pic. of the mother hen at 25a.

    • LetterboxRoy
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It looks like the weather is not as kind as it was during my visit to your neck of the woods in September, but I hope you’re both having an enjoyable time anyway. Personally, I like a stomp in drizzle in glorious wilderness, followed by some generous moderation*.

      • Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

        The weather is being amazingly kind actually, LBRoy. It’s been glorious, and set to continue fair for a few more days.

        I do also enjoy stomping about in the rain sometimes, but am glad to be able to explore Anglesey without getting drowned (except in that generous moderation*).

        • LetterboxRoy
          Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Excellent! Good for you; especially after your extra duties recently. Very much hope to see our blogger friend back soon.

          Enjoy the sea air and night-time, cloudless skies whilst indulging in moderation*.


  14. Heno
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 9:17 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Dada and to Gazza for the review and hints. Hooray, a Toughie completion at last! I’m not worried that it was at the easy end of the Toughie spectrum. Most enjoyable, I could see the humour, especially in 4&8d. Favourite was 12a. Last in was 13a, which I had no idea of how to spell it, but eventually managed to unravel the wordplay. Was 3*/4* for me.

    • Gazza
      Posted October 13, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink | Reply

      Well done, Heno. There’ll be no stopping you now.

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