Toughie 1693

Toughie 1693 by Kcit

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***


Hello and welcome all to the Toughie section of Big Dave’s blog on this perfectly ordinary Wednesday.  I’m back in small-horizoned Surrey after having a whale of a time on holiday in beautiful Anglesey.  Thanks Jane, for being such a wonderful host, tour guide and friend.

I found this puzzle enjoyable but not easy, the difficulty being all in the clueing, with nothing obscure or arcane – just the way I like them.  There are several instances of doing things with single letters, especially the first and last in words (seven of those by my count), and also quite a few insertions and reversals.  Also fine by me, although it does make typing the review a little repetitive in places.

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    Shipping area that’s not included in Scottish TV? (7,7)
ENGLISH CHANNEL: This body of water sounds like a UK television station which excludes Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

10a    Ill-famed hunter almost caught by them? (9)
NOTORIOUS: The huntsman of Greek mythology whom Zeus placed among the stars without his final letter (almost) is inside (caught by) two words (3,2) meaning them

11a    Religious leader? Archbishop of Canterbury, say, covers it ultimately (5)
PETER: A rank of nobility around the last letter (ultimately) of it.  This one took some research to ascertain whether the Archbishop of Canterbury is one of these: he is a Lord Spiritual, otherwise known as a Spiritual Peer, though not every authority would consider these peers

12a    Article in German inspired by this spider? (7)
REDBACK: A reverse reversal.  The first three letters of the answer are a German definite article when read from right to left, while the next four give the indication that they are reversed.  I will spare the arachnophobes among you a picture of the real thing in favour of a sweeter alternative

13a    Murder spy boss over feature of game? (6)
DOMINO: We start with an instruction (2,1,2) to murder 007’s boss.  After this comes the cricketing abbreviation for over to make a spotty (unless it’s the double blank) rectangular piece used in a game (but probably more frequently toppled over for fun:)


15a    Waves certainly moving trailing character on? (4)
SURF: A word meaning certainly with its end letter (trailing character) increased by one, alphabetically speaking (moving … on)

17a    Planner is following version of target set in stone (10)
STRATEGIST: IS from the clue coming after (following) an anagram (version) of TARGET, all this being contained within (set in) the abbreviation for stone

18a    No opening for direct playing by top-ranked performer (10)
RECITALIST: An anagram (playing) of (d)IRECT without its first letter (no opening for) followed by a term meaning the most celebrated or sought after, especially in show business

20a    Eager to promote new joint (4)
KNEE: A synonym of eager with the abbreviation for new promoted, or brought nearer to the head of the word

22a    Former leader in the main returning aboard old chariot? (6)
CAESAR: The reversal (returning) of the main, or the drink, inside (aboard) an old or poetic word for chariot

23a    Ways artillerymen will make revolution in weaponry (7)
ARSENAL: Some narrow streets and the abbreviation for the artillerymen commonly known as the Gunners are to be written backwards (will make revolution)

26a    Dogged policeman letting second go free (5)
UNTIE: Take the informal name of a member of a Canadian police force and drop from the beginning a short word for a short period of time (letting second go)

27a    Where a valley gets filled with one – Switzerland? (9)
AVALANCHE: An all-in-one clue: after the A from the clue, a poetic word for valley contains (gets filled with) a word meaning one and the IVR code for Switzerland

28a    Vaguely monitor delay (about a year) in parliamentary process (5,3,6)
EARLY DAY MOTION: This is an anagram (vaguely) of MONITOR DELAY around (about) A from the clue and an abbreviation for year



2d    No nurse will release name of famous person? (5)
NOTED: After the no from the clue add nurse or care for but leave out (release) the abbreviation for name

3d    It has end twirling to snare a steer’s rear? (6)
LARIAT: Another all-in-one.  The end or hind part reversed (twirling) has inside it (to snare) A from the clue and the final letter (rear) of steer

4d    Has cash register for sale? It’s not shifting (5-5)
STOCK-STILL: Utterly motionless.  Split (6,4) this would mean has for sale (6) a cash register (4)

5d    Point securing second in competition (4)
CUSP: A competition for a trophy containing (securing) an abbreviation for second

6d    Commend item for phone linked to travel (7)
APPROVE: Start with a self-contained program or bit of software for a phone or computer then add a verb meaning to travel or wander freely

7d    Portion of vegetarian diet? I for one will derive sustenance (9)
NUTRITION: A phrase (3,6) which could mean an allowance of some vegetarian food, with A changed to I (I for one).  Since I can also denote one, this felt to me a bit strange.  I had the first three letters down as the portion of the veggie’s diet and was struggling to parse the rest, when Word autocorrected my note of “rition??” – thus giving me my answer.  So, for once, thanks autocorrect!

8d    Novel backstage supremo? (4,2,3,5)
LORD OF THE FLIES: The title of this novel could also describe someone who is master of the area of a theatre above the proscenium from which the scenes etc. are controlled.  I had to check the area of the theatre

9d    Working first with a current University to provide support services (14)
INFRASTRUCTURE: An anagram (working) of FIRST with A CURRENT U(niversity)

14d    Decline involving water power? It’s not really an emergency (5,5)
FALSE ALARM: Decline, (4) containing (involving) the water we saw in the main in 22a, is followed by power (as a noun, either figurative or a branch of the forces; I think it also works as a verb: to equip with weaponry)

16d    Kitchen worker not fully integrated into work routine in Kent town (9)
ROCHESTER: A cook missing his or her final letter (not fully) inside (integrated into) a schedule of work

19d    Hear about old sad story (7)
TRAGEDY: Hear in the legal sense around elderly (which is what I am becoming)

21d    Literary lion: poet, ultimately using oblique style? (6)
ASLANT: The literary lion whose kingdom lies through the wardrobe and the last letter (ultimately) of poet

24d    Contributor to luncheon – a chop or a chip (5)
NACHO: This tortilla chip is found lurking in the clue

25d    Long story, a thing to put you to sleep, on reflection (4)
SAGA: Reverse the A from the clue and an anaesthetic to be inhaled


Thanks to Kcit for the puzzle.  I am finding it hard to choose a favourite, but I have double ticKs by 12a and 4d, with more to be found by 13a, 3d, 19d and 21d.  Which clue(s) lit the candles on your cake?


I may or may not forgive Jane the culprit for spilling the beans about today’s date (I know it was you!).  Thank you to Big Dave for the lovely birthday banner.  I am touched.



  1. beery hiker
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this pretty straightforward, though 22a took me much longer than it should have done and was last in. Liked 10 and 27

    Thanks and Happy Birthday to Kitty and thanks to Kcit

  2. Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It wasn’t Jane!

    • Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hmm. In that case, forgiveness may have to be earned!

  3. Gazza
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Kcit for a very enjoyable puzzle and thanks (and Happy Birthday) to Kitty for the blog. I don’t always enjoy Kcit’s puzzles a great deal but I thought that this one was excellent. My candles were lit by 13a, 20a, 26a and 4d amongst others.

    (‘them’ in 10a is 3,2 rather than 2,3)

    • Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Gazza – I’ve now corrected it.

  4. dutch
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A very happy birthday to our youngest blogger – hope you will be suitably treated (as Theresa May said to great amusement at the start of PM’s questions today)

    Or maybe do the 13a vid thing – looks like a cheap way of getting drunk and falling over.

    Great puzzle from Kcit.

    loved 1a which first had me staring at a map of shipping areas and trying to involve Fastnet.
    enjoyed 13a for the penny-drop moment, as well as 10a
    loads more to like – I was also confused at first by “I for one” – must remember the autocorrect trick, brilliant

    Many thanks Kcit and many thanks Kitty for a great blog, hope you have a fantastic day

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted October 19, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

      We also thought that 1a was going to be something we did not know, Googled a list and went looking for something that would fit. It all fell into place once we had a few checkers though.

      • dutch
        Posted October 19, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

        thank you – a great clue in a great puzzle

  5. halcyon
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hard to get cracking but then a steady and satisfying solve. Lots of excellent clues but my awards go to my last 2 in: 13a [murder spy boss] and 26a [dogged policeman] and also 7d for raising a chuckle.

    Thanks to Kcit and thanks &happy birthday to Kitty.

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good fun, though I fell at the fence on 13A (couldn’t get mojito out of my mind!) and resorted to e-help for 9D. Some parsing escaped me too. Favorite is 27A. Thanks and Happy Birthday to Kitty and thanks to Kcit.

    • Jane
      Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yes – I tried to make mojito work as well!

  7. Jane
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This one took me quite a while and I did need Kitty’s review to help with some of the parsing – 17a where I tried to make a ‘sist’ into a stone, 26a where the ‘second’ wasn’t an ‘S’ and the right way to separate out 13a. All silly oversights on my part.

    8d was an inspired guess before any checkers went in but, like Kitty, I needed to confirm the theatrical reference.
    Plenty to like including 15,20&27a plus 4&19d.

    Thanks to Kcit and to our Birthday Girl Tuesday – won’t pretend that I didn’t go to spill the beans but someone else beat me to it!
    By the way, I’m amazed that the kitty didn’t pounce well before all the 13a’s fell down.

  8. Jeroboam
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I much preferred this to yesterday’s puzzle. I thought the cluing and difficulty levels were exactly right for a midweek Toughie and so found it a very enjoyable solve. Thanks Kcit and Kitty for the reliably entertaining review.

    Not forgetting

  9. Verlaine
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought this was an exemplary puzzle, easy to find routes into, quite tricky to complete, and some proper cryptic chuckles to be had. My favourites were 27a and 13a.

    Sknaht Kcit and happy birthday to both Kitty and my daughter Clara, 4 today!

    • Posted October 19, 2016 at 10:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

      A rather belated happy birthday to Clara – I hope she enjoyed her day.

  10. Jarman Island
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Kcit is rapidly becoming my favourite. Usually very do-able, witty and original. It is a tribute to this puzzle’s excellence that there are so many different favourites above. For the record, mine were “them,” in 10a, Switzerland in 27 and 7. Thanks to Kcit and to Kitty and many happy returns!

  11. LetterboxRoy
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 5:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent puzzle today, even if 3d did defeat me; just couldn’t see it for some reason.

    Happy Birthday Kitty… and thanks for the blog; I think you’ve earned a soupcon of moderation*.

  12. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 6:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We really enjoyed this one. Not a quick solve but one that slowly came apart with the SW corner the last to yield but that might have been because we worked clockwise around the grid.
    Thanks Kcit and thanks and Happy Birthday Kitty.

  13. Una
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very hard to get going , 25d being the first one in and even then it took a while to realise the answer was saga and not a gas.Things picked up smartly after that.
    9d and the dogged policeman and the old leader defeated me.
    However , the rest was very enjoyable.1a is my favourite, although I also liked 13a and 8d.
    Thanks to Kitty and Kcit.
    I hope you have something planned , Kitty.

  14. Jon_S
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A fun puzzle that was easy to get into, but less easy to finish. The NE corner was the last to fall, mostly because of 6d. The clue says phone, and I start thinking about an old fashioned one rather that one of these newfangled smart phones. Dial or cord never were really going to fit in. Perhaps about average difficulty in the end? I haven’t solved many Toughies for a while so it’s hard to say. Liked 12ac especially.

  15. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Happy birthday Kitty.
    And thanks to Kcit for a very enjoyable crossword.
    Last ones in were 3d and 10a and both had a very inventive construction.
    Favourite 20a.
    Thanks to Kitty for the review.
    19d as in the back page is favourite picture.

  16. Hoskins
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 8:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hippy Burpday to teh Kittezh! :)

  17. Salty Dog
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 9:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this a stiffish 3*/3*, and got bogged down in the NW corner (where I weakened through an excess of tennis and a shortage of whisky and resorted to a couple of Kitty-hints). I enjoyed 13a, when I finally spotted it. Thanks to Kcit, and thanks and many happy returns to Kitty.

  18. Posted October 19, 2016 at 10:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes. I won’t litter up the comments section by replying to each of you individually, but be assured that each one was greatly appreciated.

    I really have only had a soupçon of moderation* today, for I have to make myself useful tomorrow. As for Friday – well, I shall be conserving my energies for Saturday!

  19. Lesley
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle which I did this morning. It has been my practice to do puzzles before work the following day. However, I retired yesterday and should have time in the daytime. Hopefully I will be able to contribute more often now to this fun website. As always, thanks guys

    • Posted October 20, 2016 at 8:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Happy retirement, Lesley. We look forward to hearing from you more often – although it seems retirement is no guarantee that you’ll have more free time!

  20. JB
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’m late but I must point out that 16d is a city not a town!

    • Posted October 20, 2016 at 8:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      According to Wikipedia it’s a town and historic city.

  21. Heno
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Kcit and to Kitty for the review and hints. This is the furthest I’ve ever got with a Kcit puzzle. I came to a halt though on the left hand site and needed the hints for 10,12,18,22,26a and 3&16d. Most enjoyable.

  22. Stueby
    Posted October 21, 2016 at 12:26 am | Permalink | Reply

    1a is not a shipping area. Dreadful definition and lacking knowledge and discipline. Landlubber!

    • Deep Threat
      Posted October 21, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink | Reply

      It’s not a sea area in the shipping forecast, but it’s certainly a shipping area – one of the world’s busiest.

    • Jose
      Posted October 21, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

      S. It is a shipping area – the clue has got nothing to do with the sea areas in the shipping forecast.

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