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Toughie 2136

Toughie No 2136 by Musaeus

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hi everyone.  I hope life is treating you well.  The new week of Toughies kicks off with a Musaeus puzzle, his fourth in this series.  For the most part, things went along in a manner typical of a puzzle at the gentler end of (although on) the Toughie spectrum, but I had a real tussle with a few.  After dithering over the ratings, I split the difference.  Similarly for enjoyment: I found this inventive and a bit different and was really enjoying it, but while staring at the last answers with unhelpful checking letters, my inner grump may have voiced a few things which I won’t publish here!  I’ll concede enough to Miss Grumpitty to mention that four five-letter answers had only two checked letters, and those were all vowels.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the Είναι όλα ελληνικά για μένα! buttons.  As usual you may click on pictures to enlarge them or uncover hidden extras.



7a    Usual cost for superior  studio (9)
PARAMOUNT:  Usual (3) followed by the sum something costs

8a    How well-stocked steamers leave port next to Lima? (5)
LADEN:  The letter encoded by Lima in radio communications goes next to a port in Yemen

10a   Need neuter, I suppose (6)
DESIRE:  Well I suppose this could, split (2-4), mean to neuter since the (4) part of that is a verb meaning to father

11a   Writer about to accept colour of a boat carrying plenty of money (3-5)
PEA-GREEN:  A writing implement around (about) to accept or assent to

12a   Plan what’s central to official diplomacy on the left (6)
TACTIC:  Diplomacy is written on the left of the central letters of (what’s central to) official

14a   Go get a new Pirelli for example (6)
RETIRE:  To withdraw or retreat.  Split (2-4) this could mean get a new outer wheel component, but we need the American spelling.  It’s a shame because the setter could have used Goodyear to cover this

16a   Book one boat or another (4)
BARK:  An abbreviation for book added to the type of boat built by Noah gives us another type of boat

17a   Audacity shown by brother facing fool (5)
BRASS:  An abbreviation for brother next to (facing) an idiot

18a   Check back for scores (4)
POTS:  Check or stem, reversed (back).  Scores as in many

19a   Stroke troubles son (6)
CARESS:  Some worries plus the abbreviation for son

21a   A type of shoe leather I’ll leave forgiving (6)
PATENT:  I removed from (‘ll leave) a word meaning understanding or tolerant

24a   It follows first sign of courage in desperate action (8)
CITATION:  In an anagram of (desperate) ACTION, IT follows the first letter of courage.  … rather obliquely defined unless I’m missing something  Edit (I was indeed missing something): the answer is an official recognition of achievement (definition 2 here).  Thanks to Dutch and Gazza

26a   Get it by feeling temperature, dressed by northerner (6)
INTUIT:  An abbreviation for temperature inside (dressed by) an indigenous Arctic inhabitant

27a   Where you’ll see spray surround English lake (5)
LAPEL:  This was the one that drove me crazy.  The spray is a buttonhole, and it’s a charade of surround and abbreviations for English and for lake

28a   Place for trying vintage bucket, right for yard (3,6)
OLD BAILEY:  The first word means vintage; the second is a bucket (for scooping water out of a boat) in which R(ight) has been replaced with, or substituted for Y(ard)



1d    Behind vote for sap (5)
LATEX:  Behind time, and then the letter denoting a vote

2d    Charge one off waiting place (4,4)
TAXI RANK:  A charade of a levy, the Roman numeral one, and off or rotten

3d    Decent poems in Montana (6)
MODEST:  Some poems inside the state abbreviation for Montana

4d    Still starting to step down (4)
SNAP:  The still is a photo.  The first letter of (starting to) step is followed by a downy covering or surface

5d    Sweetener in cuppa, rejecting hospital tosh (6)
CARROT:  Informal words for tea, without H (rejecting hospital), and for rubbish or nonsense

6d    Spread around, enter somehow — get it? (9)
PENETRATE:  A meat spread around an anagram (… somehow) of ENTER.  Get it meaning sink in or understand (although a much cruder interpretation of the answer is available)

9d    Rule over what Russian car shows — an Arctic beast (6)
WALRUS:  Rule or regulation, reversed (over), plus the IVR code for Russia, nicely indicated

13d   Incline to prop up Conservative pain (5)
CRAMP:  A slope after (to prop up, in a down clue) an abbreviation for Conservative

15d   I star with man, a fantastically good sort (9)
SAMARITAN:  An anagram (… fantastically) of I STAR with MAN A

17d   Stiffener in old-style boot (6)
BUSKIN:  The stiffener is a piece of bone, wood or steel in the front of a corset, or the corset itself.  Follow it with IN from the clue to get this boot worn in ancient times.  I didn’t know the boot and had forgotten the stiffener, so this was another one which caused me trouble

18d   Twenty-five quid dog — a fashion accessory (of sorts) (8)
PONYTAIL:  Slang for twenty-five quid plus a verb to dog or follow

20d   Cock-a-hoop about former education (6)
ELATED:  An abbreviation for education goes about a word meaning former

22d   One pound in tax? It’ll go over your head (6)
TRILBY:  The Roman one and the Latin-derived abbreviation for pound, both inside tax or test.  This may go on your head, because it’s a hat

23d   Scrooge‘s bloke turning a blind eye to what gets trouble started (5)
MISER:  A man (from the title prefixed to a man’s name) without (turning a blind eye to) the first letter (what gets … started) of trouble

25d   Letter used by Tsipras cleared liberal’s phoney letter (4)
NULL:  The name of a letter of the Greek alphabet (used by Tsipras) followed by liberal without its internal letters (cleared)


Thanks to Musaeus.  I’ve run out of time to choose favourites, so will just ask you: what did you like?


These hints and tips are for anyone who might find them of use.  The asides and illustrations are to add a personal perspective and some colour.  The forum is for everyone.  Please do leave a comment if you need anything clarified, have any corrections or suggestions, or if there’s anything else you’d like to say.


24 comments on “Toughie 2136

  1. An unfamiliar setter for me, and I had wavelength issues with this one and haven’t finished it yet. Probably just not thinking straight…

    Thanks to Kitty and Musaeus.

    1. I wonder if the whole-clue definition here is the “official recognition of achievement” one (see brb).

  2. I had several problems with this (specially with 1d, 17d and 27a) and ended up revealing a couple of letters just to get it finished.
    I thought the substitution in 28a seemed to be the wrong way round and I wasn’t sure why ‘(of sorts)’ appeared in 18d.
    I assumed that the 24a citation was a commendation for bravery in military action.
    My favourite clue was 2d.
    Thanks to Musaeus and Kitty.

  3. I had much the same experience – except I couldn’t finish it.!
    A good start, then stuck on the last few. Didn’t like 24a, really didn’t like 10a and had never heard of 17d, so needed your help Kitty.
    Mixed feelings about this puzzle!
    Thanks to Kitty and Musaeus.

    1. Sorry – I was investigating why the video I wanted to include wouldn’t play, and had a brain fail. They should be back now.

  4. 28a Agree with Gazza. It’s yard for right not as the clue has it.
    25d beat me despite a Google search revealing Tsipras as a Greek. I was also beaten by 26a as I thought the Eskimo had 2 n’s
    Favourite? 11a A friend for Kitty!
    Thank you to setter and blogger.

  5. I did not get on well with this, and for me it was a good deal more than *** in difficulty and a good deal less than *** for enjoyment. After several goes, I got about three quarters of it, with the most empty entries in the NE corner. For me, the grid made this exponentially more difficult (16, was it?, clues with unchecked first letters (I kept getting a different number every time I counted)). Then, add to the grid, the checkers that did exist there were often less than helpful (it made 27a (*e*e*) and and 1d (*a*e*), for example, much more challenging). Just for good measure there were some things that I found obscure – for example I had heard of neither the stiffener nor the boot in 17d. I’m afraid this puzzle wasn’t really for me. Thanks anyway to Musaeus and Kitty.

  6. This started well and then sucked me into a longer solve than I had planned for. All went in eventually, but after multiple readings of the definitions in the BRB I can’t really justify 25 down. I can just about stretch invalid to phoney, but how does the final ‘letter’ work?

  7. A google definition search just answered my question about 25 down. The particular definition is not in my 1998 edition of the BRB or in the free online version,but perhaps it is in later editions?

  8. Crikey – it is only Tuesday, isn’t it?!!
    Had all manner of problems with 14a’s un-indicated Americanism, not to mention the 27a spray. As for 23 & 25d, don’t even get me started!

    17d was OK because I accepted from the outset that I’d have to look up the boots, although the stiffener came as a bit of a sting in the tail.

    I did like 10a and my favourite was the owl and the pussy cat – earworm at no extra charge!

    Thanks to Musaeus and to our hard-working Girl Tuesday for the blog.

  9. The old boot was tough, it seems that even the Bard only used it once.

    Then I must be thy lady: but I know
    When thou hast stolen away from fairy land,
    And in the shape of Corin sat all day,
    Playing on pipes of corn and versing love
    To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
    Come from the farthest Steppe of India?
    But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
    Your buskin’d mistress and your warrior love,
    To Theseus must be wedded, and you come
    To give their bed joy and prosperity.

    1. Oddly enough this was one word that floated up from my subconscious without difficulty. Must have met it sometime in an historical novel.

  10. Our reaction when we were solving was “This is a lot harder than we are used to seeing on a Tuesday” and it did feel to be a bit of a grind. We did eventually get it all sorted, with the last act a real penny drop moment when we realised what ‘still’ was in 4d.
    Thanks Musaeus and Kitty

  11. 17d and 27d unfinished, thought it was tougher than a 3*. Can’t remember Kitty giving above 3*! Some good and some rather odd clues, but I’ve never tried setting one of these things, so thanks to Musaeus.

  12. My apologies – I clearly went too low with the difficulty rating on this one. It’s strange because I tend to err on the high side of things when in doubt, but today was tricky to judge because I had little trouble with the majority of it, just a few bits.

    Al, the difficulty range of Toughies is very wide, and Tuesday ones are almost always below average (Toughie) difficulty. When I’ve covered other days, you’ll usually find ratings higher than 3*.

  13. 14a ??? I came to this late and I didn’t have the will to carry on after solving this one.

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