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Toughie 100010

Toughie No 100010 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Seasonal felicitations to all you lovely setters, bloggers, solvers and lurkers.  I hope you are having the kind of time that you wish.  If not, it’ll be over soon.

Firefly has served up a feast of a puzzle with all the … well, that will become clear.

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



1a    First of particularly intriguing gifts staying under wraps for a 9 (4,2,8)
PIGS IN BLANKETS:  The first letters of four words of the clue followed by a phrase meaning wrapped up inside some coverings (under wraps)

9a    Time to put in a call about Jimmy’s interior decoration (8)
TRIMMING:  T (time) plus a verb to call on the phone around (about) the inner letters of Jimmy (Jimmy’s interior)

10a   See 26 Across

12a   Conscientious editor somewhat worn (4)
USED:  Included in the first two words of the clue (somewhat) is a word meaning not new.  This made me smile as I imagine our conscientious editor might be feeling a little worn out after quite a year.  His cat, meanwhile, might be feeling just worn:

13a   Mean to bowl Don out, letting India in (4,4,2)
BOIL DOWN TO:  An anagram (… out) of TO BOWL DON containing the letter encoded by India in the NATO alphabet

15a   How to work a pantomime horse? (2,6)
IN TANDEM:  A description of the way of operating a pantomime horse, for example, or a bicycle made for two.  The front end of the horse should be aware of where the back end is, but still the audience insist on repeatedly hollering the reminder: “(s)he’s behind you!”

16a   Forced to stand up inside Palladium (6)
PRISED:  A four-letter word to stand up goes inside the chemical symbol of palladium

18a   Maybe Hamish — back home — can give warning (6)
TOCSIN:  Hamish is an example of a person of a particular nationality, who is reversed (back) and followed by our usual two-letter word for (at) home

20a   Mister Scrooge behind at nothing? (8)
ATOMISER:  A scrooge goes after (behind) the combination of AT from the clue and O (nothing)

23a   Tumbled head first over Victor’s car part (5,5)
DRIVE SHAFT:  An anagram of (tumbled) HEAD FIRST around (over) the letter encoded by victor in the NATO alphabet

24a   Single-handed mariner’s nemesis, oddly featured in cartouch (4)
CROC:  Letters at the odd-numbered positions of (oddly featured in) cartouch.  The mariner is the one in Peter Pan

26a &10a   Double brass for a 9? (5,5)
BREAD SAUCE:  A slang term for money (brass) plus a synonym of cheek or impudence (brass)

27a   Specify Pinot, perhaps? (5,3)
POINT OUT:  An inverse clue, in which an anagram of PINOT is followed by an anagram indicator.  Don’t mind if I do! … but if you’d prefer a beer, how about reinbeer?

28a   Arrangement of ‘Silent Night’ not hard, but needing a head for learning — i.e. brains! (14)
INTELLIGENTSIA:  An anagram (arrangement) of SILENT NIGHT without H (hard, of pencils) but with A (from the clue), the first letter of (head for) learning and I.E. (also from the clue) included



2d    Queen wears last word in great clothing (7)
GARMENT:  A single-letter abbreviation from the Latin for queen goes inside (wears) the last word (especially of a prayer); this is then all placed inside an abbreviation for great

3d    A measure of William Blake’s work? (4)
IAMB:  This poetic measure is contained in the clue

4d    Hit the roof with partner after conclusions taken from lab to FBI (4,4)
BOIL OVER:  After the final letters of (conclusions taken from) the last three words of the clue, we have a romantic partner

5d    Seasonal harbingers perched on trees (6)
ANGELS:  A cryptic definition of the bringers of tidings in the Christmas story

6d    Skis go awry with crash; son mouthed ‘Greetings’? (10)
KISSOGRAMS:  SKIS GO anagrammed (awry), and then crash or hit plus the genealogical abbreviation for son

7d    Skivers can be mostly honest workers (7)
TRUANTS:  Most of a word meaning honest followed by some worker insects 

8d    Invaluable specification for Vincent’s successor? (6,5)
BEYOND PRICE:  The successor of American actor Vincent might be described thus

11d   Rowing? Take out a loan (3,4,4)
RUN INTO DEBT:  Another reverse clue.  The first word of the answer can be abbreviated to R, and the rest of it gives owing

14d   Say performance is coming up to ‘not out’ — this could be player’s downfall (6,4)
INSIDE EDGE:  The combination of the Latin-derived abbreviation for example (say), a performance or act, and IS from the clue, reversed (coming up, in a down clue) to a word meaning “not out”

17d   Tricky broadcast during carol for 9 (8)
STUFFING:  Four letters which sound like (… broadcast) tricky or hard inside (during) a verb to carol

19d   Interrupt bells during … (5,2)
CHIME IN:  Bells (5) plus during (2)

21d   … quiet retreat held in Saint Agnes’ basement for a 9 (7)
SPROUTS:  The musical abbreviation for quiet and retreat (4) go between (held in) the single-letter abbreviation for Saint and the final letter of Agnes (Agnes’ basement)

22d   Tip for Christmas — husband to take off loud top for service! (6)
CHAPEL:  A charade of the first letter of (tip for) Christmas, an abbreviation for husband, to take off or imitate (3), and the first letter of loud (loud top)

25d   Heads up for what a cracker may do? (4)
STUN:  An informal term for heads reversed (up).  The cracker is a knockout, not the type containing some tat, a hat and a bad joke.  Apparently cracker jokes are deliberately unfunny so that people can all join in even though humour varies widely: not everyone will laugh at a good joke, but everyone can groan at a bad one.


Thanks to firefly for the puzzle and 9as.  Some really clever seasonal references here.  I also liked the use of “Mister” in 20a and the single-handed mariner of 24a.

I hope Firefly won’t mind if I mention clues by other setters, but both of these clues reminded me of ones by our ex-rookies.  There was Dutch’s lovely Mister Blue-Rinse gets a makeover (9) (4d in Independent 10015), and my absolute favourite cryptic definition of the year by Eccles: He single-handedly fought to secure eternal youth (7,4) (1d in Independent 9922).

Well, all that has made me hungry.  I’m off to rectify that.  See you in 2019!


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.


9 comments on “Toughie 100010

  1. Very enjoyable, perhaps a little ‘tougher’ than the average first Toughie of the week – ***/****.

    I got totally ‘bogged down’ on 11d and, as I was solving last night (my time), I had to wait for divine inspiration after attending the late evening service (not midnight mass, as the service started at 10:30pm and was over before Christmas Day ‘started’).

    Candidates for favourite – 20a, 24a, 27a, and 8d – and the winner is 27a.

    Thanks to Firefly and Kitty.

  2. A very seasonal offering – complete with all the 9a’s.

    Think my favourite has to be 12a with a mention for 11d which took me ages to parse.

    Many thanks to Firefly and to our dutiful Girl Tuesday – just knew that you’d find some illustrations for 1a!

    Off to deal with that overflowing plate of Christmas fare now…………..

  3. Very enjoyable with several laugh-out-loud moments – thanks to Firefly and Kitty.
    I ticked 6d (I loved ‘mouthed greetings’), 11d and 14d but my favourite clue was 20a.
    Merry Christmas to all.

  4. Thanks Firefly and Kitty. That was a fine puzzle I managed eventually without resorting to the hints. 18a was a new word to me but a trip to BRB is never wasted. Thanks especially for the baby cabbage pic which made mum go all gooey (like her sprouts!) but don’t tell her that. 20a was my fave today.

    Only managed 6 clues so far in the double toughie by Elgar. Which is probably 6 more than I expected.

  5. Phew, this was pleasant relief after the Elgar double toughie, which was the first double toughie I completed (well close enough, i only missed ‘axis’ in the theme). Since that took up a most of my xmas between playing games (we were playing exploding kittens, a new card game my son had as a present – it wasn’t from me, kitty, honest!), I have only just got around to this festive treat by Firefly.

    Plenty for all tastes here. I liked 11d, though wondered a bit about the equivalence of the definition, and I wasn’t sure just how cryptic the pantomime horse was, though certainly seasonal. We go see cinderella in Manchester tomorrow. I really liked “Tumbled head first” and the poetic measure, as well as the conscientious editor.

    Many thanks Firefly for a great Xmas treat and thanks Kitty for a superb Xmas blog.

    Love the Damn it I’m Vixen clip.

  6. Love your site, comments,pictures and clues, check all my puzzles here.Thanks. Happy New year from snowy British Columbia.

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