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Toughie 559

Toughie No 559 by Messinae


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

This and some other recent Messinae Toughies have been considerably tougher than his earlier puzzles. The enjoyment level was let down by some pretty awful surface readings – I leave you to work out to which clues I am referring!.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Say for me it’s OK? — the reverse (5,2,3)
{COUNT ME OUT} – this semi-all-in-one clue could refer to KO, the opposite (reverse) of OK (it’s difficult to provide a hint without using the two phrases involved)– not my favourite clue!

6a    Composer not accessible to posh people (4)
{ORFF} – the German composer of the cantata Carmina Burana sounds like how posh people say “not accessible” or “no longer available”

10a    Show with top-class actor (5)
{USHER} – a word meaning to show someone to, for example, a seat in a theatre is a charade of a single-letter word for top-class or posh and a South African-born British actor

11a    Such programmes once broadcast pious glee (9)
{EPILOGUES} – these programmes used to be last item before a television network closed down for the night – they are an anagram (broadcast) of PIOUS GLEE

12a    More than one giant source of official knowledge about deprivation (7)
{COLOSSI} – to get these giants put a source of official knowledge around a word meaning deprivation or bereavement

13a    Sauce vessel on mount (7)
{KETCHUP} – this sauce is a charade of a vessel and a word meaning mounted on a horse

14a    Something spectacular, having got in bash with the old, old spinner (7-5)
{SEVENTY-EIGHT} – put something spectacular, as in a landmark, around a bash or celebration and an old word for the to get an old spinner, as in a shellac record

18a    Stresses mean somehow making new evaluation (12)
{REASSESSMENT} – an anagram (somehow) of STRESSES MEAN gives a verb meaning making a new evaluation

21a    Unusual bipedal horse (7)
{PIEBALD} – an anagram (unusual) of BIPEDAL gives a horse, typically one with black and white patches

23a    Scot’s animated about metal that’s used for restraining locks (7)
{HAIRNET} – put a Scot’s word for animated or agitated (3) around a Scot’s word for a strong, hard metal to get something that is used, famously by Ena Sharples, to restrain the locks

24a    Range of abilities of Peter Bonetti (9)
{CATSKILLS] – I can hear the cries of “foul” on this one, which requires knowledge of Peter Bonetti’s nickname (3) as an adjective in front of a synonym for abilities – the definition is a range of mountains in the state of New York, part of the Appalachian system

25a    Greeting with expression of surprise when speaking verse (5)
{HAIKU} – what sounds like (when speaking) a charade of a greeting and an expression of surprise is actually a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world – I might have struggled with this one if it hadn’t come up in several earlier puzzles, most recently DT 26449 on 14th January

26a    It’s played in early recital (4)
{LYRE} – this musical instrument, played by plucking the strings, is hidden inside (in – not a very helpful hidden word indicator) inside the last two words of the clue

27a    Around Benin, girl takes artificial flower (5-5)
{LADY’S SMOCK} – put a young girl around the IVR code for Benin and add a word meaning artificial to get this another name for the cuckooflower


1d    Grab some eggs (6)
{CLUTCH} – a double definition – to grab and a number of eggs

2d    University hospital stocking medicine getting one high (6)
{UPHILL} – start with U(niversity) and then put H(ospital) inside (stocking) a small round mass of solid medicine for swallowing whole to give a slope that for “getting one high”

3d    Big fish flails over wake of high ships (8-6)
{THRESHER-SHARKS} – these big fish are a charade of implements used for flailing corn, the final letter (wake) of (hig)H and ships like the one used by Noah

4d    I serenely supply slap (9)
{EYELINERS} – an anagram (supply) of I SERENELY gives slap, as in cosmetics

5d    Inuit craft missing in action in Britain (5)
{UMIAK} – this Inuit craft, an open boat made of wood and skin, is created by putting the abbreviation for Missing In Action inside the territory frequently, but incorrectly, regarded as synonymous with Britain – the territory in question includes the Province of Northern Ireland while Britain is the island made up of England, Scotland and Wales

7d    Ugly woman wearing make-up shows fibre (8)
{ROUGHAGE} – put an ugly old woman inside some facial make-up to get this fibrous indigestible material found in vegetable foodstuffs

8d    Fighter plane — American catches sight of particular ones (8)
{FUSSPOTS} – an letter often used as a prefix for a Fighter plane is followed by an abbreviation for American and a verb meaning catches sight of to get worriers who are very particular about petty matters

9d    Merry dancers having drunk Nth short linger (8,6)
{NORTHERN LIGHTS} – these merry dancers, also known as the aurora borealis, are an anagram (drunk) of NTH SHORT LINGER

15d    Gig reworking Kiwi myths (3-6)
{TIM-WHISKY} – this obscure type of gig or carriage is an anagram (reworking) of KIWI MYTHS

16d    Sultry star finally breaking in the news (8)
{TROPICAL} – an adjective meaning sultry is created by putting R (staR finally) inside (breaking) a word meaning “in the news”

17d    Mother more elegant as a vamp (3-5)
{MAN-EATER} – a charade of a short word meaning mother (2) and an adjective meaning more elegant gives a vamp or seductress

19d    Concerned with archaeological excavation of woad (6)
{INDIGO} – a charade of a short word meaning “concerned with”, an archaeological excavation and O(f) gives a permanent blue dye, similar to woad

20d    Exchange following Sugababes’ No 1 hit (6)
{STRUCK} – put a word meaning to exchange or barter after S (Sugababes’ No 1) to get a verb meaning hit or thumped

22d    TV cook was sick getting up (5)
{DELIA} – the definition is the first name of the well-known TV cook, and shareholder of Norwich City football club – when reversed it means “was sick”

Tuesday’s are definitely getting more difficult!

33 comments on “Toughie 559

  1. As I said in the other place, I think this one got lost on the way to Friday :) I wasn’t struck on 1a or 5d. I did like 12a, and 9d but my clue of the day is 24a, particularly as I was pleased to remember his nickname, despite not being a football fan. Thanks to Messinae for a very thorough brain test, BD for the hints and Gnomey for the ‘O’.

    1. I remembered the whisky bit, went off to check out the rest and never got back!

      I’ve had loads of flat-pack bedroom furniture delivered today, so my priorities have been elsewhere.

  2. Some rather ponderous clues, but all able to be solved without too much trouble – though some like 5d amd 25a needed confirmation via web resources. 24a was almost a red card, but “The Cat” just about stirred a memory cord. Thanks to BD & Messinae.

  3. sorry to be a pedant but 15d in the blog should be tim whisksy…but most references seem to imply tim ‘whiskey’ would be more correct

  4. I was lulled into a false sense of security on this one, with half of this penned in fairly quickly, then I came to a halt.
    24a caused me a problem – with some of the checking letters, I foolishly wrote ‘catchalls’, until I eventually solved 3d.
    Thanks to Messinae for the puzzle, and to BD for the notes.

  5. I liked 24a as I did recall the nickname, and is my favourite part of America, coupled with my favourite Greek Island mentioned in the Cryptic to boot. Unsure about 1a and needed web assistance with 27a. Last in 23a. Many thanks to Messinae and BD.

  6. Quite a Curates Egg for me, I loved 24a and disliked 15d, got tied up in the N.E. then realised that I had mis-spelt 6a. All in all i really enjoyed this offering from Messinae so many thanks and many thanks also to BD for the masterly review.

  7. Bit of a stinker for a tuesday !! I found 1ac and 27ac particularly difficult, so thanks for the help ! liked the anagrams and 14ac ( I too remembered the cat )

  8. I thought this was pretty tough but most enjoyable favourites for me were 6a 14a and 24a thanks to Messinae and to Big Dave for the review.

  9. I must agree with BD#s observation on some of the surface readinbgs but elsewhere there were some lovely clues. 245a in particular springs to mind.
    Many thanks to Messinae and to BD for the review.
    I will confess to bagginbg the O at 6a from Telegraph Puzzles but after that the clue made me laugh a lot.

    1. I didn’t laugh at 6a at all. It’s another of those clues that relies on a particular form of pronunciation in order to work.

      Not difficult, but one of those clues where, as soon as I’d solved it, I wished that I hadn’t.

      1. I dunno, Qix. It does define the type of pronunciation/homophone required. Maybe a reference to royalty or ‘Orrf with their heads” might have helped.
        Do you dislike sturtrerring or drunk/slurring clues in the same way?

        1. I think that many people from England might think that it was a reasonable clue (outside the SW, anyway). It relies on a non-rhotic accent in order to work.

          Stuttering/drunk-type clues are generally fine with me.

  10. I initially found this fairly easy, then came to a sudden stop in the SE corner!

    1a – not my favourite clue – “Include me out!”

    24a – Definitely a foul! Is “The Cat” still in hiding after 1970?

    Apart from that I enjoyed this puzzle. However, I still do not understand the explanation of 19d – What is a “shoer”?

    1. I think BD means “short”. He too has finger trouble just as we mere mortals!

  11. Just a thought – in 3d does “wake” of high refer to the last letter of high?

    1. That was how I read it as well, but as I’m sure you appreciate I rushed this off on either side of a furniture delivery. H is an abbreviation for height but not for high!

      1. BD I do appreciate, and certainly not trying to be being negative, just helpful to know if I am picking up the right indicators in the clues. Still very much in the novice toughie camp but improving all the time entirely due to this site. (I was pleased to have got 6a as first in whether it’s maligned or not!!)

  12. Some very good clues in this puzzle, but a few that I didn’t like so much as well.

    I think that 1a relies too heavily on the “reversal” operating on the solution as well as on the clue (which will make no sense at all if you haven’t got the answer yet!).

    Overall, though, I enjoyed this quite a bit.

    For me, 4 stars for difficulty is too much, but it seems from the above that I’m in the minority on that.

  13. Thanks to Messinae for an entertaining puzzle which I enjoyed a lot on the whole and to BD for the review. The clues which I liked included (the much maligned) 1a, 6a (which made me laugh out loud), 11a and 24a. The ones I didn’t like were 9d and 15d.

  14. I thought this was pretty good, although agree that some of the surfaces weren’t brill.
    Needed the ‘Mine’ for 27a – who would have thought that Benin is DY – Dahomey! D’Oh!
    Otherwise tricky but doable and I agree with others that it’s a bit hard for a Tuesday.
    Thanks Messinae and to BD for the invaluable ‘Mine’.

    1. Yes the Mine is great; I wish that I’d had access to something similar when I first started doing crosswords!

  15. A real struggle for me. Eventually solved with BD’s hints and the entire resources of the internet. I’ve got a gripe with 2d though. I just don’t see how this insertion works. Surely the surface reading of this suggests ‘pill’ goes between U and H. If not can someone explain why. Ta.

    Thanks both.

    1. ‘hospital stocking medicine’ implies H(ospital) goes inside (stocking) PILL(medicine).

      1. That’s how I read BD’s hint. If that’s the case wouldn’t it be ‘medicine stocking hospital’ instead. Still don’t get it I’m afraid (even though I solved it).

        1. You need to look at the definition of ‘stocking’ as ‘to furnish’, as in stocking the shelves. I think you are interpreting ‘stocking’ in a different sense, as in keeping, or holding.
          Does that make sense?

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