Toughie No 120

Toughie No 120 by Shamus

Today’s hints and tips by Big Dave

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

You can always rely on Shamus to set a challenging crossword, but one that is solvable with a little patience.  One or two trickier answers and some even trickier wordplay made this another very enjoyable puzzle.


1a Dull pro with crew troubled celeb, perhaps (5-6)
{CROWD-PULLER} – troubled signals this anagram of DULL PRO with CREW troubled to give, perhaps, a celebrity

9a Girl in boots getting stripped (5)
{ELLIE} – the boots she’s hiding inside are a pair of wELLIEs

10a Artificial sports surface for a trust vandalised (9)
{ASTROTURF} – you should be able to get this artificial sports surface before realising that it is FOR A TRUST vandalised – some people also use it to cover their cars!

11a Something thorny in start of golf before lines are broadcast? (3,4)
{TEA ROSE} – rather than the expected anagram, broadcast indicates that this thorny plant sounds like tee rows (start of golf / lines) – it took a little while before I realised that this was a homophone

12a A fool blocks a rabble confronting a province (8)
{MANITOBA} – A NIT (a fool) is inside a word meaning a rabble and they are followed by (confronting) A, to give this Canadian province

14a Negotiate a new section in pamphlet (8)
{TRANSACT} – put A N S (A New Section) inside a pamphlet to get this synonym for to negotiate

15a Constant request for drink container (4)
{CASK} – this constant represents the speed of light in the famous equation e = mc², and is followed by a request to give a liquor container

17a Bird, maybe, showing exaggeration? (7)
{STRETCH} – a double definition of a term in prison (bird lime / time) and an exaggeration – it is not always fully appreciated that in true cockney slang, the rhyming word is dropped, as here

19a Garment Gershwin’s put back (4)
{SARI} – this garment worn by Hindu women is not George’s reversed (put back) but his  lesser known brother‘s

20a Pain with gut fooling around college – like a miscreant? (6,2)
{ACTING UP} – here fooling is the anagram trigger for PAIN with GUT, which is around C(ollege) to give behaving badly – one of those phrasal verbs so loved by those learning English

21a Two wrongs found with a Mexican food (8)
{TORTILLA} – fairly easy to find that this Mexican food is made up od two words meaning wrong and a final A

23a Northern clubs, maybe, in middle of week getting bathroom (2,5)
{EN SUITE} – N(orthern) SUIT (clubs, maybe) in the middle of wEEk getting a bathroom connecting directly with a bedroom

25a A post in TA devised? It’s a starter (9)
{ANTIPASTO} – this anagram (devised) of A POST IN TA unravels easily to give an Italian starter

26a Psychiatrist at home probing convict (5)
{LAING} – fortunately the wordplay of IN (at home) inside LAG (convict) leads you to this psychiatrist

27a Dominating all else is ranch with grove I cultivated (11)
{OVERARCHING} – this is not what you would describe as an everyday synonym for dominating all else and is an anagram (cultivated) of RANCH with GROVE I


2d Religious follower elevated an authority (5)
{RASTA} – this religious follower is found by reversing (elevated) A person of authority, or perhaps a Russian Emperor

3d Conflict with Scottish place? It has a castle (7)
{WARWICK} – a major conflict then WICK in Scotland give an English castle

4d Exotic root in a lot of Italian food supplying dish (3,5)
{POT ROAST} – exotic signals that an anagram of ROOT should be placed in PAST (a lot of past(a) / Italian food) to give a rather more English dish

5d Room in school of theology (4)
{LOFT} – this room in the roof is found in schooL OF Theology

6d Relative with a hint in East End to get another commercial outing? (8)
{RELAUNCH} – REL(ative) wth A UNCH (a hint / a hunch as spoken in the East End of London) giving a word meaning to reintroduce something to the market – references to Cockney or East End usually signal either rhyming slang, as in 17 across, or dropping the “h”, as here

7d Queen caught sign above Greek port avoiding sun (9)
{CLEOPATRA} – this famous Egyptian Queen comes from C(aught) LEO (Zodiac sign) and the Greek port of PATRA(S) without the S(un) (avoiding sun)

8d A bloke inhibiting others with a reformist approach? (11)
{PERESTROIKA} – this charade of PER (a, as in miles an hour) and OIK (bloke) is around (inhibiting) REST (others) with A to give a reformist approach introduced to the Soviet Union in 1987 by Mikhail Gorbachev

12d Philosopher, Greek character with central point heading off into country (11)
{MACHIAVELLI} – CHI (Greek character) with AVEL (navel without first letter / central point heading off) all inside MALI (country) give this Italian philosopher

13d A non-drinker standing over short glass depleted in bash (7)
{ATTEMPT} – A TT (a TeeTotaller / a  non-drinker) over EMPT(Y) (glass depleted, short) giving a try or bash

16d Figure pruned plant lining one road (9)
{STATISTIC} – the plant that is to be pruned (drop last letter) is the sea lavender; put it around 1 ST (one road) and you have the kind of figure that follows lies and damned lies

17d US city in due course imprisoning criminal gained (3,5)
{SAN DIEGO} – this US City in California is obtained from SO (in due course) around (imprisoning) an anagram (criminal) of GAINED

18d Source of messages detaining tense palace official (8)
{COURTIER} – a messenger employed to deliver special or urgent messages around (detaining) T(ense) gives a palace official

19d Chap in ground after sandwich initially and green stuff? (7)
{SPINACH} – ground here signals an anagram of CHAP IN to follow S(andwich initially) to give the kind of green stuff that fuelled Popeye

22d Liberal school revealed (3,2)
{LET ON} – L(iberal) and ETON give a phrase meaning revealed

24d Comfort and support for artist left out (4)
{EASE} – remove L(eft) from the frame for supporting a picture during painting (support for artist) and you have a synonym for comfort

I hope you enjoyed the latest puzzle from Shamus as much as I did.


  1. libellule
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the explanation of 17a – I had the answer but didn’t know why.

  2. Jane
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    At last I’m managing to complete some of the ‘Toughies’. To anybody out there who is struggling I think it is a matter of practice, perseverence and of course, the help of this blog!

  3. libellule
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Same for 8d :-)

  4. Shamus
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 10:01 pm | Permalink | Reply


    Thanks for the kind comments. Really enjoyed reading your blog. Keep up the good work!

  5. Posted April 2, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Missed 8D – a more specific def than “bloke” might have helped (or at least saved me from thinking of bloke=GENT).

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