Toughie 209

Toughie No 209 by Shamus
Solving the Case

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

The pseudonym of today’s setter is an old American slang word for a private detective and he has given us a stimulating case which requires a fair bit of investigation to solve, with several things being learnt on the way.

I suspect that there may be some complaints about the use of ‘regulars’ in 11d to mean the odd letters of a word. What do you think? – leave us a comment!

Across Clues

1a  Shrub in far gap in ground (10)
{FRANGIPANI} – an anagram (ground) of IN FAR GAP IN produces this tropical American shrub.

6a  Fake old instrument lacking weight (4)
{SHAM} – The old instrument, a predecessor of the oboe, is a SHAWM – take out the W(eight). This was the clue which gave me most problems with the wordplay as, for a long time, I was looking for the discarded weight to be at the end. Have you ever heard of an instrument called a shamoz? – well neither has any dictionary that I consulted!

9a  Not communicating but in play presumably? (3,2,5)
{OUT OF TOUCH} – double definition, the second cryptic. In a game of football, if the ball is not ‘in touch’ then presumably it’s on the field of play. My least favourite clue of the day!

10a  Extra amount after book is brought out a burden (4)
{ONUS} – take the B(ook) out of BONUS (extra amount, or, if you’re a banker, absolute fortune!).

13a  Around end of table, large figure put back pastry (7)
{BEIGNET} – start with BIG (large) and add TEN (figure) which has to be reversed (put back). Now throw in an E (end of table) to get a type of fritter.

15a  I tend new addict? About right (6)
{NURSER} – the definition is I tend. Put R (right) inside N(ew) and USER (drug addict).

16a  Class division? (6)
{LEAGUE} – double definition.

17a  Benevolent philosophy in this UN aim? Drama without director unfolded (15)
{HUMANITARIANISM} – an anagram (unfolded) of IN THIS UN AIM (d)RAMA.

18a  Delinquent blamed for uproar (6)
{BEDLAM} – an anagram (delinquent) of BLAMED produces a word which now means a scene of uproar but originally stood for Bethlehem and was the hospital of St Mary of Bethlehem in London, which was an asylum for the insane.

20a  Check cinema feature? (6)
{SCREEN} – double definition, this being a fairly essential part of a cinema.

21a  Poet occupied by sick source of caricatures? (7)
{GILLRAY} – the poet is Thomas GRAY – put ILL (sick) inside to get the surname of the caricaturist and printmaker.

22a  Island captured by nationalists (4)
{IONA} – this mystical Scottish island is hidden (captured) in the clue.

25a  Standard road in Minnesota before part of school (10)
{MAINSTREAM} – the definition is standard and you need to put the following in the right order: AI (A1, road), MN (standard abbreviation for Minnesota) and STREAM (part of school).

26a  Chinese people following king and ruler (4)
{KHAN} – the native Chinese people are HAN – precede this with K(ing) to get the title of a ruler.

27a  Obtain hard chap in notice for garden (10)
{GETHSEMANE} – string together GET (obtain), H(ard) and SEE (notice) with MAN (chap) inside, and you end up with the name of a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem.

Down Clues

1d  Fellow cut lemon (4)
{FLOP} – a lemon is an informal term for something disappointing or defective. Put together F(ellow) and LOP (cut).

2d  Singer entering recital top-notch (4)
{ALTO} – this singer with the highest male voice is hidden (entering) in the clue.

3d  Old man, set employee? (6)
{GAFFER} – double definition, the second cryptic  – an informal term for an old man (probably a contraction of godfather), and the chief electrician on a film set.

4d  Two lakes around isle with sun featured in magazine once — a cheesy concoction? (10,5)
{PLOUGHMANS LUNCH} – the wordplay is complicated. On the outside is PUNCH (once a magazine) – inside put two lakes (LOUGH and L) and between them squeeze in MAN (island) and S(un). You end up with a meal which sounds as if it dates back to the middle ages, but was, in fact, invented around 1960 as a marketing ploy to sell British cheese in pubs.

5d  Clothing group left around college — change at MIT? (6)
{NICKEL} – the ubiquitous clothing group is NIKE – add L(eft) and put C(ollege) inside and you get a 5-cent coin (change) which is in use at MIT (and everywhere else in the US!).

7d  Having obtained height, drag in leg manoeuvring in this? (4-6)
{HANG-GLIDER} – an anagram (manoeuvring) of H(eight) DRAG IN LEG produces this precarious form of transport.

8d  Mad minister, not one for broadcast TV programme (10)
{MASTERMIND} – an anagram (broadcast) of MAD MINISTER without one of the Is (not one) produces this TV quiz show.

11d  Malfunctioning — not like regulars in bunch at work? (2,3,5)
{ON THE BLINK} – an anagram (at work) of NOT LIKE and regular (i.e. every other) letters from BuNcH generates a phrase meaning malfunctioning.

12d  Fairylike creature lacking energy, singer and temperamental type? (5,5)
{PRIMA DONNA} – start with PERI (fairy) and remove the E(nergy) – now add the name of the actress and singer familiarly known as Madge (short for Your Majesty) to get a very temperamental person with an inflated view of their own talent or importance. Lovely clue!

13d  Comic character with gossip overturned cushion (7)
{BEANBAG} – start with Rowan Atkinson’s comic character (not Blackadder, which is funny!) and add GAB (gossip) which is reversed (overturned) to get a large cushion filled with polystyrene beads and used as a seat.

14d  Occupation of property in outskirts of troublesome French city (7)
{TENANCY} – the definition is occupation of property – start with the outside letters of TroublesomE and add a city in North-Eastern France.

19d  Period supporting community? It’s illusory (6)
{MIRAGE} – put AGE (period) after (supporting, in a down clue) MIR (a farming commune in pre-revolutionary Russia, which made an appearance as recently as Toughie 203).

20d  Singular cunning about Gallic sage (6)
{SARTRE} – a charade of S(ingular), ART (cunning) and RE (about) leads to this French philosopher.

23d  Sacred works prematurely closing wartime celebration (4)
{VEDA} – the celebration to mark the end of the war in Europe took place on 8th May 1945 (VE DAY) – drop the last letter (prematurely closing) to leave one of the four holy books of the Hindus.

24d  A nameless lucrative source for female friend abroad (4)
{AMIE} – a lucrative source (of gold, diamonds?) is A MINE – take out the N (nameless) to leave the French word for a female friend.

My favourites included 21a and 3d, but my clue of the day is 12d. Agree or disagree? – have your say by leaving us a comment, and please remember to register a vote below for how much you liked the puzzle.


  1. Libellule
    Posted September 2, 2009 at 5:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    24d. Hmmm… when was the last time you saw this spelt and used like that?

    • Posted September 5, 2009 at 11:09 am | Permalink | Reply

      Er, last time I read about a female friend in French. Remembering that female forms of adjectives often just add an E doesn’t seem that bad from O-level French mumble mumble years ago.

  2. nanaglugglug
    Posted September 2, 2009 at 6:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Liked this puzzle – not too difficult (plenty of anagrams). We got 21a from the wordplay but hadn’t heard of him (??). Favourite clue 4d. Didn’t see 27a listed in Chambers – did we miss something? It was only my religious upbringing that gave us the answer.

  3. nanaglugglug
    Posted September 2, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry, meant to ask about 15a – never heard the word – is it in common usage?

    • gazza
      Posted September 2, 2009 at 7:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      21a – there’s a link to the Wikipedia article on him in the review
      15a – I don’t think it’s common, but it is in Chambers
      27a – it’s a proper noun, so not in Chambers – it’s the garden which features heavily in the New Testament – see here.

  4. nms
    Posted September 2, 2009 at 7:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good puzzle, tough, with some unfamiliar words, Favourite clue, 20 dn. 27a is not in Chambers because it does not include proper names. While I do not know what Tel advises, I’d say dicts used might be ODE, COD, and/or Collins.

  5. bigboab
    Posted September 2, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Quite enjoyed this crossword, like nanaglugglud I have never heard 15a used nor had I ever heard of 21a ( thank goodness for my new Chambers Autobigraphical dictionary)

  6. Shamus
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 12:28 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Gazza for his blog and others for comments. Have seen “regulars” or “regularly” used to indicate alternate letters in words in crosswords elsewhere and don’t think it’s unfair – esp as in this case where it’s clear three further letters are needed in the anagram fodder. Think “nurser” is used about people who nurse without being professional nurses – as well as being a boon to crossword setters!

    • gazza
      Posted September 3, 2009 at 7:20 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for that. I have no problems with ‘regularly’ being used in this way (or even, say, for every third letter), but I know that others have insisted that it ought to mean the even letters of a word.

    • Posted September 3, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink | Reply

      The use of regular(ly) for odd letters is covered in the crossword guide under even and odd letters, but we do find that some people assume that it only applies to even letters.

  7. Posted September 5, 2009 at 11:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    I liked this one – good set of exotic words but still done in roughly an average Times crossword time. Early on, pondering OUT OF what until I found TOUCH was time well spent.

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