Toughie 261

Toughie No 261 by Shamus

Around the World – But No Cruise

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

For the second day in a row I’m doing a review of a Shamus puzzle. In his review of the Cryptic today Big Dave reckons that this one is easier than the Cryptic;  I have to disagree – whereas the Cryptic is quite tricky, I found this one was a degree harder with my Chambers in constant use. I did enjoy it – it felt like a trip around the world with references to south sea islands, French dramatists, Italian painters, Icelandic sagas and American presidents – and we still have time to call in at Mecca and East Africa. I’ll be interested in your comments!

Across Clues

1a  Irrelevant diet? Phoebe isn’t looking different (6,3,5)
{BESIDE THE POINT} – an anagram (looking different) of DIET PHOEBE ISN’T produces a phrase meaning irrelevant.

10a  Greek figure coming out of retirement, speculative sort (9)
{THEORISER} – a common Greek forename is followed by someone getting out of bed.

11a  Artist showing cheek, we hear (5)
{LIPPI} – the name of this Italian artist (there were two with this name, father and son, but the son is probably more famous) sounds like lippy.

12a  Litter found in border in middle of day (7)
{NORIMON} – put RIM (border) inside NOON to get this light Japanese single-seater.

13a  Accomplished leading group immersed in test (6)
{SAVANT} – VAN (leading group) goes inside SAT (standard assessment task or scholastic aptitude test, depending on which side of the Atlantic you live on).

15a  Warriors encroached — not half! (4)
{IMPI} – encroached is IMPINGED – lose the second half.

17a  Joiner held in mild rebuke sometimes (3,3,4)
{NOW AND THEN} – a mild rebuke is NOW THEN – put AND (joiner) in the middle.

18a  Steps volunteers learnt haphazardly before a lecturer returned (10)
{TARANTELLA} – this is a rapid whirling dance (steps) – put an anagram (haphazardly) of LEARNT after TA, and finish up with A L(ecturer) reversed.

20a  Ibsen heroine not principal character in saga (4)
{EDDA} – the Ibsen heroine is (h)EDDA Gabler, giving rise to two Icelandic books.

22a  Get back around team to find nostrum (6)
{ELIXIR} – get is RILE as in “that’s what gets me” – reverse this and put XI (soccer team) inside.

23a  Eccentric and largely beloved university dramatist (7)
{FEYDEAU} – string together FEY (eccentric), DEA(r) and U(niversity) to get the name of the most famous farceur.

26a  Fighter in the centre of Laos and China (5)
{AMIGO} – put MIG (Russian fighter plane) inside the central letters of (L)AO(s) to get a friend (from rhyming slang, china plate = mate).

27a  Priest, last character associated with hospital, holding aid for woman (9)
{ELIZABETH} – string together ELI (biblical priest), Z (last character in the alphabet) and H(ospital) and put ABET inside.

28a  Advanced hotel tonight? No sadly (4,2,3,5)
{LONG IN THE TOOTH} – an anagram (sadly) of HOTEL TONIGHT NO means advanced in years.

Down Clues

2d  Old uncle with queen, Eastern ruler (5)
{EMEER} – an obsolete word for uncle is EME – add ER to get a variant spelling of Emir.

3d  Sham rig in a tatty state, not good for pilgrims’ clothing (6)
{IHRAMS} – simple pieces of clothing worn by Muslims on the pilgrimage at Mecca (an Arabic word with the same root as harem) are an anagram (in a tatty state) of SHAM RI(g).

4d  President once from Eire? He’s now abroad (10)
{EISENHOWER} – an anagram(abroad) of EIRE HE’S NOW.

5d  Injure actor (4)
{HURT} – double definition, the actor being the star of The Elephant Man.

6d  Elder without a crown? (7)
{POLLARD} – a term for a tree (e.g. elder) with its top cut off to allow it to send out new branches from the top of the stem.

7d  Troublemaker every top journalist called into question (9)
{IMPEACHED} – a charade of IMP, EACH and ED.

8d  A taciturn hand’s working in islands (7,2,5)
{TRISTAN DA CUNHA} – a group of islands which is a remote British territory in the South Atlantic is an anagram (working) of A TACITURN HAND’S. Did you know that the Post Office has allocated the islands a special postcode, TDCU 1ZZ, to make it easier for the islanders to order goods on-line?

9d  Musician featuring at the end? An unexpected irony (5,2,3,4)
{STING IN THE TAIL} – the musician required is the stage name of Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner.

14d  Glass of brandy I fall for possibly in confines of brasserie (4,2,4)
{BALL OF FIRE} – I had to rely on Chambers for the discovery that this phrase means a glass of brandy. Put an anagram (possibly) of I FALL FOR inside the outer letters of B(rasseri)E.

16d  Reckless ode I print producing ruin (9)
{PERDITION} – an anagram (reckless) of ODE I PRINT.

19d  Rich chap restricting publicity linked to international capital (7)
{NAIROBI} – put AIR (publicity) inside NOB (rich chap) and add I(nternational).

21d  One having go announcing restaurant cut (6)
{DYNAMO} – a term given to someone who has loads of enthusiasm is made up of sound-alikes (announcing) of DINER and MOW. Doesn’t really work, does it?

24d  Leave banker a tenner initially (5)
{EXEAT} – a stage direction formal leave of absence [Thanks to Shamus for the correction] is constructed from EXE (banker, river) and A T(enner).

25d  Crooked tendency (4)
{BENT} – double definition, although there is considerable overlap.

The clues I liked today included 7d and 9d, but my clue of the day is 17a. What do you think? Leave us a comment, and please don’t forget to vote by clicking on one of the stars below.


  1. Posted December 2, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I have been told that today’s cryptic is not one of Elgar’s! I don’t know who it is by.

    Perhaps I just like Shamus’s style as I sailed through this one.

  2. gnomethang
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Found this quite tricky myself. Favourites were 18a and 11a. Got to agree with 21d.
    Thanks for the review!

  3. Libellule
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Gazza, Have to agree with you. This took a deal longer than the normal cryptic, and had to cross check a number of answers to make sure I was right. Although though I had got the wordplay for 12a and 23a I had to make sure that I was right….

  4. Prolixic
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This one took considerably longer that the Cryptic for me. It is rare for me actively to dislike a puzzle but this one came close – not for difficulty or the quality of the clues but because it felt more like trying to solve the Herculis with the added complication of cryptic clues on top. I was forever resolving the wordplay and then checking some obscure fact to check that I had the right answer. Not one of my favourite puzzles – sorry Shamus this one did not hit the spot for me.

  5. Shamus
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks again to Gazza for the blog and comments as always. One minor correction – 24d is a leave of absence rather than a stage direction (I think you may have conflated it with exeunt). Re Prolixic, sorry he (or she) didn’t like it. One of the common criticisms of the Toughie on this blog is that it’s no harder than the ordinary cryptic – so I don’t think stretching solvers in terms of cultural references and general knowledge (as well as in wordplay) is unreasonable. If a word is particularly unusual like “norimon”, I try to compensate for this with fairly straightforward wordplay.

    • gazza
      Posted December 2, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the correction, and thanks for an entertaining puzzle.

    • Prolixix
      Posted December 2, 2009 at 7:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      No need to apologise. As I tend to solve these puzzles on the train, I tend to prefer the devious clue rather than the obscure answer as access to reference materials is limited!

      Of course it reasonable to include cultural references and new words in a puzzle. It was the relative abundace of them today that put me off.

  6. nms
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed this puzzle, favourite clues LONG IN THE TOOTH, AMIGO, EISENHOWER and I certainly would not have got NORIMON without the friendly wordplay. I found it a little on the easy side but definitely not easier than the Tel cryptic.

  7. Peter Biddlecombe
    Posted December 7, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink | Reply

    This took me a fair while but I was a bit tired. NORIMON was a new word, and so was 14 for “glass of brandy”. Thought the GK nd new words side was done fairly.

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