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Toughie 331

Toughie No 331 by Shamus

An upper-class puzzle!

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

A very enjoyable puzzle from Shamus to start this week’s Toughies. Knowledge of real British and fictional Danish Royalty will come in handy today, along with a smattering of Geography and History.

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1a    Nancy’s ebullience? (4,2,5)
{JOIE DE VIVRE} – Nancy here refers to the city in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in north-eastern France, so you are looking for a French expression that is used in English and means ebullience

9a    Monumental place left by woman in Rome (5)
{LUXOR} – this city, the site of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, is famous for its temple and its proximity to many other ancient monuments –to find it, combine L(eft) and the Latin for wife

10a    Fez, perhaps, is importing tons — gosh! (5,4)
{FANCY THAT} – start with a possible description of a fez and then insert the abbreviation for T(ons) to get an interjection that means the same as gosh

11a    Old note with sense that’s threatening (7)
{OMINOUS} – run together O(ld), the third note of the scale in sol-fa notation, and a word meaning common sense to get a synonym for threatening

12a    Column showing smear cut by Independent (8)
{PILASTER} – one of the columns that is often found in Crosswordland is formed from a word meaning to smear, as in to daub, with I(ndependent) inside (cut by)

14a    Dives could be established here close to some winding old road (2,6)
{EL DORADO} – placing Dives as the first word disguises its use as a rich and luxurious person – you get this place where wealth is easily acquired from E (close to somE) followed by an anagram (winding) of OLD ROAD

15a    Cite celebrity (4)
{NAME} – a double definition – verb and noun

17a    School traditionally a bit beset by drugs (7)
{EDUCATE} – a word meaning to school is generated from an old coin inside (beset by) E(cstasy) and E(cstasy)

19a    A hundred volunteers in minutes (4)
{ACTA} – the word play is easy – A, C (hundred) and the Territorial Army (volunteers) –this plural noun means the official minutes of proceedings

20a    Deep brown colour reportedly is fashionable for footwear (8)
{MOCCASIN} – the first part sounds like (reportedly) a colour named after a certain coffee, and is followed by ‘S (is, as in it’s) and IN (fashionable) to get a heelless Native American shoe of deerskin or other soft leather

21a    Ridiculously inadequate boat boarded by father going westward (8)
{DERISORY} – to get this word meaning ridiculously inadequate take a small boat, with flat bottom, sharp bow and stern and insert (boarded by) a father, especially of a horse or other animal, reversed (going westward – one of the very few across-clue only constructs)

23a    Manage to head back and celebrate sister’s work (7)
{NURSING} – a word meaning to manage is reversed (head back) and followed by a way to celebrate to get a sister’s work in a hospital

25a    A senior getting abandoned inside Eleanor’s home? (9)
{AQUITAINE} – A and AÎNÉ (a French word for a senior or elder) with a word meaning abandoned inside give the home of Eleanor, wife of King Henry II – as this place is a region of South West France, the setter just about gets away with omitting an indication that the senior is French

26a    Decree showing this country with Hispanic tendencies? (5)
{UKASE} – an edict with force of law in Tsarist Russia comes from combining the United Kingdom with AS E (Spain / España) – I can only think that this means Hispanic tendencies / as Spanish, but if you know better, please let me know by leaving a comment

27a    Prankster’s habit using horses out of order (11)
{ROGUISHNESS} – this characteristic of a prankster is an anagram (out of order) of USING HORSES


2d    One getting on island to capture latest sign of dark ruminant (5)
{OKAPI} – the one getting on is an Old Age Pensioner (ouch!) – add I(sland) and insert (to capture) K (latest sign of darK) to get this Central African ruminant related to the giraffe


3d    Barrier foot away around facilities in piece of territory (7)
{ENCLAVE} – start with a barrier of wood and / or wire used to border land and remove F(oot) – put what remains around an abbreviated word for toilet facilities (not loo this time!) to get a piece of territory

4d    In debt, let off with no hint of blame — like a noble? (8)
{ENTITLED} – an anagram (off) of IN DE(B)T LET without the B (with no hint of Blame) to get a characteristic of a noble

5d    Prohibit some progressive tokenism (4)
[VETO] – a word meaning to prohibit is hidden (some) inside the last two words

6d    Liner rose with no end of glamour at sea in dramatic location (8)
{ELSINORE} – an anagram (at sea) of LINE(R) ROSE without one of the Rs (no end of glamouR) gives the setting of William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark –” no end of glamour” means “no R”, this is a bit loose as it could suggest removing both of the Rs


7d    A team with honour and a lot of credit? That’s self-evident (9)
{AXIOMATIC} – a charade of A, a team of eleven players, the Order of Merit, A and finally most of TIC(K) (a lot of credit) gives a word meaning self-evident

8d    Elevated types carry a cost I fancy (11)
{ARISTOCRACY} – a class of people holding privileged status (elevated types) are an anagram (fancy) of CARRY A COST I

12d    Criticise march followed by one among miners producing uproar (11)
{PANDEMONIUM} – back with the charades – to criticise, a protest march and then I (one) inside the National Union of Mineworkers produces a word meaning uproar

13d    Void concerning area in Pakistan, we hear (7)
{RESCIND} – a word meaning to void or annul is formed a homophone of RE and SINDH (concerning one of the four provinces of Pakistan)


16d    Lively blackbird circling court (9)
{MERCURIAL} – a word meaning lively, active or sprightly comes from MERL (a common black European thrush) around CURIA (the court of the papal see)

17d    A short time in two rivers for testing figure? (8)
{EXAMINER} – put A MIN(ute) (a short time) inside EXE (one river) and R (another) to get someone who tests others

18d    Shirt and tie worn for a period (8)
{THIRTIES} – an anagram (worn) of SHIRT and TIE gives a period of the twentieth century

19d    Act as one in AA putting first of servicing tools automatically in a container (7)
{ABSTAIN} – to act as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous put the initial letters (first) of Servicing Tools Automatically Inside A and a container)

22d    Places for hiring vehicles and soldiers (5)
{RANKS} – split this double definition as “places for hiring taxi cabs (vehicles)” and “soldiers”

24d    Labourers built in a loose fashion? Not half (4)
{GANG} – this group of labourers is the first half of GANG(ling)

I was surprised, and pleased, to get a double dose of Shamus today!

8 comments on “Toughie 331

  1. Joie de vivre!!?? L’esprit d’escalier, more like. Many of these clues I could only see with the benefit of BD’s wisdom. A very challenging puzzle, just a bit beyond my current range.

  2. Yes a good crossword. Fortunate that I saw how the wordplay for 26a had to work, so only needed a quick look at the dictionary to confirm the word. Ainé had me going for a short while; clearly it had to be AQUITAINE, but the precise wordplay took a minute or two to register.

    Harry Shipley

  3. Thanks to BD for his excellent review. Not too many comments so hopefully everything was self-explanatory. BD – hope you’ll be watching the final of Only Connect next Monday!

      1. I rarely pick up a Telegraph, but did so spontaneously today, hence a beeline to this site :)

        Raced through the standard cryptic, but found this one a good tough challenge, with 16, 25 and 26 beating me in the end. Intrigued re the reference to Only Connect.

        1. Hi Simon – welcome to the blog.
          Shamus is one of the question setters on Only Connect, hence the interest.

  4. Nicely pitched puzzle for a return to work.
    I finished this on the train home having not had much time at lunch.
    25a had me flummoxed and I had to check up on 26a.
    Thanks to Shamus for the double whammy and to Dave for the review.
    Favourites were 12d, 11a and the excellent 10a.

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