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Toughie 449

Toughie No 449 by Shamus

Give your brain a workout!

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

A very entertaining puzzle from Shamus today that had me scratching my head to resolve all of the wordplay.

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1a    Spurt of speed not quite restrained by untidy cable, road hazard? (5,3)
{BLACK ICE} – most of (not quite) a burst of speed, like when you press the accelerator to the floor, is inside (restrained by) an anagram (untidy) of CABLE to get this winter road hazard

5a    Coolness shown by a revolutionary agent without European in lead (6)
{APLOMB} – this one took me a while to unravel – A is followed by the agent, a MOL(E), from which you remove E (without European), reverse it (revolutionary) and then put it inside the chemical symbol for lead

9a    A lot of enthusiasm about a recipe in company making pasta (8)
{MACARONI} – put most (a lot) of a synonym for enthusiasm around A R(ecipe) itself inside CO(mpany) to get a type of pasta

10a    Bearing or not bearing children protected by a city teacher originally (6)
{ASPECT} – another penny that failed to drop immediately – this synonym for bearing or manner is derived by putting SP (Sine Prole / Latin for without issue) inside A, the postcode of the City of London and T (Teacher originally)

11a    Recall celebration with timeless songs and singular characteristics (8)
{ODDITIES} – reverse (recall) a celebration and follow it with some simple songs without one T (Timeless) to get these singular characteristics

12a    Story about Chinese beginning to export fruit (6)
{LICHEE} – put a story or untruth around CH(inese) and E (beginning to Export) to get a (Chinese) fruit

14a    Take amiss hotel in pickle – and specialist restaurant (10)
{STEAKHOUSE} – put an anagram (amiss) of TAKE together with a H(otel) iside a verb meaning to pickle to get a specialist restaurant

18a    Loaded container opening at last with delightful stuff enthralling English male (2,3,5)
{IN THE MONEY} – a word meaning loaded, in the Harry Enfield sense, is built up by taking a container, moving the first letter to the end (opening at last) and then put some delightful stuff produced by bees around (enthralling) E(nglish) and M(ale)

22a    Ticket giving rebels a quick go-ahead? (6)
{COUPON} – split this ticket as (4,2) and it gives a quick message to rebels to go ahead

23a    College trips before an about-turn for exotic fare (4,4)
{CHOP SUEY} – a charade of C(ollege), a synonym for trips or short journeys, and U-EY (an about turn) gives a Chinese dish that was allegedly invented in the USA – it wasn’t, but it’s an apocryphal story

24a    Report of dismissal conveyed stress (6)
{ACCENT} – homophones (report) of axe (dismissal) and a verb meaning conveyed give stress, as in emphasis

25a    Senior facilities held back around cold European city (8)
{VALENCIA} – take AÎNÉ (senior or elder) and a short word for toilet facilities, reverse them and then insert C(old) to get a Spanish city – I bet you didn’t get that from the wordplay!

26a    Barge round sides of northern home of Dane? (6)
{KENNEL} – put a low flat-bottomed boat around N N (sides of NortherN) to get, not Hamlet’s home (that was Elsinore), but the home of a (Great) Dane

27a    Priest set off ignoring independent church of note (2,6)
{ST PETER’S} – an anagram (of) of PR(I)EST SET without (ignoring) I(ndependent) gives the Basilica in Vatican City


1d    Stick material made by a doctor in reserve mostly (6)
{BAMBOO} – the material from which many sticks are made is constructed from A and a doctor inside a word meaning to reserve that is missing the final K (mostly)

2d    Number making way for duke in secret place of amusement (6)
{ARCADE} – take a word meaning secret or mysterious and replace the N(umber) with a D(uke) to get an indoor area containing coin-operated game machines (place of amusement)

3d    A trek planned to take in a martial sport (6)
{KARATE} – put an anagram (planned) of A TREK around A to get a martial sport

4d    Fellow replacing note in link? That’s sweet (10)
{CONFECTION} – another letter-swap clue! – F(ellow) replaces N(ote) in a synonym for link to get a sweet

6d    Chap’s tie in a mess? It’s made of hybrid material (8)
{PASTICHE} – an anagram (in a mess) of CHAP’S TIE gives an artistic work consisting of a medley of pieces imitating various sources (something made of hybrid material)

7d    Deliveries before eating area reportedly getting thorough examination (8)
{OVERHAUL} – a set of six deliveries in cricket is followed by what sounds like (reportedly) a large dining area to get a thorough examination

8d    Person receiving expression of sympathy in a state of worry (8)
{BOTHERED} – another clue where the wordplay becomes obvious from the answer, but not the other way around – take an informal word for a person and insert a word that is used as an expression of sympathy (but is usually followed, in this context, by “now”) to get a word meaning in state of worry

13d         Hot state mostly with a Republican in trouble? Take pity (4,1,5)
{HAVE A HEART} – H(ot) is followed by most of a verb meaning to state, A, and then R(epublican) inside a kind of trouble to get a phrase meaning take pity

15d         Worthless training area by the sound of it supported by expert (8)
{GIMCRACK} – a word meaning worthless is built up from what sounds like a gym (training area) above (supported by) an expert

16d         Eastern Italian circling river? Ancient one (8)
{ETRUSCAN} – put E(astern) and an Italian from the area around Florence around R(iver) to get someone from an ancient state in Italy, north of the Tiber

17d         Criticise Democrat’s opening part of speech in European church (8)
{DENOUNCE} – a word meaning to criticise is built from D (Democrat’s opening) then a part of speech inside E(uropean) and the Church of England

19d         Jag largely carrying man in field of activity (6)
{SPHERE} – one meaning of jag is a bout of excessive indulgence, so take most of (largely) another word for this revel and insert the masculine pronoun to get a field of activity

20d         Companion amid calm cut food (6)
{QUICHE} – put a Companion of Honour inside most of (cut) a word meaning calm to get the food that is, allegedly, never eaten by real men

21d         Go round grubby passenger? Not altogether (6)
{BYPASS} – a word meaning to go round is hidden inside (not altogether) the clue

An excellent, if not over-difficult, work-out from Shamus.

24 comments on “Toughie 449

  1. I think, as you say, the best way to describe this is an enjoyable headscratcher. I wasn’t at all sure why I had 25a and struggled a bit with the homophones in 24a. My favourites today include, but are not restricted to, 26a and 15d. Thanks to Shamus for the entertainment and BD for the much needed explanations for some of the clues.

  2. I thought this was a lovely puzzle with a good degree of difficulty. I missed the SP reference in 10a and had to work backwards(!) to get the wordplay in 25a which was favorite with 5 and 14a.
    Thanks to BD and Shamus.

  3. Thanks to Shamus for a super puzzle; not too difficult, but great fun. The only clue that troubled me was 25a, where I understood the reversal, the ‘facilities’, the C(old)… but not the ‘Senior’ bit (thanks to gnomethang for the explanation).

  4. Enjoyed this one, it was one where first reading led to a familiar (to me) feeling of impending defeat, but it unravelled pleasantly (even if I didn’t get 25a from the wordplay, and even tried to shoe horn in Barcelona).
    Thanks all round.

  5. Thanks to BD for the “Head-Scratching” and Shamus for the work-out. Understood most but definitely not:-

    10a – SP = Sine Prole; 25a – aine or AÎNÉ; 8d – completeley missed ALL the wordplay

    Still don’t understand – 23a – How does UEY = an about turn?

        1. Presumably, AÎNÉ is also in the Big Red Book. However, it’s not in the limited version of Chambers Online that I use. It’s definitely in the Collins Robert French Dictionary – Quelle surprise!

  6. Think my stumbling blocks of 8d, 25a (in but not sure why till read blog) 10a seem a theme in posts on this blog. Struggled for an age on 20d till it suddenly clicked. Still don’t understand 19d though. Thanks to BD and Shamus

  7. Many thanks to Shamus for a highly entertaining crossword. At first reading the clues seemed longer than usual and therefore more complex but on closer analysis very well constructed and fair which made the solving of them a treat. Favourie clue was 26a. Many thanks also to BD for the review.

  8. I know I’m the last as usual but I’m so pleased with myself because I FINISHED THE TOUGHIE!!! Got it all right but admit some answers I didn’t understand, namely 24a [never twigged the axe] and 10a and 23a but I DID IT!!!

  9. Found this very difficult but on the whole quite enjoyable, needed your assistance for 25a and 19d. Thanks Shamus and BD.

  10. My usual next morning input for an enjoyable puzzle
    Best clues were :1a, 14a, 18a, 26a, 27a, 7d, 13d, 15d,16d & 20d.
    As you remark in the blog BD, 5a, 10a & 25a were teasers! For Anglo-Saxon readers, 25a must have been difficult.
    Why do you say that real men don’t eat quiche? My late wife used to make a magnificent Quiche Lorraine. We both lived and worked many years in France and La Suisse Romande.

  11. Many thanks to BD for his blog and all for feedback. Glad there was not too much head scratching!

  12. A very late posting due to other commitments. Got there in the end, but had to resort to abot 3 hints from BD, and also explanations to 2 or 3 others which were right, but I wasn’t too sure why. Many thanks.
    So, just beyond my reach but I plead a fatigue, and I’ve still got the Friday toughie to go. My brain hurts!

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