Toughie 548

Toughie No 548 by Shamus

What a Difference a Day Makes

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

By common consent the back-page crossword by Shamus yesterday was a gentle but entertaining puzzle, ideal for newcomers. Today he’s shown his range and given us a proper Toughie which I enjoyed (and it’s a pangram). Let us know what you thought of it in a comment.
After yesterday’s Toughie, when there was obviously some “block voting” going on which made the whole exercise farcical, I’ll understand if you feel it’s a waste of time casting an individual vote to indicate how much you enjoyed the puzzle. However, if you’d like to, please click on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Follow fellow getting drunk, losing head in melee (8)
{DOGFIGHT} – this is a melee or untidy brawl. Start with a verb to follow, then add F(ellow) and a synonym for drunk without its initial T (losing head).

5a  Justice with stable employee almost getting push? (6)
{JOSTLE} – J(ustice) is followed by someone who used to be employed at an inn to look after travellers’ horses, without the final R (almost).

9a  Show incomplete set of proposals (8)
{MANIFEST} – for the third clue in a row we have to drop the final letter of a word. This time we lose the final O (incomplete) from a set of proposals (for example what a political party promises to do before an election, which is normally quietly shelved should they win).

10a  Duck to avoid college friend (6)
{QUAKER} – for a change we have to remove (avoid) the C(ollege) from the middle rather than the end of a word. The pre-deletion word is a duck (based on the sound it makes); after the deletion we have a member of a religious sect whose proper name is the Religious Society of Friends.

12a  Turn favoured by thriller? I go to hide! (6)
{INVERT} – this is a verb which can mean to turn upside down or reverse. Start with an adjective meaning fashionable or favoured and add the name of a Hitchcock thriller without (to hide) I GO.

13a  Low light around river, a feature of Yorkshire? (8)
{MOORLAND} – the question mark indicates that Yorkshire is just an example of somewhere which has a lot of this (including two national parks in Yorkshire’s case). Start with a verb meaning to low and add another verb to come down, then insert R(iver).

15a  Graduate holding instrument with introduction delayed? It might be seen in action (7)
{BAZOOKA} – the thing which might be seen in action is a weapon. A degree awarded to an arts graduate goes round (holding) a simple musical instrument which makes a buzzing sound, with its initial letter moved to the end (introduction delayed).

16a  Powdery stuff, stash of fatal cocaine (4)
{TALC} – this powdery stuff is stashed in the clue.

20a  Horrific party putting government in tangle (4)
{OGRE} – party here is being used in the legal sense to mean an individual. Put G(overnment) inside a word (new to me) meaning a tangle (which is a coarse seaweed).

21a  An activity supplying pots? (7)
{SNOOKER} – this was the last clue I got (doh!). It’s a cryptic definition of a sport for which I believe the world championship is currently taking place.

25a  Old cricketer to roll up right away having attractive quality (8)
{GRACEFUL} – the surname of perhaps the most famous cricketer of them all is followed by a verb meaning to roll something up without its R (right away).

26a  Put forward a function for audience (6)
{ASSIGN} – a verb meaning to put forward or designate is A and what sounds like (for audience) a mathematical function.

28a  Foolish group of workers, section interrupting award (6)
{OBTUSE} – the abbreviations for an organised group of workers and S(ection) go inside (interrupting) an honour (award) to make a synonym for foolish.

29a  Finesse shown by dog perhaps rounding sheep (8)
{STRATEGY} – an artifice or finesse is formed by putting what a dog may be (perhaps) if it has no owner around (rounding) a sheep in its second year.

30a  Pass first of exams associated with liberal part of church (6)
{ELAPSE} – the first letter of E(xams) is followed by L(iberal) and part of the structure of a church to make a verb meaning to pass (of time).

31a  Such might be morgues at work with the ultimate in gore? (8)
{GRUESOME} – this is a semi-all-in-one. An anagram (at work) of MORGUES is followed by the last letter (ultimate) of (gor)E.

Down Clues

1d  Turkey I had raised with German around start of week (6)
{DIMWIT} – I was aware that turkey could refer to a complete flop, for example a film doing badly at the box office, but I didn’t know that it was also a North American slang term for a fool. Reverse (raised, in a down clue) the contracted form of I had and follow this with the German word for “with” containing (around) the first letter of W(eek).

2d  Spirit displayed by girl following dope (6)
{GENEVA} – this is a type of Dutch gin (spirit). Put a girl’s name (think of Hitler’s mistress) after a slang term for dope or information.

3d  Very unpleasant line ran surprisingly about force (8)
{INFERNAL} – an anagram (surprisingly) of LINE RAN contains F(orce).

4d  Entertainer sought-after around society (4)
{HOST} – a description of something sought-after or “all the rage” goes round S(ociety) to make someone who entertains.

6d  Museum with head leaving imports European work (6)
{OEUVRE} – remove the first letter (head leaving) from a famous Paris museum and include (imports) E(uropean) to make an artistic work.

7d  Remove a burger? (8)
{TAKEAWAY} – a burger is an example of this and, when split (4,4), it can be a phrasal verb meaning to remove.

8d  Classical character in international grouping with theatrical effect departs a bit later? (8)
{EURYDICE} – this is the wife of Orpheus in Greek mythology. Start with an international grouping to which the UK belongs, then add what (3,3) may be used to produce a spectacular stage effect with the initial D(eparts) moved a couple of characters along (a bit later).

11d  Cultivate concession in Midlands town (7)
{WORKSOP} – a charade of a verb to cultivate and a concession makes a town in Nottinghamshire.

14d  Give rough figure for drinks being promoted (5,2)
{ROUND UP} – a phrasal verb meaning to give an approximation using fewer decimal places is a charade of drinks for all and a synonym for promoted (like a football team at the end of the season).

17d  Two Cabinet ministers defending line? It might be part of plot (8)
{FOXGLOVE} – if this crossword appears again in a few years time these two characters will almost certainly have been forgotten. The surnames of the Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam …) and the gaffe-prone Secretary of State for Education (who gained a cabinet seat in spite of furnishing one home at our expense then “flipping” to another house and claiming £13,000 in moving expenses) go round (defending) L(ine). A clever clue because friends of the good doctor have already accused the party leadership of plotting against him.

18d  Meat with care cooked — tourist fare? (5,3)
{CREAM TEA} – an anagram (cooked) of MEAT and CARE forms a Devonshire speciality which all visitors should try. Remember that the correct way to eat it is to put a liberal helping of the dairy product on first, then add the jam on top (not, as the misguided folk to the west of the Tamar would have you believe, the other way round!).

19d  Convince uppity businessman to take action about bill (8)
{PERSUADE} – reverse (uppity, in a down clue) a travelling businessman and add a verb meaning to instigate legal action around the abbreviation for a bill or poster.

22d  Conservative follows with no end of intrigue count (6)
{CENSUS} – the definition is a count. Start with C(onservative) and add a verb meaning follows after removing the last letter of (intrigue)E.

23d  Footballer in the same place in new role (6)
{LIBERO} – for some time I thought that this was going to be the name of a (Brazilian?) footballer. However the on-line site rejected my attempt at Ribelo and I had to investigate the only other realistic possibility, given the wordplay and checking letters. Apparently this is an alternative name for what is called a “sweeper” and it’s the Italian word for free. Put an anagram (new) of ROLE around the abbreviation of the latin word ibidem meaning in the same place (used in books to refer to something previously cited).

24d  Eastern couple of islands still largely restricting mass set of proteins (6)
{ENZYME} – start with E(astern) and add the IVR code for the country for which “couple of islands” is a rather humorous description. Then finish with a synonym of still without its final T (largely) around (restricting) M(ass).

27d  Excite bird (4)
{STIR} – double definition, one another informal term for what bird is slang for.

The clues which I liked included 5a, 31a and 8d but my favourite was 17d. Let us know what you liked in a comment.


  1. Libellule
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    An excellent, high quality Toughie, that had me going, off and on for a few hours. At the time I write this, only 10 people have completed it on the Telegraph puzzles site, and I seem to recognise a number of the names :-) Remembering Shamus’ comment yesterday, and his penchant for pangrams, did help me in completing it.

  2. Jezza
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    One of the best I have seen from Shamus. I found it quite tough, and had 3 or 4 visits at it before finishing it.
    Thanks to Shamus, and to gazza.

  3. crypticsue
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Well Shamus can’t say he didn’t warn us. Looked at it on and off for some time before finally getting the eureka moments for 2d and 12a – my last two in. It’s been quite some time since Gnomey and I needed our email support group – we comment on how many we have got, do we think it’s a pangram? etc, without trying to give each other direct hints. I counted up over 30 emails this morning before he went off to play golf in this glorious sun while I remained at my desk. Thanks to Shamus for a right proper toughie and to Gazza for the hints.

  4. BigBoab
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Most enjoyable crossword from Shamus, personal favourite was 10a. Thanks Shamus and Gazza.

  5. pegasus
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Excellent Toughie from Shamus he did forewarn us yesterday and he certainly wasn’t joking, I also put Ribelo in thinking it sounded Brazilian, favourites for me 10a and 17d. Thanks to Shamus and to Gazza for a super review.

    • crypticsue
      Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      I finally found a use for my boring football-obsessed colleague as I supplied him with the wordplay elements and he told me the answer!

  6. andy
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable but admit to having to resort to the hints a few times more than normal. The constructsof 8d & 15a often catch me out so i needed help confirming that my answers were correct. Enjoyed 17d 11d and 29a as able to use a recently seen word committed to memory! Thanks to Shamus and Gazza

  7. Phil
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    8d is typical of a clue in Toughie puzzles that is unnecessarily convoluted

    • gazza
      Posted April 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Hi Phil – welcome to the blog.

      • Qix
        Posted April 20, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Hi Phil.

        Part of the point of cryptic crosswords, I think, is that the clues are unnecessarily convoluted. Toughies, by their nature, are supposed to require more work on the part of the solver. In that particular clue, if you guess the “international grouping”, then the rest is much easier (assuming you know your mythology or opera).

  8. Shamus
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Gazza for his blog and superb illustrations as ever and all for comments. I’ll try to remember how to eat a cream tea properly next time I have one!

  9. Prolixic
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Great crossword. Many thanks Shamus and to Gazza for the review.

  10. Qix
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle, really good fun.

    Many thanks to Shamus, and to Gazza for the blog.

  11. JB
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    I really do not see how knowing this was a pangram helped with the solving. It’s not as if there was a pattern or anything like that. (The outside clues, for instance, do not include the letter B.)
    Given the obscurity of some of the answers, I’d say most “Toughies” used every letter of the alphabet.

    • Libellule
      Posted April 20, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Knowing or working out that you are dealing with a pangram does help me, regardless of whether or not it means anything to you. Knowing that you still need a J,Z,K,W,X,Q etc helps you to recognize word patterns, from which clues can then be deconstructed if necessary. My 2c.

      • Qix
        Posted April 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        I’m with Libellule here.

        This pangram didn’t feel at all forced; the puzzle was very smoothly put together.

        However, I finished in the NE corner, and knowing that there was likely to be a “Q” in there made 10A a little easier.

  12. Posted April 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Thankls very much Shamus – that was excellent fun. Ditto Crypticsue’s description – OGRE had us going.
    This is just what a Toughie should be in my opinion – you have to work hgard to solve and are rewarded once you do. The pangram certainly helped here as well.

    Thanks to gazza for the review as well.

    • bakesi
      Posted April 20, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      I concur…this is just what a toughie should be, hard enough to make you think bt satisfying when the penny drops!

  13. Pete
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this overall despite so many clues requiring letters to be removed. Did need some of the excellent Gazza hints to get through. Using an I pad I have yet to finds a way, if there is one, of seeing what is in the brackets so I cannot get the full answer.
    Thanks to setter and to Gazza for his ever entertaining hints.

    • gazza
      Posted April 20, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      I-pads are a closed book to me, but if you’re still missing any answers let me know the clue numbers.

    • Posted April 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      Pete, if the iPad works in the same fashion as the iPhone (I have used it but not tested this bit) then hold your finger in between the brackets and use the ‘select’ ‘copy’ tool then you need to go to ‘Notes’ or some other text editor and do the same with ‘paste’. HIH,