Toughie 601 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 601

Toughie No 601 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Greetings from the Calder Valley. No, you haven’t slipped into a time warp and lost a day! Bufo and I have done a swap for this week and I am reviewing the Thursday Toughie. It’s nice to be able to get to grips with Shamus who is a fine setter in all his incarnations and is a really nice guy to boot (not that you should ever boot a crossword setter!).

Not as challenging as a Friday puzzle in truth, but this contained a few little nuggets that made me think. Nice to see a trademark pangrammatic puzzle as well [Oh no it isn’t – see the bottom of the post BD]. Some excellent surface readings and clever definitions that made me smile. A very pleasant solve and thanks to Shamus for today’s challenge.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post. Favourite clues are, as usual, highlighted in blue.


1a    Fare in container producing sign of overeating around fancy deck by lake (6,5)
{PACKED LUNCH} Inside a word for an extended tummy goes an anagram (fancy) of DECK and L (for lake) to lead you to a general term for what many people who go to work take for their midday snack.

9a    Free trial by taste devised when skirting a street (2,7)
{AT LIBERTY} This was a clue that I felt was one of the weaker ones today. It’s a type of clue called a subtractive anagram in crossword jargon. It’s a phrase that needs to be jumbled to reveal the answer after something needs to be removed from the original phrase. Here, TRIAL BY TASTE is the phrase to be jumbled (indicated by ‘devised’) and from this, A ST needs to be removed. This is indicated by the word “skirting”. I looked in Chambers in case “skirting” could be used to mean remove; but it gives the normal meaning of edging. So the “skirting” of taste is TE around A ST. Maybe I have too much time on my hands to think.

10a    Punch, maybe, producing disapproving sounds, we hear (5)
{BOOZE} A word for the sort of liquid (alcoholic) punch is a homophone for the sort of noises often made by England football supporters watching their team.

11a    Naval women’s community lacking openings for celebrity (6)
{RENOWN} Shouldn’t this be “naval woman’s community”? The word for a lady in the Royal Navy and where she lives lose their first letters to give a word meaning fame or celebrity.

12a    Stroll with number at end to get European wine (8)
{SAUTERNE} A word meaning meander or stroll, should have the letter N (for number) moved to the end and E (for European) added to give the name of a French wine, often seen in the plural.

13a    Hilly area close to village? Take wrong sign by low river (6)
{EXMOOR} The name for a part of the country noted for its hills and Lorna Doone is found by taking E (the close to ‘village‘), add to this the sign for a wrong answer, a word meaning to low (as in the nose made by a cow) and R (for river)

15a    One’s hired Eastern half of attractive location in posh car (8)
{MERCEDES} A word sum. The abbreviated name for a soldier of fortune is added to E (Eastern) and 50% of the Estate Agent’s Jargon for an attractive sought-after property. This gives you the name of a make of posh car which was named after the founder’s daughter.

18a    Bond in a Fleming novel eliminating fellow with time (8)
{LIGAMENT} Similar to 9 across we have an anagram of A FLEMING, but here we
eliminate F (fellow) and add T (time) and you should find a medical name for a type of medical bond.

19a    Queen with old drink getting minimal attendance (6)
{QUORUM} The minimum amount of people needed for a meeting is found by adding QU (Queen) to O (old) and the drink of choice of old grizzled sailors (naval not old queens).

21a    Source of pellets, maybe, causing small offence in Belgium and Spain (8)
{BLOW PIPE} Inside the abbreviations for Belgium and Spain, go a word meaning small or little and slang for offence (as in “get on my __”) this gives you a weapon that fires pellets.

23a    Part of physio’s outfit that is taken around clubs absolutely not new (3,3)
{ICE BAG} The abbreviation for “that is to say” goes around C for Clubs is added to a word meaning “absolutely” (as in “__ up-to-date” meaning absolutely immediate), minus N (not new).

26a    Farewell from a princess with international group (5)
{ADIEU} One of the most hackneyed crossword indicators is the word “princess” which usually leads you to the late Mrs C Windsor’s abbreviated name. And so it is here. Insert the name after A and before the name of the international group currently looking after our continental interests, this leads to the old way to say goodbye.

27a    A bachelor choosing to hide face in ban (9)
{ABOLITION} The abbreviation for a Bachelor goes in front of a word meaning choosing or willingness without its first letter (hiding its face) to reveal a word meaning a ban.

28a    Sheepish expression about fly sadly close to fork in dessert (5,6)
{BAKED ALASKA} The noise made by a sheep goes around a word for a wingless fly (that curiously attacks sheep!) and one that means “sadly”, plus K (the close to FORK). All of this leads you to a pudding that is both hot and cold!


1d Plain advertising one found in a lot of broadcast (7)
{PRAIRIE} A word for a large American open space is found by taking a word for advertising and I (for one) inside most of a word that means a section of the media.

2d Army bigwig discharging the Spanish: that illustrates it (5)
{COLON} The name for a senior rank in the Army loses EL (the Spanish) to give what comes between the word “Spanish and the space & “that” in the clue. Clever clue.

3d Scope in varied role around prominent part of ship getting award (5,4)
{ELBOW ROOM} The word for the front part of a ship goes inside an anagram of ROLE and an abbreviation for an award is tacked on to make a word for a small amount of space.

4d Bit of mischief in conspicuous place — and male is thrown out! (4)
{LARK} The word for a notable tourist attraction or place needs to have AND M(ale) removed to give the name for a frolic or a bird.

5d One unwilling to support Northern queen after a year perhaps (8)
{NAYSAYER} A lovely quaint old-fashioned word for someone who contradicts is found by taking A Y (a year) and SAY (perhaps) after N(orthern) and before the abbreviation for the Queen.

6d Familiarity shown in hotel? Not a great amount (5)
{HABIT} Take the NATO phonetic alphabet letter that Hotel represents and add to it two words meaning “not a great amount” to get one that means familiarity.

7d Classical figure in Dixieland? (7)
{THESEUS} My favourite clue of the day. Ariadne’s mythical chum is found by answering the question “Where is Dixieland?” Locate it on the map and you get the name! Clever!

8d Judge with additional statement about lad losing head as a criminal (8)
{JOYRIDER} One of those words that doesn’t really mean how it looks. These scumbags deserve no first part of the word given the grief they cause. <Gets down off soapbox>.  Anyway, a word for a young man, minus its first letter, goes inside J (for judge) and a word for an additional statement or corollary. This gives you the word for our scumbag, which also can be hyphenated.

14d Trouble with two legs raised in tree (8)
{MAGNOLIA} Reverse a charade of trouble followed by the leg side in cricket and another leg to get this tree

16d Ill-bred fellow touring SA country snubbed former PM (9)
{CHURCHILL} The name of a South American country minus its last letter (snubbed) goes inside a word for a boor or oik and gives the name of one of Britain’s most famous Prime Ministers.

17d Pack sank at sea, part of hiker’s equipment? (8)
{KNAPSACK} The first clue I solved today. An anagram of PACK SANK gives you a piece of hiking equipment.

18d Sign on set of tracks for source of loans? (7)
{LIBRARY} Take the name of one of the signs of the zodiac and add to it an abbreviation for a railway to reveal a place that may shortly be staffed by people like you.

20d Purplish colour seen in medium in Morocco (7)
{MAGENTA} A shade of purple is found by taking a word meaning a medium or representative and placing it inside the IVR code for Morocco.

22d Reportedly, highly desirable weight (5)
{PLUMB} The name of a weight used by the man who fixes leaks for you is a homophone of an adjective meaning highly desirable.

24d British composer’s made-up condition (5)
{BLISS} A cryptic way of saying that you have happiness is also the name of a famous British composer.

25d Congregation having fine vintage (4)
{FOLD} The name for a church’s congregation is found by taking F (fine) and a word meaning vintage or aged.

Thanks to Shamus for an enjoyable challenge today. I am also happy, courtesy of gnomethang to confirm that we are not actually pangrammatic, as we lack the letter V!

See you next week!

34 comments on “Toughie 601

  1. Certainly a few to make one think – I needed some hints from crypticsue to finish the last couple. A very enjoyable Shamus Toughie that pushed all the right buttons.
    Regarding the Pangram I can’t seem to find a V unless I have made a mistake somewhere!
    Thanks to Tilsit and Shamus.

      1. They’re not empty yet!
        I actually remembered to strike off the letters as I came to them then looked for the missing ones which helped for a couple but then I was left with the V.

  2. I thought this was good fun. My last one is was 7d, and I’m still not sure what the answer has to do with Dixieland. No doubt I will kick myself when I find out!
    Thanks to Shamus, and to Tilsit.

    1. Split the answer 3, 2, 2 and you get a geographical description of where it is in the States!

  3. Tilsit your pangram reference sent me racing back to the paper to see where and how I could have gone wrong! Now thanks to Gnomey I can relax. Grateful for your explanation of 15a, couldn’t work out how the first 4 letters could be deduced from the clue. I pretty much agree with your favourites but add 7d and 2d (the latter would be lost on a blind friend of mine who regularly helps me with the weekend offerings). Many thanks to Shamus and to you Tilsit.

    1. Andy

      Your friend should be able to use the wonderful Eric Westbrook’s software that help blind and visually handicapped people keep up their love of crosswords. It can be downloaded from Eric’s site and hopefully, the Crossword Editors will allow their puzzles to be transcribed for the software to work.

  4. Stonking stuff from young Shamus today. Favourite clue has to be 7d for the major D’OOOOOH moment it induced. Thanks to the setter and to Tilsit for the review.

  5. I enjoyed this one. Thanks to Shamus and Tilsit. Favourite clue: 18a
    In 9a I think skirting can mean avoiding, as in “skirting the issue”.

  6. I do like a Shamus Toughie – this one certainly made me think and mutter and Tippex but I got there in the end. LIke Prolixic my clue of the day is the D’oh induding 7d. Thanks to Shamus and Tilsit too, especially for the explanation of why the second word in 23a got there.

    Off now for a two and a half mile walk round the marshes before the next rain cloud does its worst..

    1. You will shortly. i am just finishing them off although i am being sidetracked by Twittering with some Radio 4 announcers…. (Get on with it! – BD)

  7. “Time for some coffee and I’ll attack the Downs!”… after the across clues above

  8. Excellent offering from Shamus 7d had me stumped for what seemed a lifetime, favourites for me 12a 2d and 27a thanks to Shamus and to Tilsit for a fine review.

  9. 1down: I parsed as advertising=PR a lot of broadcast= AIRE(D) one found in= AIR(I)E definition=plain

  10. Enjoyed this one with 7d clue of the day by far. Last in were 23 and 24 which took ages and i am still not sure that bang is a synonym for absolutely. Also found 15 difficult as I had convinced myself the car was RR! Thanks to setter for great puzzle.

    1. Now then UTC, I had exactly the same ‘Roller’ problem with 15a and Crypticsue had to put me right as I was thinking about the clue completlely the wrong way round!. In my defence I did explain to here the BANG = ABSOLUTELY in terms of ‘Bang On!’ and ‘Bang to Rights’. Unfortunately she thanked Tilsit instead of me (sniff!)

  11. Many thanks to Tilsit for his excellent blog and all for their comments. Re 1d, Stephen Meldrum and BD definitely have the correct interpretation. Sometimes, I quite enjoy being tantalising on the brink of being pangrammatic – or else I can’t quite find enough suitable words in the original grid fill!

  12. Only 3 stars? crumbs!!! I still cant finish it and I thought I was pretty smart!! Wrong again.

    1. This was a fairly tough one, Alan, and obviously not a back pager. If you were like me then about 50% went in quickly, another 35% after that and the rest required a degree of thought (and a coupe of emails!) – probably a very good ratio for a Toughie.

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