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Toughie 841

Toughie No 841 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

It was nice to have a challenging puzzle on a Thursday and I enjoyed it even though a lot of the clues are rather convoluted. I thought it was going to be a pangram but I failed to find the Z. This is somewhat surprising because a Z could easily have been incorporated by using the alternative spelling at 14 across. Perhaps Shamus had this originally but found it too awkward to clue.

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.


1a    Film with outfit’s central characters kept in intense church and domestic surroundings? (6,5)
{PICKET FENCE} An abbreviated form of a word for a film + TF (middle letters of outfit) in ‘intense’ + an abbreviation denoting ‘church’ = something that might surround the house and garden (especially in the US)

7a    Short gibe and incoherent talk a bishop disregarded making little objection (7)
{QUIBBLE} A gibe with the last letter removed + incoherent talk with A B (bishop) removed = a little objection

8a    Banter exchanged about a nocturnal creature (7)
{ANTBEAR} An anagram (exchanged) of BANTER round A gives a word used to refer to two completely unrelated mammals adapted to a lifestyle of raiding termite mounds

10a    Welsh politician recalled excessive time getting alcoholic preparation (8)
{AMARETTO} The abbreviation for a Member of the National Assembly for Wales + a reversal of excessive and a long time = an Italian liqueur flavoured with almonds

11a    Cheery work, draining black bottle (6)
{JOVIAL} ‘Cheery’ = an individual piece of work with the letter B omitted + a small bottle usually for medicine

13a    River in wood precluding a long trip (4)
{TREK} R (river) inside a hard wood with the letter A removed (precluded)

14a    Distress I must rate possible when harbouring first sign of ailment (10)
{TRAUMATISE} ‘To distress’ is an anagram (possible) of I MUST RATE round A (first letter of ailment)

16a    Retrograde dropout left blocking smart girl leaving college in determined fashion (10)
{RESOLUTELY} A reversal of a dropout (failure) + L (left) inside a smart girl with the letter C removed

18a    Group bordering a parliamentary constituency (4)
{SEAT} A group goes round A

21a    Egg on face of husband: former wife must be accommodated first or start to talk (6)
{EXHORT} H (first letter of husband) goes after a former wife. This is followed by OR + T (first letter of talk)

22a    International no 6 must get into shape needing trim — recall could be hindered by it? (8)
{OBLIVION} I (International) + the Roman numeral for six inside a 4-sided shape with the last letter removed gives a state of being forgotten

24a    Joint containing sandwiches with deficient contents and little sign of tasty diet? (7)
{KNESSET} A joint of the leg round SS (first and last letters of sandwiches) + T (first letter of tasty) = the Israeli parliament (diet)

25a    One found in plain overall in shift getting number for volume (7)
{LLANERO} An inhabitant of the steppes of South America is an anagram (in shift) of OVERALL with N (number) replacing V (volume)

26a    Leading light in the past isn’t prepared to follow etiquette (not half!) (11)
{PROTAGONIST} A leading light (the main personage in a story or event) = ‘in the past’ and an anagram (prepared) of ISNT after the first half of a 8-letter word meaning etiquette


1d    Soldier / not associated with the state (7)
{PRIVATE} 2 meanings

2d    Clubs getting award probed by Western book in fragile cover? (6)
{COBWEB} C (Clubs) + an award (order of chivalry) round W (Western) + B (book) = something easily broken

3d    People registered to make a crossing? (10)
{ELECTORATE} A cryptic definition of those people who have been registered to put a cross on a ballot paper

4d    Panic in fighter on circuit (4)
{FLAP} F (fighter plane) + a circuit

5d    Nothing to represent amateur in big race? It’s speculative (8)
{NOTIONAL} O (nothing) replaces A (amateur) in the name of a famous horse race over the jumps

6d    Old Greek vessel right away mounted on island for retired academics (7)
{EMERITI} Remove R (right) from an ancient Greek galley with three banks of oars. Then reverse (mount) it and add I (island)

7d    Measure taken by royal on ground — and part of ship (11)
{QUARTERDECK} An imperial measure of capacity + an abbreviation for our queen (royal) + ‘ground’

9d    Slowing recovery mostly noted after turmoil with a final bit of inflation set in (11)
{RALLENTANDO} A musical term for ‘becoming slower’ = a recovery with the last letter removed + an anagram (after turmoil) of NOTED round A N (last letter of inflation)

12d    A graduate invading city facilities creating uproar (10)
{HULLABALOO} A graduate goes between a city/port in northern England and facilities (toilet)

15d    One bound to turn up consumed by drink having left dad outside (8)
{ALFRESCO} A reversal of one bound to work on the land in olden times goes inside an alcoholic drink (consumed mostly by youngsters) with POP (father) removed

17d    Tiresome journey in southern Switzerland by lake with uphill course (7)
{SCHLEPP} A Yiddish word for a journey requiring great effort = S (southern) + the IVR for Switzerland + L (lake) + a reversal of a university course (as taken by David Cameron and Ed Miliband)

19d    Clear couple of notes and another featuring in pared-down musical (7)
{EVIDENT} Two consecutive musical notes and N (note) goes inside the name of an Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical with the last letter removed

20d    Festival traditional group promoted is captured by artist (6)
{DIWALI} The festival of light = a reversal of a traditional group of women (now associated with a nude calendar) inside a Spanish artist

23d    Old walkway with section from Patras to Athens (4)
{STOA} Hidden in PatraS TO Athens

Harder than your average Shamus puzzle

12 comments on “Toughie 841

  1. Harder than your average Shamus indeed, not helped by the length of the clues. Only 3*ish tough for me. One of those where you can hear the people who don’t do the GK puzzles (which I do because I both enjoy them and it helps increase one’s word knowledge) complaining aobut 25a and a couple of the other clues. Thanks to Shamus – I did like 24a – and to Bufo too.

  2. I thought this was very tough, and very enjoyable. 4.5* on both counts for me.
    Many thanks to Shamus, and to Bufo for the review.

  3. What a let-down after yesterday’s entertaining Micawber Toughie. The trademark Shamus bad surface readings and long-winded, poorly constructed clues. I suppose we have to take the bad with the good (on second thoughts, do we?)

  4. I enjoyed this very much indeed but like Bufo spent too much time searching for the elusive z which in the end was the dog that barked in the night. I would have said 3*/4* personally but these things are subjective. Many thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for a super review.

    1. A synonym for film (or even “photgraph”) (3) +( TF (“ouTFit’s central characters”) inside a synonym for “intense” (4)) + a two-letter abbreviation for an established church in the UK = a border or perimeter construction often said to be idyllic in the US.

  5. Wow, was tired just reading the clues let alone solving them. I got there without the blog , ie got the answers, but needed the blog to help parse a few, well done to Bufo, like William Geddes I’d sort of got 1a, so thanks also to Qix. Thanks also to Shamus

  6. I totally agree with Phercott. Lousily constructed, laboured, too long clues. There seems to be too many of that sort of compiler these days.

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