Toughie 853 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 853

Toughie No 853 by Shamus

Crossword Meccano

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Bufo is taking a week off.  If you like clues where a number of little pieces are fastened together to get the answer then you will enjoy this puzzle from Shamus.

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    In which one might find a god in retreat with Hindus principally inspired? (6)
{ASHRAM} – start with the A from the clue then reverse (retreat) a Roman god and insert (inspired) the initial letter (principally) of Hindus – a semi &Lit clue where the whole clue provides the definition

9a    Reserve glass containing bit of rosé — it reduces tension? (10)
{ICEBREAKER} – a three-letter word for reserve or coolness followed by a glass or tumbler around (containing) the initial letter (bit) of Rosé

10a    Keen Arab in revolution spread Islam, not a set of reforming principles (10)
{RADICALISM} – reverse (in revolution) a word meaning keen or sharp and AR(ab) and then add an anagram (spread) of ISL(A)M without the A (not a)

11a    Relative acceleration shown by former racing driver commonly mentioned (4)
{AUNT} – A(cceleration) followed by a former British racing driver without his initial H (commonly mentioned) – does “commonly mentioned” really mean dropping the aspirate?

12a    Something precious about Republican in beginning (4)
{GERM} – put something precious around R(epublican) to get an initial stage from which something may develop

14a    Very loud paintings backed by journal in gallery? Mass congestion results (7,3)
{TRAFFIC JAM} – reverse (backed) the musical notation for Very loud and a general word for paintings then add J(ournal) inside a London gallery and M(ass)

17a    A German entering legislative body largely of a very wicked nature (7)
{HEINOUS} – the German for a / one goes inside (entering) most of (largely) a legislative body like The Commons or The Lords

18a    Describing a form of learning in book before period covering hard topics initially (2,5)
{BY HEART} – B(ook) followed by a period of 365 days around H(ard) and the initial letter of Topics

20a    Sweep into fine hotel with a posh car, ultimate in grandiosity? I might! (5,5)
{FLASH HARRY} – a sweep or flick between F(ine) and H(otel) followed by the A from the clue, a two-letter abbreviation for a posh car and the final letter (ultimate) of grandiositY – this person might behave as described

21a    Work in Gaza etc shortly depressed person (4)
{MOPE} – the short word for a musical work inside the area of which Gaza is a part

22a    Rush to be covered by private arrangement (4)
{TEAR} – hidden (to be covered by) inside the clue

23a    Order to go down note containing appeal requiring money (10)
{COMMITMENT} – an order to go down to prison comes from a note, like those that follow this review, around one of the two-letter abbreviations for sex appeal and M(oney)

ARVE Error: need id and provider

25a    Rugby side with second playing area — part of a commercial approach? (5,5)
{SALES PITCH} – a rugby side known as The Sharks followed by s(econd) and a playing area for, among other sports, rugby

26a    Head of hostelry swamped by rubbish in party (6)
{THRASH} – the initial letter (head) of Hostelry inside (swamped by) some rubbish


2d    Sing around a musical group offering regular fare? (6,4)
{SQUARE MEAL} – a verb meaning to sing or snitch around the A from the clue and a musical pop group

3d    Queen in country with leader overlooked by the rest (4)
{RANI} – start with a Middle Eastern country and then move its initial letter to the end (leader overlooked by the rest)

4d    Lawyer in film with pained expression showing profitable instinct? (5,5)
{MIDAS TOUCH} – an American lawyer inside a film of rain in very fine drops followed by a pained expression

5d    Bird from large island tucking into nut (7)
{PELICAN} – L(arge) and I(sland) inside a type of nut

6d    Repellent rule blocking fighter on the way up (4)
{GRIM} – R(ule) inside (blocking) a Soviet fighter reversed (on the way up)

7d    Dressing up unfortunately Conservative enters fantasised state (5,5)
{SALAD CREAM} – a dressing or relish comes from reversing (up) a four-letter word meaning unfortunately followed by C(onservative) inside (enters) a fantasised state

8d    South African plant wasting a million for the time being (3,3)
{PRO TEM} – start with the South African plant adopted by their cricket team, drop (wasting) the final A and add M(illion)

13d    TV phenomenon favoured among sad types (10)
{MINISERIES} – a two-letter word meaning favoured inside (among) some sad types

15d    Irresponsible order given to long-haul pilot? (3-2-5)
{FLY-BY-NIGHT} – this could be an order given to a long-haul pilot

16d    Criminal rents a pub, leading to son’s rude quality (10)
{ABRUPTNESS} – an anagram (criminal) of RENTS A PUB followed by S(on)

19d    Leading cleric, nut about religious instruction with master (7)
{PRIMATE} – a nut or head around the abbreviation of Religious Instruction and M(aster)

20d    Foreign cheese of a sort masking a fixation (6)
{FETISH} – how you might describe something that is like a Greek cheese without (masking) the A

23d    Covering a muscle back to front (4)
{CAPE} – start with the A from the clue and a muscle and move the final letter to the beginning (back to front)

24d    Secure legendary footballer by the sound of it (4)
{MOOR} – sounds like a legendary West Ham and England footballer

This has been a pretty good week for both Toughies and back-page puzzles. Let’s hope it continues like this tomorrow.

14 comments on “Toughie 853

  1. I would probably give this 2.5 difficulty based on the time/Tippex it took me to sort out the LH side. The across clues seem even more verbose than usual, even for a Shamus. 3* entertainment. Thanks to Shamus and BD too.

  2. The LH side was my last to complete, finishing up with 17a, 1a, and 2d.
    I enjoyed it; many thanks to Shamus, and to BD.

    19d – A couple of unwanted characters in the hint.

  3. Enjoyed this so thanks to Shamus.
    No particular favs and never come across 21a as a noun before but ces’t la vie. 2*/3* from me.

    Thanks to BD for the review.

  4. Yes, Crypticsue. Long-winded and clunk, clunk, clunk. What a let-down after yesterday’s MIcawber.

  5. I really wish the solutions could be posted later….i only get the bloody paper at around 11…..always a bummer doing the puzzles when I know the answers are only a click away… it for me……please??…….post ’em both at three…….go on…..thanks…….Joe.

  6. Nice offering from todays setter favourites for me were 2d 4d 7d and 20a thanks to Shamus and to Big Dave for the comments.

  7. One of those times when we filled in all the correct answers but did not manage to sort out all the fiddly bits of how some of them were derived. Like a miss-hit in golf that ends up on the green. (As I did yesterday). The score sheet only shows “how many” not “how”.
    Thanks Shamus and BD.

  8. Enjoyed that but had to come to BD’s review for the explanation for 10a. Thanks to Shamus & to BD.

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