Toughie 884

Toughie No 884 by Shamus

That Rings a Bell

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

We have quite a verbose puzzle from Shamus (my printout spilled over on to a second sheet of A4 which is fairly unusual). I thought quite a few of the clues were a bit ‘samey’ with lots of reversals and truncations.
Do let us know how you fared and please take the time to click on one of the stars below to record your enjoyment factor.

Across Clues

1a  Helpful types reviewed random art having physical presence? (6-3-6)
{BRICKS-AND-MORTAR} – start with an informal (and dated) term for helpful and supportive people and follow this with an anagram (reviewed) of RANDOM ART. I always thought that the answer just referred to structures actually existing on the ground as opposed to on paper, but Chambers says it is used specifically to describe a commercial enterprise which doesn’t use the Internet to conduct its business.

9a  Families caught out taking in everything in dialect (7)
{LALLANS} – this is the Scottish dialect of central and southern Scotland (i.e. the lowlands as opposed to the highlands) and it’s also used to mean the form of Scots developed by modern Scottish writers. A word for families or tribes loses its initial C (caught out) and a synonym for everything gets inserted (taking in).

10a  Thin tailless bird, feature of lighthouse? (7)
{LANTERN} – this is the correct name for the light chamber at the top of a lighthouse (my late brother-in-law was a principal lighthouse keeper and this is the term he always used). An adjective meaning long and thin without its final K (tailless) is followed by a seabird.

11a  Journal and book in a country once showing exotic dish (9)
{JAMBALAYA} – start with the single-letter abbreviation for journal then insert B(ook) inside A and what was once an Asian country.

12a  Hand given by a wife in conference (5)
{PAWAW} – an informal word for hand is followed by A and W(ife) to make an alternative way of spelling a type of conference, originally one between Native Americans.

13a  Take the place of rector and priest with woman (7)
{RELIEVE} – string together R(ector), the usual Old Testament priest and a woman’s name.

15a  Fairness shown in study about church with discontented clergy (7)
{DECENCY} – a study contains one of the abbreviations for church then we finish with the outer (discontented) letters of C(lerg)Y.

17a  Odd trade followed by Republican in revolutionary period (7)
{BIZARRE} – an informal word for trade is followed by R(epublican) inside a period of time reversed (revolutionary).

19a  Game fighter overlooked around North Indian place — a self-inflicted disadvantage? (3,4)
{OWN GOAL} – a word for game of the feathered variety loses its initial F (fighter overlooked) and what remains goes around N(orth) and a state on the west coast of India.

21a  Send out  children (5)
{ISSUE} – double definition and old chestnut.

23a  Drink present around half of grub prominently positioned (2,3,4)
{TO THE FORE} – a small measure of alcoholic drink is followed by an adverb meaning present or in attendance with the first half of a more formal term for grub inserted.

25a  Boy with bad score in cricket in hopeless state (7)
{DESPAIR} – an abbreviated boy’s name is followed by a cricketing term for a score of zero by a batsman in both innings of a match (so a couple of ducks).

26a  Particular muscle protected by others (7)
{RESPECT} – an abbreviation for a chest muscle is contained inside (protected by) another word for others.

27a  Policies stun Sun unexpectedly in attention to detail (15)
{PUNCTILIOUSNESS} – an anagram (unexpectedly) of POLICIES STUN SUN.

Down Clues

1d  Gas container shown by ex-news reporter upset government (4,3)
{BELL JAR} – my initial thought here was of Kate Adie but what we want is the surname of the BBC war reporter whose trademark was a white suit and who later became an independent MP. After that reverse (upset) the word for British government in India.

2d  Theory about city abroad in religion (5)
{ISLAM} – a theory or philosophy goes round the abbreviation of a city on the west coast of the US.

3d  Australian native arranged a break around much of upcoming Asian country (5,4)
{KOALA BEAR} – an anagram (arranged) of A BREAK contains an Asian country reversed (upcoming, in a down clue) but without its final S (much of).

4d  Ease shown by a flipping European physicist (7)
{ASSUAGE} – start with A (from the clue) then reverse (flipping) E(uropean) and the name of a German mathematician and physicist after whom a unit of magnetic induction is named.

5d  Recall short exchange in court interrupting ineffective and stupid person (7)
{DULLARD} – reverse (recall) an exchange on the tennis court without its final Y (short) and put it inside (interrupting) an informal adjective meaning ineffective or useless.

6d  Confess bit of weakness by foreign character in work (3,2)
{OWN UP} – the first letter (bit) of W(eakness) and the thirteenth letter of the Greek alphabet go inside the abbreviation for an artistic work.

7d  A wok noted for cooking — an Eastern speciality? (3,4,2)
{TAE KWON DO} – an anagram (for cooking) of A WOK NOTED gives us the Korean martial art in which Welsh teenager Jade Jones won a gold medal in the Olympics.

8d  Perhaps, loose Arab strip found round back of medina (7)
{RUNAWAY} – this Arab has four legs rather than two. Put the sort of strip you’d find at Heathrow round the back letter of (medin)A.

14d  Inactive American in hospital gets revolving tray (4,5)
{LAZY SUSAN} – an adjective meaning inactive or slothful is followed by an abbreviation for American inside the abbreviation for a convalescent hospital.

16d  Study report of official count and agreement (9)
{CONSENSUS} – a verb to study is followed by a homophone (report) of the official count which takes place every 10 years in the UK.

17d  Association missing leader amid rising local advance publicity? (5-2)
{BUILD-UP} – a word for an association (used in the Middle Ages for a trade body of craftsmen with a specific skill) loses its initial G (missing leader) and what’s left goes inside the abbreviation for a local which has to be reversed (rising).

18d  Intrigue produced by article docked in northerly port (7)
{ENTHRAL} – a definite article loses its tail letter (docked) and what’s left goes inside a Northern Ireland port which is reversed (northerly, in a down clue).

19d  Head almost around pitch in foreign province (7)
{ONTARIO} – all except the final letter (almost) of an informal word for head contain the black stuff (pitch).

20d  Retired group taken with genuine Shakespearean character (7)
{LAERTES} – a charade of a synonym for group and an adjective meaning genuine or authentic gets reversed (retired) to make the name of a character in Hamlet.

22d  Accurate fire returned by Scot? The odds are non-existent (5)
{EXACT} – a verb meaning to fire or sack is reversed (returned) and this is followed by the even letters only of Scot.

24d  Award given by society initially established with a pot? (5)
{OBESE} – an award or decoration is followed by S(ociety) and the first letter (initially) of E(stablished).

My favourite clue today was 8d. How about you?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I would give it 2.5/2.5 and it wasn’t half as verbose as the last Shamus when I needed a lie down after reading each clue. Quite impressed that I remembered the physicist in 4d and I learnt a new dialect too. Thanks to Shamus for the puzzle and gazza for the review – lovely koala :)

    • Qix
      Posted November 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      I agree, a definite reduction in verbosity, and better for it.

      I enjoyed solving this one, although it took less time than the back-pager, and I wouldn’t have called it a Toughie.

      Many thanks to Shamus, and to Gazza for the write-up.

      • crypticsue
        Posted November 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Took me a smidge under twice as long as the back page (hope that makes sense). Mind you I was alone solving the back page and in the company of a coughing colleague which I did the Toughie which might have affected solving time.

        • Qix
          Posted November 28, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

          I suppose that I also laboured somewhat more than was necessary with the back-page puzzle, although I solved them one after the other, and they felt quite similar in terms of difficulty, although not of style.

  2. jezza
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    3.5* on both counts for me. The two that caused me the most grief were 4d, and 18d (with the checking letters I wanted to put ESTORIL, which is a port, but wrong definition, and no connection whatsoever to the wordplay!).
    Thanks to Shamus, and to Gazza.

    • jezza
      Posted November 28, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      …actually I don’t think it is a port, more like a seaside resort!

  3. Big Boab
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this crossword very much, fav. clue 9a. Many thanks to Shamus and to Gazza for the very entertaining review though I have to confess I much prefer the Hank Williams version of 11a. ( I’m an old fashioned Country & Western fanatic)

  4. Only fools
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I never time solving but this did take several more cups of tea than the back-pager .Was about to throw the towel in with 18d but eventually crawled over the line.

  5. Pegasus
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this much more than his last offering, Favourites were 8d 9a and 10a thanks to Shamus and to Gazza for the review.

  6. Mike
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I don’t usually tackle the Toughie, but I thought I’d try today’s – I’ve done the top half so far and am quite enjoying it.

    Can I ask a question – some months ago I suggested an alternative way of solving a clue in the Cryptic Crossword, but it was rejected on the basis that the first letters of words I had used were not officially recognised word abbreviations – fair enough.

    So to 11a in today’s Toughie which uses, I believe, J & B for abbreviations of Journal & Book.
    After searching numerous online sites of ‘official’ lists of word abbreviations (inc. the United Nations site) I finally found J for Journal, but nowhere can I find B for Book (only Bk).

    So my question is which ‘official’ list of word abbreviations does the BigDave community use?
    I understand you use Chambers Dictionary – is that also used for this purpose?
    Or am I being to ‘picky” !!

    • crypticsue
      Posted November 28, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Both B for Book and J for Journal are both found in Chambers Dictionary (known as the B(ig) R(ed) B(ook) which is always my first port of call for abbreviation verification.

      • Mike
        Posted November 28, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Thanks CS maybe it’s time I invested in a copy of Chambers – so I’m in with the ‘in-crowd’

        Is there an online version available do you know?

        (I normally use the OED online through my Local Library Ticket)

        • crypticsue
          Posted November 28, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          I have three copies of the BRB, the latest two versions and the 1949 20th Century Edition which was a wedding present to my parents and has lots of lovely little illustrations throughout – my favourite in a way as it was my childhood guide to the fascinating world of strange words.

          • Mike
            Posted November 28, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

            I agree – there’s a lot of beauty in the English Language – we’re very lucky.

    • gazza
      Posted November 28, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      My first resource for checking abbreviations is a paperback called ‘Chambers XWD A Dictionary of Crossword Abbreviations’. It’s easier and faster to use than going directly to the BRB.

      • Mike
        Posted November 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        Thanks gazza – at the mention of the Big Red Book, something clicked – now I remember – I had a paperback copy years ago, but it fell to pieces through overuse and I never replaced it.

        • Qix
          Posted November 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

          It’s not just the folk at this website that use the BRB – it’s the Telegraph itself, and most other major newspaper crosswords (except the Times and Sunday Times – they favour Collins).

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    We completed this with some effort but found it less than satisfying. Did not get the port in 16d but had the answer right. Too much grinding out the minutiae and piecing together the bits to justify an answer for our liking.
    However, a good workout and it is nice to experience the variation that we get from different setters.
    Thanks Shamus and Gazza.

  8. ChrisH
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Definitely tougher than the ‘back-pager’ for me. Couldn’t get started for ages, then a lucky break with 1A helped matters immensely.
    Had to resort frequently to my electronic aid, but not the hints, so quite pleased to have completed it. Can’t honestly say I particularly enjoyed it, though.

  9. andy
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    12a was my downfall, sat on a train i really dislike alternative spellings, just about recalled the philosopher. Overall agree with ratingsThanks to Shamus and Gazza