Toughie 964 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 964

Toughie No 964 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Yet another gentle Thursday Toughie.

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    Fellow, sort packed with passion? (9)
{FIREBRAND} F (Fellow) and a sort goes round passion. The whole clue provides the definition

6a    Risk taken in chopper I landed (5)
{PERIL} Hidden in chopper I landed

9a    Extremely gentle lead not acting possibly in film (7)
{MILDEST} An anagram (possibly) of LED (lead minus A for acting) inside a film

10a    Seat shifted amid loud anticipation (9)
{FORETASTE} An anagram (shifted) of SEAT in the musical term for ‘loud’

11a    Make pictorial record of artist endlessly in sensational development (7)
{SCANDAL} ‘Make pictorial record’ + the name of a Spanish artist with the last letter removed

12a    Notice a record once backed by eccentric figure (7)
{PLACARD} A reversal of A record once (going at 33 rpm) + an eccentric

13a    Gentle ride Rover represented for man’s best friend? (6,9)
{GOLDEN RETRIEVER} An anagram (represented) of GENTLE RIDE ROVER gives a breed of dog

17a    Note held in sign to withdraw account of meeting (7)
{MINUTES} The seventh note of the scale goes inside a mathematical sign that denotes ‘subtract’

19a    Short Californian inmate maybe, one foremost in criminality (7)
{LACONIC} A Californian city + a prisoner + I (one) + C (first letter of criminality)

22a    Woman in part hooked in prolonged discussion (9)
{TALKATHON} A woman’s name goes inside part of a bird that is hooked

23a    Association giving aid for vision (7)
{CONTACT} 2 meanings: association/something worn instead of spectacles

24a    Medical body interrupted by English female in line? (5)
{NIECE} A body within the NHS that provides advice on the use of medicines, etc., goes round E (English)

25a    Rode tram precariously around back of district in foreign port (9)
{ROTTERDAM} An anagram (precariously) of RODE TRAM round T (last letter of district)


1d    Noted endless commotion about a way of working (6)
{FAMOUS} A commotion with the last letter removed goes round A + a 2-letter abbreviation denoting a way of working

2d    Rumble phone being used as a way to check who’s in (4-4)
{ROLL-CALL} ‘To rumble’ + ‘to phone’

3d    Wife amid strain describing tea? (6)
{BREWED} W (wife) inside a strain

4d    Description of packed gallery, perhaps — almost masterly (6)
{ARTFUL} What is seen in a gallery + ‘packed’ with the last letter removed

5d    Like a banger and pancake with trimming in awful diet (8)
{DECREPIT} A pancake with the last letter removed (trimmed) goes inside an anagram (awful) of DIET

6d    Nice pal following historical recipe for beef (8)
{PASTRAMI} The word a person from Nice would use for pal follows ‘historical’ and R (recipe)

7d    American vessel in affected manner promoted in foreign country (6)
{RUSSIA} A 3-letter abbreviation found at the start of names of American ships goes inside a reversal (promoted) of a manner

8d    Blue / sitcom actor (8)
{LAVENDER} 2 meanings: a shade of blue/the surname of a member of the Dad’s Army cast

13d    Character played by Hanks, Shakespearean lead lacking at heart common sense (8)
{GUMPTION} The surname of a character played by Tom Hanks (for which he won an Oscar) + a title character in a Shakespeare play with the middle letter omitted

14d    Place for admitting / transport (8)
{ENTRANCE} 2 meanings: place for admitting (letting in)/to transport

15d    Bolt, ace, say, not performing in period of heavy activity (4,4)
{RUSH HOUR} ‘To bolt’ + a top card in bridge (such as an ace) with ON (performing) removed

16d    Leading group, security for a Black Maria? (8)
{VANGUARD} When split (3,5) it could be someone providing security for a Black Maria

18d    Characteristic encapsulating the Italian riverside dweller (6)
{NILOTE} A characteristic goes round the Italian word for ‘the’ to give an inhabitant of the banks of a large African river

19d    Point employed by orderly number broaching secure unit’s closure (6)
{LANCET} A pointed instrument that might be used by an orderly in a hospital = N (number) inside ‘to secure (with string or cord)’ + T (last letter of unit)

20d    Shift / procedure in bell tower? (6)
{CHANGE} 2 meanings: to shift/any of the various orders in which a peal of bells can be rung

21d    Ignored order about southern trade (6)
{CUSTOM} ‘Ignored’ and an abbreviation for an order goes round S (southern)

Toughies should be tougher than this

19 comments on “Toughie 964

  1. Not overly difficult to complete, but a couple took me a while to parse correctly.
    The one I failed to understand why was 15d (Ace/Honour without on/performing).

    3*/4* for me. Thanks to Shamus, and to Bufo.

  2. Thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for a very enjoyable toughie and review. By the way Bufo 3d is missing its’ w.

  3. Straightforward puzzle with 1a being the stand-out for me thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for the hints.

  4. Don’t usually have time to attempt the toughie after the back page cryptic,but as it was scored a ** by Bufo ,gave it a try.Needed a few hints(thanks Bufo) and did’nt know 22 was a proper word,and never heard of 18d. Apart from this enjoyed the puzzle and award **** for enjoyment.

  5. Very enjoyable but I did struggle with 22a and 18d for which I now feel suitably gormless !
    Faves 1a , 8d and 15d .
    Thanks very much .

  6. I enjoyed this even if it did go a bit wrong in the bottom right corner and I couldn’t do 18d.
    I’d never dare to award stars to a Toughie for difficulty or enjoyment but I did most of it which means it wasn’t a tough Toughie.
    I liked 1 and 25a and 6 and 13d. Also liked 22a but would have been unable to do it if a couple of people on the ‘other side’ hadn’t told me that I was in the middle of an answer in SW corner!
    With thanks to Shamus and bufo.

  7. Took ages to get going but after I left it for a while came back and filled the rest in (except 22a) without resorting to hints (although I was sorely tempted). Finding it very rewarding to finally be able to make a decent stab at the Toughies (though another reason for holding off on the hints is when I find one I felt masterful for having conquered described as gentle!). I’m sorry but, not being a bridge player, I still have no idea how the answer for 15 d came about – I just got it from the definition and the checking letters. Thanks to the setter and to Bufo’s for the hints.

      1. Thank you. The great thing about cryptics is I really do learn something new nearly every go!

    1. Never be concerned by others. It should always be your enjoyment of the puzzle that is paramount.

      1. Thank you and I do think that Big Dave’s blog does make it clear that enjoyment is paramount! Everyone is always so encouraging and not at all boastful and so welcoming. It would just feel so great if I finished a Toughie that was rated 4+ stars though!

        1. I learn something most days too and couldn’t agree more about BD’s blog – it’s wonderful! I wouldn’t mind finishing a Toughie with 1* without resorting to the hints. I live in hope!!

  8. A good fun puzzle. Appreciated the two totally different clue-ing styles of today’s setters. Favourite has to be 22a including Kath’s name. I seem to remember a comment from her recently when she was talking with Una and expressed envy that, while Una had been in several answers, Kath never had been. I wonder whether Shamus had picked up on this. Methinks yes. Not an common combination of letters to occur randomly. Much enjoyed.
    Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

    1. The only others I can find, excluding proper nouns and words that start with Kath, are akathisia (a psychological condition characterized by agitation and a frequent desire to alter the posture) and walkathon, although i did rather like “Tarka the Otter” and “Hark! hark! the lark at heaven’s gate sings” from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.

    2. I rather think that 22a has to be wishful thinking, although I do talk a lot so most of my comments could be a 22a! :smile:

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