Toughie 1246 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1246

Toughie No 1246 by Shamus

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

I didn’t find this puzzle as polished as Shamus’ last, but still quite enjoyed it.

Definitions are underlined. 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 Lamentable executive? Not half (4)
DIRE The first half only (not half) of an 8-letter word for a senior company officer.

3a Victor, Irish American, getting contagion (5)
VIRUS The letter symbolised by Victor in the NATO phonetic alphabet, a two-letter abbreviation for IRish, and a two-letter abbreviation for American.

6a Oppose US car brand lacking central feature (4)
BUCK … as in to oppose or resist a trend. A General Motors automobile brand minus its middle letter (lacking central feature).


8a Like Eurocrat dismissed for not working? (3,2,10)
OUT OF COMMISSION A phrase that could be read as meaning having got the boot from the executive body of the EU.

9a Allow nothing to be reflected in window feature? (6)
LINTEL To permit or allow, plus a word for nothing or zero, all put in reverse (to be reflected).

10a Footballer once getting award without playing in peak period (4,4)
RUSH HOUR A former Liverpool striker (footballer once) followed by a word for an award or accolade minus a two-letter word meaning playing, as of a radio or record.

11a Food not quite present with pre-meal ritual? Shame! (8)
DISGRACE A serving of food minus its last letter (not quite present), then a prayer of thanks for what diners are about to receive.

13a Perhaps plane is kept in resort largely for actress (6)
STREEP The type of vegetation of which a plane is an example, inside (is kept in) a word for a health resort minus its last letter (largely).


15a Dislike obelisk (6)
NEEDLE A word for an obelisk that also means mutual antagonism.

17a Monastic life is embraced by group in church? Right (8)
CLOISTER A Russian doll sort of clue. IS from the clue goes inside (embraced by) a word for group or collection, which in turn goes inside (in) the standard acronym clued by church, followed by the abbreviation for Right.

19a Intelligent English barrister’s case in time college lecturer originally absorbs (8)
CEREBRAL Another Russian doll clue. The abbreviation for English plus the outer letters (case) of BarristeR go inside a word for a time or period, all of which is then absorbed by the abbreviation for College and the initial letter of (originally) Lecturer.

21a By the sound of it, hesitate to offer voluntary relinquishment (6)
WAIVER A homophone of (by the sound of it) a verb meaning to hesitate or 3d.

22a Pressure over Western treaty, one for overturning legal mechanism (5,2,8)
POWER OF ATTORNEY An anagram (overturning) of the abbreviations for Pressure, Over (in cricket), Western and TREATY ONE FOR.

23a Support maybe artistic hosts (4)
BEAR (A verb meaning) support (that the phrase) MAYBEARTISTIC hosts (i.e. contains).

24a Note distinctive character that’s not very large in force (5)
TEETH A musical note followed by a word for distinctive character or set of attitudes, after dropping (that’s not) an abbreviation meaning very large.

25a Take minute off lesson for exam (4)
ORAL The lesson to be drawn from a fable or parable, after dropping (take off) the abbreviation for Minute.


1d Revolutionary atmosphere close to industrial port, suggesting disaster? (4-5)
DOOM-LADEN A word for atmosphere or feeling, reversed (revolutionary), and followed by the final letter of (close to) industriaL and the name of a port that often appears in crosswords (not Rio, the other one). 

2d Element in tabloid press, an obsession of TV executives? (7)
RATINGS A metallic element inside a term for inferior newspapers.

3d Be indecisive with trouble during leave (9)
VACILLATE A word for a trouble or woe inside (during) a verb meaning to leave or quit.

4d Attitude of some criminals seen in theorem or seminar (7)
REMORSE The solution is hidden (seen) in THEOREMORSEMINAR,

5d Mostly elegant society of a landlocked state? (5)
SWISS A word for elegant or swanky, minus its last letter (mostly), plus the abbreviation for Society.

6d Head round house kept by short woman in strait (9)
BOSPHORUS More Russian dolls! Starting from the inside: the two-letter abbreviation for HOuse goes inside (kept by) the short form of a female name, all of which is enclosed (round) by a head or superior.


7d Look, leader of sect will be detained by foreign priest in end (7)
CLOSURE An archaic imperative meaning look or behold and the first letter (leader) of Sect go inside (will be detained by) a French parish priest.

12d Who’s greeted a bit of gismology excitedly? (9)
GADGETEER A semi-&lit clue — or whole-clue definition, part of which is also the cryptic instruction. An anagram (excitedly) of GREETED A and the first letter (bit) of Gismology.

13d Two chaps arranged to keep time — using this? (4,5)
STOP WATCH An anagram (arranged) of TWO CHAPS goes round (to keep) the abbreviation for Time.

14d Description of man entering website (9)
PORTRAYAL A man’s name inside a type of website or page that acts as a gateway to other information.

16d Earl certainly getting valuable material? It’s repellent to see (7)
EYESORE A charade of the abbreviation for Earl, a word for certainly or by all means, and a substance mined for its metal or mineral content.

17d Pass one in stir linked to latest in divisive art form (7)
COLLAGE A word for a mountain pass plus a convict in prison, then add the last letter of (linked to latest in) divisivE.

18d British composer publican mentioned (7)
TAVENER A homophone (mentioned) of a publican or innkeeper.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

20d Skipper sat discontentedly in resting place (5)
ROOST An animal that skips or hops plus the outer letters of (dis-content-edly) SaT.


13a tickled me  – but what were your thoughts?

Over to you – please rate and comment on this puzzle below.

28 comments on “Toughie 1246

  1. Gentle start to the Toughie week, favourites were 6a 10a and 20d thanks to Shamus and to Toro for the review.

    1. The “Who’s…” in the clue just means “The kind of person who’s…”. The rest of the clue completes the definition but also acts as the cryptic wordplay (an anagram).

  2. I like the phrase “Russian Doll” clue – I was going to say “it’s a bit of this put inside a bit of that put inside a bit of the other”, but it’s a bit long winded! Seemed to be rather a lot of them today.

    Still, enjoyable and about right level of toughness for a Tuesday methought. Agree 13a raised a smile but my fav was 8a – as though a Eurocrat wouldn’t toiling away 24/7 for his modest stipend

    Thanks to Shamus and Toro.

  3. The clues were too contrived for me and I don’t like the Russian doll type. What a nice way of explaining them, Toro!

  4. Thank you Shamus for giving me a toughie I could actually solve without help!
    I don’t think this was much more difficult than todays back page but the clues were much more fun to solve.
    Oddly 1a was my final answer but I have never come across the term in 12d.
    I guess I’ll be struggling again tomorrow.

  5. The continuing bad weather led me into attempting today’s toughie. I found it like a football match – a game of two halves.

    I really, really enjoyed the top half which was challenging but all fell into place after a bit of cogitation, and I really, really didn’t like the bottom half, most of which I found a bit like drawing 24a. Like Happy Days, I am not a Russian Doll fan when it comes to crosswords; but what a great description, Toro!

    Incidentally although I got the answer and the wordplay for 24a, can someone please explain how it fits with the definition of “force”? Even looking up both words in my BRB hasn’t provided any enlightenment.

    Many thanks to Shamus and to Toro.

    1. 24a means force in the sense of what a regulator or watchdog should have…

      My BRB (12th ed.) has it as the last entry under the nounal definitions of 24a (the headword is in the singular).

      1. Thanks Toro. I take it back. I checked again and it is indeed the last entry in my BRB in the list of nounal definitions for the singular root prefixed by “(in pl)”. I should have gone to SpecSavers!

      1. Well the weather has been awful …

        … I just hope it’s not the thin end of the wedge

  6. I take it everyone’s realised that the picture at 13a is said actress presenting Shamus with a special trophy at the Crossword Oscars…

  7. Thanks to Shamus and Toro for the review and hints. Put the flags out, I’ve got a Toughie completion
    Was not too difficult, but very enjoyable. Favourite was 10a. Was 2*/3* for me. No sign of the Sun in Central London.

  8. Much enjoyed this and solved much more methodically (top to bottom) than today’s back page. Last entry was 12d, and worth the wait – what a nice clue. Have seen teeth used for force previously and also found it odd at first – have gotten used to it. First tried “best hour” for peak period; I’m not great on footballers and thought I had at last recognised one.

    Many thanks Shamus and Toro

  9. Enjoyed doing this grid where I guessed a few answers without understanding how I got there. Russian dolls as toro calls them are a bit too convoluted for me. Didn’t get 24a though. Couldn’t get my force around it. Liked 14d very much. Thanks to Toro and shamus.

  10. We called it a scorpion puzzle with a sting in the tail. This is because parsing 24a took us as long as the whole rest of the puzzle. However we did not give up and the penny eventually dropped. Lots of Shamus’ characteristic clue type (Lego/Russian Doll) which we quite like unpicking. Good fun.
    Thanks Toro and Shamus.

  11. Almost completed a Toughie – have only managed that a few times.
    Needless to say I’ve never heard of the 10a footballer and I needed the hints to explain my 24a and 6d – maybe that doesn’t count as completion.
    Love the Russian Doll phrase.
    I have to confess that my favourite was 20d.
    With thanks to Shamus and Toro.

  12. Color me grumpy.

    I am obviously in the minority today because I really didn’t think much of this, even for a Tuesday toughie. I completed without hints, but nothing raised so much as the ghost of a smile, and I thought 12D was a horrible word. We all have things we dislike in crosswords and one of mine is abbreviated Christian names being used and clued as ‘man’ or ‘woman’. It’s just way too loose. Dire would seem to me to be rather more extreme than merely lamentable, and I’m not convinced that needle is synonymous with dislike. Oh, well, tomorrow is another day.

  13. Actually completed this without help – which is very rare for me.
    Thanks Toro for explaining some details, and to Shamus for the enjoyable puzzle.

  14. I really loved all the clues I could do (most of them) and I resorted to hints for the (small) remainder as I just got too tired.Back to work this week , up before 7 which is a bit of a shock to the system.Thanks Shamus and Toro.

  15. Managed to finish this one without help, which is rare. Thought it was an enjoyable puzzle but was unable to confirm 1d DOOM-LADEN in my 1993 edition of the BRB. Is this unheard of or should I not consider the BRB to be infallible ? Thank you to Shamus and to Toro. Sh-Shoney.

    1. Now this is weirdest thing, but I actually recall looking that word up in BRB in 1992 after using it in a translation of a 19th century Bulgarian poem!!! And yes, it wasn’t there. It is in my current version though, which is 12th edition (2011).

      1. Thanks, Toro. I think this sorts what my Christmas present will be this year. Sh-Shoney.

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