Toughie 1260

Toughie No 1260 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Bufo

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I was sorry to miss last week’s Micawber puzzle especially as this week’s puzzle is a more typical Thursday puzzle. There was nothing particularly difficult in it although, as often happens with Shamus puzzles, the last couple of bits of wordplay needed a little thought

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.

Across

7a    Musical group beset by a lot of horrid criticism (7)
VITRIOL: A musical group of three people inside ‘horrid’ with the last letter removed

8a    Stupid group ignoring sun in green spot? (7)
THICKET: ‘Stupid’ (5) = a group (3) with S (sun) removed = a dense mass of trees or shrubs (a green spot)

10a    On RUC shifts, policeman reverse of ideal? It shows plenty (10)
CORNUCOPIA: An anagram (shifts) of ON RUC + a policeman + a reversal of ‘ideal’ = the horn of plenty

11a    Inside coat, hole may be darned, say (4)
OATH: Hidden in cOAT Hole

12a    Hole produced eagle ultimately — and celebration (8)
JAMBOREE: A hole (difficult situation) + ‘produced’ + the last letter of eaglE

14a    Number put away to get order (6)
NEATEN: N (Number) + put away (food) = ‘to order’

15a    Gets a clue — it is wrong! Make a rude sign? (11)
GESTICULATE: An anagram (is wrong) of GETS A CLUE IT

19a    Republican stuck in a fake religious retreat (6)
ASHRAM: R (Republican) inside A and ‘fake’ = a religious retreat for Hindus

20a    Little matter of mark left in what’s tipped? (8)
MOLECULE: A mark on the skin + L (left) in an item of snooker equipment that has a tip

22a    Flier to alter direction by the sound of it (4)
TERN: An aquatic bird is a homophone of ‘to alter direction’

23a    Become embarrassed backing a Conservative that’s insulting (10)
DEROGATORY: A reversal (backing) of ‘become embarrassed’ (2,3) + A + ‘conservative’

25a    The woman’s business attire in hearing showing hairs? (7)
HIRSUTE: A homophone of ‘the woman’s’ and ‘business attire’ = ‘hairy’

26a    Trouble in borderless land in state (7)
ECUADOR: Trouble (3) inside ‘to land’ (6) with the first and last letters removed = a country in South America

Down

1d    Key US city closed with bigwig turning up (7)
PIVOTAL: Key (crucially important) = a reversal of a US city (2), ‘closed’ (2) and a bigwig (3)

2d    Contents of tub possibly in club range (4)
BRAN: Hidden in cluB RANge

3d    Lab gent’s apparently opposed to run together (6)
CONCUR: The first 3 letters are an opponent of Lab(our) and the second three letters are a despicable fellow (i.e. the opposite of a gent). The whole is ‘to run together’ or ‘to coincide’. I hope that’s right

4d    When it bursts out of a cracked shell, it’s hairy (8)
SHRAPNEL: I spent some time here looking for some clever wordplay. In the end I decided that it must just be a cryptic definition where the shell is an explosive one and ‘hairy’ = ‘dangerous’ or ‘frightening’

5d    Bookish companion in sun with wine and bit of cheese (10)
SCHOLASTIC: A Companion (of Honour) inside ‘sol’ + an Italian sparkling wine + the first letter of Cheese

6d    Moroccoone could get tan (7)
LEATHER: Morocco is an example of this material which is produced by tanning

9d    A Merc with ease passed on the outside activating this? (5,6)
SPEED CAMERA: An anagram (activating) of A MERC EASE PD (first and last letters of PasseD) gives something a driver would hope not to activate. I assume that ‘activating’ is the anagram indicator but since ‘to activate’ is a transitive verb I don’t think it works

13d    The French staying in Italian city on lake in drowsy state (10)
BLEARINESS: A French word for ‘the’ inside an Italian city on the Adriatic coast + a lake (or loch) in Scotland

16d    Defect shown by mouse withdrawn from circulation? (8)
TIMIDITY: I think that this is another cryptic definition. A mouse is a shy person who wouldn’t like circulating at a party

17d    Area on south side of Scotland withholding pound? That could be severe (7)
ASCETIC: A (area) + S (south) + a Scottish football team with L (pound) removed

18d    Caller, perhaps, from family bordering Spanish river (7)
CLARION: A trumpet (which goes before ‘call’ to give a stirring summons) = a family (possibly Scottish) round the Spanish word for ‘river’

21d    A willing handover? (6)
LEGACY: Another cryptic definition. Something that is left to one in a will

24d    Fine-tune cutting wide wood (4)
TEAK: Remove W (wide) from a word meaning ‘to fine-tune’

Pleasant enough (which is what I always say about Shamus puzzles)

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16 Comments

  1. spindrift
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I seem to be on spellcheck duty today as I’m sure that the country at 26a does not contain a ‘Q’

    • Posted September 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      And I seem to be on correction duty!

  2. BigBoab
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    A very enjoyable toughie and a succinct and informative review (spelling excepted in 26a). Many thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Bufo, check your spelling of 26A.

    • stanXYZ
      Posted September 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      I always get confused – it’s the Capital that has a “Q”.

  4. Pegasus
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Gentle fare on offer today, favourites were 12a and 20a thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for the comments.
    Bufo slight typo at 26a

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this for the most part, although failed to get 26A. I was totally misled by 4D and spent too long trying to make it an anagram of ‘it a shell’. I was also confused by the wording of 3D and didn’t much like the clue. To me,16D was a bit weak. But I did like 18D and 4D (when the penny dropped). thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

  6. Dutch
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Well, thankfully could do this a little faster than today’s back page, but without understanding wordplay for 14a and 3d, so thank you Bufo for the enlightenment. I spent ages trying to decide whether the mousy answer to 16d was right, it did seem weak.

    Thank you Shamus and Bufo

  7. happy days
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    For me, all downhill after Dada’s Toughie. Yesterday’s and today’s were not at all entertaining. I particularly disliked 3d. It just didn’t work

  8. 2Kiwis
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Late getting to the puzzle as no time yesterday so saved it for a ‘next morning’ treat. Enjoyable and a decent level of difficulty without being diabolical.
    Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

  9. Salty Dog
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    A bit (not very much!) easier than the back-pager, and about 3.5*/3*. Some clever clues, which l needed Bufo’s help to resolve – even when l had clearly arrived at the right answer. I suppose 5d was my favourite. VMTs to Shamus and Bufo.

  10. NJoy
    Posted September 19, 2014 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    I had a sleepless night and so found myself doing this until wee small hours. I finally gave in at about 2pm and turned to the blog this morning with help for the last few. So thank you Shamus for the entertainment and Bufo for enlightening me on the troublesome ones. No particular favourites but I enjoyed the challenge.
    PS. Bufo – I think that you meant “sol” rather than “son” in 5d.

  11. Reggie
    Posted September 19, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Top RH corner I found difficult until with help I got the wood. I don’t like 3 or 4d and still don’t fully understand where 26a comes from apart from the trouble. I reckon 3-5 * for difficulty but only 2* for enjoyment because of clues mentioned

    • gazza
      Posted September 19, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      26a To land or obtain is SECURE. Drop the outer letters (borderless) and insert ADO (trouble).

      • reggie
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        Thanks for clarification. I got the ADO bit (fairly standard for trouble and I now get the secure /land as in job which is rather more more obscure (at least to me)