Toughie 1337 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1337

Toughie No 1337 by Shamus

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BD Rating - Difficulty **/*** - Enjoyment ***

I was among those who had the great pleasure of meeting Shamus at Saturday's wonderful birthday bash for this blog, at which he mentioned that today's puzzle would be one of his. Disappointingly, three days later the money still hasn't arrived so I'm going to have to give it an honest review. This was an enjoyable solve, with a nice range of clue types of very varying difficulty.


1a Haste shown in leading policeman's area (8)
DISPATCH The abbreviation of senior police officer (with apostrophe) plus a word for an area of land or territory.

9a Bear visa abroad, being smooth? The opposite (8)
ABRASIVE An anagram of (abroad) BEAR VISA.

10a Sign of injury about to be bandaged by sister (4)
SCAR A two-letter abbreviation meaning about or approximately inside (bandaged by) the abbreviation for the title of sister in a religious order.

11a Set to travel in wake of legal event like a thriller? (6-6)
ACTION-PACKED A word meaning ready for a holiday or trip follows (in wake of) a legal suit or proceedings.

13a Crack member of duo, Irish, carrying almost relieved expression (8)
DECIPHER The name of one of a famous duo of TV presenters, followed by the two-letter abbreviation for Irish around (carrying) an expression of relief minus its last letter (almost).

15a Man on board that is untested type (6)
ROOKIE A chess piece or man plus the two letters standing for that is in Latin.


16a Case containing sharp objects found in the Tuileries (4)
ETUI The type of word that a good setter makes sure is gettable even if, like me, you've never heard of it. An ornamental case for needles etc. is hidden inside THETUILERIES.

17a Aware of four being cuddled by peer (5)
PRIVY Four in Roman numerals goes inside (cuddled by) a verb meaning to peer or snoop.

18a Completed deliveries (4)
OVER A very straightforward double definition, in which the second part refers to six balls delivered by a bowler in cricket.

20a Element from contralto and ordinary bass singer mostly (6)
COBALT The one-letter abbreviations of contralto, ordinary and bass, then all but the last letter (almost) of yet another musical voice.

21a Drug first to last taken with unchanged stress (8)
EMPHASIS The plant from which cannabis is derived, with the first letter moved to the end, plus a short phrase meaning unchanged or unaltered.

23a Be open to risk in Promethean drama? (4,4,4)
PLAY WITH FIRE The solution suggests a piece of theatre concerning Prometheus's gift to humankind in Greek myth.


26a Mention of Welsh footballer in security (4)
BAIL A sum of money lodged to secure release from custody sounds like (mention of) the surname of a Welshman who plays for Real Madrid.

27a Scattered group support revolutionary men in resort (8)
DIASPORA A word for support or assistance, reversed (revolutionary), and followed by one of those crosswordy abbreviations for soldiers inside a word for a health resort.

28a At ease with broadcasting involving a new unknown character (8)
RELAXING A word for broadcasting in which one algebraic symbol for an unknown is replaced by another.


2d Popular police force department episode (8)
INCIDENT A charade of popular, a detective branch of the police, and a hospital department.

3d Aim IRA partly devised for one of its members (12)
PARAMILITARY An anagram (devised) of AIM IRA PARTLY.

4d Chide companion showing nervous habit (6)
TWITCH A verb (new to me) meaning chide or reproach followed by the abbreviation of Companion of Honour.

5d Glittering aura found among rich a lot (4)
HALO The solution is hidden inside RICHALOT.

6d Characteristic for a Tory to want gold? (8)
PROPERTY For or in favour of, a in the sense of for each, and TORY from the clue after subtracting the heraldic colour gold.

7d Son, type that's brief (4)
SILK ...a (senior) barrister. The abbreviation for son followed by a word meaning type, sort or kind.


8d Countryside worker touring areas separately in cap, say (8)
HEADGEAR A rural occupation into which the abbreviation for area is inserted twice in different positions.

12d Leading figure in row about lake being sited in wild beach -- too twee (9-3)
CHOCOLATE BOX The rowing team member who steers the boat goes round an anagram (wild) of BEACH TOO into which the abbreviation for Lake is inserted.

14d Fish reported in rear (5)
RAISE A verb meaning to rear or lift sounds like (reported) certain fish in the plural.


16d Prank ceased possibly blocked by the old man (8)
ESCAPADE An anagram (possibly) of CEASED goes round a word for the old man or Dad.

17d Criminal got fit after exercising? Raise absurd objection (8)
PETTIFOG An anagram (criminal) of GOT FIT goes after the school subject of gym or sports.

19d Measure taken as a last resort by letter? (8)
EVICTION Cryptic definition of an extreme course of legal action by a property landlord.

22d Border in China typifying some fear? (6)
PRIMAL A word for border or lip inside a word for China in the Cockney Rhyming Slang sense of a friend or mate (China plate).

24d A boozer mounts horse (4)
ARAB The A from the clue followed by a drinking establishment in reverse (mounts).

25d Judge in this place, we're told (4)
HEAR To judge or try a legal case is a homophone (we're told) of a word meaning in this place.

20a and 14d were this solver's picks. What were yours?

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

37 comments on “Toughie 1337

  1. I decided to have a go at the toughie on a whim as I made my way through the paper this morning, with some trepidation, as I have never tried it before!
    Im delighted to say I enjoyed it greatly and only referred to the hints for the last 2, 22d for which I had the answer but couldn’t see why, and 7d, which on reflection , I should have seen.
    I’ve certainly struggled more with the back pager before now but I won’t be complacent. ***/*** for me. Favourite clue- 13a.
    Thanks to Shamus and reviewer.

  2. Well I completed it but Toughie’s are never easy for me.

    I started off wrong by putting ‘slapdash’ in for 1a. I already had the ‘h’ from 5d but still should have seen that it was wrong.
    12d was my last in with 27a proving to be awkward.
    11 and 15a were the the favourites today.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Toro for blogging. I always need to read it to make sure I know why my answers are correct. :-)

  3. I actually finished this without hints so I can afford to be picky! With 6d “For or in favour of “is surely “per pro” whilst “pro per is for oneself. I feel this answer is the wrong way round.
    Thank you for your report. A very fair appraisal despite the fact you are still waiting for the money!

    1. As Toro makes clear in the hints, “for” is “pro” (rather than anti) and “a” is “per” (as in per person). Nothing wrong with the clue.

    2. Hi JB – thanks for commenting. It was fascinating talking to Shamus, and all above board – honest!

      As for 6d, it’s PRO (for) + PER (a), the latter as in once per month/once a month, for example. Perhaps my explanation wasn’t too clear.

  4. After Saturday Shamus was my favourite setter. What a nice man. After failing at 13ac 26ac 27ac and 14d it’s back to Ray T for me. Super puzzle. Thanks to Shamus and thanks to Toro.

  5. An enjoyable start to the Toughie week. Thanks to Shamus and Toro – nice to see you both on Saturday.

  6. Started this morning but had to go to work and managed to finish all bar one.
    Had to reveal 8d as I couldn’t parse it.
    15a made me laugh and was a nice reference to the blog.
    12d took me a while to solve as I was trying to fit a crocodile somewhere in there. But 21a came along. What a great clue. Quite possibly my favourite.
    Liked the subtle way of exchanging the unknown in 28a.
    Made a mistake in 26a. I wrote in Brig as in security prison only to find out that all the footballers called Brigg were English.
    It was a great honour to meet Shamus and Toro on Saturday.
    Thanks to both.

  7. How much more enjoyable it is to solve a puzzle when it is labelled “Toughie” !
    I looked at the hints for 20a (kicking myself) and 26a.
    Lots of great clues , although I particularly liked 11a, 3d and 27a.
    Thanks Toro and Shamus.

  8. There were two clues that gave us problems in this puzzle. 26a was someone we had not heard of and we needed Mr Google’s help to confirm the homophonic Welshman. The other one was 13a. We had worked it all out correctly but even after reading the hint this morning have no idea who the DEC member of a duo might be. A good fun puzzle for us.
    Thanks Shamus and Toro

      1. Thanks Toro. Now that we have looked at the link, one of our team has a faint recollection of them. Were they possibly presenters on ‘Britains Got Talent’ fairly recently?

          1. I have no idea who Dec is and Association Football clues to me are akin to cricketing clues for Kath. As ERIC fits the checkers I thought it might be that as half of the famous duo Eric Sykes and Hattie Jaques

            1. MP – are you really suggesting that I can’t do the occasional cricket clue – surely not! Oh dear

        1. They front that dreadful series that stuffs a bunch of z-listers out in the jungle and force- feeds them insects and animal parts. You haven’t missed anything worth seeing.

  9. Couldn’t let Hanni get away with solving this without giving it a go myself! Managed to remember 16a from its recent couple of outings in DT land but struggled with 27a (which I think has also put in a fairly recent appearance) – spent a while looking for a seaside resort!
    A few anxious moments before putting in 28a – I hadn’t seen that 12d was a two-word answer and didn’t hold out much hope for a 12 letter word ending with ‘x’ (although I’m sure there are some!).
    Like Toro, I didn’t know the verb at 4d, but the answer was a ‘has to be’.
    7d & 15a made me smile – favourite spot goes to 23a.
    I won’t give a ‘difficulty’ rating – all Toughies are tough for me – but definitely 4* for enjoyment.
    Many thanks, Shamus – and also to Toro for the review. I hadn’t grasped the full parsing of 8d until I read your explanation.

  10. Not my best day. I came up short on 13A (Dec who?), 26A, 27A and 4D (wanted to fit ‘tic’ in there somehow) . I did have an answer for 26A…well, Briggs was an old Welsh football player and a ‘mention of ‘ could be the incomplete name, with Brig being a place of security. Hey, it worked for me! I’ve never heard of the other one. . Thanks to Shamus and Toro.

  11. Completed in 2* time (3* for satisfaction) but had arrived at a couple of my correct answers by inspiration rather than logic (nothing new there, then!). One of the clues in question was 21a, which gets my vote for favouritism. Ta to Shamus, and of course to Toro.

  12. How very much much nicer all this is having met setters and reviewers recently, albeit in a beery haze.

    My last one in was 13a (crack), for which I forgive myself. I thought 21a (drug..) was hard, and it took me a very long time to fish out the homophone in 14d.

    I thought the construction in 9a using “the opposite” was strange – why introduce an opposite in this clue? I might be missing something.

    I liked 11a (like a thriller) and 28a (involving a new unknown character).

    Many thanks Shamus and Toro

  13. Our first attempt at the toughie today! And do you know what, we didn’t do too badly. Only got stuck in the South West corner before consulting the blog.

      1. Thanks Jane, we gave it ago on Big Dave’s advice. He suggested that the Tuesday & Wednesday toughie puzzles were slightly less difficult than on other days. Pretty tough nonetheless…

        1. Don’t worry – I only attempt them occasionally and quite often admit defeat with only about half a dozen answers in!
          As I said to Hanni – we must be improving if only because we’ve now got the courage to give them a whirl.

          1. Well done Paso Doble!

            Jane is right in saying that nowadays we at least attempt them. And for your first foray into Toughie land it’s outstanding.

            Mephisto is still making me cry. Paul Mckenna this week. :-(

        2. Well done to both of you. Like Jane I don’t very often attempt the Toughies and I always run a mile, if not in four minutes, then certainly pretty fast on Fridays.
          I think we must be all getting better – I wonder why . . .

  14. I had to try this Toughie after meeting Shamus and Toro, and with such encouraging comments over on the back pager thread. I’m glad I did, but as I said there I’m reminded of how far I still have to go. It is such pleasure to make progress, so I shall not be glum that I came up short on half a dozen or so clues. I had to look up the parsings of 21a and 28a and needed help with 13a (grr! I thought of every kind of crack except that one!), 26a, 12d and 22d.

    Favourites? I liked the ones other people have highlighted above, but my personal pick are actually two that I struggled with: 12d and 28a. Partly because of the words themselves, which have special meanings in Kitty-speak.

    Thanks to the lovely Shamus and to the equally lovely Toro :).

  15. I discussed with Shamus on Saturday how I dislike double unches. Eight in this grid. However I did enjoy the solve . 8d among many gets my vote as I simply couldn’t see the occupation. D’oh. Cheers to Toro and Shamus

  16. I did get there, well almost, in the end.
    I admit to failing completely on 13a and needing Toro’s excellent hints for quite a few more 20a, 27a and 6d – as for the footballer in 26a – are you all having a laugh or what? Did anyone really expect me to have heard of him . . .?
    12d I spent too long trying to make it “crocodile something” – oh dear – wrong yet again.
    I really enjoyed this one – I always enjoy the crosswords that Shamus sets – I wish that I hadn’t left the Saturday “do” before he arrived.
    Need to go to bed now – totally knackered but with thanks to Shamus and thanks also to Toro for sorting out my many failures.
    Toro – I really enjoyed meeting you on Saturday, even if you did make me go a bit thank you!

    1. I’d vaguely heard of the footballer but mixed up the last two letters which made 19d difficult to say the least.

      I shall give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that Toro made you go a bit simply by paying you a compliment.

    2. Well done Kath. Don’t worry about not knowing the footballer. Like most, he is overrated and overpaid.

      I do want to know what Toro said. ;-)

  17. I always enjoy Shamus’s puzzles. There was plenty of fun in this one, and I liked many of the clues, notably 15a and 23a.

    I’m indebted to Toro for the hints to 21a and 27a, and for the answers to 13a, 26a (despite there having been so much media coverage of the Welsh footballer I couldn’t think of his name…), and 22d. For this last, I understood the Cockney reference, but couldn’t get past ‘mate’. Oh, and I didn’t get the ‘leading figure in the row’ although I had the remainder of the wordplay for 12d.

    Very many thanks to Shamus for the entertaining puzzle and to Toro for the excellent and enlightening review.

    What lovely photos of the 6th Birthday gathering! And as for that cake … it looks scrumptious. Wot! No pics of Jean-Luc’s macaroons? They were delicious, by all accounts…

    P.S. My apologies if my earlier attempt to post a comment here caused problems. When I clicked ‘Post Comment’, it started to connect and a google stats message appeared at the bottom left corner like it usually does. Then Firefox froze, and my whole computer froze. Don’t know if it was the Flash plugin crashing — it has been doing that a lot recently.

  18. Just to bring up the rear as usual. Great puzzle and I enjoyed finishing it. Favourites were 11a and 23a. Good to see that so many enjoyed it too. ***/**** for me. Thanks to Shamus and to Toro, Sh-Shoney.

  19. Finally got round to this today after a horridly early start for radio duties. I loved it, but wonder if it merited Toughie status, as I finished in 2* time with no need for Toro’s excellent hints. Toughies usually take at least 4* time, if I manage to finish them at all. Thanks to Shamus for making me feel cleverer than I am. 2*/4*

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