Toughie 1370

Toughie No 1370 by Shamus

Here’s Looking at You, Kid

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I found most of this fairly straightforward and I would have given it ** for difficulty but then I was held up by my final clue 9d, a phrase I didn’t know, so it merited an extra *. I did enjoy it so many thanks to Shamus.
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 Clues

1a Dish cooked best for e.g. a number no longer available (4,10)
BEEF STROGANOFF – an anagram (cooked) of BEST FOR E.G. is followed by A, the single-letter abbreviation for number and an adverb meaning no longer available or no longer on the menu.

10a Fellows in fancy store vacated establishment avoiding traffic? (9)
OFFSTREET – put two F(ellows) inside an anagram (fancy) of STORE and add the outer (vacated) letters of establishment. Chambers prefers this word to be hyphenated.

11a Exalt architecture in part or section of church (5)
ALTAR – hidden (in part) in the clue.

12a Outline clubs playing matches abroad? (7)
CONTOUR – the abbreviation for the card suit clubs followed by ‘playing matches abroad’ (2,4).

13a Odd characters in home seen corruptly in tangle (6)
ENMESH – an anagram (corruptly) of H(o)M(e) and SEEN.

15a Florid or pretentious suits principally characterise them? (4)
FOPS – semi-all-in-one. Take the first letters (principally) of four words.

17a Scholar favoured master that’s developed standard (10)
MAINSTREAM – string together a scholar with an arts degree, an adjective meaning favoured or popular and an anagram (that’s developed) of MASTER.

18a Restaurant is going after collapse by southern lake (10)
ROTISSERIE – IS follows a verb to collapse or disintegrate. After that we need S(outhern) and a North American lake.

20a Arrogance first to last in ill-fated time (4)
IDES – start with a word for arrogance or airs and graces and move the first letter to the end to get an ill-fated time (for Julius Caesar, at least).

22a Trainee one after another addressed (6)
INTERN – split 2,4 this sounds like one after another.

23a Pride got worse showing off degree in selfish display (3-4)
EGO-TRIP – an anagram (worse) of PRI(d)E GOT with the abbreviation for degree being shown the door.

26a Tearful female returning home with award (5)
NIOBE – this lady was a princess in Greek mythology who was turned into a rock which appeared to weep continuously (due to the snow melting on it). Reverse an adverb meaning at home and add one of the awards which are handed out twice a year.

27a A paper kept by dish for nurse (4,5)
LOOK AFTER – the paper is not, as I originally thought, the sort kept in the first three letters of the answer. We have to insert A and the pink newspaper inside an informal word for a dish or attractive young lady.

28a Peer and lawyer gripped Left and Right by unknown passage in parliamentary item (5,3,6)
EARLY DAY MOTION – this is a procedure in the House of Commons – it’s a proposal by an MP for a debate on a specific topic on a day when the House finishes its business before the scheduled time. In reality these rarely get debated but are a means of gaining publicity for a cause. Start with a peer (one ranking above a viscount but below a marquess), then insert the abbreviation for a US lawyer between two mathematical unknowns and finish with a passage or movement.

Down Clues

2d Small spaniel finds boxes (5)
ELFIN – hidden (boxes) in the clue.

3d Work out  depth of water (6)
FATHOM – double definition. This works out to be six feet.

4d Sound of Asian wave? It’s decisive (10)
TIEBREAKER – a charade of what sounds like a citizen of Bangkok, say, and a wave.

5d Meat the writer avoided in old hotel? It could be ruddy when minced (4)
OATH – ‘minced’, according to the BRB, can mean spoken affectedly. Take away the objective pronoun identifying the writer from meat and put what remains between O(ld) and the letter that Hotel represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

6d Foreign commander this month is opposed (7)
AGAINST – charade of a Turkish commander and the abbreviation used in business correspondence to mean the current month.

7d Where there’s a display of uniform diamonds undergoing recovery? (2,3,4)
ON THE MEND – this seems a bit weak and I may be missing something (I’m sure someone will tell me if I am). Those serving in the armed services wear a uniform so where it’s displayed is … (2,3,3). Finish with the abbreviation for the card suit diamonds.

8d At present, initiate is taking in piano chiefly (3,3,4,4)
FOR THE MOST PART – start with a phrase meaning ‘at present’ (3,3,2) then add a verb to initiate containing the abbreviation for piano.

9d Indolence after working? (5,3,6)
DOLCE FAR NIENTE – this was my final answer and the reason that I’ve given the puzzle three stars for difficulty rather than two. With F_R in place for the middle word I assumed it would be ‘for’ but couldn’t get anywhere – then I realised that all the checking letters I had were in the first two words of the clue. So I played around fitting in the other letters and checking the BRB until I hit the jackpot. So, the clue is an all-in-one, the answer is an anagram (working) of INDOLENCE AFTER and it’s an Italian phrase meaning sweet doing-nothing or pleasant idleness.

14d Source of strength gone in Rome sadly (6-4)
ENGINE-ROOM – an anagram (sadly) of GONE IN ROME.

16d Biscuit, favoured thing with bridge players (5,4)
PETIT FOUR – string together an adjective meaning favoured or cherished, the pronoun used for a thing or inanimate object and bridge players (not North, East, etc., but the total number of people in the game).

19d Penitent about church in spells etc? (7)
SORCERY – an adjective meaning penitent or apologetic contains one of the usual abbreviations for church.

21d Slough’s put on pictures showing American actor (6)
BOGART – a slough or swamp followed by a generic word for pictures or paintings.

24d Liquor taken up, not soft, suggestive of past (5)
RETRO – reverse a dark beer without the musical abbreviation for soft.

25d Fold clipped in suit (4)
PLEA – this suit is a petition or entreaty (as in the phrase “press one’s suit” meaning to propose marriage). Drop the last letter (clipped) of a fold in cloth.

My top clues today were 12a and 27a. Which ones made you sit up?

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40 Comments

  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Gazza.
    Just couldn’t get 9d at all even with the rest being completed.
    Very clever clue.
    Thanks to Shamus for the terrific fun.

  2. Pegasus
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Pretty straightforward puzzle, favourites were 9d and 27a thanks to Shamus and to Gazza for the review.

  3. crypticsue
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I had a bit of a fight with this one but looking at it now, I think my problems were mainly with 9d.

    Thanks to Shamus and Gazza too (I’ve checked … but then it is after midday http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif )

  4. Expat Chris
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I saw that 9D was an anagram right off but even with all the checkers in place I couldn’t unscramble it. Then I recalled an old movie title that worked for the first word and resorted to Google for the rest. 28A was new to me, but readily worked out from the clue. I missed out on 4D. Just couldn’t see beyond water for wave, so needed the hint. Thanks, Shamus and Gazza.

  5. Jane
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Had so much fun with this one – 2*/5* from me.
    Shamus always frustrates the heck out of me. Unlike some other setters, I seem to know exactly what he’s ‘on about’ – it’s just getting there that’s the problem. Haven’t a clue what he looks like but I have a vision of a twinkly-eyed leprechaun sitting behind my shoulder, chortling as I fight my way to the answers – but equally happy to dance a merry jig when I get an answer filled in. I have the feeling that he really WANTS you to get there in the end but thoroughly enjoys watching you squirm in the meantime.

    Oh dear – getting really carried away (or likely to be – by men in white coats!).

    1a is one of the best dishes ever, 9d is one of my favourite sayings and 4d had me laughing out loud.

    Thank you so much Shamus and thank you, Gazza – loved the 9d picture!

    • Una
      Posted April 1, 2015 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      I see him more as a tweedy absent-minded professor type, more like Seamus Heaney, but I agree about him being fair minded.

      • gazza
        Posted April 1, 2015 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        I think that Jane’s internal picture is the nearer. See here. Shamus is second from the right.

      • Posted April 1, 2015 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        I quite like this one of Andy and Shamus:

        • Jane
          Posted April 1, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          Gosh – a handsome leprechaun. That’s a bonus! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

        • Una
          Posted April 1, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          Definitely twinkly-eyed .

    • Liz
      Posted April 1, 2015 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jane. Thanks for encouraging me to attempt this one…. See my comments below. I agree 4d is a great clue very witty. I think I may now be on a bit of a roll having managed (just about) two toughies in two days and doing all last weeks back pages, but we shall see…….I don’t think it can last! Cheers!

      • Jane
        Posted April 1, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        So pleased you gave this one a whirl, Liz. Must admit I was trying to get a Lord into 28a – if I’d thought of Lords and Ladies I would have been sorely tempted!
        CS comments that tomorrow is Petitjean in the Toughie chair. Think I’ll rest on my laurels and just concentrate on the back-pager. With any luck it will be a Mr. T. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • Kath
      Posted April 1, 2015 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      I have yet to meet Shamus – I would love to. I have seen lots of piccies of him so I do know what he looks like. I agree with gazza that Jane’s internal picture is much closer. Why does that not surprise me?!!
      Right – now on to the Toughie – two things have cheered me up today – the Toughie was one of them and I’ll see if I dare mention the other when I’ve finished writing my comment! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif
      I didn’t find this one plain sailing but nothing is at the moment so nothing new.
      I would never ever have got 9d – I did ask husband what he thought – hopeless. I wondered about a foreign phrase but discounted that because the middle word had to be ‘for’ didn’t it – wrong.
      I loved it all so it’s too hard to pick any clues/answers in particular but I think it would have to be between 27a and 4d.
      With huge thanks to Shamus and to gazza for unpicking 9d which would have driven me mad if he hadn’t done it for me.
      See later comment for the other thing that cheered me up today . . . .

  6. dutch
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    missed 9d completely. Struggled with 10a (avoiding traffic) a bit too long, and wasn’t familiar with 28a (parliamentary item) but could work it out.

    I liked 14d (source of strength) and 16d (biscuit) – both involved an “aha” – or maybe an “ah”.

    Many thanks shamus and gazza

  7. Una
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I resorted to an anagram solver for 9d, which ,of course, I had never heard of.I thought the whole puzzle was delightful even though I never heard of 26a either but that’s my inadequacy .The bottom right corner held most of the best clues, at least as far as I am concerned , especially 21d and 27a.
    Thanks Gazza and Shamus.

  8. Shropshirelad
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    A very enjoyable puzzle from Shamus with the exception of 9d. I thought it would have more fair if the clue read ‘Indolence after working abroad’ or some other indicator that we were looking for a foreign phrase instead of using a question mark. However, the rest of the clue’s construction was very good indeed. Favourite of the day has to be 4d for me – brilliant and amusing.

    Thanks to Shamus for the puzzle and Gazza for his splendid review as always.

  9. halcyon
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    I had much the same experience as Gazza with 9d but then realised [1] “for” might be “far” and [2] didn’t we have this phrase a few weeks back? Anyway it’s a lovely clue, as is 27a.

    Thanks to Shamus and Gazza.

    • gazza
      Posted April 1, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Not sure about a few weeks back. The most recent (only) occurrence I can find is in Toughie 831 on 28/8/2012 when Busman clued it as ‘Indolence after translation (5,3,6)’. As we used to say at school “I must have been off on the day we covered that, Sir”.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted April 1, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        I do prefer that clue and Gazza’s humorous rebuttal.

  10. Framboise
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Could not get 9d! Thought the middle word was for…. Knew the expression but with just the last two words. Although I also needed the hints for 10a and 22a, I feel at peace (one of my idea for the first word of 9a!) with myself for having had a jolly good try at today’s Toughie, still quite an momentous achievement for me. 27 a and 28a were lovely clues. Many thanks to Shamus and to Gazza.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted April 1, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      Shamus is one of the trickier setters (imho) – so well done Framboisehttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

      • Framboise
        Posted April 1, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        Merci!

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted April 1, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          soyez le bienvenu http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  11. crypticsue
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    You’ll need to look out your ‘slightly mad hat’ for tomorrow’s Toughie – it is the turn of Petitjean.

  12. 2Kiwis
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Luckily for us, one of our team had heard of the 9d expression so when the possibility of an anagram emerged, it all came together for us. The one that did not come so easily was 28a which was totally new to us. We did work it out from the wordplay and then confirmed with Google. Lots of chuckles and about the right level of difficulty that we like to see on a Wednesday.
    Thanks Shamus and Gazza.

  13. Liz
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Arggh ! My brain hurts.Two days running managed to tackle the Toughie…. It was a bit of a struggle though and not without copious use of the hints and my electronic slave! Couldn’t get 28 a at all…. Wanted to put in ‘Lords and Ladies’ as being a parliamentary item…. ..’item’… get it??? My brain works in an odd way sometimes. I liked 16d… Although wanted to fit in ‘jammy dodger’…couldn’t get 1a at first..went through all the beef dishes I could think of Carbonnade, Bourguinon etc before identifying the anagram words. Still don’t really get 5d can’t see where the ruddy bit fits in…anyway I enjoyed it so give it ****/*** for me. Four crosswords in two days! Crumbs!

    • gazza
      Posted April 1, 2015 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Ruddy (similar in meaning to bloody) is a definition by example (it could be), i.e. it’s an example of an oath.

      • Liz
        Posted April 1, 2015 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

        Hi there. Yes I can see that now, but somehow didn’t make the connection with ‘mince’ – until I checked on the Oxford dictionary definition. I always had the mental picture of the late great Kenneth Williams ‘mincing’. Thanks for your reply and the hints.

  14. Wolfson Bear
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    I found this puzzle to be fairly straightforward except for its use of (to me) a few unfamiliar words and phrases. Also these seemed to congregate in the bottom left corner (the famous 9d, the princess & restaurant) making it slow going in those parts. I had heard of the restaurant word before but only as as a rotating device for cooking chickens.

    9d is either a great clue or a sad clue depending on whether one knows the phrase. At first sight “working” suggests an anagram but then it looks a bit unlikely. If one knows the phrase it will lead to a wonderful penny-dropping moment; if one has never encountered it then it is necessary to use some help. I am sure I will recognize it if it crops up again so the penny-dropping moment – for me – has been missed for ever. It is a good example of where a setter is fully justified in using obscurities.

  15. Chris
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable – but, like many others, my hopes were dashed at the last by my abandoning the 9d anagram, being unable to use ‘for’ as the middle word. Even so, many thanks to Shamus for the fun and to Gazza for elucidating.

  16. andy
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Was safely in 2* territory until 9d, then had to check. Thanks to Shamus (Philip) and Gazza whose favourites I agree with

  17. Salty Dog
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Although we’ve often visited Italy, and l always insult native ears with my incessant attempts to speak their language, l had never met 9d before (mind you, now that l have l shall enjoy watching Italian eyebrows ascend when we go to Positano next month!). Leaving that one aside, 3*/4*. So many great clues to choose from, but l enjoyed 27a. Many thanks to Shamus, and to Gazza for the review.

  18. Kath
    Posted April 1, 2015 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    My final admission of the day – I loved the Toughie – the other thing that cheered me up was hearing “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. I just know that I’m about to be shot down in flames but I defy anyone not to be cheered up by this. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif
    Shall I disappear for ever now? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    • Jane
      Posted April 1, 2015 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      Nope – don’t you dare disappear anywhere! Would have replied sooner but I just had to bring it up on you-tube and enjoy it all over again. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

      • Kath
        Posted April 1, 2015 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

        http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  19. Paso Doble
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    It was tough for us today and only just finished well past midnight. I’m fortunate enough to speak fluent Italian so 9d didn’t present too much of a problem, only a surprise when, like Gazza, there wasn’t the extra O in the anagram. Very enjoyable and thanks to Gazza for explaining why some of our ‘guessed’ answers worked.

  20. Reggie
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Apart from 9d. Which I relised was an anagram but couldn’t solve (resorted to an anagram solver) all straight forward an enjoyable. Did need confirmation on 5d.

  21. Heno
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Shamus and to Gazza for the review and hints. Hooray, actually got into a Toughie for once. Great fun, needed the hints to parse 7,8,24d. Was really pleased to have heard of 28a. Was beaten by 9d, last in was 22a. Favourite was 13a. Was 3*/4* for me.

  22. crosswordfan
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Yep, got everything except 9d. Would never have got that in a million years, but as I say you learn something new every day. Have squirrelled that answer away for the future. Will I ever be able to use it in a sentence in real life? Next time I’m being indolent I guess! Thanks to Shamus and Gazza. Very enjoyable

  23. Tstrummer
    Posted April 26, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Weeks later I got round to this. Absolutely loved it – except for 9d, which I had to cheat and click on the answer even after Gazza’s hint. I think the clue should have pointed us in the direction of something foreign. Apart from that, fab fun. Thanks to Shamus and Gazza. Only got a couple of dozen Toughies left unsolved in my pile now.