Toughie 1383 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1383

Toughie No 1383 by Shamus

The setter didn’t 1 across

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Another Thursday and another Toughie polished off in the dentist’s waiting room. Not that it needed much polishing off because I found it to be fairly straightforward with only a handful of clues requiring any pause for thought. I’ve finally decided to brave the rail replacement bus service on Saturday and attend the S & B get-together in Cambridge. I hope to see a few of you there.

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    Phoney agent with oil scheming to magnify difficulty (4,2,3,5)
PILE ON THE AGONY: An anagram (scheming) of PHONEY AGENT OIL

9a    Run about briskly in small vehicle (7)
SCAMPER: S (small) + a vehicle for sleeping in

10a    Less exciting way of working in Italian city (7)
PALERMO: ‘Less exciting’ (5) + a 2-letter abbreviation denoting a way of working = a city on Sicily

11a    What drug dealers do endlessly? Unpleasant matter (3)
PUS: Remove the last letter from what drug dealers do to give a thick yellowish or greenish fluid

12a    Practical method shown by digital supremacy? (4,2,5)
RULE OF THUMB: ‘Digital’ refers to one of the digits of the hand

14a    Dismissal at centre of furore? (3,3)
RUN OUT: The middle two letters of fuROre provide an abbreviation for a way a batsman can be dismissed at cricket

15a    Like Strauss, say, new in, seen batting after struggle (8)
VIENNESE: Strauss is Johann Strauss (the Elder or the Younger) and the answer refers to his birthplace. ‘To struggle’ comes before N (new) in an anagram (batting) of SEEN

17a    Natural feeling this month in court (8)
INSTINCT: ‘This month’ + IN + an abbreviated form of ‘court’

19a    Nit wife’s found in white cotton not unknown (6)
DIMWIT: A nit (stupid person) is W (wife) inside a stout white cotton with the last letter (an unknown) removed

22a    Careless guys fix this blocking current inhabitant (11)
INATTENTIVE: A structure held in position by guys goes inside I (current) and an inhabitant

23a    Leading group is conceited rejecting paper (3)
VAN: Remove the one-letter title of a national newspaper from a 4-letter word meaning ‘conceited’

24a    Act illegally in US city in deficit (7)
LAUNDER: A city in California + ‘in deficit’

26a    Cold area is backed by secret police chief (7)
SIBERIA: A reversal of IS + the surname of a Soviet secret police chief who was executed in 1953. I didn’t know of this gentleman but the answer couldn’t be anything else

27a    Late drink by ambassador with tipsy lord definitely out? (4,2,3,5)
DEAD TO THE WORLD: ‘Late’ + a small drink + a 2-letter abbreviation for an ambassador + W (with) + an anagram (tipsy) of LORD = definitely out (for the count)


1d    Unconventional part special tip had, say (4,10)
PAST PARTICIPLE: An anagram (unconventional) of PART SPECIAL TIP gives the form of a verb as exemplified by ‘had’

2d    Detailed row about fine note in affair (7)
LIAISON: A row (or rank) (4) with the last letter removed (i.e. it’s been de-tailed) goes round fine (2) and the fifth note of the scale (2)

3d    Being without principles, work left college stumped (11)
OPPORTUNIST: A person without settled principles = work + left (on a ship) + a college + an abbreviation for ‘stumped’

4d    The northern dash from East End to find marine animal (6)
TURTLE: A northern form of ‘the’ + ‘to dash’ as said by someone from the East End

5d    Plant bachelor neglected creating joy (8)
EUPHORIA: A bit of an old chestnut here. Remove B (bachelor) from the name of a plant of the spurge family

6d    Begin to work with posh female (3)
GEL: 2 meanings: begin to work/a facetious rendering of an upper-class pronunciation of girl

7d    Training sprint held up? True if injured (7)
NURTURE: A reversal of ‘sprint’ + an anagram (if injured) of TRUE

8d    Jack twice showing inconsistent principle? (6,8)
DOUBLE STANDARD: ‘Twofold’ + a jack (flag)

13d    Injury in news to be broadcast about new driver (6,5)
TENNIS ELBOW: An anagram (broadcast) of IN NEWS TO BE round L (new driver)

16d    Imagined sequence in a score improvised (8)
SCENARIO: An anagram (improvised) of IN A SCORE

18d    Proper time in part of US for law (7)
STATUTE: A one-letter abbreviation denoting ‘proper’ and T (time) inside one of the 50 subdivisions of the US

20d    Western state visited by the Queen, an ambivalent figure (7)
WAVERER: W (Western) + ‘to state’ + the Queen

21d    Knight, one with company in house, getting hot drink (6)
KIRSCH: K (knight) + I (one) + a theatre company + H (hot)

25d    Failure revealed by Druids oddly (3)
DUD: The odd letters of DrUiDs

Pleasant but not a Toughie. How often have I said that on a Thursday?

14 comments on “Toughie 1383

  1. Thursday level ‘toughie’ – Thanks to Shamus. I’ll go for 14a as a favourite for the time it took for the penny to drop about the significance of the ‘middle’.

    Thanks to Bufo – I thought you used to solve the crosswords in the pub – surely a much better venue than the dentist’s waiting room? See you on Saturday.

  2. Gentle fare on offer today apart from the Russian police chief, thanks to Shamus and Bufo for the comments.

  3. Yes, I thought this was straightforward for a toughie – not too many problems with the solution as the clues with multiple word answers helped a lot in giving cross check letters. I am gradually picking up on more of the common abbreviations as well.

  4. Well into late 3* territory bordering on 4* in places for me. Thanks to Bufo and Shamus

    I too will be at Cambs on Saturday but train to Huntingdon then normal public transport. It’ll take me 50 mins Cambs to Pboro tonight, at least double that on Saturday :(

  5. Yes, I agree this was reasonably straightforward. First one in was 1d which I though was a nice clue, I quite like the parts of speech type clues.

    Took me a while to see “centre of furore” (14a) which made this a lovely clue. I also quite liked 9a (small vehicle), simple but cute. And 4d (marine animal, involving various dialects at which I’m no expert)

    Answers were clear, but I had to look up the secret police chief(26a), the shakespearean company(21d), the white cotton(19a – this was my last one in) and the cricket abbreviation (3d).

    I didn’t think the question mark was needed in 12a.

    Thank you Shamus and Bufo

  6. Got on well with this one today….finished in record time (for me) …,and didn’t need to use any hints….just as well as they weren’t posted on the site until after I’d finished. Some nice clues, which fell into place once I’d got the long words round the sides. Don’t think there is a favourite today….just great relief at being able to complete after not getting anywhere at all with yesterday’s Toughie…could only get four then had to abandon ship……what a difference a day makes!?! Why is that? ***/*** thanks to setter and to Bufo for an enjoyable puzzle…..this was more my cup of tea!

  7. The first word of 1a just wouldn’t come to me, and that caused some problems in the north east corner.I also thought 6d was spelled “gal”, unfortunately.Otherwise , good fun.Best liked were 8d,15a and 26a. Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

  8. Just popping in to thank Shamus for the entertaining crossword and to Bufo for the review. I haven’t stopped all day and the evening is just starting.
    See you all tomorrow.

  9. After struggling with yesterday’s puzzle, we just breezed through this one. Last one is was 19a as we did not know (or had perhaps forgotten) the cotton material and the very obvious NITWIT really would not do at all. We are big fans of the Shamus style and really enjoy his puzzles. This one did not let us down.
    Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

  10. We very much enjoyed this Toughie as, for once, we finished it without any help – although we did have to find why a couple of the words were right – so thanks Bufo for the explanations .

  11. The easiest of the week so far. Quite a nice puzzle and I also had no idea of the secret agent – too secret for me!

  12. Started this last night and struggled to make any inroads. Better over coffee this morning. Even so, 3* for difficulty by my standards. I enjoyed the cluing, though, and plump for 27a as favourite. Many thanks to Shamus, and to Bufo for the review.

  13. For a toughie it must have been easy-ish, I completed with no problems, but such a super puzzle nonetheless, thanks to Shamus and Bufo of course for confirming my answers. I must be terribly old, I knew the Secret Policeman!

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