Toughie 1397 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1397

Toughie No 1397 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Toro

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

BD Rating - Difficulty * - Enjoyment **

A very accessible puzzle from the popular Shamus, fairly clued as ever but perhaps a bit short of sparkle on this occasion.

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 Key elements in data one top team's manipulated (4,3,8)

8a No end to the strange drone (5)
THRUM TH(e) plus a word meaning strange or fishy.

9a Unclear situation in retirement home? (4,4)
GREY AREA Cryptic definition of circumstances where things are not black and white.

11a Behind schedule on account of dampness, we hear (7)
OVERDUE A synonym of on account of plus a soundalike of a kind of natural moisture.

12a Recall is denied in this state? (7)
AMNESIA Cryptic definition of a loss of recall or memory. (The fact that the solution contains a reversal or 'recall' of IS had me looking for a wordplay reading, but I couldn't find it. Am I missing something?)

13a The man goes to begin to work for philosopher (5)
HEGEL The masculine pronoun plus a verb meaning to begin to work or succeed.

15a Bent boss I found corrupt and most haughty (9)

17a A set of volunteers see noted swimmer in ailing state (2,1,3,3)
AT A LOW EBB The A from the clue + volunteer reservists + see or behold (as an imperative) + Captain Matthew ____, the first person to swim the Channel.

20a City study becoming weighed down (5)
LADEN A US city plus a study or office room.

21a Raise tax among muddled group, taking away millions (7)
ELEVATE A tax on goods or services inside a muddled group (or a brawl) after removing M(illions).

23a Unknown figure in Hamburg that is maritime enthusiast (7)
YACHTIE Symbol for a mathematical unknown, a number in German, and the abbreviation for that is.

25a Publicity garnered by soldier in pickle (8)
MARINADE A publicity notice or commercial inside a naval soldier.

26a Problems in gulag grow (5)

27a Diplomat taking scarf if headgear crumpled (6-1'8)


1d Joint given title that's stupid (12)
MUTTONHEADED A type or joint of meat plus a word meaning titled.

2d Correspond with a boy about king (5)
AGREE The A from the clue plus an expression meaning 'gosh' or 'boy' around the Latin abbreviation for king.

3d A Republican chairman detaining Aussie fool, armour-plated type (9)
ARMADILLO The A from the clue + R(epublican), then an infamous chairman of the Chinese Communist Party around Aussie/NZ slang for a fool.

4d Wander in excavation about ship (7)
DIGRESS An archaeological excavation + about or concerning + crosswordese abbreviation for ship.

5d Source of notes about drug, old herb (7)
OREGANO A musical instrument around a one-letter narcotic, then O(ld).

6d Cooker at home once more (5)
AGAIN Trademark of a Swedish oven + at home.

7d Some cricket writer beginning to deprecate splurge (9)
OVERSPEND A measure of cricket play + author + D(eprecate).

10d Tone a crank cultivated with American that's irascible (12)

14d Posh team played in festivity in country (9)
GUATEMALA Crosswordese for posh plus an anagram of TEAM, all inside a festivity.

16d Engagement in headwear (9)
BALACLAVA A famous battle of the Crimean War and a head covering originally worn by soldiers who fought in it.

18d Green English executive hosting period on lake (7)
EMERALD E(nglish), then the abbreviation for senior company executive around a period and L(ake).

19d Stall on meadow with fine cooking ingredient (3,4)
BAY LEAF Booth or compartment + poetic word for meadow + F(ine).

22d A number in performance in decline (5)
AGING The A from the clue + N(umber) inside a live performance or concert.

24d One noted for stripes getting grand in rank (5)
TIGER G(rand) inside a rank or level.

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

17 comments on “Toughie 1397

  1. Well done Shamus for including an apostrophe in 27A – other compilers please take note

  2. Who knew I’d find a Toughie easy? And yet here we are.

    OK, 13a held me up and had me checking that I hadn’t invented a philosopher but other than that it wasn’t that bad.

    Does Pommers qualify as a 23a?

    Re 12a, I wondered about the reversal of ‘is’ too. The whole clue is a defintion?

    So many thanks to Shamus and to Toro for blogging.

    Hail has gone from regular to industrial strength… also known as, “That really b****y hurts”.

  3. Really easy, did it whilst watching Bargain Hunt and completed before the auction! Had to guess Aussie fool – never heard it and not in my dictionary. I dread to think what it may be an abbreviation for!

    Thanks guys.

  4. This certainly was an easy romp for a toughie, but I did not fully understand a few of the wordplays despite the answer being obvious.

    1*/3* for me.

  5. My goodness we have been let off lightly today. The Cryptic was straightforward and there was certainly nothing tough about this Toughie. Thank you Shamus and also Toro for parsing 22d for me – not really into gigs! **/***. 9a amused.

  6. Not taxing, but still enjoyable. I, too, needed the review for the parsing of 22D and have never heard of the antipodean slang. Pity the 2Kiwis aren’t around yet to enlighten us. Thanks to Shamus and Toro.

  7. Hurrah and many thanks to Shamus for giving me a Toughie that I could complete except for 1d due to my own stupidity marking a 4/3/5 division, total moment d’égarement. The apostrophe in 27a gave it away for me… 6d made me laugh and will get my vote for favourite. Had never heard of 23a but this describes our son to a t or should I say a y. Needed Toro’s review to parse 22d so many thhanks to him too. Found this easier than the back page puzzle. 1.5*/4* for me.

  8. Well! Knock me down with a feather! Managed to complete this without recourse to the hints, although electronic assistance was enlisted. Helped enormously by some very satisfying anagrams. The East side went I quite quickly, but the West Side was a different Story…..however once I got 1d, things started to fall into place….couldn’t think of the country at 14d, so trusty crossword solver was employed. Got 18d, but had to use the hint for an explanation….same with3d. A very enjoyable puzzle, not least because I actually managed to complete it! Thanks to Shamus and Toro, **/***

  9. Wow ! terrific ! I just love it when I solve a puzzle described as a “toughie”.
    Particular favourites included 11a, 9a,17a, 19d, and 6d.
    Thanks Shamus and Toro. BTW I thought there were lots of little sparkles.

  10. I am not often given to try the Toughie but I thought I would have a go today as I normally like Shamus’s puzzles. This wasn’t tough, but I don’t mind that at all as long as it is enjoyable, and this one certainly was.

    One small moan. I often feel moved to complain about the (over) use of US slang, and this offering was spoiled slightly for me by the use of a colloquialism from Aus in 3d. I am sure that all the setters who resort to non-UK slang are more than clever enough to find ways round it. That’s it. I’ll get off my soapbox now.
    Thanks for a great puzzle Shamus, and thanks to Toro for the review.

  11. We loved this as we could finish it! We hadn’t heard 23a before and had to google 13a for the spelling but thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. Thanks to Toro and to Shamus. We thought it was a */****.

  12. We of course had not realised that ‘dill’ for a fool, although not used very often these days, was restricted to our part of the world, so were a little puzzled by the wordplay. Agree that it all went together without much of a fight but assumed that it was Shamus being kind to those of us who had to travel in to The George and might be a bit short of time. Enjoyed it.
    Thanks Shamus and Toro.

  13. No awkward words today and an easy back-pager so I finished much earlier than hoped so I had time to tackle an old Times puzzle which was much more fun (Waitrose seems happy to give me a free newspaper every visit). Sorry to be a touch grumpy but I dont like this sort of “Toughie”

  14. Terrific! It’s great to see that so many contributors had a go at the toughie.
    Shamus is such a nice man. And he will get you slowly hooked.
    Thanks to him and to Toro for the review.

  15. Thanks to Shamus and to Toro for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, but came to a halt with most of the left hand side unsolved. Needed 6 hints to finish. Favourite was 3d. Great to meet everyone yesterday at the George.

  16. This is the first Toughie that I have found to be more or less a R&W. Blimey! I’ve spent longer ironing a hankie. Loved it

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