Toughie No 1425 by Shamus
Hints and tips by Dutch
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
BD Rating – Difficulty **** – Enjoyment **
I’m covering for Toro today – as we move into the summer period there may be more of this sort of thing happening. Today’s puzzle by Shamus left me with a few to parse after completing the grid, and I had to phone a friend for one clue before everything fell into place, nudging this into 4* difficulty for me. I appreciated some nice surfaces and clever wordplay, and at least one laugh so I thought 2*/3* for entertainment.
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 Elite unit with figure like Ali M made ostentatious progress (8)
SASHAYED: We start with a three-letter acronym for an elite military unit. Then we need to realised that Ali M is surname initial, and we are looking to add another surname initial who has the same occupation (figure like Ali M). This was one of the clues I only parsed after finishing
9a A fertile source in river, one subject to test? (8)
EXAMINEE: A from the clue, plus a 4-letter word for fertile source as found under the features tab in BD’s web site, all inside (in) the name of a river
10a Tight-knit group to handle broadcast (4)
CELL: A unit group, especially of espionage personnel, political activists or terrorists, sounds like (broadcast) a verb meaning handle or trade
11a Suffer financially? Help fine tech arranged (4,3,5)
FEEL THE PINCH: Anagram (arranged) of HELP FINE TECH
13a Male servers might be described as so ominous (8)
MENACING: Split (3,5) the answer might describe successful male servers like Karlovic, though he wasn’t quite successful enough
15a President once advancing right in depression (6)
CRATER: Take a US ex-president who was a peanut farmer, and advance R(ight) one position towards the front of the word. I first “advanced” to the right, ending up with the wrong definition/answer combo.
16a Crawl in Finchley (4)
INCH: There is a lurker somewhere in Finchley
17a Fruit not right to go with a cheese (5)
GOUDA: A fruit characteristic of the cucumber family from we remove R (not right) and add A (from the clue) will give you the best type of Dutch cheese (forget EDAM, it’s too rubbery)
18a Make a mistake dropping second carrier? (4)
TRAY: Err as a philanderer might removing (dropping) S(econd)
20a Glittery item is largely typical of runner? (6)
SEQUIN: This glittery spangle used in large numbers for decorating garments is, with one letter changed (largely typical of; typical can mean typographical), also a river in Ontario (runner). This was another clue only parsed much later, but I still find it slightly unsatisfactory that there is no indication for which letter is changed, or perhaps appended. If anyone has a better explanation, or another runner, I’m all ears
21a Menu accepting yen and rupees with single starter of ‘Chinese Rice for one‘ (8)
LYRICIST: Nothing to do with food. Take a 4-letter word for menu and insert into it (accepting) the abbreviations Y(en), R(upee), a Roman numeral depicting single, and the first letter (starter of) Chinese
23a Concerned with tracing a tree? (12)
GENEALOGICAL: gentle cryptic definition where the tree belongs to a family
26a Primate protecting small area of church (4)
APSE: Usual 3-letter primate contains (protecting) abbreviation for S(mall)
27a Doctor covered by popular play almost like a major criminal? (8)
INFAMOUS: One of the two-letter abbreviations for Doctor, placed somewhere inside (covered by) a two letter word for popular or trendy followed by a famous play by Goethe involving some devilish soul trading, without the last letter (almost)
28a Fool losing head getting to peer round moving images? (8)
PUPPETRY: A fool of the Kermit variety without the first letter (losing head) gets wrapped around it (getting to peer round) a 3-letter verb meaning to peer, or stick your nose in someone else’s business, giving you this word that describes the moving of images or likenesses.
2d President on road taken with poetic evening in port (8)
ABERDEEN: This port is up North. First name (short version) of the 16th US President, plus the abbreviation for road, plus a poetic contraction for evening.
3d Norm, maybe, in rehabilitative institution? (7,5)
HALFWAY HOUSE: The definition, enumeration and checkers suggest an answer here, which was originally the name for an inn midway along a well-travelled route. We can see Norm also fits the answer, in a reverse sense (maybe) as first-word (an example of a royal) second-word. Let’s just say Norm has a friend called Andy, and other examples of second-word are Tudor, Hanover and Windsor. I suspect this is the worst job I’ve ever done trying to explain a clue. I went off on several red-herrings here. This was the clue that had me phoning a friend, and many thanks to Gazza and Bufo for steering me in the right direction.
4d Red Sea local with Eastern fellows in first year (6)
YEMENI: A resident of a country bordering the Red Sea is derived from E(astern) plus a 3-letter word for fellows, all inside (in) how you might abbreviate first year.
5d Loss old company avoided, being skilful (4)
DEFT: A 7-letter word for loss from which an old chemical company, which I joined in 1992 and part of which became Zeneca then AstraZeneca, is subtracted (avoided)
6d Very clean ground on northerly route in Spanish city (8)
VALENCIA: Anagram (ground) of V(ery) CLEAN followed by (on) the reversal (northerly, in a down clue) of the name of a main road in the UK (and probably elsewhere)
7d Soon to be a prolific writer (4)
ANON: This word for soon appears at the bottom of so many pieces of writing it might appear to be the name of a prolific author
8d Large old English character, a king grossly discontented, showing torpor (8)
LETHARGY: Abbreviation for L(arge) plus an old English character or letter known as the “barred D” that when googled returns a Swiss university, followed by A (from the clue), abbreviation for King, and the extreme letters of G(rossl)Y (dis-content-ed)
12d I rate lunatic terribly lacking in fluency? (12)
INARTICULATE: Anagram (terribly) of I RATE LUNATIC
14d Thin food not half horrible left (5)
GRUEL: Take an 8-letter word for horrible and leave out the second half (not half), and add L(eft)
16d One in training’s disrupted after leading pair go for badges (8)
INSIGNIA: I (one) is inserted into (in) an anagram (disrupted) of (TR)AINING’S (without the TR, “after leading pair go”)
17d Group followed by rugby international in nerve centre (8)
GANGLION: 4-letter word for group, pack or band followed by any player of British international rugby
19d When retired broadcasting brothers should get insurance man (8)
ASSESSOR: The usual two-letter word for when, followed by the reversal (retired) of a collective description of two brothers in the media game, one of whom is Jonathan.
22d Make good record with publishers (6)
RECOUP: Abbreviation for REC(ord) followed by the acronym for an Oxford-based publishing house
24d Worthless van afforded covering (4)
NAFF: A lurker (covering), hiding in vaN AFForded. This answer may offend when describing a person, being possibly derived from a crude acronym (see brb)
25d Show horror close to terrifying deadly creature (4)
GASP: Last letter of (close to) terrifying plus a poisonous snake
My favourite was 21a – which was yours?