Toughie 1485

Toughie No 1485 by Samuel

Hints and tips by Toro

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment ***

Greetings all from sunny Rutland. I struggled with this puzzle without really knowing why.

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 City‘s second to embargo cheese sandwiches (8)
BRISBANE S(econd) + to embargo or outlaw, all inside (or sandwiched by) a French cheese.

5a Like bottom to be pert? (6)
CHEEKY A word for pert or impertinent could be read as being descriptive of buttocks.

9a King, perhaps, shames lunatic wearing hollow crown (8)
CHESSMAN Anagram of SHAMES inside C(row)N.

10a In the end, Ramone sings punk rock (6)
GNEISS Anagram (punk) of (Ramon)E SINGS.

12a Chat about being hugged by timid person — it could be ticklish close up (9)
MOUSTACHE Anagram of CHAT inside a word for a timid person.

13a Discharge that man overcome by drink (5)
RHEUM The masculine personal pronoun inside an alcoholic spirit.

14a Took drugs? Took drugs without sailor (4)
USED Another (related) word that can mean took drugs, minus the usual acronym for a sailor.

16a Sure to take over old company making a loss (7)
DEFICIT Sure or skilful around a former British industrial giant.

19a Heartless tyke’s invested in tripe copyrights (7)
PATENTS T(yk)E inside tripe or rubbish.

21a Clothing that’s a hit (4)
SOCK A garment that is also a word meaning a blow or punch.

24a Rubbish place to eat in hospital? Quite the opposite (5)
CHAFF H(ospital) inside an eatery of the greasy spoon kind.

25a Man at No.11 leads this game, cut short by former partner (9)
EXCHEQUER Former lover or partner + a classic board game (the US name for it, though they don’t usually spell it this way) minus the last letter.

27a Household servants get older (6)
MENAGE Servants or attendants + to get older.

28a Avoid drink when harnessing unruly steed (8)
SIDESTEP To drink in small mouthfuls, around an anagram of STEED.

29a Dancing with this girl, Tom could get nominated (6)
NADINE If combined with the letters of TOM, the solution could produce an anagram of NOMINATED.

30a Woolly winter tops to keep active? (8)
KNITWEAR Anagram (woolly) of WINTER K(eep) A(active).


1d Flatter live comedian (but only his first half) (6)
BECOME To live + COME(dian).

2d Angry cult exposed independent umpire first (6)
IREFUL I(ndependent) + the main match official in football + (c)UL(t).

3d Harrass first to take Ecstasy (5)
BESET E(cstasy) inside first or supreme.

4d Greek character performing dance that’s slightly different (7)
NUANCED A Greek letter + anagram of DANCE.

6d Avengers actress has condition in contract initially granting respect (9)
HONORIFIC _____ Blackman of the 1960s TV series The Avengers + a condition or proviso + I(n) C(ontract).

7d Nurse holding most of film with church’s testimony (8)
EVIDENCE Acronym for a nurse around a film or movie clip minus the last letter + the usual church.

8d Tyrol trek regularly includes house in National Park (8)
YOSEMITE A suburban house inside (t)Y(r)O(l) T(r)E(k).

11d Journalist sent north and south for legal document (4)
DEED The usual journalist of crosswords, written backwards and then forwards.

15d Colt’s offspring? No way! (3,2,1,3)
SON OF A GUN The solution looks like it could mean the child of a Colt revolver.

17d Armstrong, perhaps, finally faces Anderson or Broad? (8)
SPACEMAN (Face)S + a (4,3) phrase for a fast bowler in cricket.

18d Unnatural air formed in rising depressions (8)
STRAINED Anagram of AIR inside a reversal of depressions left by being struck.

20d Fall off shack (4)
SHED Double definition: to fall off (?) and a shack or simple wooden building. (To my mind it means to cast off, not to fall off. Am I missing something?)

21d Cult leader leaves animal part (7)
SECTION A cult or close-knit group of believers + an animal minus the first letter.

22d BBC One release (6)
AUNTIE The indefinite article (one) + release or set free.

23d Run to be embraced by padre, out-of-uniform man of the cloth (6)
DRAPER R(un) inside an anagram of PADRE.

26d Episode five bores mixed-up teen (5)
EVENT Roman numeral for five inside an anagram of TEEN.

I loved 13a, 30a, 18d and the man of the cloth in 23d.

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


  1. Hanni
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink


    It’s not just you who found it difficult Toro.

    This was solved SE, NE, SW then NW. 20d was my last in as I thought the same as Toro, ‘cast off’. It also took me along time to spot how to solve 4d although it seems obvious now. 10a had to be checked.

    Samuel’s puzzles always make me smile and this was no exception. Some wonderfully written clues with 23d, 15d and 30a standing out. But lots of little stars next to others.

    Many thanks to Samuel for a near perfect start to the Toughie week and to Toro for blogging.

  2. Karen Grant
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I started this and got only two entries on first read-through. Then it suddenly all fell into place and I fairly raced through the rest, with just one hold-up on 2d, which became obvious once the checkers were in. **/*** for difficulty, ** for enjoyment. Thanks to Toro for the blog, I read it every day and enjoy it, but don’t often post.

    • Toro
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Nice to hear from you Karen, and I hope we’ll hear from you more often, even if only a brief word – and even if you don’t need the hints, which you very obviously didn’t! You were clearly much more on a wavelength with Samuel today than I was.

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I was definitely thinking like an American for 21A! I had ‘sack’…a type of dress (unflattering unless one was Twiggy thin) and also [Quarterback] sack, a US football term where the QB is brought to the ground before being able to throw the ball. The more obvious answer never occurred to me. Oh, well.

    Not a fast solve, but a satisfying one. 17D ( at least this WAS an American and again my first thought), and 23D which made me smile. Thanks Samuel and Toro.

  4. Jane
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Definitely a bit of a panic here when I couldn’t get a foothold, so happy enough to concur with Toro’s rating.
    10a was a blind spot. Knowing little about ‘punk rock’ I finally settled for ‘indies’ – had some vague notion about Indie music but not a clue as to what it’s about!
    30a was a bung in – missed the anagram.
    17d – cricket!!! Enough said.
    21d – another bung in. Tried to leave the leader of C(ult) out so got hopelessly confused about the required animal.

    Got there in the end by fair means or foul and enjoyed the ride. 9a,6&15d make the honours board.
    Thanks to Samuel for the challenge and gratitude to Toro for pointing out the errors of my way.

  5. dutch
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Bit slow to start, but soon gained momentum and managed it before the school run. Not much connecting the quadrants, so they were solved one at a time starting with NW.

    I liked the woolly winter all-in-one (30d) and the colt’s offspring (15d) most. But there was plenty on offer, quite enjoyed 28a, sounds like solid advice, and the indirect 29a (dancing with this girl…). I also liked 4d (greek character performing dance), 18d which sounds like bad news for the weather, and the elegant 22d (BBC One release).

    However there were also clues that seemed uncharacteristically poor e.g. 14a (took drugs…), and strained surfaces like 19a (heartless tyke’s invested in tripe copyrights).

    But the good clues made up for that

    Many thanks toro and Samuel

  6. Chris
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I struggled for a while because of 21a, I had belt (seemed reasonable to me), also had a complete guess at 29a! This is my first comment but always read the blogs, keep it up.

    • Posted October 20, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Chris

    • Toro
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Welcome indeed Chris, and thanks for stepping out of the shadows!

      Thanks for pointing out the possibility of belt at 21a – just as good a solution.

      Please do keep commenting – it’s what this site thrives on and is appreciated not only by those of us who put the time in to blog, but by the setters who create the puzzles and are always anxious for feedback.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

      Welcome from me also, Chris. As previously stated, I hope you continue to comment.

  7. dutch
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Elkamere tomorrow

    • Jane
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 3:19 pm | Permalink


    • Hanni
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Forewarned is forearmed. I like his stuff.

      • spindrift
        Posted October 20, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        If it’s alright can I hide behind you?

        • Hanni
          Posted October 20, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          You can Spindrift. I’ll be of no use, but you can.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Lovely – can hardly wait

  8. stanXYZ
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    A “gneiss” crossword?

    How do you pronounce it?

    • Expat Chris
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      it’s a word I’m very familiar with in my field of work. Definitely “nice”.

    • Hanni
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Very clever Stan!

  9. Una
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    A puzzle of two halves. The left hand side went in very smoothly , with the exception of 29a where I definitely needed the very clear hint.The right hand side wasn’t helped by having ” belt” for” clothing that’s a hit ” for the longest time. The broken anagrams as in 10a and 30a passed me by , I’m afraid.
    5d is my favourite, though I liked all of the left hand side clues.This puzzle made up for the back pager.
    With thanks to Samuel and Toro

  10. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Not a quick solve but it did open up slowly and surely for us and we did get the whole thing solved and parsed in a little over average Toughie time. Enough uncommon letters to set us looking for a pangram but it is not there today. Really enjoyed it.
    Thanks Samuel and Toro

  11. halcyon
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Slow to start, then got the hang of it. 29a caused some head scratching – Nadine came to mind initially [ex Chuck Berry] then thought Dianne would be more likely, which rather messed up the SW until 17d was done. Favourites were 1a [cheese sandwiches] 19a [liked the idea of tripe copyrights] and 30a [last in]. Awful grid.

    Thanks to Samuel and Toro.

    • Toro
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Like belt at 21a, Dianne would have been a perfectly good solution for 29a!. Thanks for pointing that out, Halcyon.

  12. Samuel
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Toro, for the blog, and thanks to all those who have commented. It’s nice to see that the puzzle has been enjoyed (mostly).

    • Jane
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      Good of you to pop in, Samuel – it’s always nice to have our setters take an interest in us all!

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted October 20, 2015 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

        Same from me Samuel. I do wish setters would pop in more often – it’s always appreciated.

    • Hanni
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for dropping by Samuel. Always welcome. Very very clever puzzle. More please.

  13. Salty Dog
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I must have been on wavelength, because l went through this with no real trouble. I make it 2*/3.5*, and very much enjoyed 10a. Many thanks to Samuel, and to Toro for the review.

  14. Wolfson Bear
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    One of those days that I found the Toughie (relatively speaking) easier than many and would have given it 2* for difficulty – definitely worthy of Toughie status but not at the upper end of the spectrum. A bit of a slow start and then OK.. It’s Elkamere tomorrow apparently so I am sure the usual rule applies – that when I use the “easy” word in a comment the Telegraph hits back the next day with a severe challenge.

    Regarding 29a I failed to figure out why what was the right answer was right. If such a clue appeared in a back page puzzle I would have quickly assumed my guess was correct but that my vocabulary or general knowledge was lacking. On the other hand, at the other extreme, if I knew the compiler was devilish, like Elgar, I would have suspected greater complexity and spent more time churning the clue over in my mind and quite possibly alighted on the true parsing. Knowing the compiler at the outset affects my solving mentality. So I must thank Samuel for a very enjoyable puzzle and keep a mental note that he throws in a few grenades and deserves greater respect. I hope he throws in more in future outings

    Thanks also to Toro for the blog

  15. OlgaTheOwl
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Unusually, I managed three of the four quadrants unaided but with nothing at all in the NE corner. The other answers all sprang from 15 d (I’m a sucker for multiple-word answers) but in the words from Evita ‘all my words desert me’ in that top corner!

  16. Shropshirelad
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Late to the blog due to unforeseen circumstances. Another pleasant puzzle from Samuel IMHO with only a couple of ‘iffy’ clues which didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the solving. My eye was drawn to 23d on a first glance (I generally find a clue in the SE corner for some reason) and that is my favourite of the day.

    Thanks to Samuel and Toro.

    • Hanni
      Posted October 20, 2015 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Lovely new avatar SL!

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted October 20, 2015 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

        I’ve only just learned how to do it – I have ideas for many more

        • Hanni
          Posted October 20, 2015 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

          I cannot wait.

  17. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Very much a case of being on the same wavelength.
    Only 29a held me up until I saw Tom hiding somewhere.
    Haven’t stopped since 2pm.
    Great fun reading the blog.
    I’m going to finish my Ode to BD on the other side now.
    Thanks to Samuel and to Toro for the review.

  18. Sh-Shoney
    Posted October 21, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I gave up doing the toughie because they seemed too difficult for my level of puzzle solving. Anyway, after a gap of several months I tried this one and did it! I was especially delighted to find that it gets a 4 star “difficult” rating, so maybe I’ll try solving some more toughies. Sh-Shoney.

  19. Kath
    Posted October 21, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    No time to look at this one yesterday so I’ve done it today.
    I think I must have been on the right wave-length as, apart from a few answers, I didn’t have too much trouble.
    Dianne for 29a was sorted out fairly quickly by the 17d spacemen and the 21a belt was sorted by 21d.
    I missed the 10 and 30a anagram indicators so had absolutely no idea why, or if, my answers were right.
    A really good crossword. I particularly liked 12, 24 and 29a and 1 and 15d. My favourite was 5a because it made me laugh.
    With thanks to Samuel for the puzzle and to Toro for the hints and for sorting out a couple of my problem answers.

  20. Orlando
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Started this at Lisbon Airport and close to finishing at Malaga Airport. Confused by the archaic spelling of harass (3d) and took a while with gneiss, although I originally had indies. I always enjoy finishing a toughie, so 5*.

    • Posted October 29, 2015 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Orlando