Toughie 1507

Toughie No 1507 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

This was very nearly a read-and-write puzzle for me so I can’t give it more than one star for difficulty. I trust that other people had a similar experience

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    Attach ropes loosely in disaster (11)
CATASTROPHE: An anagram (loosely) of ATTACH ROPES

7a    Western bank backing US film director (5)
WYLER: W (Western) + a reversal of ‘to bank’ gives the surname of an American film director noted for Ben Hur. I’d never heard of the gentleman but his name was easy enough to get from the wordplay

8a    Traveller with rifle worried villain (9)
REPROBATE: A commercial traveller + ‘to rifle’ + ‘worried’

10a    Former party leader disowning hard party attack (7)
TORPEDO: The surname of a former leader of the Liberal Party minus H (hard) + a party = ‘to attack at sea’

11a    Game old boy recalled in two rings (7)
DIABOLO: A game involving a two-headed top on a string = a reversal of OB (old boy) inside ‘to ring’ and a letter shaped like a ring

12a    Official object in garage work? (5)
REFIT: An official in a football match + an object

13a    Like paired animals carrying daughter that’s unaware (2,3,4)
IN THE DARK: Animals went ** *** *** in pairs. Put this round D (daughter)

16a    Fellow taking in city area with unexpected halt in series of events (9)
DECATHLON: A fellow (university professor) takes in the postcode for the City of London and an anagram (unexpected) of HALT to give a series of athletic events

18a    Get rid of former footballer conclusively devoid of energy (5)
EXPEL: ‘Former’ + the name of the most famous Brazilian footballer with E (energy) removed from the end

19a    An Irish firm relapsed keeping a dated instrument (7)
OCARINA: A reversal of AN + The abbreviation for ‘Irish’ + the abbreviation for ‘company’ round A = an ancient wind musical instrument

22a    Clown showing decline in seaside venue? (7)
PIERROT: A seaside venue + decline

23a    Flipping taxman follows fan into ground, seeing what’s taken in? (9)
NUTRITION: An obsessive fan + a reversal of the body that collects taxes + an anagram (ground) of INTO

24a    Huge bird, six-footer concealing tail (5)
TITAN: A small bird + an insect (six-footer) with the last letter removed

25a    Quiet season in charitable giving in desert city (4,7)
PALM SPRINGS: P (quiet) + one of the four seasons of the year inside charitable giving = a desert resort city in California


1d    Label space deficient at both ends for heating (9)
CALORIFIC: Remove the last letters from ‘to label’ (4) and an opening (space) (7)

2d    Chaps in wrong suffering (7)
TORMENT: Chaps inside a legal wrong

3d    Representing a tailor’s? About right (9)
SARTORIAL: An anagram (representing) of A TAILOR’S round R (right). The whole clue provides the definition

4d    Eminem, say, showing haste (5)
RAPID: Eminem is the stage name of Marshall Mathers III when performing the type of music for which he is famous. It is therefore his *** **

5d    Secular academic, a Geordie (7)
PROFANE: An academic + A + an abbreviation denoting Geordie (as an adjective)

6d    Writer at opera getting therein inspiration (5)
ERATO: Hidden in writER AT Opera

7d    Given a drink, in a miserable state and weak (7-4)
WATERED: ‘Given a drink’ + ‘miserable’

9d    Teens look curiously after second book shows part of body (11)
EXOSKELETON: The abbreviation for the second book of the Old Testament + an anagram (curiously) of TEENS LOOK

14d    One’s turned to get fare, with negative reaction by number in row (3,6)
TIN OPENER: A negative reaction (4) + N (number) in a row or rank

15d    Horse, maybe, in system (9)
APPARATUS: 2 meanings: e.g. a horse in a gymnasium/a system that enables something to function

17d    Hearing about body of diva lacking weight (7)
TRIVIAL: A hearing round the middle two letters of dIVa

18d    Team in green at PSG entering long period (7)
EVERTON: An English soccer team = the French word for ‘green’ (PSG = Paris Saint-Germain) inside a long period

20d    Temperature in a vessel producing malfunction (3,2)
ACT UP: T (temperature) inside A and a vessel = ‘to malfunction’

21d    Sign of decay initially ignored (5)
ARIES: A sign of the zodiac = tooth decay with the first letter removed

Nothing very exciting


  1. dutch
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Well, not quite a write-in for me, but still reasonably smooth.

    I appreciated the precise letter-deletion instructions (conclusively devoid of energy in 18a, deficient at both ends in 1d – ironically I was misled by that piece of attempted clarity, interpreting it as missing both start and finish).

    I liked 11a (two rings), 3d (all-in-one), 14d (one’s turned to get fare) and 17d (the diva, wordplay and surface).

    Took me ages to get “second book” in 9d. I enjoyed 13a (paired animals), but somehow “like” didn’t seem the right word to indicate a location. I thought the end of 6d was a bit awkward. Not keen on 12a; “object” and “garage work” perhaps a bit vague. Wasn’t aware the instrument in 19a was dated – seems to me we’ve seen it recently.

    But all good fun, thank you Shamus and thank you Bufo for the review

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted November 26, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Re the ‘second’ book reference – as children in primary school we were taught to recite the whole of the Old Testament on a Thursday morning before we listened to a religious parable on the radio in the classroom. For the life of me I can’t remember what station it was on but I’m sure the narrator was David Kossoff (I think)

      • Gazza
        Posted November 26, 2015 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        … we were taught to recite the whole of the Old Testament on a Thursday morning … That must have taken hours and hours – and I thought our RI lessons were bad enough.

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted November 26, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          Boom, boom…..

          You know what I meant you rascal

  2. Shropshirelad
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Far too easy IMHO but enjoyable nonetheless. I think this may be the easiest toughie I’ve ever completed and certainly from Shamus.

    Thanks to ‘the man’ himself for the puzzle and Bufo for the review.

  3. Hanni
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink


    I’ve given this a 2* difficulty because of 18d. It was my last in and all I could do was stare at it. Then I wrote the letters down, re-read the clue, stared some more. It took an embarrassingly long time for the penny to drop.

    The rest was as easy as I’ve known Shamus to be. Maybe not really a Toughie but very enjoyable. I did the same as Dutch re 1d also agree about 12a. I’d never heard of 7a either but got it from the wordplay and checked. Thought 13a was utterly delicious.

    Many thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for a fine blog.

  4. Expat Chris
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    More than happy to have a benign offering this morning, which leaves my whole day free. The only delay was in parsing 18D, for which Google was needed. Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

    • Jane
      Posted November 26, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      Hi Chris – for when you pop back in.
      Don’t know whether you can bring up the ‘Thought for the day’ on the right of the blog – today’s might make you smile!

      • Expat Chris
        Posted November 26, 2015 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        I can, and it did.

  5. JB
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    The answer to 7d is missing it’s second word. Needs it to make sense

    My last one was 15d. Got the answer but not the word play.

  6. Markb
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 4:25 pm | Permalink


    Nice puzzle. Thanks for the review which I needed for checking/understanding a couple of guessed answers!
    Thanks again.

  7. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Paris Saint-Germain would probably zlatan Everton.
    Yes, to zlatan has become a recognised verb in France
    I can’t believe either that 7a was my last one. Was trying to find a 5 letter river in Wales first then I went through the Western half of European countries
    except the ones where a w at the end would certainly not do. D’oh.
    When I finally got it, I then thought: Hang on, his name is Billy Wilder not Wyler. So Googled it and found that he is a Billy too. Oh dear. What a mess.
    Thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for the review.

    • Hanni
      Posted November 26, 2015 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      I’ve just had to Google your post re zlatan. He’s a footballer evidently. How is he a verb?

      • pommers
        Posted November 26, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        In the late sixties we used to say a defence had been “Georged”. It’s reallyquite clever because they were actually “Bested”.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted November 26, 2015 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        Yes Hanni,
        In fact he is the main attacker at the PSG.
        But google “zlataner” and you’ll find the explanations.

        • Hanni
          Posted November 26, 2015 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

          Ahh got it! Although to be fair I had to Google PSG earlier to double check.

  8. Una
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    No Bufo it was far from a read and write in my case.
    There were enough easy ones to encourage me to keep going, 1a , 13a and 16a in particular.
    Lots of likes , perhaps 20d or 25a are my favourites.
    Thanks to Bufo and Shamus.

  9. KiwiColin
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    The obscurities in 18d, (all mysterious territory to me) and 7a (he died 34 years ago for goodness sake) had me reaching for Google for confirmation. Apart from that it did all go together smoothly but I did spend time going over all the clues again to make sure I had all the nuances of the wordplay. I enjoyed it.
    Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

  10. Gazza
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Osmosis tomorrow.

    • dutch
      Posted November 26, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink


      • Hanni
        Posted November 26, 2015 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        Eek indeed.

  11. Jane
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Ah well – at least the twinkly-eyed one can have a laugh at my expense today. Just a few write-ins and then the remainder fought me every step of the way! For instance – how does the IRA come to figure in 19a, what the heck is PSG, do I really need to know all about the issues in Israel etc. etc.
    Nevertheless, a great sense of satisfaction in the completion and plenty to enjoy – 13a&14d get my vote.

    My thanks to Shamus and also to Bufo for blogging – despite the fact that your comments made me feel really, really stupid.

    • Hanni
      Posted November 26, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      I just took Irish firm to mean IRA.

  12. Kath
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    No – not a complete write in for me – I got a bit snarled up in the bottom if you’ll all pardon the expression.
    18d was a total mystery until nothing else would fit.
    I spent far too long trying to make 23a an anagram including ‘fan’.
    Rather stupidly couldn’t see 20d for ages.
    I needed the hint to explain 4d although it had to be something to do with rap.
    I’m hopeless with film directors although 7a was such a nice clue that all I had to do was follow the instructions and look him up.
    I really don’t mind a non-tough Toughie from time to time and I enjoyed this – good for flagging morale.
    With thanks to Shamus and to Bufo.

  13. Heno
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for the review and hints. Confidence has been restored after today’s back pager disaster. Not a read and write for me, but thoroughly entertaining. Some super clues. Needed the hints to parse 1d. Last in and favourite was 18d. Great fun, was 3*/4* for me.

    • Una
      Posted November 26, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Exactly how I felt.

  14. Snape
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    It was nice to have both the time to attempt a Toughie (lots needed!), and a Toughie I could do some of – I used electronic help as always, but only needed the hints for a few in the bottom half. I liked 13a, 23a, 4d, and the cryptic definition in 14d, but wasn’t sure about 24a – is that a fair definition?
    Thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 26, 2015 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      I had the same thoughts as you about the definition of 24a but the BRB allows titan to be an adjective meaning titanic.

      • Snape
        Posted November 26, 2015 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

        Ah, thank you. The BRB is next to me, but it easier to look up Collins online, so I did.

  15. pommers
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    This was too easy for a Toughie but would have been a splendid Tues or Thurs back pager – wrong envelope day?

    Anyway, no real favourite but thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

  16. Sheffieldsy
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    I suppose I’m being totally dense but I cannot see how 1d works. Can somebody spell out for me step by step please? Otherwise a gentle toughie! Thanks Bufo and Shamus.

    • pommers
      Posted November 26, 2015 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      You need a word for label, as in to name = CALL
      Then a word for a space or opening = ORIFICE
      Remove the last letters from each (deficient at both ends)
      Put what’s left together and you get the heating bit.

    • Jane
      Posted November 26, 2015 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

      Hi Sheffieldsy,
      Take the first two words of the clue – you need another word for both of them. ‘label’ becomes ‘call’ (as in giving someone a label) and ‘space’ becomes ‘orifice’. Then remove the last letter from both of them (deficient at both ends) and put together what you’re left with – ‘cal-orific’.

    • Jane
      Posted November 26, 2015 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, Pommers – that’s the second time today that I’ve been writing as you were posting!

      • Hanni
        Posted November 26, 2015 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

        Well we can’t say the blog doesn’t jump in to help…that’s 3 of us with the same explanation!

        • Jane
          Posted November 26, 2015 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

          Thank goodness it was the SAME explanation.

      • pommers
        Posted November 26, 2015 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

        When are you going to do a blog Jane? Seems to me you should have a go at one as you keep giving people hints.

        If you like you could start like Kath did by sharing mine. Takes the risk away but lets you get some real-time experience. I’m next in the chair on 10 Dec if you want to try it.

        • Hanni
          Posted November 26, 2015 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

          Yup. Agree Pommers. I did it Jane. Your turn next. We expect your blog on the 10th. No excuses.

          Edit…I’ve already emailed you about it.

        • Miffypops
          Posted November 27, 2015 at 12:44 am | Permalink

          Yay Jane. Yay Jane Yay Jane. Have a go.

    • Hanni
      Posted November 26, 2015 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      Start with a 4 letter word for labelling something, ‘cal(l)’ without the last letter. Follow this with the word ‘orific(e), a space, without it’s last last letter, deficient at both ends from the clue. And you get the definition of ‘heating’.

      • Sheffieldsy
        Posted November 26, 2015 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

        Thanks all, got it now. Surprised you didn’t hear the suppressed curse half way round the country! What an orifice I am.

        • Hanni
          Posted November 27, 2015 at 12:07 am | Permalink

          I wouldn’t worry about it. We’ve all had the ‘bang your head on the desk moments’…or just swear.

          • pommers
            Posted November 27, 2015 at 12:13 am | Permalink

            I smack myself on the head with a metal tea- tray. Doesn’t hurt much but make a satisfiingly loud clang. I must go through about 4 trays a year.

            • Hanni
              Posted November 27, 2015 at 12:19 am | Permalink

              I go through about 4 a week. You ever do Mephisto? Azed? It’s all bad. Come to think of it I only own 2 trays. I own 4 horses. Not that that is relevant.

              • pommers
                Posted November 27, 2015 at 12:27 am | Permalink

                I never even look at Mephisto, Azed, Enigmatic Variations, Listener or anything like them. Don’t see the point as I’m not a masochist and I don’t like brain pain. I’m just a simple lad wot likes 15×15 blocked puzzles like those in the DT, Grauniad, FT, Indy and Times. I get more than enough brain pain from those at times.

                • Hanni
                  Posted November 27, 2015 at 12:33 am | Permalink

                  They are designed to torture. I once tried The Daily Mail. It was wrong.

                  • pommers
                    Posted November 27, 2015 at 12:38 am | Permalink

                    Daily Mail is by Duggie Anderson. Not my cup of tea either.

                    He also does Grauniad as Crucible, Indy as Radian and the FT as Redshank. I really can’t get on his wavelength so avoid all of the above.