Toughie 100007

Toughie No 100007 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas to all of you! I have just spent 3 hours opening presents with two excited kids and some Prosecco. Today Shamus gives a lovely seasonal puzzle which I rated 3* for difficulty (although I did need Mr Google more than once and I got stuck not knowing a river – many thanks to Gazza and BD for bailing me out). Plenty to like, 4* for enjoyment.

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.


7a    Mostly sweet Anglicans announced good seasonal fare (5,3)
MINCE PIE: Take a 4-letter breath-freshening sweet and remove the last letter, then add the abbreviation for the Anglican church and a homophone of very good in a religious sense

9a    Prophetic book roughly’s welcomed in outstanding article (6)
ISAIAH: A 3-letter suffix meaning roughly contains (welcomed in) a 2-letter representation of outstanding or top-class and the 1-letter indefinite article

10a    Talent  that’s currently found under wraps? (4)
GIFT: Double definition – the second a cryptic one referring to something you may have received today

11a    Star, say, making speech at end of year? (10)
DECORATION: The abbreviation for the last month of the year is followed by a speech. The “say” here means “for example” and is a definition-by-example indicator, indicating that the definition is an example of the answer rather than the other way round

12a    Jolly large  glass in Yuletide toast, perhaps (6)
BUMPER: Double definition, an adjective meaning unusually large and a filled glass for toasting

14a    English firm in London area getting restricted winter growth (4,4)
PINE CONE: The abbreviations for English and Company (firm) go inside a 6-letter affluent London area in the borough of Harrow, without the last letter (restricted)

15a    Show number engaged in phishing? (6)
EVINCE: The abbreviation for N(umber) goes inside a made-up word (1-4) that could mean an electronic sin like phishing

17a    Stand by for dancing bishop having come out as family member (6)
DYNAST: Anagram (for dancing) of STAND (B)Y without the B (bishop having come out)

20a    Touring cars crossing a key river in Herod’s town (8)
CAESAREA: Anagram (touring) of CARS goes across A from the clue and a musical key, followed by a 2-letter river (and town) in Biscay, Spain. I had to phone a friend to get the river

22a    Did love trying either course in Asian condiment (6)
WASABI: Split this Japanese horseradish paste (3,1,2) to make sense of the clue

23a    Each tale in novel showing female in domestic charge (10)
CHATELAINE: Anagram (novel) of EACH TALE IN

24a    Beginning of Christmas period, source of music (4)
CAGE: This source of music is a composer – the first letter of Christmas plus a word meaning period or time

25a    One’s sweetener, perhaps, that’s not right for drink (6)
IMBIBE: How you might say “one is” in the first person, followed by a 5-letter word for sweetener or incentive from which the R is removed (not right) to get a verb meaning to drink

26a    Break obtained in winter? Valuable (8)
INTERVAL: “obtained” in winter valuable


1d    Guy I had in charge to probe authority (8)
RIDICULE: The contraction of I had and the abbreviation for in charge go inside (to probe) a 4-letter word for authority or regulation

2d    McKellar, say, starts to sing cringingly on television (4)
SCOT: First letters of (starts to) the last four words in the clue. Again, “say” is a definition-by-example indicator

3d    Web source viewed, we hear, by that woman in east London (6)
SPIDER: homophone of a 5-letter word meaning viewed or watched secretively followed by how a Cockney might say “that woman”

4d    Unusual Nativity crib? Note it separately lacking colour (8)
VIBRANCY: Anagram (unusually) of NA(TI)V(IT)Y CRIB, separately losing a note (ti) and it

5d    Dancer’s charge? (5,5)
SANTA CLAUS: cryptic definition of the load pulled by a reindeer

6d    Potato placed in tin in drinking establishment (6)
SALOON: A potato you might have in your curry goes inside the chemical symbol for tin

8d    Manage to avoid onset of snow in Eastern headland (6)
ESCAPE: First letter (onset) of snow goes in between the abbreviation for Eastern and a 4-letter headland

13d    Seasonal flower at home put in container with fine backing (10)
POINSETTIA: The usual 2-letter word meaning at home plus a 3-letter word meaning put go inside a container (which might hold a plant), followed by a reversal (backing) of a 2-letter representation of fine or top-class

16d    Source of strain traditionally at Christmas? (8)
CAROLLER: Cryptic definition of a person who might be responsible for some Christmas tunes

18d    Winter transport with ancient outfit going round Slough North (8)
TOBOGGAN: An ancient outfit that a Roman might wear goes around a 3-letter slough or marsh, followed by the abbreviation for North

19d    Cheers one sealing success in old French colony (6)
TAHITI: A 2-letter word for cheers or thank you and the letter that looks like one contain (sealing) a 3-letter success (e.g., for a pop-song)

21d    One’s largely bound to feature around start of Hogmanay party? (2-4)
AT-HOME: This party at one’s own residence comes from a very large book (1,4) around the first letter (start) of Hogmanay

22d    Ecstasy in passion of one seeing red festive feature (6)
WREATH: The abbreviation for the drug Ecstasy goes inside a violent anger (passion of one seeing red)

24d    Tease  character  that was recently put in post? (4)
CARD: triple definition, the third cryptic: a verb meaning to tease or comb, an eccentric character, and something you may have received in the post with a Christmas greeting

My top clues were 15a (phishing), 22a (Did love trying either course) and 4d (Unusual nativity crib). Which clues did you like? Please comment and let us know how you are doing today and what you liked about this puzzle


  1. Expat Chris
    Posted December 25, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Dutch, for taking time out of what I’m sure is a busy day to blog this puzzle. This was not a walkover by any means, and I fell at four fences. I had 16D as a plural, with one L, which made 25 impossible. I couldn’t do 21D and (kicking myself) 5D went over my head! Also needed the blog to parse 9A and 6D. 22A made me laugh but 15A is my favorite. Many thanks, Shamus.

    Turkey just went in and all the veggies and other accompaniments are prepped. Maybe I will have time to sneak a look at the double toughie.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 25, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Perfect enjoyment for a Xmas morning.
    Not too taxing and some lovely constructions specially in the NE corner.
    Liked 4,5 and 6d.
    22a made me laugh.
    Thanks to Shamus and to Dutch.
    Just saw where to find the Elgar special from the Xmas blog.
    Couldn’t even do that without BD’s help.
    I think HM should add your name to her honours list for services to the International Crossword Community.

  3. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 25, 2015 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    We managed to find time in a rather busy family filled Christmas evening to do this puzzle. Google had a little bit of work to do with 20a in particular, but more as a reminder than original research. A top quality clever puzzle, appropriate to the occasion. Good fun and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Shamus and special thanks to Dutch for giving up his time to give us this review.

  4. Cryptor
    Posted December 25, 2015 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Managed just less than half while missus watching Downton, before resorting to blog. Just can’t seem to make the leap to solving toughies. Merry Christmas Dutch, and thanks to setter for puzzle.

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 26, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Keep persevering with the Toughies. Usually but not always, the Tuesday and Thursday ones tend to the easier end of the Toughie spectrum. You can also look at past Toughie reviews and get a feel for the setters who are likely to produce a difficulty rating of 2 or 3 * (as opposed to 5*) and give their puzzles a go when they appear.

  5. Kitty
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    I started off at a gallop but had to enlist Mr K’s help later on and then Mr G’s (Google’s) for 20a. We also didn’t get the second definition in 12a or the affluent part of London, so needed the blog for enlightenment there.

    Chuckles were had at 22a so that is our favourite.

    Thanks to Shamus for the fun and many thanks to Dutch for doing the blog today. Or rather yesterday.

  6. crypticsue
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    My late mother-in-law (who could never pronounce a word correctly if she could do it wrong) always called a 13d a “point setter” which leads to awful problems when you try to spell the word correctly to put it in a crossword grid.

  7. Jane
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Late to the party with this one and didn’t exactly cover myself in glory. Despite worrying where the bishop had danced off to, I put in assist for 17a (AS SISTer) and that really loused up my chances in the NE. Not recalling the area of London added to the confusion.
    Plenty to like though – my top three goes to 10&22a plus 3d. I think we’ve had something similar to 3d not too long ago, but it still made me smile.
    Thanks to Shamus and also to Dutch for finding the time midst Christmas confusion to help out the befuddled ones! A very happy New Year to both of you.