Toughie 1524

Toughie No 1524 by Samuel

Hints and tips by Toro

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment ***

This was a quite a gentle and certainly an enjoyable start to the short post-Xmas week. Excuse the belated review.

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 Innovative in the end, Federer stops playing advantage (5-5)
AVANT-GARDE Anagram of ADVANTAGE around (federe)R.

6a Heartless wench messed up champ (4)
CHEW Anagram of WE(n)CH.

9a Deed rewritten with this mistake could be reordered (5)
ERROR REORDERED is an anagram of DEED and the solution.

10a Doom Mother Russia? (9)
DAMNATION Archaic word for mother + a country or people.

12a Forgetful people start to suffer terrible racist banter (13)

14a The French (three of them) on vacation needed a fantasy world (2-2,4)
LA-LA LAND French definite article x3 + N(eede)D.

15a Cook, perhaps, poisoned person with third piece of beef, not second (6)
OPENER A reference to the England cricketer who bats at No. 1. Anagram of PER(s)ON and (be)E(f).

17a Cold sex during loveless game (6)
BITING Two-letter word for the sexual act inside a social betting game minus O.

19a Arrest celebrity over Eastern poison (8)
RATSBANE To arrest + a celebrity, all reversed, then E(astern).

21a Darth … em, Darth? Shoot-’em-up! (5,8)
SPACE INVADERS Read (5,2,6), the solution suggests what an em might be in typography in-between two Dark Lords.

24a Dine out to accommodate composer? No way (1,5,3)
I NEVER DID Anagram of DINE around a composer.

25a Figure missing in picture (5)
IMAGE To figure or conceive in the mind’s eye, minus IN.

26a Number not initially like six or twelve (4)
EVEN A number minus its first letter.

27a Trains excited bloke, 17? (10)
ASTRINGENT Anagram of TRAINS + bloke or chap.


1d Help section of tribute band making a comeback (4)
ABET Hidden backwards inside TRIBUTEBAND.

2d Spray a painful back with oil? Not I (7)
AEROSOL A + synonym for painful, reversed + O(i)L.

3d Affect ignorance of an untidy rebel being out of order (4,1,5,3)

4d Inspecting German car, sound as a bell? (8)
AUDITING German car make + to make a small bell-like sound.

5d Express doubts strange editor from the South (5)
DEMUR Strange or queer + ED(itor), all reversed.

7d Regularly hear painter’s going topless for islander (7)
HAITIAN H(e)A(r) + a Venetian artist.

8d One who might wipe out victory refused somehow having eradicated base on river (10)
WINDSURFER A victory + anagram of R(e)FUSED + R(iver). (The base is e, the base of the natural logarithm in maths.)

11d As an aside, misguided pope ordains heartless rake (1,6,2,4)

13d Commoner is to call for vote (10)
PLEBISCITE A member of the great unwashed + IS + to call or summon to court.

16d King goes after gold captured by drunken armed pirate (8)
MARAUDER Chemical symbol for gold inside anagram of ARMED, then abbreviation for King in Latin.

18d Swinger sends up essence of Led Zep pictures (7)
TRAPEZE (l)E(d) + ZEP + pictures, paintings etc., all reversed.

20d Mollify fool yearning to get answer rather than run (7)
ASSUAGE A fool or idiot + a yearning with R(un) replaced by A(nswer).

22d Swellings that might make pair despair? Quite the opposite (5)
NODES Split (2,3), how DESPAIR becomes PAIR.

23d Injure hitch-hiker with Ford? (4)
DENT Hero of the Douglas Adams trilogy whisked into space by Ford Prefect.

I enjoyed all of this, with no particular favourites. I wonder whether Jean-Luc’s English is up to 11d?

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


  1. Shropshirelad
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Not quite a breeze, more of an occasional gust – but enjoyable nonetheless. Initially thought we were in for a pangram – but no. Some very clever and enjoyable clues and I particularly enjoyed 14a but I will go for 15a as my favourite.

    Thanks to Samuel for the puzzle and Toro for his review.

  2. dutch
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    A great start to the toughie week. This took back-page time, but was very enjoyable and I got a particular kick from 21a (Darth) – brilliant! I also liked 24a (dine out to accommodate composer), 22d (swellings) and of course 8d conjured up an amusing image involving one of our setter friends. I wasted some time trying to think of a famous poisoned person in 15a.

    many thanks Samuel and many thanks Toro

  3. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I don’t often venture into the Toughie world but I did today, I didn’t find it particularly tough, but I really enjoyed it. The brilliant 21a was my favourite and there were many other great clues to savour.

    Many thanks to Samuel and to Toro.

  4. Expat Chris
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I completed without help,and could parse almost all, even 15A. I couldn’t parse 21A though, and now I’ve read the hint it has knocked 27A from my top spot. Brilliant! Many thanks Samuel and Toro.

  5. Una
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Not exactly a breeze for me either, but definitely good fun .I liked 10a (although I don’t feel that way about Russia), 21a, 24a and 11d.
    I failed to get 8d, and I still can’t figure out how a windsurfer is ” someone who might wipe out “. Perhaps it is a technical term used in that sport.
    I am glad the post was later than usual because it made me persist a little longer and I finally got 11d.
    Thanks Toro and Samuel.
    Storm Frank is howling outside.

    • dutch
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      8d, not that technical – brb has: wipe out (informal) to fall from surfboard, skis, etc. Do you remember the 1963 instrumental by the Surfaris?

      • Jane
        Posted December 29, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        That’s where I’ve heard the term before! Thanks for the reminder, Dutch.

      • Una
        Posted December 29, 2015 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        No , I am afraid I don’t remember the Surfaris. I hope I’ll remember it for next time.

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted December 29, 2015 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

          Just for you, Una:

          It was good fun in the pre-Beatles 60s but I don’t think it’s stood the test of time. The drummer is the only one making much effort.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted December 29, 2015 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        I remember it well. The California sound was riding the crest of the wave, so to speak, back then. A wipe out, of course, is failure to negotiate said crest and the downward side without being parted from one’s board. RD’s link, though, is a mix. I do wish some of these old, “not even that good at the time” bands would give up gracefully.

        • Posted December 29, 2015 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

          Here’s the real thing. If I remember correctly the flip side was called “Surfer Joe”

          • Expat Chris
            Posted December 29, 2015 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

            So much better! As instrumentals go, they had a steep hill to climb to be half as good as the Shadows, though. Apache was phenomenal.

            • Posted December 29, 2015 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

              My personal favourite instrumental groups were Johnny and the Hurricanes and The Ventures.

              • Expat Chris
                Posted December 29, 2015 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

                All good! I remember Walk Don’t Run and Perfidia particularly. Instrumentals seem to be a thing of the distant past now but they were hugely popular in my (our) heyday. Dwayne “the twangs the thang” Eddy was very big. Mr Expat’s personal longtime favorite though is Chet Atkins. An absolute master.

                • dutch
                  Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:09 pm | Permalink


                • Posted December 30, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

                  I did say instrumental groups.

                  I was a great fan of Duane, saw him play live on numerous occasions, and even got to speak to him after a concert at the Rainbow, Finsbury Park. Son of BD had his arm in a plaster cast at the time, and Duane signed it for him.

                  Favourite track:

              • Una
                Posted December 30, 2015 at 1:03 am | Permalink

                I think of Dave Brubeck and “Take Five ” when it comes to instrumentals :

            • dutch
              Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

              used to do Apache, walk don’t run & wipe out in my band The HubCats many moons ago..

              • Expat Chris
                Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:21 pm | Permalink


          • Una
            Posted December 30, 2015 at 12:55 am | Permalink

            Good stuff !

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      I do hope that’s all he does Una. Take care.

      • Una
        Posted December 29, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        He seems to be calming down now or perhaps it is the eye of the storm.

    • Jane
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Frank’s just found us as well.

      • Una
        Posted December 29, 2015 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Baton down the hatches !

      • Hanni
        Posted December 29, 2015 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

        Oh dear!

    • Paso Doble
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      A tune for the answer to 8d

      • Expat Chris
        Posted December 29, 2015 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        Never heard that one before.

      • dutch
        Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

        I have – it’s on the more recent Mystery Girl cd, which is excellent.

    • Paso Doble
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      And a slightly more modern song on the surfing theme …

      • Expat Chris
        Posted December 29, 2015 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        Can’t view this in the USA.

        • Expat Chris
          Posted December 29, 2015 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

          But, if we’re talking surfin’ music and the California sound, nobody came close to The Beach Boys.

          • Posted December 30, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

            Oh yes they did! I preferred the rawer sound of Jan and Dean, who could have been more successful if Jan hadn’t been involved in a serious road accident:

  6. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    You’re right Toro. Never realised that the expression was used in English and hesitated as it was the first clue I solved in the east side.
    Loved 21a too. Incidentally, he is known as Dark Vador in France.
    Favourite is 13d for its surface.
    Thanks to Samuel and to Toro for the review.

  7. Jane
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    All good fun, but a bit tricky for me in parts. 15a plus 8&23d took a bit of a leap of faith and – like Chris – I didn’t get to the bottom of the parsing for 21a.
    The ‘twiddly’ bits in clues such as 14&15a plus 8d almost always involve me in some retrospective parsing – apologies to the purists amongst us!
    As for 11d – rest assured, JL, I am more familiar with Brits using a halfway house and coming out with ‘a propos of nothing’.
    Favourite is 24a.
    Thank you, Samuel, and also Toro for the concise review.

  8. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Samuel always seems to keep us smiling and he did with this one too. We have recently seen (with family) the latest version of the movie relating to 21a so that has to be our favourite but there are lots of good ones to pick from. Much enjoyed.
    Thanks Samuel and Toro.

  9. Hanni
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 9:56 pm | Permalink


    Brilliant. I like Samuel’s puzzles and this was a great start to the Toughie week. OK it wasn’t overly taxing but it made me smile.

    Favourite is 24a but 15a certainly deserves praise.

    Many thanks to Samuel and to Toro for blogging.

  10. Paso Doble
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Lovely to have a two-star toughie that we could attempt today. We really enjoyed it and managed to complete it in reasonable time. Thanks to Toro for the help in parsing a couple of the clues – 8d and 18d. Many thanks to Samuel for a great puzzle.

  11. Jerome
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    One of the few toughies I’ve attempted and came close to finishing. 15a defeated me which i don’t mind as it is cricket related. Also never heard of 11d. Enjoyed this more than the back pager. :-)

  12. Kath
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    I really like Samuel’s crosswords.
    This was not particularly easy or gentle for me because of huge gaps in my general knowledge – please could we include cricket in that?
    Anyway, moving on . . . I finished it and enjoyed it too although I admit to needing the hints to understand quite a few of my answers.
    I could put down quite a few clues that I particularly liked but will try to keep it short so 17 and 24a and 2 and 4d – favourite was 7d.
    Thanks to Samuel for the crossword and to Toro for explaining the bits that were beyond me.

  13. Samuel
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Toro, for the blog, and to those who have commented.

    I’m pleased that some solvers have mentioned the clue for SPACE INVADERS. I probably spent as much time trying to decide on the final form of this clue than I did on the entire rest of the puzzle! Anyway, thanks again, and here’s hoping that nobody falls foul of Storm Frank tonight.

    • Jane
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for popping in, Samuel and apologies for being one of the slow ones when it came to the space invaders. At least I got the right answer, albeit it by default!
      Frank is working himself up into a bit of a lather here at the moment – hopefully he’ll get bored with us and blow off out to sea by the morning.

    • Jerome
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      I should have mentioned the clue for space invaders was awesome! Well worth the effort and much appreciated! :-)

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for popping in Samuel. 21a was one of many excellent clues – keep them coming.

    • Una
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 1:07 am | Permalink

      May the force be with you !

    • dutch
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Many thanks for popping in Samuel – makes our day

  14. stanXYZ
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    When surfing the internet for “surfaris” I found this one – “Pipeline” by the Chantays!

    Not great music but it made me laugh!

    • Expat Chris
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      How clever is that!! Not many groups could sound that good without even plugging their electric guitars in!

  15. Heno
    Posted January 3, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Samuel and to Toro for the review and hints. A really enjoyable puzzle. Some brilliant clues. I just needed the hints to let me know that 19a was reversed, I was trying to put nab at the start. I was very pleased to solve 8d. Favourite was 21a. Was 3*/5* for me. Great fun.