Toughie 1545

Toughie No 1545 by Shamus

The Italian Job

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

I normally enjoy a Shamus Toughie but I was slightly disappointed by this one. The two long down answers pretty much wrote themselves in and there wasn’t too much to get excited about in the rest of the puzzle. I did notice a bit of an Italian theme.

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.

Across Clues

8a One who sees value in any fare? (8)
OMNIVORE – one who’s not a fussy eater.

9a Did avoid being conned out of diamonds at first (6)
ELUDED – a past participle meaning conned without the leading D(iamonds).

10a Laugh endlessly in carnival location (3)
RIO – laugh here is a noun meaning a hilarious person. Drop the last letter from another informal word for such a person.

11a Abnormal fear Sikh must suffer (8)
FREAKISH – a fairly obvious anagram (must suffer) of FEAR SIKH.

12a News about Romans’ rendering of today’s drink (6)
NOGGIN – the abbreviation for new is repeated and contains how current day citizens of Rome would say ‘today’.

13a Ruse team promoter devised with sun out in normal conditions (4,11)
ROOM TEMPERATURE – an anagram (devised) of RU[s]E TEAM PROMOTER without the abbreviation for sun.

15a Noted status in pitch swamped by return of tribal teenagers (7)
STARDOM – insert another word for pitch (the black, sticky stuff) inside the reversal of one of the teenage gangs of the 1960s.

18a Report of local body giving advice (7)
COUNSEL – this sounds like a local governing body.

21a One’s enthralled by Latin wine said to be drunk by good royal officials (6-2-7)
LADIES-IN-WAITING – insert the Roman numeral for one into an anagram (to be drunk) of LATIN WINE SAID and finish with G(ood).

24a Actor, old man, guide for summits (6)
SHERPA – the surname of a British actor, born in South Africa, who was knighted in 2000 is followed by an affectionate term for one’s old man.

25a Backward joint therefore not opening? Here’s proof (8)
EVIDENCE – reverse a joint or disreputable place of entertainment and follow that with an adverb meaning therefore or consequently without its first letter.

26a Save   military distinction (3)
BAR – double definition, the second a metal strip fixed to a military medal, showing that it has been won twice.

27a Occasion in which last batsmen must follow two directions (6)
ENTAIL – occasion here is a verb meaning to give rise to. The name given to the last few players at the bottom of a team’s batting order follows two directions.

28a Short distance explorer cut off at the finish and beginning (8)
INCHOATE – a short imperial distance followed by the surname of a gallant British polar explorer without his final S.

Down Clues

1d My robe is ragged, being in development (6)
EMBRYO – an anagram (is ragged) of MY ROBE.

2d Overcome resistance of duke with a king in theory (6)
DISARM – start with the abbreviation for duke then insert A and an abbreviation for king into an informal word for a theory or doctrine.

3d River, lake and rocks shown by artist — such is in uniform blue? (6,9)
POLICE CONSTABLE – string together an Italian river, the abbreviation for lake, the sort of rocks that you may request with your whisky and an English landscape artist.

4d Surprised expression among criminals maybe (7)
PERHAPS – insert an exclamation of surprise into an informal US term for criminals. Those of us who watched the wonderful Hill Street Blues will have no problems with this one.

5d Cardinal on video analysed old master (8,2,5)
LEONARDO DA VINCI – the answer is obvious from the enumeration but it’s still necessary to check that the anagram (analysed) of CARDINAL ON VIDEO actually works.

6d Tenor’s sung fantastically with another, no alternative element (8)
TUNGSTEN – the abbreviation for tenor and an anagram (fantastically) of SUNG are followed by the first word of the clue without the conjunction that’s used to introduce an alternative.

7d Stock exercise like runs initially everyone enjoys (8)
PEDIGREE – join together the abbreviation for physical exercise, an informal verb to like or understand, the cricket abbreviation for runs and the initial letters of everyone enjoys.

14d Deliveries announced for eggs (3)
OVA – this sounds like (to some people – not to me) a series of deliveries by a bowler.

16d Advanced during college with trendy ‘good education‘ (8)
TEACHING – insert the abbreviation for advanced into an informal word for a sort of college. Now add an adverb meaning trendy or popular and G(ood).

17d Push unduly African music with leader of rap in charge (8)
RAILROAD – start with a style of music from North Africa (new to me) then insert the leading letter of rap into a verb to charge or fill (a glass or a gun, say).

19d Runner, as captain, familiarly ignoring pressure (3)
SKI – a familiar word for a captain without the abbreviation for pressure.

20d Italian team on main road heading north for temporary period (7)
INTERIM – the name of a football team from Milan followed by the reversal of the main London-Leeds road.

22d Case of terror upset capital in shock (6)
TREMOR – the outer letters of terror precede the reversal of a European capital city.

23d Subtle refinement shown in Germanic etymology (6)
NICETY – we finish with a lurker.

My favourite clue, for the disguised definition, was 4d. Which one(s) attracted your approval?



  1. dutch
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Took me a while to picture the Italian magazine that I needed for 12a. Then I tried to use AN(other) (“another no alternative”) for the ending of the metal in 6d which didn’t really work and looked horrible. Saw the long anagrams soon enough except for 13a, where I let myself get stumped for ages by the OO checkers. Looked for an answer meaning “suffer” in 11a. Then bunged in LEARNING for 16d, which led to silly difficulties. Apart from that, all was fine! Like Gazza, my favourite is 4d (surprised expression among criminals maybe). Many thanks Shamus and Gazza

  2. Jane
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Even I didn’t find this one too difficult so I’m not surprised that you were somewhat disappointed, Gazza. The ‘mad hat’ seemed to be conspicuously absent today but I still rather enjoyed it. Ashamed to admit that I had to check on the actor and that 28a was a new word for me.
    I did think 4d was good but my nod goes to 3d – sorry, Gazza!

    Many thanks to the twinkly-eyed one and to Gazza for a great review and the wonderful reminder of Hill Street Blues. I am now off to search through Youtube for the final part of the Noggin story.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jane,
      If you are in contact with Hanni, do give her my love.

      • Jane
        Posted February 3, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        Hi JL,
        I certainly will. :bye:

  3. jean-luc cheval
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    When I first printed the grid I noticed it only had 5 black squares added to a normal template. Found it very harmonious.
    Unlike Dutch, I penciled in COACHING in 16d and before the technical college came to mind.
    Apart from that it was pretty much a read and write.
    The lurker in 23d is very elegant.
    Thanks to Shamus and to Gazza for the review.

  4. Una
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Read and write ? The first half , maybe.
    I enjoyed it , a lot . 4d is my favourite.
    Thanks , Gazza for explaining 16d . I never heard of that music either.
    Thanks also to Shamus.

  5. Sheffieldsy
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    We had to look up that African music and, never having heard of the Italian magazine, nor being able to speak Italian, needed Gazza’s hint to understand the answer we had for 12a.

    These pushed it past ** difficulty for us. At least we finished it whereas, yesterday, we managed just two answers before deciding we were on a different planet to the setter.

    Thanks also for the mention of Hill Street Blues, one of the best things televisual ever to come from the States. I remember a management course many years ago where the presenter listed what a good manager needs and concluded that Captain Furillo was the nearest thing he’d ever seen to having it all. As for Grace Davenport, well…….

    Thought 27a was the pick of the bunch.

    Thanks to Gazza and Shamus.

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm… not a doddle for me. I was stuck for ages on 15A, 17D and 27A. I thought yobs were the tribal teenagers in 15A and came up with starboy which of course made no sense. 17D was a total bung in. 27A was last in and I did work that one out. Never heard of the 24A actor, either. I liked 28A because its such a lovely word and reminded me of where I first read the word many years ago…in a book called How Did I get to Be Forty & Other Atrocities. Thanks to Shamus and to Gazza for the review.

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    With 16d we had neither LEARNING (Dutch) nor COACHING (Jean-Luc) but had put in TRAINING with Trin being an abbreviation of Trinity, we found it was in BRB. Eventually sorted when we were certain what 24a had to be. The African music and Italian today both needed confirmatory checking. Overall, a steady solve with a few stutters along the way and we enjoyed working through it.
    Thanks Shamus and Gazza.

  8. Gazza
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    proXimal tomorrow.

  9. Shropshirelad
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Extremely late on parade today. Not one of Shamus’s hardest or, for that matter, one of his most enjoyable. The fun factor was there in a few of the clues but the rest of it lacked a bit of sparkle – sorry Shamus.

    Anyway, thanks to Shamus for the puzzle and to Gazza for his review and reminding me of one of my favourite TV series of all time. Loved the music, the cast, story lines and especially Veronica Hamel.

  10. Salty Dog
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    I found it a bit trickier and a bit more enjoyable than Gazza (3*/3.5* for me). Lots of little ticks against various clues – 11a, 20d, 7d – but 12a gets the nod for my money. Thanks to Shamus, and to Gazza.

  11. Lesley
    Posted February 4, 2016 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Have just done yesterdays. Completed but had to look at hints to justify 12a, 24a, 4d and 17d. All unknown words to me. I think the Gazza hint for 6d was a bit tenuous. I thought it was a simple anagram of tenors sung, lacking the alternative. I do have time to today to attempt to take on the ProXimal challenge. Here we go!

    • Gazza
      Posted February 4, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      An anagram of TEN[or]S SUNG doesn’t give you tungsten. Also, that explanation doesn’t use the ‘with another’ bit of the clue.
      Good luck with the proXimal.

      • Lesley
        Posted February 4, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        whoops – jumped the gun. thank you. have struggled today – about to resort to hints