Toughie 1560

Toughie No 1560 by Dada

Hints and tips by Toro

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I rarely look at grids, but this one is like a sandwich cut diagonally with stubborn joins of crust in the corners. There is a lot of headscratching and fun to be had in the long words round the edges (four of 11 letters and four of 14), and overall this was a really enjoyable and amusing puzzle from Dada.

Thanks to BD for putting this up on my behalf – I am among the unlucky few who can’t access the new site and didn’t even realise it was back up (hence the lateness). I won’t be able to see the blog or reply to comments until that is sorted out.

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 Enthusiastically evangelical priests buried in grass and then in earth (5-6)
HAPPY-CLAPPY Double P(riest) entered first inside dried grass and then inside a kind of earth or soil

9a Time to lock up nefarious, miserable and very old Conservative polemicist (6,8)
DEVIL’S ADVOCATE Nefarious or bad + miserable or low + V(ery) O(ld) C(onservative, all inside a calendar time

11a Turning point, a figure reversed (4)
AXIS A + a number reversed

12a Don’t declare it’s a stick! (5)
BATON Split (3,2) what a cricket side does if it does not declare with wickets in hand

13a Portico taken by rights to Athens (4)

16a Endless courage needed to catch bird? Absolutely! (4,4)
HEAR HEAR Courage or mettle minus the final letter, around a South American relative of the emu

17a Dark-haired and a bit thick? (6)
UNFAIR What looks like it could mean not blond, and ‘a bit thick’ in the sense of unreasonable

19a Solid vehicle in decay (6)
ROBUST A passenger vehicle inside decay (or to decay)

20a Poet Noyes regularly seen in some joint (8)
TENNYSON N(o)Y(e)S inside a part of a joint in woodworking etc. that fits into a mortise

22a Paper stuff, including last of tissue (4)
REAM (tissu)E inside to stuff or force

23a Dog with a frog in its throat? (5)
HUSKY A breed of dog that is also an adjective meaning hoarse

24a Something blind, seeing nothing? (4)
LOVE Something proverbially blind that also means zero or nil in tennis

27a Game group beginning to tune in with demonic gathering (7,7)
WITCHES’ SABBATH Board game + Swedish pop group + T(une), all inside WITH

28a Bickering rivals land posh jacket in cloth (3,3,5)
TOM AND JERRY country in Arabia + posh jacket or tuxedo, all inside a ckind of cloth


2d Shot by amateur, a nice picture (8,6)
AMERICAN BEAUTY … the name of a motion picture. Anagram of BY AMATEUR A NICE

3d Two, nothing special about one (4)
PAIR Nothing special or run-of-the-mill around Roman numeral one

4d One left behind what’s needed for mice to play catching rats, ultimately (8)
CASTAWAY (rat)S inside the situation in which, proverbially, the mice will play

5d An Arabian sailing vessel, I must emphasise! (3,3)
AND HOW AN + a traditional Arabian sailing vessel

6d Ring up for a game (4)
POOL A ring or coil of thread, say, reversed

7d Huge vehicle managed diversion, one driving a wagon around it? (3,11)
CAR TRANSPORTER Managed or directed + diversion, amusement or fun, all inside a person who drives a wagon

8d Unknown character in wrongful arrest, eg an officer from Paris? (5,6)
TEXAS RANGER … but not Paris, France. Symbol for an unknown in algebra inside an anagram of ARREST EG AN

10d Solver adjusted the bra, wearing anxious look (6,5)
FATHER BROWN Anagram of THE BRA inside an anxious or concerned expression

14d Spirit finally deserting army (5)
GHOST desertin(G) + an army or multitude

15d Silly batting an eyelid at first (5)
INANE Batting in cricket + AN + E(yelid)

18d All the cards, and some for a sailor (8)
DECKHAND 52 playing cards, then 13 of them (in bridge, for example)

21d Country, one not being meticulous, might you say? (6)
RUSSIA Soundalike of someone who does things in haste

25d State ‘I’m surprised by moon’ (4)
OHIO Expression of mild surprise + a moon of Jupiter

26d Accomplished message originally wiped (4)
ABLE A telegraph message minus the first letter

Loads to enjoy today. I particularly liked 1a and 18d but could nominate several more as favourites – but I’ll leave that to you.


  1. crypticsue
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I really liked 1a too and the penny drop moment when I realised who the solver in 10d was.

    Thanks to Dada and Toro.

    PS Elkamere tomorrow

  2. elcid
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyed today’s ‘offering’. I’m in agreement with Toro and CS with 1a but also got a giggle from 23a and 28a. Last in 24a – could not “see” the answer for a long time! Thanks to Dada and Toro.

  3. Dutch
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Fun puzzle from Dada. Last one in was 8d where I was trying to use Y for the unknown and did not twig Paris for ages.
    I enjoyed 1a , especially “evangelical priests”, 9a (polemicist) and the answer to 28a, though the surface did not mean much to me. Plenty more to like. Many thanks Dada and Toro for the review

  4. Una
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I misread 10d and had the incorrect answer of “rather drawn”, that is looking anxious.I was also defeated by 28a.
    I liked 1a, when I finally got it, as well as 9a, 17a, 23a, and 4d , as it reminded me of Kath.
    Very enjoyable, thanks to Dada and Toro.
    OMG Elkamere, I haven’t solved one yet, but I will try.

  5. Miffypops
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    This was a lot of fun to do although if took a long time and I will need to read Toro’s blog to work out a couple of parsings. Both The Solver and Kimosabe took some working out. I could see the bickering rivals with no checkers but have only just worked out the wordplay. The coven escaped me for far too long. 1ac made me smile and thanks to Dada for the easier clues that led the way into this wonderland. Thanks to Toro for the review which I will read now

  6. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Best Dada for ages.
    I ticked so many clues. My copy looks as if it met a flock of geese.
    28a took a while to parse. Didn’t know that cloth before although I am sure my towels are made of this. It’s supposed to be quite soft but I’ll never know. The water being so hard here it feels like sandpaper.
    Thanks to Dada for the wonderful crossword and to Toro ( who has gone from double underlining to none) for the review.

  7. Shropshirelad
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Great puzzle Dada – sorry for the brevity – site access probs when posting. Thanks Toro

  8. JonP
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I struggled to gain a foothold and finally managed to get going in the SE. After some protracted cogitation, it all knitted together and I thought this an excellent puzzle and thoroughly enjoyed the solve.

    Cheers to Toro and Dada – certainly 4* for enjoyment and pretty tricky to boot.

  9. Gazza
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Great start to the Toughie week – thanks to Dada and Toro. I enjoyed too many clues to list them all so I’ll confine my ‘favourites’ to 1a, 16a, 23a and 10d.

  10. halcyon
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I agree with J-LC – best Dada for a long while, despite the awful grid. Many chuckles from several excellent clues including 1a, 17a, 27a [in with] and 8d [the Movie eventually gave the game away]. Last to yield was the cleverly constructed 24a.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Toro.

  11. Expat Chris
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Most of left two thirds went in without toooo much of a struggle. I did know the solver in 10D since we get re-runs of that program here, and I worked out 1A despite not knowing the expression. Thy’re holy rollers to me. 27 and 28 finally fell, and then I was stuck for ages on the last few on the right …7D, 8D, 13A, 17A and 24A… and 12A in the middle. I should have got 12A before I did, but there you are. My excuse for 17A is that I no longer hear or use many British expressions so I have to dredge them up. Then I put it to one side and sauntered over to the cryptic comments where, lo and behold, naughty SL just gave the answer 24A away. Finally, I saw the light on 7D and on 8D when I changed the unknown. Never heard of the place, but a lot of American small cities have big ‘borrowed’ names.

    Hard work for me but rather satisfying. 4D, 18D and 26D get my podium positions, with 18D earning the top spot. Thanks, Dada, and thanks to Toro for the review.

    It’s so nice to be able to access the puzzles the way I used to before the “troubles’ forced me to take a convoluted route in. So thanks once more to BD for the monumental effort.

  12. Jon_S
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    A good puzzle, a little tough in places, though always gettable with a little perseverance. Took too long to realise I was looking for the wrong Texas in 8d, and who the bickering rivals in 28 could possibly be. :smile:

  13. Heno
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Please help, the definitions are not underlined.

    • Heno
      Posted March 1, 2016 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

      Thanks to Dada and to Toro. Shame I couldn’t get any of the long clues. I had to look them all up. Managed most of the rest. Needed 13 hints to finish.