Toughie 1561

Toughie No 1561 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

This enjoyable Elkamere puzzle was a mixture of some easy clues (25a, 26a, 27a and 1d, to identify just four consecutive ones) and others requiring intense pen sucking. As always Elkamere is very good at disguising his definitions.

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

1a One’s rights might be very limited (10)
SHOESTRING – an anagram (might be) of ONE’S RIGHTS.

6a Possibly flat   hook (4)
GAFF – double definition, the first a slang term for one’s accommodation.

9a About to re-establish belief (5)
CREDO – the single character abbreviation meaning about or approximately is followed by a verb to re-establish or repeat.

10a Split in their pants — could be more careful (9)
THRIFTIER – insert a split or breach into an anagram (pants) of THEIR.

12a Unworthy meal for us? No time for that (13)
DISHONOURABLE – start with a meal that’s placed in front of us (4,2,3,5) then remove the T(ime).

14a Heading off trader, visit bill recipient (8)
ENDORSEE – remove the first letter from a trader or retailer and add a verb to visit.

15a Focus of Truffaut, European filmmaker (6)
AUTEUR – we need the focus or central bit of Truffaut European.

17a Personal comment, writing about two-wheelers (6)
MOPEDS – a newspaper article expressing the writer’s personal opinion (2-2) has the abbreviation for (hand)writing placed around it.

19a Approach musical group around piano (4,4)
GAME PLAN – I had vague memories of the word for a traditional musical ensemble in S-E Asia (and so I should have, because it was an answer in a Giovanni back-pager, blogged by me, in 2010). Put it around the abbreviation for piano.

21a Film‘s cast to act honestly (3,4,6)
THE LAST TYCOON – I don’t know the film so I needed the checkers to work out the anagram (cast) of TO ACT HONESTLY. The 1976 film was based on an unfinished novel by F Scott Fitzgerald.

24a Business knowledge gathered by court reporter? (5,4)
CLARK KENT – insert an informal word for a business or activity (as in “I’m dabbling in the antiques ****”) and a Scottish word for knowledge into the abbreviation for court. There was a loud clang when the penny dropped.

25a Boat outline, prow not visible (5)
KETCH – remove the first letter (prow) from an outline or rough drawing.

26a Deceit in connection with university place (4)
LIEU – a deceit is followed by the abbreviation for university.

27a Pointers tricky without point (10)
NEEDLESSLY – pointers (in a compass, say) and an adjective meaning tricky or cunning.

Down Clues

1d Rifle  discharge (4)
SACK – two definitions, both verbs.

2d Exaggerated force used to catch composer (7)
OVERDID – the answer was fairly obvious from the Italian composer but I had to look up the two outside letters containing said composer. This is the BRB’s definition: “Reichenbach’s arbitrary name for a force he supposed to manifest itself in light, magnetism, chemical action, hypnotism, etc.”.

3d This tramp wants money (9,4)
SPONSORED WALK – cryptic definition of a charity event which doesn’t sound too strenuous.

4d Dives in river to heal poorly son (8)
RATHOLES – dives here are cramped, squalid and often disreputable places. String together the abbreviation for river, an anagram (poorly) of TO HEAL and S(on).

5d A US cop charged over business (5)
NARCO – reverse a verb meaning charged or rushed and add the abbreviation for a business.

7d Can I like a friend? (7)
AMIABLE – split the answer into three words to make a question (can I?).

8d Moderate use of compass? (10)
FORBEARING – split the answer 3,7 to get why you’d use a compass.

11d A little sweet with a lot in it? (7,6)
FORTUNE COOKIE – lot here means fate or destiny.

13d Cracked the miracle? Shut up! (10)
HERMETICAL – an anagram (cracked) of THE MIRACLE.

16d It always turns up in eccentric sort of column (8)
CARYATID – reverse IT and a Scottish word for always inside an eccentric person.

18d You need to be earlier for hunt (7)
PREDATE – double definition, the second a verb to hunt (we’re more used to its nounal form).

20d Medicine was our bond, you might say (7)
LINCTUS – this sounds like a phrase (6,2) meaning ‘was our bond or connection’.

22d Not just any number one tune (5)
THEME – start with a word identifying something definite (not just any) and add an objective pronoun defining ‘number one’.

23d What a sailor may call a cyclist (4)
AHOY – A and the surname of a retired Scottish track cyclist.

10a, 3d and 22d all vied to be favourite but the clear winner for me today is 24a. Which one(s) were read out of the sealed envelope for you?



  1. Hanni
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Hopefully this will post!

    Utterly loved this on every level. Certainly tricky and as Gazza said, wonderfully hidden definitions.

    So many to like…10a, 12a, 24a and 3d. However the top spot goes to 23d. Complete laugh out loud moment…”What a sailor may call a cyclist”. So funny. Can’t like this enough.

    Many thanks to Elkamere for just a brilliant puzzle and to Gazza for a great blog.

    • Hanni
      Posted March 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Forgot to add that I needed to double check 15 and 25a. Still smiling about the whole puzzle. Elkamere is clever clever boy.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted March 2, 2016 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        You mean my confirmation wasn’t required? Harrumph :wink:

        • Hanni
          Posted March 2, 2016 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

          Hehe…you and Jane get enough of my Mephisto ‘rants’!

          Loved 11d too.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Two good toughies so far. We’re on for a great week.
    I thought 12a was superb.
    Loved the “can I” in 7d and the “was our bond” in 20d.
    Had to do a bit of research for the middle letters of 17a but couldn’t find the outside ones in 2d. But as they were checkers I shall not consider that a bung in.
    Favourite 12a as already mentioned.
    Thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza for the review and explanations.

  3. Shropshirelad
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely brilliant – loved every minute of it. How clever is 12a? 24a – reporter indeed! 23d – how simple and simply wonderful a clue.

    Keep them coming Elkamere.

    Thanks to Gazza for the review which I will try to read. Sorry for the brevity of the post – I’m having real problems accessing the site.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted March 2, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Forgot to say – I was so hoping that 11d was going to be ‘Grannie Sooker’. That’s Scottish for any type of hard cased sweet but generally a ‘mint imperial’. Grannie’s generally not having their own teeth as way of explanation. Mind, in my parent’s days the standard 21st birthday present used to be getting all your teeth pulled and acquiring a set of dentures. Hopefully your own – not second hand.

  4. crypticsue
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Another fine Toughie thank you Elkamere. Thanks to Gazza too

    Let’s hope the good Toughie week continues .

  5. dutch
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant, lots of fun – the top half went in ok, but the bottom half had to wait for the loud penny drop for 24a, and i was left with SE. 23d was the last one in because I didn’t know the cyclist, eventually found him.

    Loved 1a (one’s rights might be v limited), 10a (split in their pants), 25a (boat outline), 1d (rifle discharge), 4d (dives into river) & 22d (Not just any number one) – and many more. Hadn’t come across the force in 2d, the personal comment in 17a, I and I thought the filmmaker (15a) was a french author – well it is, but not in english it seems.

    Great stuff as always, many thanks Elkamere and Gazza

  6. halcyon
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I agree with all of you. Stupendously good stuff – if a little on the easy side [for Elkamere] – which ain’t all that easy. My favourites [whittled down from a dozen] were 12a [meal for us] 7d [an object lesson in how to write a double def clue] and 16d [eccentric sort].

    Many thanks to Elkamere and Gazza.

  7. crypticsue
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Shamus tomorrow

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted March 2, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Hurrah, the high possibility of yet another quality Toughie.

  8. Una
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    This reposting lark is getting annoying.
    I needed a few hints in the end, and I never would have got 24a. Anyway , it was still great fun. The anagrams and the few easy ones helped a lot.
    My standout favourite is 12a .
    Thanks to Elkamere and Gazza.

    • Hanni
      Posted March 2, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      It’s not just you Una. I’m having real problems too. At one point. SL was going to have to post on my behalf.

      • Una
        Posted March 2, 2016 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        I had to keep trying as it is the first time I almost completed an Elkamere.

        • Posted March 2, 2016 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

          Congratulations on leaving the 200,000th comment on the blog

          • Una
            Posted March 2, 2016 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

            :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo:

            • Shropshirelad
              Posted March 2, 2016 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

              I’d like to know what your prize is Una – in the meantime, well done :yes:

              • Posted March 3, 2016 at 12:18 am | Permalink

                In the words of a pair of Kiwis – the Honour and Glory

                • Shropshirelad
                  Posted March 3, 2016 at 12:56 am | Permalink

                  :good: :good:

  9. dutch
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I don’t remember trevor eve & shoestring on TV (1a pic) – when was that?

  10. Miffypops
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Another excellent puzzle which helped to pass a dreary afternoon just enough easy clues to gain a toehold and then so many reads and retreads. If Toughies were on the iPad I would do them every day.. Many thanks to Elkamere and also to Gazza

  11. Miffypops
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Just read the blog. Totally puzzled by the picture at 1ac. Thanks to Dutch for asking about it. Trevor Eve? Never heard of him. Shoestring? Never heard of it.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted March 2, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      TV probably wasn’t available in your area at that time Mp.

  12. anax
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Great blog Gazza, thank you, and thanks all for your kind comments.

    And can I cheekily take this opportunity to push the Macclesfield edition of Sloggers & Betters on (mostly) 19th March – there’s entertainment the previous evening. Uptake has generally been good but we’ve stalled at about the 30 mark; hoping for at least 10 more to take numbers up to the ‘fairly normal’ level.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted March 2, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for popping in anax. Great puzzle and enormous fun – I have so many favourites. Unfortunately I will be unable to attend the Macc do – so apologies to BD, Dutch, yourself and the others. However, do remind Dutch he owes me a beer next time we meet :yes:

    • Dutch
      Posted March 2, 2016 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      Thanks fo saying hi elkamere. I don’t recall owing shropshirelad a beer but no doubt he is right. I also encourage people to come and see us at the Snowgoose in macclesfield in just over two weeks time – it’ll be great.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted March 2, 2016 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

        Does a Chinese restaurant meal with friends after the Birthday bash not ring a bell perchance? :smile:

        • dutch
          Posted March 3, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          That! that’s more than a beer…

  13. Wolfson Bear
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Oh Dear! Elkamere and Movies and TV. Not my forte so finished with two errors – I did crack the movie anagram but had to use google to check as I had never heard of it or the hidden moviemaker in another clue Lots of nice clues from a really great setter who I hope does not revert back to that horror Toughie based on Movie Knowledge of a few years ago. A 4* / 3* rating from me.

  14. Expat Chris
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    Oh dear. I got almost all of the top half but came to grief down below, Well, tomorrow is another day. Thanks to Elkamere, even though you defeated me, and as always to Gazza.

  15. Jane
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Way too late now but relishing being suddenly able to post again. Many thanks, Elkamere/Dean – damned hard work as always and a few unknowns – 15&21a plus a ‘maybe’ for 5d, but some brilliant stuff by way of compensation.
    Tick list has 12a plus 3,11&23d. 23d gets the gold award for smile factor.

    Have a great time at the Macc. ‘bash’ – hopefully you’ll make it to the next birthday party?