Toughie 1562

Toughie No 1562 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I was surprised how quickly I finished this one. I was expecting a much stiffer challenge and thought that the 4- and 5-letter words might hold me up at the end. But they didn’t and the only problems I had was in convincing myself that a couple of the definitions worked

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    Dismiss / contract (5)
CATCH: 2 meanings: dismiss a batsman at cricket/contract a disease

4a    A quiet lecturer in break getting hand (8)
APPLAUSE: A + a letter denoting ‘quiet’ + a letter denoting ‘lecturer’ inside a short break

10a    Dictator promoting new prejudice mostly in African country (7)
NAMIBIA: The surname of a one-time dictator from Uganda with the letter N (new) moved to the front + ‘prejudice’ with the last letter removed

11a    Withdrawn figure in park by lake before exercise (7)
RECLUSE: A park (such as the Red one near Coronation Street) + L (lake) + ‘to exercise’

12a    God near house on a regular basis (4)
EROS: Alternate letters of nEaR hOuSe

13a    Allow master in entrance of mine (5)
ADMIT: M (master) inside an opening or passage leading into a mine

14a    Absolutely impartial magistrate ditching formality (4)
JUST: Take a 7-letter word for a magistrate and remove a 3-letter word meaning ‘formality’ from the end

17a    Piece of ground 50 in labour left as cover for retirement (9,5)
PATCHWORK QUILT: A piece of ground (5) + L (50) inside ‘labour’ (4) and ‘left (or departed)’ (4) = something which covers you in bed

19a    Risk cab averted, manoeuvring for unreliable motorist? (8,6)
BACKSEAT DRIVER: An anagram (manoeuvring) of RISK CAB AVERTED

22a    Grim condo urgently blocked (4)
DOUR: Hidden (blocked) in conDO URgently

23a    Dim pretence, we hear (5)
FAINT: A homophone of a pretence (or a deceptive movement in fencing or boxing)

24a    Problem produced by decline around November (4)
SNAG: ‘To decline’ round N (November)

27a    Long to import complete ornament (7)
PENDANT: ‘To long’ round ‘to complete’ = a hanging ornament worn round the neck

28a    Patron, maybe, with exotic tones in headwear (7)
STETSON: An abbreviation for a patron such as George, David, Andrew or Patrick + an anagram (exotic) of TONES

29a    Shortly straying around Eastern drinking establishment (8)
HOSTELRY: An anagram (shortly) of SHORTLY round E (Eastern)

30a    Parking on country road put back as a punishment? (5)
PENAL: P (parking) + a reversal of a country road


1d    One inside to invite scorn (8)
CONTEMPT: One inside a jail + ‘to invite’

2d    US magazine published in period off work (4,3)
TIME OUT: A US magazine followed by a three-letter word meaning published

3d    Rustic old tramp (4)
HOBO: A rustic + O (old) = a tramp (especially in North America)

5d    Sense nitpicker deployed? (14)
PERNICKETINESS: An anagram (deployed) of SENSE NITPICKER. The whole clue acts as a definition for this state of being over-particular about unimportant details

6d    Scottish landscape feature is close reportedly (4)
LOCH: A homophone of ‘to close and fasten securely’

7d    A learner trailing students in two universities? That’s odd (7)
UNUSUAL: A student organisation inside UU (two universities) + A + L (learner)

8d    Athletic competition like two triathlons principally (5)
EVENT: ‘Like two (or four or six or eight, etc.) + T (first letter of Triathlon)

9d    Theatrical employee taking charge on very hot day carrying decoration (8,6)
WARDROBE MASTER: A charge (or a person in someone’s care) (4) + a very hot day (7) round the abbreviation for a British medal (3)

15d    Unnerve Arab ruler in audience (5)
SHAKE: A homophone of an Arab chief

16d    Hot dish made from scratch (5)
CURRY: 2 meanings: a hot dish/to scratch (with a type of comb?)

18d    Marked individual at home in capital in middle of cold (8)
ORIGINAL: ‘At home’ inside the capital of Latvia inside the middle two letters of cOLd

20d    Foreign character in a slum disturbed old boy (7)
ALUMNUS: A Greek letter inside an anagram (disturbed) of A SLUM

21d    Meat put in oven is onus (7)
VENISON: Hidden in oVEN IS ONus

22d    Diamonds — what about part, inmost part? (5)
DEPTH: D (diamonds) + ‘What?’ round an abbreviated form of ‘part’

25d    A finalist literally among poor grades producing bewilderment (4)
DAZE: A + the last letter of the alphabet (finalist literally) inside 2 letters denoting poor grades

26d    Retain / fare (4)
KEEP: 2 meanings. ‘To retain’ is obvious enough but I had difficulty equating the answer to ‘fare’. It could be ‘to be in a specified condition or particular state’ or it could be ‘food or means of subsistence’

Pleasant enough


  1. Hanni
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink


    • stanXYZ
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Receiving you loud and cl…. Hello?

    • spindrift
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      get down off the roof we can hear you

    • Hanni
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink two made me smile. Goodness only knows how long I’ll be able to post for. It’s like a weird version of the lottery!

  2. stanXYZ
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Quite easy for a Toughie … but 15d gives Gazza another opportunity to tell us how to pronounce “Sheikh” correctly. Thanks to all.

    • Gazza
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      We have two poor homophones here – not only sheikh/shake but loch/lock. At least we don’t have parse/pass.

      • Una
        Posted March 3, 2016 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

        They are perfect homophones from where I am standing. Perhaps we need audio (only joking, BD).

        • Hanni
          Posted March 3, 2016 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

          The sheikh/shake, lock/loch and parse/pass thing will live long in the memory. Especially I spent the day humming one of the songs that mentioned shake that I think RD mentioned.

          Well done on the 200 000 post BTW. :smile:

          • Una
            Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

            Sheikh/ shake and loch /lock are total homophones to me, I just can’t think of how else they might be said. But then Shamus is a fellow Irish person. Parse / pass never.
            Oh and thank you. If my run of luck continues, maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.

            • Hanni
              Posted March 4, 2016 at 12:06 am | Permalink

              I didn’t know you were from Ireland? And I agree about parse/pass.

              Without a doubt you should buy a lottery ticket!

              • spindrift
                Posted March 4, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink

                Totally agree about pass & parse sounding exactly the same to those of us from God’s Own County.

                BTW do you live up on the moors (pronounced “mooers”)or, as people south of Tadcaster pronounce them, the “mores”?

                • Una
                  Posted March 5, 2016 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

                  No, spindrift, I don’t live in what we call a bog.I live in leafy suburbia and it is very nice , we call it “sleepy hollow “.Nothing ever happens here .
                  .As to how one might say Moors , I rhyme it with boors or poor.

  3. Shropshirelad
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Are we sure it’s Shamus? If it is then this is definitely at the easier end of his spectrum. Not that it’s a bad puzzle – it certainly isn’t, It just seemed to lack that certain impish humour you normally expect from ‘Yer Man’. I will now take a close look at it again to see if I’ve missed some hidden gem.

    Thanks to Shamus for the puzzle and to Bufo for his review.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      The paper says it’s Shamus, but of course it’s not unknown for the DT to print things incorrectly :wink:

  4. spindrift
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    26d – as in ‘earn your keep’?

    • andy
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      That was my take on it SD

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Or even ‘board and keep’.

  5. Hanni
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear god I can comment!

    Really enjoyed this offering. As always I completely missed the ‘hiddens. 4a was bunged in and figured out later. Thought 19a was very good but the favourite award goes to 5d. Great word to get into a puzzle and a great clue!

    Many thanks to Shamus and Bufo for a great blog.

  6. Seve
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Very easy even for a duffer like me but why does rustic equal hob?

    • Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Seve

      From Chambers (always a good idea to look in there before asking, as Brian will tell you!):

      hob (definition 2)
      * A rustic
      * A lout
      * A supernatural creature or fairy, such as Robin Goodfellow (folklore)
      * A clownish person
      * A male ferret
      * Mischief

      • Seve
        Posted March 3, 2016 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        Whoops sorry. I only googled it and dIdnt find that def.

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I was racing through this and beginning to think it was wrong envelope day when I hit speed bumps for the last few. 22D was the last one in and my favorite once I’d parsed it. l also checked 5D (lovely word) and 19A, which is what Mr. Expat is when I’m behind the wheel. I did need help parsing 9D. I had the correct answer but was fixed on OBE for the decoration. Nice bit of mischievous misdirection there. Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

    Good to see you back, Hanni!

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:09 pm | Permalink


      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted March 3, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        Crackle and Pop

        • Jane
          Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

          And again!

    • Hanni
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! Although it’s 50/50 whether I can post.

  8. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Took me forever to parse 9d as I couldn’t get the OBE out of my head and finally got it once I solved 23a.
    1a was a bit of a bung in. Didn’t know the cricket reference.
    Apart from that it was quite an easy solve.
    The two homophones made me laugh as I remembered Gazza commenting on these very words a few days ago.
    Thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for the review.

  9. dutch
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Funny grid with just 2 out of 5 checkers in 13,15,16 and 23. You’d think these would uber-clearly clued in compensation, but 16 is a double definition I didn’t like (they’re not my favourite at the best of times) and for the homophone in 23 I first thought of the past participle (raising my blood pressure) – fortunately, the noun soon also came to mind. I wasn’t keen on the double definitions at 1a and 26d either.

    But the 5d all-in-one is brilliant, and carries the whole puzzle. I also liked 17a and 19a, and many more.

    “onus” seems unnatural in the surface of 21a – but all I could come up with as an alternative was “onioned”.

    Many thanks Shamus and Bufo

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Hi Dutch.
      I think there must be a typo in 21d. Surely he meant is on us? Bizarre really.

    • halcyon
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      Stuffing in oven is onion and game

  10. Framboise
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    So happy to have solved today’s Toughie. Must have been an easy one! Much enjoyed so many thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for parsing a few of my ‘guessed’ answers.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Hi Framboise,
      You should be back in Hyeres by now.
      Hope to see you soon.

  11. dutch
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    ProXimal tomorrow – yikes, better get up early.

    • Hanni
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear God!

  12. Sheffieldsy
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Just the right kind of Toughie for me – a doable one.

    I’m still puzzled how rustic = hob in 3d, but it was an obvious bung-in. I cannot find the connection in my BRB despite looking up both words; perhaps it’s time I got a more up to date version (1991 before you ask).

    Not sure why, but I loved 28a.

    Thanks Bufo and Shamus,

    • crypticsue
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      See BD’s reply to comment 6 above.

      Hob = rustic is in the 1949 edition of Chambers so I can’t undertand why it isn’t in the 1991 version.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted March 3, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        It’s there in the 12th Edition in all it’s glory

  13. Rabbit Dave
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Don’t tell Mrs RD but this is my third crossword of the day, and very good all three have been. What else could I choose as my favourite but the wonderful 5d?

    Many thanks to Shamus and to Bufo, whose review I needed to parse 9d which I had “bunged in”. Also many thanks to my BRB for the explanations of “rustic” in 3d and “scratch” in 16d.

  14. 2Kiwis
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    5d gets our vote for favourite. Started off thinking it couldn’t possibly be an anagram but then it was. We went searching for a pangram when we finished but looks like we are one letter short. Much enjoyed.
    Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

    • Hanni
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink


      I saw that you sorted your posting problems via altering the DNS settings on your router? Any chance you can share your secrets. I’m still struggling and Jane certainly is. Thanks

      • 2Kiwis
        Posted March 3, 2016 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        We were guided through the alterations by a very helpful techie at our internet supplier. It is all a bit above our abilities to do much more than follow ‘now click xxxx’ type instructions so we won’t try to pass on secrets. What we did know though, before we sought help, was that our laptop could access the site perfectly well from someone else’s Wi Fi connection. Worth a try if that is possible for you. Good luck.

        • Hanni
          Posted March 3, 2016 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          Thanks. I can still only post about 50% of the time and keep having to change to I persevere.

          • Jane
            Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

            Umm… working on 2Ks theory – do you think if we exchange Wi Fi connections with one another we’ll both be OK?

            • Hanni
              Posted March 4, 2016 at 12:08 am | Permalink

              Oh yes. That will work Jane. I can see no flaws in that plan whatsoever. Maybe just the tiniest one. Oh I can’t wait for you to come and visit! :yes:

  15. Jon_S
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Probably the first time that the Toughie has taken less time than the main puzzle, but no less enjoyable for that. No problems with the homophones, but that’s probably just my poor pronunciation.

  16. Wolfson Bear
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    An nice puzzle that fell a little bit short of the usual Shamus challenge

    Back at the back page Mr T does seem to me to be going soft (the evidence does not match the hypothesis I am improving much)

    I wonder what Friday offers – I dont think we are due Elgar, Elkamere or Notabalis (my Friday favourites) so I hope it is Sparks who I usually find a touch tricky and good fun

    • Gazza
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      Tomorrow it’s proXimal.

  17. Una
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Here I go again.
    I loved 5d , amoung many others, such as 1d, 19a, and 18d.
    It took less time than the back pager, so it must on the light side of Toughie. Good.
    Thanks Bufo and Shamus.

  18. Jane
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Wow – the little devils in the ether have obviously gone to bed for the night and I can access the blog again – yippee!
    Most enjoyable but not without it’s headaches:-
    28a – that patron!!!
    3d – hob=rustic seemed so unlikely that I didn’t even think to ask the BRB – sorry, CS.
    9d – yep, I had the wrong medal.
    18d – didn’t look far enough for the capital.
    25d – ‘faze’ looked OK to me at the time.
    26d – bit of a stretch?

    Still – a completed grid and a few smiles. 5d has to be up there on the honours board but my biggest chuckle came from 23a.
    Many thanks to the twinkly-eyed one (I’ll give you BEM!) and to Bufo for the help on the ‘whys’.

  19. Tarka
    Posted March 5, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Came to this late as I was away – enjoyable BUT 6d only works if you are from south of the border!

    • Posted March 5, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Tarka

      Clues involving homophones are fraught with problems.

  20. Heno
    Posted March 5, 2016 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Shamus and to Gazza for the review and hints. I enjoyed this tremendously. Thought I might complete it, but was stymied in the SW corner. Needed the hints for 22&25d. Favourite was 5d. Was 3*/3* for me. Great fun.

    • Gazza
      Posted March 5, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Bufo wrote the review, not I.

  21. Tstrummer
    Posted March 5, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Did this today while listening to the Spurs throwing away two points against the scum. I enjoyed the puzzle more than the football. Lots of good stuff, except the homophones. I don’t have too much difficulty with sheikh/shake, but lock/loch? 9d takes the chocolate hobnob. Ta to Bufo and Shamus 2*/3*