Toughie 1608 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1608

Toughie 1608 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***


A big hello to you all from London, where a merry (in more ways than one) group* of crossword setters and solvers has amassed.

By the paper version of today’s puzzle it says, “congratulations to today’s compiler on his 100th Toughie,” which means that it is probably a century for Shamus in Toughieland (if the Telegraph have their numbers wrong again, I’m sure BD or CS will tell us).  In any case, many congratulations to Shamus on this achievement.  I searched for a nina, but if there is one it’s too well hidden for me.  I’ll don the shin pads just in case!

I enjoyed this crossword.  My solve followed a similar pattern to that of the last Shamus Toughie: a promising start followed by quite a lot of head-scratching.  There were a few elements that were new to me.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below.  The answers are hidden under the The answers lie far from this world boxes.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal the answer.

Do leave a comment telling us how you found it and what you thought.

*What is the collective noun for cruciverbalists? Suggestions welcome!



1a    Weapon giving minimal offence in Belgium and Spain (8)
BLOWPIPE: Words meaning minimal and offence inside the IVR codes for Belgium and Spain.  The offence is informal and nestling down at the end of definition 5 in Chambers – I had to look it up for verification

5a    Novelist heard and observed in capital (6)
WARSAW: A homophone (heard) of an English writer of novels, biographies and travel books followed by observed visually

9a    Courier’s role quite evident behind food store (8)
DELIVERY: Quite in the sense of quite a lot is after (behind) a store that sells food.  I really wanted a larder or a pantry in this one

10a    One inclined to grease? (6)
BRIBER: A cryptic definition: one who greases palms

11a    Fellow caught short quickly returns in a mess (7)
CHAOTIC: All but one of the letters (caught short) of a fellow or guy, and then the Latin word for quickly is reversed (returns).  I spent ages pondering a variety of ways to parse this, before I thought to look up CITO in the dictionary

12a    Turf oddly extra, maybe, as farming aid? (7)
TRACTOR: The odd letters of turf followed by somebody that might be an extra in a film, for example

13a    Bishop sitting in green shade getting call as prelude to activity (9,2)
LIMBERING UP: B(ishop) inside a fruity shade of green, then a phrase (4,2) meaning call on the telephone

16a    Term Democrat used for Republican in giving up office (11)
DESIGNATION: D(emocrat) replaces (used for) R(republican) in a word meaning quitting

21a    Place for scholars made out in a community marginally (7)
ACADEMY: An anagram (out) of MADE inside A from the clue and the outside letters (marginally) of community

22a    Tipple before noon got with limited money in South America (7)
SAMBUCA: The two letters that mean before midday and all but the last letter (limited) of an informal name for a dollar inside the abbreviation for South America.  Not one of my favourite tipples

23a    Source of major charge old, old detective recalled (6)
EXOCET: An anti-ship missile, made up of a prefix meaning former and the abbreviation for old followed by the reversal (recalled) of a diminutive form of the word for detective with which I wasn’t familiar.  Nice to meet another detective in a Shamus puzzle

24a    Miserable period of year in Texas producing ruin (8)
DOWNFALL: Miserable or glum and an American name for one of the seasons

25a    Negotiation attorney arranged on leaving (6)
TREATY: An anagram of ATToRnEY without the on (on leaving)

26a    Fine source of water and wine around heart of bible (4-4)
WELL-BRED: A water source and a broad category of wine outside (around) the middle letter (heart) of bible.  (That set me off wondering what the middle letter of the actual bible is.  Of course, it would depend on the translation)



1d    Dress adopted by monk over clerk’s jacket (6)
BEDECK: Dress here means decorate, and is formed of a historical monk and the outer letters (jacket) of clerk

2d    One found in Tripoli working after journey out with staff? (6)
OILMAN: A semi-all-in one clue.  After removing the trip from Tripoli, mix up the remaining letters, then add staff (as a verb)

3d    Key foreign city in view of star on reflection (7)
PIVOTAL: Take a city on the west coast of the USA, “in view of” and a celebrity or high flier and reverse the lot (on reflection)

4d    Dissociate from organisation in studios faced by pressure (4,7)
PART COMPANY: Studios (3,7), with P(ressure) at the front (headed by)

6d    A train, not new, shifted on side as transport (3,4)
AIR TAXI: An anagram (shifted) of A TRAIN after N(ew) has been removed (not new) followed by a sporting side

7d    Disrupt part of rally touring a largely squelchy area (8)
SABOTAGE: A leg of a rally around (touring) A from the clue and two of the three letters (largely) of a marsh or swamp

8d    Dope runs over exercise getting climbing accessory? (4,4)
WIRE ROPE: The first word of the answer is dope as a verb in the sense of drug or spike, but I can’t find these listed as direct synonyms in Chambers.  Following this are the abbreviations for runs and over and then some school exercise lessons

12d    Bikes got to move around that man and mass separately in metropolis (3,3,5)
THE BIG SMOKE: An anagram (to move) of BIKES GOT containing a two letter word meaning that man and the abbreviation for mass

14d    How one might describe neighbour, a music-maker with a small amount of money (8)
ADJACENT: The A from the clue, one who plays music by spinning discs, another A, and a 100th of many currency units

15d    See in outlet meat dish (8)
ESCALOPE: An old fashioned word meaning see in a way out or release

17d    Engineers certainly blocking sports car that’s far from exciting (7)
GREYEST: Our usual crosswordland military engineers and certainly or of course inside (blocking) a type of sports car

18d    Small number left to trail bird (7)
NOMINAL: Firstly, an abbreviation for number.  Then L(eft), after (to trail) a bird known for its remarkable aptitude for mimicry (not a parrot, the other one).  The answer describes today’s pictures – apologies

19d    Reportedly be under an obligation to cut domestic support (2,4)
AU PAIR: Two homophones (au pair of homophones, one might say): of “be under an obligation to,” and of cut or shave

20d    Drained drink over bowler, perhaps (6)
PALLID: The reversal of a verb meaning drink and then a slang term for hat (not tile, just as I seem to have finally cemented that one in memory)


Thanks and congratulations to Shamus.  Clues I liked today included 5a, 9a 16a and 19d, and I thought 2d clever.  I smiled at the surface of 11a, but the clue caused me too much grief to nominate as favourite!  Which one(s) earned your seal of approval?


34 comments on “Toughie 1608

  1. Thanks and congratulations to Shamus and thanks to Kitty for the blog. I thought that this was a bit trickier than our usual Tuesday Toughies.
    In 8d I took ‘wire’ to be the slang US term for dope (in the sense of information).
    Top clues for me were 11a (very amusing surface) and 19d.
    I hope that those assembled in London are having an enjoyable time.

  2. I might yet pick up a Telegraph on the way home from the office, but in case I don’t, I just thought I’d say a quick hello to those of you who are in London – I couldn’t justify the trip on a working day but I enjoyed meeting some of you in Derby! Have a drink for me – thanks all…

    1. Good to see you on Saturday, I too am at work but hey ho. Might have to have a drink after work and finish the guarniad, interesting theme ;)

      1. Yes, Tramp in the Guardian was entertaining but pretty tough in places – recommended to all fans of United, sardines and trawlers (and that isn’t giving anything away – the Cantona theme was pretty obvious)…

    2. Hi, Beery Hiker – yes, I had a drink for you. :) It was great to meet you in Derby. Glad you could stay to scale Mt. Everest with us!

      1. I’m glad I stayed too – it was the highlight of my day (OK, perhaps the second highlight after meeting one of my favourite Guardian compilers Qaos). Sadly both paper shops had sold out so I never got round to doing this crossword, but I’ll try and do a Tuesday one some time soon.

    3. Hi Beery Hiker

      Yep, London was enjoyable as well. Thanks for saying hello. Hope to see you again soon

      1. Thanks for being so generous! Will definitely be at the York S&B in October…

  3. Sat sitting here in the sunshine with nothing to do and all day long to do it in is where I feel aggrieved because the toughie does not appear on my iPad. Bother. Damn and blast. Poo.

    1. Next time, just send me a request and I’ll furnish you with a pdf.

      Hope you’re enjoying your holiday, Toughielessness and all.

  4. Had to resort to the hints for 1d as I could only think of “frantic” in 11a but couldn’t parse it.
    Such a long time since we saw that bird in 18d.
    Loved 16a.
    Congratulations to Shamus and thanks to Kitty for the help.
    Would have really appreciated being in London with you all. Or even Derby for that matter as it would have been a pleasure to meet Beery Hiker and his impressive database.

  5. Never mind today’s – I’ve just finished ProXimal’s 1603!!! ( 13th May )
    Only took 11 days.

    A bit convoluted for my liking, but I got there eventually.

    Today I agree entirely with Gazza; 11a raised a smile & 19d a groan.

    Thanks to all.

  6. I must have a different paper from the rest of you, as I cannot find any mention that this is Shamus’s 100th Toughie. If indeed it is – many congratulations on reaching this milestone Shamus – well done. This was certainly a tad trickier than some recent Tuesday Toughie’s, but enjoyable nonetheless. Many enjoyable clues to solve but no particular stand out favourite.

    Thanks to Shamus for the puzzle and to Kitty for a splendid blog.

  7. There isn’t any mention of Shamus’ one 100th in my paper either.
    I looked at the hints for 15d, 17d, 19d and 20d.
    Thanks Shamus and Kitty.

  8. I got 1d wrong – I know Bode is not a monk and “k” was missing – but Bodice fit! Other than that, lots to enjoy – congratulations to Shamus (my paper did not say anything about your achievement either) and thanks to Kitty for a few explanations!

  9. Well we made a right mess of that and ended up with two answers that we thought should be right from definition but could not parse. These were 1d with BODICE from the definition ‘jacket’ and 23a EVOKED from the definition ‘recalled’. Spent ages trying to sort them out and eventually gave up. Kicking ourselves now as they were both fair clever clues. All good fun as ever from Shamus and congratulations on the century.
    Thanks Shamus and Kitty.

    1. I’ve only just “finished” T1608 as I too entered EVOKED for 23a. But 5a really fooled me as I put NASSAU from homophone of US author David Nasaw! This meant that I didn’t get WIRE for 7d and couldn’t find a word that fitted U*R* of course. Difficulty ***** for me.

  10. SW corner took a while, but I got there eventually. Needed help with the parsing of 3D (that darned US city strikes again), 6D (if wire is slang for dope over here, its a new one on me), and 11A (couldn’t work out what the extra O was so, ever creative, I decided “returns in” was O for cricket over between the short fellow and tic). 2D was clever, but I just loved 1D so it’s my top of the pops. thanks Shamus and Kitty.

  11. About three quarters of this was straightforward enough, but the rest pushed this right into Toughie territory. Thanks for the blog, a few there that were quite tricky to parse!

  12. Dear goodness – if that’s the Tuesday Toughie then I might pass on the rest of the week! Found this one really difficult – not helped by the fact that I didn’t know the ‘offence’ or the Latin word for quickly.
    Got there eventually but there were more inspired guesses than I care to admit to!
    Ticks by the side of 5&9a but favourite was 19d – my last one in.

    Thanks and congratulations to Shamus and to Kitty for a great blog under what must have been quite difficult circumstances! Loved the pic for 13a.

  13. Thanks Kitty for a brilliant blog.

    I did this puzzle before setting off to London, and had bunged quite a few in. I managed to parse most of them afterwards but I didn’t see the Latin for quickly in 11a so thanks very much Kitty for expelling that.

    As for the collective noun, a compilation?

    Of course it was lovely to be able to congratulate Shamus in person, and meet Sparks, Notabilis, Arachne and others as well as many of my favourite co-bloggers and Rookie contributors (Snape, Beet, etc). It was a lovely day, although it got a little chilly towards the evening.

    Thank you Shamus, Thank you kitty

            1. Maybe. I can’t say I witnessed much cogitation on Tuesday. (Heads were scratched and brows were furrowed in Derby though, courtesy of a fiendish Elgar quiz).

      1. At our best:

        An eloquence of cruciverbalists

        At our worst:

        A squabble of cruciverbalists

      1. Welcome from me too, Fiona.

        Myna, mynah and mina are given in Chambers and Oxford as alternative spellings of the bird – but not minah!

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