Toughie 1617

Toughie No 1617 by Dada

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

It’s another lovely sunny day in North Devon – a hosepipe ban can’t be far away. Dada is never less than entertaining and today is no exception, though, as has been said several times, it would be nice to get an occasional puzzle from him in full-blown ‘Paul’ mode.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

8a Shark’s tail gripped by red shark (4)
MAKO – the last letter of shark goes inside an old Chinese red.

9a Sound character? Yes! (3)
AYE – this sounds like one of the letters of our alphabet.

10a Judge I see behind priest is prophet (6)
ELIJAH – the abbreviation for judge and an exclamation meaning ‘I see’ follow an Old Testament priest.

11a Picture host filling capacity (3-3)
ROM-COM – put the abbreviation for a host or compère into a word meaning capacity or scope.

12a Choose swimmer to catch river fish (8)
PICKEREL – start with a verb to choose and add a slippery swimmer containing the abbreviation for river.

13a See 7d

15a Strong voice breaks down after setback, figure needing a hug? (7)
STENTOR – reverse a verb meaning breaks down or decays and insert a cardinal number. The answer means someone with a strong voice (from the name of a mythological Greek character with such a voice) but I suppose that it can mean the voice itself, in the same way that soprano can mean both a singer and her voice.

17a Amount of food is proving beneficial (7)
HELPING – double definition. My initial answer (serving) had to be overwritten when the answer to 18d became apparent.

20a Goat with bananas put down fruit (9,6)
BUTTERNUT SQUASH – string together a cryptic description of a goat, another informal word meaning bananas or crazy and a verb to put down or suppress. I can’t really see that the surface means anything.

23a With evidence of damage going round, square wheels in force! (5,3)
SQUAD CAR – a mark left by a wound contains the short word for a square or enclosed courtyard.

25a Lingerie, say, is revived? (6)
UNDIES – cryptically this could be a verb meaning comes back to life.

26a Jam that’s preserved in a brine or marinade? (6)
PICKLE – this could be a double definition but I’m opting for a triple with jam meaning a tricky situation and marinade being a verb.

27a Stuff knocked over producing blot (3)
MAR – reverse a verb to stuff or thrust forcefully.

28a Very great life’s end is destiny (4)
FATE – an adjective meaning very great or sizeable is followed by the last letter of life.

Down Clues

1d Shade required in desert? (6)
MAROON – double definition. Desert, here, is a verb meaning to leave stranded.

2d Poisoner that’s afoot? (8)
MOCCASIN – another double definition, the first being a poisonous North American snake.

3d Sports equipment a big noise in equestrianism? (9,6)
BADMINTON RACKET – cryptically this could be a big noise at the site (in Gloucestershire) of an annual three-day event.

4d Instrument of the past present imperfect! (7)
SERPENT – an anagram (imperfect) of PRESENT produces a (new to me) old wind instrument shaped like a writhing snake and an ancestor of the tuba.

5d Not as much to read out on Conservative London area (9,6)
LEICESTER SQUARE – in the surface ‘read out’ is in the present tense but for the wordplay it’s the past tense and indicates a homophone of ‘less to’. After that we need an adjective meaning conservative or old-fashioned.

6d The last word in celluloid primarily, shown up — here? (6)
CINEMA – join together the last word in a Christian prayer or hymn and the primary letters of ‘in celluloid’ then reverse it all.

7d/13a Feel nervous generating passion with an event in English county (4,4,2,4,5)
HAVE ANTS IN ONE’S PANTS – insert an anagram (generating) of PASSION AN EVENT into the short name of a county in southern England.

14d Hide in closet, anyhow (3)
TAN – lurking in the clue is a verb to hide (i.e. give someone a hiding).

16d For starters this, afterwards upsilon? (3)
TAU – the starting letters of words in the clue produce the letter that precedes upsilon in the Greek alphabet.

18d Pudding choice, useless (4-4)
PLUM-DUFF – charade of an adjective meaning choice or excellent and an informal adjective meaning useless.

19d Chief mouser out to catch first of prey (7)
SUPREMO – an anagram (out) of MOUSER contains the first letter of prey.

21d I appreciate that hospital’s needed among the machinery of war (6)
THANKS – insert the abbreviation for hospital into fighting vehicles.

22d As weather so wintry, shelter in farmyard accommodation (6)
SLEETY – insert a word for shelter into accommodation for a type of farmyard animal.

24d Not entirely pretty to walk out (4)
QUIT – drop the last letter from an adverb meaning pretty or fairly.

Vying to get into the final today were 23a, 25a and 21d. Which ones managed to get out of the group stages for you?



  1. crypticsue
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I don’t know about Dada in full blown Paul mode – I’d just like a modicum of toughness to go with the entertainment 1*/4* from me.

    Thanks to Dada and Gazza too

  2. dutch
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I started at the bottom and worked my way up.

    Didn’t know my sharks or instruments, or poisoners, and the strong voice was the last to yield.

    The lingerie made me smile (5d) – but I am guilty of not changing passwords very much

    Many thanks Gazza and Dada

    • Una
      Posted June 8, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Apparently Mark Zuckerberg didn’t change his password either and his was “dadada”, coincidentally.

      • Hanni
        Posted June 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I thought of that too when I saw who today’s setter is!

      • stanXYZ
        Posted June 8, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I never change my passwords:

        Firstly because I always think that there is someone “listening in” when I change them!
        Secondly because I always forget the new ones!

        Thanks to Dada & Gazza – I’m still perplexed by 5d – A homophone that Gazza agrees with!

        [Oops! RD!. A homophone with which Gazza agrees!]

        • Gazza
          Posted June 8, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I don’t really like the homophone but I’ve got fed up with protesting that some people do actually pronounce the letter R.

          • Verlaine
            Posted June 8, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Surely the locals don’t pronounce the R and they should be the authority! If indeed there are any locals there any more, apart from the pigeons.

        • Una
          Posted June 8, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I’m just thankful this site doesn’t need a password.I change mine when I stay in hotels or whenever I use a WIFI that is common to lots of people.

  3. jean-luc cheval
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Yet again my new trusted friend known as the BRB helped to check the shark in 8a, the fish in 12a, the American pit viper in 2d, the leather covered instrument in 4d and finally the boiled pudding in 18d.
    The romantic comedy in 11a however is not yet recognised.
    Agree that 20a (goat with bananas) was a bit strange but not worse than 15a (strong voice). Love the Brian Blessed clip though.
    Liked the prophet in 10a and the “I appreciate that” in 21d.
    Thanks to Dada and to Gazza.

    • Gazza
      Posted June 8, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

      What edition is your new trusted friend? The romantic comedy is certainly in my 11th edition.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted June 8, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Oh yes. So it is.
        Missed it between Romaunt and Rome.
        I have the revised 13th edition.

  4. Una
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I had a long and tough struggle with this. It didn’t help that I didn’t spot the anagram indicator in the 7d/13a combo, until after the event.To me that phrase means overactive , rather than nervous.
    I liked 6d,21d, 20a and 25a , among others.
    Thanks to Dada and Gazza.

  5. Hanni
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It might not have been the trickiest puzzle but it certainly entertained me.

    If I have heard of 4d then I completely forgot about it and just waited for some checkers and looked up the only word I could make out of the anagram. I reverse parsed the 7/13 combo and spent rather too long wondering if 20a would need me know about goats. I did know the shark in 8a (I want my epitaph to read “Hanni, died aged 90, eaten alive by sharks”).

    I also thought that 26 might be a triple def.

    Favourite is 25a but plenty of smiles elsewhere too.

    Not sure I have tried Dada in Paul mode.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Gazza for a great blog. Going to watch the Brian Blessed clip now.

    Has anyone tried 18d?

    • pommers
      Posted June 8, 2016 at 4:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Dada in Paul mode is in the Grauniad, usually Thursday or Friday and fairly often in the prize slot on Saturday. Well worth a look.

      • pommers
        Posted June 8, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        P.S. He’s also MUDD in the FT but those puzzles aren’t Paul any more than this one.

        • Hanni
          Posted June 8, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Cheers Pommers. :good: I’ll keep an eye out. I read his interview on the Meet the Setter and think I’d quite like to have a crack at Paul ‘mode’.

          • pommers
            Posted June 8, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

            I find his prize puzzles slightly more benign than the weekday ones but that might be just me.

            • Hanni
              Posted June 8, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Don’t think I’ve ever had a crack at a Graun prize puzzle…I’ll have to have a look now. :smile:

              • pommers
                Posted June 8, 2016 at 5:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

                You can search the site’s archive by setter to pull out some Paul puzzles.

  6. Heno
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Dada and to Gazza for the review and hints. I’m glad the setter wasn’t in full Paul mode, as I could only solve 10 clues. So much I’d never heard of, so many double definitions. All completely beyond me.

  7. Verlaine
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Most enjoyable midstrength midweek fare – I was amazed when I heard that this was Paul by any other name, as there was hardly any smut, just a couple of relatively inoffensive underwear references.!

    Still angry with myself that the classical reference at 15ac was my last one in. 4dn my favourite, as I’m a grammarian type.

  8. Expat Chris
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought it was just lovely and lots of fun. I didn’t get 15A, but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment. Lots of ticks, but I’ll settle for 10A and 4D as my favorites. thanks Dada and Gazza.

  9. Posted June 8, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Continuing my dense day I found this quite hard enough. I either didn’t know (or knew only hazily) the 8a shark, the 12a fish, the 2d snake, the 4d instrument or the 18d pudding … to add to my woes I was unconscionably slow in places I really shouldn’t have been.

    My favourite hint is the same as my favourite clue: 25a. I am thinking now of scantily-clad vampires.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Gazza.

  10. Gazza
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 6:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Micawber tomorrow – lucky Bufo.

  11. KiwiColin
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Surprisingly there were no obscurities for me in this one although it was not until I had spotted that it was an anagram that I remembered 4d. As always for us with a Dada puzzle, smiles and chuckles all the way through.
    Thanks Dada and Gazza.

  12. andy
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    But please can this horrible grid be retired, NINA days excepted. I had lots of chuckles so thank you Dada and Gazza

  13. JGN
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 8:00 am | Permalink | Reply

    A couple of things:
    1. What is BRB?
    2. If you can’t complete a puzzle without resorting to a dictionary or Google does that automatically make it 5* difficulty for you?

    • Gazza
      Posted June 9, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink | Reply

      Welcome to the blog, JGN.
      1. Chambers Dictionary (see the FAQ).
      2. No. Very often it’s a case of working out an answer from the wordplay then checking to see exactly what it means.

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