Toughie 1642

Toughie No 1642 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

On learning yesterday that I was to get a Shamus puzzle today I checked through the archives because I couldn’t remember how I usually fare with them. I discovered that I have never given one less than 3 stars or more than 4 stars for enjoyment. As for difficulty I almost always give between 2 and 3.5 stars. So an average Shamus puzzle gets scored at just under average difficulty and just over average enjoyment. This turned out to be a typical Shamus puzzle and I have scored it accordingly. The NW corner was the last one to yield

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.


8a    Unproductive former tennis star entering America (7)
USELESS: The surname of a former female tennis champion (who was once stabbed on-court) goes inside an abbreviation for America

10a    Old area getting income to cover cold snack? (7)
OATCAKE: O (old) + A (area) + ‘income’ round C (cold) = a food item associated with Scotland

11a    Regarding and following formal lecture (9)
REPRIMAND: ‘Regarding’ (2) + ‘formal’ (4) + AND = ‘to lecture’

12a    Follow scholar in set of beliefs (5)
DOGMA: ‘To follow’ + an arts graduate with a higher degree

13a    It’s right to alter measure of thickness (5)
GIRTH: An anagram (to alter) of RIGHT

14a    In which there’s talk about broadly fully everything principally with time (7)
GABFEST: ‘To talk (or chatter vapidly)’ round the initial letters of Broadly Fully Everything + T (time). The whole clue provides the definition for a gathering characterised by much talk or gossip

17a    See red arch on holiday, then head out to take in lake (3,3,3,6)
FLY OFF THE HANDLE: ‘To see red’ = an adjective meaning arch or cunning + ‘on holiday’ + an anagram (out) of THEN HEAD round L (lake)

19a    Star in silent place found in set of links (7)
CHAPLIN: The surname of a star of silent films = an abbreviation for ‘place’ inside a set of links

21a    Merchant’s partner in white (5)
IVORY: 2 meanings: the surname of the film-making partner of Ismail Merchant/white

24a    Service finished providing respite (3-2)
LET-UP: A service in tennis that has to be retaken + ‘finished’

26a    One with domestic charge could be former PM’s successful aide? (9)
HOMEMAKER: A Conservative MP of the 1960s + someone who gets a result (or something like that)

27a    Artist featured in US film in a mess (7)
FARRAGO: An abbreviation denoting ‘artist’ inside the title of an American dark comedy crime thriller film from 1996

28a    Male and female singer (loveless male one) offering means for observation (7)
MONOCLE: M (male) +the surname of a female singer (widow of John Lennon) + the surname of a male singer (father of Natalie) with O (love) removed


1d    Nomadic lot dwell in vessel (6)
TUAREG: Nomadic Berbers of the Sahara = ‘dwell’ inside a vessel for towing other vessels

2d    Retired medic, a writer, wearing jacket in January in danger (8)
JEOPARDY: A reversal of an abbreviation for ‘doctor’, A, and the surname of a 19th Century American writer inside the first and last letters (jacket) of JanuarY

3d    Perhaps, darken London suburb that’s not half joyous (10)
DELIGHTFUL: split (2-5) the first 7 letters of the answer could be taken to mean ‘darken’. The last 3 letters are the first half of part of London that gives its name to a Championship football team

4d    Aim of undergraduate’s journey in part? (2,1,6)
TO A DEGREE: The third word is what an undergraduate is hoping to end up with

5d    Boss in reading area overlooking yard (4)
STUD: Remove Y (yard) from a room devoted to reading, etc.

6d    Pair of goods accepted in sound bargain (6)
HAGGLE: G is an abbreviation for ‘good’ and therefore a pair of goods = GG. Put GG inside ‘sound (or healthy)’ to get ‘to bargain’

7d    Businessman with cunning and energy repeatedly showing skill in exchange (8)
REPARTEE: A commercial representative + cunning + E (energy) + another E (energy) = a ready and witty retort or exchange

9d    Confirm meal for a shark? (4)
SEAL: Also a marine mammal that may be eaten by a great white shark

15d    Consider marine that’s deployed in difficult situation (4,2,4)
BEAR IN MIND: An anagram (deployed) of MARINE inside a difficult situation

16d    A notch is carved out by new bar (9)
STANCHION: An anagram (carved out) of A NOTCH IS + N (new) = a bar acting as a support

17d    Papers held up in matter that’s undisputed in cosmetic operation (8)
FACELIFT: A reversal of a collection of papers arranged for reference inside an assertion of truth

18d    Omit excitement in play from back? (4,4)
DROP KICK: ‘To omit’ + excitement = something made by a rugby player (usually but not always by one of the backs)

20d    Creative when Queen’s on board vessel (6)
ARTERY: ‘Creative’ round our Queen = a vessel that conveys blood from the heart

22d    Unknown employee heading off for a delivery (6)
YORKER: A letter denoting an unknown quantity + an employee with the first letter removed = a delivery at cricket pitched around the batsman’s feet

23d    Prayer leader making introduction for Welsh politician (4)
IMAM: A member of the National Assembly for Wales is able to say *’* **

25d    Top dog reportedly (4)
PEAK: A homophone of a small pug-dog brought from China

Pleasant enough


  1. crypticsue
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A nice ‘comfy’ thank you Shamus and Bufo

  2. dutch
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Slow and steady process finishing in just over 3* time. First one in was the long one across which was a nice entry point.

    Even got the sporting clues. Last one in was 20d – I was trying to fit a word for creative.

    13a made me smile, I like 19a and 28a for the penny drop moment, and I enjoyed the rambling 14a

    Thanks Bufo for parsing 21a – I had guessed it would be something like that but neglected to look it up.

    Many thanks Shamus

  3. Jane
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The 9d synonym held me up for a while and I had forgotten the nomads. Don’t think I knew 14a – what a horrible expression!
    Got the cricket clue almost straight away, which worried me a little……
    Tried to get something to do with electric current into 26a – not very helpful.
    Particularly liked 15d for the surface read.

    Many thanks to Shamus and also to Bufo – like Dutch, I relied on you for the US film!

  4. Expat Chris
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I did enjoy this, even though the visual image conjured up by 9D made me wince. Orcas apparently toss their victims about a lot. I did know the 27A film. I’ve even seen it. And the 21A partner was very familiar too. I did not, however, know the Welsh politician, though the answer was clear. To my mind, it’s rather a stretch to describe Mrs. Lennon as a singer!

    My favorites are 3D and 20D Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

  5. Una
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very tough , but I loved most of it.
    I , like Jane , got the cricket clue instantly , and I also found that worrying…
    My particularly liked were 4d and 17a.
    Lots of misleading clues such as 7d and 29d.
    My thanks to Shamus and Bufo.
    Re times taken to complete, I know we don’t publish times , so as not to discourage the likes of me for example, but when Dutch says it is a three star time , is that his own measurement or is there some more objective standard ?

    • dutch
      Posted July 21, 2016 at 4:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s my own measure – each star is an amount of time that works for me and is generally in tune with others’ ratings. I’m definitely no speed solver (understatement) and I doubt whether my times would discourage you or very many other people.

      • Una
        Posted July 21, 2016 at 7:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I don’t suppose I’ll ever be a whizbang at crosswords.I am sure cricket is a wonderful game, I watched it on telly once or twice and I found the way the whole result can change dramatically fascinating.

    • dutch
      Posted July 21, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

      And yes, we are becoming crossword cricketers!

  6. dave lawes
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 6:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    anyone else have benighting for 3d ? Silly me.

  7. Gazza
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 6:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Notabilis tomorrow.

  8. dutch
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 6:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Notabilis tomorrow :-)

  9. Posted July 21, 2016 at 8:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Plenty tough enough today, and I needed a cheat to nudge me towards 1d and also a couple of bits of parsing help (21a and 28a). All very pleasant. Thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

  10. Salty Dog
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 9:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I got there unaided eventually, except 20d – too thick to even consider that kind of vessel – just into 3* time. It would have been 2* but I had put in the doggie for 25d instead of the summit, so the SW corner was rather a 27a for a while! I hadn’t met 14a before, but the solution was pretty clear. I think 17a was my favourite, although 6d was nice too. Ta to Shamus and Bufo.

  11. Wolfson Bear
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 10:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I am in the “harder than the blogger rated” category mainly due to a number of words unknown to me and with little to push the entertainment value higher than the difficulty starring

    Overall it dovetailed with a nice Ray T puzzle to fill the time available almost to the minute. So thanks to blogger, Shamus and Ray T

  12. Shropshirelad
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 11:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Just what you’d expect from Shamus – a tricky but enjoyable puzzle. Like Bufo, the NW corner was the last to cough up the solutions and, looking back, I don’t know why. Too many ticks to single out one favourite.

    Many thanks to Shamus for the enjoyable puzzle and to Bufo for his usual concise review.

  13. jean-luc cheval
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 12:00 am | Permalink | Reply

    It was a nice challenge but nothing made me smile. And I need crosswords to be a bit more fun at the moment.
    27a is one of my favourite films.
    Thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for the review.

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