Toughie 1653

Toughie No 1653 by Kcit

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

We have only two anagrams today but the puzzle has a lot of container/insertion type clues and many where we have to delete one or two letters. I thought it was not very tough and a bit bland and I’m afraid I couldn’t really work up much enthusiasm for it.

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

Across Clues

1a Most of equipment for pub game celebrated by poet? (6)
BARDIC – remove the last letter from the equipment used in a pub game (3,4) where the loser pays for the next round of drinks. As far as I can make out this game is played mainly in North America.

5a I incline to follow dog — boxer? (8)
PUGILIST – I and a verb to incline or lean follow a breed of dog.

9a Walking tour, with pain and blame bandied about (13)
PERAMBULATION – an anagram (bandied about) of TOUR, PAIN and BLAME.

10a Unexceptional European river entering China (8)
MODERATE – insert the name of a central European river into what a china is in Cockney rhyming slang.

11a The Parisian occupies lead through adopting common approaches (6)
PLEBBY – put a French definite article inside the chemical symbol for lead then append a preposition meaning through.

12a National leader indicating succession in letters? (6)
GANDHI – three successive letters of the alphabet.

14a Quiet bird, keeping bill covered, sat beside vase (8)
TACITURN – a songbird contains the abbreviation for a bill and that’s followed by a vase.

16a Criticise about justification having removed working organ (8)
PANCREAS – join together an informal verb to criticise, a single-letter abbreviation meaning about or approximately and a justification without the adverb meaning working or ‘in operation’.

19a Definitely knowing about one room (6)
FIRMLY – an adjective meaning knowing or canny contains the Roman numeral for one and the abbreviation for room.

21a Cave is like the pits, mostly round (6)
GROTTO – ‘the pits’ is an informal expression meaning very unpleasant; we want another informal adjective meaning the same thing, but we have to truncate it and add a round letter.

23a Often worry about chesspiece, having no duplicate (8)
FREQUENT – put a verb to worry around a chess piece without one of its repeated letters. I was going to complain that ‘often’ is an adverb and the answer is an adjective but the BRB reveals that ‘often’ is used in the Bible as an adjective (though I can’t furnish an example of this usage).

25a A dab hand playing his part, following pointless vocation (13)
CALLIGRAPHIST – an anagram (playing) of HIS PART follows a vocation without its cardinal point.

26a Film-worker providing shock, having millions stashed in belt (8)
STUNTMAN – a verb to shock followed by the abbreviation for millions inside a verb to belt or thrash.

27a One’s dug fish being in river? On the contrary (6)
TRENCH – the abbreviation for river goes inside a freshwater fish.

Down Clues

2d Drivers should restrict speed or — it’s the jug! (7)
AMPHORA – the abbreviation for a motoring organisation (‘drivers’ in crossword terminology) goes round the abbreviation for a measure of speed and OR.

3d There are no jolly words in this revolutionary English crossword diagram (5)
DIRGE – E(nglish) followed by the diagram that you’ve written your answers into, all reversed.

4d Feature of Venice affected, with a large flow of water underneath (9)
CAMPANILE – an adjective meaning affected or theatrical is followed by A and the name of a substantial African river.

5d Careful study, engaged in quiet routine (7)
PRUDENT – a study goes inside the musical abbreviation for quiet and a boring routine.

6d Understanding old King’s encountered poisonous snake (5)
GRASP – charade of the regnal cipher of one of our old kings (you can choose from six) and a poisonous snake.

7d Parasites back, mostly besetting European city (9)
LEICESTER – parasitic insects and most of the word for the back (of a ship, say) contain the abbreviation for European.

8d Sailor’s first and second award in marine setting (4,3)
SAND BAR – the first letter of sailor is followed by AND and a metal strip on a medal indicating that it has been won twice.

13d Sports event last month, going over most of Irish region (9)
DECATHLON – the abbreviation for our last month followed by a town in the centre of Ireland without its final letter. I’m not sure how this is a region – perhaps Una can explain.

15d Fool concealing payment in fortepiano and jug (6,3)
COFFEE POT – a Russian doll of a clue – put a payment inside the abbreviation for fortepiano which is, in turn, inside an informal word for a (generally old) foolish person.

17d Fruit tree in bed after tricky day? (7)
APRICOT – a child’s bed follows the shorthand way of writing the date (3,1) on which it’s ok to play tricks. The surface doesn’t mean a lot to me.

18d Second slight cut in dyestuff (7)
SAFFRON – the abbreviation for second followed by a slight or insult without its last letter.

20d Country not about to probe the stars, endlessly obsessed by the moon? (7)
LUNATIC – a country or state without the preposition meaning about goes inside a word meaning ‘the stars’ or one’s fortune without its last letter.

22d Leader dismissed from stage in bad odour? (5)
ODIUM – drop the leading letter from a stage much in evidence at the Olympics.

24d Join (the reverse of it here would suggest ‘loosen’) (5)
UNITE – a hint for this one seems redundant since the setter has given his own hint in brackets, i.e. if you reverse the IT in the answer you get a verb to loosen.

None of the clues stood out for me today but I’d like to hear what made your hit list .


  1. Una
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I appear to be first , a position I don’t really like. I type so slowly that surely someone else will get in first.
    Unlike Gazza, I found it tough enough , but I slowly worked my way through.I never did get 11a.
    I liked 5a and 12a among others.
    Thanks to Gazza and Kcit.

  2. halcyon
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A bit workaday but fair enough. It took me as long to parse 20d as to do the puzzle. 2d and 3d raised smiles.

    Thanks to Kcit and to Gazza for the blog.

  3. Jane
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Needless to say, I didn’t find this as easy as Gazza apparently did. I don’t think I knew that definition of coot and I couldn’t get to grips with the parsing of 20d.
    1a was a bung in – sorry, Gazza, but thank you for the explanation!
    I know 17d doesn’t have a good surface but it still made me smile, as did 5a.

    Thanks to Kcit and gratitude to our shining knight for the decryption.

  4. Verlaine
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 3:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought this was a perfectly serviceable crossword in the final analysis, thanks Kcit! And I’m sorry our esteemed blogger didn’t find much to enjoy.

    Perhaps not the most memorable but they can’t all be.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Slow to start, but I got there in the end, all but 11A. What a dreadful word! Needless to say, I’ve never heard of the 1A game, though I did parse the clue correctly. Back in my younger UK days, the crowd I ran with played spoof which my now husband lost rather too often. I did enjoy the puzzle, but no real standouts for me either, though I do like the 1D word itself. Thanks Kcit and Gazza.

  6. crypticsue
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Beam tomorrow

  7. LetterboxRoy
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 5:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Same as that, EC. A slow, steady plod but quite tough for me. I didn’t get 11a – an awful word, nor did I know 4d and couldn’t work it out, 20d was a bung-in, but otherwise gettable with some clever wordplay which I enjoyed.

    17d gets top marks but overall, for what it’s worth: ***/***

    Thanks to all as ever

  8. JB
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 6:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Did like 12a, especially as Gazza chose to illustrate it with a female of the family!

  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Quite a few of the clues seemed to take a considerable amount of teasing out bits and pieces to understand the wordplay. It is a process we enjoy but it does take a little time so not a particularly quick solve for us. Surprised to see that BRB recognises 11a as a real word. A pleasant solve.
    Thanks Kcit and Gazza.

  10. Wolfson Bear
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I basically agree with Gazza’s verdict. I found it far harder to explain a handful of clues than to have got the answer from the definition

    Thanks to Gazza and Kcit

  11. jean-luc cheval
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Had a bit of trouble parsing 20d but the answer was quite obvious.
    Liked the “no duplicate” in 23a and favourite is 4d ( feature of Venice).
    Thanks to Kcit and to Gazza.

  12. Shropshirelad
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 9:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Not a particularly tough toughie – but enjoyable nonetheless. The NE and SW were filled in fairly rapidly but the SE was accessed was next to fall with the NW last to cough up the solutions. I was torn between 3d & 25a as my favourite and still can’t make up my mind.

    Thanks to Kcit for the puzzle ant Gazza for his splendid review. Loved the ‘Matt’ at 7d.

    • ShropshireLad
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 9:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’ll try that again

      Not a particularly tough toughie – but enjoyable nonetheless. The NE & SW were filled in fairly rapidly but the SE put up a bit of a fight and the NW was last to cough up the solutions. I was torn between 3d & 25a as my favourite and still can’t make up my mind.

      Thanks to Kcit for the puzzle and Gazza for his splendid review. Loved the ‘Matt’ at 7d.

      • Hanni
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 9:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

        It was even better the second time!

  13. Hanni
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 9:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Didn’t find it as straightforward as Gazza but I enjoyed it. I also had to double check the second half of 13d as I thought it was a town.

    Liked 4 and 5d.

    Many thanks to Kcit and to Gazza for a great review. Agree with the Matt pic.

  14. stanXYZ
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 10:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    7d – We are the Championes – Not for long – but for ever!

    • ShropshireLad
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:10 am | Permalink | Reply

      Nice one Stan – but can you believe the Pogba saga? Gee, sold for next to nothing and bought back for how much and what salary? Sorry – only about £220,000 a week. Trevor Francis’s fee seems paltry in comparison.

      • Hanni
        Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:16 am | Permalink | Reply

        Eh? Stan’s post has Andrea Bocelli. Your post has random things that make no sense? Who’s Pogba, Gee and Francis? Footballers I guess. :unsure:

  15. Posted August 11, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink | Reply

    I found it quite tricky, but maybe I’ve used up my quota of brain cells for the week. I was plagued by misreading words (I thought there was a vacation in 25a; I forget the other things).

    There were some nice touches. I thought that 17d would have worked much better without the tree: that would have made for a much more pleasing and meaningful surface. Also liked 14a and 20d.

    Thanks to Kcit and to Gazza.

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