Toughie 1674

Toughie No 1674 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This was an enjoyable puzzle with some nice touches and I completed it without any real difficulty. The four 15-letter answers were a big help and I admit that I wouldn’t have bothered to work out their parsing had I not had a blog to write.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


8a    Label / spell behind bars (4)
TERM: 2 meanings: label/the length of a prison sentence

9a    Bother head of housing (3)
ADO: Hidden in (or housed by) heAD Of

10a    A dope carelessly vacated recruitment outfit (6)
AGENCY: A + DOPE (information) + the first and last letters of CarelesslY

11a    Watches oversexed American in much of worthless society (6)
VIGILS: The American is one who was oversexed, overpaid and over here. Put the two letters that represent him inside ‘worthless’ with the last letter removed and then add S (society)

12a    Idle shop revamped in smart fashion (8)
POLISHED: An anagram (revamped) of IDLE SHOP

13a    Maybe, bleak old tutor a few disrupted is one unsuited to situation (1,4,3,2,5)
A FISH OUT OF WATER: The bleak is a creature that lives in a river. So it’s ‘maybe, bleak’ (1,4) + O (old) + an anagram (disrupted) of TUTOR A FEW

15a    Merit in militarist’s tirade? (7)
WARRANT: When split (3,4) it could be a militarist’s tirade

17a    Relevant Australian writer according to friend’s broadcast (7)
GERMANE: A homophone (broadcast) of the name of an Australian-born writer associated with the feminist movement. It’s her first name that you want because this is how her friends will refer to her

20a    Explosive musical beat, in short endlessly excellent thing (3,4,8)
THE CAT’S WHISKERS: An abbreviation for ‘High Explosive’ + an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical + ‘to beat (an egg)’ all inside ‘short’ with the last letter removed

23a    Check on women excitedly consuming current Eastern dish (4,4)
CHOW MEIN: An abbreviation for ‘check’ + an anagram (excitedly) of WOMEN round I (electric current)

25a    Change famous album missing jacket (6)
EVOLVE: Remove the first and last letters (or jacket) from the name of The Beatles’ seventh studio album

26a    Drink sealing success in dome (6)
CUPOLA: A soft drink (4) round a success (2)

27a    Dry back (not half) (3)
SEC: The first half of a 6-letter word meaning ‘to back’

28a    Nervous, stressed gymnast keeps inside (4)
EDGY: Hidden in stressED GYmnast


1d    Half-hearted complaint about priest in faith (6)
BELIEF: A 4-letter word meaning ‘complaint’ has one of the middle double letters removed. It is then put round the name of an Old Testament priest

2d    A scan by supreme authority in Indian city (8)
AMRITSAR: A + a medical imaging technique (or scan) + a supreme authority = the site of the Golden Temple

3d    Fool with right to split money which male’s collected and solicit contributions (4,5,3,3)
PASS ROUND THE HAT: A fool (3) and R (right) inside a unit of money (5) + ‘which’ round a male pronoun

4d    Reckon place is within reach (7)
COMPUTE: ‘to place’ inside ‘to reach’

5d    Fish one recalled cooked in student accommodation (4,2,9)

6d    Entertainer misrepresenting his age (6)
GEISHA: A Japanese girl who entertains men is an anagram (misrepresenting) of HIS AGE

7d    A bit of fruit lacking round division of farm? (4)
ACRE: A + the central part of an apple or pear with the letter O (round) removed

14d    Listless on reflection for long period (3)
EON: When the answer is reversed and then split (2,1) it could provide a cryptic clue for ‘listless’ or ‘lacking energy’

16d    Mess in East End remains (3)
ASH: Remove the H from the start of a 4-letter word meaning ‘mess’ to get the remains of anything burnt

18d    Brand at an end in complete reorganisation (8)
MAKEOVER: A brand + ‘at an end’

19d    Beastly son taken with triumph of a sort (7)
SWINISH: S (son) + a triumph + a suffix denoting ‘of a sort’

21d    Lower pointer in the main, we hear, for shoddy operator (6)
COWBOY: A lower (animal that lows) + a homophone (we hear) of a floating marker in the sea (or main)

22d    Storm engulfing a very tiny ruin (6)
RAVAGE: ‘To storm’ round A V (abbreviated form of ‘very’)

24d    King, say, not working for period (4)
HOUR: Remove ON (working) from a good card to hold in bridge (which could be a king)

Very nice.


  1. dutch
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very enjoyable – lots of quirky references – went relatively quickly as I was able to guess many of the answers from definition and enumeration, then parse later (though I didn’t see the Australian writer). Not so for the Indian city, which I had to derive from wordplay and then check.

    Loads to like – SW in particular made me smile a lot (23a, 26a, 21d, 24d)

    Many thanks Shamus and many thanks Bufo

  2. Gazza
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed this – thanks to Shamus and Bufo. My favourite (for the laugh at the ‘oversexed American’) was 11a. The four 15-letter answers pretty much solved themselves from the enumeration, although I did wonder for a second whether we needed parts of a dog rather than a cat for 20a (then I remembered that this is the Telegraph).

    • LetterboxRoy
      Posted September 15, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Made me laugh, but not enough letters and the ‘k’ is in the wrong place.

      I would have laughed my socks off if it was the alternative :grin:

      • Gazza
        Posted September 15, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

        The number of letters is correct which is why I thought of it. Of course the wordplay pointed to a different animal.

  3. crypticsue
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very enjoyable – thank you Shamus and Bufo

  4. Jeroboam
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The speed with which you solve the 4 long clues dictates the toughness of this crossword. As they were all reasonably straightforward this became my shortest solve of the week. Is it me or are this week’s toughie’s in reverse order. For all that a very enjoyable crossword, so thanks to Seamus and to Bufo for the review.

    • Jeroboam
      Posted September 15, 2016 at 7:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That should be Shamus of course. I’m so bad at proof checking my comments.

      • LetterboxRoy
        Posted September 15, 2016 at 10:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Evidently, not that bad. :smile:

  5. happy days
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I couldn’t conjure up enthusiasm for any of this week’s Toughies. I just, somehow, found them tedious. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Hope springs eternal…

  6. Verlaine
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 3:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    After having enjoyed myself on Tuesday and Wednesday, I wasn’t so keen on what is, actually, a perfectly serviceable crossword. Most of my problem was that all four of 15-letter clues went straight in based on definition and enumeration alone, so it was all very easy accordingly. I also didn’t get why our American was “oversexed’ until I looked it up, and found 14dn a real stretch once the penny eventually dropped – in what situation does the (2, 6) phrase pass the substitution test for “listless”?

    My favourite clue was 25ac due to my music industry loyalties. Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

  7. Jane
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 5:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Loved it (sorry, Verlaine!). Bright, breezy and full of laughs – typical of our leprechaun.
    Got three of the long ones without parsing, but 20a took a little longer and became my favourite.
    Two new things I learnt today – the fish in 13a and the bridge terminology in 24d (no wonder I couldn’t parse the latter!).

    Many thanks, Shamus and thanks also to Bufo for doing the homework.

  8. pommers
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 5:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I think Bufo’s comment “very nice” just about sums this up so thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

  9. LetterboxRoy
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Never quite got on the wavelength of Shamus today, so it was a slow solve. Found the words OK, but some of the parsing was a bit odd.

    Spelt 1d wrong (Do’h!) which made 11a impossible, despite having considered, then dismissed the correct answer. Oops.

    Oh, and some idiot wrote in 13a forgetting to put the ‘A’ at the front. What a mess…

    Good fun, thanks to all as ever.

  10. crypticsue
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 5:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Notabilis tomorrow

  11. Una
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 6:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Tough but fun, very enjoyable.
    It took me a few moments to give up the idea that 20 a wasn’t the cats pajamas.
    Thanks Buffo and Shamus.

  12. johnbuk
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 7:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Una, agree totally. I got “pyjamas” (I’m sure there is a saying with this isn’t there)? Luckily my wife quickly came up with “whiskers” to stop me going mad.
    We solved this faster than the ordinary cryptic.

  13. 2Kiwis
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As others have said, the four long answers went in easily from definition and enumeration which was a real help in getting footholds. The Indian city was last to go in. Knew of it but had never had to think about how it was spelt before. Enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

  14. Posted September 15, 2016 at 10:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m having a slow brain day today – I blame the heat. So I was grateful for the long ones. Largely unproblematic, but I did struggle disproportionately with the last few and only finished with help.

    I don’t mind the odd post-parse, but a half-parsed one annoys me and I kicked myself a couple of times, including at 14d.

    All very nice indeed. My favourite is naturally 20a – but no, Gazza, it’s not the dog’s. :)

    Thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

    • LetterboxRoy
      Posted September 15, 2016 at 10:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The rain has arrived in Surrey, good job I’m off to Wales on Saturday. Maybe it’ll be sunny.

      • Posted September 15, 2016 at 10:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yeah, that rain is forecast to reach us in about 6 hours. Bring it on, I say!
        Sun in Wales? It may happen …

        • LetterboxRoy
          Posted September 15, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

          You will be hearing the thunder soon, it’s moving North from here.
          Not expecting to get sunburnt!

      • Jane
        Posted September 15, 2016 at 11:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Bit of a mixed bag of sunshine and clouds expected here in N. Wales over the next week, but only 7-20% chance of rain.
        Hope you’re lucky.

  15. Salty Dog
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 11:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Right on the 2*/3* cusp for difficulty, a bit more for enjoyment. The 4 long anagrams helped a lot; without them it would have been a slog. I enjoyed 2d, and would rather like to go back. Thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

  16. jean-luc cheval
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 11:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The one I couldn’t parse was the king in 24d.
    Found 3d a bit strange as I could only find it the other way around.
    The two fishy clues in 13a and 5d were solved instantly as well.
    Big laugh at 6d. Can’t imagine a male geisha.
    Thanks to Shamus and to Bufo.

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