Toughie 1774 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1774

Toughie No 1774 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I thought you weren’t going to get this review today when my computer suddenly died when I was in the middle of writing it. But after a short delay I managed to reboot the computer and it now seems OK again. I found this puzzle to be one of average difficulty with only the parsing of 4 down causing me any real problems. It was a day for including surnames of famous people.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Bottle placed by rugby player in headquarters (5,6)
NERVE CENTRE: ‘Bottle’ or ‘courage’ + a member of the back division in a rugby team

9a    Personal ambition — or self-inflicted setback? (3,4)
OWN GOAL: ‘Belonging to oneself’ and ‘ambition’ = a self-inflicted setback (originally on the football field)

10a    Niche firm stopping production of veal (6)
ALCOVE: An abbreviation denoting a firm inside an anagram (production of) of VEAL

12a    BBC journalist wearing bright colour set to go? (7)
READIED: The surname of Kate (who was well-known for reporting for the BBC from war zones around the world) inside a primary colour

13a    Untidy place behind sink? There’s damage by the way (7)
POTHOLE: An untidy place (4) follows ‘to sink (a snooker ball)’

14a    Son leaving seat in daze (5)
ADDLE: Remove S (son) from a seat (e.g. on a horse or bicycle)

15a    Agreed Northern artist is into exotic food (2,3,4)
OF ONE MIND: N (Northern) and the surname of the artist called Tracey inside an anagram (exotic) of FOOD

17a    Writer proclaimed opinion about learner in undeveloped area? (5,4)
GREEN BELT: A homophone of a writer called Graham + an opinion round L (Learner)

20a    US singer losing gold stock in the US? (5)
BISON: Remove a two-letter word for ‘gold’ from the surname of a US singer called Roy

22a    Figure recalled enjoyable time in sport (7)
NETBALL: A reversal of a cardinal number + an enjoyable time (as in ‘having a ****’

24a    Novelist supporting prison reportedly (7)
FORSTER: ‘Supporting’ or ‘in favour of’ + a homophone of ‘prison’. This homophone doesn’t really work for me

25a    Disclose trademark of a top female Arab diplomat? (6)
UNVEIL: An international organisation + something a female Arab wears

26a    Trained for craft, contribute to deal (5,2)
TRADE IN: An anagram (for craft) of TRAINED

27a    Quarter, say, old company factory left out is one to feature? (11)
PARTICIPANT: A quarter (or any other fraction) + a former British chemical company + a factory with the letter L (left) removed


2d    Grounds online having irrational appeal? (7)
EMOTIVE: A letter denoting ‘online’ + ‘grounds’ or ‘reason’

3d    Getting excited over model place for cycling (9)
VELODROME: An anagram (getting excited) of OVER MODEL

4d    Fix mouse and second of speakers (5)
CLAMP: ‘To fix (or make firm)’ = a mouse (possibly in the sense of a timid or reticent person) + the second letter of SPEAKERS. I’m still not happy with it so if anyone has a better suggestion……

5d    Dicky’s alternative drink before draw (7)
NECKTIE: The alternative to a dicky bow = ‘to drink’ + a draw in a sporting contest

6d    Mixed oil in recipe with a lot of strength, Italian speciality (7)
RAVIOLI: An anagram (mixed) of OIL inside R (recipe) and A and ‘strength’ (3) with the last letter removed. I’m not sure what 3-letter word for ‘strength’ was intended. I can think of 2 alternatives neither of which completely satisfies me

7d    Function very effectively in game with big pieces (2,5,4)
GO GREAT GUNS: A strategy board game + ‘big’ + pieces (weapons)

8d    How one might describe index that’s available (2,4)
ON HAND: The index is the index finger

11d    Dutch might wear this as indication of loyalty? (7,4)
WEDDING RING: A cryptic definition. The dutch is ‘er indoors

16d    Not conforming like Siberian away from home, we hear (3,2,4)
OUT OF STEP: The last word is a homophone of a dry, grassy, generally treeless, uncultivated plain in Siberia

18d    Actor avoiding hot capital after revolution in country (7)
ESTONIA: The surname of an actor called Charlton with the letter H (hot) removed a reversal of ‘capital’ or ‘first-class’

19d    Loved ones exist in home (7)
NEAREST: ‘Exist’ (3) inside a home for birds, etc.

20d    Steal legal profit in effect (7)
STEAL: A steal (something acquired cheaply). When split (3,4) it could be a legal profit

21d    Model / shot that’s not difficult? (6)
SITTER: 2 meanings: someone acting as a model for an artist/a shot that’s not difficult (as in missed a ******)

23d    Colour arising in topical illustration (5)

20 comments on “Toughie 1774

  1. Parsing 4D was my only hold-up and I came to the same conclusion as you, Bufo. I had to google to verify the BBC journalist. I rather liked 25A and 2D. Thanks Shamus. This was fun. And thanks to you Bufo for the review.

  2. It might have been in the wrong envelope but I did enjoy solving the crossword – so thank you to Shamus – my favourites were 20a and 25a, I too was confused by the mouse being a shellfish but perhaps our setter will turn up to give us his thoughts on the matter.

    Thanks to Bufo too

    1. There are items advertised on Google called mouse clam charm jewellry (and cat clam). Maybe that’s where the setter got it from?

  3. Hi, Crypticsue . The comment was in fun, as I cant comment on same day due to travel, work and time zones. etc . I have a stack printed off and do when I have time for a red &/ or ale and unwind.
    Does nt matter really when they are completed,I suppose.; I like to finish without reverting to blog till brain too addled !
    Currently on 1539 !

  4. The shellfish is also a timid person

    I thought the top arab diplomat might sport a trademark ‘international organisation’-scarf

    This took me a while as i struggled with the names, but I only had to google the journalist only to then remember she was someone we’ve seen before. I thought I was going to have to wait for the review for some parsings but it all made sense in the end.

    My favourite of course is 11d (thanks for the namecheck, Shamus)

    Many thanks Bufo and thanks very much Shamus

  5. I loved this and thought it was really good fun.
    I was surprised to see a 3* difficulty but obviously CS doesn’t think it was.
    I still don’t really ‘get’ 4d and anyway I made life trickier than necessary by having ‘clasp’. Dim.
    The only other problem I had was one I made ‘all my own self’ – my first answer for 8d was wrong (don’t ask) which made 12a impossible.
    I liked 15 and 20a and 7 and 16d. My favourite was 11d.
    Thanks to Shamus and to Bufo.

  6. Great puzzle right up my street. Thanks to Shamus for that. I didn’t spot Kate Adie or Tracy Emin so thanks to Bufo for introducing them to me. There is a bonus to being laid up but it won’t last.

  7. The person in 12a was new to me but got the answer from definition and checkers and was then able to investigoogle. 1a took a lot longer than it should have to get sorted. The shellfish mouse eluded me for a while but a look in BRB confirmed the synonym. Plenty in here to keep me smiling and much appreciated.
    Thanks Shamus and Bufo

  8. Shamus puzzles lack the fun factor that makes a puzzle enjoyable for me. By the way, Bufo, you have Steal instead of Bargain as solution to 20d

    1. Oh – what a pity. I always find his crosswords such good fun – back page (or inside back page) and Toughies alike I love them.

  9. It’s still 17degrees as I write.
    Wonderful spring day down here and the 23d is in full bloom. Love the scent.
    No problem with the famous people in the crossword apart from imagining a bison walking down the street in 20a.
    Had problems too reconciling the rodent and the seafood in 4d but decided to bung it in.
    Learned that 21d could be called a stumper too. Ready for it to turn up. Unusual for me to have advance knowledge of cricket.
    Thanks to Shamus for the great fun and to Bufo for the review.

  10. Solved this morning – just as well, given the boozy lunch/afternoon I’ve spent with ‘old’ friends!
    Thoroughly enjoyed working through this one and will put 24&25a alongside 5d in the frame for pick of the bunch.

    Many thanks to the twinkly-eyed one and thanks to Bufo for the review.

  11. Enjoyable, perhaps around middling for difficulty? 11d I needed all the letters I could get, nicely diverted as I was into wondering what the Dutch might wear in place of a leek. ;-)

  12. What a difference a day makes in Toughie-land. Yesterday I tried and failed miserably to fathom most of Micawber’s clues unaided, but today’s Shamus unfolded more like a back pager, although like others I found 4 down somewhat vague, despite opting for the correct word. Nice entertaining puzzle, with too many good clues to pick a favourite. Thank yous to Shamus and Bufo.

  13. I needed a couple of hints in the SW corner, so more like 4* than 3* for me. Still don’t see why a “clam” should equate to a “mouse”, but there were some good clues there. Thanks to Shamus, and Bufo.

  14. Well, on the back page I failed on one – and here I went one worse. It’s hard to gauge difficulty as I pecked at this through the day, but for the most part it felt about average Toughie strength, albeit with some parsings that took some work. I did struggle quite a bit near the end. With two to go I asked some nearby riff-raff for help, who quickly got 18d (I’d thought of the country but completely failed to think of the actor), but we couldn’t lift the veil on the remaining 25a.

    I enjoyed it but can’t pick a favourite. Thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

  15. As an aside, 20A prompted me to go to google, since those animals are commonly called buffalo here, apparently an early settler misnomer that has prevailed. … Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play…” Turns out that Bison is the correct word. Buffalo we do not have. That’s reserved for Cape and Water Buffalo. Do we have antelope either? Back to google!

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