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Toughie 1896

Toughie No 1896 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hi there.  I’m becoming more attuned to Shamus’s style than I used to be, so didn’t have too many problems with this.  I progressed steadily along the road to Solution, more or less top to bottom, and really enjoyed the scenery.  Just sustained a couple of bruises from falling down the staircase in 16d, and as for 9a …

One of the delights of building up answers from the wordplay is that this can take you via such improbable linguistic delights as PHEMROSE and TANGATEI just a femtosecond before the correct word forms in front of your eyes.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all.



1a    Favouring craft in mixed Spanish and Greek character heading west (12)
PARTISANSHIP:  Skill or craft inside an anagram (mixed) of SPANISH, followed by the reversal (heading west) of a Greek letter.  I initially filled this in thinking that the craft was the last four letters of the clue, before realising that it had to work a different way.  Lesson: be prepared to abandon your initial conceptions

9a    Neutral attitude? It with month gone becomes unrevealing response (2,7)
NO COMMENT:  Without any obligation or attachment (2,10) lacking (with … gone) IT and M(onth).  We are left with a standard response to intrusive press questions.  I was tempted to leave this hint blank

10a   One for charming Eastern drink around noon (5)
SNAKE:  A Japanese drink goes around N(oon).  Alternative names for this creature include danger noodle and nope rope

11a   Headwear put on single person used to hoods? (6)
CAPONE:  A type of hat sits next to (put on) a word meaning single.  The hoods are hoodlums.  On in an across clue usually means to the right of.  I have said before that I think that’s a pointless convention (and it’s ignored often enough, so others must agree), but still think it’s a slight shame this isn’t a down clue so that the hat would sit atop the single

12a   Part of WI makes mistake disowning quiet father from Belfast? (8)
TRINIDAD:  The key to this lies in realising that the WI is not the Women’s Institute.  Think geographically.  Start with a mistake, leaving out (disowning) the musical notation for quiet.  Then add what could be a father from Belfast’s country (2,3)

13a   Comedienne supplying teatime fare (6)
ECLAIR:  A female comedian and a cream-filled treat.  It’s famous amongst regulars here, but l’ll just mention the Chambers definition of this word, in case any newbies are stopping by: “a cake long in length but short in duration …”  The comedian’s material is not generally teatime fare.  The following continues the aubergine theme that seems to have developed recently:

15a   Dogged painter largely taken with old navy (8)
STUBBORN:  Most of (largely taken) an English painter known for his horse paintings together with O(ld) and the abbreviation for the UK’s naval force

18a   Support measure in familiar territory (8)
BACKYARD:  A charade of support and a measure of length

19a   Irksome  work of top legal official? (6)
TRYING:  Another double definition

21a   Place providing spare site for guys in military centre (4,4)
BOOT CAMP:  Another charade, but this time one with cryptic components: a space in a vehicle where a spare tyre may be kept, and a place where guys are used to secure tents

23a   Makes time for female with statement of fashion (4,2)
FITS IN:  An abbreviation for female and a declaration that something is fashionable (2’1,2)

26a   Where scenes take place in beginning (5)
ONSET:  Split the answer (2,3) for a description of the location of scenes in a play or film

27a   Get rid of  mistake in cricket (9)
OVERTHROW:  Another pair of definitions, verb and noun respectively.  I didn’t know the second as a specific cricket term, but having looked it up find that it’s a return of the ball to the wicket that is missed by the fielders there

28a   Ant, perhaps, and Dec’s ultimate wry caper easily laughable (as I found out) (6-6)
CREEPY-CRAWLY:  The final (ultimate) letter of Dec followed by an anagram (laughable) of WRY CAPER EasiLY, in which AS I is missing (found out)



1d    Criticise heavily a noted Argentinian for style (7)
PANACHE:  Join together criticise heavily, the A from the clue, and a noted Argentinian revolutionary

2d    Summary about common farming framework (5)
RECAP:  Our usual short word meaning about or concerning and the EU’s farming framework

3d    Huge sense in system I’m reforming, not having succeeded once (9)
IMMENSITY:  An anagram (reforming) of IN sYSTEM IM without one instance of S(ucceeded) (not having succeeded once)

4d    Welsh politician with energy, supported by North, gets approval (4)
AMEN:  The abbreviation for a Welsh politician and the physics abbreviation for energy, followed by (supported by, in a down clue) N(orth)

5d    Acts up oddly, in tears when suffering overload (8)
SATURATE:  Insert the odd letters of acts up into an anagram (when suffering) of TEARS

6d    Dramatist at home nursing complaint (5)
IBSEN:  Our usual two-letterer meaning at home containing (nursing) a nasty bovine disease

7d    Restaurant with a new entrance in it put up (8)
TANDOORI:  A, N(ew), and an entrance, all inside the reversal (put up) of IT

8d    Figure on academic as part of body (6)
TENDON:  A cardinal number is followed by (on, in a down clue) a university academic

14d   A sign of allegiance among the French in sport (8)
LACROSSE:  The A from the clue and a sign of allegiance to a religion both go inside a French definite article

16d   Brief decoration put over time in part of staircase (9)
BARRISTER:  A decoration – an addition to a medal showing that it has been awarded twice, or alternatively a horizontal band across a shield in heraldry – followed by (put over, in a down clue) T(ime) inside the vertical part of a step.  Nothing to do with BANNISTER: holding on to that really delayed my understanding of how this works.  Grr!  (See lesson at 1a)

17d   Text about border plant (8)
PRIMROSE:  Some writing around (about) a border or edge

18d   A book in favour for wild swinger? (6)
BABOON:  The A from the clue and B(ook) inside a gift or favour.  I always want to spell this with an extra B, possibly because I am one

20d   Group judge broadcast passage in theatre (7)
GANGWAY:  A group and a homophone (broadcast) of a word meaning to judge or consider

22d   Supply nutrition kept up in secret activity (5)
CATER:  Contained backwards in (kept up in) the last words of the clue

24d   Third person with wariness at first catching right little creature (5)
SHREW:  A third person pronoun and the initial letter (at first) of wariness containing (catching) R(ight)

25d   Trust in free play on a regular basis (4)
RELY:  Regular letters of the third and fourth words of the clue


Thanks to Shamus.  I’ll make a similar comment here to the one I made last time I reviewed one of his: lots of good stuff, but I couldn’t pick out any clues above the rest.  Were you charmed by any particular bits?



18 comments on “Toughie 1896

  1. Didn’t quite finish this – I blame Boatman for that, as that one took too long. Failed on 16d and 19a, and both should have been obvious in retrospect. Didn’t know the Welsh MP. Apart from that this was reasonably straightforward and quite entertaining.

    Thanks to Kitty and Shamus

  2. Reasonably straightforward to solve but I had trouble with some of the parsings.

    I had not heard of the 13a comedienne in my 25 years of absence from the UK, but I liked the video clip. Same for the Welsh politician but that did not hold up solving 4a with the across checkers in place.

    It took some time to ‘dismantle’ 12a, and, yes, I did assume the non-geographic WI when I first read the clue.

    I solved 28a without having ‘gathered’ all the anagram letters; it was much later when the penny dropped on the parenthetical deletion instruction.

    Joint favourites – 27a and 17d – mostly for the brevity of the clues.

    Thanks to Shamus and Kitty.

  3. I thought that this was a bit meatier than we usually get on Tuesdays – thanks to Shamus and Kitty. I found it entertaining. I did know the 13a comedienne but I thought it was a bit ‘niche’. Top clues for me were 12a, 21a and 16d (I was another who was initially waylaid into making a part of a staircase work as the answer).
    Are we meant to make something of the numbers at the bottom of the review?

    1. … I see that the numbers down below have now disappeared so later commenters will wonder what I’m rabbiting about – either that or I imagined them in the first place.

      1. The numbers really were there. They’re part of the Word template that I made for creating blogs, where they encode the positions of the answers within the grid (1 3 5 7 9 11 28 30 31 41 61 68 91 93 98 101 112 121 130 135 151 155 160 163 174 181 187 214 today.) They were supposed to be hidden but, as Kitty discovered, under some unforeseen circumstances WordPress makes them visible.

  4. Very relieved to discover that I was in good company on the staircase – made 19a a bit difficult, didn’t it!
    Also, like Kitty, I wanted the wild swinger to have another ‘B’ in his name – even resorted to asking the BRB about an alternative spelling.

    Took an age to sort out the parsing of 12a and never did quite achieve same with 9a. If only I’d thought of using the ‘IT’ from the clue, instead of simply looking for an abbreviated month of the year…………

    Had to look up the comedienne but recognised her face as soon as I watched the clip – pleased to learn that her Mum is another member of the neophobe club!

    Thanks to Shamus and to our Girl Tuesday for another excellent blog, but why no picture to accompany 28a?!! Extra thanks for the ’99’ – I enjoyed every morsel.

  5. I too thought this was pretty Tough for a Tuesday, but that’s all to the good!

    There’s a lot to think about in clues like 1a, 9a, 12a, 21a… (I’m not even going to bother going on into the down clues), and you might very well not know the comedienne (I did) or the abbreviation for a Welsh MP (I didn’t, shamefully I suppose). 16d I was desperate to be, or something involve, a bannister, but it was not to be. Quite a lot of challenge for this early in the week then… ta Shamus and Kitty.

  6. I enjoyed this very much, and found it restorative after the beating I took on Friday’s toughie. I am another who fell down on the staircase in 16d, which prevented me from getting 19a. If it were not for the helpful checkers in 13a, the comedienne would have totally escaped me (unlike Jane I didn’t recognize the face when searching on Google). Many thanks to Shamus and Kitty.

  7. I hold up my hand to sliding down the bannister for far too long and trying to justify inking for 19A. Well, depending on the tat, it could be irksome work. Finally sorted. Never heard of the comedienne but the clip was funny. I liked the puzzle a lot and ticked 9A, 12A and 20D, and I have to give a nod to 20D since it was such a stumbling block. Thanks to Shamus and Miss Kitty.

    1. Yes – I was ‘inking’ as well. Amazing what you can convince yourself of when you’re desperate!

  8. Well, didn’t do too well. First of all I fell down the stairwell without understanding why, making 19a impossible. Missed the WI and could only think of GRANDAD, without understanding why. Didn’t know the comedienne but got that right. Got the right answers for 9a, 21a, and 28a, without understanding why.

    Got 14d but struggled with sign of allegiance = cross. And generally miscounted my anagrams.

    So a huge thanks to kitty for sorting it all out, and thanks shamus for installing some humility.

  9. Very glad to finish this but needed help with parsing and thank you Kitty for help with this. Have never heard of the comedienne nor what Welsh politicians are called. I thought that 7a was a type of bread and did not know it is also a type of restaurant. I liked 18a simply because I remembered the parts of a staircase thanks to a previous blog from MP I think.

  10. A few things we did not know in here like the Welsh politician and the comedienne and we also came to grief sliding down the bannister in 16d antil it would not work with the cross answers. Good fun as we always seem to get from this setter.
    Thanks Shamus and Kitty.

  11. Very enjoyable and, yes, tougher and therefore better than standard Tuesday offerings. 3*/4*.

    We didn’t know the Welsh MP but bunged it in anyway. Of the rest, we couldn’t fully parse 9a and we wrote bannister at the side of the grid, as a result of which we arrived at the correct answer. Favourite clue was 18d.

    Thanks Kitty (and respect for unravelling 9a) and to Shamus.

  12. Loved this one. Also got thrown by 16 down for a bit. I usually forget silk, not brief. Ach.

    Thanks to all. Jenny Eclair rather obscure..

  13. Not overly difficult for a Toughie, but I haven’t tried any for a few weeks so can’t remember how tricky they usually are at this stage of the week. My memory isn’t what it was… Ended up in the SE corner, where I wanted 16d to be part of a staircase as well, and to hell with the cryptic bit that I was struggling with. Dragged up 13ac from the depths to confirm the other definition that I was almost but not quite sure of. The Welsh politician I should have got a lot quicker, as they’re all just down the road…

  14. The comedienne came in a “flash” while the checkers were in place.
    Actually remember seeing her in Edinburgh and pretty sure she won the Perrier award that year.
    Thought 28a was very clever.
    Thought of Bannister in 16d but had Taxing in 19a at first. Had to go back to the drawing board for these two.
    Favourite 6d.
    Thanks to Shamus and to Kitty for the review.

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