Toughie 1914 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1914

Toughie No 1914 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I had difficulty getting on the right wavelength today and took longer than I perhaps should have done. I then had problems parsing the last couple of answers. Hence the above average difficulty rating. I also upped the enjoyment rating because I enjoyed writing the blog so much

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Aristocratic woman with count shows common sense (4,6)
GREY MATTER: I assume that the aristocratic woman is the 16th century Lady Jane. Her surname + ‘to count’ = common sense or intelligence

6a    Wife remains for tasteless drink (4)
WASH: W (wife) + the remains from burning something

9a    One’s in a cab travelling around maritime zone (5,5)
OCEAN BASIN: An anagram (travelling) of ONE’S IN A CAB

10a    Frenchman’s one in exercise in river vessel (4)
PUNT: The French word for ‘one’ inside physical training

12a    A great deal of money for turkey (4)
BOMB: 2 meanings: a great deal of money (as in ‘costs a ****)/a turkey or a flop

13a    Philosopher cited before economist as specialist in security? (9)
LOCKSMITH: A homophone of the surname of the English philosopher John (1632-1704) + the surname of the Scottish economist Adam (1723-1790)

15a    Haunt that’s Parisian among French and English nature-lovers? (8)
FREQUENT: ‘To haunt’ = the French word for ‘that’ inside an abbreviation for ‘French’, an abbreviation for ‘English’ and a conservation organisation

16a    Run in disunited area, we hear (6)
CAREER: ‘To run’ or ‘to rush’ is a homophone of a peninsula in Asia that is divided between two nations. I’m not totally convinced by the homophone

18a    Hatred in US college in Eastern state (6)
ENMITY: A research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts goes inside E (English) and the abbreviation for a US state

20a    Prepare to confront expert at college stopping newspaper round (4,2,2)
FACE UP TO: An expert and ‘at college’ inside a pink newspaper + O (round)

23a    Foreign Secretary once getting stick, it’s said, in unofficial vote (5,4)
STRAW POLL: The surname of a former Labour Foreign Secretary + a homophone of a stick

24a    Principal means of linking computer (4)
LEAD: 2 meanings: the principle performer in a play or film/a wire that links parts of a computer system together

26a    A big hit given backing in international group (4)
AXIS: A + a high-scoring hit in cricket

27a    A couple of lines on short game for multiskilled type? (3-7)
ALL-ROUNDER: A + the abbreviation for ‘line’ + the abbreviation for ‘line’ + a bat-and-ball game with the last letter removed

28a    Resounding noise in impressive choir (4)

29a    Agree to accept a charge by letter as it seems (10)
APPARENTLY: ‘To agree’ round A and the charge made by a landlord to someone letting a property


1d    Extend seventh line of seats? (4)
GROW: The seventh letter of the alphabet + a line of seats

2d    First person noticed in audience something off-putting to observers (7)
EYESORE: A homophone (in audience) of a first person pronoun and ‘noticed’. The homophone won’t work for everyone

3d    A button woman mended for sophisticated sort (3-5-4)
MAN-ABOUT-TOWN: An anagram (mended) of A BUTTON WOMAN

4d    Labourer with head bitten by dog in Asian place (8)
THAILAND: Take a 4-letter word for a labourer and put its first letter inside ‘to dog’. You end up with an Asian country

5d    Betray European political leader in a familiar way (6)
EVINCE: E (European) + the first name of the leader of the Liberal Democrats. I have difficulty matching the definition with the answer but my thesaurus says that they’re synonyms

7d    Insulting, using Ecstasy after measure of drink round American island (7)
ABUSIVE: The abbreviation for ‘alcohol by volume’ (which isn’t in my admittedly not up-to-date Chambers) round ‘American’ and I (island) + E (Ecstasy)

8d    See red article, jumper put on fellow after success (3,3,4)
HIT THE ROOF: A success + the definite article + an animal that jumps + F (fellow)

11d    Key reason to restrict source of litigation in legal loophole (6,6)
ESCAPE CLAUSE: A key on a computer keyboard + a reason round L (first letter of litigation)

14d    Fool could make up this to obtain cosmetic (10)
AFTERSHAVE: The fool is one eaten after the main course. Another name for the dessert course + ‘to obtain’ = a lotion for men (but not bearded ones like me)

17d    Bring up atmosphere say about everything in shopping area (8)
GALLERIA: A reversal of ‘atmosphere’ and ‘say’ or ‘for example’ goes round ‘everything’ to give a shopping arcade. This is not a term with which I am familiar

19d    Thomas, say, roughly speaking is appealing? (7)
MOREISH: The surname of Sir Thomas (1478-1535) + a suffix denoting ‘somewhat’ = ‘so pleasant to eat that one wants a further helping’

21d    Car in place close to depot gets approval (7)
PLAUDIT: A German car goes inside the abbreviation for ‘place’ and T (last letter of DEPOT)

22d    Female given work in shapeless mass (6)
DOLLOP: An attractive young woman + ‘work’

25d    Area beset by young to become dilapidated (4)
FRAY: A (area) inside young fishes

It was good to see some of you last Saturday. I hope to see you again at the end of January.


28 comments on “Toughie 1914

  1. I wrote a big NO by the side of 16a on my piece of paper so I can’t wait to hear what Gazza thought of the supposed homophone.

    Thank you to Shamus for the crossword and to Bufo (nice to see you again on Saturday too) for the explanations

  2. I’ve been desperately trying to do less crosswords since the wonderful selection from various sources on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Then along come Warbler, Pettijean & Shamus Toughies, so I still can’t cut down to one a day! What’s a poor rabbit supposed to do?

    Today’s offering was very enjoyable and quite challenging, although the NW corner held out for quite a while longer than the rest of the puzzle with the excellent 1d my last one in and favourite. I stupidly bunged in “snitch” for 5d which fitted the definition but certainly not the wordplay, and it took me a while of failing to get 1a before I realised I needed to rethink it.

    I’m not sure about apply = agree in 29a, and I couldn’t parse my answer to 4d without Bufo’s help.

    Many thanks to Shamus and to Bufo.

    1. I have the same problem trying to find an example where agree=apply. But I’m sure someone can …?

      1. Apply = agree seems even to have defeated Gazza and I have never known him fail before …

  3. I found this to be very enjoyable (apart from the so-called homophones!) but requiring some head-scratching and needing knowledge of a number of historical names. For 29a agree/apply is in my Thesaurus but I can’t come up with an example of how they mean the same.
    Thanks to Shamus and Bufo for the review. Top clues for me were 20a, 8d and 19d.

  4. Quite a challenge, particularly on the parsing front. Nice to see a touch of the twinkly-eyed one in 1d – he sadly seems to give us rather less in that vein these days.

    Top two for me were 1&19d.

    Thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for confirming that my ‘working outs’ were correct.

  5. This is a setter whose puzzles I often find tough and I had another struggle today, not managing it all without help. I was totally baffled by the wordplay for 16a, had a mental block at 26a, and got stuck in a couple of other places too.

    I liked the fiendish wordplay (if not the imagery!) in 4d.

    Thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

  6. My favourite today is 11d.

    Thanks bufo for the parsing of 16a, 4d and 14d.

    I delayed entering 5d but the parsing was clear.

    many thanks shamus and Bufo

  7. I thought this was overall very easy but for a while I thought it was one from the archives with politicians who were only relevant years ago aplenty – and then I looked up Mr Cable and found he is in fact the current leader of the Lib Dems! I guess I just don’t care about them that much any more.

    I have used the nonmophone in a weak joke in my time (“I fought in career… and lost”) so I didn’t mind it. Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

  8. I agree with Bufo’s ratings, and share his reservations about the homophone, and apply/agree.

    The Telegraph seems to have published the wrong solution to Toughie 1913. Is it perhaps the solution to a future puzzle?

  9. Unusually, I managed this reasonably easily. **/****. I quite liked the homophone in 16a. 15a was my favourite, with 13a a close second.

  10. Needed help for 19d and 26a.
    Thought the former was Moorish but I had the poll in 23a and considered Asia for the latter.
    Apart from that everything went quite smoothly with some great penny drop moments.
    Thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for the help and review.

  11. Liked this one including 16. With Shamus humour is more important than strict accuracy.

    Thanks to S and Bufo who helped with some parsing.

  12. Very satisfied to finish a toughie with a high difficulty rating. The answer to 16a was obvious but I totally missed the homophone. 26a needed cricketing knowledge and I am not surprised that our French blogger (whose grasp of English and all things English I have admired as a non native speaker of the language myself) needed help for it. My favourite clue was the legal loophole

  13. We’re generally very tolerant to stretched homophones but 16a had us looking askance at this one. Shamus once again kept us smiling right through the solving process, (yes, even at 16a) so we’re happy.
    Thanks Shamus and Bufo.

  14. I had question marks by several I had difficulty in parsing, including 16A, and I failed on 4D. I didn’t have any favorites, but I did enjoy the tussle. Thanks shamus and Bufo.

  15. I needed to make use of a couple of Bufo’s hints with one or two of the pesky 4-letter words (12a and 26a), and so I cannot really claim an unaided victory, which, like yesterday, left me with a so-near-but-not-quite sense of disappointment. 16a didn’t really work for me, although the answer was evident enough with the checkers. Many thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

  16. Thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, but needed the hints for a few at the end,13&26a and 4&5d. I didn’t like 16&29a. Favourite was 11d.

  17. A * for difficulty here. 16ac baffled me too, and now I’ve seen the explanation I’m still not convinced. As surprised as Verlaine was to see that Mr Cable is a political leader, but then again I don’t suppose the Lib Dems had many MP’s to choose from. ;-) All round thoroughly enjoyable, even if it wasn’t the toughie I was expecting.

  18. Quite a tussle, but all done a couple of minutes into my *** guide time. I share the doubts expressed above over the equivalence of “agree” and “apply”, but accept that there is indeed a rationale for this. My favourite was either 8d or 11d. Thanks to Shamus and Bufo.

  19. I’m struggling to give an honest opinion on this Toughie. Admittedly it took less time for me to complete than the back page cryptic did, but my oh my, how laboriuosly boring it all was – for me at least. I don’t pretend to be a huge fan of Shamus Toughies, but at the end of the day they are all there to be solved. Thanks for the challenge, Shamus, but for me no great entertainment. Ah well, it was at least another Toughie under my belt and I have learned a new word in 17 down, so it’s not all negativity.

  20. Oh dear, I found this OK, was on the wavelength, but not much fun. Didn’t get the answer to 17d and had estate as the first half of 14d. Silly me. Apart from those everything was pretty straightforward but too much GK, too many homophones and generally a bit woolly. Thanks anyway guys.

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