Toughie 1980 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1980

Toughie No 1980 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hi all.  Shamus provides today’s harder puzzle which I found not too much harder than the back page save for a spot of bother at the end with 15a and 16d.  This crossword is not suitable for vegetarians (but only if eaten.  Not generally recommended).

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative — click only if you wish to reveal all.

As usual you may click on pictures to enlarge them or uncover hidden extras.



1a    Place starts heaving — it’s set after a break? (7,4)
PLASTER CAST:  An anagram (heaving) of PLACE STARTS

7a    Expert at university gets to go to pieces (5,2)
CRACK UP:  Follow expert or adept with an adjective meaning at university

8a    More impertinent fool that is interrupting senior (7)
SASSIER:  Our usual stupid person and the abbreviation for that is are both inside (interrupting) the abbreviation for senior

10a   Breed flat-bodied fish by the sound of it (5)
RAISE:  This is a homophone (by the sound of it) of some flat-bodied fish.  By coincidence I leaned just yesterday that there are six English words that sound like this (the other four are raze/rase, rehs, réis and res)

11a   Hint resolved ending in one retired person who’s studious being aware (2,3,4)
IN THE KNOW:  An anagram (resolved) of HINT and the last letter of (ending in) one, after which comes a slang term, usually derogatory, for a serious or studious person, reversed (retired)

12a   Some no-hoper at engineering work (7)
OPERATE:  The answer is hidden in some of the clue

14a   Rite developed during period in country (7)
ERITREA:  An anagram (developed) of RITE inside (during) a period of time

15a   Height many recalled in Caribbean island (7)
TORTOLA:  A hill or rocky height followed by a phrase (1,3) meaning many, reversed (recalled)

18a   Put up piece of poetry as subject of elevated appreciation? (7)
SKYLINE:  To raise aloft or hit (a ball perhaps) high into the air and then a short bit of verse

20a   Time in New York artist is among warring clan regarding forebears (9)
ANCESTRAL:  The time zone of New York and our usual artist inside (among) an anagram (warring) of CLAN

21a   Scholars attended by fine African tribe (5)
MASAI:  Some graduates next to (attended by) two letters meaning fine or top class

22a   Decreasing time for supper? (7)
EVENING:  For the wordplay part of the clue, read decreasing as de-creasing

23a   Completed festivity almost in part of Ireland (7)
DONEGAL:  Finished plus a festivity or sporting occasion without its last letter (almost)

24a   Single woman with hat to be replaced gets to lose an opportunity (4,3,4)
MISS THE BOAT:  The title of a single lady with an anagram (replaced) of HAT TO BE



1d    Friend assumes right in Spain to get confection (7)
PRALINE:  A mate contains (assumes) R(ight); this is followed by the IN from the clue and the IVR code for Spain

2d    Losing head, go on annoying joint (5)
ANKLE:  To irritate or go on annoying minus the first letter (losing head)

3d    Cut for elite sporting group? (7)
TOPSIDE:  This cut of beef is formed of an elite (3) team (4).  Beef is today’s special, evidently

4d    Favour group in repetitive ritual (7)
ROSETTE:  Insert a group in mechanical repetition of something to be learned

5d    Australia trip quietly put off yet to be arranged in spartan state (9)
AUSTERITY:  An abbreviation for Australia, then an anagram (to be arranged) of TRIp YET without the musical notation for quietly (quietly put off)

6d    Slight on geek falling short? Painter could need one (7)
THINNER:  Slight or flimsy and someone with a deep interest in some unfashionable topic(s) missing the last letter (falling short)

7d    Alas October is disastrous for cheap domestic disposal (3,4,4)
CAR BOOT SALE:  ALAS OCTOBER is anagrammed (disastrous)

9d    Inexperienced person on ship before retreat overturned oil, say (3,8)
RAW MATERIAL:  Inexperienced, a ship’s officer under the captain or master, and the reversal (it’s overturned) of a retreat or den

13d   A loving sound remains reportedly as element in a concert hall? (9)
ACOUSTICS:  After the A from the clue, we have sound-alikes (reportedly) of a loving murmur and remains or stays

16d   Danger shown by guide commonly in US tree (4,3)
ROCK ELM:  A danger or obstacle plus guide (of a ship, perhaps) with a dropped aitch (commonly)

17d   Land around river is acceptable (7)
ALRIGHT:  To land or disembark around R(iver)

18d   Additional note about comic novelist in heavy spot (7)
SPLODGE:  The reversal (about) of an abbreviation denoting an additional note followed by an English author best known for novels satirising academic life.  I wasn’t familiar with the author but I’m clumsy enough to be familiar with the answer!

19d   Understanding within reach? (7)
INSIGHT:  Gain understanding by splitting the answer (2,5), making the wordplay visible

21d   Island with pep producing fruit (5)
MANGO:  An Island in the Irish Sea and some pep or vim


Thanks to Shamus.  I can’t choose a favourite today — can you?


30 comments on “Toughie 1980

  1. This all seems straightforward in retrospect, but I got stuck a couple of times and enjoyed it. Didn;t tick any favourites so nothing stood out for me either. the only bit of GK I had to check was the island – the author was familiar but I have only read one of his books and that was nearly 30 years ago…

    Thanks to Kitty and Shamus

  2. I haven’t done many Toughies yet to get an idea of average difficulty but I found this one quite mild. I did have to look up 16d to confirm the variety as I had not heard of this one before and I although 18d was quite clearly what it was, I had not heard of the novelist either.

    Still an very enjoyable solve!

  3. Very gentle today – like Kitty I only had any hold-ups with 15a and 16d.
    Shamus is a senior question setter on ‘Only Connect’ and 20a made me wonder whether it was he who supplied the recent question about Donald Duck’s family tree.
    My favourite clue, for the excellent surface, was 7d.
    Thanks to Shamus and Kitty.

  4. Amusing, but a bit of a floughie. I’m not very happy about the use of commonly in 16d, a cockney or northern reference would sufficed. Just because I speak with a Lancashire accent doesn’t make me common. If it wasn’t for his alias I’d be tempted to think Shamus was being a bit Homecountycentric.

    1. 16d: I’m pretty sure that common here means widespread, prevalent, commonplace rather than coarse, vulgar or plebeian.

  5. I had to look up a few things – the variety of tree, the island, the comic novelist and that strange term for a studious person.
    Not to worry, it’s always good to learn something new.

    No particular favourite but it was very nice to see the nod to Ireland – used to be a Shamus trademark but not so much these days.

    Thanks to the twinkly-eyed one and to our Girl Tuesday for the blog and ‘extras’. Surprised that there was no illustration for 7a!

  6. I was thinking that this was quite breezy until I got bogged down in the SW corner.

    I do feel that some of the surfaces here are borderline gibberish – what could “Time in New York artists is among warring clan regarding forebears” possibly mean, in a real world context? I could go on but won’t…

    My favourites, because I’ve been trying to learn all the countries of the world recently for quizzing purposes, were 14a and especially 15d, as I know where the British Virgin Islands are now, but didn’t know the name of the main one. A crossword where I learn something is a good crossword, much obliged to you Shamus and Kitty!

    1. I assume that ‘Time in New York artist’ means an artist working for Time magazine in New York.

      1. Alright, I’ll give that to you, just about. Mainly because TINY would be a great acronym for the New York edition of Time magazine.

          1. Surely time in New York is eastern standard time.

            That’s what the above should read!

            Oooh, the edit takes ages to work!!

          2. In the wordplay, of course, but the surface reading should also be meaningful…

  7. Surely 2d loses the first letter not last? Rather too many of these missing letters today. Never heard of the w…k in 11a. How careful one must be!

    1. Of course it does – no idea sure why my fingers typed first last. (EDIT: and I did it again. That was not deliberate!) Will amend it now. Thanks JB.

    2. I think it must be a US term as it used not infrequently in this part of the world – often about panels of pundits who may or may not know anything at all.

        1. The Telegraph Style Guide says: policy wonk: avoid. It is part of the private language of political obsessives, used to describe those who undertake political research, and like all private language alienates the general reader.

          But in spite of that advice it does still show up there from time to time.

        2. If you were really into fuzzy dolls of a certain vintage you could, and indeed should, be called a gonk wonk.

  8. With ref to 15a, Tortola, which was so sorely damaged by the recent hurricane, I once saw a yachtsman there with a tee-shirt carrying the slogan “Tortola, a small drinking island with a big yachting problem.” I hope this amuses you all as much as it still does me. Thanks to all.

  9. I started in the NW corner as I always do, and found that everything was falling into place at a gallop – and then suddenly someone put the brakes on. For a while everything ground to a halt, and for me it was more than 15a and 16d that caused some head scratching, although they were my last in, having eventually tracked down the island. I did enjoy the tussle, and the satisfaction (after a good while) of having finished it.

  10. Didn’t know the island, the tree, the studious person and the writer but they where easily checked on the web.
    Liked the double homophone in 13d.
    Thanks to Shamus and to Kitty for the review.

  11. The two that held us up the longest were also 15a and 16d, both of which were new to us and needed a bit of research. Shamus puzzles always keep us smiling.
    Thanks Shamus and Kitty.

  12. For me, the top half went in quickly then I slowed quite a bit for the rest. Like most I didn’t know 15a or 16d and I didn’t know the author in 18d (which was the last one in) either.

    I wasn’t convinced by my answer to 22a until I read Kitty’s hint: so thanks for that.

    7d was my overall favourite.

  13. As you say, only a smidgen stiffer than the back-pager. Say 1/2* difficulty and 3.5* for enjoyment. If l have a favourite clue, it’s 21a. Thanks to Shamus and Kitty.

  14. Didn’t quite get there but a great puzzle for all that. I bunged in Wych elm, not knowing this variety. So that didn’t help. Not heard of the island before, nor the artist in 18d which was last one in. Liked 9 d
    Thanks to everyone

  15. I was a little confused too in various places in this puzzle, but the difficulty seemed not to be related to the actual clues.

    I must admit I like a bit more of a challenge, but there were nice moments in this one, and of course a fabulous and entertaining blog.

    Thanks to Shamus and Kitty, it was a nice diversion today.

  16. Thanks to Shamus and to Kitty for the review and hints. Yes, not much more difficult than the back pager, but needed the hints for 18a&d,15a&16d. Hadn’t heard of any of them apart from 18a, which I couldn’t get the first 3 letters. My favourite was 13d which, to coin a phrase from this blog, was a real homogroan. Was 4*/3* for me. Very enjoyable.

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