Toughie 537 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 537

Toughie No 537 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I was excited to hear on Capital Radio this morning that Beyoncé is to work with Big Dave. Then I was disappointed to find out that it’s not our Big Dave. Maybe that’s why I made somewhat heavy weather of this puzzle. I’m not sure that I fully understood all the clues but it was an enjoyable puzzle and fair enough.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Nerve perhaps shown among outsiders in dodgy social gathering (6,5)
{DINNER PARTY} A social gathering where people eat together is made up of DY (outsiders in dodgy) round a possible definition of nerve (5,4)

7a    Tile from German place with love for bit of artwork (7)
{HOMBURG} Take the name of a German city and replace an A (bit of artwork) by O (love) to give a felt hat with a narrow brim and crown and a depression in the top (tile = hat)

8a    One taking neat item from classroom with stone inside (7)
{RUSTLER} Neat is used in its usual crossword sense of ox, cow, bull, etc. Someone who steals cattle is made up of a classroom item used for measuring and drawing lines going round ST (stone)

10a    Fibre, maybe, a suspect detail? (8)
{ROUGHAGE} The answer refers to fibre-rich foods that promote intestinal movement (e.g. All-Bran) – split the answer (5,3) and you get an approximate (suspect) detail of how old someone is.

11a    Awkward shot after return of high one (6)
{BOLSHY} A word meaning “behaving in an awkward or intractable manner” Is given by a shot (attempt) following a reversal of a high shot, e.g. in tennis

13a    It could be cut by knife taverna supplied? (4)
{FETA} A Greek cheese is hidden in kniFE TAverna

14a    Cold crime first found at end in drive (10)
{IMPERSONAL} Cold (devoid of human warmth or sympathy) is given by putting the first letter of a burning crime at the end and then putting it inside “to drive”

16a    Place found by temporary resident for loot (10)
{LIEUTENANT} Loot is an informal short form of an officer. The full word is made up of “place” + a person who occupies property owned by another

18a    Put back drink with sign of appeal for work (4)
{OPUS} A reversal of “to drink” + an interjection (sign of appeal) gives a musical work

21a    Roving commission with tons for director (6)
{ERRANT} “Roving” is formed from a commission with T (tons) replacing D (director)

22a    Dives might show this bit of oceanic change round middle of hull (8)
{OPULENCE} Dives is the rich man in the parable in Luke 16:19-31. The answer is O (bit of oceanic) + change (money) round UL (middle of hull)

24a    By the sound of it, despot with hollow gibe (7)
{SARCASM} A homophone (by the sound of it) of despot (Russian ruler) + hollow (a yawning or gaping one)

25a    Retired type outwardly revealed short letter (7)
{NOTELET} A reversal (retired) of TE (the first and last letters of type) + revealed (3,2) gives a short item of correspondence

26a    Possible future good a source of inflation for air travellers? (3,2,3,3)
{PIE IN THE SKY} A phrase meaning “some improbable future good promised without guarantee” is apparently derived form an early-20th century song that criticizes the Salvation Army’s theology and philosophy, specifically their concentration on the salvation of souls rather than the feeding of the hungry.


1d    Remove from exhibition musical recording with short tune that’s discordant (7)
{DEMOUNT} A word possibly meaning “to take down a picture” is formed from a musical recording made to demonstrate the quality of an unsigned performer” + an anagram (discordant) of TUN(E) (short tune)

2d    Love symbolised in middle of story? (6)
{NOUGHT} The symbol in the middle of story is O which also stands for love (nothing). Big Dave points out that are 2 possible answers to this clue. [The answer given is the one expected by the online site BD]

3d    Promise made by engineer to get on with number in police (10)
{ENGAGEMENT} An abbreviated form of engineer + to get on (grow older) + N (number) inside an abbreviated form of the London police

4d    Scottish team shedding nervous habit in green area (4)
{PARK} Remove a nervous twitching from the name of a Scottish football team (the Thistle from Glasgow)

5d    Prose crafted by number principally satisfying enquiry? (8)
{RESPONSE} An anagram (crafter) of PROSE + N (number) + SE (first letters of satisfying enquiry)

6d    Ex-President still getting to slip having consumed last bit of alcohol? (7)
{YELTSIN} An ex-president of the Soviet Union formed form still + slip (do wrong) round L (last letter of alcohol)

7d    Part of body in raging sun with flesh? There’s capacity for injury (11)
{HARMFULNESS} A part of the body (3) goes inside an anagram (raging) of SUN FLESH

9d    One’s salary must be adjusted on time for confirmation of bill? (5,6)
{ROYAL ASSENT} An anagram (adjusted) of ONE’S SALARY + T (time) gives the queen’s formal agreement to a parliamentary bill

12d    Save fat rival of Dick D on island (5-5)
{PENNY PINCH} Miss Pitstop was one of Dick Dastardly’s rivals in Wacky Races. Take a abbreviated form of her first name + the first letter of her surname + a Scottish and Irish word for an island

15d    Individual boarding coach that’s primitive (5-3)
{STONE-AGE} Individual is put inside a coach (an old means of transport) to give primitive (from a stage of culture before the general use of metal)

17d    Sweet that’s not soft initially? It hangs decoratively (7)
{EARDROP} Remove P (soft) from the front of a sweet (which I used to buy from the sweet shop when I was young) to give an item of jewellery that is pendant

19d    Maybe, a fine on-the-spot event? (7)
{PENALTY} The spot is found on a football pitch

20d    Feet in system of exercise I scrubbed (6)
{PLATES} Remove I from an exercise system to get rhyming slang for feet

23d    Sign, one defining the WI? (4)
{OMEN} The Women’s Institute contains no members of the opposite sex.

Thanks to Shamus for a good work-out for the brain

31 comments on “Toughie 537

  1. I’d pay good money to see Beyonce with Big Dave :D

    Seriously though, I thoroughly enjoyed this crossword from Shamus. Excellent clues, fabulous misleads and a big smile on my face when I had finished. My favourites were 8a, 16a (luckily I had watched Sergeant Bilko and the like!), 26a, 12d (more mispent telly watching), 19d and 20d. Thanks to Shamus for the great entertainment and Bufo for the review.

        1. It was just the vision that was conjured up that amused me. Not sure she is anyone’s cup of tea!

  2. This is turning into a great Toughie week. This was a stunning Shamus crossword – lots of smiles, furrowed brows and penny dropping moments. Amongst the top clues (of which there were many) 16a and 26a were favourites for me.

    Many thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for the review.

  3. Fabulous crossword, I got stuck originally by putting bottle ????? in 1a. Very enjoyable crossword from Shamus. Great review Bufo but there seems to be a wee mistake in the answer to 7a.

  4. This was the best Toughie I can remember from Shamus with lots of great clues and some amusing little quirks. Thanks to Shamus and Bufo.
    Like BigBoab I was tempted to put bottle for the first word of 1a. Favourite clues were 16a, 6d and 12d. I thought perhaps that the “suspect detail” in 10a was a reference to a police appeal such as “Police are looking for a man aged thirty to forty….”.

  5. 22a was ultimately my favourite in another great Toughie. There were plenty to choose from!
    Excellent work from Shamus and thanks to him and Bufo.

  6. What a week it’s been for Toughies three in a row excellent puzzles and still Fridays to come. Todays i thought was the best iv’e seen from Shamus with my favourite being 12d. Thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for his review.

  7. Another great toughie

    I did wonder for a while if 12d was Frank Bough as Dick D’s rival but did not get far with that!!!

    Keep em coming

  8. Excellent! Am I being thick, but I don’t see where the fat comes from in 12d. Many thanks B & S.

    1. Neither did I, and I still forget the alternative meaning of neat as well for some daft reason.

  9. Super crossword and, although it wasn’t too difficult to finish, I’m pretty sure I’ve missed some of the subtleties in the clues (so I need to read the notes today). If tomorrow’s is anything like as good as this we will have had a really great week.

    Many thanks to Shamus and to Bufo for the review.

  10. A pretty good Toughie I thought, although I wasn’t overly keen on 1A or 26A.

    However, I did like 4D; I spent far too long trying to remove the same letters from the name of a much better-known team, probably encouraged by the word “green” in the clue. A real “d’oh” moment when the obvious became apparent.

        1. I think so.

          The “team” would be better known by the secord half of its name; the first part, around here, is just a part of the city.

  11. Ditto above, but needed a fair number of hints, and lots to commit to memory (Neat just doesn’t seem to register alas). 22a favourite, 2d the last in with an almighty crashing sound as the penny finally dropped. Thanks Bufo and Shamus.

  12. Many thanks to Bufo for his review and all for comments. 6 down was supposed to be a partial & lit suggesting his penchant for
    vodka and unpredictable behaviour on state occasions – but I suppose that is quite a while ago now!

  13. Brilliant puzzle with 12 far and away the favourite. Had problems with NW corner but got there in the end thanks to All Bran! Many thanks to setter.

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