Toughie 215 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 215

Toughie No 215 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

I struggled more than I usually do with a Firefly puzzle despite getting the 4d/16a/18a combination, that is the key to several other clues, very early on.  Very enjoyable stuff, with only a few “easy” clues.

Feel free to add your comments.


7a River about to rive prison vessel (9)
{CATAMARAN} – River TAMAR and A(bout) inside CAN (prison) results in a twin-hulled boat – about = a fooled me for a while

8a Lily takes fortune to America (5)
{LOTUS} – this lily is a simple charade of LOT (fortune / fate) and US

10a A steep adjustment for currency (6)
{PESETA} – an anagram (adjustment) A STEEP gives a currency

11a 16 to fail in payment (8)
{DOLOMITE} – you need 16a = rock for the definition, then put OMIT (fail, as in fail to do) inside DOLE (payment)

12a Homeric tussle inducing horrified expression (6)
{RICTUS} – nothing whatsoever to do with Homer, but this horrified expression is hidden inside HomeRIC TUSsle

14a Protection from head to foot? (6)
{TOECAP} – or more accurately protection from TOE to CAP

16a See 4 Down (4)

17a Girls for all seasons? (5)
{SPICE} – an allusion to the SPICE Girls

18a See 4 Down (4)

19a Quondam matrix (6)
{FORMER} – a rather tricky double definition – quondam is the Latin for former, and a FORMER is a type of matrix

21a Where sixth sense leads to the centre of Granada? (6)
{ESPANA} – a charade of ESP (sixth sense) and ANA (centre of GrANAda) gives the location of Granada in the vernacular

24a Ambassador’s support is initially tentative for linguist (8)
{HEBRAIST} – the charade is easy – HE (Ambassador) BRA (support) IS T (initially Tentative) – but I had never heard of this Hebrew linguist

26a Sings with abandon about European 16 (6)
{GNEISS} – an anagram (with abandon) of SINGS around E(uropean) for another kind of rock

27a Head confiscating last letter from sneak, plus next one (5)
{SKULL} – a synonym for head comes from SKUL(K) without the K (confiscating last letter from sneaK) but with an L (plus next one)

28a Smooth bit of stuff, tenor’s 16? (9)
{SANDSTONE} – SAND (smooth, as in to use sandpaper) S (bit of Stuff) and TONE (tenor / drift) gives yet another rock


1d Rake over limits of experiment with trainee (5)
{CADET} – as this is a down clue we can put CAD (rake / scoundrel) over ET (limits of ExperimenT) for this military trainee

2d Nonconformist minister’s first to state number escaping from prison (8)
{MAVERICK} – this nonconformist is built up from M (Minister’s first) AVER (to state) and then remove the N (number escaping) from (N)ICK (prison)

Which leads to a famous Maverick:

ARVE Error: need id and provider

3d Degree conferred on mariner in 16 (6)
{BASALT} – continuing today’s main theme combine BA (degree) and SALT (mariner) for yet another rock

4d, 16a & 18a Difficult-to-beat restaurant – the Granita? (4,4,4)
{HARD ROCK CAFÉ} – HARD (difficult) ROCK (beat) and CAFÉ (restaurant) for a restaurant that could have been called the Granita

5d ‘Modifier’, if pushed in training, gets course advantage (6)
{DORMIE} – an anagram (in training) of MOD(IF)IER without the IF (if pushed) gets an advantage on the golf course

6d Fliers (not English) fateful ‘Few’ trounced (9)
{LUFTWAFFE} – these wartime fliers are an anagram (trounced) of FAT(E)FUL FEW without the E (not English) – excellent, almost all-in-one, surface reading

9d Casual mistake with article (participle missing) (6)
{BLITHE} – this synonym for casual is BLI(P) (mistake) and THE (article) without the P (Participle missing)

13d Northants nearly lose – one run in it (5)
{SHIRE} – Northants is an example of this type of county – SHE(D) (nearly lose) with I (one) and R(un) inside

15d Jerseys isolated when covered in spots (4,5)
{POLO NECKS} – these sweaters are derived from LONE (isolated) inside (when covered in) POCKS (spots)

17d Sally’s largely regretful to be given restriction (6)
{SORTIE} – a sally, as in a sudden rushing forth of troops, is derived from SOR(RY) (largely regretful) and TIE (restriction)

18d Composition’s a winner within Tory circle (8)
{CONCERTO} – a musical composition is constructed from CERT (a winner) inside CON(servative) (Tory) and O (circle)

20d You’d be unfortunate to lose more than one 16 (6)
{MARBLE} – a small rock and a play on losing one’s MARBLEs

22d Pad built in past? Quite the reverse with this edifice (6)
{PAGODA} – an anagram (built) of PAD inside AGO (past) – no the other way round to get this building

23d Taking advantage of some humus in garden (5)
{USING} – this answer is hidden inside humUS IN Garden

25d Precisely where grass is put here? (2,1,1)
{TO A T} – just a week ago this expression, meaning precisely, turned up as part of the wordplay in T 211 – and if you put OAT (grass) under T you could say that it has been put to a T

Thanks for the challenge Firefly, and I hope I’ve analysed it correctly.

T 215 - Answers
T 215 – Answers

8 comments on “Toughie 215

  1. Was just going to try and tackle it myself as enjoyed the 26,031. Setter is Firefly – hope that helps


    1. I agreen with that – even got it!!

      Got stuck on only 2 so feel quite chuffed with myself today. Couldn’t get my brain around 13d (but see it now that you gave the answer BD) and 17d.

      Going to go make dinner now.

  2. I would not have got 19a or 26a without your help otherwise a typically good Firefly crossword. Thanks again Dave.

  3. Nice puzzle – got a bit stuck on top right hand corner, mainly because we couldn’t see why 11a was the answer (and couldn’t find the anagram for 6d!). Liked 24a as was able to solve it even tho’ we didn’t know the word. Good weekend, everyone!

  4. Enjoyable stuff tackled by Big Sister and I over Stockport Tesco’s delicious Corned Beef Hash. I must introduce you all to Big Sister in blogs to come.

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