Toughie 2051 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2051

Toughie No 2051 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


Sparks gives us some innovative clueing as always. I managed this without too many problems though I had to look up 17a and 18d, and it took me a while to parse 4a and 24a. I think there is a Nina involving row 5 and possibly the symmetry-related row 11, and maybe a few more 4-letter words – but I’m not there yet.

As usual the definitions are underlined for you which is a big hint already. The hints try to help you unravel the wordplay and if you wish you can reveal the answers by clicking on the click here buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Note grooves encircling a rotating planet (6)
SATURN: A reversal of (rotating): the abbreviation for note plus a 4-letter word for grooves encircling A from the clue

4a    Old boat worker briefly brought back shells round Channel Island (6,3)
NOAH’S ARK: Reversal (brought back) of the first 3 letters (briefly) of a 4-letter worker containing (shells) the letter that is a round, plus a 4-letter Channel Island

9a    Consider stupid person across floor (4,2)
LOOK ON: A 4-letter stupid person goes around (across) a boxing term meaning to floor

10a    Elementary matter of changing ringtone (8)
NITROGEN: An anagram (changing) of RINGTONE

11a    Memory initially affected after air stopped short, causing OTT behaviour (9)
MELODRAMA: An abbreviation for computer memory plus the first letter (initially) of Affected goes after an air or song with the last letter removed (cut short)

13a    Force unopened lock (5)
TRESS: Another word for force without the first letter (unopened)

14a    Quietly contrive to agree over key arrangement? (5,8)
PIANO CONCERTO: The musical instruction for quietly, then a verb that can mean ‘contrive to agree’, plus the abbreviation for over

17a    It affects view from new Tipperary home (13)
HYPERMETROPIA: An anagram (new) of TIPPERARY HOME gives a big word for long-sightedness

21a    More contributors to sex trade? (5)
EXTRA: Hidden (contributors to …)

23a    Claim this novel method for stemming disappearance of rhino? (4,5)
CASH LIMIT: An anagram (novel) of CLAIM THIS

24a    A group contributing to climate, but not me? (8)
HALOGENS: Remove ME from CLIMATE and split the remainder (2,1,2) for some representatives of this chemical group

25a    Whine when finally cutting retro jeans (6)
SNIVEL: The last letter (finally) of when goes inside (cutting) a reversal (retro) of a well-known brand of jeans

26a    Unnamed food stores stocking small cakes (8)
PASTRIES: Remove the abbreviation N (unnamed) from the food stores usually found by a kitchen and insert (stocking) the abbreviation for small

27a    Material delivered by corrupt Senate (6)
SATEEN: An anagram (corrupt) of SENATE


1d    Glum single bloke is disheartened (6)
SOLEMN: A 4-letter word meaning single plus another word for bloke without the central letter (disheartened)

2d    Bottom of lost, powerless lackey getting hit for so long (6-3)
TOODLE-PIP: The last letter (bottom) of lost, then a word for lackey without the initial P (powerless), plus a word that can mean hit

3d    Runs daughter in car somewhere in Wales (7)
RHONDDA: The cricket abbreviation for runs plus a Japanese car brand containing (in) the abbreviation for daughter


5d    On which late correspondents may connect committees supporting European agreements (5-6)
OUIJA-BOARDS: Another word for committees goes underneath (supporting, in a down clue) two European words for yes.

6d    Husband regularly heard quote about apostate (7)
HERETIC: The abbreviation for Husband, the even (regular) letters in heard, plus the reversal (about) of a verb meaning quote

7d    Fit to hold boxer’s last fight (5)
ARGUE: A fever with hot and cold fits contains (to hold) the last letter in boxer

8d    Capital port that could be excellent if the top 50% is saved for later? (8)
KINGSTON: If you move the first half of this Jamaican city to the end, you get a word meaning excellent

12d    Youth beginning to arrange deal caught in a meltdown (11)
ADOLESCENCE: The first letter (beginning to) of Arrange, a 4-letter verb meaning to deal out, then the cricket abbreviation for caught goes inside (in) a word meaning a meltdown or an embarrassing histrionic incident

15d    Sort of film adult in bar having to shift when one enters (4,5)
ROAD MOVIE: The abbreviation for Adult goes in a 3-letter bar or pole, plus (having) a verb meaning to shift containing (when … enters) the Roman numeral for one

16d    Weeds grass outside, say, Oxford emporium (4,4)
SHOE SHOP: A verb meaning weeds is contained by (outside) a verb meaning to grass

18d    Mineral water at last needed by a cracking composer (7)
REALGAR: The last letter (at last) in water plus A from the clue inside (cracking) an English composer

19d    Work up appetite, primarily to eat fast food in Italy (7)
POLENTA: The reversal (up) of the Latin abbreviation for work plus the first letter (primarily) of appetite contain (to eat) a period of fasting

20d    Stigma surrounding large old despot (6)
STALIN: Another word for stigma surrounds the abbreviation for Large

22d    Bone in good health after sides are exchanged (5)
TALUS: Take a French word for cheers or good health, then exchange the first and last letters (sides)

I was impressed with the simple new take on 21a (to me, anyway). I thought 23a was a good anagram, and 16d raised a smile. Which clues did you like?

29 comments on “Toughie 2051

  1. I’m patting myself on the back for having completed all four Toughies this week, unaided. Dutch-a tiny point -in your hint to 1a, you have put “ruts” instead of grooves-not that I think this will confuse folk too much. Thanks to all.

  2. Not overly taxing but certainly not straightforward for me. A tiny bit of electronic help aided me to cross the finishing line. I’m usually a Tuesday to Thursday Toughie solver but I’m glad I had a go at this one today.

    Thanks to Dutch and Sparks.

  3. Quite easy for a Friday Toughie. The very obvious anagrams helped enormously. Surprised myself by being able to parse 24a – my knowledge of the periodic table is minimal.

    I thought there might be a Nina but couldn’t be bothered to look for one as I never find them.

    Favourite is 1d for its smooth surface reading.

    Thanks all.

  4. Reasonably gentle for a Friday Toughie but enjoyable – thanks to Sparks and Dutch. I spent more time (and with less success) trying to spot the obligatory Nina than I did solving the clues.
    The clues I liked best were 23a and 16d.

  5. As people have said it was not exactly a tough ‘Toughie’ – but was enjoyable . I think I spent more time trying to parse some of the clues than I did on the solve. As is usual with Sparks – I was searching for a NINA and, as usual, I haven’t found it. I originally thought that there might be an occult / exorcism theme but apart from 5 & 6d – I don’t think so.

    Thanks to Sparks for the enjoyment and to Dutch for setting my mind at rest with his parsing of 12d & 14a agreeing with mine.

    Have a good weekend all.

  6. It being Friday I did need some electronic help to finish this. However, some of the parsing was beyond me so thank you Dutch for that.

    I had never heard of “rhino” as a synonym for money. Where does it come from?

    Let’s hope it’s cooler by the time we meet again on Toughie Tuesday!

    1. Hi JB – I also wondered about ‘rhino’ for cash ages ago and where / when it came into use. I found a website ‘English Language & Usage’ which puts forward a few interesting ideas. I don’t like to leave hyperlinks on BD’s site – just Google it :smile:

  7. Just back from a while away from t’internet, which I heartily recommend (occasionally).

    This was a gentle offering which I enjoyed. Unusually, I don’t think I can see the whole Nina either,.

    Many thanks to Sparks and to Dutch for the blog.

    Now then, Rookie Corner and NTSPP…..

  8. Given that I was able to finish, I suspected that the consensus would be that this was on the gentler side of the spectrum for a Friday toughie – but for me, the very much more enjoyable for it. To say that I finished is something of a stretch because I had 24a solely on the basis that it was the only group that I could think of that fitted the (helpful) checkers. On reading Dutch’s review, I realized how clever the clue was, but sadly my knowledge of chemistry wasn’t remotely strong enough to recognize the symbols that represented the group. Many thanks to Sparks, and as always, to Dutch.

  9. I almost got there without help , 5d had me trying to shoehorn obit into the answer .It’s a very clever clue , now that I look at it properly .
    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch .

  10. Hmm :( … this was a 5* for me. Exercised like a maniac this morning so maybe I could blame that, but to be honest I think that would probably just be making excuses.

    It took me rather a long time to get started and, with just a couple of toeholds, decided to allow myself some electronic anagram unscrambling which helped to get things moving. The brb was also needed to confirm my guess at 18d, and I let Dutch explain my last in, 22d.

    I wasn’t sure about the inclusion of the article in the 24a clue: made neither end look very promising as the definition.

    The anagrams were particularly nice, but my favourite clues are 21a, 25a and 1d. Was also good to see a car other than the usual ones in 3d.

    Thanks Sparks and Dutch. 2d!

  11. About a *** made into **** by footie and not knowing 17 & 18. Explication of 24 beyond me.
    Thanks to Sparks & Dutch. I thought French cheers good health was santé? This is more ” hello / bye

  12. Did quite well until I hit the SW corner where I didn’t stand the proverbial snowball’s chance of getting 17a or 18d without electronic help, nor of parsing 24a.

    Has anyone come up with a definite for the Nina or do we await input from Sparks?

    Thanks to him for the puzzle and to Dutch for the excellent blog.

  13. The Nina search also took us a long time and still not sure we have got it all. All we have so far is the north pole and the south pole (represented by the Southern Cross) and the approximate line of the equator separating the two hemispheres identified by N’s and S’s in the outside columns. But perhaps we are totally on the wrong track so will keep looking.
    Good fun to solve.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

    1. Very interesting 2Kiwis. Yes, I can now see a cluster of N’s at the center top and a cluster of S’s at the centre bottom. There is the N/S break separating the words in column 1 and 15. Also, there is a pattern where 1a/1d begin with S and end with N, inverted at the symmetric part of the grid.

      I’m not sure what to make of it all, maybe it’s just playing with north and south, maybe there is some more..

  14. I’m now even more confused – must go and lie down in a dark room with a wet flannel

  15. A Friday Toughie which more or less matched my pay grade. Some excellent and entertaining clues. Had to google 17 to get the letters in he right order and 18d defeated me – never heard of it. Quite pleased with myself !!

  16. The last two in 22d and 24a gave me a bit of a hard time but got there eventually.
    As for the Nina, forget it.
    Was trying to make something out of Solemn Stalin Sateen Saturn.
    Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch.

  17. Many thanks to Dutch/others for blog/comments, I think all of which were on the positive side. As far as I can recall, the simple but utterly uninspired Nina was that all overhanging unches in the N/S of the grid were indicated by … yawn … N/S. Err, that’s it! Very relieved that the unusual idea at 24ac caused no real problems. And very happy that England just trounced Sweden.

    1. Thanks Sparks.
      At least we did identify the squares involved in the Nina and must admit that we rather liked the Dali-esque view of the planet that was created. :smile:

    2. hi Sparks – many thanks for dropping in and clarifying the nina. congrats again to 2kiwis for spotting it.

    3. Nice of you to pop in, Sparks. Hope all is still progressing well on the medical front and that Sparky is taking good care of you.

      1. Thanks Jane. On which note, you’ve just made me realise that everyone’s avatars (mine is, of course, Sparky) are absent from the blog: is it just my browser?

        1. They all look OK to me – apart from your post of 6.05pm. Your earlier post has Sparky in pride of place as usual.

  18. Took me a long time to realize that 1D wasn’t “SOMBRE” which I thought was “S”+”OMBRE”

  19. 24a A group contributing to climate, but not me? (8)
    A bit sneaky using the rarest known element (Astatine) AT as part of the clue!

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