Toughie 2069 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2069

Toughie No 2069 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This was of mixture of some pretty simple clues (e.g. 15a, 26a and 25d) giving toeholds for the solver and others requiring more thought and some GK. Thanks to Firefly for the puzzle.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

[For those who were thrown by the original clue in yesterday’s Toughie there is a note in today’s paper saying “Apologies for the misfiring 17d in yesterday’s Toughie. The clue should have read: Heartless star hosting British priest and composer (8)”]. Thanks CS.

Across Clues

1a Order to Harlequins’ backs, maybe: ‘Help with lifting!’ (5,3,6)
BLOCK AND TACKLE: Harlequins is a London-based rugby union team and this could be what their coach may encourage their backs (and indeed their forwards) to do. They certainly need to do something to improve after their poor results last season.

9a Faithful wife given pound tip to embrace pole dancing (8)
PENELOPE: this is the wife of Odysseus who remained faithful to him during his twenty years’ absence. String together a pound or enclosure, an end letter from ’embrace’ and an anagram (dancing) of POLE.

10a Back in cool gite? Cool, yes, but different lodgings! (5)
IGLOO: hidden in reverse.

12a Musketeers perhaps enjoying spot of tawny port (4)
TRIO: the first letter of tawny followed by a South American port.

13a Young abstainers given cynic’s wedding-ring? (4,2,4)
BAND OF HOPE: this was my last answer since I’d never heard of this organisation which was set up to instil temperance in working-class children. It’s how a cynic might view a wedding ring, i.e. as a symbol of aspiration rather than commitment to a lasting union.

15a It’s to go — remove! (8)
TAKEAWAY: split 4,4 the answer could mean to remove. Isn’t this pretty much just the noun and verb form of the same thing?


16a Arrives with intent to imbibe (4,2)
ENDS UP: charade of an intent or goal and a verb to imbibe.

18a Eating out, it’s on the menu (6)
TAGINE: an anagram (out) of EATING.

20a Skimming device made from wet hide, mostly (5-3)
WATER-SKI: a verb to wet or irrigate and a hide or coat without its last letter.

23a Potter’s implement (British) given space alongside spear (10)
BROOMSTICK: which Potter or potter could this be? Well, it’s Harry – glue together the abbreviation for British, a word for space or capacity and a verb to spear or pierce.

24a Live on street that’s most desirable (4)
BEST: a verb to live or exist and the abbreviation for street.

26a Where ‘H’ and ‘C’ are seen to be available? (2,3)
ON TAP: where H and C (as abbreviations) can be seen (although, strictly speaking, ‘or’ rather than ‘and’ would be more accurate).

27a It’s said Karenin’s wife handled a serpent (8)
ANACONDA: we start with a double homophone – firstly that of the wife of Count Alexei Karenin in Tolstoy’s blockbuster, then a verb meaning handled or steered. Finish with A.

28a Cast’s material could make opera stars flip insanely (7,2,5)
PLASTER OF PARIS: an anagram (insanely) of OPERA STARS FLIP.

Down Clues

2d One can gain entry to remarkable bloke’s monument (7)
OBELISK: an anagram (remarkable) of BLOKE’S with the Roman numeral for one gaining entry.

3d Joint where Kate’s first’s born … (4)
KNEE: the first letter of Kate and a word, from French, meaning born.

4d … in its early weeks showing something noble towards nearly everyone (8)
NEONATAL: start with a noble gas and add a preposition meaning towards and a truncated synonym for everyone.

5d Hip operation on Ned ends in outright disaster; misery all round (6)
TRENDY: an anagram (operation on) of NED with the last letters of outright disaster misery going round it.

6d With energy control not working — raised in Cabinet (10)
CHIFFONIER: start with a word for energy of life force from Chinese philosophy then reverse a verb to control and an adverb meaning ‘not working’ or ‘not running’.

7d Heartless devil deserts suckers in lounges (7)
LOLLOPS: these suckers are sweets that are sucked – remove the outer letters of a little devil.

8d Surprisingly worn pipes to outlets (5,6)
POWER POINTS: an anagram (surprisingly) of WORN PIPES TO.

11d Beaks tut too about laws in general (7,4)
STATUTE BOOK: an anagram (about) of BEAKS TUT TOO.

14d Bottle extraordinary soup –- it’s a chef d’oeuvre! (6,4)
MAGNUM OPUS: an anagram (our third in a row) (extraordinary) of SOUP follows a bottle that holds 1.5 litres.

17d Hood’s lady-friend cuddling Charlie — old boxer (8)
MARCIANO: this is an undefeated heavyweight boxer from the era when there was only one world champion as opposed to the hotchpotch of ‘champions’ that we have today. The lady-friend of the Hood from Sherwood contains the letter that Charlie is used for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet. Finish with the abbreviation for old.

19d An interruption like this is in the air (7)
GLOTTAL: a cryptic definition of a sound produced in speech by obstructing the airflow in the vocal tract. Such a ‘stop’ is a consonant in Arabic, for example, but is heard in English in a Cockney’s pronunciation of “butter” as “bu’er”.

21d Trim last of shrubs on bank? (7)
SLENDER: the last letter of shrubs followed by the description of a bank (financial institution) based on one of the services it provides.

22d Attack from fliers in mostly worrying situation (6)
STRAFE: this is a semi-all-in-one. Insert the abbreviation for our military fliers into a worrying situation or state of agitation without its last letter.

25d Blarney Stone’s summit –- senior citizen’s below (4)
SOAP: the top letter of stone followed by the abbreviation for a senior citizen.

My favourite clue was 17d. Do let us know which one(s) appealed to you.

19 comments on “Toughie 2069

  1. This is the first time I’ve attempted the Toughie. I was surprised by how much I could do. Thanks for the help in completing it!

  2. Most of this enjoyable Toughie dropped into place quite smoothly with my main hold up being my last three in: the interlinked 13a, 6d & 7d. I was fixated with “band of gold” for a while having never heard of the answer. 6d was also new for me, as was the specific meaning of 7d.

    I particularly liked 9a, 16a & 17d.

    Many thanks to Firefly and to Gazza.

  3. Mostly very nice .
    13a did for me , since I never heard of it . I tried Babe in arms , and never did happen upon the correct answer .
    14d was my favourite .
    Thanks to Gazza and Firefly .

  4. Most of this fell into place quite easily but I did have to ask Mr Google about the faithful wife and the chef d’oeuvre and it took me a while to justify 7d. However, no problem with 13a – I’m surprised that it’s not more familiar to others.

    No particular favourite, just a good all-rounder.

    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the blog and accompaniments – thought the bricklayer’s letter was hilarious. What an excellent raconteur.

  5. A nice challenge. All done except 6d – all the checkers, but I’ve never heard of that piece of furniture. Clever clue. Tried to fit wheel into 23a until the penny dropped! First place then to 23a with 19d and 27a close behind.

  6. A nice not too Toughie Toughie. I remember a chifferobe in To Kill A Mockingbird and O Brother, Where Art Though but couldn’t make it work with the clue and had to wait for checkers. Thanks to Firefly and Gazza

  7. A good straightforward puzzle. My last in was 12a – those pesky 4 letter words! – and my favourite was 28a. Such a clever anagram.
    Finally found the apology for yesterday’s blunder. Needed a magnifying glass to read it!
    Many thanks to setter and blogger. A vibrating broomstick? Whatever next?

  8. Have just laughed and laughed over the terrible tale of the bricklayer of Golders Green. Oh, the halcyon days before health and safety! Who is the raconteur?

      1. And his ‘Advice to Tourists’, e.g., ‘Have you tried the famous echo in the Reading Room of the British Museum?’

      2. I think you treated us to the Tyrolean landlords a little while ago – thoroughly enjoyed that one as well.
        How sad that he died so young – must have been due to the injuries sustained on the building site!

  9. Good fun that all went together smoothly for us. Our GK must be parallel with the setters as it was all known to at least one of us. Great to be reminded of the Hoffnung sketch. We remember it well.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  10. Couldn’t get 6d, although I did know the word. The rest went in fairly easily after a day off yesterday.

    Thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  11. Another here who didn’t know 13a and got hung up for a while on the idea that love would be the last word, with our crosswordy meaning of love stuck in my mind.

    Never quite sussed the handled part of 27a either. 17d was unknown to me, but nicely workoutable.

    16a hit the spot and I liked 7d too. Thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  12. Last in again I guess, doing it in bed this morning again – last night’s GnT with neighbours turned into a takeaway supper followed by falling into bed worn out. A bit tricky, I thought I knew 13a was ‘ring’ so got off on the wrong foot there and did not get the parsing of 20a, and thought 7d was a bit convoluted. Sorry to be moany, I should be smiling as I think it may rain today! Many thanks for the hints.

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