Toughie 2071 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2071

Toughie No 2071 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty **** Enjoyment ****/*****


Hello, everyone.  I'm standing in for Dutch today.  I thought that this puzzle was a masterclass in misdirection and subtlety.  With a couple of exceptions, I believe that the hints themselves would be right at home in one of my Tuesday back-page blogs.  The difficulty with the clues mostly came from the use of clever synonyms that had me going down the wrong path several times.  It's easy to make a puzzle difficult by using obscure vocabulary and complex wordplay, but to construct head-scratching two-ingredient charades, container and contents, etc., using well-known words must take real skill.  The abundance of such clues here meant that there were a lot of penny-drop moments, so the struggle to fill the grid and parse the clues was most definitely worth it.  I was impressed and entertained.

In the hints below most indicators are italicized and definitions are underlined.  Clicking on the Answer buttons will reveal the answers.  In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background.  Clicking on a picture will enlarge it or display a bonus illustration.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Coppers freed convert (5,6)
LOOSE CHANGE:  Assemble synonyms of freed and convert to get some coppers you might find in your pocket

9a    Advocate felt so passionate about bears (7)
APOSTLE:  The reversal (about) of FELT SO PASSIONATE hides (…bears) the answer

10a   Heavy steel around yard (6)
DROWSY:  A weapon of steel is reversed (around) and followed by an abbreviation for yard

12a   Apparently embarrassed about firm leaving hotel, result of double-booking? (3,4)
RED CARD:  Concatenate the colour indicating embarrassment, a single-letter abbreviation for about, and a synonym of firm minus the letter represented by hotel in the NATO phonetic alphabet (leaving hotel)

13a   Abridged long story book for model (7)
EPITOME:  Put together all but the last letter (abridged) of a long story, and a large book

14a   Jam  cake slice (5)
WEDGE:  A double definition.  A type of shoe would be another.  I wondered for a while if this could be a triple definition, but I couldn't find a convincing justification for that interpretation

15a   Discontented, eat chapati served lukewarm (9)
APATHETIC:  An anagram (served) of the outer letters (discontented) of E[a]T and CHAPATI

17a   Beginning one, fancy nice pint (9)
INCIPIENT:  The Roman one is followed by an anagram (fancy) of NICE PINT

20a   Ruling from sports body leads to tournament with apps (5)
FATWA:  The abbreviation for a major UK sports body with the initial letters of (leads to) TOURNAMENT WITH APPS

22a   Charity  leaflet (7)
HANDOUT:  A rather straightforward double definition

24a   Tag European boat on inlet (7)
EARMARK:  Amalgamate an abbreviation for European, an inlet or channel, and a biblical boat.  This clue is following the convention that in an across clue, A on B = B A

25a   Amazing wife, outstanding (6)
WOWING:  Stick together the abbreviation for wife and outstanding or unpaid

26a   Set of teachers primarily scared ignoring head (7)
THICKEN:  The initial letter (… primarily) of TEACHERS with all but the first letter (ignoring head) of a synonym of scared

27a   Perhaps, tidies secret place out (11)
RECEPTACLES:  An anagram (out) of SECRET PLACE



2d    Leave behind unpopular people (7)
OUTRACE:  Cement together synonyms of unpopular and of people

3d    Reportedly separated from pod, search for aquatic creature (9)
SHELDRAKE:  A collection of letters sounding like (reportedly) a word meaning 'separated from pod' is followed by search or scour.  I hadn't heard of this creature before tackling this puzzle, so he needed verifying

4d    Set day to be in charge (5)
CADRE:  The abbreviation for day is inserted in (to be in) charge or custody

5d    Axe I lift up to cut timber (7)
ABOLISH:  I from the clue and lift (a ball perhaps) are reversed (up, in a down clue) and inserted in (to cut) a wood used for bats and tool handles

6d    Be deprived struggling on a shoestring, sort of insane to miss out (2,5)
GO SHORT:  This is a subtractive anagram (struggling) of O[n] [a] [s]HO[e]STR[in]G without (to miss out) the letters contained in INSANE, with sort of indicating that those letters occur jumbled up in the fodder

7d    With hellish war cry, figure to be respected (5,6)
CARRY WEIGHT:  Glue together an anagram (hellish) of WAR CRY and a figure lying between seven and nine

8d    Picked up young animal, exhausted and collapsed (6)
FOLDED:  Join homophones (picked up) of a young horse and an informal word for exhausted or finished

11d   Kick off, feeling pressure under collar (3,8)
GET CRACKING:  An adjective describing a possible sign of being under pressure comes after (under, in a down clue) collar or seize

16d   With article penned, I cut and cut to edit, but not paste (9)
AUTHENTIC:  A grammatical article is contained by (…penned) an anagram (to edit) of I from the clue, AN[d] minus its last letter (cut), and CUT

18d   Excuse ready following fraud (7)
CONDONE:  Ready or completed is following a slang word for a fraud or swindle

19d   Virtuoso, smooth figure (7)
PROFILE:  Stick together a contraction that could describe a virtuoso or expert, and smooth with an abrasive tool 

20d   Rich base beneath wobbly trifle (7)
FERTILE:  The letter representing the base of the natural logarithms is placed after (beneath, in a down clue) an anagram (wobbly) of TRIFLE

21d   Evidence of one using  dogs (6)
TRACKS:  A third double definition clue.  Using here refers to drugs

23d   Difficult time with deliveries going missing in oversight (5)
TIGHT:  Connect the physics symbol for time to OVERSIGHT minus some cricket deliveries (with deliveries going missing)


Thanks to proXimal for a fun puzzle that was the 13a of how to create a challenging yet enjoyable crossword.  I liked the complex 6d and 16d, but favourite honours this week go to the clever 11d, with 21d right behind it.  Which clues did you like best?


24 comments on “Toughie 2071

  1. Great puzzle – hands up all those who had inception for 17a. Took me an age to spot my mistake , then all was revealed
    Thanks proXimal and Mr K

    1. Yes, me too. Seemed to work quite well – anagram of NICE PINT + O for beginning of One. Trouble came when 3&16d began to look very unlikely!

      1. I think inception sprung to my mind before the right answer, but fortunately I did enough checking to set me on the right path. Apart from “beginning” being needed for the definition, I’m sure proXimal would never use “beginning one” to clue O.

        1. Quite right too Kitty. An outrage has been avoided. I VERY nearly biffed it though, I must say, and glad I didn’t. Great stuff from Proximal and Mr K for which many thanks.

        2. Kitty maybe I should have worded my post better, I didn’t write 17a in for the reasons Jane said. It was just the first thing that came into my head. I agree Steve / proXimal or any other setter would not use O in that way. Just think this is a superb example of a Toughie – echoing what Mr K says in his preamble. 14a I also thought first glance was a triple definition, very clever misdirection. Cheers to all involved

    2. Yes – me too. Or at least my husband. But I didn’t question it until i wondered where the ‘o’ came from. Then other clues fell into place.

  2. Precise, economical clueing but very gentle I thought by proXimal’s standards. I was helped by spotting most of the definitions very quickly. With all the rain delays at Lord’s,something trickier would have been welcome.

  3. Thanks to proXimal for an enjoyable Toughie and to Mr K for the review (especially for the parsing of 21d where the drugs connection escaped me completely – I just thought it was a weakish cryptic definition with dogs being a slang word for feet).
    I loved the picture at 27a.

    Top clues for me were the brilliantly hidden 9a, 12a and 16d.

  4. Hands up! I too took “beginning one” to be “o” then “nice pint” to give inception at 17a. I liked 16d-mainly because it forced me to correct 17a. Managed all this but needed Mr K’s parsing of 11a. First time I’ve seen “picked up” to indicate a homophone rather than a reversal. Very enjoyable-thanks to all.

  5. Enjoyed this, but really can’t think of anything further to add. Good clues have already been highlighted. Not proXimal at his toughest, but just about right for me really.

    Many thanks to proXimal and Mr K.

  6. A case of ‘softly, softly, catchee monkey’ for me. No problems beyond falling into the ‘inception’ trap but had to work quite hard to satisfactorily parse a few – 16d in particular.

    No special favourite although the wobbly trifle raised a smile – I’m sure I’ve concocted a few of those in my time!

    Thanks to proXimal and to our guest Friday reviewer. Seems to me that the 8d demolition gang had a narrow escape with that one!

  7. I am overcome with admiration for those who finished this puzzle. I found it way beyond me, only finishing half. I felt it was ironic that, for one who loathes football, my first one in was 12a!

  8. Mr K has said it all in his introduction. My banana skin however was not “inception” but putting in “trails” for 21d as I too missed the relevance of “one using”. This created a problem for me with 26a until I realised the error of my ways.

    Many thanks to proXimal for an extremely enjoyable puzzle and to Mr K.

  9. A couple in the SE held out longest for us, 21d and 26a but eventually all sorted. A bit surprised you had not heard of 3d Mr K as that is the correct name for what is commonly called a Paradise Duck in NZ so thought you might have known it.
    A really enjoyable puzzle.
    Thanks proXimal and Mr K.

    1. The name given by proXimal went out of use (here in Europe at least) at the end of the 19th century. The bird is now always known as a Shelduck, regardless of sex – although I have heard the original term used very occasionally to refer to the male of the species. Even the European birdwatchers’ bible (Collins Bird Guide) only lists the bird as a (Common) Shelduck.
      Just had a look at some pics of your Paradise Duck – obviously the same species but rather different plumage details from what I could see.

      1. Same genus Tadorna but different species. They are widespread in NZ and usually seen in pairs that mate for life. We see them occasionally here but they were more familiar to us when we were on the orchard in the Nelson region.

    2. That’s interesting about the bird. It had never occurred to me that Paradise Duck wasn’t its proper name :)

  10. It has been quite a hectic week but none of the toughies caused serious delays.
    Been concentrating on finding a flat in Paris for No1 only daughter so she could persue her studies in the Capital. Managed to find something 20 min away from her school. I can’t even walk down to the beach in that time.
    When checking the parsing in 3d, I could only find an actor of that name until the White Back Filigule appeared.
    We get all these strange birds in our salt lakes. From the Elegant Avocet to the Golden crested Heron and Pink Flamingos, I really get lost.
    Thanks to proXimal and to Mr K for the review.

  11. Now this is mega late!
    Son got married yesterday
    VERY slow but steady solve getting all without help until the end when had tuition for 24a.
    Just being THICKen I suppose. So made 17d harder than it was.
    Have you ever thought how irrelevant the names of animals are, or should I say knowing them at all.?
    Thanks to P & Mr K
    Great crossie + blog

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