Toughie 2076 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2076

Toughie No 2076 by Dada

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Greetings all.  I found this a slightly chewier puzzle than we often have on Tuesdays, partly due to getting held up by a couple of longish anagrams and having to seek out an unknown animal, clued by reference to another unknown (or so I thought) animal.  This left me a little grumpy at the end, but when writing the review I was reminded of the many smiles in the rest of it.  In fact, the more I look now, the more impressed I am.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the Were you expecting to find answers under here? buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative — click only if you wish to reveal all.

As usual you may click on pictures to enlarge them or uncover hidden extras.



8a    Shotbang! (4)
BASH:  Two definitions: an informal word for a shot or attempt, and a bang or hit

9a    Odd bits falling off rustier truck (3)
UTE:  Odd letters removed from (odd bits falling off) rustier

10a   Some idle man endlessly knocked back the hard stuff (6)
ENAMEL:  Hidden in some of the clue, reversed (back).  If you feel like discussing the “the” in this clue (is it a link word, part of the definition, or something else?) please do comment

11a   Wonderful windy burps inspiring laureate in the end (6)
SUPERB:  An anagram (windy) of BURPS containing (inspiring) the last letter (… in the end) of laureate

12a   Allow scores initially, indefinite number in effect (8)
SANCTION:  The first letter (… initially) of scores is followed by a letter used in maths to stand for any number inserted into a synonym of effect

13a   Growing problem in Chaucer’s era — and BC, conceivably? (6-3,6)
MIDDLE-AGE SPREAD:  Start with Chaucer’s era (6,4) and add some letters which, split (3-2), would logically mean BC (before the times after BC)

15a   On securing a fastener, taking off (7)
LEAPING:  The cricketing “on” side (which I can’t have seen for a while as it took me a while to, well, see) containing (securing) A (from the clue) and a piece of wood or metal used to fasten things.  Picture source here

17a   First glimpse of white rabbit, say? A big one (7)
WHOPPER:  The initial letter of (first glimpse of) white and a word which could describe a rabbit (or a frog or a kangaroo)

20a   Drawer in rest home has gone to be repaired (9,6)
HORSESHOE MAGNET:  REST HOME HAS GONE anagrammed (to be repaired).  I spent a long time trying to rearrange these letters to give an artist

23a   Prowler back, I go quiet (8)
TACITURN:  The reversal (… back) of a feline (prowler, something which it might be when not sleeping, eating or being petted by me) followed by I (from the clue) and a go, in a game perhaps

25a   Hold edges of lens in possible source of light? (6)
NELSON:  This wrestling hold is found by putting the outer letters of (edges of) lens inside a gas used in a type of lighting

26a   Pitcher’s verbal for a period in sport (6)
CHUKKA:  A period of play in polo sounds like (…‘s verbal) a word meaning pitcher or thrower

27a   Medic cut through the ear? (3)
DOC:  This familiar shortened word for a medic sounds like (… through the ear) cut short or curtail

28a   Comfortable, Arsenal perhaps laid back? (4)
SNUG:  The reversal (… laid back) of some weapons (arsenal perhaps)



1d    Primate stealing heart of valued dog (6)
SALUKI:  A breed of dog is formed of a primate containing (stealing) the central two letters of (heart of) valued.  I had to search the dictionary for this as I didn’t know either creature.  Or so I thought, but having now seen the monkey, I recognised him from a trip to Monkey World a few years back.  I have a rather fetching *cough* picture from that encounter and I thought about including it here.  What a shame I haven’t time to dig it out …

2d    Spooner’s vessel down in trough filled with disinfectant (5,3)
SHEEP DIP:  A spoonerism of a low or perhaps sunken boat

3d    Signs of simmering mouse alive in dish? (6,3,6)
BUBBLE AND SQUEAK:  Signs of simmering and of a mouse (alive and making noise), just the one sign of each

4d    State time for contact (7)
MESSAGE:  A state in the sense of a shambles followed by an era.  The definition is a verb

5d    Walter’s nemesis incensed me then, a rowdy (6,3,6)
DENNIS THE MENACE:  I couldn’t think of who this Walter might be, so had to get this from the anagram fodder.  Said fodder is INCENSED ME THEN A, with the indicator being rowdy

6d    Harness one draws up? (6)
HALTER:  One drawing up might be a stopper or a ceaser, or this

7d    One mad to secure leadership of Rome? (4)
NERO:  A nice all-in-one clue: an anagram (… mad) of ONE containing (to secure) the first letter (leadership of) Rome

14d   Tennis winner, smashing (3)
ACE:  Two definitions, the second an adjective

16d   Punk’s relative featuring in home movie (3)
EMO:  This follower of a brooding and introspective type of music is lurking miserably in (featuring in) the end of the clue

18d   Dog I catalogue as boxer (8)
PUGILIST:  A charade of a type of dog, I (from the clue), and a catalogue

19d   One making a whirlwind visit ruined a party (7)
TORNADO:  Another three-part charade.  Ruined (4), A (from the clue) and our usual party or function

21d   Putrid preserve in blue (6)
STINKY:  To preserve or can inside the blue above us

22d   Old covers on old American book (6)
EXODUS:  Our usual prefix meaning old or former, the outer letters of (covers on) old, and two letters meaning American

24d   Long saga heroic, dullish tale ends (4)
ACHE:  We finish with an acrostic, the final letters (ends) of the middle words on the clue


Thanks to Dada.  Picking favourites was easy today: the following clues all really stood out for me: 13a, 17a and 7d, with 19d getting a mention for the definition and surface.  There are plenty of other good ones to choose from — did you choose any of those?


These hints and tips are for anyone who might find them of use (and who doesn’t need help now and then?).  The asides and illustrations are to add a personal perspective and some colour.  The comments section is — or should be — for everyone.  Please do ask if you need anything clarified, have any suggestions as to how the blogs could be improved, or have anything else you’d like to say.


22 comments on “Toughie 2076

  1. Enjoyable Tuesday fare – I didn’t know the 1d primate (although the checkers meant there could me only one dog), the 16d Punk relative (no real problem) and the 5d Walter (which caused difficulty since I didn’t usually see the Beano, which we Dandy readers considered to be rather downmarket).
    The podium today played host to 13a, 17a and 7d (which I see pretty much match Kitty’s selection).
    I thought that the ‘the’ in 10a was part of the definition (not really needed but excusable since it made the surface much better).
    Thanks to Dada and to Kitty.

    1. Yes, but you can’t justify something based on the fact that it is needed for the surface. It’s cryptically sound or it isn’t. I’ve seen this done before in clues, but am not convinced it’s strictly correct, which is why I sought others’ input.

      Does “the thing” really point to an example of that thing?

      1. I think you can justify ‘the hard stuff’ as a definition – i.e. the hard stuff of a tooth as opposed to softer bits such as dental pulp.

        1. Surely you need the ‘the’ because of the ‘knocked back’. You don’t ‘knock back hard stuff’ you ‘knock back the hard stuff’. IMHO

          1. Hello MR – the ‘the’ makes it a specific hard stuff – as Kitty says; is ‘the hard stuff’ the same as ‘a hard substance’, since the answer is an example of the definition, not definitively, ‘the hard stuff’ (which would be spirits) .

            For me, the ‘the’ is superfluous since the answer is not definitively ‘the hard stuff’, it’s an example of ‘a’ hard substance, and should probably have a question mark, too.

  2. This was a pretty quick solve for me, mostly because the four long ones went in very early, leaving a lot of helpful crossers, and because the setter is very familiar to me. I found it very enjoyable.

    Thanks to Kitty and Dada

  3. No real problem, steady, quite enjoyable solve in *** time unti……
    …l 20a which I left till end after had all checkers, but even knowing the letters for the anagram I STILL couldn’t get it and lost patience! Fixated on some illustrator or part of a wardrobe or a well or….!?!? Duh!

  4. After a ho-hum, for me, back pager, this was very enjoyable. I thought that 13a was brilliant although it does have an air of familiarity about it.

    I did have to seek electronic assistance on the punk’s relative – not my music genre at all, I will have to try and remember it as I sure that it will appear at some time in the future.

    I agree with Gazza on the ‘the’ in 10a – sort of double duty.

    Thanks to Dada and Kitty.

    1. Gazza isn’t saying that “the” is doing double duty. Except in the special cases of &lit and semi-&lit clues, double duty is a no-no.

  5. I got lucky with the four long answers so had plenty of checkers to play with but then got held up at the very end in the SW corner. I was fixated that BLUE in the clue gave SAD and it needed the solving of 26a to show me this could not be right.
    A good fun solve as we always expect from this setter.
    Thanks Dada and Kitty.

  6. I thought this was a great crossword which I sorted in reasonable time. (Not sure how to tell whether it’s 2,3,or whatever star time wise. ) however I thought the answer above for 6d, although I considered it, could also have been (am I allowed to put this?) master as in m of the foxhounds drawing a covert up as in on horseback. Apologies if I’ve put anything I shouldn’t have.
    Nice puzzle. Thanks to all.

    1. Jules, the starring system is YOUR definition, not anybody-else’s. The rules say ‘Many of the users of this website are relative novices and if they have just spent an hour solving a puzzle they can be discouraged by someone saying that they have solved the same puzzle in 5 minutes. You can use star ratings similar to those used by the reviewer or similes such as “a two-pint puzzle”.

      You said you solved it in a ‘reasonable’ time, so would that be ** or ***?

  7. I am always pleased when I can complete a Toughie without using electrons. Overall time was about ******** but I was distracted by the cricket and the need to mow the lawn. Net solution time was probably ***/****.

    COTD 13a with 6d being the last in.

    Thanks to Dada and Kitty.

  8. The long anagrams didn’t hold me up, but the far NW and SW corners did. 8ac it struck me could have been one of several things, while 1d was obscure in both wordplay and answer.

  9. Doing this a day late. I loved 3d. My dictionary has a hyphen in 20a. The parsing of 15a defeated me as, although I like cricket, I’m not good with its terminology.

  10. Hoped I could complete the NW corner today, but failed: mostly because I thought 13a was an anagram (“conceivably”). Schoolboy error, I suppose. Being a fan of the Beano comic and having had a dachshund names after it, I liked 5d the best.

    Can’t add anything to the “the” debate…..

    Thanks to Kitty and Dada.

  11. Writing on Friday – we found this the most enjoyable Toughie of the week. More enjoyable and less mechanical than Wednesday and slightly more difficult and more imaginative than Thursday. There were some lovely clues. With regard to the ‘the’, before reading this discussion, we had commented to each other that it seemed to be redundant and perhaps misleading and prompting ambiguity in the solver’s initial guess, though clearly it gave the setter enjoyment, since he had used ‘knocked back’ and wanted to prompt the solver to think of alcohol before seeing the obvious reversal indicator. As Kitty suggests, it is not perhaps cryptically sound but it was a bit of fun.

    1. Of all the adjectives that one might use to describe a Petitjean puzzle I’d have thought that ‘mechanical’ was the least appropriate.

    2. Many thanks for your input Chalicea. Because I’m interested in cryptic grammar I often have little questions like this, but they can be hard to ask because they can so easily be interpreted as criticism. It’s really helpful to have your view.

  12. Sorry Gazza. I appreciated your review and, of course, admired what Petitjean achieved in all those Toughies. My ‘mechanical’ was perhaps not well chosen but your review points out how clear the indicators are (anagram, reversal, “heard”, hidden etc.) and the solver is therefore led to his/her solutions as, perhaps, one might say of the clues of Don Manley which are undeniably technically spot on – for ‘mechanical’ read ‘technically flawless’ I felt that Dada did really shine and escaped, slightly, from our setters’ straitjacket.

  13. Very enjoyable, although I did feel rather sorry for the mouse being simmered alive in 3D.

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