Toughie 2084 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2084

Toughie No 2084 by Warbler

Hints and tips by Kitty

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BD Rating  –  Difficulty * –  Enjoyment ***


Welcome everybody.  Warbler is very much a gateway drug to Toughies, and to anyone who normally stays on the back page, I say: do come over here and try this.  You’ll like it.  It’s not at all addictive.  (One or two of the previous statements may contain traces of lie.)

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



1a    May upset with Times covering resistance by Conservative? That’s irregular (10)
ASYMMETRIC:  An anagram (upset) of MAY with TIMES containing (covering) the symbol of electrical resistance.  This lot is next to (by) an abbreviation for Conservative

9a    Spread most of plaster regularly on end of tile (4)
PATÉ:  All but the last of (most of) the odd letters (… regularly) of plaster followed by (on, this usage being allowed in a Telegraph across clue, but not a Times one) the last letter (end) of tile

10a   First step of independent resident around Italian island (10)
INITIATIVE:  An abbreviation for independent and a word meaning resident or local around abbreviations for Italian and island

11a   Silly revenge? Not good to show superficial refinement (6)
VENEER:  An anagram (silly) of REVENgE without G (not good)

12a   Tips secretary over into pool of dirty water (7)
CESSPIT:  The reversal (… over) of: tips (lifted straight from the clue) and the abbreviation for secretary.  Is into ok as a link word here?

15a   Hibernating dung beetle joins male insect (7)
DORMANT:  Join together a dung beetle I have only met in crosswordland (perhaps it feeds on the stuff filtered out by Akismet), M(ale), and a worker insect

16a   Depression touching large intestine (5)
COLON:  A geographical depression or mountain pass (another word I learned from crosswords) plus a two-letter preposition meaning touching or concerning

17a   They might bite — or sting when weight’s added (4)
ASPS:  Legless creatures which might bite (no, not like me on a Friday night) which would become stripy stingers if W(eight) were added to the beginning

18a   Adheres they say to hateful river (4)
STYX:  This river in Hades sounds like (they say) a word meaning adheres

19a   Pair join medic in Italian cathedral (5)
DUOMO:  A pair (3) next to (join, treating a single wordplay element as plural) the abbreviation of a doctor in charge of medical treatment in an armed service or other organisation

21a   After tango, we spot unusual dance (3-4)
TWO-STEP:  After T(ango) is an anagram (… unusual) of WE SPOT

22a   Special gold covered pouch (7)
SPORRAN:  What a Scotsman keeps over his kilt.  A charade of an abbreviation for special, the heraldic word for gold, and covered, as a newspaper might have covered a story, for example

24a   Turkish ambassador‘s welcomed by Roosevelt, chillingly (6)
ELTCHI:  If you don’t know this Turkish ambassador, don’t worry: he’s hiding in (welcomed by) the last two word of the clue, and the checking letters will reveal exactly where

27a   Scattered cold air almost spat. Exactly! (10)
SPORADICAL:  An anagram (scattered) of COLD AIR SPAt (almost spat).  The definition is not the remaining word of the clue (which is why I haven’t underlined it) but “exactly!” is pointing you back to the earlier part of the clue.  This way of defining the answer doesn’t quite do it for me; I like things defined a bit more, well, exactly!

28a   Use small boat to reach Channel island (4)
SARK:  S(mall) plus a large floating vessel like Noah’s

29a   Exercise lines in Advent can be persuasive (10)
COMPELLING:  A school exercise lesson and two instances of the abbreviation for line all go inside advent or approach



2d    Xhosan desert has plenty of this (4)
SAND:  A lurker with the answer included in the first two words, the indicator being the rest of the clue, and the definition the whole thing

3d    Writing about a time in service (6)
MATINS:  The abbreviation for manuscript goes around (about) the following: A (from the clue), T(ime), and IN (also from the clue)

4d    IT scale could be flexible (7)
ELASTIC:  An anagram (… could be) of IT SCALE

5d    Check area lacking energy in two parts? (4)
REIN:  A six-letter word for an area or locale without (lacking) the two letters which make up a word for energy or zest (REGION – G O).  These letters aren’t adjacent in the original word, which is why the energy is lacking in two parts

6d    Hover about in outskirts of Camden to find sign of rank (7)
CHEVRON:  Inside the outer letters (outskirts) of Camden is an anagram (… about) of HOVER

7d    Masculine female player? That’s criminal! (10)
MALEFACTOR:  Concatenate masculine (4), F(emale) and one who plays a part

8d    Nerve poison? It could be true in Oxon (10)
NEUROTOXIN:  An anagram of (it could be) TRUE IN OXON

12d   Plan stratagem to seize Eastern booze (10)
CHARTREUSE:  A plan or map and a stratagem or trick containing (to seize) E(astern)

13d   Drinks containing malt liquor for loyalists (10)
SUPPORTERS:  Drinks (verb) containing a dark brown malt liquor

14d   Innards of automaton upgraded to 100mph (3-2)
TON-UP:  Our third hidden clue, the innards of which are the answer

15d   Party, Republican, vacated ministers’ sleeping quarters (5)
DORMS:  Put together our usual party or function, an abbreviation for Republican, and ministers emptied of its inner letters (vacated)

19d   Drunk medics imbibing European wine (7)
DEMISEC:  An anagram (drunk) of MEDICS containing (imbibing) E(uropean)

20d   Musical drama starts to translate Elgar work (7)
OPERATE:  A musical drama plus the initial letters of (starts to) two words of the clue

23d   Top up that could make judge poorly (6)
REFILL:  The judge is a sporting one and is followed by a word meaning unwell.  The fault is all mine, but I detest the last word of the clue when not used as an adverb

25d   Enlarge animal park before first of March (4)
ZOOM:  A menagerie goes before the first letter of March

26d   Ivan (the) Terrible is self-complacent (4)
VAIN:  We finish with an anagram (terrible) of IVAN.  Is putting “the” in brackets really enough to excuse its inclusion?


Thanks to Warbler.  No single clue stood out above the rest for me today.  How about for you?


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.


26 comments on “Toughie 2084

  1. Another delightful Warbler puzzle which is low on the toughness scale and a very good start to the Toughie week – */****.

    I made things a little difficult by mis-spelling 1a (2 Ss and 1 M) and I had to check the lurker in 24a in the BRB.

    Candidates for favourite – 10, 12d, and 20d – and the winner is 12d.

    Thanks to warbler and Kitty.

  2. Found this easier than the backpager but needed a hint for 24A, rather liked 12D and 26A raised a smile for such a short clue. */***

  3. We have a very fluffy Toughie today. I think a part of the fluffiness is due to some of the definitions being too literal and straightforward. For example 16a where ‘large intestine’ could have been a bit more interesting as something like ‘route to the bottom’.
    I share Kitty’s misgivings about 26d which I didn’t like at all.
    Thanks to Warbler and Kitty.

  4. Thanks Warbler and Kitty, very much a back pager solve, but very pleasant nonetheless.
    I needed Kitty’s help to parse 5d.
    I think at 24 putting “the” in brackets is quite sufficient to make the clue work, though it does give it a slightly nursery level feel.
    Favourite clue is the gold pouch at 22a

  5. We need easy puzzles, because we make life plenty hard by ourselves. I entered WASP in 17a, making the crossers impossible. It was the booze that came to the rescue.

    I think this is the first time I’ve seen “most of” combined with an odd/even letters device (9a). Odd/even letters normally offer the setter plenty of opportunities, so it would seem to me this is unnecessary, unless it gives you that killer surface.

    Baggage words in parentheses? I’ll say no more. Yes I will – just think of the logical extreme.

    surprised that 12a can be directly read backwards in the clue – nothing wrong with that.

    I liked 25d, 20d, 19d, 5d, 21a

    Many thanks Warbler and Kitty

    1. Hi Mac.

      It is true that the answer is found reversed in the clue, but I don’t think that a lurker is indicated. Also, the convention is that hidden words are somewhere in the middle of the fodder and not at the edge.

  6. Thanks Kitty.
    Just ran out of steam at the end, being rather ‘crossworded out’.
    Needed a couple of hints. Agree that it was benign.
    thanks also to Warbler.

  7. After our struggle on Friday, we were grateful to Warbler for a gentle Tuesday I like the Tuesday/Friday balance. Thanks to Kitty and Warbler.

  8. Warbled my way quite happily through this one apart from my stupidity over the spelling of 1a which left me wondering whether ‘yeti’ could be spelled with two T’s and how on earth it related to the clue.
    Very relieved to discover that 24a was a lurker – who knew!

    No particular favourite but a pleasant way to get back into crossword mode.

    Thanks to Warbler and to our Girl Tuesday for the blog. I love it when you comment ‘may contain traces of a lie’.

  9. We were going to start our comment by confessing to initially misspelling 1a but it looks like we have been beaten to it. Trying to start 3d with a Y was quite a challenge. Once this was sorted the rest all flowed smoothly. Gentle and fun.
    Thanks Warbler and Kitty.

  10. Seems as if I have followed others problems.
    As beery hiker 10a was LOI. As Dutch I was stung by the Wasp and saved by the booze (12d is not fit to drink IMO) and I only avoided misspelling 1a by getting 3d first. Thanks to Kitty for tbe hints and encouragement.
    Warbler is added to the list of toughie setters who don’t send me running to the hills but I don’t think I will add Elgar to that list soon.

  11. Like so many others, I got the spelling of 1a wrong at first so had problems to find “matins”. Glad to see I wasn’t alone. Similarly “wasp” at first at 17a. I’d never heard of the Turkish ambassador, but fitted it anyway….

    Thanks to Warbler and Kitty.

  12. Had to go back to check 1a to see why the spelling was confusing so many people – Ah yes, I realise now this word is overly familiar to me given my career as a crystallographer. Think symmetric, with the opposite just having an A prefix.

  13. As usual at this time of night, it has all been said. Thanks to Warbler for an easy run and to Kitty for her delightful comments.

    1. I don’t remember you ever getting it wrong … but it’s ok, Daisygirl (ooh, you can guess what I was tempted to call you there!), you can call me anything you like if you mean well. :)

  14. Thanks to Warbler and to Kitty for the review and hints. A delightful puzzle, a Toughie by name, but not by nature. Good fun, favourite was 22a. Was 1*/3* for me.

  15. Really enjoyed this one. I’ve been having a run of being on a wavelength so far away from any of that of the setters’ that I was beginning to think I might give up, but hopefully I’m back.

    I didn’t mind 24d, misspelled 1ac and had to look it up – it still doesn’t look right. I also put in Wasp, but in the end only the Turkish ambassador defeated me.

    Thanks to all!

  16. Words with a single and a double consonant often catch people out, but I have to say I was with Dutch in being surprised at the problems 1a caused. But then, I’m a mathsy type (just don’t ask me to do any mental arithmetic ).

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