Toughie 2085 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2085

Toughie No 2085 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

There’s nothing too strenuous today and I proceeded fairly steadily once I’d resolved my difficulty with 1a. I’m not a great fan of long anagrams and I was pleased to find that only one of the four 15-letter answers was a full anagram. I did notice, too late as always to be of any help, that it’s a pangram.

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

Across Clues

1a A shaman got April confused about imaginary figures (15)
PHANTASMAGORIAL: we start with an anagram (confused) of A SHAMAN GOT APRIL. I got a bit confused with this one at first because I expected the answer to have a ‘C’ near the end and I couldn’t find it.

9a People mark course (9)
RACETRACK: charade of a people or nation and a mark or trail.

10a Do better without prison space, mostly (5)
EXCEL: a prefix meaning without followed by a space in prison without its last letter.

11a Spin is turning over wicket on both sides (5)
SWIRL: reverse IS containing the cricket abbreviation for wicket and append abbreviations for both sides.

12a Comfort before PM cut parliament’s opening: it shows highs and lows (6,3)
RELIEF MAP: string together a synonym for comfort or ease, the truncated surname of our Prime Minister (at the time of writing) and the opening letter of parliament.

13a Pacifies tiny number aboard ship (8)
SWEETENS: insert a synonym for tiny and a cardinal number inside the usual abbreviation for ship.

14a Reprieved area moves west in extent (6)
SPARED: start with a synonym for extent or reach and move the abbreviation for area a couple of places westwards.

16a Cut into victim (6)
QUARRY: double definition, the first a verb to cut or dig into.

18a Most of group adulterated mare’s milk substitutes (8)
CREAMERS: weld together a group or working party without its last letter and an anagram (adulterated) of MARE’S.

22a Making up for leaving father split inside (9)
EXPIATING: a present participle meaning leaving or withdrawing with an affectionate term for father split into two separate letters inside it.

23a Agile umpire’s concealing a bit of a gut (5)
ILEUM: a lurker.

24a Character expressing feelings held regularly in Exmoor jail (5)
EMOJI: regular letters from the last two words of the clue.

25a Right finale: sex appeal is half acceptable for performance (9)
RENDITION: we have to assemble five different bits for the answer: the abbreviation for right, a synonym for finale, an informal word for sex appeal, half of the word ‘is’ and an informal word for acceptable or satisfactory.

26a Reportedly cultivate a green when dropping head of drug science (15)
PHARMACOLOGICAL: concatenate a homophone of a verb to cultivate, A and an adjective meaning green or environmentally friendly without its leading letter.

Down Clues

1d Resistance is overcome by changing shapes and expressions (7)
PHRASES: the abbreviation for electrical resistance is contained inside an anagram (changing) of SHAPES.

2d Assign ace writer (7)
ASCRIBE: the abbreviation for an ace in card games followed another word for a writer.

3d Young child settled heretical belief in tyranny (15)
TOTALITARIANISM: cement together a word for a young child, an old-fashioned verb meaning settled or descended and a heretical Christian belief. ‘Heretical’ of course is how it was described by the ‘other side’ – if its adherents had won the argument it would have been ‘orthodox’.

4d Meet under the main promenade (8)
SEAFRONT: what ‘the main’ usually means in Crosswordland followed by a verb to meet or oppose face to face.

5d Walk a line, lacking directions for chemical base (6)
ALKALI: remove all three directions from ‘walk a line’.

6d Finished the map off, losing time measuring and marking too much (15)
OVEREMPHASIZING: splice together an adverb meaning finished or done, an anagram (off) of [t]HE MAP and a present participle meaning measuring.

7d Pay Republican immigrant (7)
INCOMER: a word for pay or earnings and an abbreviation for Republican.

8d Allen’s apartment maybe frog’s place of rest? (4,3)
LILY PAD: cryptically how the apartment of Ms. Allen (the singer) could be described. I did listen to several of her records but nothing really appealed to me, so, instead, here’s a singer that I like with her take on an old classic:

ARVE Error: need id and provider

15d New and old kit in Alabama (8)
ORIGINAL: knit together the abbreviation for old, a word for kit or equipment, IN and the standard abbreviation for Alabama.

16d Perhaps make a crocodile tail rise (5,2)
QUEUE UP: a heraldic term for the tail of an animal and a word for a rise or high place.

17d Cockney actor in favour of being heard acts at first in jug (7)
AMPHORA: link together how a Cockney would describe a poor actor, a homophone of a preposition meaning ‘in favour of’ and the first letter of acts.

19d European and Gaelic hybrid is mournful (7)
ELEGIAC: an abbreviation for European followed by an anagram (hybrid) of GAELIC.

20d Influential discussion group with U-turn at the end? (7)
SEMINAL: start with a discussion group (especially at university) and change the final letter by making a 180 degree turn involving the two letters we met earlier at 11a.

21d Initially nonchalant, I’m thrown rather in calculation of N (6)
NITRIC: initial letters of six words in the clue. N here is a chemical symbol.

I liked 8d but easily my favourite clue today was 23a which is a perfect description of the late cricket umpire David Shepherd with whom I went to school (though he was three years or so ahead of me). Do let us know which one(s) appealed to you.

30 comments on “Toughie 2085

  1. Another not too tough Toughie provided there was a BRB close by to check a couple of the 15 letter answers – */***.

    I had to Google the ‘Allen’ after the answer had become apparent. I am not sure that I have ever heard her singing.

    Joint favourites – 26a and 3d.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and Gazza.

    1. I didn’t have my glasses on and spent ages trying to parse 8d as “alien’s apartment …” :oops:

  2. Quite enjoyable and not too difficult.

    I suspected a pangram part of the way through and was disappointed when I finished with no “z” anywhere to be found. I then realised (or perhaps realized?) that I hadn’t parsed 6d properly and it was the American spelling.

    Many thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza.

    1. I also ‘mis-spelled’ 6d until my error was pointed out to me when I submitted my solution through the web site before I had parsed it correctly. Interestingly, the BRB does not identify the ‘z’ version of 6d as American and it has to be the ‘z’ version to be a synonym of measuring.

      1. I have always preferred the -ize endings, where appropriate. For those who don’t know, and the last time I looked, the OED gives the -ize ending in preference to the -ise ending. So where a verb has been constructed from a noun (eg characterize from character), the -ize ending will always bee correct (not that I’m saying the -ise ending isn’t also correct these days). There are words, of course, which must only have an -ise ending. The majority of these have french roots where words like promise and surprise come from promis and surpris (the past participles of promettre and surprendre). I’m not sure why the Americans have preferred the -ize endings though. Perhaps someone knows?

      2. I was brainwashed by a dogmatic English teacher in the second form at school (a couple of years or so ago!) so -ize always looks wrong to me. These pedagogues have got a lot to answer for!

        I am a rabbit of very little brain and long words bother me. I find that using -ise always seems to be right rather than having to remember which words are acceptable with either -ize or -ise.

        And yes, mea culpa, it was a very long word and I was feeling lazy so I didn’t work out the minutiae of the parsing.

        P.S. Is the ghastly “my bad”, the modern version of “mea culpa”?

        1. Just keeping you on your toes, my favourite Rabbit!

          I favour -ise just because it’s what I was taught, and because I like to save all my zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs for bed time.

          My bad/mea culpa? Well, it’s always an admirable thing to say, whether in an ugly* living language or a beautiful* dead one.

          *Opinions, not necessarily mine :)

  3. A similar gridfill speed to yesterday’s, but this was after I took one look at 1a and decided that I’d take this in “anagram solver allowed” mode. That helped me off to a good start, and the 24a I’d use to describe my solve is: .

    My favourite was 5d, and I also liked 15d.

    Thanks Stick Insect and Gazza.

  4. I’ve just seen this hilarious joke elsewhere and I feel the need to share it.
    During my check-up I asked the Doctor, “Do you think I’ll live a long and healthy life then?”.
    He replied, “I doubt it somehow. Mercury is in Uranus right now.”
    I said, “I don’t go in for any of that astrology nonsense.”
    He replied, “Neither do I. My thermometer just broke.”

    1. Doctor, whats wrong with me? It doesn’t matter which part of my body I press it hurts.

      After an intensive investigation the doctor concludes that I’ve got a broken finger.


  5. I know I had to use an electronic aid to get it but I do think 1a Is a very clever anagram. Such a marvellous sounding word too.
    Loved Gazza’s joke. This is a very entertaining site!

  6. A rather easy Toughie, as was yesterday’s. Not that I’m complaining, it’s always nice to complete one. I rather liked 5d, 8d,and 16d but I’ll award top marks to 20d.

  7. I was busy congratulating myself on managing this spelling bee until I had a wobble over the correct vowel placement in the lower half of 19d and had to check in the BRB.

    I liked the frog’s home and also the crocodile’s tail although have to admit that my parsing of the latter had nothing to do with heraldic terminology – I just thought in terms of a tail back of traffic.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza – both for the blog and for sparing us from Miss Allen!

  8. Well, actually, I like miss Allen – that probably won’t surprise Jane.

    The long ones gave a quick route in and things went smoothly until SW.
    I got stupidly stuck on 16a/d but a single reveal worked wonders – which then also led to 22a. If I’d realised we had a pangram I might have avoided the reveal.

    In 5d I thought ‘chemical’ was unnecessary, it gave it away.

    I liked 20d, though I suspect we have the same root, which probably doesn’t matter

    Also liked 24a, 25a, 22a, and the agile umpire, favourite was probably the frog’s place of rest.

    Many thanks Stick Insect and Gazza

  9. Fell into the same traps: use of “s” instead of “z” in 6d (so obviously didn’t spot the pangram), poor spelling of 19d, surprised no “c” in 1a etc.

    Clear favourite (with memories of Mr Jeremy Fisher) was 8d.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and Gazza (and for the joke!).

  10. I didn’t know the heraldic definition of ‘queue’ in 16d. I thought of a sailor’s pigtail. I don’t know why 6d caused such problems. Has ‘sizing’ ever been spelled with an ‘s’?

  11. We spotted the pangram but not in time to be any help with the solving. Lots of chuckles in here which we enjoyed and then an extra one when we read Gazza’s joke.
    Thanks Stick Insect and Gazza.

  12. This site just gets more and more fun, sharing Christmas cracker jokes now are we? Anagrams are my strong point so they were an enormous help but I don’t do cricket and was stuck on 11a and did not get creamers. Strange, that, as cream in my coffee is my one weakness. Thank you Gaza for your hints.

  13. Reasonably straightforward apart from 19a being thwarted by a misspelling of 6d. I liked 11a for some reason.

    Thanks to Gazza and Stick Insect.

  14. Solved slowly and patiently, basically because of the need to piece together all those long answers without recourse to Google, which is always a temptation, but one for once I managed to resist. Time well spent, I thought. :-) I spotted the pangram but only at the point of solving my LOI, 16d, which was somewhat late.

  15. Thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza for the review and hints. A nice not too tough Toughie. The long clues helped me get a foothold, but I was running out of steam at the end, and needed 4 hints to finish. I just couldn’t think of 4d,even though I figured it began with “sea”, and I had all the checkers. Favourite was 14a.

  16. Liked the picture of the agile umpire in the hints for 23A, and thought that the U turning discussion group in 20D was a neat clue.

    1. Cricket Umpire David Shepherd considered the score 111 to be unlucky. It is called a Nelson. He always stood on one leg when the score stood at 111

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