Toughie 2086 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2086

Toughie No 2086 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

It all went swimmingly until I inexplicably stalled on the final few. Maybe it’s because I didn’t find it a particularly inspiring puzzle.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


4a    Outstanding location for seat of higher education? (3-5)
TOP-CLASS: The first part of the answer suggests ‘higher’ or ‘highest’ and the second part is a group of students

8a    Fragment of code ultimately equivocal (6)
MORSEL: The name of a code + the last letter of EQUIVOCAL

9a    Element from colliers’ association packing daggers (8)
NOBELIUM: A synthetic metallic chemical element = a trade union for colliers round dagger-signs used in printing (†††) 

10a    Huge lark put on show of singing? (8)
GIGANTIC: A performance of a band or pop group + a lark

11a    Prompt judgement uttered (6)
INCITE: ‘To prompt’ is a homophone of judgement or discernment

12a    Being from newspaper perhaps is source of misanthropy (8)
ORGANISM: A being (living thing) = a means of communicating information or opinions (i.e. a newspaper) + IS + the first letter of MISANTHROPY

13a    Winds average, starters in dinghy event race sedately (8)
MEANDERS: ‘Winds (like a river)’ = ‘average’ + the first letters of DINGHY EVENT RACE SEDATELY

16a    Dramatic change to attorneyship after corrupt Tory is sacked (8)
THESPIAN: An anagram (change to) of ATNESHIP (i.e. ATTORNEYSHIP minus the letters of TORY)

19a    Minute docked? (8)
DETAILED: ‘Minute’ or ‘showing many small elements clearly’. It could also conceivably mean ‘docked (like an animal)’ especially if split (2-6)

21a    Public Library engages painter to illustrate launch (6)
PROPEL: The abbreviation for Public Library goes round a painter (for tying up a boat)

23a    Getting in touch with Little Emily, being poorly (8)
EMAILING: A shortened form of Emily + ‘being poorly’

24a    Out of condition, Donna’s disturbed, fitfully (3,3,2)
OFF AND ON: ‘Out of condition’ + an anagram (disturbed) of DONNA

25a    Shergar — a rather limited mount? (6)

26a    Drifts off in rubbish-laden ship (8)
SLUMBERS: ‘Rubbish’ inside the abbreviation for steamship


1d    Unstable paranoid with a malfunctioning weapon (7)
PONIARD: An anagram (unstable) of PARNOID (i.e. PARANOID minus a letter A) = a small dagger

2d    Sweetener raised to prop up American resort’s growth (9)
ASPARAGUS: A American) + a health resort + a reversal of a sweetening agent

3d    SEAT components in plenty unveiled at centre (6)
GLUTEI: Muscles found in the buttocks (seat) = plenty or an excess quantity + the middle two letters of UNVEILED

4d    Communication with soldiers in camp conveys orders from above (3,12)
TEN COMMANDMENTS: A communication or order and soldiers inside shelters used in camp = orders given by God

5d    Host of lice’s heading into cabin, not entirely put out (8)
PUBLICAN: Mine host = the first letter of LICE inside an anagram (out) of CABIN and PU (PUT with the last letter removed)

6d    Chaplain oddly climbs to top of larch tree (5)
LILAC: The first letter of LARCH + a reversal of the odd-positioned letters of CHAPLAIN

7d    Stroll with relation in south-east Reading, say? (7)
SAUNTER: A female relation inside ‘south-east’ + possibly reading (one of the three Rs)

14d    Famous director of ‘Vandalised’ cutting second in editing (5,4)
DAVID LEAN: The name of a former English film director is an anagram (in editing) of VANDALIED, i.e. VANDALISED minus S (second)

15d    Dick has 500 in belt upon start of evening shift (8)
DISLODGE: A dick (detective) + D (500) inside to belt (hit hard) + the first letter of EVENING = ‘to shift’

17d    Head on holiday with as much as one can carry? That’s hazardous (7)
HARMFUL: The first letter of HOLIDAY + as much as one can carry

18d    Cushion blow at first — each dreadful bang … (7)
BEANBAG: A large cushion filled with plastic balls = the first letter of BLOW + ‘each’ + an anagram (dreadful) of BANG

20d    … shaking bits of anatomy, very nearly without exception (2,1,3)
TO A MAN: An anagram (shaking bits of) of ANATOM, i.e. ANATOMY minus the last letter

22d    The lead in Shrek’s garlanded with laurels for song (5)
PSALM: The first letter of SHREK inside laurels (honours gained) = a devotional song


13 comments on “Toughie 2086

  1. I don’t really understand why ‘seat’ is present in 1a. I was convinced at first that ‘seat of higher education’ would be something chair and it was only when 6d put paid to that idea that I had to think again.
    Apart from that I thought that the puzzle was solid without really hitting the heights. My favourite clue was 10a.
    Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

    1. Think it’s because ‘higher education’ isn’t sufficiently accurate per se. Problem is in adding ‘seat’, another (unwanted) association is created.

      I’d call this a steady solve, which didn’t contrive to have me out of my own seat!

      1. It’s not great though, is it? I’d have thought that something like ‘Outstanding form of higher education’ would have worked better.

  2. I have the same problem with 1a as you, Gazza. However, an enjoyable puzzle which went in quite smoothly. That’s 3 days in a row I’ve completed the Toughie unaided. That’s a record for me. My favourite was 12a with 9a and 10a close behind.

  3. The right hand side went in very quickly, then i slowed down for the LHS.
    I got fixated on ASPEN for the american resort in 2d, eventually dawned.
    I would have preferred 14d without ‘famous’.

    1 liked 12a, for some reason it took me a while to parse ‘is source of misanthropy’. I also liked 16a, probably because of ‘dramatic change’.

    Many thanks Firefly and Bufo

  4. Can’t say that I particularly enjoyed this one – not too keen on 4a and hadn’t come across the synonym for ‘rubbish’ before today. New words at 9a (two of them!) plus 1&3d and I got into a bit of a tangle by wanting to cut the second letter in ‘editing’ for the 14a anagram fodder.

    Favourite was 12a.

    Thanks to Firefly and to Bufo for the blog.

  5. Grateful thanks to Big Dave for appreciating the (admittedly modest) humour of “seat”!

    Thanks for all your comments, though…

    Regards from Firefly

  6. We wondered why capitals were used for SEAT in 3d. As we had never heard of the brand name, the misdirection was lost on us. The weapon in 1d was also new to us but by working out it was an anagram not too hard to check in BRB. We enjoyed the solve.
    Thanks Firefly (thanks for popping in too) and Bufo.

  7. Getting in before midnight by the skin of my teeth again, I did the RHS fairly well but had to resort to Bufo’s hints to finish although I did not look at the answers. Three biblical answers, I began to look for a theme! Thank you and goodnight from rainy Cambridge.

  8. I was a bit late getting round to this one.
    Re 21 A There is an artist called Rope so two ways to the answer and no need to tie up your boat.

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