Toughie 2088 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2088

Toughie No 2088 by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Welcome everyone.  I found this a real step up in difficulty from Chalicea’s Toughie debut, but no less enjoyable.

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.

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



1a    Lines husband may like but with no margins (5)
HAIKU:  Following H(usband), the next three words from the clue, missing their edges

4a    Overwhelmed operator requisitioned (9)
OPPRESSED:  An abbreviation for operator plus requisitioned or forced into service

9a    Aquatic bird, funny-looking alien gull (9)
GALLINULE:  This is an anagram (funny-looking) of ALIEN GULL.  It’s definitely a water bird, but while Chambers has this as another word for a moorhen (one of my favourite birds), internet sources point to a different species, their American cousins.  This was my only minor frown in the puzzle as I have enough trouble with anagrams of words I know, let alone ones I don’t!

10a   Parts of chicken wings perhaps rejected in epicurean lunch (5)
ULNAE:  Hidden reversed (rejected) in the last two words of the clue

11a   Plastic laminate having as function glass replacement? (7)
FORMICA:  A brand of plastic laminates.  Having as function (3) a mineral used as a substitute for glass (4)

12a   Person taking part in hospital department harangue (7)
ENTRANT:  Our usual three-letter hospital department and a harangue or tirade

13a   Year with disastrous slide in outputs (6)
YIELDS:  Y(ear) with an anagram (disastrous) of SLIDE

15a   General survey done — into German car, that is (8)
OVERVIEW:  Done or finished, then into a German car (not Audi, a two-letter one) goes the Latin-derived abbreviation for that is.  To offset emissions, the following illustrations are recycled

18a   Something exceptional in skirt topless divas modelled (4,4)
RARA AVIS:  A type of skirt (2-2) followed by an anagram (… modelled) of dIVAS without the first letter (topless)

20a   Disconcert upper-class swell turning up first (3,3)
PUT OFF:  First we have the reversal (turning) of UP from the clue, then a slang term for an upper-class person

23a   Evasive behaviour of company head about yen (7)
COYNESS:  An abbreviation for company and a head(land) around (about) Y(en)

24a   Expose extremely uncommon pretext (7)
UNCOVER:  Outer letters of (… extremely) uncommon plus a pretext or disguise (such as a spy might have, perhaps)

26a   A glazed fabric put round plant (5)
ERICA:  A from the clue followed by a fabric with a highly glazed finish, reversed (put round).  For the benefit of anyone who’s yet to meet the fabric I’ll add that the plant is that other crosswordy name for heather/ling

27a   A fine time at hotel? There’s consequences! (9)
AFTERMATH:  A lovely charade, where the first five words of the clue each contribute a piece of the answer in order.  From those words we want, respectively: from the clue, abbreviation, synonym, from the clue, abbreviation

28a   Doddery old chaps going in to get accommodation (9)
LODGEMENT:  An anagram (doddery) of OLD followed by some gents inside (going in to) GET

29a   Litter of unlimited beds in convalescent home (5)
SEDAN:  The litter is a seat or couch supported on poles and carried.  Beds without its outer letters (unlimited …) in the short form of a hospital for the convalescent or the chronically ill



1d    Ambitious person‘s gamey promotional leaflet (9)
HIGHFLYER:  Gamey in the sense of a bit on the whiffy and overripe side, then an advertising leaflet.  Chambers and Oxford have this as (4-5)

2d    Pulley that moves sideways, but not at first (5)
IDLER:  (One) that moves sideways, without the first letter (not at first).  I didn’t know this pulley, and to me the wordplay leads more clearly to having an s on the end, so this one had to wait for the checkers and be verified in the big red book

3d    Joined place of higher learning following international education (7)
UNIFIED:  Join together the informal short form of a further education establishment and abbreviations for following, international, and education.  Another smooth-as-silk charade

4d    Funny when Jack leaves mince pie (6)
OCULAR:  A word for jokey without the J(ack) (when Jack leaves).  Mince pie here is an eye (a definition strangely missing from Chambers and Oxford unless my own mince pies aren’t working).  I would take issue as the answer is usually an adjective, but the dictionary tells me it can also (facetiously) be used as a noun

5d    Maintain pressure with troops available in emergency (8)
PRESERVE:  The physics symbol for pressure (seen also on today’s back page) and (with) a military force kept in readiness to be deployed if needed

6d    Nonsense served up supporting almost adequate notional line (7)
EQUATOR:  The reversal (served up) of nonsense (3) following (supporting, in a down clue) most of (almost) a word meaning adequate, as in adequate to the task

7d    Romanians reconstructed small republic (3,6)
SAN MARINO:  An anagram (… reconstructed) of ROMANIANS

8d    Remained in good health mostly in empty desert (5)
DWELT:  Most of (… mostly) an adjective meaning in good health goes in the outer letters only (empty) of desert

14d   Archaeopteryx maybe was one that caught nematodes? (5,4)
EARLY BIRD:  A cryptic-cum-double definition of something that proverbially catches the worm, and of which Archaeopteryx provides a literal example.  Worms should rise late.  The second mouse gets the cheese.  However the avian late riser can brunch at our feeder (ignore me calling it the “cat feeder by proxy,” that’s just my little joke)

16d   Fat whiner given facelift might become so very slim (5-4)
WAFER-THIN:  An anagram (… given facelift) of FAT WHINER.  I’m not going to illustrate this with Mr Creosote: that sketch is the reason I can’t watch that film.  My second choice for a pic would also fail the test of taste and decency so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s funny …

17d   What’s over one’s head? Hat’s upside down in Yorkshire river! (8)
AIRSPACE:  A flat brimless hat, usually with a peak, is placed, with the ‘S, reversed (upside down in a down clue) inside a major river in YorkshireIt’s a symptom of Too Many Crosswords that I thought of things like tiles and lids long before the required type of hat.  I also wanted a different river, which took me round the hOUSEs …

19d   Film Chemical Engineer introduced into a gallery (7)
ACETATE:  The abbreviation for a Chemical Engineer inserted into (introduced into) A (from the clue) and one of a network of public art galleries

21d   Releases peacekeepers with army unit — a thousand for power (7)
UNCORKS:  Releases vino collapso from a bottle, perhaps.  International peacekeepers, plus a branch of an army in which a letter symbolising a thousand is substituted in for P(ower)

22d   Young royal repeated expression of disapproval (3-3)
TUT-TUT:  A colloquial label, King ___, for a young Egyptian pharaoh, repeated

23d   Native American large lobster trap (5)
CREEL:  One of a Native American tribe and L(arge)

25d   Food from Italy in vehicle before start of delivery (5)
VIAND:  The IVR code for Italy goes in a light vehicle for transporting goods; this all comes before the initial letter of (start of) delivery


Thanks Chalicea.
My pick: 27a
Which did you like best?


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.


17 comments on “Toughie 2088

  1. Most of this was reasonably straightforward, but I had a few problems finishing off the NW corner. I had to Google the aquatic bird having guessed most of it from the anagram and crossers. The fabric in 26a was new to me too. 4d was last in. 18a is a phrase I have only ever seen in crosswords.

    Thanks to Kitty and Chalicea

  2. Finished it with a bit of research. 9a I agree, when you have to resort to anagram solver, it loses the sense of achievement. Tara avis was new to me

  3. Definitely a step up in difficulty from Chalicea’s debut Toughie but enough feathered friends around to keep me happy. I did know the Moorhen- by- any- other- name but doubt that I’d have remembered it without the anagram, particularly as I didn’t know the pulley.
    My brain wandered off down the same path as Kitty’s over the hats and the Yorkshire river and I was grateful for being able to take a guess at crosswordland’s favourite plant before looking up the fabric in the BRB.

    My pick of the bunch was 27a with 14d coming in a very close second.

    Many thanks to Chalicea for the puzzle and to our Girl Tuesday for an excellent blog and the very amusing illustrations.

  4. Did this waiting for a mechanic to finish his fag and put the wheels back on my car.
    Had to guess the bird and the cloth, but knew the pulley having spent half my life splicing block and tackles etc.

    Thanks Chalicea and Kitty

  5. I didn’t know the aquatic bird, the pulley or the glazed fabric so Google was fully employed today. Despite that I enjoyed the puzzle – thanks to Chalicea and Kitty.
    I did wonder whether ‘mince pie’ ought to have been qualified to show that it is rhyming slang, e.g. by appending ‘ in Wapping’ or similar to the clue (?).
    The clues that I ticked were 1a, 20a and 27a.

  6. We used to have hundreds of the birds in 9a in our canals, but I think the iguanas have killed them off. Another instance of introduced species killing off the natives. My pet peeve.

  7. Many thanks Chalicea for an enjoyable puzzle. Glad you’ve joined the toughie team.

    Some new words all readily deducible

    I liked 14d, 1a, 15a, thought 7d was a good find, plenty more to like and i think my favourite is 16d.

    Wire’s debut in the Independent today

    I’m about to tune in to the webcast Elkamere/anax is giving writing a puzzle from scratch

    Many thanks Kitty

  8. I enjoyed this, but I agree with Jane that it was quantum leap more challenging that Chalicea’s last toughie. There were all sorts of things that I had not heard of – if a Yorkshire river isn’t ‘Ouse’, I am immediately in trouble, and I stumbled across the something exceptional in 18a purely by chance having heard of neither the definition nor the skirt. And then there was the rhyming slang . . . . However, I did manage to finish with only Google and dictionary help. Many thanks to Chalicea and Kitty.

  9. Several things needed our references, 9a, 18a and the 26a fabric but in each case we had worked out what we were looking for from the wordplay. We enjoyed the solve and the new knowledge we gained.
    Thanks Chalicea and Kitty.

  10. It is always such a pleasure and relief to the setter when the solvers, and especially you experts, enjoy a crossword. I am particularly nervous about these first Toughies, and about getting the level of difficulty right. I loved Kitty’s review and the only down for me is that what has emerged as the overall favourite clue, 27a, was not my clue at all but the lovely creation of the editor who rejected my original clue (that used the unusual second meaning of the word – a late, second reaping of a crop) as too obscure. (I’ve said before that I set the weekly Farmers Guardian agriculture-oriented crossword and originate from Yorkshire, so sheep, crops and Yorkshire rivers are regular fodder for me.) Gazza’s and Dutch’s other favourites were mine but the ‘mince pies’ were Editor Chris’s in the place an over-easy clue of mine and I thought we could get by without the rhyming slang reference, as, like ‘plates of meat’, it is so often heard. Thank you all for the encouragement.

    1. Oh no, I feel bad now! The other clues were also good, I was just too lazy to pick more than one favourite!

      I’ll now add 1a – which would work well as the first and last lines of one. (I took the liberty of making the hint a 1a too.)

      That other meaning of aftermath does ring a bell now you mention it – but yes, it would definitely have been a get-from-wordplay job.

      Thanks for dropping in. I look forward to your next puzzle.

  11. Welcome Chalicea, your puzzles are great. Well done for becoming a Toughieist!

    Really enjoyed this.

  12. A couple in the NW corner and another down to the SW accounted for most of the time today. 18ac – you what? ;-) Enjoyable throughout though…

  13. I thought I was doing so well then got stuck because I wanted to put guillemot and was convinced that the German car was an Audi. So thanks Kitty for your help. I didn’t know that it was an early bird who made the tea, I thought it was a man’s job. After all, the Bible says Hebrews.

      1. Amos appropriate comment! You do a very good Job with your hints, hard Acts to follow. I wish I could get to sleep………..

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