Toughie 2091 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2091

Toughie No 2091 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Notabilis has some wonderful definitions in this somewhat harder than usual puzzle (or maybe I’m just off-wavelength). It took me a while to find some of the parsings. Notabilis often has a Nina, but I haven’t spotted anything yet. I’m in a bit of a hurry, I have a taxi to the airport at 9am – I’m off to a 40th anniversary of a wedding where I was best man (where did those 40 years go?). So, I may not be able to respond immediately to comments.

As usual, definitions are underlined, the hints are intended to help you make sense of the wordplay, and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the click here buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought.


1a    Prequel to Little Women would be about this parade (5,4)
MARCH PAST: Parade is a verb, a Little Women prequel would be about their family history

8a    One radical answer to stop clever men and beat regulator (13)
DEFIBRILLATOR: The roman numeral for one, an informal word for excellent or radical(?), and the abbreviation for A go into (to stop) a 4-letter word for clever or dexterous, plus an abbreviation for army men

11a    Fruit article stuffed with crumbs (5)
ACORN: A 2-letter article is stuffed with an interjection meaning crumbs or my

12a    Oblique hit with tip off long pointed weapon (5)
LANCE: A 6-letter oblique hit without the first letter (with tip off)

13a    Heavy tread marks in braking effect? (5)
STOMP: The abbreviation for marks goes in a consequence of braking

16a    Perhaps a relic from defunct campsite area (6)
EXTENT: Split 2-4, perhaps, this whimsically describes some relic you might find in a defunct campsite

17a    Son keeping backward type of person under wraps? (6)
LAGGED: Another word for son or young man contains the reversal (backward) of a type of person who could be either good or bad

18a    I’m off abroad, i.e., unwinding somewhat (5)
ADIEU: Hidden (… somewhat)

19a    Papal letters bishop cut back (6)
BREVES: The abbreviation for Bishop plus a reversal (back) of a verb meaning cut

20a    Four-day span delaying a monument? (6)
STATUE: Trying not to give too much away: a four-day span could be MON-THU but we have a different set of days here, with the A moved one space to the right (delaying a)

21a    Coarse one leaves like a swift runner (5)
HARSH: The Roman numeral for one is omitted from (leaves) a 6-letter word that mean like a swift running animal

24a    Earthen pot with snapper baked in the centre (5)
CROCK: An informal word for a reptile with big teeth plus the middle letter (in the centre) of baked

26a    Somewhere to park son before walk (5)
SPACE: The abbreviation for son and another word for walk

27a    When everything should go swimmingly, encase with all care (9,4)
CLEARANCE SALE: An anagram (swimmingly) of ENCASE + ALL CARE

28a    Female servant was passively appalled according to report (5-4)
LADY’S MAID: The answer  is a homophone (according to report) of a (3,8) phrase  that would mean ‘was passively appalled’


2d    Foreigner’s good for English to get into a row (5)
ALIGN: Take another word for foreigner and replace the E(nglish) with G(ood)

3d    That’s something on lowest instrument (6)
CORNET: An interjection meaning “that’s something” or “crumbs” or “my”, is on top of (on, in a down clue) a word meaning lowest, as is no more deductions

4d    Basic measurement on mass tendency not to react (6)
PHLEGM: The measure of basicity (or acidity), another cricket term for “on”, and the abbreviation for mass

5d    Angrily sayGet knotted!‘ (5)
SNARL: Two meanings, the second as in a piece of string. I had first entered a G for the first letter, which cost me a bit of time

6d    They’ve been around married daughter escaping apocalypse (3,2,3,5)
MEN OF THE WORLD: The abbreviation for married, then a (3,2,3,5) expression for apocalypse from which the abbreviation for daughter is removed (escaping)

7d    Epstein’s fifth Beatle, protecting kid with own goal? That’s up, but not for debate (3-10)
NON-NEGOTIABLE: All reversed (that’s up): the fifth letter in Epstein, then the surname of one of the Beatles goes around (protecting) a verb to kid or tease plus the abbreviation for own goal

9d    Someone copying book in collection — cheaper edition? (9)
PAPERBACK: a 4-letter word for someone copying or imitating plus the abbreviation for book go in a 4-letter collection

10d    A ‘shady agent you previously used in plot, looking sinister? (5-4)
BEADY-EYED: A from the clue, a ‘shady’ or colouring agent, the old (previously used) form of you go inside (in) a garden plot. The online version has only one apostrophe in the clue

13d    Secret police not finished with husband, put away (5)
STASH: The old East German secret police without the last letter (not finished) with the abbreviation for husband

14d    Twig what’s inside stockings? (5)
OSIER: The central letters (what’s inside) of a 7-letter word for garments of which stockings are an example (hence the question mark)

15d    Soft and luxurious? (5)
PLUSH: The music abbreviation for soft or quiet, and another word for luxurious. The whole clue gives the definition

22d    Adult travelling by trains where flights are restricted (6)
AVIARY: The abbreviation for adult, a 3-letter Latin word that can mean travelling by, and the abbreviation for trains or railway

23d    Say Man About the House is origin of Three’s Company in simulation (6)
SITCOM: The first letter (origin of) Three and the abbreviation for company go inside (in) a contraction of simulation

25d    Fine raised after one chews gum (5)
KOALA: The reversal of an informal 2-letter expression for fine or alright, and a 1,2 expression meaning after or in the manner of

26d    It should be taken in cold light of day, but not 12 o’clock or 1:30? (5)
SUSHI: Take an 8-letter word for the ‘light of day’ from which we first remove the abbreviation for  North (12 o’clock) and then remove the final NE (North-East, the position of the hour hand at 1:30)

I liked the simple 14d, also 6d, 10d and the anagram at 27a. I thought 22a was clever as well. Many more to like. Which were your favourites?

21 comments on “Toughie 2091

  1. A glorious splendid proper Toughie – I can’t begin to list the clues I really liked, it might be easier to list the ones I wasn’t quite so fond of.

    There is a Nina – its the reason the grid has all those pesky double unches!

    Thanks to Notabilis for a proper testing of the grey matter and to Dutch for the illustrated explanations

  2. Brilliant crossword – thanks to Notabilis and Dutch for the explanations. I needed to ‘phone a friend’ for the explanation of how 1:30 worked in 26d.
    Difficult to pick top clues from so many candidates but I’ll go with 1a, 11a and 22d.
    There is a Nina,

  3. I’m sorry, but this was too hard for me to be enjoyable. I got most of the right hand edge, but only a scant handful elsewhere. My thanks and admiration to Dutch for the enlightening review (although, even with it, there are still some that I am trying to unravel) and thanks to Notabilis.

  4. Really enjoyed this challenge, as is usual with this setter. For once I can forgive the double unches with the superb nina. Thanks to Dutch and Notabilis

  5. Another excellent Toughie to finish the week. Notabilis is possibly my favourite setter at the moment.
    I didn’t think the majority of this was too tricky but, like Gazza, the second part of the parsing in 26d eluded me and I don’t think it works terribly well.
    Not having read the book, 1a went in just from the definition and checkers to be Wikified later. I liked the four day span.

  6. Excellent fun and very much enjoyed. We started off thinking that 1a was going to be MARDI GRAS and this held up progress in the North for a while. On completion spent quite some time searching for a NINA but could not find anything. Now that we know that there is one and it has to do with the double unches will have another search.
    Thanks Notabilis and Dutch.

    1. Have just spotted the Nina and now understand the last line of Gazza’s comment #2. Thanks for the hint you two.

  7. Congratulations Gazza, CS, Andy, 2kiwis etc for finding the Nina.

    Even with the double unch hint, it took me ages to see.

    For those still struggling, read clockwise and you’ll find a double negative. Brilliant!

    I had been wondering if the grid looked a bit like a clock face and wasted time trying to find a 12 o’clock and 1:30 message.

    Many thanks again Notabilis

  8. Blimey said the duchess. Unches and Nina’s, what is going on here? Thanks Notabilus for knocking me down to size and to Dutch for explaining how dense I am. Did get some of them though.

  9. Didn’t have chance to look at this until this evening but I’m really glad I found time for it.
    Forgot about the crickety stuff needed to fully parse 4d (sorry RD!) and failed to parse 26d – very clever.

    Podium places went to 1a plus 7&9d.

    Many thanks to Notabilis for the challenge and thanks to Dutch for finding the time on such a hectic day to bring us the blog.
    Hope the Anniversary celebration went off well.

  10. An A+ puzzle with an H nina. Went for a co-solve, which is a great way of increasing the enjoyment per time spent. The better brain spotted the nina.

    Many thanks Notabilis and Dutch.

    1. I still haven’t satisfactorily sorted out the Nina and now you score it an H- which has confused me even further. Elucidation for the thick one at this end, please!

      1. Hi Jane. With two NEGATIVEs around a single positive (+ in the centre of the grid), I took this to be a representation of a hydrogen atom with an extra electron, or a negative hydrogen ion, H.

  11. A P.S. about the grid while I’m here – all of the double-unched answers have 50% checking, with first and last letters checked. If I were going to complain about it (which I’m not) it would be because the 8 longer answers around the outside are all underchecked. (The reason I’m not complaining is not just a case of “I’ll forgive it because of the nina,” but that I think the checking letters which are there are helpful. If I’d struggled through on my own, however, it’s entirely possible that my view might be different.)

    1. Best thing about the longer ones (for me at least) was the number of multi-word answers which always allow for a bit of guesswork. The only one that I was unsure about was 10d – that definition is not the first that would spring to my mind.

      1. Yes. In 10d we had the “ye” and the “bed” looking likely from the beginning, so the rest followed without a problem. Shady agent very devious there! – but on the whole, enough helpful stuff to mitigate the fewer checkers (even if three of them were Es). It’s not just about things being hard or easy, it’s about a good balance and placement of those elements too.

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