Toughie 2092 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2092

Toughie No 2092 by Dada

Hints and tips by Gryphon

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


Hello!  Today’s hints are brought to you by a legendary beast known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions.

This Toughie by Dada guards its secrets a little more closely than do some of the crosswords we have on Tuesdays, but there are some gems to be found for those who dare.

In the clues below, definitions are underlined and indicators are in italics.  The answers can be found under the no answer buttons (except that one — there’s no answer under there).



1a    Where ‘RIP the compiler’ shall be writ, never! (4,2,4,4)
OVER MY DEAD BODY:  Our setter gets us on side from the outset by giving us a slice of humour to savour.  This phrase, which could stand in place of the expostulation at the end of the clue, may also cryptically refer to the location of the words shown in quotation marks in the event of the setter’s demise.  Also what the lady below used to say whenever asked for a special recipe:

9a    Something funny, perhaps, left in stew (3,4)
TAG LINE:  This is a watchword or slogan, or the last few words of a joke which will hopefully have an audience in stitches.  The usual abbreviation of left is inserted into a stew associated with North African cuisine

10a   Movement of current part inspired, I think, on reflection (4,3)
TIDE RIP:  A lurker concealed in part of the clue in reverse (on reflection).  This current, potentially lethal for those who encounter it, is only familiar to me with the words of the answer interchanged

11a   Brain extracted through the ears? (4)
MIND:  A synonym of brain which is also a homophone (through the ears?) of extracted or excavated

12a   Hymn — piece stealing heart in Bangkok, if one Siamese, say? (10)
MAGNIFICAT:  Wrap a chess piece around the middle letter of (heart in) Bangkok and follow it with IF from the clue and the Roman numeral for one.  Finish with the creature of which the reputedly aloof feline in the clue is an example (Siamese, say?).  A song of praise should appear as a result

14a   Grand, a dish of cold vegetables cut for curry paste (6)
MASALA:  The Roman numeral for 1000 (grand in the monetary sense) precedes A (from the clue) and a selection of cold vegetables minus the last letter (cut) to produce a mix of ground spices which may be used in the making of a curry

15a   Stab from behind in openly criminal study of felonies (8)
PENOLOGY:  The reversal (from behind) of a 2-letter word for a stab or attempt is inserted into an anagram (criminal) of OPENLY to leave us with a field of study which I may have heard of previously but needed to check in the BRB

17a   Dancing on air, old stud (8)
DOORNAIL:  This stud has a wide head and is used in the construction and decoration of wooden doors.  It is an anagram (dancing) of the second, third and fourth words in the clue

18a   Maximum number covered by hospital (6)
HEIGHT:  Think of a number between one and ten and place the common abbreviation for hospital in front of it.  This should produce a word for maximum that may be used in a phrase such as ‘that’s the ****** of it’

21a   Movement of hip on bandaging little bone — items for suturing might be seen here (10)
PINCUSHION:  Another clue requiring some building blocks.  Start with an anagram (movement) of hip and end with the ON from the clue.  These are surrounding (bandaging) a small anvil-shaped bone found in the middle ear and hence reveal an item often used by a seamstress to store the tools of her trade which she uses to hold together work in progress prior to stitching

22a   Foe not taking sides in prayer? (4)
ANTI:  A person in opposition is produced by removing the first and last letters (not taking sides) of an insect (shown below, having taken an unusual pew) whose familiar posture is likened to that of one praying

24a   Smart being gripped by a good book? On the contrary, losing the plot (7)
CHAOTIC:  The A from the clue and some biblical books (usually clued in the plural, but they could be in a single volume) are held (gripped) by a synonym of smart as used in the world of fashion.  This combination should result in a description of a situation that could be referred to as ‘losing the plot’

25a   One may be in charge of reaching (7)
ANAGRAM:  This wordplay device will transform ‘in charge’ into ‘reaching.’  You do occasionally see standalone definitions by example, as here, but it made my tail twitch

26a   Fashion design safe, criticise company slowing down after recession (5,3,6)
PETER PAN COLLAR:  Another visit to the world of fashion.  This time we are seeking an item which formed part of a costume designed by John White Alexander and his wife in collaboration with Maude Adams for the latter’s starring role in a famous 1905 theatre production.  Begin with crosswordland’s favourite safe and add a synonym for criticise plus an abbreviation for company.  Complete the job with the reversal (after recession) of an abbreviated musical term meaning slowing down



1d    I’m top? That’s wrong — I’m not sure top (7)
OPTIMUM:  Can’t pretend that I was overly enamoured with the surface read of this one but the gist of it is that we need to make an anagram (that’s wrong) of the words that precede the question mark and follow that with a hesitation device.  Top in the sense of best or ideal

2d    Encourage and kiss people in juvenile competition (3,3,5,4)
EGG AND SPOON RACE:  More construction work.  This time take a synonym for encourage plus AND directly from the clue then an old-fashioned 5-letter word which could mean kiss, and finally a large bunch of people.  With luck, you then have a sporting contest often incorporated into a Junior School Sports Day — one that generally causes fewer cuts and bruises than its counterpart which involves sacks!

3d    Miss scored, reportedly? (4)
MAID:  A straightforward homophone of a term describing an unmarried girl or lady which could be heard as (reportedly) a word meaning scored or gained

4d    River bird, one on the radio perhaps? (6)
DEEJAY:  The colourful woodland bird shown below is appended to what is possibly the most widely mentioned river in UK crosswords.  The whole will reintroduce a music presenter who put in another DT appearance very recently

5d    One’s present at present (8)
ATTENDER:  One who is present.  AT from the clue followed by a verb to present, offer or bid

6d    Comfortable position with bloomers full of thorns? (3,2,5)
BED OF ROSES:  We are seeking a commonly used expression which, when one comes to think about it, has to be a contradiction in terms!  A group of these thorn-bearing bloomers when planted in a garden are accepted as being synonymous with a ‘comfortable position’ in life

7d    Dodgy ear — regret cold in head (8-7)
DIRECTOR-GENERAL:  Anagram alert, heralded by ‘dodgy’.  On this occasion, reconfigure the second to fifth words in the clue to unveil the type of head of which Tony Hall is a current example

8d    Mole exaggerated punctures with acne, say? (6)
SPOTTY:  A 3-letter acronym meaning ‘exaggerated’ goes inside (punctures) a mole of the snoopy human variety.  Another surface read that got the thumbs down here

13d   Fifty tucking into feast, ten almost finished French stew (10)
BLANQUETTE:  The Roman numeral for fifty is inside (tucking into) a sumptuous feast.  We finish off with most of (almost finished) the number TE(n) to give a type of French ragout

16d   Before bedtime, a short agreement drawn up after close (8)
NIGHTCAP:  A drink imbibed before bedtime comprises a synonym of close or near to followed by a reversal (drawn up, in a down clue) of a 4-letter word for an agreement.  A deftly camouflaged definition!

17d   Case of dramatist screening very long show (6)
DEPICT:  The first and last letters of (case of) dramatist concealing (screening) a term relating to a lengthy book, film etc. to result in a verb pertaining to ‘show’

19d   One cutting down to size a couple of males held by judge? (7)
TRIMMER:  A person or piece of equipment that may reduce almost anything to the required measurements.  This particular one involves a ‘judge’ who has arrested (held) a couple of blokes

20d   Land in effect over sea (6)
DOMAIN:  A 2-letter word for effect or accomplish comes before (over, in a down clue) a frequently encountered alternative name for the briny to reveal a territory or area

23d   Big fish all right in the morning after getting up (4)
MAKO:  This shark needed checking in the BRB but was easily assembled from the clue.  Another of our setter’s favoured  reversals — this time comprising the two letters that can stand for ‘all right’ and another two that refer to any time before noon


Thanks to Dada.  Favourites here were 1a, 11a and 6d for the smiles they elicited.  Which tickled your funny bone?



25 comments on “Toughie 2092

  1. I thought that this was a bit tougher than we normally get from Dada though lacking some of the humour we get from Paul.
    The surface of 8d seemed fine to me. One of Adrian Mole’s New Year resolutions was “to stop squeezing my spots”.
    Top clues for me were 10a (my last answer – I only found the lurker after failing to parse it any other way), 22a and 16d.
    Thanks to Dada and to Griphon (although [redacted] I like to know who the blogger(s) is/are).

      1. Gryphon is Jane with the technical stuff taken care of by me. Not the best welcome to blogging for her, but I think she did a fine job.

        Gazza, I was gobsmacked by your comment, which was completely out of character. (Ironic that you should seem not to be yourself.)

        There are plenty regular contributors who use different pseudonyms for joint blogs. Archy and Mehitabel, Anthony and Cleopatra, Batman and Robin, Fred and Ginger …

        Some setters have many pseudonyms. Commenters use new names for their Rookie puzzles.

        You made no adverse comments about KateR at the time. On the contrary, I remember a convivial day in the comments section and was dismayed to read otherwise, out of the blue.

    1. The aim was not to hide my involvement – that would have been clear from the format of the blog, plus anyone with a login would have been able to see that I had uploaded it. Jane, however, was unhappy to be outed so soon.

      Why hide? You are not sure how your first blogging attempt will be received. Friends might be complimentary just because they are your friends. And it’s possible that some people might make rude, thoughtless and unfeeling comments, in which case you would be glad that you didn’t put your actual name on it.

      I’ll leave it there, but before I go I will just summarise how it went from this end.

      It was a late night and early morning helping with the hints and then searching for pictures. We were tired. Jane was nervous and excited. I was not nervous, but excited on her behalf and looking forward to the responses. Then the blog went down, and poor Jane had to endure an hour and a half of waiting, not knowing when it would be back up. Then that first comment was just a massive wet blanket, ruining everything that followed.

  2. A decent puzzle to fill the Tuesday slot.

    Thanks to the newly inducted Gryphon for the blog and a technical Kitty on hand to assist.

  3. Congrats Jane – good job :good:

    Thanks for the tech support from Kitty, too.

    Oops – and Dada for the crossword….

  4. Good puzzle and charming chatty blog. I liked the pictures too. I hope we see more of Gryphon.

  5. We started off at a rush with 1a going straight in and giving heaps of starting letters. Slowed down considerably in the bottom half, particularly the SW. Dada always keeps us smiling and chuckling and did once again.
    We had heard we were going to have a new blogger and had correctly guessed who it would be. Well done Jane.
    Thanks Dada and Gryphon.

  6. I haven’t had time to do the puzzle, but I have read the hints and they are excellent. Great to see you in the blogging chair, Jane, and congratulations on a very fine debut blog.

  7. The NW corner went in at a fair rate of knots, but from then on it was all downhill until I ground to a halt in the SE. Which will teach me to feel so smug on solving 13d from the wordplay. Oh well. Lots of fun to be had throughout, of course. Congratulations on the debut blog.

  8. Three Dada in a row if I include Saturday Guardian. What a joy.
    Enjoyed the very precise hints. Bravo Jane.
    Thanks also to Kitty for the mise en page.

  9. Many thanks to everyone for all the comments – that was some experience!

    I don’t think those of us who just leave comments on the blogs can ever really understand just how much time and effort goes into their creation and what a huge debt we owe to those who give up their free time each week to bring them to us.
    I salute them all.

    1. Jane, I never do the toughie but I usually glance over the blog. I didn’t get to look it over yesterday, but it was just as esoteric as most of the toughies! I congratulate you, not only a job well done but for your bravery!

    2. Me too (salute I mean) I think the parsing is amazing, concise, helpful and often amusing. I regret all the years I did not know about you all. I wonder how you all got together? Thanks for replying to me, I don’t seem to have much time to myself these days which is ridiculous and as you have probably noticed I am often last to make a comment. It is really nice to know someone reads them all! Time to get started on a mushroom risotto.

  10. Congratulations on your first blog, well done. I had never come across the shark and agree that 10a is usually 3,4 and not 4,3. I have just had a Whiskey Mac as a 16d. Yum.

  11. PS I am curious to know if you have prior sight of the crossword or is all that work done on the morning the paper is published? A real slog of a blog if that is the case. Phew.

    1. The next day’s puzzles become available to Telegraph subscribers at midnight UK time which doubtless benefits some of our overseas bloggers who live in a different time zone. Those who live here have to either endure a very long night or be brave enough to tackle the whole process when they wake in the morning!

      1. I don’t subscribe to Telegraph Puzzles. I have a Daily Telegraph Subscription. My puzzles come through a little later in the early hours so I usually wake a little earlier on a Blogging day.

        1. We have a subscription as well – jolly useful in Loch Fyne and other watering holes. You must all be jolly bright because you have to solve the puzzle before you can begin to take it all apart. Most impressive. I like to have a pen in my hand and I do quite a bit of scribbling so I don’t think I could cope with doing the crossword on line, although I do use the tablet for scrabble. Thanks for answering me.

  12. Gave this one a go because I answered 1A on reading the clue;
    after that the blog was appreciated !

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