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Toughie 2098

Toughie No 2098 by Hudson

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

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

Good afternoon from South Staffs, where I’m sitting in for Bufo who is otherwise engaged this week.

Today’s Toughie is set by Hudson, who appears to be a new recruit to the team of Toughie setters. Welcome to him or her. There is a North American flavour to some of today’s answers, as there is to the setter’s nom de plume. I didn’t find anything particularly tough about the puzzle, once the American usages had been sorted out, and it would not have felt out of place if it had been one of my normal Friday back page puzzles.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ANSWER buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


9a    Zoroastrian play Russia regularly censored (5)
PARSI – Alternate letters (regularly censored) of PlAy RuSsIa.

10a    Barb exposed argument with England cricketer (paper version includes: that’s turned up) in West Indian ground (9)
ARROWROOT – Start by removing the outer letters of bARb, then add an argument and the surname of England’s Test captain. You get a West Indian rhizome which, in powdered form, is used as a thickener.

11a    Legendary location in California runs out of wine (7)
CAMELOT – The abbreviation for the state of California, followed by a red wine grape with the R removed (runs out).

12a    It helps to get delivery from Languedoc pizzeria on the way back (3,4)
ZIP CODE – Hidden in reverse in the clue.

13a    Rubbish hotel invested in downmarket coffee bar (5)
CHAFF – The letter which is Hotel in the NATO alphabet, inserted into an informal word for an unpretentious coffee bar or greasy spoon.

14a    Swindler in bed, suffering strain (3,6)
CON ARTIST – Anagram (suffering) of STRAIN with another word for ‘bed’ around it.

16a    It’s used for dressing, calming abrasive wound (8,7)

19a    Criminal fraudster advanced to take over from old ballistics expert (9)
RACKETEER – Start with a particular sort of ballistics expert, then replace the Old with Advanced.

21a    Had moved down, securing a point? (5)
OWNED – Anagram (moved) of DOWN wrapped around one of the points of the compass.

23a    On Broadway, section of theatre role showcasing Manuel’s trademark reply? (7)
PARQUET – Manuel, the waiter from Barcelona in Fawlty Towers famously replied to almost any question or request with the Spanish equivalent of ‘What?’ Insert this into a word for a theatrical role, and you get the part of a theatre which in England we call the stalls.

25a    First or second tragedy to enfold over Grace (3,4)
LOW GEAR – A shortened form of the title of one of Shakespeare’s tragedies wrapped round the cricket abbreviation for an Over and the initials by which Dr Grace, the Victorian cricketer, is best known. The definition refers to what you need to engage to get a car or bicycle up a steep hill.

27a    Whip with peeled sharp stick? It’s purifying! (9)
CATHARTIC – A short form of the name of the instrument used to flog British sailors in Nelson’s navy, followed by sHARp and sTICk with the exterior letters removed.

28a    Long Island city, 100 in the shade? (5)
LILAC – Put together the initials of Long Island, an abbreviation for a West Coast US city, and the Roman numeral for 100.


1d    Heroic digital photo? (4)
EPIC – If you split the answer (1-3) you could get a term for an electronically produced photo.

2d    Cold frost on American peninsula (6)
CRIMEA – Put together Cold, another word for frost, and American, to get a Black Sea peninsula.

3d    Menu in Paddington’s ‘as much as you can eat’, according to Spooner (4,2,4)
BILL OF FARE – If you gave A famous Peruvian immigrant as many marmalade sandwiches as he could cope with, you might have a Spoonerism for the answer, which is simply a rather dated expression gor a restaurant menu.

4d    Main course initially covered in curry (6)
BALTIC – The main here is the aquatic version. Start with a curry served in a shallow steel dish, then add the first letter (initially) of Coveredourse.

5d    1970s leader the last character to be embraced by retiring Archdeacon Basil? (8)
BREZHNEV – Start by putting together the abbreviated title given to an Archdeacon and a generic word for the plants of which basil is an example. Reverse the result and insert the last letter of the alphabet, to get a Soviet leader from the Cold War era.

6d    Second hand, put up for exchange (4)
SWAP – An abbreviation for Second, followed by the reverse (put up) of an informal word for a hand.

7d    Travelling quickly, yacht finally berthed? (8)
MOTORING – A variety of marine berth wrapped around the last letter of yachT.

8d    Flog trade secret, losing a measure of respect with the kids (6,4)
STREET CRED – Anagram (flog) of TR(a)DE SECRET with the A removed (losing a).

13d    Bishop in strange secrecy about father’s virtual world (10)
CYBERSPACE – Anagram (strange) of SECRECY wrapped around the chess notation for a bishop, the whole then wrapped around an informal word for father.

15d    Workman and lad, unusually, in indication of trendlessness? (6,4)
RANDOM WALK – Anagram (unusually) of WORKMAN and LAD. The answer is defined in the BRB as ‘a series of processes, quantities, variables, etc following no discernible pattern’.

Paper version: Trendlessness in chart of track featuring No Particular Place To Go. (6,4)
RANDOM WALK – Cryptic definition of something defined in the BRB as ‘a series of processes, quantities, variables, etc following no discernible pattern’.

17d    Rip jagged tear beneath delicate fabric (8)
LACERATE – A fine fabric, mostly holes surrounded by thread, followed by an anagram (jagged) of TEAR.

18d    Yours truly had substance and character (8)
IDENTITY – An abbreviated way of saying ‘yours truly had’ followed by a substance or being.

20d    Journalist on the up leaving ramshackle reminder of a bygone era (6)
RELICT – Start with a word for ‘ramshackle’ or ‘abandoned’, then remove the reverse (on the up) of the usual crossword journalist from the beginning of it.

22d    It’s used to irritate; there is a point to it (6)
NEEDLE – Double definition: metaphorically, a way of irritating someone; physically, something with a sharp point.

24d    It meanders, surreally, off and on (4)
URAL – Alternate letters (off and on) of sUrReAlLy.

26d    Topless pair in competition (4)
RACE – A word for a pair (of pheasants, perhaps) with its first letter removed.

Sorry for the lack of illustrations, but I’m having difficulty accessing the site, and have emailed the text to BD in the hope that he can post it.  [There has been a problem with the site – I had to reboot the server to get it working again.  BD]

Back tomorrow (I hope) with the Friday back page puzzle.


23 comments on “Toughie 2098

  1. The only thing that took this from easy back pager to hard back pager was yet another mathematical thing – I’m not sure, as a word person rather than a numbers person, why I’m being asked to learn all this new ‘stuff’

    Grump over – welcome to Hudson – there are a couple of surface/definition things I’m not sure work – but apart from that a pleasant Telegraph debut

    Thanks also to DT

  2. Welcome to our new Toughie setter and thanks to him/her for the puzzle and to DT for the review.
    I’d never heard of 15d and I don’t understand the definition of 10a. Also I don’t think that 4d works very well – should it not be ‘by curry’ rather than ‘in curry’? (the C presumably is the first letter of course, otherwise ‘course’ plays no part).
    My favourite clue was 11a.

  3. I’ve been tempted away from my low-crossword diet again as I had to check out this new setter.

    Enjoyed it. Gentle today, my only real hold up being 25a, where the wordplay took a little pondering. As we’ve seen recently, the setter may well be about to flex their muscles in the next one … we shall see!

    Thanks Hudson and DT.

  4. Like Gazza I don’t understand why ‘West Indian ground’ equals the answer. ‘Ground’ surely isn’t enough to define a substance which is ground up?
    Don’t let Rabbit Dave see the unindicated Americanism in 12a!
    Took me less time than today’s back pager (which didn’t take long).

    1. Possibly ‘ground’ = ‘powder’ by analogy with coffee grounds? Notice that the additional words in the paper version focus attention more on what’s dug up from the ground.

      1. I’ve just seen the additional words in the paper which do make more sense – presumably the paper definition is “that’s turned up in West Indian ground”.

  5. We enjoyed Hudson’s debut – well done, sir/madam. Nothing to frighten the horses and Mr Sheffieldsy’s Maths degree came in handy for 15d (not sure Mrs Sheffieldsy enjoyed the subsequent more detailed explanation!).

    We have no issue with the West Indian ground (compilers are allowed to be misleading, surely?). Favourite was 27a.

    Thanks to DT and Hudson.

  6. A gentle, enjoyable Toughie. Welcome to the new setter. I managed this in less time than the back pager today. No gold medal winner but joint silvers to 27a and 19a.

  7. I did enjoy most of this puzzle from this new setter but I can’t understand what qualifies it to be a Toughie. A couple of clues in the SE corner were the only ones which needed a bit of extra cogitation.

    I didn’t understand the need for “that’s turned up” in 10a but DT’s comment under no.4 above seems to be a reasonable explanation. The “in” in 4d seemed incongruous, and I’ve never heard of that specific meaning for 23a before.

    Many thanks to Hudson and to DT.

    1. I’d have though the ‘in’ in 4d is quite necessary. It wouldn’t make sense without it, would it?

      1. I agree something is necessary but I much prefer Gazza’s suggestion of “by”. “Covered in” implies the “c” should be placed within the curry, but “covered by” means the “c” comes after the curry.

  8. Quite an enjoyable solve with the only problems encountered being of my own making – trying to remove ‘hack’ from ‘ramshackle’ in 20d and forgetting the famous cricketer’s initials to help with the parsing of 25d.
    I forgave the un-indicated Americanism in 12a simply because I’d already sorted out the 1970’s leader but certainly didn’t know the other Americanism (which was indicated) in 23a.
    I did have to confirm with the BRB that the root word in 19a was a ‘real’ word and as for 15d – don’t think I got beyond the first sentence in Mr Google’s explanation!

    Top three for me were 11,27&28a with a special mention for the extremely well conceived anagram in 16a.

    Thanks to Hudson and to DT for the blog.

  9. An enjoyable romp through our new Toughie setter’s debut. I agree with nearly everything that has been mentioned previously so I won’t dwell on that. I did wonder whether the frequent use of the letter ‘C’ at the beginning and end of a few solutions was hiding some interesting theme – but I can’t see it. Probably just a coincidence. I liked the anagram at 16a – good clue.

    Welcome to Hudson (does he live Downstairs or is he just a Rock?) Thanks for the fun and thanks to DT for standing in.

  10. Add my thanks and appreciation for an enjoyable solve. My only downfall was not knowing the curry in 4d, and I wasn’t able to able to get the answer form the definition alone.

  11. Well we enjoyed it.
    Most surprised at the number of otherwise knowledgeable people unaware of 15d. I was about to lament this state of affairs, but partner-in-crime suggested it might simply be a generational thing. Any young solvers out there who can help?

    1. 15d was my last in. I had guessed what it was from the checkers but needed Google to confirm that it was a genuine term. It may well be generational. My 1972 BRB hasn’t got it.

  12. We enjoyed this puzzle from a new Toughie setter and wondered if it is a new name for a setter we might already know. Our usual source of information on setter’s names, ‘Best for Puzzles’ did not recognise Hudson. Perhaps Chris will pop in with more detail. Our last one to get sorted was 10a but we did eventually work it all out.
    Thanks Hudson and DT.

  13. Thoroughly enjoyable. At the easier end of the Toughie spectrum but I’m not complaining after struggling recently. 15d was new to me but could be nothing else, and, something new learnt… Welcome Hudson.

  14. Enjoyed this, Spoonerism in 3d. took me a while. I had not heard of 15d. either, that’s going in the memory banks. Thanks Hudson and DT.

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