Toughie 2102 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2102

Toughie No 2102 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A not too difficult and immensely enjoyable puzzle from Micawber. Every clue is a delight. Today, I’m standing in for Bufo the magician (now you see him, now you don’t) – so apologies if I don’t live up to Bufo’s usual concise clarity (though you might get some illustrations).

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Seeking to influence opinion in favour of non-religious short verse (14)
PROPAGANDISTIC: A 3-letter word for in favour of, a 5-letter word mean non-religious, and a couplet or two-lined verse made even shorter by removing the last letter (short)

10a    Firm‘s rank on ice (4-5)
ROCK-SOLID: A 4-letter word I didn’t know for rank or smelly follows (on, in an across clue) a slang word for ice in your bourbon

11a    Glimpse ground zero (5)
DECKO: A slang word for ground plus the letter that looks like zero

12a    Belted out melody after knocking back drink (7)
SANGRIA: A verb for belted out vocally plus the reversal (after knocking back) of another word for melody

13a    Old chap’s suppressing hint of laughter, as shown by face? (6)
O’CLOCK: The abbreviation for old and a familiar slang word for a man contains the first letter (hint) of laughter

15a    Moroccan bar-owner showing strain (4)
RICK: Two meanings, the first relates to the Bogart movie “Casablanca”


17a    One obeying order to surround agents with tank (10)
CISTERCIAN: A word for tank surrounds the abbreviation for an American intelligence agency

18a    Heeding the tremors, climbed further (10)
HEIGHTENED: An anagram (tremors) of HEEDING THE

20a    Employed New York Times boss, say (4)
USED: The ‘say’ as a definition by example indicator applies first to New York, then to Times boss

22a    Each pasty’s excellent to eat (6)
APIECE: A 3-letter pasty is eaten by another word for excellent

23a    Low bit of chain making fast (7)
MOORING: Low as in cattle sound, and another word for a link in a chain

26a    Space station bearing first citizen of neutral country (5)
SWISS: A 3-letter abbreviation for a space station is preceded by (first) a compass-bearing

27a    Artwork made from a clog, creatively coated in cheese (9)
BRICOLAGE: An anagram (creatively) of A CLOG is surrounded (coated) by a French cheese

28a    Was desperate to reach point, interrupted by waffle and verbosity (4-10)
LONG-WINDEDNESS: A 6-letter word for was desperate or pined plus a point or cape contains (is interrupted by) a word for waffle or gas


2d    Knock a thousand off figure for survey (5)
RECON: Remove (knock off) an abbreviation for a thousand from a verb meaning to figure

3d    Baked product‘s defunct line (6)
PASTRY: A word for defunct or finished plus the abbreviation for railway

4d    Saving lead, shoddily coated with another metal (10)
GALVANISED: An anagram (shoddily) of SAVING LEAD

5d    Feature of seaside: odd characters changing where they are and revealing all (4)
NUDE: Take a seaside feature, then swap the odd letters

6d    Fast mover picked up risqué tips from dating network insider (4,3)
INDY CAR: A reversal (picked up) of a word for risqué plus the initial letters (tips) of dating network insider

7d    Work on structure increasing strength in eyes (9)
TECTONICS: Work here is a noun, as in ‘the study of’. An adjective meaning increasing strength (which I normally use as a noun in my gin) goes inside (in) another slang word for some eyes of the private kind

8d    Secretive, devious dark agenda encircles head of government, close to summit (5,3,6)
CLOAK AND DAGGER: An anagram (devious) of DARK AGENDA goes around (encircles) the first letter (head) of Government, with the street abbreviation for Close at the front (to summit, in a down clue).

9d    Add sauce and try again with reduced seasoning — this may be the last chance to get it right! (5,9)
DRESS REHEARSAL: Another way of saying add sauce, as you might with a salad, then a verb meaning to try again in court, plus the first 3 letters (reduced) of a 4-letter seasoning or condiment

14d    Run railway to increase efficiency (10)
STREAMLINE: To run, as a rivulet might, plus another word for railway

16d    Popular chemical firm formerly controlled by family doctor (9)
CLINICIAN: A short word meaning popular plus an old (formerly) UK chemical firm (who’s pharmaceutical branch became my formerly employer) inside (controlled by) another word for family

19d    Was Observer supporting journalist’s cutting article? (7)
HACKSAW: a verb meaning ‘was observer’ goes underneath (supporting, in a down clue) a word applied to a journalist

21d    Chanel applied to produce stage in metamorphosis (6)
COCOON: The first name of the founder of the Chanel brand plus a short word that can mean applied


24d    Clerics don’t miss me? (5)
IMAMS: If you split the answer (1’1, 1, 2), then in terms of how you want to be addressed you might say “don’t miss me!”

25d    Resort lacking bar? (4)
OBAN: Split (1,3), the answer can be read as no bar

Plenty to choose a favourite from. Mine is 12a, I think, a very nice clue. I thought 27a was great, with a kinda extended definition, also 4d was very nice. I enjoyed 24d, eventually, it was my last to parse. Which clues did you like?


19 comments on “Toughie 2102

  1. Marvellous puzzle from Micawber which I thought was a bit tougher than we usually get from him. The NE corner caused me a few problems and my last answer was 7d – I did wonder whether it could be a sort of all-in-one with ‘eyes’ being the epicentres of earthquakes but I can’t find any evidence that eye is used in this way.
    My ticks went to 11a, 12a, 13a, 5d and 9d with my favourite being the brilliant 24d.
    Thanks to Micawber and Dutch.

  2. I’ve had to go incognito to see if my comment will appear.

    Splendid stuff. Trickier than I’d expect from a Micawber but that’s alright by me. Thanks to him and the stand in blogger

  3. I too got becalmed in the NE after sprinting through most of it. The parsing of 10a was a mystery long after the answer was obvious.
    15a is clearly the clue of the day. 😀

  4. Extremely enjoyable but enough really tough clues to push it into 4* territory for us (viz. 10a, 1a, 7d).

    For a short while we thought 14d was r for run in “steam line”. We needed Dutch to explain 6d, though we had it as our answer. As for 27a, it reminded us of just how many Monsieur Bricolage (the DIY chain) stores there are along French major roads.

    Thanks to Dutch and to Micawber.

  5. Very nice puzzle, very tough too. Funny then that Dutch goes for 12a which is a more straightforward one. Which doesn’t mean I disagree with him, mind you.

    I agree with Bernie about how the construction of 24d is referred to, or parsed, in the clue: that’s a very hard one to get. However I did see the singular version of that clue done in a Times puzzle recently, which used an idea along the lines of ‘what follows PM’, also very subtle. Anyway, I took my time with this one.

    Thank you Micawber and Dutch, very good indeed.

  6. For a long time I was looking at this puzzle with only two completed entries. I took a peek at the opening remarks in the review expecting to find ranting, raving, and gnashing of teeth over the outrageous difficulty, but I was soon convinced it was me rather than the puzzle. I went back and persevered, and I am very glad I did because, in the end, I had the satisfaction of being able to finish. However, like some others (but probably more so), I struggled mightily with the NE corner. Firstly, I don’t think I’ve seen 11a spelled with a ‘ck’ (rather than ‘kk’), I had 13a long before I had the confidence to enter it because I was expecting the enumeration to be different. Even with Dutch’s review, I’m not sure I completely understand 7d, and there several other bits and pieces I was not aware of (the Moroccan bar-owner for one). Many thanks to Dutch for giving me the confidence to persevere, and to Mickawber for a great puzzle.

    1. I thought 7d was a hard clue. the setter may have been forced to use this word in the grid. Anyway, TONIC as an adjective means increasing strength, and if you put that inside TECS = private eyes, you get the answer. Hard wordplay for a hard definition.

      1. Thank you very much. I understood the tonic part, but I thought the other bits were a bit of a stretch!

  7. Biggest delay was in the NE where we had problems parsing a couple, 5d and 7d. It took us longer than Dutch’s ratings would imply but good clever fun all the way through.
    Thanks Micawber and Dutch.

  8. I needed help from Mr Google with the ‘rank’ and ‘verse’ and also to check the artwork, which vaguely rang a bell. Then I needed help from Dutch to parse 24d and explain why on earth a Moroccan would be named Rick!
    Not to worry – I still immensely enjoyed the challenge as I invariably do with a Micawber puzzle.

    Can’t choose a favourite but my short-list comprises 22&27a plus 3,9,14&21d.

    Many thanks to the delightful Micawber and to Dutch for manning the fort.

  9. I found this very tough needing a bit of Googling for a couple of answers and it was almost all very enjoyable. There were however two clues that I couldn’t solve: 2d is not in my BRB and, according to Collins on-line, it is an American abbreviation; and why enumerate 13a as (6) which is very misleading and just plain wrong.

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Dutch, whose help I needed to parse the very clever 24d.

    1. wrongly or rightly, apostrophes do not get included in enumeration. I’m sure i’ve heard an explanation of this which i have forgotten – anyone?

  10. That was quite tough for a relative newcomer to toughie time. I did like 27a mainly because it was one of the few to be solved before turning to Dutch’s excellent hints. I needed quite a few. I had trouble with the clerics in 24d and 17a and my knowledge of verse forms is in need of freshment. I too didn’t know that Olid is rank or smelly either. Thanks to Micawber and Dutch.

  11. We found this enjoyable but tough, the NE in particular. Had to come to the blog for 15a and to parse (if we’re allowed to use the word!) 25d.

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