Toughie 2111 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2111

Toughie No 2111 by Artix

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I was worried this was going to be very difficult, but I had a full grid within 4* time. I did, however, have to phone a friend to parse two homophones, 26a and 19d, hence the 5* extension. He wasn’t happy (with the homophones, I mean) so you can guess who it was (many thanks Gazza, also for your cricket knowledge!).

Definitions are underlined, answers can be revealed by clicking on the Click Here! Buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    No time for prejudice about fringe article that started it all? (3,4,6)
BIG BANG THEORY: Luckily, I managed to take a picture. A 7-letter word for prejudice without the T (no time for) goes about both an American word for hair fringe (though I’ve only seen this used as a plural) and the definite article

9a    Outspoken reserve coach is an issue for The Observer (9)
EYESTRAIN: A homophone(?) of reserve, as in formality or coldness, plus a word meaning to coach

10a    Not a blood relation, unlike Jesse James? (2-3)
IN-LAW: The Jesse James version is what I sometimes call these relations of mine (not when they are present)

11, 12 & 13a Holding to make most of spin bowler’s play in broadcast (5)
UNDER MILK WOOD: A famous spin bowler – first name Derek, a former English international cricketer (and president of MCC) who was regarded as one of the best bowlers in Test cricket – contains (holding) a verb meaning to make the most of, as in exploit. The play is a well-known 1954 radio drama by Dylan Thomas, later adapted for the stage. The clue is clever because Michael Holding is a cricket commentator.

15a    Dragon needs start of battle for knight, one in 25 (7)
MOBSTER: A word for dragon has the N replaced by B (needs start of battle for knight)

17a    Gallic, this officer‘s disgracefully mistreated (7)
DREYFUS: An anagram (mistreated) of GALLIC + (the officer in the answer) gives DISGRACEFULLY. The whole clue very neatly extends the definition of the answer. Almost an all-in-one by nature, but I think that the wordplay depends on “this officer” being the definition.

18a    Snub fancy beds, none being edged with subtle shades (7)
NUANCED: Remove the outer letters (none being edged) from the first 3 words in the clue

20a    Native shot by Frenchman somewhere in Indochina (7)
VIETNAM: An anagram (shot) of NATIVE plus the abbreviation for Monsieur

21a    Couples in Barbie & Ken’s van get hot (4)
BAKE: The two letters (couples) at the front of (van) Barbie & Ken

22a    Thoroughly shaft (4)
WELL: Two meanings, the second refers to a deep hole dug in the ground

23a    Launches lead-free comestibles from 2122? (5)
TARTS: 21,22 are the previous two clues. Another word for launches without the first letter (lead-free)

26a    Red dictator’s concerning Ozzie yob (5)
RIOJA: A homophone (dictator’s) of a short word meaning concerning as well as a 5-letter word for an oafish uncultured Australian

27a    Houses vet next to old unfinished Moroccan palace (9)
AUDITORIA: To vet or check carefully, the abbreviation for Old, and a 4-letter traditional Moroccan house or palace built around an internal garden, without the last letter (unfinished)

28a    Chopping head off, dodgy aperture ruined English photo (13)
DAGUERREOTYPE: An anagram (ruined) of (d)ODGY APERTURE without the first letter (chopping head off), plus the abbreviation for English


1d    ‘Live 2001 in Edinburgh’ fluttered tiny flyer? (3,11)
BEE HUMMINGBIRD: The world’s smallest bird, apparently. A 2-letter verb meaning live, then the Roman numeral for 2001 goes inside an anagram (fluttered) of EDINBURGH

2d    Piggery‘s good animals from the south (5)
GREED: The abbreviation for Good, then a reversal (from the south, in a down clue) of some antlered animals

3d    Worker getting cold in truck area? He definitely would be here (10)
ANTARCTICA: A 6-legged worker, the abbreviation for cold goes inside a type of truck, plus the abbreviation for area. The definition refers back to cold in the wordplay

4d    Students collectively note piston’s fall and rise (7)
GRAMMAR: A 1-letter note, then a 3-letter piston written first forward then backward (fall and rise, in a down clue).

5d    Some cards put on table, as done by management (7)
HANDLED: A word for some cards (and what you use to hold them), then a word meaning placed (a card) on table to initiate play

6d    Of late, notice string turning up in spaghetti bolognese (4)
OBIT: Reverse hidden (string turning up in …)

7d    One from school‘s cowardly if climbing on back of dolphin (9)
YELLOWFIN: Another word for cowardly, a reversal (climbing, in a down clue) of IF in the clue, and the last letter (back) of dolphin

8d    Foreign corporal pressing for treatment to be relaxed? (7,7)
SWEDISH MASSAGE: Foreign as in from a Scandinavian country, and corporal pressing as in a manipulation of the body

14d    Still in mess: on top of double one, you need six double sixes! (7-3)
SEVENTY-TWO: A word meaning still or yet goes inside (in) a mess or filthy place, comes before (on top of, in a down clue) the number you get when you double one

16d    Like coal or oil (5,4)
BLACK GOLD: The colour of coal and another word for the heraldic colour or

19d    Proclamation of Law, perhaps, took in D-Day? (3,4)
DUE DATE: A homophone (proclamation) of the first name of actor Law plus a verb meaning took in or consumed. D-Day (6 June, 1944, the day of the allied invasion of Europe began) can mean any critical day; perhaps here it could be Delivery Day (as in childbirth)

20d    More sound volume overlooks a top lady from Windsor (7)
VALIDER: The abbreviation for volume, A from the clue, another word for top, and an abbreviation for the Queen

24d    Lively Australian is tense visiting Irishman (5)
RORTY: An Australian word for lively comes from the abbreviation for tense going inside (visiting) an Irishman’s possible name.

25d    Band go to Aberdeen (4)
GANG: The Scottish word (to Aberdeen) for go

My favourite has to be the double definition in 22a, which of course is part of the lovely 21/22/23 combination. I’m impressed with 17a, and I now realise the surface to 11/12/13 is clever.  I also liked the neat 20a – normally I’m not a fan of “somewhere in” but here it reads nicely. I’m going to have to agree with Gazza on the homophones though! Which clues did you like?

26 comments on “Toughie 2111

  1. Having been less than complimentary about previous Artix Toughies, it is only fair to say that I found this accessible and enjoyable. I thought 17a was very good.
    Unlike Gazza I don’t have a problem with either homphone.

  2. I too found this more accessible than I’d expected it would be.

    Thanks to Artix, Dutch and Gazza

  3. Artix has turned down his trickiness meter since his last Toughie and hit exactly the required level for a Friday Toughie in my opinion (though the old spin bowler is perhaps a bit of knowledge too far for those solvers not into cricket).
    I enjoyed this a great deal and my printout is covered in ticks – 1a, 10a, 11/12/13a, 17a, 18a and 16d just to list some of them.
    Many thanks to Artix and Dutch.

  4. For some reason, I’m struggling to tune in to this puzzle so it looks like it’s going to sit on my desk for a while. Don’t think that’s happened since a proXimal puzzle last year!

    Thanks to Artix (you’ve not won just yet), Gazza and Dutch.

    1. Dodgy homophones and dated GK references (eventually) left me cold, I’m sorry to say.
      I do appreciate some clever wordplay, but overall I agree with Tony – this puzzle is not for me either.

  5. I thought this was a well constructed puzzle, but there were too many things I was not familiar with to make it an enjoyable solve. In the 11, 12, and 13a combination, not only had I not heard of the cricketer, but for the longest time I was confused by the enumeration being under the impression that 12 and 13a in some way referenced 11a. I hadn’t heard of the two Australian references in 24d and 26a, nor that actor in 19d (and I’m not sure the definition works for me either.) etc., etc. By slogging away, I did eventually get a complete and correct grid, but in many instances not knowing fully why things were as they were. Many thanks to Artix and Dutch, but I’m afraid this really wasn’t my puzzle.

  6. I really got nowhere with this one. I managed 1a but that was an inspired guess.
    Are we now expected to know obscure Australian slang? I suggest BD posts an online dictionary for we poor ignorant Limeys!

  7. I have to say that I too had something of an uncomfortable ride with this one, but there were still some quite lovely sights along the way. The GALLIC clue I thought quite tremendous, and I feel it is quite refreshing to see a ‘compound anagram’ (I believe this is the technical term) appearing in a daily puzzle. I think they are actually banned in some of the qualities!

    Enough from me. I wish you all a lovely weekend, especially Artix and Dutch.

    1. Yes, you won’t see a compound anagram in the independent. Nothing wrong with that, just house style, like no living people in the times except the queen.

      1. Compound anagrams are seen from time to time in Toughies; proXimal and I both use them fairly regularly. You’ll never see one in a back-page puzzle, though.

  8. Managed a handful of clues before leaving home this morning and am now up to about the halfway point having had a lucky break with knowing the tiny flyer, reverse parsing 1a and taking a stab in the dark over 11a etc.
    Not sure I’ll get a completion but I’ll battle on for a while.

    1. OK – I got as far as I could but, to be honest, I thought the Australian references were asking a bit too much of the solver and the 19d homophone was so unlikely that I didn’t get there. Oh yes – I wasn’t keen on 20d, would anyone actually use it!

      Still wrestling with how ‘students collectively’ gives the answer to 4d – can someone please help me out?

      Thanks to Artix (at least I almost completed this one!) and much respect to Dutch for the blog.

      1. 4d – see brb. Apparently, the answer to 4d by itself is an informal description of a particular kind of school. Hence “students collectively”

        1. I went to one myself but still can’t see that either the single or double worded answer describes anything other than the institution in which a certain type of education takes place.
          Thanks anyway, Dutch, thought I’d missed something rather than just having a different point of view!

          1. I agree, actually. Also, how is “theory” part of “that started it all”? but i walk on thin ice.

  9. Having breezed through the Giovanni cryptic this morning, this Artix brought me back to Earth somewhat, but provided me with, on and off some 4 or 5 hours or more of head scratching. I needed several hints and a couple of peeps at Dutch’s solutions in order to complete. Personally, I appreciated the tussle and enjoyed the extra effort needed to seek a solution. Now for a wee dram of something in order to recover. Thanks Artix for the mental workout and thanks Dutch for your explanations.

  10. I’m with those that didn’t know or at least remember a few terms. As is usual a pesky four letter (in this case 25d ) was my downfall/ Annoyingly at after work club everyone else seemed to know it,,,, anyway many thanks to Artix and Dutch.

  11. Just reading the hint for the crickety clues. Holding was a batsman before he became a commentator. Who can forget the famous Brian Johnston comment “The batsman’s Holding, the bowler’s Willey” :)

      1. Oops. That’s the result of having to type the comment three times and then resort to using an incognito tab to get the comment to post. That would confuse the poor old brain. I’ve had to resort to being incognito to get this one to post too

        1. I am not sure what this means. Fortunately, I don’t seem to suffer from the same problem (famous last words!). However, I do find that, having got to a page, I have to refresh it by pressing Ctrl & F5 to be sure of receiving the up-to-date version. I assume that this is one of the recent problems with the site that is being sorted out at source.

          1. We are all having to refresh the page, although more when using Internet Explorer rather than other platforms

            My comment above refers to the fact that when I use my tablet to comment, the security system thinks the blog is an unsafe site so I have to use an incognito tab to comment. Strangely the same security system on the PC doesn’t have a problem with the site. :scratch:

            1. Thank you. I am using IE, so that probably explains it. It used not to happen, did it, or is it just that I did not realise it?

  12. I completed the grid correctly, although some of the parsing escaped me. I didn’t like the homophones, particularly 19d which I thought (Dare I say it?) obscure.

  13. First thought the word in 13a was Bond for a phrasal expression like Under something Bond to be some kind of Holding until 12a was rightly guessed and the radio play came to mind.
    Didn’t understand my answer to 25d and didn’t parse 16d correctly.
    26a was another bung in and 24d was guessed by the parsing.
    Never been too keen on having Foreign to define a specific national.
    Liked 17a a lot.
    Thanks to Artrix and to Dutch for the review.

  14. Took more than a week and nearly completed, unfortunately had put in the wrong ending for 19d which then sent me off on the wrong track. Woke up in the middle of the night with sudden completion of 1d!

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