Toughie 2119 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2119

Toughie No 2119 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello and Happy Friday!  Dutch’s generosity means I have the pleasure today of blogging a lovely puzzle by one of my favourite setters.  I don’t know if this was Notabilis in gentler mode or if I’ve just regained the ability to solve crosswords at a little faster than a slow snail’s pace, but I didn’t have too much trouble at all.  Most unusual.  I did have all the expected fun along the way.

Notabilis often, but not always, includes a nina and I looked for one here but didn’t find anything.  (That’s fine of course: we solvers shouldn’t be spoilt and always expect extras from setters who are kind enough to go to the extra trouble of including them.  I do crosswords for the pleasure of solving excellent clues; anything else is icing on the red velvet.)  The grid struck me as being exceptionally pretty (I know, it takes all sorts!) but, being generously checked and with those four long perimeter answers, I think it’s a hard one just to fill with nice entries without any further nina-ey constraints.  Still, I continue to be bowled over by the ingenuity of setters, so maybe you’ll find something.  Edit: well, our setter informs us that four answers have something in common.  Can you find them?

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the (answers available at The George tomorrow!) buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative — click only if you wish to reveal all.

As usual you may click on pictures to enlarge them or uncover hidden extras.



1a    Pitch and ‘tosh’ (both times aboard ship) in America’s favourite flyer? (5,3,7)
STARS AND STRIPES:  The pitch is some black stuff and the tosh is rubbish; put synonyms of each of these words — separately — in between SS (both times aboard ship), retaining the “and” in the middle, to get something flown by many a patriotic American

9a    Sheep is most friendly without beginning to go into sleazy look (9)
LEICESTER:  A long-woolled sheep.  A word meaning most friendly or most pleasant, missing its first letter (without beginning), inserted into (to go into) a lecherous look

10a   Speed boat’s stern secured by anchor (5)
MOTOR:  The last letter of boat (boat’s stern) inside (secured by) a verb to anchor

11a   Poet’s handy bond providing cover for retirement (7)
NIGHTIE:  A charade of a poetic word for near and a word meaning bond or knot.  I’m not sure about handy, because I thought the relevant part of the answer only means near in time rather than in space; I think the dictionaries support the use here, but I’m not quite convinced yet and would value your input

12a   With 50% off, Trailfinders’ve arranged saving on flight? (7)
AIRLIFT:  An anagram of half of (with 50% off) TRAILFInders’ve.  Saving in the definition means rescuing (while the ? indicates that this only may be a rescue operation)

13a   Show surprise, suppressing quiet chatter (3)
GAS:  An expression of surprise or amazement loses the musical indication for quiet

14a   Specific  name for papers — defunct ones? (7)
EXPRESS:  Split (2-5) could be a name for papers no longer current

17a   Exorbitant online chat software promotion, audible except for terminals? (3-4)
SKY-HIGH:  Homophones of an instant messaging application (SKYPE) and of excessive promotion (HYPE), both missing the final sound (audible except for terminals)

19a   Speaks about as well as in Berlin’s quiet times? (7)
SUNDAYS:  Speaks or utters goes around (about) a German (… in Berlin) conjunction meaning as well as

22a   US author‘s new chapter to replace third in Snake (7)
PYNCHON:  Abbreviations for new and for chapter replace the third letter of a type of snake.  The American novelist who wrote Gravity’s Rainbow.  I did need to verify the author post-solve, because I spend too much time on crosswords and too little time reading, but with such generous checking there was hardly any doubt

24a   The ship, among others (3)
HER:  A pronoun used for a ship is found inside (among) “others”

25a   Recall a home and a green southern region (7)
OCEANIA:  Let’s play charades backwards!  Join A from the clue, (at) home (2), the other A from the clue, and a prefix meaning green or environmentally friendly, then reverse (recall) the lot

26a   Hugging wife, survive endless embargoes (7)
OUTLAWS:  Around (hugging) the abbreviation for wife is a word meaning survive longer than, missing its last letter (endless)

28a   Peer retrospectively imprisons old slaver (5)
DROOL:  A peer in reverse (retrospectively) contains (imprisons) the abbreviation for old

29a   Dogmatic person that is keeping Doug and Leo rattled (9)
IDEOLOGUE:  The abbreviation from the Latin for “that is” containing (keeping) an anagram (rattled) of DOUG and LEO

30a   Singular art transporting soldiers, painter and nurse, all about short-termism? (4-11)
NEAR-SIGHTEDNESS:  Another backwards charade.  An abbreviation for singular, a seven-letter word which could in a whimsical way mean “art transporting” — art being the old-fashioned word for are (SENDETH) — and more abbreviations: for some American soldiers, a Royal Academician, and an Enrolled Nurse.  All of this is reversed (all about).  This took me a while to parse, but it was worth it for the moment of realisation at “art transporting”



1d    Better not talk in lesson prepared with diligence (7,2,6)
SILENCE IS GOLDEN:  An anagram (prepared) of LESSON with DILIGENCE.  One might use the answer to indicate that shutting up is desirable

2d    Inspiring wonder like a bird in flight (5)
AWING:  Split (1-4), this means in flight.  (Photo by Mr K)

3d    Small moorland plant mostly provides cover (7)
SHEATHE:  The clothing abbreviation for small and all but the last letter of (mostly) a moorland plant

4d    Upend something wonderful in bowl over spicy seeds (7)
NUTMEGS:  Reverse (upend): a precious thing (particularly a precious stone) inside bowl over or astound

5d    Top and bottom cut off certain ticket (7)
SURPASS:  A word meaning certain with the last letter removed (bottom cut off), followed by a ticket

6d    Take another mate behind tracks across motorway (7)
REMARRY:  The combination of behind (4) and the abbreviation for railway goes around (across) an abbreviation for motorway

7d    Somewhat rotten, Spain standing for universal site of culture? (5,4)
PETRI DISH:  A word which could mean a bit rotten, formed by appending a suffix to a six-letter word, with the IVR code for Spain replacing (standing for) U (universal, the film certificate)

8d    Bird song broadcast around other uphill walk (7,4,4)
STRETCH ONE’S LEGS:  Bird or time (7), then an anagram (… broadcast) of SONG around the reversal of (… uphill) another word for other

15d   An aching arises after a mere pine (9)
PONDEROSA:  The combination of the indefinite article from the beginning of the clue (modified) and a word meaning aching or tender goes backwards (arises, in a down clue) after a mere or pool

16d   Second voided penalty notice (3)
SPY:  An abbreviation for second plus the outer letters (voided) of penalty

18d   Chief  who was leader of New Zealand  island (3)
KEY:  Three definitions, the second being this former prime minister of New Zealand

20d   Name repeated in usual wrestling ring (7)
ANNULUS:  Two copies of an abbreviation for name (name repeated) inside an anagram (… wrestling) of USUAL

21d   What plane takes off from southern bearing? (7)
SHAVING:  An abbreviation for southern followed by a synonym of bearing

22d   Supporting speed of light aircraft protects scheme (7)
PROJECT:  Supporting (3), then the letter standing for the speed of light which a type of aeroplane surrounds (protects)

23d   Caught receiving left cross (7)
NETTLED:  Caught containing (receiving) the abbreviation for left.  Cross as in annoyed

27d   Grand for kilo in joint moneymaking scheme (5)
ANGLE:  In a joint of the body, substitute an abbreviation for grand in for the abbreviation for kilo


Thanks to Notabilis.  My picks include the things aboard ship in 1a, the construction of 17a, the “somewhat rotten” site of culture at 7d and the bird song in 8d.  Among lots of clever stuff, the whole clue that really appealed to me was the simpler 5d, its definition needing to be extracted from a longer phrase, with the part of speech changed, and the whole just concise, meaningful and elegant.  See also 16d.  What stood out for you?


These hints and tips are for anyone who might find them of use (and who doesn’t need help now and then?).  The asides and illustrations are to add a personal perspective and some colour.  The comments section is — or should be — for everyone.  Please do ask if you need anything clarified, have any suggestions as to how the blogs could be improved, or have anything else you’d like to say.


31 comments on “Toughie 2119

  1. A steady solve for me – there were a few that took some thought but the helpful grid made it easier. 1a was my favourite, 15d was last in.

    Thanks to Kitty and Notabilis

  2. I enjoyed this very much. There were a few things that I was unfamiliar with and had to go searching for online (e.g. the American author in 22a, the southern region in 25a, and the sheep in 9a). For 11a, there are a number of biblical references that suggest ‘nigh’ can be used spatially. Matthew 15:29 (King James): ‘And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee’ as an example. Many thanks to Notabilis and Kitty.

    1. Thanks Tony. I have faith in the setter, but limited time on blog days to do research.

      *ducks in anticipation of suggestions that I should have spent some picture-hunting time on that*

      1. I’m a relative newcomer to all of this, but I am amazed at the breadth and depth of knowledge that so many have at their fingertips, yourself included. The more I do these crosswords the more I realize how much I don’t know!

  3. At the risk of upsetting our blogger, even I found this to be at the easier end of the Notabilis spectrum. A most enjoyable puzzle and a breath of fresh air after this morning’s back-pager.

    I was perhaps surprised that, despite the tender years of our blogger, she managed to recall both The Tremeloes and The Small Faces but it would appear that Bonanza (The Ponderosa) was a stretch too far!

    Another biblical reference for 11a ‘God is nigh at hand’ – seems to fit the clue quite handily!

    Favourite? Umm – that’s difficult. I’d agree with the choices that Kitty made but would like to add 21d into the mix.

    Many thanks to Notabilis and to our day-shifting Girl Tuesday for another excellent blog. Also, well done to Mr K for capturing the photo opportunity in 2d.

    1. The last bit of your comment made me look twice – for a moment I thought you were referring to the 8d pic!

    2. Not in the least upset, Jane. I don’t like giving difficulty rating which turn out to be too low as people can find it demoralising.

      I’m a little reluctant to look up Bonanza now in case i get something unwelcome stuck in my head …

  4. Certainly not a fast solve for me, but I got to the finish line without help. 1A is my favorite, but I also liked 22A very much. Thanks Notabilis and Kitty.

  5. I saw 1a as it emerged from the printer and continued on from there. The four perimeter answers gave plenty to work with and it was all wrapped up in about 1.5 Giovannis (the Giovanni being an internationally recognised measure of crossword solving speed). By some distance not the toughest Notabilis Toughie ever.

  6. I didn’t find it easy – but probably my fault. I tend to zoom in on the three-letter words which I often see quickly – not so today! I ended up messing about in the bottom half. When I finally looked at 1a, I saw it straight away so maybe that would have been a better place to start.

    I didn’t see a nina either despite quite some staring – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

    Many thanks Notabilis and Kitty

    Ha, I thought of Bonanza immediately, and can’t get the theme tune out of my head now. Dun derun derun derun deRUN DA, Dun derun derun derun derun da da da daa. Da la la, Da la la, Da la la la la, etc. We didn’t always have youtube, you know.

  7. As others have said not the toughest Notabilis but very enjoyable as always. The clues which stood out for me were 26a, 28a and 7d.
    Thanks to Notabilis and Kitty.

  8. Is there a Nina? The middle row seems to have a Cockney-like expression of eager anticipation but I can’t see anything else.

  9. I have done the toughie a couple of times before and needed lots of electronic help…..and I still needed lots of electronic help to get through this one. Thank you setter and thank you Kitty. I hadn’t a clue what to do with 20d or 25a. I did manage to fill all the grid in but very little of it was my own work.

  10. We’re embarrassed to admit that it took us much longer than it should to see 18d. Perhaps the fact that the Maori and common name for the setter’s eponymous bird also starts with a K was leading us astray. A thoroughly enjoyable solve and the time spent searching in vain for a Nina was also a pleasure as we could enjoy the clues all over again.
    Thanks Notabilis and Kitty.

  11. I really liked 1a and 28a very neat.
    For singular art I put in self portraiture without really thinking it through which sent me off course, thank you Kitty for putting me right!

  12. (It looks like my first attempt to comment failed; trying again.)
    Thanks for all the comments. You seem to have covered everything except:
    In 14a there are two definitions (“specific” and “name for papers”) plus the wordplay.
    There is a Nina: a quartet of entries that have something in common.

    1. Ok, it looks like no one’s going to get it. The three-letter words forming a ring in the centre can all be followed by RING: GAS, SPY, KEY and HER :-).

  13. Snooker, a meeting and an important football match all conspired to a late finish for me to this puzzle. I didn’t get all the parsing regrettably, so thanks to Kitty and the blog for the explanations.

    I also thought of Bonanza and the Trems, but not the Small Faces.

    Favourite was 21d for the light-bulb moment when I realised there was no aeronautical connection. Also last in.

    Thanks too to Notabilis for an enjoyable and interesting crossword.

  14. I give in with the Nina. Only got around to solving this today. As ever with Notabilis a joy to solve. After work crossword club could see no connections. 2 spies, 3 clues with igh and the mighty Leicester Outlaws, yes they do exist. Barking in the wrong forest alas. Thanks to Notabilis and Kitty

  15. Sorry to be late to the party, my first Toughie, I like it. Might have to switch to the Torygraph from the Times!
    11 is fine; farmer leaning on his gate: “The Slaughtered Lamb is nigh on five miles that way”.

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