Toughie 2123 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2123

Toughie No 2123 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Great surface readings make this a superbly enjoyable puzzle from proXimal. Furthermore, the clueing is crisp, challenging and intriguing without any painful searches for distant synonyms or unheard-of obscurities. The kind of puzzle I like. I had a full grid in just over 2* time, but I still needed to think about the parsings of 24a, 27a, 29a, & 20d. I hope you enjoy the surfaces as much as I did – they are very clever.

Definitions are underlined. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay. You can reveal the answers by clicking on the click here buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought.


1a Food, when chopped, put into portions (6,4)
CASHEW NUTS: Another word for when plus another word for chopped goes inside (put into) another word for portions

6a Path that’s used by aircraft on trip (4)
LANE: A 5-letter word for an aircraft without the first letter (on trip of the hallucinatory variety, i.e., out of its head? Anyone have a more straightforward explanation?). See Gazza’s comment #1 below. If the aircraft is a triplane, it “uses” the answer on TRIP.

9a Hotel this freezing might make Hartlepool questionable (5)
POLAR: An anagram (questionable) of HARTLEPOOL could be made from HOTEL + (the answer)

10a Dress to some extent rubbish? Not permitted to say (9)
WAISTBAND: A homophone (to say) of both another word for rubbish and a verb meaning not permitted

12a Cook‘s wild boar in sauce sent back (7)
PARBOIL: An anagram (wild) of BOAR goes inside (in) the reversal (sent back) of a word meaning sauce as in impertinent language

13a Bundle of papers getting left for a bank (5)
SHELF: A word for a bundle of papers has the A replaced by L[eft]

15a Presumably he’s no fan of United financier? (4,3)
CITY MAN: If he’s no fan of United, the he’s possibly a?

17a Judged for all that time (7)
THOUGHT: A conjunction meaning ‘for all that’ plus the abbreviation for time

19a How is man to manage never growing up? (7)
AGELESS: Compared to ‘manage’, ‘man’ is?

21a Fighter‘s first to lunge in assault (7)
BATTLER: The first letter of Lunge goes inside a verb meaning assault

22a Vote on second of referendums, ruling is spot on (5)
EXACT: The mark made when voting follows (on) the second letter of referendums, plus a ruling

24a Drug money to acquire something like Ecstasy (7)
COCAINE: A piece of money goes around (to acquire) a 2-letter Latin abbreviation that means ‘something like’, and the abbreviation for Ecstasy

27a Person playing Becker’s the one making comeback (9)
RESPONDER: An anagram (playing) of PERSON, plus how Boris Becker would say ‘the’

28a Good mature beef (5)
GRIPE: The abbreviation for good and an adjective meaning mature

29a One’s scratching head due to these, perhaps (4)
NITS: A 4-letter word for one plus the ‘S, without the first letter (scratching head)

30a Drunk mate? Tiddly, certainly (10)
ADMITTEDLY: An anagram (drunk) of MATE TIDDLY


1d Bashful bears initially paired for reproduction (4)
COPY: A 3-letter word for bashful (not shy) contains (bears) the first letter (initially) of paired

2d Ingredient of explosive soldier favoured in revolutionary times (9)
SALTPETRE: A 2-letter abbreviation for a soldier (this one is an officer) plus a 3-letter adjective meaning favoured go inside (in) the reversal (revolutionary) of another word for times or ages

3d Flaw reflected in mirror, regretfully (5)
ERROR: Reverse hidden (reflected in …)

4d Case from Nice, second-class with tatty wrapping recently delivered (7)
NEWBORN: The outer letters (case) of Nice, then the letter that represents second class covered by (wrapping) a word for tatty or threadbare

5d Part of plant having cotton on, albeit missing in odd places (7)
TWIGLET: A verb meaning cotton on, plus the even letters (missing in odd places) of albeit

7d A sport in which ball is snatched away and put down (5)
ABASE: A from the clue plus an 8-letter American sport from which BALL from the clue is removed (is snatched away)

8d Relation’s conclusion — don’t argue (3,2,5)
END OF STORY: The conclusion of a relation or tale

11d Drunk upended for all to see, stuck in another ditch (4,3)
TOSS OUT: Reversal (upended) of a 3-letter drunk, then the film classification ‘for all to see’ goes inside (stuck in) the same 3-letter drunk

14d Hour immersed in Art Deco complex regarding geometric form (10)
OCTAHEDRON: The 1-letter abbreviation for Hour goes inside (immersed in) an anagram (complex) of ART DECO, followed by a short word meaning regarding

16d Director of pit lifted tons in gold layer (7)
MAESTRO: The pit here is orchestral. A reversal (lifted) of the abbreviation for Tons between (in) a word for gold and a word for layer

18d Most of the pay merrily taken from Daily Telegraph wasted, as mine is (9)
GALLERIED: Mine here is a noun. An anagram (merrily) of (most of) TH[e] PAY is subtracted (taken) from an anagram (wasted) of DAILY TELEGRAPH

20d Withdrawn second edition with plot lacking in book (7)
SECEDED: The 3-letter abbreviation for second, the abbreviation for edition, and another word for plot with out the abbreviation for book

21d Drive a vehicle to the north island for a drink (7)
BACARDI: A reversal (to the north, in a down clue) of the street abbreviation for Drive, A from the clue and a vehicle for hire, then add the abbreviation for Island

23d Apply after seeing that property (5)
ASSET: A 3-letter verb that can mean apply after a word meaning ‘seeing that’

25d Heard pub became bar (5)
INGOT: A homophone (heard) of another word for pub, plus a 3-letter verb than can mean became

26d Refuse from home over yard (4)
DENY: A 3-letter home sits on top of (over, in a down clue) the abbreviation for Yard

Don’t know how to pick a favourite here. I tried, and came up with eight: 17a, 19a, 27a, 29a, 1d, 3d, 7d, 18d. Which clues did you like?

11 comments on “Toughie 2123

  1. Very enjoyable puzzle – thanks to proXimal and Dutch.

    The blog has revealed to me that I got 6a wrong. It was my last answer and with unhelpful checkers (?a?e) I wrote in ‘gate’ as a double definition (a path/street as in e.g. Bishopsgate and the walkway to which an aircraft being boarded connects at an airport). Having read Dutch’s hint I don’t understand how ‘on trip’ means remove the first letter – on the other hand a triplane does consist of trip + lane.

    The most enjoyable clues for me were 19a, 27a, 1d and 11d.

    1. Yes, you would have to read it as the slightly unusual construction aircraft “uses” the answer on TRIP, though this is still much more direct than the hallucinatory suggestion to get off its head. Thanks gazza.

  2. I enjoyed this from Proximal but failed on several clues. Did anyone else get “MARTINI” for 21d ?(parsed as “I TRAM” to the “north”, plus “NI” for north island; admittedly “north” is doing double duty here. Thanks to all.

    1. Let’s see if using an incognito tab will let me post a comment about how I too wondered about drinking a Martini until I couldn’t parse it

    2. Hi Ash – martini never occurred to me, possibly because i had a prohibitive checker in place. But it seems you were not alone!

  3. I thought this was a wonderful puzzle. However, there was never any breakthrough moment, and progress was VERY slow. Therefore more than *** in difficulty for me, but I do agree with ***** for enjoyment. I had what Dutch had for 6a, but I wasn’t at all confident that it was right. (Has anyone else been scratching their head on the basis of Dutch’s photo in 29a?) I think my favoruite is the pit director in 16d. Many thanks to proXimal and Dutch.

  4. Like Ash, I had ‘martini’ for 21d which completely messed up the SE corner and I also had blank spaces elsewhere.
    Thought the definition at 10a was a bit of a stretch but everything else was fair enough.

    Top three for me were 12 & 28a plus 16d.

    Thanks to proXimal and to Dutch for the blog – with the exception of the pic for 29a! Speaking of 4d – how are those puppies of yours coming along? Hope you’ve got some photo’s on your phone.

    1. Well, bits of chewed wicker all over the place. I think we will will get whatever furniture we still need for our new house from cheap second hand places.

      training them is proving difficult

  5. I agree wholeheartedly with Dutch’s intro. Did slightly less well that our blogger at the parsing, never getting back to 27a or having a clue about 6a.

    Many thanks to proXimal and Dutch (though I’d echo the above comments about 29a! – it really should be the clues not the pictures that cause the head-scratching).

  6. We found this one hard work and never did satifactorily parse 6a although we did have the right answer. For a long time we thought that WHEN was doing double duty in 1a as both a synonym and then as anagram fodder (chopped). A real Doh moment when we eventually correctly understood the clue. We also started off trying to justify MARTINI for 21d. Certainly more than 3 star difficulty for us.
    Thanks ProXimal and Dutch.

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