Toughie 2129 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2129

Toughie No 2129 by Silvanus

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

A very warm welcome to the ranks of Toughie setters to our very own Silvanus – I’m sure that this puzzle will be the first of many. He’s given us a very enjoyable puzzle – not too tricky though I did need to check out the dietary craving.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Prepare for new demands, possibly, from outfit in revolt (4,2)
GEAR UP: charade of an outfit or clothing and an adverb meaning ‘in revolt’.

4a Queen perhaps touring hospital to present TV programme (4,4)
CHAT SHOW: an animal that could be a queen surrounds the abbreviation for hospital – that’s followed by a verb to present or display.

9a Nothing makes clear they’re the ideal shape for 14 (6)
OVOIDS: stick together the letter that resembles nothing and a verb meaning makes clear or clears out.

10a Mull over refurbishment of planetarium; oddly, pillar needs removing (8)
RUMINATE: remove the odd letters of pillar from [pla]NETARIUM and make an anagram (refurbishment) of what you have left.

12a Time of year pilot’s reported close to depression? (8)
NOVEMBER: the codeword a pilot would use to convey the last letter of depression over the air.

13a Impressed by vehicle on sale originally (6)
STRUCK: a goods vehicle follows the original letter of sale.

15a Worried girls to phone head examiner (12)
PHRENOLOGIST: an anagram (worried) of GIRLS TO PHONE.

18a Handle visitors for American repertory theatre players (5,7)
STOCK COMPANY: weld together a synonym for a handle or grip and a word for visitors or guests.

21a Ban over cinema classification Disney rejected (6)
OUTLAW: string together the cricket abbreviation for over, a film classification and the reversal of Mr Disney’s forename.

22a Increases turn-out, securing run that’s against current trend (8)
UPSTREAM: bring together a verb meaning increases and the side turning out for a sporting fixture containing the cricket abbreviation for run. Chambers has turnout unhyphenated.

24a End of semester in the States? (8)
TERMINUS: assemble another word for semester, IN and an abbreviation for the States.

25a Spook is methodically accepting fate (6)
KISMET: hidden in the clue.

26a Carried off, I’ve terrible piercing pain before introduction of drugs (8)
ACHIEVED: insert an anagram (terrible) of I’VE into a pain and finish with the introductory letter of drugs.

27a Information Bill welcomes, year after operation (6)
AGENCY: a bit of Yoda-speak – an informal word for information is contained inside an abbreviation for a bill or invoice. After that we need the abbreviation for year.

Down Clues

1d Wine occasionally squandered amongst parties for adults (5-3)
GROWN-UPS: insert the odd letters of wine into parties or bands.

2d Cosmetic ingredient, mostly common and always kept in identical articles (4,4)
ALOE VERA: insert an adjective meaning common or inferior without its last letter and a synonym for always between identical indefinite articles.

3d Trains devout men somehow to become emotionless (15)

5d Take That sulk when covers go unnoticed (4)
HAUL: remove the outer letters of ‘that’ and ‘sulk’.

6d Indistinct score given by tennis umpire maybe, one approaching middle-age (15)
THIRTYSOMETHING: split 6,9 this could be the current score being given by a tennis umpire when you can’t quite make out the second word.

7d Break chair Arthur so regularly favoured (6)
HIATUS: regular letters selected from ‘chair Arthur so’.

8d King’s broadcast in ruins (6)
WRECKS: a homophone of the Latin word for king.

11d Copy note left to stop unnatural dietary craving (7)
REPLICA: start with a note from tonic sol-fa then insert the abbreviation for left into a word meaning unnatural dietary craving (not a word I knew).

14d Daunting ultimately during, say, sporting competitions to find holders present at breakfast (7)
EGGCUPS: insert the ultimate letter of daunting into an abbreviation meaning ‘say’ and add a word for sporting competitions where the winners get a trophy.

16d Daughter of rural Yorkshire chap taken out by southern commercial traveller (8)
SALESMAN: start with a chap from Wharfedale or Wensleydale, say, and replace the abbreviation for daughter with that for southern.

17d Beauty of form that Otto displays (8)
SYMMETRY: … because Otto is a palindrome.

19d Shakespearean role left main characters at heart upset (6)
PORTIA: what’s left on a ship followed by the reversal of the middle letters of main.

20d Stiffener leads to teacher appearing relaxed inside school (6)
STARCH: insert the leading letters of ‘teacher appearing relaxed’ into the abbreviation for school.

23d ‘Apprentice’ candidate at last represents solid choice for Sugar (4)
CUBE: join together an apprentice or rookie and the last letter of candidate.

I have ticks against 12a, 15a, 8d and 16d but my favourite clue is 6d. Do let us know which one(s) you’d list.

46 comments on “Toughie 2129

  1. An enjoyable first Toughie thank you Silvanus – for me falling somewhere between a hard backpager and a fairly straightforward Toughie.

    Thanks also to Gazza for the explanations

  2. This is a very accomplished Telegraph Toughie debut from a graduate of BD’s Rookie Corner. I thought the puzzle provided a good level of challenge whereby a reasonable level of effort from the solver yielded results.

    Silvanus can be relied upon for impeccable surface readings and they are very much in evidence here.

    The dietary craving in 11d was new for me.

    My page is littered with ticks, with double ticks awarded to 9a, 15a, 24a, 1d, 6d, 17d & 23d.

    Many thanks, Silvanus. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait too long for the next one. Many thanks too to Gazza for a delightfully illustrated review.

  3. A perfectly enjoyable puzzle but, one unknown aside (the theatre company) solved in routine back page time.

  4. 11d. Do magpies have unnatural dietary cravings?
    My favourite was 23d
    An enjoyable solve, Thank you Sylvanus and Gazza (who maintained a dignified silence about 8d!)

  5. As has been noted – not overly tough, but very enjoyable. I’m another who had to look up the craving. Liked 8d & 23d for surfaces, but 6d got the biggest smile so that is my pick too.

    Many thanks Silvanus and Gazza

  6. Welcome to the Toughies, Silvanus. A nice puzzle I agree with CrypticSue’s assessment of the difficulty. Lots to like; among them, 4a, 10a, 24a, 11d and 16d with top spot to 6d.

  7. Congratulations on your first toughie silvanus! Brilliant! I was happy with the difficulty. I didn’t know stock company, and it would surprise me if anyone knew the medical term for an unnatural dietary craving – but it had to be, and was easily checked.

    Liked 24a, 15a, 1d, 25a just to name a few, and having been a crystallographer most of my life I appreciated 17a.

    Thanks gazza for parsing of 12a which I stupidly missed. What do I do with this N, he thinks – doh.

      1. ah, i’m very glad you found time to do that – yes, you see, you get confused by the same things you try to confuse with. You are right, I I definitely should have seen the N …

    1. You’ve expanded your alias so this comment needed moderation. Both short and long forms of your alias will work from now on.

    2. I’ve got the same problem with my Kindle Fire, not had this problem before. I’m not too good with the Toughie so I’d like to see the spoilers if I’m really stuck!

  8. I very much enjoyed this. Thank you, and congratulations, Silvanus. I thought this was a perfect fit into the Toughie repertoire. My last in was the 11a / 18d combination. Like Dutch, I had not heard of the first word in the repertory company nor the dietary craving, and it was unfortunate that they intersected. However, I was able to get them both sorted out eventually. Thanks again, and to Gazza for the review.

    1. Sorry, Tony – I hadn’t read your comment prior to writing my own. I wasn’t deliberately copying your wording!

  9. So nice to see Silvanus on the toughie roster. This probably means that we have lost him as a regular contributor to the blog.
    Quite a few ticks along the way in 21a, 24a (remember that I love charades) and 16d.
    6d brought the biggest smile.
    The theatre troupe and the dietary craving were also new to me.
    Thanks for a great Telegraph debut and thanks to Gazza for the review

  10. I’ve just been looking back at the review and comments on the first Rookie puzzle that Silvanus had published on the BD site. Seems that everyone thought he showed promise as a compiler and now we have the proof.

    A delightful solve for me and I was quite happy with the level of difficulty. As RD said, the solver did have to put in a reasonable amount of effort, but all the clues were fair and the surface reads just as good as I would expect from this setter.

    I didn’t know either the dietary craving or the theatre company which was unfortunate given that they were intersecting clues but once I’d sorted out the 15a anagram a quick check with Mr Google told me what I needed to know.

    Long list of podium places awarded here – 12&15a plus 6,8,16&23d.

    Many thanks, Silvanus, and thanks to Gazza for an excellent blog and some great pictorial accompaniments. Thought the one for 15a was very noble of you!

    1. I had the choice of male or female brain for the 15a illustration and decided that discretion was the better part of valour.

  11. I don’t comment very often these days, but today is rather special. A very enjoyable ‘Toughie’ debut from our very own Silvanus is worthy of recognition. I did have my ‘repetition radar’ switched on but am glad to report I didn’the find any. Like everyone else, 11d had to be checked but the rest of the puzzle was solveable thanks to the excellent wordplay and clue construnction. Well done and thanks to Gazza for his review.

  12. I got into strife in the centre of the puzzle. I had never heard of 18a and worked out that handle = manage = stage so had a wrong first word. This made 11d tricky, especially as I did not know the dietary word either. Needed to reveal a couple of letters to get it sorted.
    Certainly a well put together Toughie puzzle with lots of cleverly constructed clues.
    Thanks Silvanus and Gazza.

  13. Congratulations, Silvanus! I really enjoyed this. Kept dithering about favourites, and still can’t decide. Looking forward to your next. :)

    Thanks Silvanus and Gazza.

  14. I’ve been smiling and looking to this puzzle since I heard it was scheduled. It did not disappoint. Just tough enough for a Wednesday. As usual the hold ups and problems came from my own handwriting (see gravatar) but the tightwads at The Daily Telegraph want puzzles subscriptions as well as Paper subscriptions so I cannot solve Toughies on my iPad. Congratulations Silvanus and congratulations Big Dave without whom this may not have happened.

  15. According to online telegraph puzzle page the best time for this puzzle is 2minutes 26seconds.
    How is this possible?
    It would take longer than that to fill in the answers.

    1. I don’t know whether it still happens because I’m rarely up at midnight but years ago there was someone called puzzle_tester (or similar) who keyed in the answers from a crib sheet to make sure the puzzle was set up correctly. Otherwise someone is cheating by, e.g. solving the puzzle in the paper then logging in and entering the answers.

    2. I experimented once filling in an empty grid with random words, ignoring spelling (on paper). The caveat was I had to read out the clue, and yes, it took longer than that to fill the grid.

    3. On blogging days, I solve on paper and then check all is correct by typing the solutions into the online grid. The old site was much more fast typist friendly. You have to really slow down on the new one or letters get missed out.

    4. I think Gazza is correct. A circa 2 minute solving time often appears very soon after the puzzle is first made available at midnight, so it’s unlikely that it’s someone cheating. I could imagine that a tester entering the solution from a filled grid could do it in that time, which is about one second per letter. Whoever it is, they have hidden their profile so they don’t show up on the (now useless) leaderboard.

  16. Enjoyed muchly.
    We were left with 12a unparsed – know nothing about piloting and were trying to do something with a sounds like guide making guy something.
    So many thanks to Silvanus and Gazza.

  17. Thanks Silvanus for a very nice puzzle. Challenging but not too challenging. I had heard of the dietary craving but made a bit of a cock up with 1a as I wanted to GLAM UP. 9a and 14d pleased me too.
    Thanks to Gazza too for steering me in the right direction for the final few.

  18. It is a dream come true for me to join the Telegraph team, and I feel so privileged and honoured to have my puzzles published by my newspaper of choice for at least the last four decades. I’m indebted to Chris Lancaster for affording me this invaluable opportunity and having the patience to take me on when most of his time, inevitably, had to be devoted to setting up and testing the new Puzzles website.

    Thank you all for your kind comments and congratulatory messages, this is an online community second to none in my opinion, and I am so fortunate to count many of you now as good friends in the real world, not just in cyberspace. Thank you too to Gazza for his usual excellent review and choice of illustrations.

    I’m notoriously bad at judging the difficulty level of my puzzles, and I was concerned that my debut Toughie might be considered more of a Floughie, but I’m pleased to hear that most of you felt that I pitched it just about right.

    Jean-Luc can rest assured that, although it would probably be inappropriate for me to comment on other backpagers or Toughies in the future, I still intend to make contributions to Rookie Corner, NTSPPs and MPPs.

    There are far too many people for me to thank individually here for helping me become a Telegraph setter (I do love the sound of that!), so I hope that a collective thank you for now will suffice. Miffypops is almost right when he says that, without Big Dave, this may not have happened, but I think for “may”, he needs to substitute the word “would”. BD, I salute you, sir.

    1. The congratulations stay in place but if you are going to quibble (is that really a word) about ‘may’ or ‘would’ then I am going to suggest all new setters send puzzles to you for test solving and comment. As a poorly schooled orphan boy I need constant help. Sincerely though I am still smiling. BD has a lot to answer for, all for the good.

      1. No, MP, you may have misunderstood me (although I’m never sure with you!). Not a quibble about your choice of words in the slightest, I was just saying that I would have gone even further than you did. Hope that clarifies my intent!

  19. Very enjoyable and I would go along with CS’s ‘somewhere between a hard backpager and a fairly straightforward Toughie’ – a little head scratching was required to finish at a (Toughie) gallop – **/****.

    Well and thank you Silvanus and thanks to Gazza for ‘decoding’ some of the answers for me.

  20. A superb puzzle Silvanus . . . . looking forward to more of your Toughies in the months to come. I particularly liked 6 down, but 16 down was my favourite. 18 across was a new term to me, which sadly I needed to winkle out with electronic help. Overall a most enjoyable solve.

  21. A great debut, looking forward to many more.

    Am away from Sheffield for a couple of days so this was done without Mrs Sheffieldsy’s input which, following Gazza’s reasoning behind the brain example, will explain why it took me longer than a joint effort would have. The dietary thing surfaced from some dark recess of said male brain (and there are some places that are so dark even I don’t visit), at which stage the realisation dawned that stage company was wrong.

    Looking forward to many more Silvanus puzzles of this calibre.

    Thanks to Gazza and Silvanus.

  22. I can only imagine how thrilling it must be to become a setter for one of the national dailies! Speaking as a “cub” who has learned a great deal from your insightful comments on the Rookie pages, I salute you on an excellent debut as a Toughie compiler. Count me as another who was unfamiliar with the dietary craving — and I vote for 6d as my personal favourite.

  23. Thanks to Silvanus for a lovely Toughie and thanks to Gaza for much needed explanations of the clues. I’m not able to attempt the crosswords on the day because of granny duties but I really enjoy attempting them in the early hours of the following day.

  24. can anyone hear that knocking sound? It’s my head hitting the desk for failing to parse 12a! What a numpty!

    Congrats Silvanus on producing a sterling puzzle & thanks to Gazza for putting me out of my misery.

  25. Best congratulations to Silvanus for a most accomplished debut as a Telegraph Toughie setter. What an excellent achievement!

    I thoroughy enjoyed this puzzle. I liked many of the clues, e.g. 21a, 23a, 6d, 19d, 14d as well as 15a and others.

    Now I see it pointed out, I do remember the ‘unnatural dietary craving’. Pity it didn’t come unbidden to my mind when solving the puzzle!

    Very many thanks to Silvanus for the lovely puzzle and to Gazza for an excellent blog and for putting me right where I was unsure.

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