Toughie 2135 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2135

Toughie No 2135 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A beautiful sunny day in Macclesfield. The puppies have shredded some paperwork; optimistically, I shrug it off as unimportant. Not sure why my wife bought a shredder. Sparks gives us a lovely pangram today, which helped me with 5d. No Christmas theme that I can see. I did notice some bridging words in some of the rows, but I’m not sure whether that is part of an intended Nina. Has anyone found more? It took me stupidly long to parse 26d.

Definitions are underlined as usual. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the Jason Manford tonight! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Smart alec guy entertaining marine corps to begin with (8)
WISEACRE: A guy or cable contains (entertaining) a 3-letter adjective meaning marine plus the first letter (to begin with) of corps

9a    Excellent training in pain (6)
PEACHY: Abbreviation for the physical training class at school and an adjective meaning ‘in pain’


10a    Lines of bronze inlaid in small unknown area (6)
STANZA: Another word for bronze as in sunbathe (or the resulting colour) goes inside the abbreviation for Small, an algebraic unknown, and the abbreviation for Area

11a    Part of France finished when crossing river trail (8)
DORDOGNE: Another word for finished crossing the abbreviation for river plus a verb meaning to trail or follow

12a    Sponsor husband in hospital trip rescheduled around November (14)
PHILANTHROPIST: An anagram (rescheduled) of HOSPITAL TRIP contains the abbreviation for Husband as well as the letter with the code name November

15a    Just fine (4)
FAIR: Two meanings, the second could refer to the weather

17a    Free spectacles found in famous school (5)
LOOSE: The pair of letters that look like a pair of spectacles go inside the famous London school where Mick Jagger was before he joined the Rolling Stones

19a    Half of change given to minute float (4)
SWIM: Take the first half of a verb meaning change (SWITCH) and add the abbreviation for minute

20a    Sample of children put under strain by immature types on TV (8,6)
TESTTUBE BABIES: A 4-letter verb meaning put under strain, then some immature types (i.e. very young ones) following (on) a slang word for TV

23a    Introduction initially put energy in tramp (8)
PREAMBLE: The first letter (initially) of put plus the abbreviation of Energy inside (in) a verb meaning to tramp

25a    Named Le Pen to go before Germany (6)
STYLED: LE from the clue with another word for pen coming first (to go before), and the IVR for Germany

27a    Member of old Chinese ruling class suppressed by Roman church (6)
MANCHU: Hidden (supressed by … )

28a    Girl crowned by Poles? (3,5)
MAY QUEEN: Cryptic definition. These poles stand upright and are danced around 



1d    Excellent sweet (4)
MINT: Two meanings, the first referring to condition of an old car, for example

2d    Man and another taken around his best friend’s house? (6)
KENNEL: A 3-letter Man’s name plus the reversal (taken around) of another

3d    Minister‘s Select Committee (Northern Ireland) finally listed (4)
TEND: Last letters ( … finally listed)

4d    Inferior head travelling south, as far as European location (6)
OPORTO: A 4-letter word for inferior in which the first letter drops one position (head travelling south), and a preposition meaning ‘as far as’

5d    Heaps of work put into stories following overseas agreement (8)
JALOPIES: The 2-letter Latin abbreviation for work goes inside (put into) some stories or fabrications, all following the Dutch word for yes (overseas agreement)

6d    Believe judge, maybe? It’s deliberate (5,5)
THINK TWICE: Two meanings, or otherwise put, this meaning two times

8d    Old fashion designer digesting northern guide (7)
CHANNEL: An iconic late (old) French fashion designer goes around (digesting) the abbreviation for Northern

13d    Sorrow thus seen in hater? (10)
HEARTBREAK: A reverse clue, in which the answer is read as a cryptic instruction to generate HATER

14d    Hard Mike restrained by Robert’s powerful arm (1-4)
H-BOMB: The pencil abbreviation for Hard, then the letter with radio code Mike is restrained by the nickname associated with Robert

16d    Finale of The Archers broadcast in study (8)
RESEARCH: An anagram (broadcast) of the last letter (finale) of [th]E + ARCHERS

18d    Male sacked by 24 concealing deep mission (7)
EMBASSY: Remove the abbreviation for Male from the answer of 24 and insert (concealing) another word for deep, as in voice

21d    Died in HGV, about to leave port (6)
TOBRUK: A 2-letter Latin abbreviation for died goes inside (in) an HGV without the letter C (about to leave) to give this Libyan port

22d    Following recess, alliance vote for city in France (6)
BAYEUX: A 3-letter recess, an alliance the UK is attempting to leave, and a mark made when voting

24d    Trophy in bar wherein Jack is barred (4)
EMMY: A burglar’s short crowbar without the initial J(ack – the playing card abbreviation)

26d    What’s left here is so flat (4)
EVEN: Two meanings, the first referring to the clue number (what’s left here … )

When I finally got it, I liked 26d. I also liked the hidden in 27a, and the cd in 28a. I liked 22d because I was telling myself I had never heard of a French town beginning with B and ending with X, but of course I have. And Bordeaux. Which clues did you like?

30 comments on “Toughie 2135

  1. Finished and all correct apart from 1 error, I had typed TOBTUK. But I took ages to do it. Never spotted the pangram. I suppose once you come across an X and a Z you should be on the lookout for the other unusual letters.
    Failed to parse 26d.

  2. A delightful puzzle – thanks to Sparks and Dutch.
    I wasn’t at all sure about the meaning of the first part of 26d. At one stage I thought it meant that all the answers starting in the left-hand column had an even number of letters (but for that to be correct the fourth word of the clue would have to be ‘are’ rather than ‘is’). So, Dutch’s explanation makes more sense.
    I liked 23a, 28a and 6d but my favourite (for the laugh) was 9a.

    1. In 26a, are we referring to the number of the clue or that of the corresponding clue in the left-hand column?

  3. I found this a significantly more challenging puzzle to those earlier in the week, but eventually it all fell into place nicely. This was yet another pangram that I failed to notice until it was all over. It was quite the geographical tour – I (eventually) dredged up the part of France in 11a from the deep recesses of my mind. The French city in 22d was much nearer the surface, but the port in 21d was way off my beaten track – I had the right HGV, but my Latin let me down (again) in not recognizing (and having to go searching for) the abbreviation for died. I enjoyed this very much – I think my favourite is the heaps in 5d. Many thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

    1. The Latin abbreviation for died is obviously crossword setter’s abbreviation of the month as it has appeared in various places over the last week or so

  4. An excellent end to an otherwise rather disappointing Toughie week. Not a quick solve but steady progress for the most part. The enumeration of 20a puzzled me. 4,4,4 or 4-4,4 yes, but 8,4? Neither Collins or Chambers support it.
    Liked the heaps in 5d.

          1. It was (9,6) when I downloaded it too, and even though I noticed that the numbers didn’t add up I promptly forgot about it. Added a little to the challenge!

  5. A very nice Friday toughie indeed. Lots to enjoy and I did notice the pangram but am still searching for Nina unless she’s something to do with the pancake that crosses from 7a to 9a

    Thanks to Sparks for the fun and Dutch for the blog

  6. Didn’t get or like 2d. Plucking 2 men’s names out of the air seems ridiculously difficult. I don’t see what Snoopy is there for except to lie on the answer and I’ve never heard of the that word being a best friend’s house . Obviously I’m missing something!
    Was very impressed with the 12a anagram. I’ll admit I threw all the letters into my word processor and was amazed when, against all the odds, the answer appeared.
    27a was classic – “when in doubt look for a run through” was the advice given only recently.
    Thank you setter and blogger for a good Friday workout.

  7. A good 4 difficulty units for me, but oodles of enjoyment.

    6d was nearly my favourite, but then I twigged 13d, which I really like. Haters gonna hate.

    Many thanks to Sparks and Dutch (and hello to Sparky and the new Macclesfield shredders).

  8. A really 9a puzzle from Sparks, much enjoyed from start to finish.

    I particularly liked the tour round his best friend’s house and the sample of children but 5d took the honours here.

    Certainly a few references to said best friend in the grid but can’t quite string them together to find a Nina.

    Many thanks to Sparks and to Dutch for the blog. In case we don’t see you again beforehand, have a great Christmas Sparks, and don’t forget those special festive treats for Sparky!

  9. Needing to complete the pangram helped with our last one in too, 5d.
    Took quite a long time to slowly work our way through it all with plenty of smiles along the way.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  10. Anyone else experuencing a strange effect where a second lot of Dutch’s blog appears after the comments etc? I’m getting it both on pc and tsblet

    1. No problem here.

      Correction – I see what you mean. There were two versions of the blog (one marked ‘draft’) – I’ve deleted that one and I think it’s now working ok.

      1. apologies – no idea what happened, thanks for sorting it – I was in Manchester watching Jason Manford

  11. Many thanks to Dutch for the extremely entertaining blog and to all solvers for the overwhelmingly positive feedback. There was indeed an invisible and rather personal Nina: the puzzle was dedicated to the memory of a Mr John T (see row 1; my initials are MK), a wonderful man who I met in April 2018 on the Cardiac Care Unit at Airedale Hospital. Alas, though his pacemaker op immediately followed mine, he is no longer with us. In October 2018, I did a 35km (22 mile) [8] CHANNEL [19] SWIM which raised £2830 for [13] HEART{BREAK} [16] RESEARCH [21] {TOBR}UK. Long may their wonderful work continue.

      1. My pleasure Dutch. Proud and touched to be part of such a warm cruciverbal community. [Is it just me who can no longer see Avatars? Where’s my little Sparky?]

        1. It must be just your computer as we can still see Sparky.
          Thanks so much for all your puzzles and as Dutch said above, thanks for the story about this one.

          1. Wahay! Sparky’s back :-) Firefox add-on “Ghostify” was blocking it, so I turned tracking off for this trusted site.

  12. 9a I spent hours thinking the word for training should be inside the word for in pain. A clever little twist!

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