Toughie 2144 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2144

Toughie No 2144 by Dada

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello everyone.  It’s the last Tuesday until you-know-what, and so in case you’re otherwise engaged on the day, let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

We have another puzzle from the Dada of crossword setters.  I found it considerably more accessible than his first few Sunday Telegraph puzzles, but a sackful of fun.  There are an unusually low number of across clues and, in the downs, an unusually high number of double definitions.  Although I was struck at first by the unfriendly — but seasonal perhaps, in the shape of a bauble? — grid, in the event there were no _e_e_-type horrors to dent the enjoyment.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the Christmas preparation level: moron buttons.  As usual you may click on pictures to enlarge them or uncover hidden extras.



6a    Team of Fife partygoers includes misbehaving trio drinking hard (5,6)
RAITH ROVERS:  A set of enthusiastic partiers contains (includes) an anagram of (misbehaving) TRIO, which is in turn containing (drinking) the pencil abbreviation for hard.  A Fife-based football team in Scottish League One

9a    Small device I’d acquire after week (6)
WIDGET:  I’D from the clue plus acquire (3) both go after an abbreviation for week

10a   In various ways, when it comes to origami I’m the dude! (8)
MANIFOLD:  Split the answer (3,1,4) for an expression of paper-manipulation prowess in the style of the latter part of the clue.  This made me chuckle

11a   Getting nip on front of jaw, a furry animal (10)
CHINCHILLA:  A nip of cold follows (getting … on) part of the lower jaw, then we have A from the clue

14a   Initially inestimable daring of legendary hero (4)
IDOL:  First letters of (initially) four words of the clue

15a   After docking, side advanced (7-4)
CUTTING-EDGE:  After docking or curtailing goes a side part.  Advanced here means state-of-the-art

21a   Hospital with manual worker (4)
HAND:  An abbreviation for hospital plus a word meaning with

22a   Breaking horse, girl put on metal strap for it? (10)
MARTINGALE:  Inside (breaking) a female horse is a dialect form of girl following (put on) a metal.  A strap running from the noseband or reins to the girth of a horse, used to prevent it from raising its head too high.  I managed to conjure this word up from somewhere, but wouldn’t have been able to tell you what it was

25a   Little sign of regret seeing predator going berserk (8)
TEARDROP:  PREDATOR anagrammed (going berserk)

27a   Maybe fine joke is hilarious at first (6)
PUNISH:  Concatenate a wordplay joke, IS from the clue, and the first letter of (… at first) hilarious

28a   US state link I removed (11)
CONNECTICUT:  Another charade, of link (7), I from the clue, and removed (3)



1d    Originally journalistic element in specific language (6)
JARGON:  The first letter of (originally) journalistic, plus an element, one of the noble gases

2d    Pain, result of working with needle? (6)
STITCH:  Two definitions: a pain in the side, or something sewn

3d    Histrionics mostly in tot (4)
DRAM:  Some excitement without the last letter (mostly).  A tot of whisky, say

4d    Switched over, a new set of pots say? (8)
OVENWARE:  An anagram of (switched) OVER A NEW

5d    Unimportant three-in-a-bed affair? (8)
TRIFLING:  Split (3-5) this could suggest a brief three-way romance.  Another smiler

7d    Beam  easily lifted (5)
LIGHT:  Two definitions: a shaft of electromagnetic radiation, or not heavy

8d    Sounding like weakness, defeat (5)
FLOOR:  A homophone of (sounding like) a four-letter word for a weakness or defect

12d   Function as baby carrier? (3)
COT:  Another pair of definitions, the first being a mathematical function

13d   Isolated individual, one sheltered by wings (5)
LONER:  ONE, from the clue, surrounded by (sheltered by) abbreviations for two opposite wings or sides

16d   Probable failure subordinate to setter, perhaps? (8)
UNDERDOG:  Subordinate to (5) plus an animal of which a setter (not of crosswords!) is an example

17d   River in Germany, evergreen (8)
TAMARIND:  A charade of a river in southwestern England (or if you prefer, one in Tasmania, Australia), IN from the clue, and the IVR code for Germany

18d   Slip into  river (3)
DON:  Another double definition.  Slip into some clothing, or one of several rivers of this name

19d   Get to the point entering data, perhaps (5)
TAPER:  The answer is inside (entering) the last two words of the clue

20d   Twinkling  beam (5)
FLASH:  Our final double definition, in which the twinkling is a trice

23d   Devil put out, causing harm (6)
IMPAIR:  A little devil and to put out or broadcast.  Harm is a verb here

24d   Using ground to absorb energy, great idea? (6)
GENIUS:  USING anagrammed (ground) containing (to absorb) the symbol for energy

26d   Old Scot chosen to speak? (4)
PICT:  This ancient inhabitant of Scotland sounds like (… to speak) chosen or selected


Thanks to Dada.  No prizes for guessing my favourites today: 10a and 5d.  With reference to 7d and 20d: which clues made you beam?


These hints and tips are for anyone who might find them of use.  The asides and illustrations are to add a personal perspective and some colour.  The forum is for everyone.  Please do leave a comment if you need anything clarified, have any corrections or suggestions, or if there’s anything else you’d like to say.


23 comments on “Toughie 2144

  1. This was much easier than any of his recent Paul puzzles, the only difficulties being created by the unhelpful grid. Quite an entertaining solve.

    Thanks to Dada and Kitty

    1. As one who has honestly never noticed whether a grid is unhelpful or otherwise, please put me out of my misery and tell me what a helpful one is. I simply read the clues one by one and put in some answers as they come to mind and hopefully a few checking letters will aid further solutions whatever the grid pattern. Today’s was a super puzzle – maybe the hard work put in by solving a few much harder Dada Sunday puzzles has proved to be the ideal way of tuning up and providing some useful practice for his weekday Toughies. No complaints from me for sure – most entertaining – thanks Dada and Kitty.

      1. 2 crossers in a 5-letter light, both of which are vowels or very common consonants, and also not many first letters of words with crossers. I did suggest it was fairly easy too.

        I know it should be possible to cold solve clues without any such assistance and it was in this case, but in harder puzzles this grid would definitely have qualified as unhelpful by my definition…

        1. Oh, righty, thanks for that. :-) I’ll have to take a little more notice in future and make some comparisons.

  2. Very enjoyable and slightly easier than today’s backpager, in my opinion. last one in was 17d as I was wracking my brains for German rivers. 10a was my favourite.

  3. Not as tough and much more fun than Dada’s recent Sunday offerings (with the exception of the one last weekend, which I enjoyed).

    5d was my favourite with 7d in second place.

    Many thanks to Dada for the entertainment and to Kitty for a typically lovely Kitty-blog.

  4. Just the right medicine for (another) horrible day weather-wise. Thanks to Dada and Kitty.
    I’ll go along with Kitty’s choice of 10a and 5d as typical Paulish clues but I have also to mention 19d where I took an embarrassingly long time to spot the well-hidden lurker.

  5. I knew this would happen! Managed to whizz through Mr K’s 4* back-pager and then struggled mightily with parts of this one. No idea why – looks straightforward enough now. As Gazza’s already confessed, I will admit that 19d was my LOI.

    Top three for me were 10a plus 5&7d.

    Thanks to Dada and to our Girl Tuesday for a great blog – really liked the origami feline.

  6. As BH says, compared to recent Paul productions, relatively straightforward. Does CL need a new desk-tidy for Christmas to organise his envelopes?!

    10a amused in particular. Thanks Dada and Kitty

  7. I concur with RD, about the same level of difficulty as the last Sunday puzzle but with different ‘types’ of clues I thought.

    I would also agree with beery hiker about the number of unchecked first letters, but it has been classified as a Toughie (maybe unchecked first letters is, or should be, one of the criteria for a Toughie).

    I think I will have to go for 6a as my favourite which I managed to solve without having to start looking at maps, etc.

    Thanks to Dada and Kitty.

    A sneak peek at the setters list shows that it a challenge from the Petitjean ‘vault’ tomorrow.

  8. I was expecting the difficulty rating to be very much higher than */**. I found this very difficult, and nearly threw the towel in on more than one occasion. I think the grid was partly to blame, as others have commented, and my last in was one of the five letter words with only two checkers (20d). I hadn’t heard of the Fife team in 1a, nor the strap in 22a, which also didn’t help. I was pleased to finish eventually, but I don’t think I quite enjoyed this as much as other recent Dada puzzles. Thanks to him nonetheless, and to Kitty for the review.

  9. I felt very clever in working out the team in 6a which I had never heard of before.
    As ever from this setter, smiles and chuckles all the way.
    Thanks Dada and Kitty.

    1. Queen of the South. Patrick Thistle. East Fife. Forfar Arthletic. Hamilton Academicals. St Mirren Hearts of Midlothian. Airdrieonians. Alloa Athletic. Meadowbank Thistle. These football teams provided the soundtrack to Saturday teatimes for many years

  10. Had to check 6a and 18d in an otherwise very straightforward puzzle.
    Clever clues as usual.
    A real pleasure.
    Thanks to Dada and to Kitty.

  11. Thanks to Dada and to Kitty for the review and hints. It must be all the practice on the Sunday puzzles paying off! Perhaps I’m finally getting on the Dada wavelength? I managed to finish it, so it wasn’t really a tough Toughie, but very enjoyable nonetheless. Just needed the hints to parse 22a, like Kitty I dredged up this word from somewhere. Favourite was 6a. Was 3*/3* for me.

  12. Well, that was a relief. Tuesday’s back pager felt so far above my pay grade as to be out of sight, but I quite liked this one!

    Thanks to Dada and Kitty for the hints.

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