Toughie 2159 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2159

Toughie No 2159 by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Kitty

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BD Rating  –  Difficulty * –  Enjoyment ****


Welcome everyone.  I like some Tuesday Toughies to be accessible to back page solvers, but can’t pretend that I found this of more than ** back-page difficulty.  Perhaps it was just the effect of concentrating properly on blog day, and I’ll get complaints about rating too low.  We’ll see!

That aside, there were still some nice “aha!” moments and plenty to make me smile, so I’m a happy solver.  I hope you are too. 

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

A change of routine in kitty quarters means that pictures may sometimes have to be added a little later than the hints.  That’s the case today – my apologies — so check back in an hour or two for the blog in full colour.  Edit: now added.



1a    Prolonged shortage in Germany, facing turbulent time (7)
DROUGHT:  A charade of the IVR code for Germany, a word meaning turbulent, and the symbol for time

5a    Samuel’s eating large American pastries (7)
SAMOSAS:  A shortened way of saying Samuel’s containing (eating) both the abbreviation of a word meaning large (seen for example on clothing) and the single-letter abbreviation of American

9a    Almost rescue girl that’s plain (7)
SAVANNA:  Most of (almost) a synonym of rescue plus a feminine name

10a   Fury of right during loss of power (7)
OUTRAGE:  An abbreviation of right contained within (during) a period where the power supply fails or is cut off

11a   Heads confer to find way up for fortune-hunter (9)
BEANSTALK:  An informal word for heads followed by confer or speak

12a   Revolutionary merrymaking in bar (5)
LEVER:  The reversal of (revolutionary) some merrymaking.  The bar is one which turns on a fulcrum

13a   23 with a U-turn? Poor! (5)
NEEDY:  The answer to 23d in which a compass point has been changed to the one opposite

15a   Five hundred overcome by force of artillery explosive (9)
GUNPOWDER:  The Roman numeral for five hundred inside (overcome by) force of artillery, or artillery (3) force (5)

17a   Perhaps playboy later rued playing around (9)
ADULTERER:  LATER RUED anagrammed (playing around)

19a   What 8 does for thrills? (5)
KICKS:  Two definitions.  For the first, refer to 8d (its second definition)

22a   Summary of what was said about walker (5)
PACER:  The reversal (… about) of a summary

23a   Squabble involving European, top journalist and bishop over swift craft (9)
SPEEDBOAT:  A four-letter squabble containing (involving) the concatenation of abbreviations for European, our usual top journalist, bishop (in chess) and over

25a   Popular speaker’s account (7)
INVOICE:  Popular or in fashion (2) and a speaker (the main speaker of an organisation, for example)

26a   Running mates, English ones making big strides (7)
ELOPERS:  Abbreviation for English, plus some with long bounding strides

27a   Crowd on vacation ply strong drink (7)
SCRUMPY:  A crowd or crush, then ply without its inner letter (on vacation)

28a   Calm a baby heartlessly with this? (7)
LULLABY:  Calm or quiet, the A from the clue, and baby without its inner letters (heartlessly)



1d    Ruckus about damaged tubs, means of disposing refuse (7)
DUSTBIN:  A ruckus or racket around (about) an anagram of (damaged) TUBS

2d    Remove boat I’ve wrecked (7)
OBVIATE:  BOAT I’VE anagrammed (wrecked)

3d    Information on American class (5)
GENUS:  Information or the low-down followed by (on) a two-letter abbreviation for American

4d    Gunners destroyed flag carried by sailor in battle (9)
TRAFALGAR:  The abbreviation for the Royal Artillery (gunners) and an anagram of (destroyed) FLAG both inside (carried by) one of our usual words for a sailor

5d    Bird‘s unusual sort, first of kind (5)
STORK:  An anagram of (unusual) SORT plus the first letter of kind

6d    French fellow and others achieve processing of gold maybe (9)
METALWORK:  Join together the abbreviated form of a Frenchman’s title, “and others” (2,2), and to achieve or bring about (miracles or wonders etc.) (4)

7d    Short of fare (7)
STARVED:  A mildly cryptic definition (since the more natural reading would probably be in the context of transportation), where fare means food

8d    Man clipping sheep  who was really on the ball? (7)
SHEARER:  Two definitions, the second referring to Alan the footballer

14d   Element my tribute dealt with (9)
YTTERBIUM:  MY TRIBUTE anagrammed (dealt with)

16d   Conductor never sorted out church lines (5,4)
NERVE CELL:  An anagram of (… sorted out) NEVER, and then the abbreviation of a branch of Christianity and two instances of the abbreviation for line

17d   Affected manners after a period of success for home helps (2,5)
AU PAIRS:  Some assumed or affected manners go after the A from the clue and spell of prosperity (2)

18d   Strip off and run around hugging man (7)
UNCOVER:  An anagram of (… around) RUN containing (hugging) an old-fashioned slang word for a chap (seen also on today’s back page)

20d   Anger over a disease (7)
CHOLERA:  Anger or irascibility followed by (over, in a down answer) the A from the clue

21d   To convince, declare hedging unexpectedly fits (7)
SATISFY:  To declare or aver containing (hedging) an anagram of (unexpectedly) FITS

23d   Scruffy grain before start of year (5)
SEEDY:  Some unspecified grain before the first letter of (start of) year

24d   Large peer turns funny (5)
DROLL:  The combination of an abbreviation for large and a noble is reversed (turns)


Thanks to Chalicea.  I particularly enjoyed “way up for fortune hunter” in 11a, the wordplay for the playboy in 17a and the “running mates” of 26a.  I was impressed by the construction of 4d, enjoyed the moment when I twigged what kind of conductor 16d was, and smiled at the image conjured by 18d.  How was it for you?


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.


22 comments on “Toughie 2159

  1. All fairly straightforward, though a couple of these took me longer than they should have.

    Thanks to Kitty and Chalicea

  2. All went in smoothly with smiles along the way. 4d & 11a took me far too long to see at the end. Quite liked 10a, even though it is chestnut flavour. Also thought 23d/13a was nifty.

    Thanks for the fun Chalicea, and to Kitty for the blog

  3. I found this very straightforward but very enjoyable, although I do have a niggle (the nebulous girl in 9a) and a pedantic remark (8d retired many years ago, so 19a should say “did” rather than “does”). I also think that the slang for “heads” in 11a, (which is derived from baseball) is an American term; Collins agrees with me, Chambers does not.

    My page is littered with ticks. With its brilliant surface, 17a was my favourite and I loved the linked 13a & 23d.

    Many thanks to Chalicea for the fun and to Kitty.

  4. I thought that this was pleasant enough but it shouldn’t really be masquerading as a Toughie – it was quite a bit easier than the back-pager.
    My favourite clue (for the amusing definition) was 11a.
    Thanks to Chalicea and Kitty.

  5. In 13a, surely there should have been an indication that the 23 refers to 23d not 23a. Where neither across nor down is present, I thought the default was the clue in the same direction, i.e. 23a in this instance.

    1. I went with the observation that 13a has the same number of letters as 23d, because of the instruction to merely tweak that answer.

  6. Enjoyed this one although I would agree that it didn’t really justify the ‘Toughie’ title – even if it is the first one of the week.
    Not overly convinced by the synonym in 6d and didn’t have a clue about the element in 14d – thank you Mr. Google!

    Top of my pile were the ‘running mates’ in 26a and the way for the fortune-hunter in 11a.

    Thanks to Chalicea and to our Girl Tuesday for the blog. I’ll pop back in later for the full colour version!

  7. My first Toughie of 2019 (!) so pleased it was quite straightforward. Enjoyed 11a and (being a football fan) 8d/19a.

    Thanks to Kitty and Chalicea.

  8. 11a gets our tick for favourite clue. Plenty of smiles and chuckles to make this a good fun solve.
    Thanks Chalicea and Kitty.

  9. The only misdirection was to be found in 5a as I thought the setter was our editor rather than Chalicea.
    Both extremely enjoyable.
    Thanks also to Kitty for the review.

  10. Thanks to the lovely lady for today’s puzzle, probably better suited to the Saturday Prize slot than a Toughie.

    Like Jean-Luc, I was surprised no-one picked up on the Samuel joke.

  11. After a rather busy day this Toughie suited my tired old brain perfectly, so no complaints from me. Relatively straightforward and slightly more taxing than today’s back page puzzle, but a most enjoyable solve. No particular stand-out clues, but lots of chuckles along the way (Shropshire Lass often wonders what I’m up to when sudden or random chuckling occurs 😊) Thanks to Chalicea and to Kitty too.There, I managed to get it right this week and not call you Kath, Kitty. 😁😁

  12. Possibly one of the easiest Toughies ever. Was it a back pager that escaped accidentally? Nonetheless, an enjoyable solve and I never really complain when I can finish a Toughie unaided.

  13. Many thanks to all, and, of course, particularly to Kitty. I am really pleased to have given a lot of enjoyment but clearly have to toughen up my toughies. Amusingly 5a was actually written by our editor who rejected my ‘Assam’s old cooked pastries’ smacking my hand because Telegraph rules say that ‘we need to insert the single letter abbreviation O into the results of the anagram rather than including it in the anagram material’. I’m still manoeuvring through a minefield of rules like this but will keep trying.

      1. Big Dave, i had actually been told this before, together with quite a lot about the vocabulary I need to stay with for Toughies (nothing too obscure, for example – clearly not the Scottishisms I rather like using in EVs or the rich Spenserian terms we find in Chambers, and only the ‘allowed’ single-letter abbreviations). I know Toughies require ‘tricky(ish) wordplay’. Over the years, as a setter, I have received a range of editorial preferences (have the Times, Toughie, IQ and EV sets and am aware of special requirement like ‘no link words’ in Listener clues where there is no equivalence between definition and wordplay’) but don’t think these are ‘published’ anywhere.

    1. Thanks for that, Chalicea. It’s really interesting to hear what things different crossword series do and don’t find acceptable.

      While I’m used to crosswords where the anagram fodder can include abbreviations, I realise there’s a slippery slope leading to very bitty fodder which can be a pain in the proverbial to sort out.

      I’m amused too to hear that the joke in that clue was Samuel having fun at his own expense, rather than you being cheeky!

  14. Thanks to Chalicea and to Kitty for the review and hints. I really enjoyed this puzzle, but it didn’t seem like a Toughie to me. Really well clued, great entertainment. Favourite was 5a. Was 1*/3* for me.

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