Toughie 2163 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2163

Toughie No 2163 by Dada

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello and welcome everyone.  As the blog approaches the end of its tenth year, Dada brings us the first Toughie of the week.  I found this a bit trickier than his last few, taking me closer to what I think of as an average Toughie time.  Good entertainment as always.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the Little Venice, this Saturday.  Be there or be 22d! buttons.  As usual you may click on pictures to enlarge them or uncover hidden extras.



1a    Flat, say, without planning (10)
ACCIDENTAL:  We start with a double definition.  Flat could be an example of (… say) the answer in music, as might be a sharp or a natural

6a    Muscle weak without the French backing (4)
BEEF:  Muscle or brawn.  It’s the reversal of (… backing) a word meaning weak or frail without one of the French definite articles (the French)

9a    Licking lemon, idiot idiotic! (10)
DEMOLITION:  An anagram of (… idiotic) LEMON IDIOT

10a   Book  performers for revue, say? (4)
ACTS:  This biblical book is also the people in individual performances or turns on stage

12a   Associationone of thirteen? (4)
CLUB:  Another pair of definitions, the second being one of thirteen in a pack of cards

13a   Question sister into mock alcoholic drink (9)
CONUNDRUM:  A religious sister goes into mock or sham followed by an alcoholic drink.  The illustration is a real example from the regular version (i.e. not the 8 out of 10 Cats sister show) of Countdown

15a   Generation of integral for revising (8)
ALTERING:  An anagram (generation) of INTEGRAL

16a   Bird circling rear of crater on moon (6)
TRITON:  A small bird going around (circling) the last letter of (rear of) crater, together with the ON from the clue, gives this moon of Neptune

18a   Penned by runner, flier for consideration (6)
DEBATE:  A flying mammal is surrounded by (penned by) a river (runner, because rivers run)

20a   Friendly convict crushes it from behind (8)
INTIMATE:  A prisoner surrounds (crushes) IT from the clue reversed (from behind)

23a   Self-employed swimmer across the Channel, it’s implied? (9)
FREELANCE:  The swimmer is a long thin fish, and it’s in the country across the channel from Britain (so the positioning is implied)

24a   Free turn I’d got to take at regular intervals (4)
UNDO:  The setter is instructing you to take alternate letters of (… to take at regular intervals) three words of the clue

26a   Brats are on the slippery slope, heading for oblivion after rejection (4)
OIKS:  The reversal of (… after rejection) to travel on a slippery slope (usually of snow) with the first letter of (heading of) oblivion

27a   What we call ourselves entering explosive competition (10)
TOURNAMENT:  What we call ourselves (3,4) going inside (entering) the three-letter abbreviated form of a high explosive

28a   Bear observed in woods, I recalled (4)
SIRE:  Bear here means to father, seen here hiding in the last three words of the clue.  I won’t speculate what the bear was observed doing in the woods

29a   Boring summer perhaps, no time for jumpers? (4,6)
FLAT SEASON:  A charade of boring (4) and what summer is an example of (6).  This is the time of year in which horse races are run on level racecourses



1d    A brief concept for assistant (4)
AIDE:  A (from the clue) followed by a truncated (brief) concept or notion

2d    Happened upon fortune in mythical place (7)
CAMELOT:  Happened upon (4) and one’s fortune or destiny

3d    Daughter reliable, yet failing on purpose (12)
DELIBERATELY:  The abbreviation for daughter plus an anagram (… failing) of RELIABLE YET

4d    Seeing gin and tonic, excited (8)
NOTICING:  An anagram (… excited) of GIN and TONIC.  I’m sure that seeing this anagram would be enough to get a setter excited — a lovely spot

5d    A certain flourish (6)
ABOUND:  A charade of A (from the clue) and certain (as in “now we’ve encouraged Sunday solvers to have a go at this crossword, it’s certain to be harder than usual”)

7d    Ending on floor, leave out bags in passage (7)
EXCERPT:  The last letter of (ending on) floor, which a verb to leave out or omit contains (bags)

8d    Shop shut up second one of eight packages (10)
FISHMONGER:  One of eight digits on a hand contains (packages) the combination of an interjection to be quiet and a short word for a short time or sec

11d   At sea, nautical rite hard to understand (12)
INARTICULATE:  An anagram of (at sea) NAUTICAL RITE

14d   Given spin, fair stuff? (10)
CANDYFLOSS:  A cryptic definition a fluffy ball of spun sugar which is sold at fairs

17d   Move is recent, sub rosa (2,6)
IN SECRET:  Make an anagram of (move) IS RECENT

19d   Wave — one stopping, might you say? (7)
BREAKER:  This word for a white-topped wave could be someone stopping work for a while

21d   Look at  details on envelope (7)
ADDRESS:  Look at or attend to (a problem say), or what would go on an envelope to indicate its intended destination

22d   By inference, warm out (6)
UNCOOL:  Out here means not fashionable.  This word could whimsically (by inference) mean not chilly, hence warm

25d   Surprise visit ultimately welcomed by setter (4)
STUN:  The last letter of (… ultimately) visit inside (welcomed by) something that sets at the end of the day


Thanks to Dada.  I enjoyed the alcoholic clues and liked the placement of the swimmer across the channel (23a), as well as the cool 22d.  Which warmed the cockles of your brain (if a brain can be said to have cockles)?


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.


18 comments on “Toughie 2163

  1. I found this very enjoyable and not over tough even though it took some persistence to crack the NE sector. For what it’s worth, it was nothing like as hard as this setter’s Sunday prize cryptic.

    It was interesting to see that the down clues were much briefer in general than the across clues. I wonder why?

    5d was my favourite – short and sweet, with 23a also deserving a special mention.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Kitty.

    1. This one took me a few minutes longer than last Sunday’s puzzle, but I’m out of my usual routine today and somewhat bleary-eyed.

  2. A little trickier than the last Tuesday Dada perhaps, but this was still a lot easier than many of the recent Paul puzzles in the Guardian. All very enjoyable. 22 was last in. 7d was also in today’s Arachne!

    Thanks to Kitty and Dada

  3. It took a while to ‘break’ into this one but then it was completed at a fast gallop – 1.5*/3.5*.

    I think it would have made an ideal Dada Sunday puzzle.

    Favourite – a toss-up between and 29a and 25d (I liked the use of setter).

    Thanks to Dada and Kitty.

  4. This Toughie took about the same time as the recent Sunday puzzles.

    I liked the Countdown conundrum!

    Ta Kitty & Dada.

      1. I dare not say this … but ..

  5. Oh well. I had a look on advice last Sunday and couldn’t get one answer. I finished last Sunday via 2 hints.
    Will enjoy going through the hints.
    Thanks in advance to Kitty and Dada.

    1. Me too, Hoofit. See my comment on the other side. I did quite well on the NW corner and a smattering elsewhere. I’ll just pass again in future, doing the NTSPP on Sunday worked out really well for me.

    2. I did the same & stuck with it until I got half the clues then needed hints for half the rest.

      About where my abilities are & will probably stay. There are more things falling out of my filing cabinet than going in these days.

      Would have enjoyed meeting at the birthday bash but my hearing is now so bad that hearing conversation in crowded rooms is near impossible.
      Thanks to DaDa & Kitty – Biggles thinks there should be some pet equality from Mr & Mrs K!

      1. I have sympathy with you there. Calling the DWP in Newcastle for simple things recently has been a nightmare … and crowded rooms are the same for me! Stick with it HoofIt … I too found Paul very difficult in the Grauniad years ago but now, although still tough, I seek his crosswords everywhere. Today was an average solve … some clues I liked and others left me cool!

  6. I think that Dada is toughening up his Toughies ever so gradually and I enjoyed this one. Thanks to him and Kitty.
    Top clues for me were 23a and 29a.

    1. I agree with you Gazza, those two.

      Not overly tough this one, and I think we have a break in tone between what’s here and Dada’s work elsewhere. Enjoyable nonetheless.

  7. I shan’t claim any gallops, but rather, maybe, a steady trot over the finishing line.

    I’d agree with Kitty’s difficulty rating and it also took me a wee while longer to complete than Sunday’s puzzle,

    Lots of good clues i thought, and the usual witty review from our Tuesday blogger.

    Cheers to all

  8. We found this quite tricky and lots of fun. Our last one in was 14d which took quite a lot of head scratching.
    Thanks Dada and Kitty.

    1. I’d go along with that and in addition I’d say that I found some clues equally as difficult to untangle as some of Sunday’s. Not a complaint though – the old grey matter needs a good work out :-) Loved 25 down.

  9. Very late in due to a veritable invasion of unexpected visitors – lovely to see them all, of course!

    Not totally convinced by the definition at 9a but no other problems to report although I admit to finding this harder than last Sunday’s offering.

    Quite a few that I liked but no particular favourite.

    Thanks to Dada and to our Girl Tuesday, especially for the accompanying illustrations to 4&14d!

  10. Thanks to Dada and to Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much. Very difficult though. I was 6 answers short, and just couldn’t get them. Got a few with the hints, very tricky. 6&10a and 7,8,22,25d. Favourite was 16a, was 5*/3* for me.

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