Toughie 2171 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2171

Toughie No 2171 by Silvanus

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Happy Chinese New Year!  Seven days since last Tuesday, it’s reassuring to find that today is a Tuesday, and all is as usual.  It’s less usual to see Silvanus in this slot – a first in fact, as his previous two Toughies were published later in the week – but I expect that could change.  I found it not overly tricky, but by no means an escaped back-pager.  Meanwhile, if I’d had any doubts about what enjoyment rating to give, the plaudits over on the back page blog have decided it!  Indeed, I noted an unusually high number of clues as favourites.

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.



1a    Formal boycott needs commitment (5,3)
BLACK TIE:  We begin with a charade: the first word means to boycott or put under a trade-union ban, and the second is a commitment or bond

6a    Carry out  instruction from director (6)
ACTION:  A double definition.  The answer more usually refers to that being carried out, but is used as a verb too, often in business jargon (ugh).  The director is a film director.  I don’t think this seagull was obeying any direction!

9a    Inform being without air-conditioning is old-fashioned (6)
QUAINT:  Inform or let know (8) without the abbreviation for air conditioning (acQUAINT)

10a   Break from performing at Edinburgh Festival? (8)
INFRINGE:  To break or violate, especially a law.  Split (2,6) this might mean performing at the Edinburgh Festival

11a   Potential rowing disaster reportedly, from which Redgrave maybe escaped? (8)
TRAPDOOR:  This could sound like getting ones rowing implement stuck.  While the surface obviously refers to Steve, the Redgrave needed for the definition could be any member of a famous acting dynasty.  What confused me here is that I failed to think of the obvious place one might find the answer: a theatre – d’oh!  Thanks to StanXYZ

12a   Deplore mental suffering (6)
LAMENT:  An anagram of (… suffering) MENTAL

13a   Transform shampoo with extreme changes after sacking executive (12)
METAMORPHOSE:  SHAMPOO is anagrammed (changes) together with exTREME after removing (after sacking) EX (executive)

16a   Normal access to all areas in factory (3-2-3-4)
RUN-OF-THE-MILL:  Normal or humdrum.  Interpreted literally, the answer describes what you might have if you’re allowed to roam free in a factory

19a   Biased film director cut short daughter (6)
ANGLED:  A film director (3,3) missing his final letter (cut short) plus the genealogical abbreviation for daughter

21a   Strong macho types kept in check (8)
VEHEMENT:  Strong and forceful.  Some macho guys (2-3) inside (kept in) check out or screen

23a   Germany battered goal in a straight line from corner (8)
DIAGONAL:  The IVR code for Germany and then an anagram of (battered) GOAL IN A

24a   Dull Conservative nearly given money to withhold article (6)
TORPID:  Most of (… nearly) a four-letter word for a Conservative followed by a word meaning given money without (to withhold) a grammatical article

25a   Plan succeeded? Yes, it seems every other one’s failed (6)
SYSTEM:  The abbreviation for succeeded plus the next three words of the clue in which alternate letters are missing (every other one’s failed)

26a   Boxer dog, one coming to heel (8)
PUGILIST:  A charade of a small dog, the Roman numeral one, and heel or lean



2d    Museum that’s normally closed during the winter? (6)
LOUVRE:  This famous French museum is also a window, hence something that might usually be closed in cold weather

3d    Fresh  snack  firm (5)
CRISP:  Three definitions: two adjectives sandwiching a noun

4d    Wrong to defend extremely inept force engaged in retaliation (3,3,3)
TIT FOR TAT:  A legal wrong containing (to defend) the outer letter of (extremely) inept and the symbol for force, all followed by a two-letter preposition which can mean engaged in

5d    Farmyard animals forming the basis of English saying (7)
EPIGRAM:  Two farmyard animals, both of three letters, beneath (forming the basis of) an abbreviation for English

6d    Legitimate to unseat leader? It’s shocking (5)
AWFUL:  Legitimate or legally allowed, missing the first letter (to unseat leader)

7d    Celebrating victory, but doubtful expression first off entering competition (9)
TRIUMPHAL:  A word expressing doubt or dissatisfaction without its first letter (first off) (hUMPH) is inside (entering) a test or competition (5)

8d    Musician is taught originally by ear, perhaps (8)
ORGANIST:  IS from the clue and the first letter of (… originally) taught, after (by) something of which an ear is an example (ear, perhaps): a part of the body

13d   Work in a secondary job? Fool could, says Spooner (9)
MOONLIGHT:  Take a fool or crazy person and a word similar to could and spoonerise the result

14d   German tourist attraction, its charge is outrageous (9)
REICHSTAG:  ITS CHARGE is anagrammed (is outrageous)

15d   Old fashion designer, dubious having only one female to measure (8)
QUANTIFY:  Take Mary the fashion designer, then add a word meaning questionable or dubious with just one copy of F (female)

17d   Hide resentment shortly before Rod turns up (7)
ENVELOP:  Most of (… shortly) a four-letter word meaning resentment or covetousness comes before the reversal of a rod or bar (Rod turns up, in a down answer)

18d   Good head for entertaining independent rock (6)
GNEISS:  The abbreviation for good and a head or cape containing (for entertaining) an abbreviation for independent.  I’m not sure where I’ve met this rock before, but it’s a good bet that it was in a crossword

20d   Teens regularly wearing dark fabric (5)
DENIM:  Alternate letters of teens inside (wearing) an adjective meaning not very bright.  They’ve been freezing their pants off in Minnesota:

22d   Painting made by male artist enthralling university student (5)
MURAL:  Make this wall art by taking the abbreviation for male and adding the abbreviation for a Royal Academician (artist) inside (enthralling) abbreviations for university and for a learner (student)


Thanks to Silvanus for the entertainment.  I can’t pick a stand-out favourite, so here’s my longlist: 10a, 16a, 21a, 25a, 26a, 4d, 5d, 8d, 14d and 15d.  Phew!  Which were you enthralled by?


These hints and tips are for anyone who might find them of use.  Asides and illustrations are to add a personal perspective and some colour.  The forum is for everyone.  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.


32 comments on “Toughie 2171

  1. This is Silvanus’ third Telegraph Toughie since his debut at the end of last year. He is setting himself a very tough task if he intends to continue the current trend of each one getting better from a starting point of the first one being very good indeed.

    This was a lot of fun and not overly tough, although several clues did put quite a fight especially the parsing of 19a. The answer wasn’t difficult to get from the definition and the checkers, but for the wordplay I was looking for a film director whose surname comprised six letters and started with an “A”. Sneaky setter!

    Silvanus’ attention to his surfaces is exemplary, and he always manages this without compromising the quality of the wordplay. I should mention the answer to 18d. Nice!

    I’ve got too many ticks to mention them all, with my double ticks going to 10a, 11a, 13a, 16a, 26a, 3d (TD!) and 13d (a Spoonerism which should work for everybody) If you twisted my arm, of these I’d probably select 11a as my favourite.

    Many thanks and well done to Silvanus, and many thanks too to Kitty for an impeccable review.

  2. Having struggled a little with Pasquale in the Guardian, I found this one quite a lot easier – only 9 and 24 held me up a little at the end. All quite enjoyable.

    Thanks to Kitty and Silvanus

  3. Very enjoyable and a delight to solve with a slow start and then it was completed at a gallop without knowing who the setter is – **/****.

    I did have to verify 18d after assembling the Lego pieces; I wonder if it is worth trying to remember it.

    And, the spoonerism did not cause any problems.

    Favourite -15d.

    Thanks to Silvanus for a very good Tuesday Toughie and Kitty

  4. 11a – lots of Redgraves that might use this exit from the stage – Vanessa, Corin, Lynn etc.

  5. Don’t often complete the Toughie without any help but this one went in very nicely with too many favourite clues to mention.

  6. I found this incredibly easy. Nicely written nonetheless, but I can see why another contributor found Pasquale, appearing in another place, rather tougher!

    Thanks to Silvanus and Kitty (a good number of cats in the blog I see).

  7. Gentle and enjoyable stuff – thanks to Silvanus and to Kitty for the review.
    Top clues for me were 16a,15d and 20d.

  8. Tarnation! I don’t really want to just put ‘ditto to everything RD said’ but he’s exactly captured my thoughts. This newish recruit to the DT Toughie team is certainly earning his stripes.

    Podium places? Here we go – 10,11,16,21,25&26a along with 2,3,4,5,8,13,14&15d! Never would have imagined a Spoonerism getting a place in my rankings.

    Many thanks to Silvanus and to our Girl Tuesday – you’ve both set the bar very high when it comes to solvers’ expectations!

    What an excellent day we’ve had for both puzzles and reviews.
    PS Loved 1a in his D.J.

  9. A great start to The Toughie week. It has taken me quite a while to untrap my blade. I used to test the device at The Coventry Theatre every night during a run of Aladdin many years ago. Not my favourite job. Thanks to all concerned

  10. A great start to The Toughie week. It has taken me quite a while to untrap my blade. I used to test the device at The Coventry Theatre every night during a run of Aladdin many years ago. Not my favourite job. Thanks to all concerned

  11. Many thanks Sylvanus.

    I particularly liked 16a. I didn’t see the film director, same reason as rabbit Dave. And it took me a while to get beyond UM as the doubtful expression.
    Clueing 14d as a tourist attraction (which it is) seems to belittle its function! I wonder if anyone has clued HoP as a tourist attraction.

    Many thanks kitty. I liked “if cats could talk, they wouldn’t”

        1. According to the label on the bottle residing in my fridge, it was made in Elst in the Netherlands.
          By the way, BD, any chance of the pics from the Big 10th appearing soon?

  12. In the paper edition, the Killer Sudoku next to the Toughie is classified as ‘Gentle’, a description which fits today’s Toughie. However, it was really very enjoyable. Silvanus provides great surfaces and, at times, we looked at a clue and couldn’t immediately spot a way in.

    Favourite clues today were 16a and 24a.

    14d is very much a tourist attraction – great views of Berlin from the roof. Despite what the clue implies, it’s free too (or was 4 months ago when we visited).

    Thanks to Kitty and Silvanus.

  13. Very satisfying and not too easy . I liked a lot of clues , including 4d , 5d , 6a and 21a .
    Thanks to Kitty and Silvanus .

  14. Great stuff from Silvanus – he has clearly set himself a high bar in terms of quality. Loads to like.

    Thanks to him and to Kitty.

  15. We struggled with the film director in 19a. Got the answer from definition and checkers and then spent time trying to work out how a fisher person could be described as a ‘film director’. Thought ‘filament director’ would have worked but could not get from filament to film. It kept us out of trouble for quite some time.
    A good fun solve that we really appreciated.
    Thanks Silvanus and Kitty.

  16. Congratulations Silvanus, I could only do the NE, the rest was too difficult as expected, but going through Kitty’s hints, congratulations again on a great set of clues.
    Thanks also, Kitty.

  17. A quality puzzle indeed but maybe at the gentler end of the Toughie spectrum..? Who cares though, it was an enjoyable solve for me.

    Thanks to Kitty and Silvanus.

  18. Many thanks to everyone for their kind comments and to Kitty for an excellent review, I particularly liked the picture to accompany 1a.

    I can’t promise that the next one will be quite as solver-friendly as this one, but I hope it will be as equally enjoyable to tackle.

  19. Took a while on the last few in 15d, 19a and 24a (even after checking if the letters in 18d were in the right order).
    But both Director and Designer suddenly fell out of nowhere and managed to finish.
    Nice Spooner in 13d
    Great clue in 4d.
    Thanks to Silvanus and to Kitty.

  20. After AA / MP’s contribution on the back pager was tempted & got through just over half. Then with 3 or 4 promptings from Kitty got there.
    It was above my level but the beauty to me was that seeing the hints I really didn’t think it should have been. I wasn’t totally out of my depth.
    Thanks to setter , Kitty, & MP for the prompt.

  21. Nice stuff Silvanus and even a Spoonerism that raised a smile :yes:

    Thanks to you and Kitty. Nice to finally meet you both last weekend.

  22. I thought 25 across was a brilliant clue, with 16 across providing me with the chuckle moment, but finishing it felt more like a marathon than a canter. Admittedly speed increased once peace and quiet descended on the house and I had a fully filled in grid by 19.45, having made a start earlier this afternoon. Thoroughly absorbing, but am quite relieved that Silvanus doesn’t set the Sunday Prize Crossword ;-) Thanks to setter and Kitty.

  23. Thanks to Silvanus and to Kitty for the review and hints. It was great to meet Silvanus at the Birthday Bash. I really enjoyed this puzzle, but found it very tricky. Managed to get so far, but needed the hints for 6,10,11,25a and 15d. Never heard of the film director, but guessed the answer. I was encouraged that I got quite a lot of it, and look forward to trying to tackle some more of Silvanus’ puzzles. Favourite was 2d, which made me laugh.

  24. Thoroughly enjoyed tackling this little beauty. 11a and 15d being my personal favourites. They did make me smile. Look forward to Silvanus’ next serving of puzzling trickery.

  25. This fine puzzle brightened up a tedious flight earlier in the day. My favourite was probably 11a. Thanks to silvanus for the entertainment and to Kitty for the explanations and the illustrations.

  26. A very enjoyable and not too tough solve. Lots of good clues especially 5d and 2d with 11a coming out on top.

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