Toughie 2181 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2181

Toughie No 2181 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I didn’t find this very difficult but I can’t say that I enjoyed it particularly. I thought that a lot of the surfaces are not very good. I assume that it’s a pangram but I can’t be bothered to check that all the letters are there

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Turning down a cold fruit (6)
CASABA: A reversal of a French term meaning ‘down’ (1,3), A and C (cold) = a kind of melon (that I don’t remember meeting before)

4a    Drink for each after a vermouth I fancy at first (8)
APERITIF: A drink consumed before a meal = A + ‘for each’ + ‘vermouth’ + the first letter of FANCY

9a    Murky old resentment apt originally for India (6)
OPAQUE: A = ‘resentment’ with the letter I (India) replaced by A (first letter of APT)

10a    Happy island processed oil flowers (8)
GLADIOLI: ‘Happy’ + I (island) + an anagram (processed) of OIL

11a    Band leader beat senior (4-5)
DRUM-MAJOR: The marching leader of a military band = ‘to beat’ + ‘senior’

13a    First knight leaves gun for religious leader (5)
CANON: Remove N (knight) from a large gun

14a    Discontent and doubt mostly before upper-class parasite adopts new ship (13)
QUERULOUSNESS: A doubt (5) with the last letter removed + U (upper-class) + a parasite round N (new) + the abbreviation for a steamship

17a    Inside forwards in America bagging four — lottery is void, with no harm intended? (13)
INOFFENSIVELY: ‘Inside’ + those players in a sports team with an attacking role (the American spelling) round the Roman numeral for four + LOTTERY with the five middle letters removed (void)

21a    A southern writer that’s wooden (5)
ASPEN: A + S (southern) + a writing implement = a tree (the trembling poplar)

23a    Miles playing along with Geordie rock (9)
LIMESTONE: An anagram (playing) of MILES + ‘along with’ + the point of the compass that shows where in England a Geordie lives

24a    Most obscene tango to follow is tried drunk (8)
DIRTIEST: An anagram (drunk) of IS TRIED + T (tango)

25a    Frolic about in retro vacation (6)
CAVORT: Hidden in reverse in RETRO VACATION

26a    Unknown tongues translated for baby (8)
YOUNGEST: A letter denoting an unknown quantity + an anagram (translated) of TONGUES

27a    Pretend spread concealed in bit of butter (4,2)
PLAY AT: ‘To spread’ inside a small piece of butter


1d    Groups of notes hard to get in strings (6)
CHORDS: H (hard) in ‘strings’

2d    Numerical data question over including university in band (6,3)
STATUS QUO: ‘Numerical data’, an abbreviation for QU[estion] and O (over) round U (university) = an English rock band

3d    Odd note adopted by half of insects of second city (7)
BRUMMIE: ‘Odd’ and a musical note inside the first half of a 4-letter word for ‘insects’ = ‘of England’s second city’

5d    Growth of cultivated geranium with heads of pink and opal, planted round lake (11)
PELARGONIUM: An anagram of GERANIUM, P (first letter of PINK) and O (first letter of OPAL) round L (lake) gives a flower (sometimes a geranium). I suppose that the whole clue is meant to provide the definition

6d    Lowers taken aback in coarse cud eruption (7)

7d    Literary doctor’s unfinished letter (5)
THORN: Remove the last letter from the name of a doctor who forms the title of an Anthony Trollope novel. That gives you an Old English letter (th / þ). Both the definition and the wordplay are fairly obscure here so I wonder whether the clue is really fair.

8d    The setter’s into islands singular beauty (8)
FAIRNESS: A pronoun denoting ‘the setter’ inside a group of islands off the Northumberland coast + S (singular)

12d    So last injury almost sorted for hacks? (11)
JOURNALISTS: An anagram (sorted) of SO LAST INJUR (INJURY almost)

15d    Original root gets discovered, second record concealed in two years (9)
ETYMOLOGY: The original root (or origin) of a word = the middle letters of GETS (dis-covered) + a second (instant) and a record inside YY (two years)

16d    Potter’s art is such disappointment, no top, hardy inside and arty occasionally (8)
WIZARDRY: Harry Potter’s art = ‘a great disappointment’ with the first letter removed + the middle letters of HARDY + alternate letters of ARTY

18d    Shirking from sport with man on board (7)
FUNKING: ‘Shirking from fear’ = ‘sport’ + a chess piece (man on board)

19d    To embroil opponents, partners advanced both hands (7)
ENSNARL: Two opponents at bridge + 2 partners at bridge + A (advanced) + both hands (right and left)

20d    Group succeeded without festival (6)
SEXTET: S (succeeded) + ‘without’ + the Vietnamese lunar new year festival (when there was once an offensive)

22d    Starts to plunder effects robbers divided up in hiding (5)
PERDU: First letters of Plunder, Effects, Robbers, Divided and Up

Maybe I’m just grumpy because I’ve got a cold


19 comments on “Toughie 2181

  1. Managed this without too much trouble. As Bufo says, I don’t think I had a smile at any of the answers. I think its a pangram?

  2. I solved this immediately after today’s excellent back-pager and I’m afraid this suffered in comparison. A lot of the surfaces (e.g. 14a, 17a, 15d) seem to be meaningless and I found the whole thing a bit of a slog without much amusement.
    Thanks to Stick Insect and Bufo.

  3. Yep. All the letters are there. I’m always happy if I can complete it. I used to read the clues to see if I could actually do any. Then I worked through a few using the hints which helped me get in the mindset. Now I’m disappointed if I can’t do it. I’d never heard of 1a either. Thanks to Stick Insect and Bufo.

  4. Just me then? – I quite enjoyed the solving of the pangram, even though it didn’t take long – I did smile at 5d as my mother-in-law was a great fan of these cultivated geraniums and would have loved her own lake around which to plant them.,

    I was going to channel RD and comment on the French expression in 1a but checking on line, I found that it is ‘originally French’ so presumably considered now to be OK to use as a British expression.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and Bufo

  5. Indeed a little less than sparkly in places, but of course all the elements are meticulously accounted for.

    Thanks to The Insect and Bufo.

  6. Mostly fair-dos, but yes, some of the surfaces wouldn’t get past Prolixic. Perhaps I’ve got a cold too.

    Thanks Stick Insect and Bufo

  7. I enjoyed this as well. My enjoyment level is always increased if I can finish, and I was able to do so in this case although (yet again) I failed to spot that it was a pangram (until long after I had finished) which is a pity because it would have helped me with 20d. I was caught between two possible groups that would fit, the festival wasn’t coming to me, and I was very slow in tumbling to ‘without’. Thanks to Stick Insect and Bufo.

  8. Not one of my favourite Toughies but all quite fair. I did need to check on the melon, the festival and the 7d doctor.
    Interesting that 9a also had a place in today’s back-pager.
    No particular clue stood out for honourable mention.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to Bufo – hope you get rid of the snuffles ‘ere long.

  9. Just like the ‘back page’ puzzle, 1a was the last answer to go in. Looking for the last letter of the pangram was a help with 16d. We enjoyed the solve.
    Thanks Stick Insect and Bufo.

  10. Well, I completed half of this, but became completely unstuck trying to get MANCUNIAN into the seven spaces provided at 3d.

    With a few more checkers, I realised to my horror what a ghastly mistake the compiler had made and just had to give up in revulsion.

  11. Found this both more difficult and more enjoyable than did our reviewer.

    Got very bogged down in places and used a couple of cheats: gave up and electronically unscrambled 5d, and after much staring at my last in, 1a, used a wordfinder for that.

    My favourites are 15d, 19d and 20d.

    Thanks Stick Insect and Bufo.

  12. Unlike Bufo, we enjoyed this a reasonable amount. The clues were fair and spotting the pangram helped.

    Favourite was 9a.

    Thanks to Bufo and Stick Insect.

  13. I’m being dense as usual, in 8d where is the extra “s” ?. No other quibbles but I do agree some of the surfaces seemed quirky. Thanks to Bufo and Stick Insect

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