Toughie 2208 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2208

Toughie No 2208 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

An enjoyable puzzle which is not too soft, not too hard – thanks Messinae.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

7a Drive a ship like Titanic heading off — it will be next to sink (7)
DRAINER: string together the abbreviation for a drive, A and a passenger ship without its first letter.

8a Type inclined to show stress (7)
ITALICS: cryptic definition.

10a Put down creature with fearsome teeth that’s bitten one man in suit (9)
LITIGATOR: assemble a verb meaning put down or landed and an informal word for a toothy reptile with the Roman numeral for one being inserted.

11a Teacher’s maybe coming through this subject with start of term set back (5)
OPTIC: start with a subject and move the first letter of term along a bit.

12a Old leftie welcomes independent African country (5)
BENIN: the surname of an old Labour politician (whose son is a current Labour politician) containing an abbreviation for independent.

13a Alternative charts compiled featuring electronic musicians (9)
ORCHESTRA: solder together a conjunction identifying an alternative and an anagram (compiled) of CHARTS containing the abbreviation for electronic.

15a Stag week to end after heartless bouncer’s thrown out (7)
ROEBUCK: the final letter of week follows an anagram (thrown out) of BOU[n]CER without its middle letter.

17a Nelson lengthily detained ship of the French (7)
MANDELA: charade of a type of warship and French words for ‘of’ and ‘the’.

18a Irritability of bowels lacking in symptoms at first (9)
TESTINESS: remove the IN from another word for bowels and append the first letter of symptoms.

20a Colourful old singer vacillates somewhat (5)
CILLA: an old singer (who began White and ended up Black) is hidden in the clue.

21a Chemical making leather without using hydrogen (5)
OXIDE: remove the chemical symbol of hydrogen from leather made from a bovine animal.

23a Entertainer illicitly intercepted reply on telephone (3-6)
TAP-DANCER: homophone (on telephone) of an illegally intercepted or bugged reply (6,6).

24a Reflective one among ‘Friends’ accepting short refusal to be godfather? (7)
SPONSOR: I never watched ‘Friends’ but I do know the name of this male character because he pops up from time to time in crosswords. We need his forename with an informal (originally North American) refusal without its last letter inserted. Finally, it all has to be reversed.

25a Making stealthy moves, keen to trap bishop (7)
LAMBENT: a verb to keen or wail in grief contains the chess abbreviation for bishop. I didn’t know this adjective which apparently means flickering or moving lightly like tongues of flame.

Down Clues

1d They may serve one a wallop, one finishing up in hospital (10)
BARTENDERS: insert a synonym for finisher into the common informal name of a London teaching hospital. Wallop, as used here, is a mass noun so I don’t think ‘a wallop’ works.

2d Duelling Russian character‘s single shot (6)
ONEGIN: this is Eugene, the eponymous hero of a Pushkin novel (and a Tchaikovsky opera based on it) who killed his opponent in a duel. Stick together a synonym of single and the sort of shot that may come from an 11a.

3d Have kittens till it’s traced (8)
FRETWORK: a verb to ‘have kittens’ or feel uneasy is followed by a verb to till (the land).

4d Fruity reviewer right to move south (6)
CITRIC: start with another word for a reviewer and move the abbreviation for right a bit towards the end (move south in a down clue).

5d Soft margarine put in granny’s cake (8)
NAPOLEON: insert the musical abbreviation for soft and a colloquial name for margarine in the USA into an informal term for one’s grandmother. The answer (new to me, as was the margarine) can be, according to Chambers, ” a small, rich iced cake with layers of puff pastry filled with cream, custard or jam”.

6d Meet to frame a decree (4)
FIAT: meet here is an archaic adjective meaning suitable or proper. One of its synonyms contains A.

7d Pensées? French composer has penned fair share (13)
DELIBERATIONS: the surname of a French composer of ballets and operas contains a word meaning fair share or allocation.

9d Suffering food poisoning perhaps when a fowl is badly gutted (4,2,1,6)
SICK AS A PARROT: string together an adjective (4) meaning ‘suffering food poisoning perhaps’, a conjunction meaning when, A and type of fowl or bird.

14d In short, County Cricket Club departed abruptly heading for bar (6,4)
TREBLE CLEF: how the abbreviation for County Cricket Club may be described (6,1) is followed by a verb meaning departed shorn of its last letter.

16d Everything that is superior in uplifting poetry (8)
UNIVERSE: cement together the single letter used to mean superior or posh, the reversal of IN and another word for poetry.

17d Having some dodgy characters present could make young girl hide (8)
MISSPELT: concatenate how a young girl is addressed and the hide of an animal.

19d Go in with American showing guts (6)
ENTERA: a verb to go in and a single-letter abbreviation for American.

20d Stewing like some seafood apparently (6)
CLAMMY: stewing here means warm and sweaty. Cryptically the answer could mean ‘like a shellfish’.

22d Press club (4)
IRON: double definition (and a very old chestnut) to round off an enjoyable puzzle.

My podium today features 17a, 3d and 9d. Do let us know your choices.

26 comments on “Toughie 2208

  1. Very enjoyable, just the right amount of head scratching for a Wednesday – ***/****.

    Candidates for favourite – 12a, 7d, and 8d – and the winner is 7d.

    Thanks to Messinae and Gazza.

  2. Some very cleverly disguised definitions in today’s Toughie from Messinae.

    “Nelson lengthily detained …” & “Teacher’s coming through this …” to name but two.

    Thanks to Gazza for the blog especially for explaining the CCC one.

    Nice puzzle!

  3. Really enjoyed solving this one and had several instances (1a for example) where I got the answer immediately but had to work at the parsing.
    Didn’t have an issue with 1d – ‘a pint of wallop’ seems fair enough to answer the clue, but I did wonder about a ‘decree’ being used as the name of a car manufacturer – new word for me.
    Managed the soft margarine by virtue of thinking of the brand name ‘Olivio’ but as for the product – closest I got was to a good old-fashioned vanilla slice.

    Quite a list for the podium – 7&11a plus 9&14d.

    Many thanks, Messinae, and thanks to Gazza for the blog – loved the way of dealing with having a 23a living upstairs!

    • I’d be very happy with ‘a pint of wallop’ but the clue says ‘a wallop’ and wallop in this context is a mass noun (like sand and milk, for example). You may pick up a handful of sand but picking up ‘a sand’ doesn’t work.

  4. At the first read through I was thoroughly flummoxed with these obscure and sometimes convoluted clues and didn’t think I’d get anywhere. However I persevered and, with some educated guesses and a little electronic help, I reached the end. I still needed help with the parsing of some of the answers so thank you Gazza.

    My favourite clue? That has to be 11a as I failed to find any of that whisky in Waitrose yesterday and had to settle for red label Johnny Walker instead.!

  5. I thought there were some wonderfully constructed clues in this, but for me, there were just too many things that I was unfamiliar with to make it truly satisfying. For example, like Gazza, I had heard of neither the cake nor the margarine in 5d. Intersecting with that I had not heard of the definition in 11a. Intersecting with that, the only expression that I knew of for 9d that made sense with ‘badly gutted’ ended with ‘dog’. Intersecting with that, I was not familiar with the definition in 25a, and so it goes on. I was on the point of giving up on several occasions, but I I’m glad I persevered because there was much cleverness to enjoy. Many thanks to Messinae and Gazza.

      • Guess Lostboy means diet as in a parliament and meet meaning a meeting place, then a diet is where decrees are framed. Doesn’t work for me, though.

        • Yes Diet…Defined as a legislative assembly. Or to put it another way, a meet where they make decrees.
          Bit thin maybe, but I would have thought very much in Toughie territory.

          • Innovative thinking but I can’t see how a meet can be a legislative assembly. According to Chambers a meet can be a ‘coming together’ for sporting events, blood sports participants or criminals – no mention of legislators (unless they are classed as criminals :D ).

    • A little late to the party but I couldn’t see where this issue had been resolved. I felt that meet was referring to ‘meet in the middle’ so ‘fit’ and in framing the ‘a’ produced fiat which has, as one of it’s meanings ‘decree’ from the Latin fieri ‘be done or made’.

      • Welcome to the blog, Janiro.

        Meet is an old adjective meaning suitable, proper or fit. If you are a churchgoer you may remember “It is meet and right so to do” as (I think) a response from the congregation in one of the services.

  6. A very sound offering incorporating some clever clueing, humour, tangential but fair definitions and spot-on Wednesday toughness. Lots of clues to,like, but smiled at 21a and loved 15a and 1d.

    Thanks to Gazza and Messinae.

  7. Solved what seems like a very long time ago now before setting off on a long journey to Ironbridge.

    I did know the cake from Bake Off but didn’t know the margarine.

    My favourite was the colourful old singer

    Thanks to gazza and Messinae

  8. Cannot decide whether 17a or 17d gets the gold medal from me and there are plenty of other super clues.

    Didn’t care too much for 24a which I got from the crossers but needed the blog for parsing.

    Thanks all.

  9. Yes a most enjoyable puzzle and quite challenging in places.
    Much appreciated.
    Thanks Messinae and Gazza.

  10. After racing through the back pager this morning, I’m still struggling with this one. I just can’t quite get onto this setter’s wavelength. Still, never say die, there’s a couple of hours yet in which to suffer. ;-)

    • I completed by lights out . . . With help from Gazza it must be said. Thanks to both he and setter.

  11. Of course, I quite realise no one is going to read this st such a late stage but I did enjoy this puzzle. However I was completely stuck on the cake, never heard of it or the American margarine so thanks for putting me straight. I cannot honestly say I lost sleep over it but it was certainly on my mind as I awoke! Are we cruciverbalists quite mad?

    • Bloggers are emailed a copy of all comments on their blogs so no comment goes completely unread. I’d say that being a bit nutty is a prerequisite for crossword enthusiasts.

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