Toughie 2214 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2214

Toughie No 2214 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

What a great way to start this glorious long weekend – a brilliant puzzle by Notabilis. (And there should be something to keep you amused on Sunday in the Independent) Today we have a pangram and a little Nina, as well as plenty of original trickery to keep us amused. Almost too much – I had to phone a friend before I could fully parse 21a and 16d (thanks Gazza!)

Definitions are underlined as usual. The hints and tips are intended to help you unravel the word play, and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the Central row & column buttons. Please leave a message telling us how you got on and what you thought.


8a    Smooth scales hold uranium, making atomic terminal (8)
CONTINUA: A verb meaning to hold or to have within plus the chemical symbol for uranium, then move the abbreviation for atomic to the end (making … terminal)

9a    Part of brain forgetting conclusions from key piece of writing (6)
CORTEX: a 4-letter word for key or central plus a 4-letter word for a piece of writing, omitting the final letter in each (forgetting conclusions)

10a    Bakery item‘s gone off, not regularly sold (3)
PIE: Take a 7-letter word meaning gone off, then remove (not) the odd (regular) letters “SOLD”

11a    Italian man serving American eating eggs in pub (8)
GIOVANNI: Russian dolls: a serving American soldier contains (eating) a 3-letter word for eggs inside (in) another word for pub

12a    Obscure English composer with introduction of vacuous cantata (6)
ARCANE: The composer of Rule Britannia contains (with introduction of) the outer letters only (vacuous) of cantata

13a    Performance booster for PC‘s old crate, confused with race-car (11,4)
ACCELERATOR CARD: An anagram (confused) of OLD CRATE + RACE-CAR

15a    Taking wrong final direction, monk comes to oldest professional establishment? (7)
BROTHEL: Another word for monk or friar, then change the direction of the last letter (taking wrong final direction)

18a    Estuary cut through low-lying plant (7)
CREEPER: A 5-letter word for estuary without the final letter (cut) plus a word meaning through

21a    Seed spiller heading off trouble with tree that’s first spaced out? (2,7,6)
ON ANOTHER PLANET: A 4-letter biblical character who did not wish to sire a son with Tamar and hence withdrew and “spilled his semen on the ground” (Genesis 38:9), a 6-letter word for trouble without the first letter (heading off), a kind of tree, and the first letter of that.

24a    Meeting place fills for rock singer (6)
JOPLIN: A meeting or connection which the 2-letter abbreviation for place fills

25a    Dress up treat only allowed for Halloween? (5,3)
TRICK OUT: This actually happened to me – some trick-or-treaters rang the bell and said “treat”. If only treat is allowed, then we have (5,3)

26a    Joy not having left, that’s something (3)
GEE: A 4-letter word for joy without the L (not having left)

27a    Edible plant‘s texture after injecting niacin at the tips (6)
FENNEL: Inject the outer letters (at the tips) of niacin into a word meaning texture

28a    Chemicals for testing on a toilet (8)
REAGENTS: A short word meaning on or concerning, A from the clue, and a toilet


1d    Houses seen on a cycle round inside of exotic Cadiz (6)
ZODIAC: The letter that looks like a round goes inside and anagram (exotic) of CADIZ

2d    Saint and Newgate, ultimately? Rival ‘Nicks’, perhaps (6)
STEVIE: The abbreviation for saint, the last letter (ultimately) in Newgate and a verb meaning to rival or compete


3d    Around November, joiner is in Spain, with thrills — or without? (15)
UNINTERESTINGLY: A joiner or marrier goes around the letter with radio code November, then Spanish for ‘is’ and an adjective meaning with thrills. The definition suggests without thrills.

4d    Topping almost put the finishing touch on the whole thing? (7)
CAPITAL: Split (3,2,2) the answer is almost (i.e., missing the final letter) a phrase that means put the finishing touch on the whole thing

5d    Rise of gas with cheap coal I moved about, referring to marine studies (15)
OCEANOGRAPHICAL: Reversal (rise of) an inert gas inside (with … about) an anagram (moved) of CHEAP COAL I

6d    Devious part of crossword without penultimate letters to give an easy ride? (8)
TRICYCLE: A 6-letter word meaning devious and a 4-letter part of crossword, each without their penultimate letter

7d    Milk supplier turns rum into water (3,5)
WET NURSE: An anagram (rum) of TURNS goes inside (into) another word for water

14d    Breathe a form of carbon dioxide (3)
COO: As in to whisper or speak softly. One way of writing out the formula for carbon dioxide

16d    Heretical archbishop, not the first to imprison extremely financially demanding person (8)
RANSOMER: A heretical Archbishop of Canterbury who was a leader of the English Reformation and helped to establish the Church of England so as to allow Henry VIII to divorce Catherine of Aragon. Do I sound like Wikipedia? Funny that. Anyway, remove his first letter (not the first) and put inside (to imprison) a 2-letter word meaning extremely

17d    Metal man with line in making small rings? (8)
TINKLING: A kind of metal, a man on a chess board including the abbreviation for line (with line in)

19d    Criticise search for gold and god (3)
PAN: Triple definition

20d    These characters would be leeches, after blood (7)
LETTERS: If you place the answer after blood, you get a word that describes leeches

22d    Chain or kilometre length in a mesh (6)
ANKLET: The abbreviations for kilometre and length go inside (in) A from the clue and a 3-letter mesh

23d    Group of performers departed for centre of cathedral city (6)
EQUITY: A 4-letter word meaning departed or resigned replaces the central letter in England’s favourite cathedral city

Lots to like here. I liked the construction of 6d, a logical next step from 9a. 15a made me laugh. I think 7d was my favourite. I was very happy to see 2d. Which clues did you like?

25 comments on “Toughie 2214

  1. I do love a Notabilis Toughie and this was one of his best. Hard to pick just one clue for stardom, and I’m pleased to report that I did spot the Nina although I didn’t think the Across combination came in a singular form, unless of course the wearer only has one leg!

    Many thanks to Notabilis for the brain-stretching fun and to Dutch

    Having solved this on and off between spring cleaning our sitting room, I now have to iron four pairs of curtains and put them back up again before I can reward myself with a cup of tea, a hot cross bun, the Times cryptic and a ‘tester’

  2. Have to confess to cheating with an anagram solver for 13a – knew from the outset that I wouldn’t have heard of the answer!
    Sticking points on the parsing front were the ‘seed spiller’ in 21a and the ‘gone off’ part of 10a. I also came a bit of a cropper with 25a, a phrase I haven’t heard of before today. ‘Deck out’ would have been my take on it.

    Favourite was definitely 4d with a nod to 15a.

    Thanks to Notabilis for the brain work-out and to Dutch for the blog – plenty of musical opportunities for you today!

  3. Beaten by 8a and 2d which I still don’t understand. The only Stevie I can think of is Wonder.
    Oddly enough, 21a was my first in. I knew of the gentleman – it must have been a very advanced Sunday school I went to!

    1. JB – Try Googling Answer + Nicks, whilst listening to ‘Dreams’ or better still, ‘Songbird’.

    2. Or try the illustrations! I thought I was over-doing it, but actually, you can’t

      A great clue, with the prison surface

        1. Is she still telling little lies? I like Fleetwood Mac as a group but have no idea who is in it. Not my expertise.
          Meant to say, my favourite clue was 20d. Now those are people I’d heard of.

  4. I thought this was a wonderful puzzle. At first I thought I would not be able to find a way in – it was the brain part that did in 9a for me. However, it was in the SW where I met my Waterloo. I was 21a when it came to the seed spiller (never heard of him), I am NOT a fan of rock singing and so 24a came (after considerable time) from the word play alone, and for the moment I can’t untangle the the Archbishop in 16d (I had to rely on the the definition alone). I did (unusually for me) suspect a pangram, but it really didn’t help (even when struggling with the rock singer), and for the moment I am not seeing any Nina. Nonetheless, I really did enjoy this, especially when I eventually got it all sorted out.

        1. As regards the horizontal Nina it seems like another excuse for a song. “Blue Suede Shoes” anyone?

  5. This was a tremendous puzzle – many thanks to Notabilis and Dutch.
    I did (briefly) wonder after completing row 4 in the grid whether Notabilis was making a comment on a fellow setter’s style but I’m sure that’s not the case. :D
    Too many great clues to list them all – I’ll just mention 11a, 15a and 6d.

  6. That was just great stuff from start to finish.

    Favourite clue was 7D for the misleading use of turns and rum, and its humorous use of water!

    Interestingly, 25a isn’t in our Chambers and the same dictionary doesn’t define continua in any way like the clue demands.

    Dutch, your hint for 4d should have enumeration as (3,2,3).

    Many, many thanks to Dutch and Notabilis.

    1. oops – it should be (3,2,2). Where did that 4 come from? Now corrected. You can’t split a 7-letter answer (3,2,3) as you suggest, but your correction is taken on board.

  7. That took a lot of time and effort but was excellent fun all the way. Needing one final letter to complete the pangram proved to be a big help with filling in our last answer, 24a. Missed the Ninas altogether.
    Certainly very challenging and very satisfying to eventually get it all sorted..
    Thanks Notabilis and Dutch.

  8. Failed on a couple in the SW but enjoyed the challenge.
    At one point I thought the pangram was going to be on the perimeter.
    Thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch.

  9. This was a tough toughie: on the first pass, I only filled in one answer, which then turned out to be wrong, having also dismissed a potential answer which later turned out to be right. So I ended up using nearly all of Dutch’s hints. Thank you so much, for unlocking the enjoyment — and to Notabilis for the puzzle.

    For 10a I figured one could BOUND away (using the ‘departed’ sense of ‘gone off’), and removing the even letters of (S)O(L)D leaves the bakery item BUN. I still haven’t worked out what the 7-letter ‘gone off’ is, and how removing 2 letters yields a 3-letter answer.

    The right answer I dismissed was 14d, thinking that ‘breathe’ wasn’t really a synonym for it.

    I love 6d.

    For 8a, what’s the context in which ‘atomic’ gets abbreviated to ‘A’? In chemistry, an element’s atomic number is Z (which sounds like it would help with the pangram, but not when it’s the wrong word).

    With 11a I was still getting my Russian dolls muddled up even with the hint, mis-parsing it as the soldier and the eggs both being inside the pub, which took a while to unscramble.

    I work in IT but don’t recall having encountered a 13a. Nor do I know 25a as a phrase, and I can’t see how it means ‘dress up’.

    However, I’d heard of the archbishop from my spouse being a fan of ‘Wolf Hall’, and knew the seed-spiller from an ‘Only Connect’ question. (What’s 4th in this sequence: Prefix meaning very small; He spilled his seed; Prefix meaning 9-sided?)

    And despite being generally hapless at getting the answers, I did enjoy it. Thanks again.

    1. For 10a ‘gone off’ is SPOILED – removing regular letters (which are S, O, L and D) leaves PIE.

    2. I think it’s A-bomb

      I wish Chambers would list the context of the abbreviations as well.

      Soon – very nice.

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