Toughie 2215 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2215

Toughie No 2215 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello to you all — I hope you had a lovely Easter weekend.  It was certainly hot here.  After such a long and hard one, I’m looking forward to going back to work for a rest.*

It’s been a good while since Donnybrook last appeared on a Tuesday, and it’s great to see him today.  While I did have to check the odd half-remembered fact or unknown word deduced from wordplay, everything resolved smoothly and it was a pleasure to solve.  How was it for you?

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the *By the time of publication I’ve already been doing day job for twice as long as I’ve been asleep.   buttons.  As usual you may click on pictures to enlarge them or uncover hidden extras.



1a    Porridge nobody eats, apparently? (7)
OATMEAL:  Space the answer in the right way — (1,2,4) — and it suggests that nobody is dining

5a    One almost complete after mine becomes inadequate (7)
PITIFUL:  The Roman figure one and most of (almost) a synonym of complete or entire go after a mine

9a    Don’t panic? Irony tops here with UK in mess! (4,4,5,2)
KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON:  IRONY TOPS HERE with UK anagrammed (in a mess)

10a   Son in row over repeated test (5)
RESIT:  The abbreviation for son inserted in a row or level reversed (over)

11a   Convenient means to remove mass from old gable (9)
EXPEDIENT:  Remove the abbreviation for mass from the combination of a prefix meaning old or former and an architectural structure similar to a gable

12a   Height of euphoria about English verse (9)
ELEVATION:  Euphoria or exhilaration around (about) abbreviations for English and for verse

14a   Violent storm not acceptable in Wagnerian series? (5)
CYCLE:  Take a type of storm and remove from it a short word for acceptable (not acceptable)

15a   Pole in American airspace (5)
SINUS:  Combine a geological or magnetic pole, the IN from the clue, and an abbreviation for from the United States

16a   Portly sort reinvented Homer, disheartened Pound (9)
ENDOMORPH:  An anagram of (reinvented) HOMER and POND (i.e. Pound disheartened, without its central letter)

18a   Plant a foolish male brought back (9)
AMARYLLIS:  A (from the clue) followed by the reversal of (… sent back) foolish or idiotic and a male sheep

21a   Romeo lives with woman in palace — it’s a step up (5)
RISER:  A charade of the letter encoded by Romeo in the NATO alphabet and a word meaning lives or exists together with the two letters that can stand for our current queen (woman in palace)

22a   Tempter in legend with Hamlet not represented (3,3,9)
THE OLD GENTLEMAN:  This jocular name for Satan is given by LEGEND with HAMLET NOT, anagrammed (represented, re-presented)

23a   Servant keeps donkey in corridor (7)
PASSAGE:  A boy attendant contains (keeps) a donkey

24a   He has often checked blue pens make the grade (7)
SPASSKY:  Boris the Russian chess grandmaster is found in a shade of blue which contains (pens) a verb meaning to achieve the required grade



1d    Sawn-up teak or ultimately sustainable wood source? (3,4)
OAK TREE:  An anagram of (sawn-up) TEAK OR, plus the last letter of (ultimately) sustainable

2d    Story of rook in tree covered in article by press (3,6,6)
THE ASPERN PAPERS:  This story is a novella by the author of The Turn of the Screw (note the author, he may come in handy) which has been adapted for stage and screen.  The chess abbreviation for rook goes in a type of tree.  This is preceded by (covered in, in a down answer) a grammatical article, and the whole lot goes next to (by) the printed media or press

3d    Pet saying distressed locals in Memphis? (9)
EGYPTIANS:  PET SAYING is anagrammed (distressed).  Memphis in North Africa

4d    Unpleasant person left love to bleed (5)
LOUSE:  The abbreviation for left and the letter which can symbolise love or zero followed by to bleed or exploit

5d    Stopped moving round on being delayed (9)
POSTPONED:  STOPPED, anagrammed (moving), goes round ON (from the clue)

6d    Secret society in Caribbean island denied new papers (5)
TRIAD:  A Caribbean island missing (denied) three letters given by new and identification papers, both abbreviated

7d    March first, he sat tight: late December he’s busy (6,9)
FATHER CHRISTMAS:  An anagram, indicated by tight, of MARCH FIRST HE SAT, with the whole clue working as an extended definition.  (Of course, all the work is done by the elves and reindeer: this chap is clearly always sat around scoffing and slurping through the stock of mince pies and sherry acquired in December)

8d    Instrument used to secure trap in fortification (7)
LUNETTE:  Build this fortification from an old stringed instrument going around (used to secure) trap or snare (3)

13d   Dogmatic type in record broadcast in support of topless pictures (9)
IDEOLOGUE:  A homophone of (… broadcast) a record of data goes after (in support of, in a down answer) some moving pictures without the first letter (topless)

14d   Intriguing group around the old lady artist, grabbing improperly (9)
CAMARILLA:  Start with the two-letter Latin-derived abbreviation for around or about plus a short word for mother (the old lady).  After this we have the abbreviation for a Royal Academician (artist) containing (grabbing) badly or improperly.  A new word for me, from the Spanish for little chamber, which Chambers defines as a cabal or coterie, or a band of secret intriguers, especially against legitimate ministers at court

15d   Principal accommodated possibly in business launch? (5-2)
START-UP:  A principal in a film etc (4) followed by a cryptic indication of (… possibly) accommodated.  That’s not easy to hint in the forwards direction (and I’m sure most solvers would, as I did, work backwards from the last three letters of the answer to see how that could be given by the wordplay) so if you can’t see it, PUT UP = PUT, reversed (up) = TUP

17d   Writer James gets run over in bird colony (7)
HERONRY:  The writer, surname James, who we met above via one of his works contains (gets) cricketing abbreviations for run and for over

19d   Agent on vacation was resting up in Black Sea resort (5)
YALTA:  Agent with the middle letters removed (on vacation — and crosswording lore has it that it was today’s setter who first came up with this particular indicator) plus “was resting”, all reversed (up, in a down answer)

20d   Schnittke initially talking about G&S arias (5)
SONGS:  Assemble the first letter of (… initially) Schnittke, a preposition which can mean talking about, G, and S


Thanks to Donnybrook for bringing us the fun of the fair.  It would take me too long to longlist and then make the final selection of favourites, so I’ll leave it there and invite you to say which you enjoyed most.


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.


10 comments on “Toughie 2215

  1. I was a bit slow to get on the right wavelength for this one – perhaps that was just the effect of being back at work after a long weekend, but I found it quite hard by Tuesday standards. 14d was new to me and 2d took a while to remember.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and Kitty

  2. I didn’t find this very easy – not knowing either the 2d book or the 14d intriguing group and having only a hazy memory of the 18a plant (probably from a previous puzzle) – but it was very enjoyable. Thanks to Donnybrook and Kitty.
    I liked 3d (very clever anagram), 17d (which sent me all round the houses looking for the right James) and 15d (for the subtle wordplay).
    It’s obviously Russian chess grandmaster week.

  3. A couple of unknowns for me in the shape of 2&14d and I had to do some reverse parsing to get the writer James and the Black Sea resort. As for 24a, could have kicked myself for taking so long when it’s his second appearance in recent days.

    No particular favourite but a very enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to Donnybrook and to our Girl Tuesday for defying the Sandman yet again to bring us the blog – hope you’ve got a good night’s sleep to look forward to!

  4. I found the LHS quite challenging but it all slotted into place steadily. However the RHS was a different kettle of fish and I needed Kitty’s invaluable review to get 8d & 14d, which were new words for me. The correct James in 17d was my third choice after PD and EL (not that I have read anything by the latter of that ilk).

    When I read 2d my first thought was “oh, no”, worrying, thankfully needlessly as it turned out, that the book we were looking for might be “The —— Castle”.

    I very much liked the definition in 24a so that gets onto my podium along with 15d and 3d.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook for a very enjoyable puzzle and to Kitty.

  5. I thought this was a very well constructed puzzle. New to me, in addition to those things mentioned by others, was the expression for the tempter in 22a. I was able to piece all the unknowns together with the exception of the the middle word in the story in 2d (I wasn’t able to come up with the necessary tree). My enjoyment level took a hit in being so close to being able to finish, but just falling short. Thanks nonetheless to Donnybrook and to Kitty.

  6. I found this a bit of an oddity….. I finished in record time but then needed the blog to check seven of my answers. Following my fiat/ diet fiasco last week I was pleased to see I’d actually got them all right.
    Thanks to All, but especially Kitty for explaining so much to me.

  7. Luckily one of our team had the literary GK required but we did have to check on the answers to 14d and 22a, both of which were new to us but gettable from the wordplay. An enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Donnybrook and Kitty.

  8. Thanks to Donnybrook and to Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, which was the top half, apart for 2d. I’m not familiar with the works of Henry James. The rest of this was a complete mystery to me. Can someone please explain 19d, I’ve read the hint over and over, but still can’t get the synonym for agent. I thought it was well clued, but very difficult. Favourite was 3d. Was 5*/3* for me.

    1. 19d You don’t need a synonym for agent, just the word agent.’On vacation’ means vacant (i.e. without the inside bits) so that gives us A[gen]T. ‘Was resting’ is LAY so now we have AT LAY. ‘Up’ in a down clue is a reversal indicator so reversing ATLAY gives us YALTA (a Black Sea resort).
      Today’s Toughie is considerably easier than this one so I hope you’re giving that a whirl!

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