Toughie 2218 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2218

Toughie No 2218 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Congratulations Sparks! (see Nina). Time to open a couple of Spanish wines. It took a short while to get into this puzzle but it soon flowed smoothly.

Definitions are underlined as usual. The hints are intended to help you with wordplay and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the central row and column buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you managed and what you thought.


1a    Force leader to banter about off-site manoeuvring (5,2,5)
CHIEF OF STAFF: A verb meaning banter or tease goes around (about) an anagram (manoeuvring) of OFF-SITE

9a    Commotion when sides fall off boat (4)
PROA: A 6-letter word for commotion without the outside letters (when sides fall off)

10a    Knocker, in the past, initially about a quid? On the contrary (9)
NITPICKER: On the contrary suggests we have another (slang) word for a quid about ‘in the past’ initially. (the answer is hyphenated in Chambers but not in Collins)

12a    Coax old king to imprison Juliet after beginning of affair (6)
CAJOLE: The old king who was a merry old soul contains (to imprison) the letter corresponding to the radio code Juliet after the first letter (beginning) of affair

13a    United, as League member, banning cheat (8)
FEDERATE: An 11-letter word meaning a person or state in a league without the initial 3-letters meaning to trick or cheat. I don’t see a lot of difference in the meaning after the subtraction

15a    Fancy somebody being against books in exam (10)
ORNAMENTAL: A somebody, as in a VIP, plus a section of the bible go inside (in) a spoken examination

16a    Reportedly combines tools? Just the one (4)
ADZE: A tool that sounds like (reportedly) combines or puts together

18a    Carry out gong before end of ceremony (4)
OBEY: A gong or medal awarded by the queen and the last letter (end) of ceremony

20a    Genius lied about principles (10)
GUIDELINES: An anagram (about) of GENIUS LIED

23a    Force down shade (4,4)
NAVY BLUE: One of the military forces plus a word meaning down or depressed

24a    Scottish 6 emptied rucksack in open tent? (6)
UNCORK: The tent here is Spanish and potable. A Scottish word which means the answer to 6d plus the outer letters (emptied) of rucksack

26a    Abuses dodgy artiste for swallowing lines (3-6)
ILL-TREATS: An anagram (dodgy) of ARTISTE contains (for swallowing) twice the abbreviation of line

27a    Key characters in Helsinki going west (4)
ISLE: Reverse hidden (characters in … going West)

28a    Oddly, good mum appeared mad to go outside and crash? (2,4-6)
GO PEAR-SHAPED: The odd letters of good, then an anagram (mad) of APPEARED goes outside of an interjection meaning mum or hush


2d    With which panda, say, can find its way in the dark (8)
HEADLAMP: A cryptic definition where the panda is indeed black and white but has four wheels instead of legs. Hopefully, leading by example, it would actually have two of these.

3d    Volcano to increase risk, literally so (4)
ETNA: To increase risk would be to raise the ****

4d    Buggy crashed? Not likely (2,3,5)
ON THE CARDS: An anagram (buggy) of CRASHED NOT

5d    Left partners swapping clothing in turn? (6)
SWIVEL: The abbreviation for left plus female spouses, then exchange the outer letters (swapping clothing)

6d    Clumsy warmonger losing head over approach from the south (7)
AWKWARD: A bird used to describe a warmonger without its initial letter (losing head) sits on top of (over, in a down clue) a reversal (from the south, in a down clue) of a word meaning approach or attract

7d    I’m irritated, seeing disciple and saint having run off in desert (3,5,4)
FOR PETE’S SAKE: One of the 12 disciples plus the abbreviation for saint, minus the abbreviation for run (having run off), goes inside (in) a word meaning desert or abandon

8d    Dedicated worker taking time over wine, new one being rejected (6)
TROJAN: The abbreviation for time, a Spanish wine, and the abbreviation for new, but without (being rejected) the Roman numeral for one

11d    In agreement with keeping sensible assessment of profundity? (4-8)
ECHO-SOUNDING: A present participle meaning in agreement with, or chiming with, contains (keeping) a word meaning sensible or solid

14d    Addresses I can finally predict too briefly (10)
INAUGURALS: I from the clue, the last letter (finally) of can, a 5-letter word meaning to predict as a soothsayer might, and a 4-letter word meaning too without the last letter (briefly)

17d    Ultimately sick joke about being submerged in isolated river (8)
KLONDIKE: The last letter (ultimately) of sick, then a reversal (about) of a 3-letter word meaning to joke or tease goes inside (being submerged in) a word meaning isolated, or by one’s self

19d    Cover end of section on bike in Tour de France, breaking record (7)
ENVELOP: The last letter (end, already used in 18a) of section plus the French (in Tour de France) word for bike go inside (breaking) a vinyl record typically with 4 tracks.

21d    Note dog quietly dropping head (6)
NOODLE: The abbreviation for note, then a curly-haired dog without the initial P (quietly dropping)

22d    Part of Russia overlooking south European peninsula (6)
IBERIA: A cold part of Russia without the initial S (overlooking south)

25d    Ladies’ man regularly going around continent (4)
ASIA: A reversal (going around) of the even letters (regularly) in Ladies’ man



My favourite today was 4d, with the definition being the opposite of what I first imagined. Whuch clues did you like?

17 comments on “Toughie 2218

  1. I took a proper Toughie time to solve and thoroughly enjoy this celebratory Toughie – congratulations to Sparks on the milestone – I’m delighted to report that I found the Nina

    My Across favourite was 23a – for the d’oh moment when I realised that the wine found more often in crosswords than in wine shops was sneakily hiding in plain sight. My Down favourite was 3d as I thought it was a lovely variation on a much clued place, reminding me of my visit there.

    Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch

  2. I found this tough, but very enjoyable and rewarding. There were some things I had not heard of (the boat in 9a, and the tent reference in 24a for instance) but none proved fatal in being able to complete it all. There were several clues where the definition came long before the parsing fell into place (5d for instance. I am also hoping some kind person will give me a context in which ‘n’ is an accepted abbreviation for ‘note’.) I needed Dutch and crypticsue to prod me into looking for a Nina (I think I see it, or possibly part of it?). Many thanks to Sparks for a great puzzle, and to Dutch for another wonderful review (I did enjoy your Indy puzzle a week or so ago).

    1. Thanks for liking my Indy puzzle on Easter Sunday. N for note is in chambers but frustratingly it doesn’t give the context. I don’t know. Anyone?

      1. Thank you, all. I had thought of Nota Bene, but rejected it because nota is not strictly note. Perhaps there is another context ?

  3. A very enjoyable Toughie. Thanks and congratulations to Sparks and thanks to Dutch for the review.
    I made a pig’s ear of this by writing the 16a answer in the 15a spaces – which caused me all sorts of problems until I realised my mistake.
    Top clues for me were 24a (for the clever use of tent), 2d and 7d.

      1. It’s just not my day! I meant the 18a rather than 15a spaces. I always adjust the print size so that I can fit the whole puzzle on a single sheet of paper, but sometimes, as today, that means the numbers in the grid are too small for my aged eyes,
        That’s my excuse anyway!

  4. Certainly didn’t find this easy, two of the major sticking points being that I didn’t know the Scottish term in 24a (although I had latched onto the tent!) and I haven’t previously encountered ‘buggy’ as an anagram indicator. The 9a boat was a ‘guess, then look up’ and I managed to make a complete pig’s ear out of 5d!

    I assumed that 13a plus its ‘cheat’ was a reference to the southern states which seceded from the United States, in which case the answer to the clue does mean something very different.

    Many clever clues here but the straightforward 23a particularly appealed.

    Thanks and many congratulations to Sparks (hope Sparky bought you a present?) and many thanks to Dutch for the blog – I found the pic for 21d decidedly unnerving!

  5. The last four answers really stretched our solving time. These were 17d and 24a in the bottom half and 13a and 5d at the top. With 5d we had seen SWIVEL as a possible answer quite early on, but just could not parse it. Having S W and E as possible letters we got stuck on swapping or substituting Bridge partners when the wordplay was actually much simpler than that. On the plus side we did spot the Nina and congratulate the setter on the milestone.
    Really good fun to solve.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  6. Apart from needing a hint for 21 down and 24 across (tent is a completely new wine to my ‘cellar’) I found this Toughie to be the most straightforward of the week. Not easy by any means, but certainly easier than the previous three. Great fun and well worth the mental effort. Thanks Sparks, most enjoyable and thanks to Dutch also.

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