Toughie 2220

Toughie No 2220 by Hudson

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

I think I’m right in saying that Hudson has always appeared on Thursdays in the past but he’s slumming it today in my bailiwick with this reptilian-themed puzzle. There are lots of topical references and I thought it was great fun.

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

Across Clues

1a Permit kiss outside Buxton? (3,4)
BUS PASS: a word for a kiss surrounds a resort (such as Buxton) offering health treatments.

5a One appearing head over heels to be accepted by ‘Cantab’ — or Cambridge — in retirement (7)
ACROBAT: hidden in reverse.

9a Moving, self-aware, mortal work by earnest-sounding individual (1,8,2,4)
A FAREWELL TO ARMS: an anagram (moving) of SELF-AWARE MORTAL gives us a novel whose author had an earnest-sounding forename.

10a Auntie swings both ways (4)
BEEB: a palindromic nickname for the organisation known informally as Auntie.

11a Six through 14? (5)
VIPER: stick together the Roman numeral for six and a preposition meaning through or ‘by means of’.

12a Blackout frequently cut off capital city (4)
BAKU: the odd letters of blackout provide the capital of Azerbaijan.

15a Officer classes left (7)
GENERAL: a word for biological classes followed by the abbreviation for left.

16a News: sergeant’s back to guard one with certain kind of connection (7)
TIDINGS: the reversal of an abbreviation for sergeant contains the Roman numeral for one and an electrical connector originally specified by the Deutsches Institut für Normung (the German national standards organisation).


17a Kept these dust covers off ancient temple site (7)
EPHESUS: strip the covers (outside letters) from the first three words.

19a Hurricane’s tip would have hit this in Sheffield? (3,4)
CUE BALL: Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins was a famous snooker player who often appeared in the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield (which, as it happens, is on currently) and his chalk-covered tip would have regularly hit this.

21a Punk movement rejecting old Republicans (4)
POGO: this was (apparently) a form of punk dancing in the 1970s. Combine the abbreviation for old and the abbreviation used for the Republican party in the USA then reverse it all.

22a Mother’s keeping black serpent (5)
MAMBA: a child’s word for mother contains the abbreviation for black (as used in the grading of pencils).

23a Free-trade agreement covering European cheese? (4)
FETA: the abbreviation for free-trade agreement contains an abbreviation for European.

26a Theresa’s Euro writ: I must leave shambles and show some leadership? (4,3,8)
WEAR THE TROUSERS: an anagram (shambles) of THERESA’S EURO WR[i]T (without the I). A clever clue which not only relates to the Brexit debacle but also hints at Mrs May’s predilection for expensive leather garments of the relevant type.

27a Savings book (7)
RESERVE: double definition, the first possibly something set aside for a rainy day.

28a Like locum Edward, having been whistled at? (7)
TEMPTED: an informal name for a locum or stand-in followed by one of the short forms of Edward. I think the answer means whistled at in the sense of ‘attracted the attention of’ but it seems weak and any better suggestions would be welcome. Hudson has kindly explained (in a comment below) that the clue is a whimsical cryptic ref to the phrase “opportunity knocks but temptation whistles”.

Down Clues

1d Headcase split support for student? (7)
BEANBAG: split indicates that we need to find separate synonyms for head and case and then join them together.

2d Assange rethinks getting new disguise — as Judas? (5,2,3,5)
SNAKE IN THE GRASS: an anagram (getting new disguise) of ASSANGE RETHINKS.

3d Assist American (Yankee, possibly) (4)
ABET: the single-character abbreviation for American and what a Yankee is a type of when you’re down the bookies.

4d Dish of the day seen regularly in Pigalle: starter of tossed mushrooms (7)
SPECIAL: regular letters from Pigalle are preceded by the reversal (tossed) of types of mushroom.

5d Complaint made by the German escaping train crash (7)
AILMENT: remove a German definite article from the start of a word for a serious train crash.

6d Space to tie up, travelling north (4)
ROOM: reverse a verb to tie up (your cabin cruiser, perhaps).

7d The cut-price seller’s seller, so to speak? (7,8)
BARGAIN BASEMENT: this place to get snips could be found in a homophone of seller.

8d Time magazine copies not to be sneezed at? Au contraire! (7)
TISSUES: stitch together the abbreviation for time and copies of magazines (or other publications produced on a regular basis).

13d Take firm hold of king cobra? (5)
GRASP: stick together the regnal cipher of a king (our most recent one, for example) and a venomous snake of which a type of cobra is an example.

14d 2 could be more furious when losing head (5)
ADDER: a comparative meaning more furious without its first letter.

17d Authorise one with debts to pursue English politician (7)
EMPOWER: someone with debts follows an abbreviation for English and our usual elected politician.

18d Messi going on a mazy run outside area, the ultimate in balance, like a cat (7)
SIAMESE: an anagram (going on a mazy run) of MESSI contains the abbreviation for area. Finish with the last letter of balance.

19d Note placed in pop-up shop selling Gitanes in Folies Bergère? (7)
CABARET: insert a note from tonic sol-fa into the reversal (pop-up) of a French tobacco shop.

20d Established contacts edited dailies (7)
LIAISED: an anagram (edited) of DAILIES.

24d One guiding southern sailor? (4)
STAR: the abbreviation for southern and an informal word for a sailor.

25d Overturn vintage sports car smuggling gold in US territory (4)
GUAM: the identity of a vintage British sports car contains the chemical symbol for gold. When that’s reversed we get the name of a US territory in the Pacific. Here’s why a sports car may not be suitable for all:

I especially liked 10a (LOL), 17a, 26a (for its topicality) and 18d (for the superb surface). Do let us know which clue(s) had you in ‘tick’ mode.

13 responses to “Toughie 2220

  1. I’m not going to comment on the difficulty level except to say that my last couple in took longer to solve than the rest of it put together. I did spot the theme and I’d definitely agree with 4* fun

    Thanks to Hudson and Gazza

  2. This was not too difficult and a lot of fun with its super-smooth surfaces and nice touches of humour. Even I managed to notice the theme.

    Apart from the dodgy definition in 28a, I thought everything else was tip-top with ticks all over my page. I gave double ticks to 10a, 17a, 26a, 7d, 18d & 24d.

    Many thanks to Hudson and to Gazza.

  3. Very enjoyable. I agree that 28a is not up to the rest of the puzzle.
    11a and 13d for me take top spots. Simple but effective :)

    Thanks to all.

  4. Agreed about enjoyment. Of course, I missed the theme. 19A gets my top spot for the do’h moment and that I’ve actually heard of him. Many thanks to Hudson and Gazza.

  5. Had time on my hands today , so the toughie it was, probably a ***/**** for me.
    Last in was 21 across , i think that the dance was named after the stick and involved jumping up and down !
    Favourite was 7d and i liked the surface of 26a which was very clever.
    Like RD I eventually twigged the theme which certainly aided the solve.
    Thanks to Gazza for the pics and of course our setter.

  6. I enjoyed this very much. I’m one of those who missed the theme (as usual). My last in was 19a – I didn’t know the Hurricane reference and therefore Sheffield meant nothing either. I think my favourite was 17a. Many thanks to Hudson and Gazza.

  7. Thanks for the review dear Gazza and thanks to those who have commented.
    The thinking behind 28a was a whimsical cryptic ref to the phrase “opportunity knocks but temptation whistles”. And I mean that most sincerely folks.
    Best wishes to all Rob/Hudson

    • Thanks a lot for looking in, Hudson – we do appreciate it when setters leave a comment.
      Thanks too for explaining the thinking behind 28a. I’ve never heard the relevant phrase so I don’t feel too badly about not really understanding the clue.

  8. Had a bit of a fight with some of the GK in this one – the capital city, punk movement, electrical connector and the 28a phrase, but managed to guess all bar the punk movement.

    Thought 17a was clever but my top two were 1&19a for the penny drop moments.

    Thanks to Hudson and to Gazza for the blog.

  9. So that is where the whistling came from in 28a. The second part of the phrase is new to us.
    When we started solving we first looked at the four 15 letter answers. These all went in without too much fight so we had a good framework of checking letters to work with. Spotting the theme early on also helped. We got 21a from wordplay and checkers and then looked up the punk allusion.
    Most enjoyable.
    Thanks Hudson and Gazza.

  10. Lots of fun, and not too difficult. Failed to spot any theme despite half noting a number of snakes around the grid. Oh well…

  11. Thanks to Hudson and to Gazza for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much, but I ran out of steam near the end. Needed the hints for 1,11,16,19,28a and 19d. I loved the misdirection in 19a, I’m well versed in snooker folklore, but never even thought of it. Favourite was 26a. Was 4*/4* for me.

  12. Managed to complete most of this interesting puzzle-liked the funny car video in the hint to 25D;
    difficult to choose a COD-perhaps 26A (Theresa’s Euro writ: I must leave shambles and show some leadership?).

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