Toughie 2239 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2239

Toughie No 2239 by Chalicea

Warm and Fluffy!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

I had an email from today’s setter concerning my comment last Friday about “those fluffy offerings found in the early part of each week”. Apparently, our editor thinks that less able solvers should have some puzzles that they can tackle. That may well be the case, but the Toughie slot has been described as the “hardest puzzles on Fleet Street” and are currently billed, on the Puzzles website, as “Our Toughies are a stern test of your crosswording skills from the toughest of our crossword compilers. Can you beat the best?”. I rest my case.

Notwithstanding the above, this was a lovely puzzle that would have been an excellent choice, subtractive anagrams aside, for a back-page puzzle any day of the week.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    A chump knocked back cleaner (5)
LOOFA: the A from the clue and a chump, all reversed (knocked back) give this alternative spelling of a fibrous plant used as a hard, rough sponge

4a    Complicated to fill with optimism about strong wind (9)
ELABORATE: put a verb meaning to fill with optimism around a strong wind in the upper Adriatic

9a    See here, stirred dark chocolate cook stupidly rejected (9)
CATHEDRAL: the building that identifies a see or diocese is an anagram (stirred) of DAR[K] CH[OCO]LATE without (rejected) the assorted (stupidly) letters of COOK

10a    Positions spectacles, we hear (5)
SITES: sounds like spectacles or displays

11a    Crowd go on strike (4,3)
TURN OUT: as one word this means a crowd or the number of people attending an event

12a    Plump socialist consuming pounds endlessly (7)
ROUNDED: the colour usually associated with a socialist around the middle letters (endlessly) of [p]OUND[s]

13a    Very upset about relative losing pound — or less than a pound? (6)
OUNCES: the reversal (upset, usually found in a down clue) of a word meaning very around a male relative without (losing) the L (pound sterling)

15a    Might one take in workers for a meal? (8)
ANTEATER: a cryptic definition of a creature whose main diet consists of worker insects

18a    Undercover detective leaves criminal discreetly (8)
SECRETLY: an anagram (criminal) of [DI]SCREETLY without (leaves) the DI (Detective Inspector)

20a    Spies awful southern corruption (6)
SEPSIS: an anagram (awful) of SPIES followed by S(outhern)

23a    Husband and wife perhaps with time for bit of poetry (7)
COUPLET: a word which describes, for example / perhaps, a husband and wife followed by T(ime)

24a    Eliminate circling rodents prevalent in area (7)
ENDEMIC: a three-letter word meaning to eliminate followed by some rodents with the last letter moved to the front (circling)

26a    Young lad gobbling most of pub’s cheesecake? (3-2)
PIN-UP: a colloquial word for a young lad around most of a three-letter word meaning a pub

27a    Painter‘s exotic star model (3,6)
OLD MASTER: an anagram (exotic ) of STAR MODEL

28a    Note situation and force politician to adopt a plan (6,3)
RELIEF MAP: a note of the scale in sol-fa notation followed by a situation, such as the position of a golf ball, F(orce) and a politician, the latter around (to adopt) the A from the clue

29a    Dams springs (5)
STEMS: two definitions – dams or stops and springs or emanates


1d    Bewildered colonist going round American sites (9)
LOCATIONS: an anagram (bewildered) of COLONIST around A(merican)

2d    Horse men will have fed inside (5)
OATER: I’m not too sure that the definition is complete; in this context I have only ever seen this colloquial word for a Western as “horse opera” – some soldiers (men) a word meaning have fed inside

3d    In confusion name a certain bloomer (7)
ANEMONE: an anagram (in confusion) of NAME followed the number represented by “a” or “a certain”

4d    Laments losing first river creatures (6)
EGRETS: a word meaning laments without (losing, for the second time in this puzzle!) its first R(iver)

5d    Retailer on street stocks aeroplane parts (8)
AILERONS: hidden (stocks) inside the clue

6d    Hide former pupil’s medicine (7)
OBSCURE: the abbreviation for a former (male) pupil, the S from ‘S and a medicine

7d    Anticipates start of sickness after article tough youth consumed (9)
ANTEDATES: the two-letter indefinite article and the initial letter (start) of S[ickness] around a tough (fifties) youth and a word meaning consumed

8d    Relieved, granted tenure — but not at first (5)
EASED: a verb meaning granted tenure to a property without (not) its initial letter (at first)

14d    Prisoner set up bout with Capone, say, happening at night (9)
NOCTURNAL: the reversal (set up in a down clue) of one of our usual prisoners followed by a bout of illness and the first name of Mr Capone

16d    Frantic rescuers welcoming last of short breaks to recover (4,5)
REST CURES: an anagram (frantic) of RESCUERS around (welcoming) the final letter (last) of [shor]T

17d    Sole policy? (8)
PLATFORM: two definitions – a type of thick heavy sole on a shoe and a policy of a political party

19d    Solar phenomenon‘s something seen on YouTube possibly over the London area (7)
ECLIPSE: something seen on an online site such as YouTube followed by the part of England that includes the London area

21d    Makes attractive objects to grab attention (7)
ENDEARS: some objects or aims around (to grab) a word meaning attention or heed

22d    Find oneself eventually supporting singular parody (4-2)
SEND-UP: a phrase meaning to arrive or find oneself eventually preceded by (supporting in a down clue) S(ingular)

23d    Playfully dance about shrub (5)
CAPER: two definitions – the second being a shrub that produces an edible bud which is pickled and then used in cooking as a flavouring or garnish

25d    Short hand on joint (5)
MITRE: most of (short) a four-letter a colloquial word for a hand followed by a word meaning on or about

Enjoyable, as ever, although seven clues involving anagrams could be one too many and it’s a shame about the repetition of losing as a construct (I’m sure Silvanus won’t have missed that!).


20 comments on “Toughie 2239

  1. As many people are aware, my views on the lack of Toughieness most days of the week are the same as Big Dave’s. Whilst it is good to have toughies of a reasonable difficulty to encourage people to move on from the back page crosswords, the puzzles in the middle of the paper should also be of a sufficient level of difficulty that when people say ‘I’ve solved a Toughie’ they really have done so, rather than solving a puzzle that would fit easily into the easier end of the back page spectrum.

    Whilst the enjoyment level was as good as usual, I thought Chalicea had actually upped the difficulty level with this particular crossword – it certainly took me three times as long to solve as her previous crosswords and ended up a ‘just right for a Tuesday’ time (nicely in the area between a toughish back pager and an easy puzzle in the middle of the paper. More like this one would be appreciated.

    Thanks to Chalicea and BD

  2. After the challenges of the back pager, I was pleased to find that I still had some brain cells left to be able to solve this very enjoyable Chalicea – 2.5*/3.5*.

    I agree with BD on the definition being incomplete in 2d.

    Favourite – a toss-up between 15a and 25d.

    Thanks to Chalicea and BD.

  3. I have to agree with CS in that this one was just right for a Tuesday Toughie – a step up from a back-pager but not so difficult as to frighten off those who are just starting to dip a toe into Toughie territory. Without puzzles such as this, I would never have crept across the divide and I still have a very long way to go before some of the Friday offerings become anything more than a self-inflicted torture. Maybe I’ll never get there!

    1a is certainly getting a run for its money recently but that missing ‘H’ never ceases to bother me. Prior to entering crosswordland, I’d never seen the word spelled with that letter missing.

    Can’t say that the incompleteness of 2d bothered me one jot – I hadn’t even heard of it in relation to a Western movie so had to ask my friend, Mr G, to help me out!

    15a was my favourite by a mile but I have to accept that Senf’s other contender of 25d was a noteworthy second.

    Thanks to Chalicea and to BD for the blog.

  4. Like Jane, I always thought 1a ended with an “h”.
    Rather liked 15a.
    Nice balance for a Tuesday. We don’t need 5* difficulty every day!
    Thanks to setter and blogger as usual.

  5. I completely understand the desire, as often expressed by some, for toughies to be consistently of the sternest test of a solver’s mettle. However, as a fully paid-up member of the ‘less-able-solvers’ club, I am deeply grateful that they are not always completely and outrageously difficult. As it is, I find the great majority of toughies perfectly judged in difficulty in that I generally find them plenty challenging, but at the same time I have a better than sporting chance of completing many, if not most, without resorting to help from the blog, while deriving considerable enjoyment in the process. I do have a list, fortunately small, of setters who I simply do not begin to attempt on the basis that the probability of my being able to complete the puzzle is zero. (In these instances I generally go straight to the review and marvel in the cleverness of it all). Again, I have infinite respect for those who would rather a consistently more challenging level of difficulty, but if this were so, I would need to look elsewhere for challenges that generally go beyond the level of the ‘backpager’. Whilst I am at it, I was lurker long before I began commenting, and I have long enjoyed and appreciated this blog, and I thank the many of you who regularly contribute, and who have helped me over time improve my solving skills. Incidentally – I very much enjoyed today’s toughie – thank you Chalicea and Big Dave.

    1. I have no objection to an intermediate level puzzle, but The Telegraph shouldn’t pretend that most so-called Toughies are Tough.

      Today’s setter produces some of my favourite puzzles, and has just sent me a special “fluffy” NTSPP.

  6. I quite like the idea of a Tuesday transitional toughie which bridges the gap between the back pager and the toughie. For those in the know the blog is there to help. I like to hear from our more recent members when they have completed their first puzzle unaided and I like it even more when they tackle their first toughies

  7. I have to beg to differ with the mainstream.
    I only attempt the Tuesday and Wednesday Toughies as Thursday and Friday ware generally beyond me, and I don’t have the bandwidth in my life to spend 4 hours doing a crossword.
    As I attempt Tuesday and Wednesday’s Toughie I would like to think that some day I will graduate to Thursday and Friday.
    If every Toughie was an Elgar special, I certainly would never venture to the dark side.

  8. A most enjoyable puzzle to solve. Chuckles all the way through.
    Thanks Chalicea and BD.

  9. I enjoyed this, agree with the missing H in 1a but clearly works. As per CS comments I thought I was in for a walk in the park….Chalicea has upped her game , and I look forward to seeing more. Thanks to Chalicea and BD

  10. I’m not too bothered whether a puzzle is tough for me or not, it’s entirely subjective anyway.

    However Toughie should mean tough and all too often it is not.

    ‘Hardest puzzles on Fleet Street’? Pish-posh! The Times back-pager is consistently more of a challenge (would you agree, CS?).

    Graun, I, FT, DT back-page etc are mostly run of the mill in my humble opinion, but I accept that I am a crossword nut (or etymological enthusiast if you will) so may not find much favour with folks who have a proper life.

    Not a reflection on this particular crossword. Thank you Chalicea for a puzzle I enjoyed, and Big Dave for the review.

  11. The Toughie should probably be re-branded to a catchier version of “The Telegraph’s other cryptic that’s more like the cryptic in other broadsheets”, and with that expectation I find I’m mostly happy with what we get. Friday’s is always pretty tough, though I rarely get a chance to give it a proper go, and certainly not as late as I usually get round to the Toughie having other things to do Friday nights. :-)

    Today’s offering? Thoroughly enjoyable, pretty fluffy, though it took me a while to get started, but once I did the grid fell without too much ado. Chalicea’s puzzles are invariably excellent, both here and elsewhere, so more of the same please.

  12. There seems to be a dose of elitism in some comments,the majority of the readership want a taxing but not mind wrangling puzzle (sorry Elgar) and if they do not get it they will go elsewhere .Two entertaining puzzles in one day and I look forward to Friday .

    1. Welcome to the blog Onlyfools

      Expecting an organisation to deliver what it has promised is hardly elitism, as several political parties are finding out!

  13. Very enjoyable and not so tough that I couldn’t complete it unaided. I will give 15a the top spot like many of you others. I like the idea of graduated degrees of toughness through the week. The Tuesday Toughie certainly helped me bridge the gap between it and the back-pager.

  14. Thank you all so much for those kind endorsements of somewhat fluffier transitional Tuesday Toughies. I do completely understand Big Dave’s stance about Toughies and was dreading what would appear in the blog today after that Friday comment. (Artix and I do set jointly as two-thirds of Rasputin and as Nudnix and in other setting teams, so I am well aware of his brilliant mind and that I could never achieve his subtle complexity of clueing – upping the level of difficulty to meet Tuesday Toughie requirements is proving to be a challenge.) My own favourite clue was an editorial adaptation of my clue that was not politically correct. His lovely ‘cheesecake’ in 26a replaced a clue that might have upset ladies. Many thanks to Big Dave; I loved your illustration for 15a.

  15. I’m not being elitist, or expertist or any other sort of ist. What I am asking for is that when the Tuesday Toughie arrives, it should be set at a difficulty level (as this Chalicea puzzle was) that matches that of a Thursday or Friday back pager, so that people can then ‘transition’ (awful word) to solving Toughies. What I am actually doing is fighting for a puzzle of sufficient difficulty that it takes a time to solve that one would expect from a slightly more difficult crossword – if it can be solved in the same time as a 1* back pager, then it is unfair on solvers to mislead them into thinking they’ve solved a Tuesday Toughie

    A word of warning – and I’ve checked to find it isn’t just me – today’s Toughie actually does what the Telegraph description promises but rarely delivers

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