Toughie 2240 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2240

Toughie No 2240 by Zandio

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

A warm welcome to Zandio, a new Toughie setter. He (or she) has given us a proper Friday-level Toughie which gave me a bit of a shock and jolted me out of my usual Wednesday comfort zone. I usually take no notice whatsoever of the grid but even I couldn’t fail to notice that this one really gives us four mini-puzzles (which contributed to the difficulty). I did enjoy the struggle and look forward to more puzzles from Zandio (preferably with a slightly friendlier grid).

It would be excellent if Zandio introduced himself/herself here with a comment.

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

Across Clues

1a Short break that some get for good behaviour? (4-4)
HALF-TIME: I thought I’d got off to a good start by confidently writing in half-term – 10a (as Kath might say). The correct short break is one during which oranges are traditionally sucked. Prisoners might get this for good behaviour.

5a Walk through church, having mislaid a key (4)
ISLE: start with a walk or passage through a church and remove the A.

9a Cursed spirit that won’t keep quiet? Not so (8)
LUCKLESS: stick together a synonym for spirit or valour without the abbreviation for quiet and an adverb meaning ‘not so’ or ‘to a reduced extent’.

10a Try to accept daughter going along with nothing I say (2,4)
OH DEAR: a verb to try (in court) containing the abbreviation for daughter is all preceded by the letter that resembles nothing.

11a Flash application with notebook that’s for making points (8)
MOUSEPAD: string together a flash or short time, a synonym for application or employment and another word for a notebook.

12a Maybe setter is smart — stick around! (6)
CANINE: an adjective meaning smart or trendy with a stick or staff around it.

14a Fitting officers out, apparently, after promotion time (10)
ADJUSTMENT: a phrase indicating ‘no officers’ (4,3) follows a short word for a promotion or plug and precedes the abbreviation for time.

18a Retro model bat I’m initialling to keep unique (10)
INIMITABLE: hidden and reversed in the clue.

22a Giving a little sound like another little sound that’s audible (6)
CREAKY: cryptically this could be a homophone of ‘like a little sound or inlet’.

23a Vicar returned, initially sober, playing organ on Sunday (8)
OBSERVER: reverse the usual abbreviated title of a vicar and precede that with an anagram (playing) of SOBER.

24a Difficult not to get hot keeping scarf on (6)
ABOARD: an adjective meaning difficult without the abbreviation for hot contains a type of scarf made from feathers or fur.

25a Like a slob, knowing there’s nowt new in that (8)
SLOVENLY: an adjective meaning knowing or arch with another word for nowt (in a sporting sense) and the abbreviation for new inside it.

26a Stiff group (4)
BODY: double definition. Stiff, here, is a noun.

27a At one, one’s free? One’s not yet decided (5,3)
LOOSE END: when you’re at one of these you have no commitments.

Down Clues

2d Secure quiff perhaps? (4,2)
LOCK UP: this could be describing the vertical nature of a quiff.

3d One records cash one gives relation (6)
TELLER: double definition. Relation here means narration.

4d Armed gust circulating as base is lost? (7,3)
MUSTARD GAS: this is an all-in-one where the definition is the whole clue. We need an anagram (circulating) of ARM[e]D GUST (without the number used as the base in logarithms) followed by AS.

6d Display of emotions unknown after Southern church clamps down on liquor (8)
SCHMALTZ: one of the algebraic unknowns follows abbreviations for Southern and church and a type of unblended liquor.

7d Dark marks left by this surfacing in entire Nile yesterday (8)
EYELINER: our second reversed lurker.

8d Tournament venue put up with old soldiers holding small gatherings (8)
HARVESTS: reverse the abbreviation for a tournament venue (?) in London and append American ex-servicemen containing the abbreviation for small. The ‘tournament venue’ is where the Proms are held but it also hosts sporting events including tennis. However, the required abbreviation for it is not in Chambers (or in other dictionaries I’ve consulted).

9d Put up with ‘Sgt Pepper’, say, without hesitation (4)
LUMP: what Sgt Pepper is an example of (in vinyl perhaps) contains one of our usual expressions of hesitation.

13d Racket made by half-hearted pop group penetrating port facilities (10)
HULLABALOO: a Swedish pop group without one of their central letters go between a North Sea port and facilities provided for bodily relief.

15d Cheap shot undermines the writer’s grand opening (8)
GIMCRACK: an informal word for a shot or attempt follows the contracted form of “the writer is” in the first person. Before all that we need the abbreviation for grand ($1,000).

16d Scheduled report is grave about energy put into scaling second-class road (4,4)
TIME BOMB: another word for a grave contains the reversal of the letter used for second-class and the designation of a North-South motorway with the abbreviation for energy inside it.

17d Was meddling Democrat supporting woolly revolutionary before? (8)
TINKERED: the abbreviation for Democrat comes after the reversal of a woolly (garment produced using needles) and a poetic word meaning before.

19d Pulls out sheetsthey add to a bed, as does a bunk (6)
LEAVES: I take this to be a quadruple definition (although there’s not much difference between the first and last definitions). I assume that the bed is a flower bed.

20d Something like a rook seen on French road — no rooks would give way (6)
AVENUE: stick together a black bird similar to a rook and the French word for street then remove the letters that are used in chess to identify rooks.

21d Battle for lady to get old parts lifted (4)
FRAY: start with ‘for lady’ and remove the letters that make up ‘old’.

The clues I liked best were 18a, 23a and 20d. Do let us know which one(s) made your shortlist.

19 comments on “Toughie 2240
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  1. A real proper Toughie – and on a Wednesday to boot

    That grid again staring with double unches didn’t help to get on a new setter’s wavelength and solve the four separate corners – the SW one holding out to the very end. Some beautifully well-disguised definitions added to my solving enjoyment

    Thank you to Zandio – as Gazza says we look forward to more crosswords like this from you, but if you could use a much nicer grid that would be much appreciated. Thanks also to Gazza

  2. Excellent puzzle! I loved “played organ on Sunday” and “port facilities”, the superb reverse hiddens and loads and loads more.

    Congratulations Zandio, looking forward to next one

    and thanks Gazza

  3. Stunning debut. Phew, my brain hurts! Welcome indeed Zandio. More please.

    And thanks Gazza for yet another superb blog.

  4. Me too – Excellent puzzle! I would list my favourites, but I’ve marked most of the clues.

    Thanks Zandio I really enjoyed this challenge. Thanks also to Gazza.

  5. So pleased to see Gazza’s rating – I’ve been staring at this for over an hour and have exactly 4 answers in place.
    Not resorting to the hints just yet but I suspect that it won’t be long before I do!

    1. I know that we’re discouraged from giving solving times but I reckon that confessing to the better part of five hours isn’t likely to upset anyone!

      Haven’t got the brain power left to sort out a favourite but I definitely think that our setter should appear next time in the Friday slot.

      Thank you for the challenge and for introducing yourself, Zandio, and many thanks to Gazza for helping me to unravel the last pesky bits of parsing.

  6. Too hard for me I’m afraid. I got the NW corner, except like Gazza, I had HALF-TERM for 1a, but unlike Gazza I wasn’t able to put myself back on track, and I never meaningfully emerged to the rest of the puzzle. Looking at the review, there were many wonderfully constructed clues, many of which I should have been able to unravel, but without a foothold, it just didn’t happen. I’m glad that others enjoyed this. Thanks, and welcome, to Zandio, and to Gazza.

  7. Hello, compiler here. Thank you for the kind welcome. I’m grateful to Chris Lancaster, the Telegraph Crossword Editor, for publishing the puzzle. I must admit my concern was that it might not be hard enoughfor a Telegraph Toughie, so I hope I didn’t go too farthe other way. I was trying to solve a crossword yesterday, and after a long wrestle I still had eight or nine blanks. But then I picked it up today and all but two of the hold-outs fell into place. So let’s hope this one works like that if anyone is still trying to crack it. My pet hate in crosswords is obscure answers and parts of answers, and if Chris is kind enough to publish any future effort, I will try very hard to avoid any obscurities. Thanks to Gazza for the thoughtful analysis. I’m glad you queried ‘tournament’ — the fact is, that was a mistake on my part. I stupidly thought the Royal Tournament was held there (and Chris interpreted it as referring to tennis tournaments). Apologies for that. Thanks again — Zandio.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Zandio, and many thanks for your excellent Toughie.
      I don’t think you need to have worried that it might not be hard enough!

  8. Serves us right for saying yesterday’s Toughie was easy! I am completely stumped having just managed 18a,
    Will now read the hints and see if I can get a feel for this new setter.

    1. Well, having read the hints I realise I was on the wrong wavelength from the start and never had a hope of completing this puzzle. I do have several quibbles but, as these may be construed as sour grapes, I won’t share them!

  9. Wow. We wondered what had hit us on a Wednesday. We were determined not to be beaten though and came back to it several times until we had everything completed and sorted. It did take several sessions and a looong time. Many really good clues so won’t try to pick a favourite.
    Thanks Zandio (you don’t need to worry about it being hard enough) and Gazza.

  10. Many thanks Zandio, Include me in the Wednesday club being ever so slightly taken aback. I winced at the grid and note that others who don’t normally notice such things did. Keep this level up though, excellent debut . Cheers and thanks to Gazza . My favourites will echo Dutch comments

  11. I picked up the hard copy of the paper from The Hotel Tresanton before lunch. I put 1ac in. Then 2d and 3d. That’s it. Nothing else. A couple more read throughs and still nothing else. It wasn’t my paper so I returned it to the table in the Tresanton hotel and walked on down to The Rising Sun bemoaning the fact that my Telegraph Subscription does not include The Toughie. Actually something that grates on a daily basis. Especially when I read the subscriptions advert that quite clearly states that subscribing provides everything the paper has to offer. Thanks to Zandio. I would have liked to have done battle but it was not to be. Thanks to Gazza for touching it out.

  12. Blimey. What was all that about the puzzles being too easy. I got precisely three in before resorting to the hints, for which many thanks

  13. It took me about an hour before I wrote in my first answer, and that turned out to be wrong ! However I solved the puzzle eventually, with the bottom half going in before the top half. It’s always a pleasant change when setters don’t just resort to the tired old cliches, or a profusion of anagrams, and Zandio’s resolution not to use obscure words is also very welcome. I liked plenty of these, led by 13d, 6d and 23a. Will look forward to future puzzles from this new setter. Certainly no-one would confuse this Toughie with a back-pager !

  14. Barely completed half. What great clues: so many head slapping moments as I resorted to the hints. Many thanks to Zandio and to Gazza for the hints.

  15. Brilliant debut Zandio, took me several sittings and eventually resorted to Gazza’s hints, thank you. A real Friday toughie on a Wednesday!

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