Toughie 2254 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2254

Toughie No 2254 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Beautiful clueing by proXimal. After some initial staring at the grid, I found a foothold after which I progressed at a reasonable pace. No obscurities, thank you setter, though I hadn’t heard of the valley (21d)

Identifying the definition in the clue is half the battle. As usual, the definitions  have been underlined for you in the clues below. The hints and tips are intended to help you untangle the wordplay. You can always reveal the answer by clicking on the Sunshine, Yay! buttons. Please leave a comment below telling us how you got on and what you thought.


1a    Declined leadership for sport that has ups and downs (4-7)
FELL-RUNNING: A 4-letter word meaning declined or dropped and a word meaning leadership or management, as in the ******* of a business

9a    Letter about computer parts (7)
OMICRON: A preposition meaning about is parted by a type of computer or processor

10a    Pupils dance at the sides in musical (6)
CADETS: The outer letters (at the sides) of dance goes inside (in) a well-known musical

12a    Recalled old chap in French street displaying charm (7)
ENAMOUR: Reversal of: the abbreviation of old plus another word for chap in the French word for street

13a    Sound eager to hear story-teller (7)
TOLKIEN: A homophone (to hear) of a word for the sound of a bell plus a word meaning eager

14a    One in hurl of abuse leaving job (5)
TRADE: The Roman numeral for one is leaving a word meaning ‘hurl of abuse’

15a    Sprayed liquid provides covering over area (9)
VAPORISED: An anagram (liquid) of PROVIDES goes around (covering over) the abbreviation for area

17a    Head of construction following schedule to make part of airport (9)
CONCOURSE: The first letter (head) of construction, a preposition that can mean following, and another word for schedule

20a    Close to Dallas, dig biker’s bar (5)
SPOKE: The last letter (close) of Dallas plus a word meaning dig

22a    Appropriate route’s organised with run (7)
TROUSER: An anagram (organised) of ROUTE’S and the abbreviation for run

24a    Noted tunnel within hospital department (7)
EMINENT: A tunnel or excavation goes within a hospital department

25a    Random tripe removed from otherwise superlative prizes (6)
VALUES: An anagram (random) of TRIPE is removed from an anagram (otherwise) of SUPERLATIVE

26a    A river crossed by brown bovine (7)
TAUREAN: A from the clue plus a river in Yorkshire goes inside (is crossed by) a word meaning brown

27a    Clerical buildings housing fine English dining rooms (11)
REFECTORIES: Some clerical buildings containing (housing) the abbreviations for fine and English


2d    Award under nobleman’s low part of organ (7)
EARLOBE: A nobleman plus an award or Queen’s honour

3d    Both hands on top of car (4,5)
LAND ROVER: Both hands (1,3,1) plus a preposition meaning ‘on top of’

4d    Munch nuts without coatings, as originally intended (5)
UNCUT: Remove the outer letters (without coatings) in ‘Munch nuts’

5d    Knotted line around tangled nets (7)
NODULAR: The abbreviation for line goes inside (nets) an anagram (tangled) of AROUND

6d    Good person, one with money, set up suckers (7)
NITWITS: A reversal (set up) of the abbreviation for a good person, the Roman numeral for one, the abbreviation for with, and a slang word for money

7d    Vaults rope to grab feline that’s tame (11)
DOMESTICATE: Some hemispherical vaults plus a verb meaning to rope going around (to grab) a feline animal

8d    A group of volunteers supporting leg that’s broken at party (6)
PINATA: A from the clue plus some army volunteers go underneath (supporting) a slang word for leg

11d    Careless in approach, hiding errata regularly (11)
INADVERTANT: IN from the clue, plus a word meaning approach or coming going around (hiding) the odd (regularly) letters of errata

16d    Dislike interrupting a host (9)
PRESENTER: a verb meaning to dislike or feel bitterness goes inside (interrupting) a 3-letter word meaning ‘a’ (as in *** person)

18d    Finally, Amazon Echo working with bit one’s recently delivered (7)
NEONATE: The last letter (finally) in Amazon, the letter represented by the radio communication code Echo, a preposition that can mean working, and a verb meaning bit or consumed

19d    Dark brown sauce fantastic, rejecting wan rubbish (7)
OBSCURE: An anagram (fantastic) of BROWN SAUCE omitting (rejecting) an anagram (rubbish) of WAN

20d    Following opponents, gun raised on sudden attack (7)
SEIZURE: After (following) some bridge opponents, we have a reversal (raised) of an Israeli machine gun, then a short word meaning on or concerning

21d    Exposed valley with river running north (6)
OPENED: Reversal (running north) of: a 4-letter word meaning a small valley (a new one for me) and an Italian river

23d    European in company of others adjusted once more (5)
RESET: The abbreviation for European goes inside (in company of) a word meaning others

My favourite clue was the car (3d). I also really liked Munch nuts (4d), Amazon Echo (20d), the party animal (16d) and the smooth concise surface of 16d. Which clues did you like?

13 comments on “Toughie 2254

  1. Once I got on the X wavelength, I didn’t think this was much more difficult that yesterday’s back pager.

    Thanks to proXimal and Dutch

    1. How solvers differ! I think I took about as long to get started on today’s Toughie as I took to finish yesterday’s back pager. Times are of course relative and I am certainly not fast at crosswords

  2. We seem to have had a very good week for people like me who prefer puzzles free of obscure words and GK. I was hoping to make this a third Toughie in a row completed without recourse to aids or dictionary but alas I did not quite make it. Like Dutch I took a long time to get started and I feared at one point I would give up with almost a blank grid. After a while I got going and made steady progress. I ended up with 8d and 26a left and assumed they were both words I did not know so I put in my best guess from the cryptic. In the case of 8d I guessed correctly and it was indeed a word I had never come across before. 26a was most annoying because it was a word I knew (albeit in an unfamiliar form as an adjective) – I plumped for the river Ouse thinking my answer sounded like a breed of continental cattle. Somehow I forgot the correct river which so annoying as it is a crossword regular. Sad! I even managed to finish the Giovanni back pager unaided – most unusual.

    I much enjoyed this puzzle and I have much enjoyed a great Telegraph puzzles week with very little use of Google or dictionary necessary.

    Many thanks to ProXimal and Dutch

  3. Thanks Dutch. You are right about the beautiful clueing. ProXimal is ever thus – one of the best setters around. Always a joy. Super end to the week.

  4. A relatively gentle toughie for this setter, but beautifully crafted and very enjoyable. Thanks proXimal and Dutch

  5. I thought this was a beautifully constructed puzzle, and I enjoyed it very much – (and I was able to finish it which is more than I can say about yesterday’s ‘backpager’). Progress was slow, especially in the SE corner for some reason (I didn’t know the adjectival form of the bovine in question which added to the lack of momentum). My favourites are among those already mentioned – top two for me are 3d and 4d. Many thanks to proXimal and Dutch.

  6. I was mainly ok – but took a while to get started in the SE corner for some reason.. Some great clues especially 13a and 22a with 26a being my favourite.
    I think this has been a relatively gentle week on the Toughie front. I guess we will pay for it next week!

  7. Not quite as difficult as proXimal can be but as enjoyable as ever. Thanks to him and Dutch.
    My ticks went to 3d, 4d and 16d.

  8. Dene is a north-eastern word for a valley, as in Jesmond Dene in Newcastle.

    Which didn’t stop this ex-pat Geordie having trouble! 😡

  9. We would like to echo Dutch’s phrase from the preamble ‘beautiful clueing’. Despite having watched a movie on the story-teller recently, still had to check the order of the vowels in the last half of his name. When we used to live in Auckland a nearby suburb had DENE as part of its name which was a help with the wordplay for 21d.
    Not a quick solve but a thoroughly enjoyable one.
    Thanks proXimal and Dutch.

  10. Just got round to solving this one and thoroughly enjoyable it was too.

    Thanks to Dutch and proXimal.

  11. Is it not Inadvertent for 11d? Adding an a instead of an e makes the approach advant and not advent? I’m sure it’s a typo cheers for the hints 8d was my last unfortunately never heard of that word although the parsing made it obvious!

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