Toughie 2257 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2257

Toughie No 2257

Double, double toil and trouble by Firefly

Hints and tips by 2Kiwis

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

Kia ora from Aotearoa.

Bet you didn’t expect to see us back in the blogging chair quite so soon. Bufo was not available so we stepped up to review a Toughie for a change.

There’s a theme here that you’ll probably guess from the heading. A couple of new words for us and good fun all the way through.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.


1a     Absorbed in enchanting show (6)
WICKED : A double definition. The first is a verb, the second a musical, first performed in 2003.

4a     Hellenic gatherings in the past attracting artists (6)
AGORAS : A three letter word for in the past plus Royal Academicians.

8a     Initiate Sharp into MS Office — no peripherals required! (5,3)
START OFF : A synonym for sharp or acidic is inside the letters that are left of MS Office once the computer peripherals used to navigate the cursor are removed.

10a     Band section given leave … (6)
ARMLET : A section or wing and then given leave or allowed.

11a     … to get rid of vocal in Oxford, for instance (4)
SHOE : A homophone of a word meaning to chase away.

12a     In rough condition, Grace sings remarkably (10)
CRAGGINESS : An anagram (remarkably) of GRACE SINGS.

13a     Programming system involving many breakthroughs? (7,5)
PUNCHED CARDS : A cryptic definition of an early computer system.

16a     Every second, still more stupefied by newspaper boss (4-8)
EVEN-NUMBERED : Still or placid, then ‘more stupefied’, and finally the newspaper boss.

20a     Wife has desire to make magic (10)
WITCHCRAFT : The abbreviation for wife, then desire or hankering and make or fashion.

21a     Crown holding the setter to account (4)
ACME : The abbreviation for account and a personal pronoun that Firefly might use.

22a     She’s into 20, darling, let loose without Romeo! (6)
GLINDA : An anagram (let loose) of DArLING without R(omeo).

23a     Sun’s first with press club (4,4)
SAND IRON : The first letter of Sun, then a synonym for with and press or make smooth.

24a     Delivery in Underwood’s last over also turning, short of length — runs added (6)
DOOSRA : String together the last letter of Underwood and the abbreviation for over. Next, in the reversal for the word ‘also’ replace the abbreviation for length with that for runs. (We went through all this process and then were surprised to find it was there in the BRB.)

25a     Take out daughter — excellent lunch except the enchiladas for starters (6)
DELETE : The first letter of six words in the clue.


1d     Be vigilant — this could make synchronisation difficult! (5,3)
WATCH OUT : The wordplay points to a malfunctioning timepiece.

2d     Left out of coterie, she’s into 20 (5)
CIRCE : Remove L(eft) from a synonym for coterie.

3d     Reptile showing up in midst of the herd? Here’s a way to show off your muscles! (7)
ECORCHE : The reversal of the short form of a large aquatic reptile is inside the central three letters from the phrase ‘the herd’. (Another surprise for us when we checked in the BRB.)

5d     See 15 Down

6d     Remember short skirts? Take a look outside — one about to go! (9)
REMINISCE : An informal word meaning to take a look loses one of the letters that stands for the Latin ‘about’. All of this surrounds short skirts from the 1960’s.

7d     Jenny‘s ashes scattered on surface of sea (3-3)
SHE-ASS : An anagram (scattered) of ASHES plus the first letter of sea.

9d     Leaving old city, resentment shown among fans in upset for Bavarians (11)
FRANCONIANS : Remove crossword’s favourite old city from the end of a synonym for resentment and put what’s left inside an anagram (upset) of FANS IN.

14d     On the way to a 21 Across? (9)
CRESCENDO : A musical instruction to build up to a peak.

15d & 5 Down     She’s into 20, that girl, enraging me or surprising (8,7)
HERMIONE GRANGER : A personal pronoun for ‘that girl’ plus an anagram (surprising) of ENRAGING ME OR.

17d      Put straightforwardly, this is new in cake (2,5)
EN CLAIR : The abbreviation for new is inside the cake with an interesting definition in BRB.

18d     ‘From the South’ — seen it, a meticulously abridged performance (7)
MATINEE : A reversed lurker.

19d     Man perhaps grabbed by boss and taken for a ride (6)
MISLED : The initials for a managing director or boss contain a geographical entity of which Man is an example.

21d     Main track‘s out of the way (1-4)
A-SIDE : Remove the hyphen from the answer to find ‘out of the way’.

Hard to pick a favourite when we enjoyed all the clues.

11 comments on “Toughie 2257

  1. I do like the new improved Firefly Toughies that we’ve been given recently. I spotted the theme quite early on which helped, I was also quite impressed that I remembered the crickety thing.

    Thanks to Firefly – more like this please – and to the 2Ks

  2. I don’t know what Firefly has been taking but whatever it was has had a very beneficial effect because his last couple of Toughies (including this one) have been very good indeed. Thanks to him and to 2K for putting in the double shift.
    I didn’t know the 22a girl or the 3d word but both were gettable from the wordplay.
    I liked 13a because I’m old enough to remember using them for source programs (and the problems that came from dropping the pack!).
    My ticks went to 8a, 16a, 20a, 21a, 1d and 19d.

    1. I, too, found this Firefly puzzle a significant improvement on some of the earlier puzzles by this setter. I didn’t mind having to work out a few words I didn’t know, as I felt these had been clued fairly. My last one in was 21d. I liked the witches theme, too. 6d and 24a were probably my favourites, although non-cricket fans might have had some trouble with the latter, so they might be justified in asking for a VAR !

  3. Sorry, but I much preferred Firefly’s puzzles when he first started out – too many things that I had to look up which rather spoilt the enjoyment. Doubtless that’s because I don’t have the experience and GK knowledge of the previous two commenters!

    Top three for me were 16a plus 1 & 21d.

    Thanks to Firefly and to our 2Ks for the overtime – what holiday!

  4. i found this to be quite a challenge and a curate’s egg in terms of enjoyment. There were a lot of good clues interspersed with some tortuous ones which made me groan but not in a good way.

    Although I am a great cricket fan and I got the answer quickly, I thought the surface of 24a was ghastly, and what on earth is 3d all about? In the early days of computing my company IT department always referred to 13a as “punch cards” so that held me up a bit too.

    14d was my favourite.

    Thanks to Firefly and the 2Ks.

  5. I found this had too much GK and odd words for my liking. 6 completely new words and a couple I have seen in crosswords fairly recently and somehow remembered. I only knew the modern day witch. I guessed 5 of the 6 unknown words correctly with the aid of the cryptic but got 1a wrong as I have never come across the answer meaning “absorbed”, nor have I heard of the musical. I liked 8a because it took me ages to realize peripherals did not imply the edge letters – it made me laugh when the penny finally dropped – especially as the plural is not heard so often.

    Thanks to the setter and the 2Kiwis

  6. Morning all. Whenever we have blogged a Toughie we have approached it with some trepidation. This one was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish for us. We knew all the themed answers and even got the previously unknown words from the wordplay. A privilege and pleasure to be in the blogging chair.

    1. I offered to do this one but you offered first. I’m rather glad you did. The long anagram at 15d took me forever. (I didn’t get the surname) I couldn’t sort the parsing of 8ac to save my life. Great puzzle. Ta to Firefly and thank you very much to the 2Ks for being sharper than I

  7. Four answers I didn’t know, so hard but satisfying. Thanks Firefly and 2Ks

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