Toughie 2274 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2274

Toughie No 2274 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Great fun from Sparks. I managed to find a little Nina. Even not knowing the dance, the expression of derision, and the botanical term for losing one’s bits (my last one in), all were clearly clued and I completed within ** time.

Definitions are underlined as usual. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay; you can always reveal the answer by clicking on the (3,3) first and last columns buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a/3a/6a Means to examine semi-homespun cotton twisted into yarn? (4-5,4)
FINE-TOOTH COMB: An anagram (twisted) of the first half (semi-) of HOMEspun + COTTON goes inside (into) another word for yarn or tale

8a    Draw country animal, penned by friend (8,7)
NATIONAL LOTTERY: Another word for country, then an aquatic mammal goes inside (penned by) another word for friend

9a    Pleb embracing British ‘up yours!‘ (3-3)
YAH-BOO: A 5-letter lout or pleb embraces the single letter abbreviation for British to give an exclamation of derision or contemptuous defiance

10a    Galileo worked outside new boundary (4,4)
GOAL LINE: An anagram (worked) of GALILEO goes outside the abbreviation for new

11a    Scientist is dissecting fag-ends regularly dropped by climber, say (8)
ABSCISED: A scientist’s first degree + IS from the clue dissecting the even (regular) letters of fag-ends. The climber here is an example of a plant

13a    Almost hide diamonds and rings in specialist transport (6)
SKIDOO: The first 3 letters (almost) of a 4-letter word meaning hide, plus the abbreviation for diamonds and two ‘rings’

15a    I am ready, ignoring the odds, to accept following fight (6)
AFFRAY: The even (ignoring the odds) letters in ‘I am ready’ accept the 2-letter abbreviation for following

17a    Note in passage by W H Auden, originally and now? (4,4)
WHAT NEXT: The abbreviation for note goes in a typeset passage following (by) W H and the first letter (originally) of Auden

19a    Evil woman left heart in Wales back here? (8)
LLANELLI: a Welsh town is generated by the reversal of a word meaning evil or bad, a 3-letter woman’s name, the abbreviation for left and the central letter (heart) of Wales

21a    Major organisation of a republic blocked by member (6)
EMPIRE: A republic to the west of Great Britain is blocked by the abbreviation for a member of parliament

22a    Thermal controller in dining car too erratic — I should stop it (3-12)
AIR-CONDITIONING: An anagram (erratic) of IN DINING CAR TO contains (should ‘stop’ it) the letter I

23a/24a/25a Forward-looking contributor to a big shot? (4-5,4)
WIDE-ANGLE LENS: Cryptic definition of a piece of photographic kit


1d    Ditch rich for going first — this is amusing (5,2-2)
FUNNY HA-HA: A (2-2) ditch has a word that could mean rich at the front (for going first)

2d    Nicks records about church (7)
NOTCHES: Records you might write down about an abbreviation for a church

3d    Slightly devious tone two universities initially misconstrued beforehand (9)
TENUOUSLY: A 3-letter word for devious has an anagram (misconstrued) of TONE + UU (two universities initially – note the abbreviation U only works for University) coming first (beforehand)

4d    Bound dictionary with large content — with large content (7)
OBLIGED: The abbreviation of a well-known dictionary contains (withcontent) nested ‘larges’ – i.e., the abbreviation for large goes inside a 3-letter word meaning large which goes inside the dictionary

5d    Article supporting back-to-back housing causing fuss (3-2)
HOO-HA: An indefinite article goes underneath (supporting) the abbreviation for house plus a reversal of the abbreviation for house (back-to-back housing)

6d    In bed, sick, leader perhaps going over dance (9)
COTILLION: A 3-letter bed for babies, a 3-letter word meaning sick, plus a reversal (going over) of an abbreviated reference to a leader 

7d    Knight taking turn to follow horse in battle (7)
MARENGO: The chess abbreviation for knight plus a turn (as in: your **) to follow a female horse, giving a battle in North Italy won by Napoleon

12d    History student admitted to dreadful English (9)
CHRONICLE: The abbreviation for Learner (student) is admitted to a word which can mean dreadful when used as slang (else it means long-lasting), plus the abbreviation for English

13d    Mixed drink and drug consumed by jiving beatniks (9)
SNAKEBITE: A single-letter drug goes inside (is consumed by) and anagram (jiving) of BEATNIKS

14d    Exceeds with cracking cryptic Toughies (9)
OUTWEIGHS: The abbreviation for with goes inside (cracking) an anagram (cryptic) of TOUGHIES

16d    ‘Director once collapsed’, one added (7)
FELLINI: A (4,2) way of saying collapsed plus the Roman numeral for one

17d    Fish scrap in bottom of bag (7)
WHITING: Another word for a scrap or the least bit, IN from the clue, and the last letter (bottom) of bag

18d    In city, Castro nearly set up complex organisation (7)
EDIFICE: A reversal (set up) of a postcode used to indicate the city of London plus the first 4 letters (nearly) of Castro’s first name. It took me a while to decide the postcode could have 3 characters rather than the more usual 2 seen in crossword land.

20d    Girl caught in blind alley (5)
LINDA: Hidden (caught in …)

Of course I liked 14d. I also liked the zonked beatniks (13d), nested large’s (4d), the contrasting top and bottom clues, 17a for the definition, and 8a for the mislead. I also quite liked 17d, an elegant simple clue. Which were your favourite clues?


15 comments on “Toughie 2274

  1. Lots to enjoy, although the only real hold up was with 11a – I noticed the Nina and did wonder early on in the solving process whether something Ha Ha was going on too

    There are several solutions which relate to something happening to me at the moment (no I haven’t won the 8a) which helped with the enjoyment rating

    Thanks to Sparks for the fun and Dutch for the blog

  2. A fun puzzle with plenty of ha-has though fairly gentle for a Friday puzzle – thanks to Sparks and Dutch.
    I spotted the very short Nina but wondered if there was more that I missed.
    I was dubious about the ‘housing’ rather than ‘houses’ in 5d.
    Top clues for me were 1d, 12d and 14d.

  3. I though I was going to end up abandoning this puzzle with few clues solved until I became certain of the answer to 15a which made me realise I had written the answer to 6d in 3d. I must have been so shocked to know the name of a dance for once! Dances, card games and plants always cause me to worry. Once corrected progress was quite swift for a Friday toughie. The number of unknown words was pretty small – 4 I think – way below giovanni or elk ampere levels. I am surprised I have never seen the word for pleb in 9a before. I thought it was an expression a bit like yesterday’s Geronimo or something losing out to google.
    A nice puzzle with many good clues. Thanks to sparks and Dutch

    1. I just noticed the auto-correct on my iPad does not like the name Elkamere and changed it to elk ampere. Perhaps it believes elk have their own units of electricity

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed this one and found it appreciably easier than many of this setter’s puzzles. Just the falling leaves that needed checking on.
    In the language of my younger days, 9a always had ‘sucks’ at the end of it!

    I liked the little touches of 19a indeed being a town in Wales and the fact that 7d was also the name of Napoleon’s horse but my favourite was the big shot in the bottom row.

    Thanks to Sparks (and Hi to Sparky) and thanks to Dutch for the blog – reminds me that I need to purchase my monthly 8a ticket.

  5. This was fun. I found it the sort of crossword where I had flashes if inspiration, threw the letters I was thinking of into a word processor and, hey ho! found my instincts were right. Didn’t you just love 9a and 5d? Very “Just William”.
    Thanks to setter and blogger. The weekend starts here. Enjoy it.

  6. I did enjoy this, but I found it a lot more than ** for difficulty, mainly because I entered FILCHES early on with complete confidence in 2d (Nicks = filches, with files = records around ch= church). Consequently, and for a long time I struggled mightily with the long 1a combo and 8a. When I reluctantly let go, everything fell into place. Many thanks to Sparks and Dutch (I’m still working on spotting the Nina!)

  7. A bit more than ** difficulty for us and really good fun all the way through. Even 19a was somewhere we had heard before. We looked for a Nina and the only one we could find was made by the two words at the extreme NE and SW. Is that all that others found or are we missing something?
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

    1. That’s all I could find as well, though I’ve got a feeling there must be more to it.
      You probably remember the 19a town from the day in 1972 when their rugby club beat the visiting All Blacks 9-3. :D

  8. Slow going yesterday but finished off at a pace this morning. 11a is a new word for me. A very enjoyable puzzle at just about my solving level.

  9. Cantered through this but thought it was hugely enjoyable. Favourite clue was the lovely 17a with 4d a close second for its cleverness.

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch who, yet again, found a picture of a scantily clad girl to illustrate a clue.

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