Toughie 2280 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2280

Toughie No 2280 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Stick Insect’s last Toughie was a double (verging on a triple) pangram and I thought we might be heading in the same direction today having solved 7d and 14d but it was not to be and we’ve got just a single pangram. Thanks to Stick Insect.

I wasn’t overly keen on some of the clues where lots of small bits needed to be added, deleted or swapped (1a and 16d, for example, both of which require five separate bits for a 9-letter word) but my mood was lifted by the amusing 12a which made me add half a star to my enjoyment rating.

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

Across Clues

1a The setter’s ace trap — a set of lines that’s not real (9)
IMAGINARY: string together “the setter’s” in the first person, the abbreviation for ace in card games, a banned animal trap, A and the abbreviation for a set of parallel lines.

9a Tax that’s for everyone replacing current indulgence (6)
EXCUSE: start with a type of tax and replace the symbol for electric current with the letter used to label films as suitable for all to see.

10a Expired guarantee — have Focus scrapped (9)
VOUCHSAFE: an anagram (scrapped) of HAVE FOCUS gives a verb with an obsolete (hence “expired”) meaning of to guarantee.

11a Notice blogger? (6)
POSTER: double definition.

12a Satisfying base, Johnson initially hides in outrageous baloney (9)
ENJOYABLE: start with the letter used for the base in logarithms then insert the first letter of Johnson into an anagram (outrageous) of BALONEY. It’s amusing for this bit of critical political commentary to appear in the Telegraph which is Boris’s cheerleader and house journal.

13a Coat with brown material (6)
TARTAN: stick together a substance used to coat and preserve timber, for example, and a verb (or noun) meaning brown.

17a Couples can’t be this rum (3)
ODD: … because couples must make a multiple of two.

19a Release posh new prison officer (7)
UNSCREW: collate the letter used to mean posh, the abbreviation for new and a slang word for a prison officer.

20a Regular habit, perhaps (7)
UNIFORM: double definition, the second being an example of a habit or something worn.

21a British remain revolutionary in decline (3)
EBB: join together an abbreviation for British and a verb to remain or continue unchanged. Now reverse it.

23a Smart bar is headed by Charlie (6)
CLEVER: a type of bar or jemmy is preceded by the letter that Charlie is used for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

27a Australian pit contains single air gap (5,4)
OZONE HOLE: a slang term for Australian and a pit or cavity contain a synonym for single.

28a Remarkable island is overlooked in sailing about (6)
SIGNAL: an anagram (about) of SAIL[i]NG without one of its single-letter abbreviations for island.

29a Place to observe royalty acquiring small estate (5-4)
CROW’S-NEST: insert the clothing abbreviation for small into a metonym for monarchy or royalty then finish with the abbreviation for estate.

30a Having discovered menu, Little Richard to get fatter (6)
ENRICH: remove the outside letters (covers) from [m]EN[u] and append a diminutive form of Richard. The BRB says that the intransitive form of this verb, meaning ‘to become richer’, is rare.

31a Queen flips, spoiling vile art restoration (9)
RETRIEVAL: reverse the Queen’s cipher and append an anagram (spoiling) of VILE ART.

Down Clues

2d In early part of day, Navy departs for old Jersey sound (6)
MOOING: start with the first part of the day and replace the abbreviation for our Navy with the abbreviation for old.

3d Good parrots reported sticky creatures (6)
GECKOS: the abbreviation for good followed by the homophone of a verb meaning parrots or repeats.

4d Marina’s saucily concealing capital (6)
NASSAU: hidden.

5d Drew by chance ran after service (7)
RAFFLED: a verb meaning ran or legged it follows one of our armed services.

6d Assumed type of car holding eleven just regularly goes (9)
AXIOMATIC: start with a type of car and replace the even letters of jUsT with the Roman numeral for eleven.

7d Too quaint novel reference (9)
QUOTATION: an anagram (novel) of TOO QUAINT.

8d Encountered city containing no indicator of time (9)
METRONOME: weld together a verb meaning encountered and a European city containing NO.

14d March segment of flight follows without delay (9)
QUICKSTEP: a discrete segment of a flight of stairs follows an adjective being ‘without delay’.

15d Southern stereotype dancing six reels to win introduction to gentleman (5,4)
ESSEX GIRL: an anagram (dancing) of SIX REELS contains the introductory letter of gentleman.

An Essex girl goes to the council to register for child benefit. “how many children?” asks the council worker.
“10” replies the Essex girl.
“10???” says the council worker, “what are their names?”
“wayne, wayne, wayne, wayne, wayne, wayne, wayne, wayne, wayne and wayne”.
“doesn’t that get confusing?”
“naah…” says the Essex girl, “it’s great because if they are out playing in the street I just have to shout waayne, yer dinners ready or waayne go to bed now and they all do it”.
“what if you want to speak to one individually?” says the perturbed council worker.
“that’s easy,” says the Essex girl “I just use their surnames”.

16d Following dance, a northern church is self-supporting? (9)
FREELANCE: string together the abbreviation for following, a Scottish dance, A and abbreviations for northern and church.

17d Concede authority when undressed (3)
OWE: remove the outer letters from a word meaning authority or strength. The BRB says this verb means “to concede or be bound to concede as a handicap” but I can’t think of an example of this usage – can you?

18d Add sound effects to smooth reggae music (3)
DUB: triple definition (two of which I didn’t know before consulting the BRB!). As a verb the answer means to smooth with an adze and as a noun it’s a type of reggae music with bass and drums prominent.

22d Funny business location, mostly around river (7)
BIZARRE: stick together an informal word for business and a synonym for location or district without its last letter but with the abbreviation for river inserted.

24d Return out of the question? (6)
ANSWER: cryptic definition of a response to a question.

25d Opportunity bottled by Dutch ancestor (6)
CHANCE: our second lurker.

26d Unhappily Kelvin advanced the coldest state (6)
ALASKA: an exclamation meaning unhappily is followed by abbreviations for kelvin and advanced.

2d and 15d were amusing but my runaway favourite, for the surface reading, was 12a. Do let us know how many ticks you recorded and the clues against which you recorded them.


29 comments on “Toughie 2280

  1. Averagely mid week Toughie – no particular favourites – I did, however, get a chance to explain to the lady who works in the next office to me about awful crossword grids where you solve four different puzzles, in this case knowing you were bound to be requiring the use of all the letters of the alphabet at least once

    Thanks to Stick Insect and Gazza

  2. This was pleasant and not too tough for a Toughie, although I did give myself some self-inflicted pain by writing in the answer to 7d in the space meant for 8d. That left me looking for an answer to 9a ending with a U and to 20a with an O until I spotted what I had done.
    I noticed that I had used all 26 letters when I had around half the answers in place and, like Gazza, I wondered if a double pangram was on the cards but it was not to be. Also like Gazza, two of the three meanings for 18d were new to me.
    I had no particular favourite but I’ll mention 15d as it inspired Gazza’s splendid joke.
    Many thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza.

        1. Ha!

          Yes, a predictive text error (so long as the definition of ‘predictive text’ includes my own fingers’ muscle memory …)

            1. Coming soon to a crossword near you, ‘Magazine supported by singer (6)’ — 2 vague proper noun definitions for the price of 1!

      1. Thanks very much, Smylers. It’s a new to me. I am aware of Norman Cook/Fatboy Slim and I remember the SOS Band’s “Just Be Good to Me” on which this Beats International track was based.

  3. Needed Gazza’s help to justify 10a & 18d and am still not convinced by 5d. Surely something that is 5d is put into the draw not taken out of it?

    My ticks went to 12a & 2d but favourite was Gazza’s tale of 15d!

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to the knight in shining armour for the review.

    1. One of the three Armed Services, the one in the Air followed by followed by (“after”) ran away.
      Thanks to Setter and Blogger

      1. I’m with Jane: the unconvincingness of 5d isn’t the cryptic part, but the definition, which seems to be for the wrong part of the process.

    2. In a raffle, tickets are sold and their stubs are eventually placed into a container. Then, some numbered stubs are randomly drawn “out” of the container at the raffle “draw”. Afterwards, someone might say: “They drew [out] my winning ticket!”. And the prize they won had, by that process, been “raffled”.

  4. Indeed a pleasant enough puzzle with no need for electronic help. I found it a little bit harder than the easiest toughies that appear from time to time, most frequently on a Tuesday. Two star difficulty is about right although it seems to be rare for a blogger to award a toughie one star for difficulty so I would make this **+ to distinguish from the easiest toughie puzzles (**-)

    Thanks to Stick Insect for the puzzle and Gazza for the blog and joke

  5. I found this a very enjoyable puzzle. I was in danger of missing the the four three letter words in the centre – but the rum saved me! Many thanks to Stick Insect and Gazza.

  6. I’m not usually a huge fan of Stick Insect’s Toughies, but being stuck indoors on a filthy wet day, with a bit of sheer bloody mindedness I did get this finished (with quite a bit of help from Gazza I have to confess) . Looking back over the afternoon I think I can say that I actually enjoyed the experience. Favourites were 12 across, 8 & 14 down. I did enjoy the joke reproduced at the hint for 15 down too :-) Thanks to SI & Gazza.

  7. 18d is an odd one – the third definition is called that precisely because the first definition has been applied, usually as a drum & bass loop with loads of DJ Silly Boi twaddle on top
    Anyone that doesn’t have a copy of Sensi Dub (Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry et al, 1990) – get your shoes and socks on, people

  8. Like Gazza, two of the meanings for 18d were new to us but as all three letters were checked it made little difference to the solving. Realising early on that we were in pangram territory was quite a help when considering possible answers which all flowed smoothly for us.
    Loved the Essex girl story.
    Thanks Stick Insect and Gazza.

  9. I got to within three, all in the NE, of solving this albeit with a little electronic help and a bit of input from a lady friend to whom I’ve introduced the delights of cryptic crosswords.
    I got 28 across from checkers and the wordplay but to me “signal” is either a verb or a noun and “remarkable” is an adjective so I don’t understand it?
    An enjoyable puzzle but with no particular highlights.
    Thanks to Stick Insect and to Gazza for the explanations.

      1. Thanks for answering my query Gazza
        I’d never heard it used in that context but I’ll try to remember it.

      2. Shakespeare uses the word a lot. Some 18th century poets too. I’d say significant and important are good synonyms

  10. Thanks to Gazza and all who’ve commented.

    On 5 down, I was thinking eg “I raffled the prizes” could be “I drew the prizes by chance”. Interesting to know if that didn’t convince.

    There was some agonising about writing a clue to 15d that wouldn’t cause offence. Sounds like that was a bit unnecessary!

    1. Thanks for looking in, Stick Insect – and for the puzzle. We’ve had no howls of outrage about 15d, in fact most commenters seem to have enjoyed it.

      1. Can it be that 15 downs don’t do cryptic crosswords? Either that or they are very forgiving.

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