Toughie 2286 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2286

Toughie No 2286 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Always a joy. Today’s Elkamere has several easy ways in and plenty to keep you on your toes. My bottom half went in quickly and my top right hand corner yielded last. With an X,Y,Z,Q,J, I started hunting for a missing W to complete a pangram, but never found it.

Definitions are underlined. The hints are intended to guide you through the wordplay, but you can always click on the click here buttons to reveal the answer. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Nerve gas? (8)
BACKCHAT: Cryptic definition of some brazen talk

5a    The thing without a head dies — dies (6)
ITCHES: A pronoun meaning ‘The thing’, then a 5-letter verb meaning dies (for) or longs/yearns (for) without the first letter (without a head). Then the definition once again is dies or longs/yearns

9a    Queen escorted by a toff in a foreign country (9)
ARGENTINA: A single-letter abbreviation for queen goes between (escorted by) A from the clue and a word meaning toff, then IN A from the clue

11a    See you bagging uniform that’s right for shopper? (5)
BUYER: A word meaning see you contains (bagging) the letter corresponding to the radio code Uniform, plus (that has) the abbreviation for right

12a    County of Hull perhaps about ready (6)
DORSET: Hull here is an entertainer holding an emu. Reverse (about) his first name, and add a word meaning ready

13a    Pick fruit around Crete, mostly fresh (8)
PLECTRUM: A fruit goes around an anagram (fresh) of CRET(e) (mostly)

15a    Chance used to inspire anagrams (13)
SERENDIPITOUS: An anagram (anagrams, as a verb) of USED TO INSPIRE

18a    He may have felt divine (3,2,3,5)
MAN OF THE CLOTH: A whimsical cryptic definition for a clergyman / draper with a pun on felt. Actually it works as a double definition, “He may have felt” and “divine” – many thanks Gazza

22a    Unpaid, very old, and not cutting it (8)
HONORARY: A 5-letter word meaning very old contains (cutting it) a word meaning ‘and not’

23a    4 maybe seem to lack a debugging device (6)
ZAPPER: A possible example of the answer to 4d, then another word for seem without (to lack) A from the clue

26a    Every second of every minute someone plants a flower (5)
VIOLA: Every second letter of four words in the clue, then A from the clue

27a    Unopened glue bottles crack, revealing stuff (9)
EQUIPMENT: A 6-letter word for glue without the first letter (unopened) contains (bottles) a crack or joke

28a    Run from large snake (6)
LADDER: The abbreviation for large plus a kind of snake

29a    Substitutes take offence (6,2)
STANDS IN: A word meaning to take or bear plus a 3-letter word for offense


1d    Flatter sort of vanilla? (8)
BLANDISH: A whimsical way of saying kinda dull

2d    Export from Cuba 100 fish, crushing one (5)
CIGAR: The Roman numeral for 100 and a type of fish contains (crushing) the Roman numeral for one

3d    Endlessly show new baby? (7)
CONCERN: A show or musical performance without the last letter, plus the abbreviation for new. Definition as in pet project.

4d    A cross is used to show ‘x’, perhaps (4)
AXIS: A from the clue, the letter that looks like a cross, and IS from the clue

6d    Caught, framed by old explorer over weed (7)
TOBACCO: The abbreviation for caught goes between (is framed by) a reversal (over) of the abbreviation for old plus an Italian navigator

7d    The man has battle to cry after deception (3,6)
HEY PRESTO: A pronoun meaning the man, a famous WW1 battle site and TO from the clue

8d    Crowd beginning to pick appropriate fruit (6)
SCRUMP: A crowd (think rugby) plus the first letter (beginning) of pick. Appropriate here means to steal

10d    None left, which is fine by me (3,5)
ALL RIGHT: If we have none left, then we must have *** *****

14d    Voice for church service (3,5)
AIR FORCE: A word meaning voice or broadcast, FOR from the clue and an abbreviation of church

16d    Via the A5, perhaps? (5,4)
ROMAN ROAD: A linguistic description of via

17d    Piece of furniture, as chair is, accommodating her (8)
SHERATON: What a chair is designed to be (3,2) goes around (accommodating) HER from the clue

19d    Chronicle published about judge (7)
NARRATE: Chronicle as a verb. Reverse (about) a verb meaning published, plus a verb meaning judge

20d    Keep checking climbing gear (7)
CRAMPON: Split (5,2), the answer could mean keep checking

21d    Digger close to this dump (6)
SHOVEL: The last letter (close) of this, plus a word meaning dump or shack

24d    In speech, commend quarries (5)
PREYS: A homophone (in speech) of a word meaning commend

25d    Perfectly fair (4)
JUST: Two meanings, the first as in exactly (**** like)

I really liked pick fruit (13a), must be the guitarist in me – though I did play around with “ELECT” far too long. I enjoyed 15a, 22a, and especially 18a, which seemed to work at several levels. Which were your favourite clues?

14 comments on “Toughie 2286

  1. I really enjoyed this crossword – it wasn’t a Friday level toughie, it wasn’t even the toughiest Elkamere but what fun.

    A touch of almost deja-vu with the inside back pager with 13a. 6d is particularly good because it was the explorer who apparently brought back the weed in question. I marked lots of favourites but will specially mention 8d and 16d.

    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch

    1. I thought it was Sir Walter Raleigh who brought back the weed? If you’re correct, it rather takes the shine off Bob Newhart’s hilarious sketch concerning same!

      1. There have been other Cabot tobacco related clues before, not necessarily in the DT but they did stick in my memory banks

  2. Not overly tough but immensely enjoyable – a puzzle which revived my spirits early this morning. Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.
    I have loads of ticks – 12a, 18a (which I took to be a double definition), 22a. 8d, 16d and 17d but my favourite (for the penny drop moment) was 7d.

  3. Right hand side put up more of a fight for me. I ticked 13A (just because I love the word), 7D and 16D. Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

  4. I needed something special to pick me up after the disappointing back-pager today, and this certainly fitted the bill – very tough and very enjoyable.
    I ended up bunging in 5a, 12a, 23a & 20d.
    As a guitar player, 13a (which coincidentally appeared in plural form in the back-pager) made it onto my podium along with 18a, 26a & 7d.
    Many thanks to Elkamere for the excellent challenge and to Dutch for the decryption of the answers that I couldn’t parse. I had completely forgotten the specific Hull in 12a.

  5. Even more brilliant than usual and I particularly liked 26a. I’m sure Elkamere is meticulous in his research but is 24d a legitimate plural noun: isn’t the plural the same as the singular?

    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch

  6. Thank you! After a disastrous week in toughie-land for me, (I would be embarrassed to admit to how few entries I got in yesterday’s Beam puzzle) I found this both accessible, and hugely enjoyable, and finished it relatively easily. I think my favourite is the A5 in 16d. Many thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.

  7. Wonderful, Elkamere has at last produced a puzzle with the GK turned right down – and for someone like me this makes a huge difference to the level of enjoyment as I managed this without needing to reach for electronic aids or dictionaries. There are many very enjoyable clues.
    There have been a few occasions in which I have found the toughie easier than the back page puzzle but today is, I’m sure, the first time it has happened on a Friday and I cant recall a cryptic definition being more obscure than the sheep one in 10a – combine that with mythology and some other odd clues in one corner and I was truly stuck.
    I think it would count as a ***/**** for difficulty/enjoyment to me with perhaps an extra half star on the enjoyment side.

    Many thanks to Elkamere (please more of this type rather than cryptic pub quizzes) for a very nice puzzle and to Dutch

  8. I came to this puzzle as a refugee from the back pager, which had got me frustrated.

    Being relatively inexperienced in toughie territory I did struggle with several of the clues such as 3d and 27a but found it immensely satisfying.

    Favourites were the A5 and Run which I got without any help so felt quite chuffed.

    13a seems to have popped up in a variety of crosswords over the last week or so?

    Thanks to Elkamere for rescuing my day and Dutch for increasing my solving skills!

  9. I’m another who needed cheering up after the back-pager and this fitted the bill admirably. Not easy for me by any means but well worth the effort.

    Love the word at 15a but my picks for the podium were 22a plus 7&14d. The latter gets the gold medal out of family loyalty.

    Many thanks to Elkamere/Dean and thanks to Dutch for the review and for sorting out a couple of parsing issues for me.

  10. Biggest struggle was justifying the correct answer we had for 5a. Lots and lots of good fun clues to enjoy. Feel very proud to have at last remembered the Mr Hull for 12a who has eluded us when he has appeared in earlier crosswords.
    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

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