Toughie 2291 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2291

Toughie No 2291 by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

I always look forward to solving a Chalicea puzzle, and this one is excellent. The last one parsed was 5d and the last one solved was the superb 15a, which makes it my favourite with the mental picture conjured up by 10a taking the runner-up podium.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Casual wages of small gang (5)
SCREW: S(mall) followed by a gang of workers

4a    The umpire men finally chose thus (9)
THEREFORE: a charade of THE from the clue, the three-letter abbreviated word for an umpire, some soldiers who do not hold commissions and the final letter of [chos]E

9a    Legend of row after two European articles (9)
UNDERLINE: this caption or legend (it’s in Chambers) is derived by putting a row after two European articles, the first French and the other German

10a    Overstrains joints (5)
RACKS: two definitions: a verb meaning overstrains and joints of meat, particularly ribs – put them together to provide medieval tortures that overstrain the joints!


11a    Racing driver securing victory over administrator (7)
PROVOST: put the surname of a former champion racing driver around V(ictory) and O(ver)

12a    Defendant condemned with no right (7)
ACCUSED: an adjective meaning condemned without the R(ight)

13a    Provoke to action fashionable name (6)
INCITE: a two-letter adjective meaning fashionable followed by a verb meaning to name

15a    No wonder decor was regularly constructed with this? (8)
ROSEWOOD: an anagram (constructed) of OODREOWS, the even (regular) letters of four words in the clue

18a    Like rock singer, runs to leave and is dancing in front of clubs (8)
GNEISSIC: nothing to do with Lorelei, the legendary rock singer who lured sailors to their death, this is an anagram (dancing) of SINGE[r] and IS without (to leave) the R(uns) followed by (in front of) C(lubs)

20a    Cares for sea creatures (6)
NURSES: two definitions – the second being types of shark

23a    Design to gently stroke seabird (7)
PATTERN: a verb meaning to stroke gently followed by a seabird

24a    South African custom for traditionally barbecued meat dish (7)
SAUSAGE: the abbreviation for South African followed by a custom or convention

26a    Trashiest material journalist expunged (5)
WORST: start with a fine material and drop (expunged) the ED (editor / journalist)

27a    Marks scale of French usage essentially in grids (9)
GRADUATES: one of the two-letter French words meaning “of” and the middle letter (essentially) of [us]A[ge] inside some grids

28a    Admired 19 wandering with energy (and daughter) (9)
RESPECTED: an anagram (wandering) of the answer to 19 Down followed by E(nergy) and D(aughter)

29a    Thrashed youth outside church (5)
LACED: a youth outside the Church of England


1d    Shaping smart round vessel involving utmost of skill (9)
SCULPTING: a verb meaning to smart goes around a three-letter vessel itself around (involving) the final letter (utmost) of [skil]L

2d    Broadcast publicity in Olympic city (5)
RADIO: a two-letter item of publicity inside the host city for the 2016 Olympics

3d    Such clothes are shabby, sadly outgrown, no good (4-3)
WORN-OUT: an anagram (sadly) of OUT[g]ROWN without the G(ood)

4d    Number needing drink with supply principally lacking (6)
THIRTY: an adjective meaning needing a drink without (lacking) the initial letter (principally) of S[upply]

5d    Pentagon’s way to the top, no need to take flight? (8)
ELEVATOR: an American (Pentagon’s) word for a lift (way to the top) which means there is no need to use the flight of stairs

6d    Partly fear a chest pain in organ (7)
EARACHE: hidden (partly) inside the clue

7d    Company upset about boys hosting international events (9)
OCCASIONS: the reversal (upset) of CO(mpany) is followed by the two-letter Latin abbreviation for about and some boys around (hosting) I(nternational)

8d    Relieved and satisfied to be losing place (5)
EASED: start with an adjective meaning satisfied and drop (losing) the PL(ace)

14d    A rest cure arranged for dependants (9)
CREATURES: an anagram (arranged) of A REST CURE

16d    Criticised over salesperson turning up over a wide area? (9)
DISPERSED: a colloquial word meaning criticised around (over) the reversal (turning up) of a salesperson

17d    Strength consuming body of India rising in its hour of independence (8)
MIDNIGHT: a word meaning strength around (consuming) the inner letters (body) of I[NDI]a

19d    Habitual doubter not in command concerning staff (7)
SCEPTRE: a seven-letter habitual doubter without the abbreviation of In Command followed by a word meaning on or concerning

21d    Rather odd university student organisation unable from time to time (7)
UNUSUAL: U(niversity) followed by a student organisation and the odd letters (from time to time) of UnAbLe

22d    Very sorry abandoning outlandish graveyards for heavenly place (6)
ASGARD: an anagram (outlandish) of G[R]A[VEY[ARDS without the assorted letters (sorry) of VERY

23d    Effectiveness in revolutionary aircrew operations (5)
POWER: hidden (in) and reversed (revolutionary) inside the clue

25d    Naughtily at it, caught in upper room (5)
ATTIC: we finish with a smile! – an anagram (naughtily) of AT IT followed by C(aught)

I loved it!


20 comments on “Toughie 2291

  1. Chalicea has definitely upped the difficulty level, this took me the same sort of time as a trickier Friday backpager, which is, I think where the Tuesday Toughie difficulty level should lie, but rarely does.

    Thanks to her and BD

  2. Even with my glasses on I thought 25d was a hidden word. It isn’t. 10ac failed me because the joints of lamb are only ever used singularly. 15ac was bunged in without knowing why. 18ac and 22d unsolved. Thanks to Calicea for the fun and thanks to BD for the hints and tips

    1. Indeed Miffypops, we rarely cook more than one rack at a time but Chambers allows it to be pluralised (of course Chambers allows us to pluralise just about any noun) and the OED doesn’t claim it’s a ‘mass noun’. Years ago Mark Goodliffe warned me about trying to use those in the plural (cluing, for example ‘happinesses’).

  3. This was the second very fine puzzle today which I found both very challenging and very enjoyable.

    My French is very rusty but I thought DU in 27a meant either “of the” or “some”. The appearance of the answer to 14d in the clue for 20a helped but I still needed my check my BRB to check that it be synonymous with “dependants”. I also needed Google to check the time of Indian Independence.

    On my podium are 10a, 15a & 18a.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and to BD.

    1. Rabbit Dave, Mynot (who also lives in France) and I have debated this question of DU at length in the past and he holds your view. I am a retired French teacher and taught my students that DU means ‘of the’ or ‘some’. Your French is not so very rusty BUT of course there are exceptions which allow a sneaky compiler to get away with DU = ‘of’. Take Baudelaire’s fine collection of poetry ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’. You’ll find that it translates as ‘The Flowers of Evil.
      I’m really happy that you found today’s a bit more challenging. Maybe you were referring to the backpager as the other of your two. I voted 28ac as my clue of the week (Abba solos etc.)

  4. I rather wondered if we’d have a 1939 WW2 themed puzzle today. Incredible it was 80 years ago.
    Beaten by 10a. I had “ricks” which just about fills the bill and not as destructive as the right answer.
    Pleased to work out 15a. and remember the 18a “nice” rocks.
    A pleasant solve.
    Yesterday’s Rookie corner was fun wasn’t it?
    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  5. A Tuesday Toughie – always good news for me. In fact, I found this slightly easier than the backpager or maybe my brain was in gear after doing the backpager. I failed on 10a and finished up with ‘ricks’ and didn’t realise it was wrong until I read JB’s comment above. Agree with RD about ‘du’. Agree with JB about yeterday’s Rookie puzzle.
    I worked out what 18a might be and was pleased to find the dictionary agreed with me – so a new word for me to try and remember. Nothing really wrong with 16d but ‘dissed’ is such an awful word.
    Favourites were 11a, 26a and 22d with top spot going to 5d.

      1. Total confusion – this was meant for the backpager blog where I misposted it first. I think I will have to get myself seen to!!

  6. Like JB, I entered ‘ricks’ for 10a and then wondered where the cryptic element came in – should have thought about it rather more.
    Having monitored one of their breeding sites for years on behalf of the Wildlife Trust, I can promise you that 23a is definitely one of those ‘in your dreams’ desires!
    Top two for me were 11a & 17d.

    Thanks to Chalicea and to BD for the review – enjoyed listening to Roger Miller again.

    1. Yes it was great to listen to Roger Miller and it took me a moment to see the relevance. I was rather fond of 11a myself but it was an editorial adjustment of my clue which he deemed mildly non pc. The very much loved racing driver in question is an acquaintance and I taught his delightful children.

  7. Total fail on 22D and failure to parse (but the right answer) for 15A. 18A was my favorite. Thanks Chalicea and BD.

  8. I thought this was a great puzzle and I very much enjoyed it. This, like many others recently, went in generally from the bottom up. My last in was 15a, and entered largely on the basis of the checkers. I needed Big Dave’s review to understand the cleverness in the clue. Many thanks to Chalicea and Big Dave.

  9. I loved this but took a long time to get going at all.
    18a was dragged, kicking and screaming, from the recesses of the brain.
    I’ve never heard of 22d, or have forgotten it, and didn’t know the racing driver.
    My favourite was 25d because it made me laugh.
    Thanks to Chalicea and to BD.

  10. The three star difficulty was a bit irritating .
    I liked 17d , and I liked the novel Midnight’s Children when it came out in I think 1981.
    22d is a new one for me , I thought it was Island which would be a bit vague but then we think of Islands as nice places usually .
    Overall a lovely puzzle .
    Thanks to Chalicea and BD .

  11. Previously, I have usually waited for the blog to be published, to see what rating it has been given, before deciding whether to attempt the Toughie. I must stop doing that, because I found todays to be quite accessible. I did use my anagram solver from the outset, and sure, I had to come here to check a few answers, one of which was wrong (10a, I too had RICKS), and one I needed the hint for (20a), but otherwise completed. No idea how long it took, it was done in a number of visits.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and BD.

  12. My delighted thanks to all of you and particularly to Big Dave – following Friday’s Notabilis was very daunting so you get a big hug for the five enjoyment stars. I still feel that I am the Toughie newbie and come to your comments with tremendous trepidation, fearful of having slipped down the floughie stairs so crypticsue’s rating has made my day too.

  13. We also fell into the RICKS trap with 10a. The right answers makes the clue much better (Although not for the victim in the illustration). A nice level of challenge and good fun to solve.
    Thanks Chalicea and BD.

  14. I am slightly embarrassed to admit I got 18a right early on only because I had the group genesis in my head but spelt it wrong, added the c and there it was! Really enjoyed this crossword, great fun.

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