Toughie 2303 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2303

Toughie No 2303 by Silvanus

Hints and tips by Big Dave

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Tuesday’s have become an excellent day in Toughieland, and this puzzle from our own Silvanus is no exception. No particular favourites, and the Spoonerism was the only groan.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Heard peal of bells approaching international city (7)
TRIPOLI: what sounds like a peal of bells is followed by I(nternational) – the peal is a system of change-ringing using a number of bells, with several pairs changing places each time

9a    Familiar accompanist vacuously stops keeping rhythm (8)
INTIMATE: A[ccompanis]T without its inner letters (vacuously) inside (stops) a phrase (2,4) meaning keeping rhythm

10a    Have a right to leave the Army? (7)
DESERVE: if the answer is split (2-5) it could mean to leave the Army

11a    Prompt answer lacking from those that are left (8)
REMINDER: drop (lacking) A(nswer) from a word meaning those that are left

12a    Old impression from musical is so fragmented, looking back (6)
FOSSIL: hidden (from) and reversed (looking back) inside the clue

13a    Journal by Van Gogh possibly discovered, one stirring up trouble (10)
INCENDIARY: a personal journal preceded by the first name of artist Van Gogh without its outer letters (dis-covered)

15a    Suffering rejection, top student is remarkably brave character (4)
LION: the reversal (suffering rejection) of a phrase meaning top (2,1) and the letter that represents a student

16a    Nearly occupies considerable time giving evening’s final speech? (9)
GOODNIGHT: a four-letter word meaning nearly separates a word meaning considerable, as in a considerable number, and T(ime)

21a    What describes every other element of dance, individually? (4)
EACH: an exclamation meaning “what?” around (describing) the even letters (every other element) of [d]A[n]C[e]

22a    Material for fencing in rabbit mostly, with deer running around bungalow’s rear (6,4)
BARBED WIRE: an anagram (running) of most of RABBI[t[ with DEER around the final letter (rear) of [bungalo]W

24a    Roundabout ways to drop Italian entertainment show (6)
CIRCUS: start with some circular tracks (roundabout ways) and drop IT(alian)

25a    Brit, easy to confuse as devotee of luxury (8)
SYBARITE: an anagram (to confuse) of BRIT EASY

27a    Assigned to desk duties at police station? That’s unusual (7)
OFFBEAT: someone assigned to desk duties at a police station is not pounding the streets!

28a    Quite regularly visiting area, ordinary Balkan inhabitant having no love for dictator (8)
AUTOCRAT: the even (regularly) letters of the first word inside (visiting) A(rea), O(rdinary) and a resident of one of the Balkan countries without (having no) the O (love)

29a    Gambling on being in the team (7)
PLAYING: two definitions


2d    Eloquence shown by chorister, upset after losing son (8)
RHETORIC: an anagram (upset) of CHORI[s]TER without (after losing) the S(on)

3d    Delightful excuse to celebrate (8)
PLEASING: an excuse followed by a verb meaning to celebrate

4d    Occupation of old Oscar in Delhi, surprisingly from ’54 onwards (10)
LIVELIHOOD: an anagram (surprisingly) of O(ld), the letter represented in the NATO Phonetic alphabet by Oscar, and DELHI follow (from … onwards) the Roman numerals for 54

5d    Close to civil engineer in the past (4)
ONCE: a two-letter word meaning close to (not by, as I realised) followed by the abbr for a Civil Engineer

6d    Felt sorrow at mine that is decommissioned finally (6)
PITIED: a three-letter mine, such as a coal mine, the Latin abbreviation for that is and the final letter of [decommissione]D

7d    Canine problem old man had experienced, says Spooner (4,3)
HARD PAD: switch the initial letters of the two words in the answer and it could sound like “old man had experienced” – I’m not a great fan of Spoonerisms and this one doesn’t change that

8d    Settles case of Yemenis overlooked by Government department (7)
DEFRAYS: The outer letters (case) of Y[emeni]S preceded (overlooked) by the Government department that looks after Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

11d    Credit one novel to be profound (9)
RECONDITE: an anagram (novel) of CREDIT ONE

14d    Careless, eccentric uncle left without paying ultimately (10)
NEGLECTFUL: an anagram (eccentric) of UNCLE LEFT around (without) the final letter (ultimately) of [payin]G

17d    Very big bill occasionally to stuff fabric (8)
TERRIBLY: the even letters (occasionally) of [b]I[g] B[i]L[l] inside (to stuff) a fabric used for towelling and dressing gowns

18d    Chap working at last, reportedly, as a classical composer (8)
SCHUMANN: sounds like (reportedly) a cobbler (man working at last)!

19d    A little wallaby’s malnutrition becomes very bad (7)
ABYSMAL: hidden (a little) inside the clue

20d    Honour from extremely eminent university former BBC boss held up (7)
TRIBUTE: the outer letters (extremely) of E[minen]T, U(niversity) and the surname of John, a former (1992 – 2000) BBC boss, all reversed (held up)

23d    Decorate the first person in Germany behind space research primarily (6)
ENRICH: the first person singular pronoun in Germany follows a printing space and the initial letter (primarily) of R[esearch]

26d    Potential danger of raising duty (4)
TRAP: the reversal (raising) of a duty or role

An enjoyable romp which was only partly spoiled by the failure of the puzzles website just as I was about to press submit, meaning I had to re-enter all the answers.


21 comments on “Toughie 2303

  1. Excellent stuff – thanks Silvanus and BD.
    The only real problem I had was with the dratted Spoonerism. I assumed (after some deliberation) that the Rev. is supposed to say “Pa’d had” but a) what’s happened to the letter R in the original? and b) the second word actually appears in the clue.
    It’s a pity that RD’s not around to appreciate 22a!
    Top clues for me were 13a, 27a and 18d.

    1. With 7d, we’re back to the old problem of sounding/not sounding Rs or leaving them out altogether. To me, “pa’d had” does rhyme with “hard pad”, it’s as simple as that. You don’t need the “missing” R for it to work. Spoonerisms are all about rhymes, nothing else. And they’re usually quite contrived and not necessarily grammatically precise. I don’t understand your query about b)?

      1. The point I was making is that it only works for a proportion of English speakers. Pa’d doesn’t sound anything like pard to me (just as lad doesn’t sound anything like lard). My point b was that the second word of what Spooner might have said, i.e. “had” is a word which actually appears in the clue.

  2. I found this quite tricky but most enjoyable. It lay mostly within my limited range of GK and vocabulary. I had not heard of the canine condition but could guess it from the groan-worthy spoonerism. I guessed 1a must mean there is a peal called a triple – I don’t fully understand the blog on this one though.

    I liked 9,10, 13, 16, 21 and 27 across and 8, 17 and 18d with 13a as top favourite as it took a while to see the Van Gogh element

    Thanks to the setter and BD. Time to charge my iPad ready for tomorrow’s puzzle!

  3. Very, very enjoyable – 3.5*/4.5*.
    Although, like Gazza I had a problem with the Spoonerism. Firstly, all Spoonerisms are my bêtes noire of crossword clues; and, secondly, the homophone element does not really work for me. However, when the penny finally dropped the clang was over 85dB (the threshold of pain)!
    Candidates for favourite – 13a, 4d, and 18d – and the winner is 18d.
    Thanks to Silvanus and BD.

  4. Completely 3d as are all of this setter’s puzzles.
    I did need to check on the BBC boss – perhaps he didn’t make too many waves? – but for once the Spoonerism didn’t cause any problems. Paid out so many times over the years for pets to be inoculated against 7d and distemper!

    After much deliberation, the podium places were given to 24&27a plus 3&18d.

    Many thanks to Silvanus and to BD for the review. You must be proud of your erstwhile Rookie!
    PS Think the underscoring in 15a might need extending a little.

  5. Nice puzzle, as I have come to expect from this setter. Though I found the Spoonerism a bit of a nose-wrinkler, I still enjoyed it once I’d stopped groaning
    Many thanks Silvanus and BD

  6. I found this tougher than usual from Silvanus. Spooner clues don’t bother me. I leave them until the checkers or the definition give up the answers. The homophone at 1ac was impossible. I spent most of Friday at Taylors Bell Foundry in Loughborough and doubt anybody there would make the connection. It took me a while to see where Van Gogh had gone at 13ac and could I think what Roundabout ways might be? Could I ‘eckers like. In the end it was Grandson Ethan and Silvanus who won the day. Thanks to all.

  7. Couldn’t parse 23d but after looking at Big Dave’s hint i now know what half an em is,everyday is a school day.
    25a is my favourite just because it is a lovely word.

  8. Lovely puzzle as has already been said by many and I can add my groans to those of others regarding 7 down. Barely acceptable in my view given the r in hard.

    I parsed 29 across as a triple definition: gambling / on / being in the team

    Thanks all

  9. A very enjoyable solve. Tuesday Toughies are usually within my grasp. The Spoonerism was my last in. Favourites were 1a, 24a, 27a with top spot to 18d.

  10. There were several bits of GK that we needed to check but we had worked them all out correctly from the wordplay. They were; the canine condition in 7d, the govt dept in 8d and the BBC dude in 20d.
    A beautifully put together puzzle that we found a real pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Silvanus and BD.

  11. Many thanks to BD for his decryptions and choice of illustrations and to everyone else who took the trouble to comment.

    I do realise that Spoonerisms are not to everyone’s taste, but I have to confess being quite partial to them, although many will be glad to hear that I promise to use them only very occasionally! 29a was intended to be a double definition, to answer Comment 9.

    See you all again soon, I hope!

  12. Very nice. I managed a pretty good amount myself before resorting to the hints. I surprised myself by getting the spoonerism by myself. but the BBC DG was off my radar and I had to study the hint for 28a before the right answer revealed itself. 1a was another I guessed at and didn’t fully understand until BD explained it. I should have paid more attention to my campanologist friends.
    I will concur with 18d as favourite.
    Thanks to BD and Silvanus.

  13. I’ve taken the opportunity of a miserable wet day to take a look back at what I missed whilst on holiday, so, somewhat belated, I decided to tackle this excellent Silvanus Toughie. I did find it very challenging in places but it all fell slowly into place and what a lot of fun it was too. I only needed Google to check on the peal of bells in 1a.
    The Spoonerism works for me, but I agree with Gazza about the inclusion of “had” in the clue. Couldn’t it simply have been omitted?
    I worried at first that the chap at the last in 18d might have been a nebulous fellow called Bert, but then I remembered the other composer with the same first four letters.
    Picking a favourite from such an excellent selection was also a tough task and I am sure Gazza won’t mind if my podium choice of 13a, 27a and 18d matches his, plus of course a nod to 22a.
    Many thanks to Silvanus and to BD.

Comments are closed.