Toughie 2311 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2311

Toughie No 2311 by Gila

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

Today’s setter, new to the Toughie series, has taken the 23a of Gila, a species of venomous lizard. This is a promising debut which I found to be slightly tougher than usual for a Tuesday.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Unhappy singleton really on the loose! (6,5)
LONELY HEART: an anagram (loose) of REALLY ON THE

7a    Source of leak found during extensive search (5)
RIFLE: the initial letter (source) of L[eak] inside (found during) an adjective meaning extensive

8a    General ultimately displaying a mean ego (9)
GARIBALDI: the final letter (ultimately) of [displayin]G fb the A from the clue, an adjective meaning mean or base and I (ego)

10a    The shivers, the endless runs and ailments (7)
THRILLS: TH[e] without its final letter (endless) followed by R(uns) and some ailments

11a    Journalists housed in well-known block for writers (7)
NOTEPAD: the abbreviation of a news agency (journalists) inside (housed in) an adjective meaning well-known

12a    Very fine cover for armless seats (5)
SOFAS: a two-letter word meaning very followed by F(ine) and the outer letters (cover) of A[rmles]S

13a    Prove a race isn’t fixed (9)
ASCERTAIN: an anagram (fixed) of A RACE ISN’T

16a    Heard Labour’s leader eff and blind? Not in this place! (9)
ELSEWHERE: this sounds like (heard) the combination of the initial letter (leader) of L[abour] followed by a verb meaning to eff and blind

18a    Overturning some in-house policies takes great strides (5)
LOPES: hidden (some) and reversed (overturning) inside the clue

19a    Numerical lists consisting of cubes? (7)
INDICES: a two-letter word meaning consisting followed by an incorrect (indicated by the question mark) plural of some cubes used in gaming

22a    It is put in lasagne, perhaps (7)
PASSATA: this sauce can, according to Mrs BD who knows more about these things than me, be put in lasagne – a two-letter abbreviation for “it” inside the type of foodstuff of which lasagne is an example (perhaps)

23a    Initially strike over type of fuel, it’s assumed (9)
SOBRIQUET: the initial letter of S[trike] followed by O(ver) and a block made of compressed coal dust (type of fuel)

24a    Old, unchanged rock group (5)
OASIS: O(ld) followed by a phrase (2,2) meaning unchanged

25a    Skilled gamer is smart when playing with danger (11)
GRANDMASTER: an anagram (playing) of SMART with DANGER


1d    They save ticket cost returning in rides with friends, for instance (4,5)
LIFE RAFTS: the cost of a ticket is reversed inside, usually free, rides with friends, for instance

2d    Hype before the end of weigh-ins is annoying (7)
NEEDLES: hype here is a colloquial word for a syringe, rather than an informal word for publicity – follow it with the final letter (end) of [weigh-ib]S

3d    To propose laws, members recently stopped by the heart of Westminster (9)
LEGISLATE: some mebers or limbs followed by an adverb meaning recently or formerly

4d    Creature flying over the back of African lion (5)
HERON: before (over in a down clue) the final letter (back) of [Africa]N put a lion or person of unusual courage

5d    Light meal eaten by a bishop and judge (7)
ARBITER: a light meal goes inside (eaten by) the A from the clue and the two-letter abbreviated form of address for a bishop

6d    Show-off starts to turn ugly when on edge (5)
TULIP: as well as its usual botanic meaning, this answer can also mean a showy person – the initial letters of (starts to) two words in the clue are followed by an edge or rim

7d    They cook bread that’s on order (11)
ROTISSERIES: some cakes of Indian unleavened bread followed by a set of things in a particular order

9d    Individuals welcomed by people from Delhi and people from Bali? (11)
INDONESIANS: some individuals inside some people from Delhi, perhaps

14d    Queen and king running to palace guards (9)
CLEOPATRA: the Latin abbreviation for a king inside (guards) an anagram (running) of TO PALACE

15d    Reviewer of software right to receive pay increase (9)
APPRAISER: a three-letter word for software and R(ight) around (to receive) a pay increase

17d    One bill established in Washington and another US city (7)
WICHITA: I (one) and a colloquial word for a bill inside the abbreviation for Washington state – this city was popularised by a Glen Campbell song

18d    Withstand knocking back a large beer (4,3)
LAST OUT: the reversal (knocking back) of the A from the clue and L(arge) followed by a strong dark beer flavoured with malt or barley

20d    Start detailed logging, essentially, to clear errors (5)
DEBUG: As a retired IT consultant I guessed the answer quickly but then wasted time looking at a word beginning with D(etailed) when what is actually requied is most of (detailed) a start or first appearance followed by the middle letter (essentially) of [log]G[ing] – a term allegedly coined by the late Grace Hopper when she found that an insect had caused a fault in a computer

21d    Group of leg muscles moving bottom to top (5)
SQUAD: start with some leg muscles and then move the final letter (bottom) to the beginning (top)

I’d certainly look forward to more from this setter.


29 comments on “Toughie 2311

  1. Nice to find our setter here as well as in the Indy

    I found this very much on the toughie spectrum – indeed after the inside backpager took a Friday time, I did wonder for a moment whether it was actually Tuesday.

    Lots of sneakily clever wordplay – eg 22a, 4d and 20d – made for a satisfying solve. Thanks to Gila – more please – and to BD

  2. An enjoyable somewhat tougher start to the Toughie week and I needed some head scratching and electronic assistance to finish; for example, I was blissfully unaware of the sauce required for 22a, now there is a new word to try and remember! 3.5*/3*.
    Like BD, I tried to begin 20d with the ‘start’ of detailed rather than ‘de-tailing’ the synonym.
    Candidates for favourite – 16a, 9d, and 20d.
    Thanks and welcome to Gila and thanks to BD.

  3. Good to see you here Gila. Lots of favourites. Loved 1 across, 13 across and 22 across (very clever all in one).

    Thanks all

  4. The jury’s still out here, perhaps I’m just slow to adapt to the style of a new setter.
    I did particularly enjoy 16&22a and will certainly try future offerings from this compiler.

    Thanks to Gila and to BD for the review. Not sure what I expected the 8a general to look like but that pic came as something of a surprise!

  5. Only the second time I’ve completely finished a toughie without help. I think it’s a wavelength thing. Particularly liked 19a and 17d.

  6. Welcome to our new Toughie setter. Quite tricky in places, I thought, though none of the clues stood out for me.
    Thanks to Gila and BD.

  7. Must’ve been an on the wavelength day for me as this took less time than usual for a Tuesday. I did need to check some parsing post-solve though.

    Enjoyable puzzle with thanks to BD and Gila

  8. I found this quite tricky particularly at the start. I quite enjoyed this and it was appreciated that the vocabulary / GK stayed within my limited range so no aids needed. I did not know the syringe term but it was easy enough to guess once the checking letters were in. I struggled a bit with the homophonic 16a – presumably because I say the word as if it were two words with a bit of a pause between. On the homophone subject I noticed last week a friend of mine say Tikka as teak-ar – unusual in these parts.

    Thanks to the new setter, looking forward to the next one. And thanks to BD for the blog. I presume it is likely the computer in the picture had less computing power than a smart phone

    1. Almost certainly. The first computer I worked on, in 1965, was an IBM 360/30 with 16kb of main memory and disks which held about 7.25Mb, yet we ran Sales Statistics and Sales Ledger for a medium sized company (Petrofina) on it.

      1. At about the same time I did a City and Guilds programming course on an ICL computer. In those days it was so much fun, patching up the punched tape and so on. Being keen on crosswords certainly helped with the coding. Now, as you say, there is more computing power in my telephone. Ridiculous!

      2. By the time I became involved 15 years later, it was all MS-DOS based and 1.44MB floppies. When Windows appeared, it took 26 disks to load one after another
        I don’t think it’s a myth that Bill Gates famously stated that no computer would ever need more than 16MB RAM and that a mobile phone has more computing capability than did Apollo 11

  9. I found this puzzle difficult. I finished it but I did need quite a lot of parsing explanations. It seems to have helped to have already met the compiler in another publication.

  10. Tough. There is no more I can say except thanks to Gila and congratulations upon your Telegraph debut. Thanks to BD for the working out

  11. Welcome to Gila.
    Was right on wavelength but needed all the checkers to get 7d and parse it correctly.
    Thanks to the setter and to BD for the review.

  12. I found this to be a *** difficulty.

    Favourite clues were 8a, 24a, 1d, 18d. I didn’t like 22a.

    Thanks to Gila and Big Dave.

  13. This took us quite a lot longer than we usually spend on a Tuesday Toughie and it took a long time to get any toehold at all. Once we got a couple in the SE corner it all started to flow more smoothly. An enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks Gila and BD

  14. I’m by no means at the level of expertise some of the resident gurus here. Surprisingly then, I found this to be relatively straight forward. Perhaps a wavelength thing! I certainly liked this setter. Thank you.

  15. I enjoyed this very much, though it was certainly on the tougher end of the spectrum for me. Thank you, and welcome, Gila, and Big Dave for the review.

  16. Loved it. Nice, well-crafted clues. I smiled a lot at the artistry of the setter. Look forward to more.

  17. Excellent first Toughie from a new setter, with no dubious clues, and tough enough for a Tuesday. I’ll also look forward to more from Gila.

  18. 22a caused me problems in that the answer was known but not where SA came from. Would like to know it’s origin! Many thanks

    1. Welcome to the blog Ian

      IT => Sex Appeal => SA

      I tend not to provide explanations for expressions encountered regularly (a recent Saturday puzzle comes to mind) when providing hints for Toughies.

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