Toughie 2317 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2317

Toughie No 2317 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

I thought I hadn’t seen a Micawber Toughie for a while and it turns out that this is his first one for nearly six months. That’s far too long between puzzles. It was a typical Micawber puzzle – not particularly difficult but very enjoyable.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Ad on old railway that could help generate turnover (4,6)
PUFF PASTRY: Praise intended as advertisement + ‘old’ + an abbreviation for ‘railway’. The turnover is one that is eaten perhaps with apple in it

6a    Nebulously move missile (4)
SCUD: Two meanings: Sweep along easily and swiftly as clouds do/A type of Soviet missile that was prominent in the Gulf War

9a    Customs woman seizing precious metal (5)
MORES: A title used to avoid distinguishing between married and unmarried women goes round a poetic word for precious metal

10a    Pay out for back rub in place known for champagne and ecstasy (9)
REIMBURSE: A reversal of RUB inside a French city noted for champagne + E (ecstasy)

12a    Might comedian be suspended for such dark material? (7,6)
GALLOWS HUMOUR: A wooden frame for hanging criminals + the quality of being comic

14a    Gleeful Commission not budging (8)
ECSTATIC: The European Commission + ‘not budging’

15a    Defile that local loo first (6)
CANYON: A defile or gorge = a loo + a dialect word for ‘that’

17a    Unrehearsed half of dance performed (6)
CANDID: The first half of an uproarious dance of French origin + ‘performed’

19a    Lack of flesh? Not so much, when it’s about former queen (8)
LEANNESS: ‘Not so much’ round the name of a Stuart queen

21a    Homer specialist translated fine Grecian poem (first half only) (6-7)
PIGEON FANCIER: The homer is that type that flies. An anagram (translated) of FINE GRECIAN PO

24a    Signing letter in italics? (9)
ENLISTING: ‘Signing up’ = the 14th letter of the alphabet + ‘leaning’

25a    Tectonic plate jumped suddenly (5)
LEAPT: An anagram (tectonic) of PLATE

26a    Hands over in exchange (4)
SWAP: A reversal of ‘hands’ = ‘to exchange’

27a    Star part ruined when financier takes control (10)
BRATPACKER: A member of a group of successful and popular young actors = an anagram (ruined) of PART inside someone who gives financial support


1d    Vanity of humourless politician (4)
POMP: ‘Humourless’ + a Member of Parliament

2d    Searches — with slow connection they seem to go on so! (7)
FORAGES: ‘Searches (for edible plants)’. When split (3,4) it implies ‘lasting a very long time’

3d    Chicken soup in USA ground with mill (13)
PUSILLANIMOUS: ‘Chicken’ or ‘cowardly’ is an anagram (ground) of SOUP IN USA MILL

4d    Nastily said with scorn, heading off? (8)
SARDONIC: An anagram (nastily|) of SAID CORN (SCORN with the first letter removed). The whole clue provides the definition

5d    Manages to keep India’s spoils (5)
RUINS: ‘Manages’ round I (India)

7d    Superficial, like flashy thing people click on? (7)
CURSORY: This word could also conceivably be used to describe a flashing device on a computer screen

8d    Eat starters of salami and sauerkraut, devouring rump in gloom (10)
DREARINESS: ‘To eat’ and the first letters of SALAMI and SAUERKRAUT round the rump or buttocks

11d    Plant that can produce a viable gun oil (13)
BOUGAINVILLEA: A plant often grown over trellises is an anagram (can produce) of A VIABLE GUN OIL. I knew the plant but had to check the spelling

13d    Exercise judges and journalists (5,5)
BENCH PRESS: A weightlifting exercise = a body of judges + the newspaper industry

16d    Northampton’s wingers participating in utmost degree in pre-match event (3,5)
HEN NIGHT: The first and last letters of NORTHAMPTON inside the utmost degree. The match is a wedding

18d    Celebrity chef endlessly claiming to be upwardly mobile (7)
NIGELLA: The first name of a celebrity chef is a reversal of ‘claiming’ with the last letter removed

20d    Target base with weapon on old boat (7)
EARMARK: The base of natural logarithms + a weapon + a boat described in the Old Testament

22d    One travelling to distribute pork pies perhaps in France facing resistance (5)
FLIER: ‘To tell pork pies’ inside F (France) and R (resistance)

23d    Jug or churn (4)
STIR: 2 meanings: jug or prison/to churn. I had difficulty with this one because I read the last word of the clue as ‘chum’

Thanks to Mr K for providing cover last week.


20 comments on “Toughie 2317

  1. I’ll echo precisely what Bufo said in his review even as far as 23d goes. I didn’t enter anything for this although I wrote “stir??” in the margin; even with my glasses on the final word of the clue looks like “chum”.

    My favourites were 12a & 3d with a special mention for the wonderfully inventive anagram indicator in 25a.

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Bufo.

        1. My new Specsavers glasses must be okay as I only saw it as churn 😊 As has been already stated, not overly difficult, but very entertaining. Lots to like, so my thanks to Mikawber and to Bufo.

  2. Welcome back Micawber – I hope this means a start to regular appearances as you’ve been away far too long

    As Bufo says, not that difficult but very entertaining – I remembered how to spell the plant in 11a because we had an anagram of it not that long ago, but I will say the anagram at 3d took a bit of muttering as I knew the word but wasn’t entirely sure how to spell it – it isn’t that easy to say either!

    Far too many clues I really liked so I’ll just say many thanks to Micawber and Bufo

  3. Lovely to see a puzzle from Micawber – you’re right Bufo, 6 months is far too long to wait. Very enjoyable to solve albeit at the less difficult end of his spectrum. 9a was my last one in as I wasn’t quite sure that I’d parsed it correctly – it appears that I was right. My top clue has to be 21a – cracking definition, even if it did lead me down the Simpsons pathway. D’oh!!

    Thanks to Micawber for the puzzle and to Bufo for his blog.

  4. What a relief to find that Micawber is back and as entertaining as ever after his sabbatical.
    Amongst my top clues were 6a, 27a, 7d and 13d.
    Thanks to Micawber and Bufo.

  5. I’m in the chum camp too, we had a similar thing with I (eye) and l (el) before I think. Ill – is that three or unwell?
    Thanks to Micawber for the entertainment a Bufo for the blog

  6. Not my type of crossword – it requires a wider vocabulary. I don’t enjoy needing to look things up. I knew within a few seconds of reading the clue to 11d it was a plant that appeared in a crossword a month or two ago but even with most checking letters in place I had to look it up. I also could not spell 3D but did know the word. I dislike clues like 18d as I don’t think of her as a chef. Rick stein, Oliver, roux brothers yes; Nigel slater, Deliah no. Similar to “diva” in Friday’s puzzle – I had never seen the word used for a pop singer and spent ages thinking of opera singers. Not technically wrong but I do find them irritating.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  7. What a pleasure to see Micawber back in the Toughie slot and with all of his quirky sense of humour intact.
    Laugh out loud moments here for 1,12&21a with a special mention for the ‘nebulous move’ in 6a.

    Thank you, Micawber – hope this marks your return – and thanks to Bufo for the review.

  8. There once was a man called Micawber
    He’s my favourite compiler
    He appeared here today
    After a long time away
    Better sooner than later

    1. Micawber compiles now and then
      …and I rate him ten of out of ten
      Never let it be said
      That I’m easily misled
      But D’oh! He’s had me again!

  9. I have completed the grid, but I will admit to having looked at three hints. I was convinced a BANKER was involved at 27a, so needed a hint to put me right. I watch none of these cookery programmes, so certainly wasn’t going to get 18d, and that meaning for DEFILE at 17a is certainly new to me.

    Many thanks to the returning Dickensian character, and Bufo.

  10. Good to see Micawber again.
    Bottom half was much easier than the top.
    Needed a few hints to finish.
    Thanks to Mick and to Bufo.

  11. Almost spontaneous cheering here to welcome the return of this setter.
    Chuckles and laughs all the way through and the biggest one of all for 27a. A word we did not know but deduced from the wordplay.
    Thanks Micawber and Bufo.

  12. Thanks Micawber, wonderful fun. Still not 100% sure about tectonic but a great clue. Particularly liked 14a, 24a,13d
    thanks bufo

  13. Only given this this morning so posting late.
    There were really some humdingers of clues. 21a misled me down the classic path until the penny dropped while 12a and 1a were so good. The anagrams were brilliant. My only query: my online dictionary has 27a as 2 words. I cannot check the BRB as away from home.

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