Toughie 2363 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2363

Toughie No 2363 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Although there were a number of clues that I liked there were also a number of niggles for me here so I’ve removed half a star from the enjoyment score.
Thanks to Messinae for the puzzle.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Place to eat trifle (4)
MESS: double definition, the second a verb to trifle or meddle.

3a Like the Common Market originally, time engaged in endless orgies (10)
SEXPARTITE: insert the abbreviation for time into orgies (3,7) without the last letter. The answer relates to the number of countries which signed up to the original Treaty of Rome.

8a Long Island invested in fundamental American church (8)
BASILICA: the abbreviation for Long Island is contained in a synonym of fundamental. Finally append an abbreviation for American.

9a Racer has green light and skill to impress thousands (2-4)
GO-KART: splice together what a green light signals and a synonym for skill or craft then insert an abbreviation for a thousand. The clue says ‘thousands’ but the abbreviation means a single thousand.
Here’s an example of the answer (in more than one sense):

10a Was behind given protection? (6)
LAGGED: double definition, the second meaning given protection from a severe frost perhaps.

11a Entertaining rider runs in at rodeo, bucking (8)
TOREADOR: insert the cricket abbreviation for runs into an anagram (bucking) of AT RODEO. I’d describe this character as barbaric rather than entertaining!

13a Arraigns rebels in settlement of Kashmir (8)
SRINAGAR: an anagram (rebels) of ARRAIGNS gives the name of a city in Kashmir. Not the easiest place to spell!

14a Singer and boxer linked in religious festival (6)
DIVALI: fuse together a top-rated female opera singer and the ‘greatest’ boxer. There doesn’t seem to be anything in the clue to tell us that the last letter of the first and the first letter of the second are shared, unless ‘linked’ is meant to imply that, which doesn’t work for me.

16a Rank works of art with lowest class excluded (6)
STATUS: remove the letter used to mean the lowest socio-economic class from some works of art.

19a Woman illicitly ran vice ring inside (8)
VERONICA: an anagram (illicitly) of RAN VICE containing the ring-shaped letter.

21a Fool entertaining TV etc (8)
COMEDIAN: an all-in-one clue. A verb to fool or hoax contains a word meaning mass communication collectively (TV etc.).

22a Camp Hollywood parts for men (6)
STALAG: the abbreviation for the city which is synonymous with Hollywood is contained inside an adjective meaning ‘for men (only)’.

23a Big Brother producer‘s alternative source (6)
ORWELL: charade of a conjunction used to introduce an alternative and a word for a source or plentiful supply.

24a One catches fish round that place (8)
GATHERER: a freshwater fish contains a word meaning ‘that place’.

25a Pad retiree disposed of? (4-1-5)
PIED-À-TERRE: an anagram (disposed of) of PAD RETIREE. Either pad is doing double duty or the setter intends the whole clue to be the definition – neither of which seems very satisfactory to me.

26a Bring down hill (4)
FELL: double definition, the second a hill, especially one in the Lake District.

Down Clues

1d Leader of exiles suppressing one liberal uprising prepares for war (9)
MOBILISES: an Old Testament exile leader contains the reversal of the Roman numeral for one and an abbreviation for the Liberal Party.

2d Fronting group enthralling wife taking time off work (8,3,4)
SWINGING THE LEAD: a phrase meaning fronting a group as the vocalist (7,3,4) contains the abbreviation for wife.

3d Nudge under the table in party (7)
SHINDIG: split the answer 4,3 and it could be a nudge under the table or even an off-target attempt to play footsie.

4d TV show throws mother off the scent? (1,6)
X FACTOR: start with the name of a line of cosmetic products (originally started by a beautician from Poland) and remove the affectionate name for mother.

5d Upset with film star butting in (7)
ANGERED: a synonym for ‘with’ contains the surname of an American film star.

6d Win game after deuce by dishonour (4,9,2)
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF: in tennis the point after deuce will always enable one side or the other to 4,9. Append a synonym of ‘by’ (as in ‘a work by Lowry’).

7d Product of a tree that needs cooking? Yes and no (5)
EATER: yes, because it’s an anagram (needs cooking) of A TREE. No, because it can be consumed without being cooked.

12d Hooter essential for slow Lada (3)
OWL: ‘essential’ normally means ‘at the centre’ but here it just means that the hooter is found ‘near the centre’ of the last two words of the clue. Hmm!

15d Member of government predicting speech of new leader (9)
INAUGURAL: join together an adverb meaning elected or ‘member of government’ and an adjective meaning predicting or divining.

17d Pipe up in philosophical way (3)
TAO: reverse a poetic term for a pipe or flute made of straw.

18d Transatlantic vessel on course round ice (7)
SKILLET: put an adjective meaning on course or prepared round what ice is a US slang verb for.

19d Versace’s first in fashion, revolutionary dressing (7)
VINEGAR: string together the first letter of Versace, IN and the reversal of a word meaning fashion or vogue.

20d Favour Romeo over compiler mostly (7)
Paper version: Favour Romeo over Messinae mostly (7)
ROSETTE: assemble the letter that Romeo represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet, the cricket abbreviation for over and another word for a crossword compiler without its last letter.

21d Big bite from maiden tucking into piece of meat (5)
CHOMP: insert the cricket abbreviation for a maiden over into a thick slice of meat.

The clues earning my ticks were 2d, 4d and 7d. Which one(s) starred for you?


22 comments on “Toughie 2363

  1. As usual with Messinae, this could have easily appeared on the back page of the paper – my only hold up was having to put down the paper and find the BRB so that I could check that the reversal of the solution to 17d had anything to do with a pipe

    Thanks to Messinae and Gazza

  2. It took me a while to get onto the right wavelength for this but when I did it all came together quite smoothly and it proved to be reasonably enjoyable.

    I share Gazza’s concerns regarding 14a (which I always spell with a W) and 12d (why not “… essential for a slow Lada”?). 13a was new to me as was the pipe in 17d, and I needed Gazza’s help to understand the parsing for 15d.

    My podium line up comprises the sequential 2d, 3d & 4d.

    Thanks to Messinae and to Gazza.

  3. Pushed over 3* time by a few, like 15d, which I eventually put in and checked it was correct, as I have no recognition of the second word, (same with 17d) and 18d and 22a, both of which had a “Aha! Moment. I actually thought there was a typo in 22a (parts/party) which I guess helped me although I know it wouldn’t work as a structure for the clue.

    Overall 4* for enjoyment and top spots go to 2d, 3d and 4d. Thanks to setter and Gazza.

  4. Unlike Crypticsue I found this really challenging and was forced to seek enlightenment from Gazza with 4 unanswered. 3a was not a word with which I was familiar but I ought to have got there from the wordplay and I had to look up the Kashmiri city. I suspect that if this were to appear on the back page there would be groans aplenty. Having said that I’m starting to find the (relatively new to me) challenge of the Toughie more enjoyable than the back pager as it’s guaranteed to keep me occupied for quite a while.

  5. I did enjoy this, but I did not find it trivially easy at all. Eventually I got a foothold in the SW corner and progressed from there. I did not know the expression in 2d, and despite the clever wordplay, it took me a good while to piece it together. Despite recognizing the anagram in 13a, I needed several checkers in order to find the place in Kashmir. I am hoping some kind person could please explain the need for ‘Transatlantic’ in 18d. Many thanks to Messinae and Gazza.

        1. ODE says North American, Chambers says ‘especially North American’ and Collins just says ‘a small frying pan’.

          1. Thank you again. I think I am just cross with myself for being so slow in spotting the right kind of ice!

  6. Our favourite has to be Gazza’s picture for 9a.
    A pleasant solve that, in the main, went together smoothly for us.
    Thanks Messinae and Gazza.

  7. Made slow progress but eventually got there….well, except 17d.
    Does a completed crossword missing just one letter counts as a success?
    It does in my book.
    Checked the expression in 2d and the true spelling of 14a as I wrote dawali at first.
    I quite liked the all in one in 25a. Worked for me.
    Thanks to Messinae and to Gazza.

  8. What a difference a day makes – I really didn’t enjoy this one very much at all but maybe I was so incensed by the 11a definition of an ‘entertaining rider’ that it coloured my judgement.
    I did have to look-up 3&13a plus 17d and had ‘umms’ where the likes of 24a were concerned. Ah well – tomorrow’s another day!

    Apologies to Messinae and many thanks to Gazza for the amusing review – loved the 9a picture!

  9. I assume that Gazza was working from the online version. The clue for 20d in the newspaper is, ‘Favour Romeo over Messinae mostly’, which foxed me at first because it had not registered who the setter was.

    1. Thanks for the info, Mac. It’s an understandable difference because after all these years the Telegraph’s software suppliers have still not managed to put the compiler’s name on the puzzle. So some on-line solvers may not know who Messinae is.

    2. Me too. Never looked at the top of the puzzle so, at first, didn’t understand the answer,
      I also take issue with 11a being an entertainer. Definitely not!

    3. Me too. Never looked at the name at the top of the puzzle so, at first, didn’t understand the answer,
      I also take issue with 11a being an entertainer. Definitely not!

  10. For 14a we had the Chambers alternative spelling of DEVALI, which we were happy with since Dev is an American singer/songwriter: This avoided a shared letter for us.

    Like Jean-Luc we had that pesky single letter missing at the end.

    Unlike Gazza, we found this quite enjoyable.

    Thanks to Gazza and Messinae.

    1. Good thinking but it doesn’t quite work because the answer that’s accepted is Divali. I did check to see if Div is an acceptable abbreviation for Diva but could find no evidence for this.

      1. Gazza, as usual you’re correct. I shouldn’t post after alcohol, that much is now clear.

  11. Gazza complains that this puzzle is not hard enough for a Toughie yet seems to have problems with any clue that needs a bit of lateral thinking! I am glad others commenting here found it an appropriate level of difficulty.
    14a the wordplay indicates that the two elements are joined together but overlapping, as the links of a chain are linked. If they were just run together the word “linked” would not be necessary.
    25a pied-a-terre is an all-in-one clue. Note the question mark at the end of the clue. Is it too fanciful to suggest that someone with a pied-a-terre near their work might dispose of it when they retire? Or would Gazza prefer it to be clued as date inside Pierre for the 500th time?
    12d “essential for” just means “necessary for” to indicate a hidden answer. It has absolutely nothing to do with being exactly in the middle.

    1. Thanks for the clarifications.
      I didn’t actually say that the puzzle was not hard enough for a Toughie.

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