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Toughie 2388

Toughie No 2388 by Firefly

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty */**Enjoyment **

One of those crosswords where it helps if you know ‘stuff’ and fortunately for me, I did. Solved in a time on the cusp of a backpager and a Toughie, so slightly trickier than I’d expected from Firefly. I added an extra half a difficulty star because of the checking and parsing of certain bits of the wordplay. I did notice the Nina – because of the position of 11a and then 22a in the grid, it was fairly obvious what we needed to find in the Down solutions

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Cop on trail of ecstasy drew blank (7)
EMPTIED An abbreviated cop (according to the BRB this abbreviation can be a military, metropolitan or mounted policeman) goes after (on the trail) of the abbreviation for Ecstasy, the result then followed with a synonym for drew

5a    Winger‘s row with The Bhoys’ left half (7)
TIERCEL Follow a row or level with the left half (first three letters) of a Scottish football club known as The Bhoys which is itself a term coined by Americans for Irish immigrants. Every day is an education when you solve a cryptic crossword!

9a    It’s a sound manoeuvre if in storm at sea, stowing sails at the earliest (6,2,7)
STRAIT OF MESSINA The sound or stretch of water between eastern Sicily and Calabria is an anagram (manoeuvre) of IF IN STORM AT SEA into which is inserted (stowing) the ‘earliest’ letter of Sails

10a    Malodour within old English instrument (4)
OBOE An abbreviated bad smell (malodour) goes ‘within’ the abbreviations for Old and English

11a    At heart Eleanor thinks: ‘Significant point‘ (5)
NORTH Lurking in the heart of EleaNOR THinks

12a    Lift the man by feet (4)
HEFT The masculine third person pronoun (the man) goes ‘by’ the abbreviation for feet

15a    Trial arranged within following year is failing (7)
FRAILTY An anagram (arranged) of TRIAL inserted within the abbreviations for Following and Year

16a    Don once again put right (7)
REDRESS Split 2,5 your solution would mean to put on clothes again (don once again)

17a    Greatly enjoying song and dance band (7)
ADORING A three-letter fuss (song and dance) plus a band

19a    Plonker! That chap’d get carpeted! (7)
CLOTHED Carpeted in the sense of covered rather than telling off. An informal term for a fool and a way of saying ‘that chap would’

21a    Maybe Beowulf‘s a delight, upon reflection? (4)
SAGA A reversal (on reflection) of A (from the clue) and an informal term for something delightful – Beowulf being an example (maybe) of an Old English epic poem

22a    This player — EastEnders’ Outhwaite — is captivating (5)
SOUTH A [bridge] player is to be found lurking (is captivating) in EastenderS OUTHwaite

23a    Water colour (4)
AQUA A word meaning water or a pale blue colour

26a    US diplomatic agency attempts a tender illegitimately (5,10)
STATE DEPARTMENT An anagram (illegitimately) of ATTEMPTS A TENDER

27a    Growth in effort to become well-tanned? (7)
SWARTHY A skin growth inserted into an attempt

28a    Chambers errs about ‘utility’ (7)
SINUSES A synonym for errs goes about an abbreviation for utility


1d    Thus see a moderate … (4,3)
EASE OFF An anagram of SEE A plus an anagram indicator will (thus) produce another way of saying moderate

2d    … diplomat not wanted as Republican in Pentagon, NASA or otherwise (7,3,5)
PERSONA NON GRATA Someone on not diplomatically acceptable is obtained from an anagram (otherwise) of PENTAGON NASA OR into which is inserted the abbreviation for Republican

3d    Agent virtually upended into plant (4)
IRIS A reversal (upended in a Down clue) of the Apple© virtual assistant

4d    Twin powers in charge here, properly including work with oxygen (7)
DUOPOLY Insert (including) into an adverb meaning properly the abbreviation for work and the chemical symbol for Oxygen

5d    Nick‘s typist possibly sitting on terrace (7)
TEMPTER Here Nick refers to the devil – an office worker (typist possibly) employed for a short time ‘sitting on’ (in a Down) the abbreviation for terrace

6d    Direction of Evita somewhat peripheral throughout (4)
EAST The peripheral letters of EvitA SomewhaT

7d    With backbone mostly fixed, queen’s in good health for game (7,8)
CHINESE CHEQUERS A piece of the backbone of an animal and most of a synonym for fixed followed by the abbreviation for queen inserted into a word used informally in a drinking toast to mean good health

8d    Sheds unproductive tools regularly … (4-3)
LEAN-TOS Are there more of these sheds in crosswords these days than peoples’ gardens? An adjective meaning unproductive and the regular letters of ToOlS

13d    … to maintain shell protecting core of machinery (5)
CLAIM A (scallop) shell ‘protecting’ the letter in the core of machInery

14d    Lyric — working theatre? (5)
ODEON A lyric and the usual adverb meaning working give us a Greek theatre we’d be more likely to think of as a cinema chain these days

17d    Supportive plays Neddy put on Irish stage totally slated initially (7)
ASSISTS A sporting term for plays that help to make a goal possible – a donkey (although Neddy can informally refer to a fool as can this small animal) put on the initial letters of Irish Stage Totally Slated

18d    Machinist joining this business involved in organic chemistry (7)
GROCERY How I love (not!) a compound anagram – A business can be found by removing the letters MACHINIST from an anagram (involved) of ORGANIC CHEMISTRY – my last one in and possibly worthy of the extra half a difficulty star all on its own

19d    Steel left after split with Jenny (7)
CUTLASS The abbreviation for Left goes after a split, the result followed by another donkey (Jenny being a female of the species)

20d    Wants losses to cover end of year (7)
DEARTHS Some losses covering the end of yeaR

24d    Samuel’s heading into the rain — to find Timothy, say? (4)
WEST The heading or first letter of Samuel inserted into the rain – nice double reference to members of a  particular theatrical ‘dynasty’

25d    Daffy coming from the deep to bowl over (4)
STUN A reversal (coming from the deep in a Down clue) of a informal adjective meaning crazy (as is daffy)

19 comments on “Toughie 2388

  1. I was helped a lot by getting my bearings and also by the fact that all of the 15-letter answers succumbed without putting up too much of a fight.
    An enjoyable puzzle – thanks to Firefly and CS for the review.
    I’m not sure that well-tanned means the same as the 27a answer.
    Clues promoted to my podium were 17a, 28a and 24d.

    1. G, 27a. I think it’s OK. I haven’t got my BRB or LRB to hand, but Chambers Online Thesaurus lists:

      dark, dark-complexioned, dark-skinned, tanned, dusky, brown, black
      ANTONYM fair, pale

  2. I agree with CS that this was an easy puzzle if one knew the GK but unlike CS I did not know quite a lot of it. That makes it three easy but GK rich puzzles this toughie week which for me is most disappointing

    Thanks to CS and firefly

  3. I enjoyed this but spent an absolute age trying to parse 16d and although I had the correct answer failing miserably to do so. Many thanks CS for enlightening me. Otherwise I enjoyed the puzzle today at somewhat slower pace than the back page.
    Favourite clue today was 28a.

  4. Ours is an Apple free home, and I can’t see 1a as equating to blank, so I had to give up and check the blog. Frankly Elgar on Friday is easier because it’s fair.

    Thanks to CS for putting me out of my misery. Firefly needs to put a bit more effort into ensuring words mean what (s)he wants them to.

    1. I’m sorry Coatweazel is so offended, but I feel his/her comment is off-target. No setter would knowingly mislead a solver in the way implied, nor act unfairly, and wouldn’t get past the editor if he or she tried. “Blank” is widely defined as “empty”, and if something’s “emptied” then surely it’s empty?

  5. I enjoyed this too. Luckily the 15 letter ones went in first without problems. Then the bridge seats came up. No wonder Jonners struggled with 16d. I’m still looking for it! I had a guess at 18d but could parse it. Many thanks to Firefly and CS

  6. Needed the hints for half of this, so thanks CS. Also thanks to Firefly for expanding my GK!

    Loved 2d, just jumped out at me! Should have known 9a having just booked a holiday on the coast there for later in the year, but……..

    I would go with the **/** option.

  7. I found this a bit of an unrewarding slog sprinkled with hmms.

    Thanks, Firefly, but sorry this was not my cup of tea. Thanks too to CS.

  8. I made VERY heavy weather of this – well into ***/**** in difficulty for me. In the end I was defeated by the combination of 27a (I had correctly guessed the ‘effort’ but couldn’t come with either the ‘growth’ or the ‘well-tanned’) and 18d. In retrospect I should have been able to get both, but I was pretty much worn out by then. Thanks anyway to Firefly and crypticsue.

  9. The only GK we did not have was the nickname of the football club in 5a but we did guess it correctly. Certainly took us longer than it did for the blogger and took ages to work out what was going on with 18d. A pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Firefly and CS.

  10. Failed on 27a and 18d also.
    Had to check quite a few things on the net such as the Bhoys, Neddy and Beowulf.
    Good thing I got the cardinal points, otherwise the list would have been longer with Eleanor and Outhwaite.
    Thanks to Firefly and to CS.

  11. thoroughly enjoyed crossword, hints to parse what I hoped were right and all the comments. Only thought 5A COTD as an ex falconer – surely the picture should be of a male falcon not a female hawk?
    being picky so thanks to all

  12. Crawled across the finishing line but can’t say that I had a lot of fun getting there.
    Looked up bhoy and various on-line dictionaries define it as a dialect word for ‘a tough, a thug’ – doesn’t say much for Celtic football team!
    Favourite was probably 17a.

    Thanks to Firefly and to CS for the review.

  13. Hard work, and took a long time. Still don’t follow the first part of 7d even with the hint. Can’t say I really enjoyed getting to the end, and I’m not sharp enough to o spot compound anagrams, so 18d was a bung in

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