Toughie 2390 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2390

Toughie No 2390 by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

An extremely pleasant start to the week’s Toughies, albeit not taking up much of my day.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Student leaves cougar for one old lady (5)
MAMMA: a cougar is an example of this so just drop the letter that represents a student

4a    Revolutionary ops began working on gallon waterproof container (9)
SPONGEBAG: the reversal (revolutionary) of OPS followed by an anagram (working) of BEGAN and finally Gallon)

9a    Twerp wanting to have old rag hat (3,3,3)
TIT FOR TAT: a twerp wanting or in favour of an old rag gives rhyming slang for hat, usually shortened to a six-letter word

10a    Begin digging around river (5)
INTRO: a word meaning digging or enthusiastic around R(iver)

11a    Ordinary enclosure, dry out of doors (4-3)
OPEN AIR: O(rdinary) followed by an enclosure and a verb meaning to dry clothes

12a    Visual‘s up to date, putting operator first (7)
OPTICAL: start with an adjective meaning up to date and move OP(erator) to the front (first)

13a    Schoolmate sadly abandoning scruffy sham fur (6)
OCELOT: an anagram (sadly) of [S]C[H]OOL[MA]TE without (abandoning) the various letters (scruffy) of SHAM

15a    With limits of barrier removed, fish intrude beyond boundaries (8)
ENCROACH: start with a barrier, remove its outer letters (limits) and add a freshwater fish

18a    Yen — yen! Making money (8)
YEARNING: Y(en) followed by a verb meaning making money

20a    Material‘s marvellous, almost sumptuous (6)
FABRIC: a word meaning marvellous followed by most of an adjective meaning sumptuous

23a    Succeeded, as things are, to halt flow from peak (7)
SNOWCAP: S(ucceeded) followed by an adverb meaning as things are and a verb meaning to halt flow

24a    Part of maturing row not developed towards centre (7)
INGROWN: hidden (part of) inside the clue

26a    Blot out absence of effort over beginning of resits (5)
ERASE: a word meaning absence of effort around the initial letter (beginning) of R[esits]

27a    With no hesitation saintly and not heartless in trouble (9)
INSTANTLY: an anagram (in trouble) of SAINTLY with N[o]T without its inner letter (heartless)

28a    Turmoil as postal system reported awful storm (9)
MAELSTROM: what sounds like (reported) a postal system is followed by an anagram (awful) of STORM

29a    Avoided work and moved along, ignoring leader (5)
IDLED: a verb meaning moved along without (ignoring) its initial letter (leader)


1d    Set of stories strangely gloomy about unknown time with husband (9)
MYTHOLOGY: an anagram (strangely) of GLOOMY around a mathematical unknown, T(ime) and H(usband)

2d    Concubine loses son three times in joint (5)
MITRE: start with another word for a concubine and drop all three instances of S(on)

3d    What’s grown from fuss surrounding unfinished oral (7)
AVOCADO: put a three-letter word meaning a fuss around (surrounding) most of (unfinished) a word meaning oral

4d    Sturgeon’s cross, avoiding Liberal lampoonery (6)
SATIRE: the Scottish (Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland) cross without (avoiding) L(iberal)

5d    Succeed at the long jump away from home? (8)
OUTBOUND: split as (3,5) this could mean to jump further than (succeed at the long jump)

6d    Sparkle of good settled theory now and then (7)
GLITTER: a charade of G(ood), a verb meaning settled or came to rest and the odd letters (now and then) of T[h]E[o]R[y]

7d    Broadcast supporting set welcoming hospital’s invalid transport (4,5)
BATH CHAIR: a three-letter verb meaning to broadcast preceded by (supporting) a set around (welcoming) H(ospital)

8d    Frenchman possibly with house for a revolting person (5)
GHOUL: start with a resident of ancient France and insert HO(use) instead of the A

14d    Create surface cover, set up and talk at length; vanish (9)
EVAPORATE: the reversal (set up in a down clue) of a verb meaning to create a surface cover, say for a footpath, is followed by a verb meaning to talk at length

16d    Awfully cheeky and unoriginal (9)
HACKNEYED: an anagram (awfully) of CHEEKY AND

17d    Brisker steed initially more excitable (8)
SNAPPIER: the initial letter of S[teed] followed by an adjective meaning (of a horse) more excitable or nervous

19d    Benefactor promoting new American centre (7)
NUCLEUS: start with a benefactor, move the N(ew) to the start and then add an abbreviation for American

21d    I will follow hound that hunts for money (7)
AFGHANI: I from the clue after a hound used for hunting

22d    Not hopeful result of adding selection of oriental foods (3,3)
DIM SUM: an adjective meaning not hopeful followed by the result of adding together some numbers

23d    Outdated second squad (5)
STEAM: a facetious term for outdated or not using the latest technology is derived from S(econd) followed by a squad

25d    Month to go over nearly everything to do with numbering system (5)
OCTAL: an abbreviated month of the year is followed by most of {nearly) a word meaning everything

Always a pleasure.


22 comments on “Toughie 2390

  1. This was not too taxing and great fun.

    I did need to look a couple of things up: more excitable in 17d; and, not hopeful in 22d. Surely 10a is “beginning” not “begin”, and I can’t imagine any cockney ever using the entire phrase in 9a to mean “hat”.

    The brilliant 4d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and to BD.

  2. For me, somewhat tougher than usual for a Chalicea Toughie completed at a Toughie fast canter – 2.5*/3,5*.
    I like the comparative illustration for 4d!
    Candidates for favourite – 28a, 4d, and 25d – and the winner is 28a.
    Thanks to Chalicea and BD.

  3. Could our resident historian please advise if this is the first time that “tit” as a pejorative has graced the Telegraph crossword? I don’t think I have seen it before.

  4. Like Senf, this took me rather longer than usual for an offering from Chalicea and I had similar thoughts to RD regarding 9&10a.
    Have to confess to not knowing the term for an excitable horse or the numbering system – wing and a prayer on both counts!
    28a was probably my favourite with a mention for 4&16d.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and to BD for the review.

  5. A slow plod but enjoyable, and eventually completed, albeit needing BD to explain a couple of my answers, one of which is now my favourite, 28a.
    Also liked 4d and its visual clue!
    Many thanks to Chalicea and Big Dave.

  6. Apart from the matter of failing to guess an answer for 21d (did not know the money or hound, so no possibility of a guess) I found this one easier than the back page puzzle. I did not know the excitable horse nor the rhyming slang for hat but both were easily guessable from the cryptic clue. I was also troubled by the three letter word for twerp which I know well but had considered not in polite use – I spent a while trying to figure out if a w could be removed from twit.
    Looks like Elgar Fridays are now a fairly regular feature, not just rushed through for Valentine’s Day. Hopefully I will have time to give it a good go
    With thanks to Chalicea and BD

    (PS Chalicea is the only Toughie setter that I am uncertain how the name is supposed to be pronounced – if anyone could enlighten me I would be grateful)

      1. Many thanks to Uncle G for the link.

        I really liked her naughtiest clue – “Short communication from abstainer full of piss (5)”

  7. Hi Patch,
    Have to say that I’m only familiar with the Cockney expression as being the first word of the answer followed by ‘fer’ but I suppose that had to come from somewhere!
    Hate to think of Elgar becoming a Friday regular – I think Mr Ed is having a laugh at our expense!

    I’ve met today’s setter on numerous occasions at the BD Birthday Bashes but confess that I still can’t answer your question – BD is probably the one who can. Could be Chalicea as in Melissa or the drinking cup followed by an ‘A’. I’d be just as interested as you to learn the truth.

  8. 1a had us scratching our heads for quite some time, mainly because we had carelessly bunged in ANTHOLOGY for 1d without checking the fodder. Not a quick solve for us but good fun all the way.
    Thanks Chalicea and BD.

  9. I enjoyed this one but had to check 17d as I wasn’t familiar with the term. Similarly I am now newly aware of Afghanistan’s currency. Favourite clue was 12a today. Thanks to all.

  10. As in the back page, the SW gave me a lot of trouble.
    Saw the answers quite clearly from the defs, but I didn’t know that nappier was excitable and that now means as things are.
    Didn’t know that steam was outdated either.
    No access to my BRB obviously.
    Thanks to BD for helping me understand these 3 clues.
    Thanks to Chalicea for the workout.

  11. Dear friends. Many thanks for all the comments. Yes, I agree, 10ac should be ‘beginning’. I don’t know how that slipped past testers and our Ed. No apologies for ‘tit’ though – I feel that a few rather racy and spicy exressions we hear every day should be tolerated in the crosswords we compile and solve. You would be surprised how many clues are rejected because they might offend one sub-group or another of our society, and I do attempt to push the limits back now and then. Many thanks to Big Dave, as always – I particularly appreciated the Sturgeon couple.
    Indeed, my pseudonym (one of about a dozen) is pronounced as ‘Chally see ya’ – at least, I think so – I’d add a smile if I knew how.

    1. Thanks for dropping in – a fine puzzle today
      To add smiley faces etc, just type a space, then a colon, then anything from
      smile – smiley :smile:
      oops – red face :oops:
      grin – big smile :grin:
      lol – a slightly creepy laughing :lol:
      good – thumbs up :good:
      negative – thumbs down :negative:
      wacko – rolly cartoon eyes :wacko:
      unsure – I dunno :unsure:
      roll – eyes rolling :roll:
      wink… you get the idea
      – then put another colon to finish/close the icon, ie :[word]: without the brackets
      See here for more. I’d like to see you smile
      Thanks again, Shall I see ya

    2. Many thanks for the clarification of the pronunciation of your pseudonym – I think I will remember it. I completely agree with you about (carefully) pushing at the limits of respectability/acceptability; the “tweet” example mentioned above was most amusing.

  12. I’m sure I’ll be last again but this took me two sessions having done the cryptic in between whilst having my dinner. I found this difficult but fair. Everything was gettable from the clues but like most I’d never heard of the excitable horse, I had to Google all sorts of variations of the word to find it and even watched a video on it, so I’ve certainly heard of it now. I’ve used the first word of 9a number of times myself to describe a twerp but didnt put the answer in until I’d got all the checkers. Favourite 28a. Enough of my rambling. Many thanks to Chalicea and BD.

  13. We’ve had no broadband since Monday lunchtime which has been very frustrating for a number of reasons, not least because I wasn’t able to say how delighted I was to have a Chalicea crossword that took a proper 1* Toughie time. Thanks to her and BD whose blog I will read once I’ve got through all my emails.

    We are promised delivery of a mini hub today so I should be able to fulfill my blogging duties tomorrow. Thanks in the meantime to SE Rail for their free WiFi

Comments are closed.