Toughie 2396 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2396

Toughie No 2396 by Kcit

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

Kcit has given us an actual proper 1* Toughie, my solving time falling nicely on the cusp between a 5* backpager and a 1* Toughie. There is quite a bit of ‘letter removing’ going on and I will admit to a small amount of literal and metaphorical head scratching while producing this review!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Approved bringing in teacher with sense (5-6)
CLEAR-HEADED A synonym for approved into which is inserted (bringing in) a teacher

7a    Costume article appearing in finale? Not quite (7)
CLOTHES A definite article inserted into (appearing in) not quite all of an ending (finale)

8a    Hard time avoiding requests for assistance? (7)
CALLOUS Remove the T for Time from some requests for assistance

10a    Inclination to offload first gem (5)
AMBER ‘Offload’ the first letter of an inclination, possibly of a road surface

11a    Stress? It is apparent in book’s heroine (9)
ITALICISE IT (from the clue) and IS (from the clue) inserted into (apparent in) the heroine of two books by Lewis Carroll

12a    Increase limits of radiotherapy for operation (7)
SURGERY A [sudden] increase followed by the limits of RadiotherapY

14a    New set probing aspect of Chinese philosophy will bear fruit (7)
TANGELO The abbreviation for New and a synonym for set ‘probe’ or get inside an aspect of Chinese philosophy

15a    Credit left will secure a home extension? (7)
CARPORT The abbreviation for credit and another word for the left side (of a ship) ‘secure’ A (from the clue)

18a    Carbon leads to more efficient detergent (7)
CLEANER The chemical symbol for Carbon leads or goes before an adjective meaning economical or more efficient

20a    Popular mix of fun and zeal is something very infectious (9)
INFLUENZA The usual two-letter way of saying popular and an anagram (mix) of FUN and ZEAL

21a    Ridiculed nameless organisation (3-2)
SET-UP Remove the abbreviation for Name (nameless) from another way of saying ridiculed

22a    Simple attitude shown by excellent sort of doctor in Tyneside area (7)
NAIVETE Insert an adjective meaning excellent or first class and an animal (sort of) doctor into the abbreviated area where Tyneside can be found

23a    Economy? British Minister heading off financial centre (7)
BREVITY The abbreviation for British, an abbreviated minister of the church followed by a financial centre without its ‘heading’ or first letter

24a    Determined to follow with eggs in essence (5-6)
NITTY-GRITTY An adjective meaning determined or uncompromising follows a way of saying with eggs – some crossword clues may require head scratching to parse, but this one literally induced head scratching as the first part of the solution reminded me of those letters from the boys’ school resulting in the need for a fine-toothed comb and some nasty lotion


1d    Sock or socks (inter alia)? (7)
CLOBBER A slang verb meaning to strike hard (as is sock) or a slang term for clothing, socks, amongst other things (inter alia) being an example

2d    Anaesthetic? I will avoid indication of options (5)
ETHER Leave out (avoid) the I in an indication of options

3d    I rush downhill, perhaps cutting through railway, taking a chance (7)
RISKILY I (from the clue) and a verb meaning to rush downhill ‘cutting’ through one of the abbreviations for railway

4d    Liking to give off soft charm (7)
ENCHANT Remove the letter used as a musical instruction to play softly from a liking or inclination for something

5d    Trifling group, united in support of Democrat (9)
DALLIANCE A united group goes after (in support of in a Down clue) the abbreviation for Democrat

6d    Compound Greek character inscribed in semiconductor (7)
DIOXIDE The fourteenth letter of the Greek alphabet inserted (inscribed) into a semiconductor allowing current to flow in only one direction round a circuit

7d    Education, possibly, is a special extended case (5,6)
CLASS ACTION An (unindicated) mostly US law term for a case taken by one or more persons on their own behalf and of that of others with the same grievance could, possibly, describe education

9d    What may provoke anger with s/h typo? (11)

13d    Eastern statue, perhaps, last of all to obscure Northern payment (9)
EMOLUMENT The abbreviation for Eastern and a memorial structure of which a statue, perhaps, is an example- the last letter of alL should obscure or take the place of the first abbreviation for Northern

16d    Sport — motor-racing — that’s embraced by supporter becoming rowdy (7)
RUFFIAN An abbreviated sport, the abbreviation for motor racing, the latter ’embraced’ by a supporter

17d    Fabric factory no longer ready, needing additional year (7)
TANNERY A slang term for an old coin (no longer ready [cash]) followed by the abbreviation for Year

18d    Marine creature, animal without a scale (7)
CLAMBER A nice misleading surface definition. A marine creature followed by a type of animal from which the A (without) has been removed gives us a verb meaning to scale in the sense of climb with difficulty

19d    Cut devastating figure in New York, in smart style (7)
NATTILY Truncate a historical devastating figure and insert into the abbreviation for New York

21d    Brushed last of dirt under tipped-up seats (5)
SWEPT The last letter of dirt goes under a reversal (tipped up in a Down clue) of some church seats

11 comments on “Toughie 2396

  1. Hmm. This was not difficult and a bit of a curate’s egg with lots of letter fiddling and some strange clues.

    1d reads very oddly. For me, the all-in-one 9d doesn’t really lead to the answer. In 5d, the answer is a noun and the definition an adjective. However the BRB, wrongly in my view, lists “trifling” as one of the meanings for the answer.

    Thanks to Kcit and to CS.

    1. I agree with your reservations about 9d but I think that 5d works if you consider trifling to be a gerund.

      1. Fair point, Gazza. I did think about that possibility but I couldn’t convince myself of a construction where you would use trifling as a gerund (except in a crossword, of course!) – it just seems a bit stilted.

  2. This puzzle had no obscure words (thumbs up from me) and was pretty easy – I found it very slightly harder than yesterday’s which in turn was very slightly harder than Tuesday’s. I agree with Rabbit Dave that it is a bit of a curates egg – I liked 24a but I hated 6d (to me there is a marked difference between a semiconductor and a semiconductor device but then a tin can is often called a tin)

    So the same pattern as last week seems to have emerged: quick, quick, quick, very slow. A Toughie and three practise days

    Thanks to Kcit and CS

  3. A puzzle without obscure words – and a puzzle without blanks for definitions – gets my thumbs up as well. I got on a whole lot better than I did yesterday, and consequently my enjoyment level was commensurately higher. I think 24a gets my vote for favourite. Many thanks to Kcit and crypticsue.

  4. I agree with CS that’s there was rather a lot of letter removing here.
    Fell into the trap with 18d as could only think of crabber which I didn’t like.
    Favourite? Has to be 20a. How refreshing to contemplate a different virus.
    Girding my loins for tomorrow. I hope it is not another Elgar as those are still way beyond me.
    Thanks to Kcit and CS

  5. Certainly the toughest Toughie of the week so far and not an obscurity in sight so enjoyable for me.
    My ticks went to 8a, 24a and 18d.
    Thanks to Kcit and CS.

  6. Lots to like here and we spent time on 17d thinking the definition was just the first word until the penny dropped.
    An enjoyable solve for us with a good level of difficulty.
    Thanks Kcit and CS.

  7. Staggered through this one but almost threw in the towel by the time I reached 6d! Maybe some of it was simply above my pay grade but I’m sure I’ve derived more enjoyment from Kcit’s puzzles in the past. Looking at earlier comments, some folk obviously appreciated the solve far more than I did – perhaps I’m still thinking of the handiwork of today’s back-page setter!

    Thanks to Kcit and apologies for not showing very much appreciation – and thanks also to CS for the review.

  8. Much to my surprise I got within 2 clues of an unaided finish before needing the hints to complete 14a & annoyingly 6d. Had never heard of the former so even the pic didn’t help (what did we ever do before the ability to ask Mr Google for fruits beginning with t).
    I thought this pretty challenging & for me it required a number of revisits but glad I stuck with it.
    Thanks to the setter & to CS – the letter removal comment in your preamble was most useful.

  9. 2*/4*….
    COD the topical 20A ” popular mix of fun and zeal is something very infectious (9) “

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