Toughie 2404 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2404

Toughie No 2404 by Messinae

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

This took me exactly the same time to solve as the inside back-pager and so, for me anyway, that crossword’s 4.5* rating equates to a Toughie rating of 1* for this one. Some nice misleading surface readings. I seem to have typed the word ‘anagram’ a lot as I prepared the review so the anagram lovers will be pleased

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Masters of theological concept (8,3)
ORIGINAL SIN Masters (eg a film or music) from which copies are made and a preposition meaning in

9a    Craft makes one second turn round port (7)
ORIGAMI There’s been a lot of this craft in Crosswordland recently – indeed, solvers who did today’s inside backpager first may have experienced some déjà-vu. A reversal (turn around) of I (one) and an informal term for a small period of time (second) put round the port that is the capital of Latvia

10a    Sleazy alley having no pubs (6)
TAWDRY This alley is an item used in a game of marbles and the first part of the solution is a large or choice marble; the second part of the solution refers to a situation where there are no pubs or other sources of liquid refreshment

12a    My face is friendly (7)
CORDIAL An informal interjection of surprise (my) and a face

13a    Arrogance of hot film director (7)
HAUTEUR The abbreviation for hot and a film director, possible one thought of as the creator of a particular genre

14a & 15a No tsunami perhaps in range of North America (5,9)
ROCKY MOUNTAINS This is one of those clues where an anagram (perhaps) of NO TSUMANI follows an anagram indicator

15a    See 14a    

17a    I hit boxer brawling in shower (9)
EXHIBITOR An anagram (brawling) of I HIT BOXER [nice misleading surface reading]

20a    Routine combining house and funk (2-3)
HO-HUM Combine an abbreviation for house and a strong unpleasant smell (funk)

22a    Star to record piece of music (7)
CANOPUS The brightest star most easily visible in the Southern Hemisphere – a verb meaning to record music in advance followed by a piece of music

24a    A light entertainer initially mobbed by press in a flap (7)
AILERON A (from the clue) and the initial letters of Light and Entertainer, the latter ‘mobbed’ by a verb meaning to press

25a    Director of Argo? (6)
TILLER Something that directs or steers a ship such as the Argo

26a    Eluding stray pet (7)
INDULGE  An anagram (stray) of ELUDING produces a verb meaning to pamper (pet)

27a    Arrange routine with hop and rag dancing (11)
CHOREOGRAPH A routine followed by an anagram (dancing) of HOP and RAG


2d    I try ale brewed with such quality (7)
REALITY An anagram (brewed) of I TRY ALE

3d    I catch fish taking craft round lake on test (9)
GUILLEMOT Some cunning or craft goes round the abbreviation for Lake and is then followed by the test your car needs annually

4d    Jag failing to be champion (5)
NOTCH Split your synonym for jag or slash 3,2 and you’ll get a word meaning failing to be and the abbreviation for champion

5d    The French comedian entertains us, mounting action (7)
LAWSUIT The French female definite article and a comedian (wit) ‘entertaining’ a reversal (mounting) of US (from the clue)

6d    King intervenes in vehicle to save priest from Jerusalem? (7)
ISRAELI The abbreviation for king is inserted into (intervenes) an abbreviated savings account (vehicle to save) and is followed by an Old Testament priest

7d    Fellow feeling ready to support Tory (11)
CONCURRENCY Another word for money (ready) supports (or goes beneath in a Down solution) the abbreviation for the Tory party

8d    Element recalled almost intense type of acid (6)
NITRIC A reversal (recalled) of a metallic element followed by almost all of a synonym for intense

11d    One proverbially freezing supports sign of warmth round New Year (5,6)
BRASS MONKEY Crosswordland’s usual ‘supports’ and a sign of warmth ‘around’ the abbreviation for New, the result followed with the abbreviation for year

16d    Less eager to change are ruined (9)
UNREADIER An anagram (to change) of ARE RUINED

18d    Barbarous, like a 25a by the sound of it (7)
HUNNISH If you say A (from the clue) and the solution to 25a out loud (by the sound of it) you should see the link between that and a synonym for barbarous. The question is ‘did you groan, sigh or smile when you realised what the wordplay was on about?’

19d    Parboil for cooking in two ways (7)
BIPOLAR An anagram (for cooking) of PARBOIL

20d    Fugitive has last piece of treasure taken in robbery (5-2)
HOLED-UP Insert the last ‘piece’ of treasurE into a robbery

21d    Injury allowed to cut short career (6)
HURTLE Career here being a verb meaning to rush – a type of injury and a truncated (cut short) way of saying allowed

23d    Kind of motor run through lesser voltage (5)
SERVO We finish with a lurker to be found in lesSER VOltage.   I will admit to spending a moment or two wondering what a lesser voltage might be and what sort of motor I’d get if I inserted the abbreviation for Run into it but, as the rules say, ‘when in doubt, look for a lurker’!


My favourite clue was 18d because it did make me laugh out loud when I realised the connection with 25a

20 comments on “Toughie 2404

  1. I thought this was brilliant with ticks all over the place. Hard enough to pick podium places to but i’ll go for 14/15a, 11d and 24a and make 11d my favourite. Needed google to check the star and nearly lost my marbles trying to parse 10a. As for the reaction to 18d – another big smile for me. Overall (on my method consistently applied to all puzzles) 3*/5*. Many thanks to Messina and CS.

    Now out to see what the greengrocer and the butcher have!

  2. I enjoyed this and found it more challenging in parts than CS.

    The meaning of “alley” in 10a was new to me, and I had a little hmm about about “in” being a synonym of “of” in 1a. I had a slightly bigger hmm about “quality” defining the answer to 2d (they are actually antonyms when used in the context of television programmes! :wink: )

    18d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Messinae and to CS.

  3. I must admit to being surprised at CS’s equating this one’s difficulty to that of the Ray T (which I thought was easier than usual). On the other hand I thought this one had some sneaky clues – if the ‘average’ difficulty for Toughies is 3* then I’d give this one 3.5.

    In answer to the query on 18d it elicited a long-suffering groan from me – it doesn’t work for anyone able to pronounce the letter R, IMO.

    I enjoyed the puzzle (though 16d is a horrible word!). I discovered that I can’t spell 24a.

    Top clues for me were 2d (for the real ale allusion), 6d (for the ‘vehicle to save’) and 21d (for the clever use of ‘career’).
    Thanks to Messinae and CS.

  4. Well, I’m grumpy – mostly because I ended up failing on four on the left hand edge. It all started with the ‘director’ in 25a where I considered the correct answer, and promptly dismissed it because I thought it was too vague (even with the question mark). Consequently I did not stand a chance with 18d (I am not a fan of interconnected clues like this – especially ones that intersect on the grid). I didn’t know the star in 22a, and while I had the piece of music I wasn’t able to come up with the required ‘record’. I was also on the right track in 7d, but again dismissed it because I didn’t think ‘fellow feeling’ really fitted the definition, but in truth, I missed the ‘ready’ part of the wordplay. If you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to go off and have a little sulk.

  5. Sorry to disagree with CS’s rating but finding this much tougher than the back page Ray T. Have currently ground to a halt after 15 answers but shall resist throwing in the towel & resorting to the review. Annoyingly am also 4 short in the SE corner of today’s cricketing cryptic in the Grauniad

  6. I found this puzzle rather like yesterday’s where it seemed back page like except for the SW corner. Today I need to add 10a to the problem list with its double obscurity known only to keen players of marbles. Sorting out the SW corner was quite good fun. I don’t think I have come across 18d as a word before (although Atilla is familiar enough) but the way 18d and 25a were used together was very clever. So overall I found it to be a fun Toughie with many good clues and one dreadful clue
    With thanks to Messinae and CS

  7. I also found this quite difficult, and it took me 4 times longer than the back page RayT, which I romped through in a tad over 1* time.

    Thanks to Messinae and to CS.

  8. Well two , or three excellent crosswords today if you include the quickie .
    Just completed the toughie which was a **/**** for me. Liked IId when the penny dropped
    I liked 18d and my favourite too, last in was 1a -I needed the checking letters-thanks to Crypticsue for the explanation which eluded me.
    Fed up with the ‘curfew’ so took the Ducati out for some some fresh air !

  9. 23 down amused me, because ” run through” was my terminology for lurker before I discovered this fount of all crossword wisdom. I imagine lot’s of others used the same term, because ” it does exactly what it says on the tin”.

  10. Think I could have solved several Mr T back-pagers in the time this one took and I have an aversion to answers that I don’t view as ‘real’ words – 16&18d in this instance.
    Having said that, I liked the simple 12a and my favourite was the 3d fisherman. Nice to see a pic of the attractive black variety.

    Thanks to Messinae and to CS for the review.

  11. Nice and steady progress led me to completion.
    Liked the brevity of the clues.
    Got 25a from 18d but these were my last ones in.
    Lots of great clues.
    Thanks to Messinae and to CS.

  12. Found this tough going especially the SW quadrant with 7d and 22a remaining unsolved until I consulted the hints. Like others the parsing of 10a also eluded me. I enjoyed the struggle and think this was well worthy of toughie status. Thanks to CS for the hints and to Messinae for a great puzzle.

  13. We got held up with 7d. CONCORDANCE was a perfect fit for the checkers we had at that time and the definition. Had to re-think when it didn’t fit with 17a but still took a while to see the correct answer. Certainly much more difficult than a one star solve for us, more like Gazza’s rating. Still chuckling over 11d.
    Thanks Messinae and CS.

  14. Thought I would have a go and surprised myself. Only tried the Toughie once before so was pleased to get half of it without help. The rest needed the hints but I still managed to finish without uncovering too many answers. For reasons unknown, I read “Africa” for “America” in 14 & 15 across so had a completely different mountain range.

    I must have a go at a few more Toughies.

    Thank you Messinae for the puzzle and Cryptic Sue for the much needed hints.

  15. Pleased to see so many appreciative comments from solvers here. CS seems to be in a minority of one regarding level of difficulty!

    1. Thank you for the puzzle. As I said above, I rarely tackle the Toughie but was encouraged by how far I got with your offering. I love the fact that parsing is more in depth than the back pager. It will take me some time to get into the swing but after today I will tackle every Toughie.

  16. I did not venture out today for the paper version and so was toughieless. But there is a delightful online crossword by Boatman in the Guardian.

  17. Finally nearly finished after numerous revisits. Needed the hints for 1a & 25a (18d then gettable – very clever)
    The 23d lurker required confirmation from Mr Google & I pressed reveal for 22a (never heard of)
    That was a proper Toughie in my book……..

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