Toughie 2406 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2406

Toughie No 2406 by Serpent

Hints and tips by Big Dave

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment *

I’m sorry Serpent, but when there are several clues where your reaction on solving is to suck on your teeth rather than to smile then that usually means that you haven’t enjoyed the puzzle, which was the case for me here. I hope others enjoyed it more than I did.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    They are thorny problems, regularly treated with balm (8)
BRAMBLES: an anagram (treated) of the even letters (regularly) of PROBLEMS with BALM

5a    Homeless tile fitter for whom living is a daily grind? (6)
MILLER: start with a “tile” or hat fitter and drop the IN (home-less)

9a    One has permission to tell story about moving scene (8)
LICENSEE: a verb meaning to tell a story or fib around an anagram (moving) of SCENE

10a    Short shock succeeded in part of London (6)
BARNES: most of (short) a shock of hair in Cockney rhyming slang (—— fair) followed by S(ucceeded)

12a    Exaggerate the effect of a stereo TV broadcast (9)
OVERSTATE: an anagram (broadcast) of A STEREO TV

13a    See 4 Down

14a    African country ceding eastern border and west African capital (4)
RAND: start with an African country and drop its right-hand letter (eastern border) and W(est) – capital here means money not a city

16a    Strange omen, warning to go over first (7)
FOREIGN: start with an omen and replace its initial letter (first) with a warning issues by an errant golfer

19a    Fruit bats primarily employ geolocating sonar (7)
ORANGES: an anagram (bats) of the initial letters (primarily) E[mploy] and G[eolocating] with SONAR

21a    Escape mechanism used for shutting down quickly (4)
BOLT: three definitions

24a    Place where builder of dam constructs masonry? (5)
LODGE: two definitions – a home for an animal that is famous for its dam building activities and a building

25a    What helps one handle things just out of range? (4,5)
OVEN GLOVE: this range is an Aga or similar!

27a    I’m annoyed about putting company before individual (6)
CONRAD: the reversal (about) of a four-letter word meaning I’m annoyed preceded by CO(mpany) gives a man’s name

28a    Viewer’s complaint about something done on pitch (8)
CATARACT: this problem (complaint) with the eye (viewer) is derived from the two-letter Latin abbreviation for about and something that has been done, the latter preceded by (on in an across clue) some pitch

29a    Case worker is someone who likes to abstain from drink (6)
PORTER: I fail to see how someone who carries your cases at, for example, a hotel or railway station can also be someone who abstains from this dark brown malt liquor, unless you think of someone who passes a different alcoholic drink without partaking

30a    Tory backing socialist is deliberate (8)
CONSIDER: A Tory followed by the reversal (backing) of a socialist and the IS from the clue


1d    Sound wanting almost everything expelled from lungs? (6)
BELLOW: I’m sure there must be more to this, but by the time I had entered the answer and been told it was correct I had lost all interest

2d    Who pulls strings when attempting to hit targets? (6)
ARCHER: a cryptic definition of someone who fires arrows at a target

3d    Places to deposit flower containers (5)
BANKS: a river (flower) is “contained” by these

4d / 13a    Learned exterior of rare gem might appear thus (7,5)
EMERALD GREEN: an anagram (might appear) of LEARNED R[ar]E and GEM

6d    Opening and middle sections of final fugue really used in alternation (9)
INAUGURAL: the internal letters (middle sections) of two words in the clue followed by the odd letters (used in alternation) of the next word

7d    Shot girlie magazine’s ‘ultimate pair’ in sexy underwear (8)
LINGERIE: an anagram (shot) of GIRLIE with the final two letters of (‘ultimate pair’ in) [magazi]NE

8d    Ringing about issue with social worker (8)
RESONANT: a two-letter word meaning about followed by an issue or child and a social worker insect

11d    Identity of Santa’s top little helper (4)
SELF: the initial letter (top) of S[anta] followed by one of his little helpers

15d    Get garage to make new arrangement for collection of parts (9)
AGGREGATE: an anagram (to make new arrangement) of GET GARAGE

17d    Bookmaker’s size deceives better (8)
FOOLSCAP: a verb meaning deceives followed by one meaning to better

18d    Bogarde nervelessly tackles character vital to the plot? (8)
GARDENER: hidden (tackles) inside the clue – this plot is cultivated land

20d    Evidence of interference close to election seen in broadcast (4)
SNOW: the final letter of (close to) [election]N inside a verb meaning to broadcast seeds

21d    Grumble a great deal, but not entirely cross (7)
BEEFALO: a verb meaning to grumble or complain followed by the A from the clue and most of (not entirely) a large amount (great deal)

22d    Fishing dispute lowering demand initially for chicken (6)
COWARD: start with an old fishing dispute between the UK and Iceland (3,3) and move the initial letter of D[emand) to the end (lowering)

23d    Put off by lines on the right-hand side (6)
DEXTER: the mathematical symbol for “by” inside (lines) a verb meaning to put off

26d    Natural product that’s a must for green shopper (5)
GRASS: two definitions – an essential for any green, such as a village green and someone who betrays

Better luck next time!


27 comments on “Toughie 2406

  1. 29a someone who likes is a SUPPORTER – Remove or ‘abstain’ from the SUP (drink) and you get a ‘case worker’

    1d Almost (wanting) all of BELLOWs (one of the definitions in the BRB is ‘the lungs’ ) gives us a sound

  2. I was expecting a rarely spotted actual Toughie on a Tuesday when I saw Serpent’s name on the list and so it proved to be. Solving it and parsing it took me well into 4* difficulty and I did enjoy the rare chance for a crossword battle

    Thanks to Serpent and BD

  3. It was a bit of a shock to be faced by this one on a Tuesday but I did enjoy the struggle. Thanks to Serpent and BD.

    I understood all the clues except for 1d – I found in the BRB that the plural of the answer means lungs and I can more or less see the wordplay to get from bellows to bellow but I can’t work out what ‘expelled’ is doing there.

    My ticks went to 21a, 25a, 28a and 22d.

  4. On my plodders scale of difficulty I found this one to be relatively straightforward (no obscurities), although in the Toughie bracket, and I would give it 2* on my Toughie scale. By comparison I tried the Guardian puzzle and found that much harder due to the heavy use of general knowledge that had to be dragged out of long abandoned areas of memory.
    I dislike clues of the type seen in 27a as it fails to leave the solver (more accurately an “on paper” solver like me) a feeling he has got it right. I stuck in the answer as the least unlikely as I could parse it provided “individual” was a name. I now think I parsed 1d wrongly – I had assumed “Bel” as “sound” (decibel is more common) and “Low” for “wanting” with the answer defined as a significant expulsion of the lungs. At least it got the answer!
    With thanks to Serpent and BD

  5. That was quite tough but doable.
    I do like when definitions are more than just one word and with all these double defs, I was more than satisfied.
    Not usually keen on cryptic clues but the one in 25a was rather good.
    6d favourite for it’s construct and the fact that the other day on French TV, a fantastic explanation of how Mozart’s Jupiter symphony was built up using JS Bach fugue for the finale with 4 themes used in alternation and all combined together to give us a splendid finish.
    Thanks to Serpent. I’ve printed a couple of your Indy crosswords in this time of great boredom.
    Thanks to BD for the review.

  6. Thanks Serpent

    I liked a lot of this, especially the surfaces – including 12a (though i wasn’t sure if “the effect of” was mainly for surface), 19a, 24a, 25a, 30a, 4d/13a, 7d, 15d, 22d and more.

    Thanks CS for solving the drinking abstainer mystery. I also don’t think I parsed 1d – I mean I didn’t.

    many thanks BD

  7. Think I’ll have to resign myself to never finding Serpent’s wavelength. I resorted to all manner of guesswork and electronic aids to fill the grid (bar a blank at 27a) but can’t pretend to have completely parsed all my answers.
    Of the ones I managed on my own, I picked 25a plus 11&15d for podium places.

    Certainly a challenge, Serpent, and thanks to BD for the very necessary explanations.

  8. I guess Gazza is on the right track here – bellows=lungs (chambers)

    you could say both you want almost all the letters from that
    or you want almost all the letters expelled from that, though this clearly caters (unnecessarily?) to the surface

  9. Many thanks for BD for the blog. I’m sorry you didn’t find much to enjoy in the puzzle. And thanks to everyone who has taken the time to solve and comment, especially to CS for clarifying the parsing of PORTER. Thanks also to Harold for pointing out the ghost theme, exemplified by 16 symmetrically positioned grid entries.

    I thought I’d clear up the intended parsing of 1a: the entire clue is intended to be both wordplay and definition; the wordplay is BELLOWS – S(ound), indicated by “sound wanting almost everything”.

  10. A curate’s egg for me, which, if I remember correctly, was my comment last time I tried a Serpent puzzle. I enjoyed parts but had quite a few hmms. Similarly I found parts quite straightforward to solve and parts very tough. Thanks to Serpent and to BD.

  11. A tough Tuesday for me, which even after a break for my one permitted walk outdoors, I couldn’t finish.
    First answer in, 14a, was wrong (Malawi / Mali) which never helps!
    Some parts went in easily, others I struggled with and even when correct I couldn’t parse them without Big Dave’s help..
    As ever, missed all the authors but I did like 25a.
    Many thanks to Serpent and Big Dave

  12. A Toughie on a Tuesday. Whatever next. I found it a bit of a plod but doable. I’m sure that had I spotted the number of authors I may have finished more quickly. Ta to all.

  13. A Toughie on a Tuesday. Whatever next. I found it a bit of a plod but doable. I’m sure that had I spotted the number of authors I may have finished more quickly. Ta to all.

    1. Thank you serpent for a tough (imho) toughie. I usually waltz through, or give up after about three clues, knowing I’ll never get it, but my score here was: romped through the top half, struggled through the bottom half, help needed for 14 & 27; got 1d completely wrong (balloon? And why not? Apart from it’s too long to fit…) Ta to BD too.

  14. I didn’t do very well, I’m afraid. Even with electronic help, I didn’t finish. Even missed the lurker. This is the first Serpent I’ve ever tried so I hope to do better next time. And “DARN!” it, I am so annoyed that that individual escaped me, but I think Nostromo would have been easier. Podium: 1d, 21d, 23d. Thanks to Serpent and, well, you too, Big Dave.

  15. We totally missed the theme and really struggled with this one. Perhaps we would not have got as grumpy as we did with 27a if we had realised the probability of an author being involved.
    Thanks Serpent and BD.

  16. I finished this this morning, hence the late post. I parsed 24a slightly differently. I don’t think that ‘masonry’ refers to a building but to a Masonic lodge.

    1. Thanks, Mac, I meant to say something about 24a when I posted yesterday: it is indeed intended to be a triple definition, with “masonry?” a somewhat cryptic reference to a masonic lodge.

  17. I have decided that whenever in the future the Tuesday Toughie is set by Serpent, I will not be attempting to solve it and will, if possible, find a replacement blogger.

  18. Well, it’s taken days, and I still failed, although the top half was so much easier than the bottom. Enjoyed it overall, but don’t like 27a at all, and not sure 23d really works, even now I’ve seen “x” to mean “lines” (and I’ll take your word for that). 29a a standout, and it took ages to see, but has made me thirsty!

    1. Well, Whybird I began this late last night and filled the north-west answers in before falling asleep, but its taken me on and off until now (14.04 Sunday) to complete it. I needed several of BD’s parsings along the way, but 21 down was my sole cheat – a totally new beast to me, I must check with our butcher to see if he can source any ;-) All good fun and it helped to occupy part of another day of incarceration at home. Thanks Serpent and BD.

Comments are closed.