Toughie 2415 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2415

Toughie No 2415 by Hudson

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

I hope that you are all keeping safe in these increasingly scary times.

Hudson has given us a very entertaining puzzle which I enjoyed a lot. However, those solvers who have little knowledge of football and/or Hollywood actors may struggle with a few clues.

Thanks to Hudson for the entertainment.

One of the by-products of the lockdown seems to be that we are getting more comments on the Toughie blogs – do let that trend continue today and leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

7a Top-of-the-table game crowd left enthralled by Wales star (9)
BAGATELLE: a word for the paying spectators at a sporting event and the abbreviation for left are contained inside the surname of a star footballer (Gareth Bale) who plays for Wales and Real Madrid.

8a Exclusive odds about Bill’s partner? (5)
SCOOP: Bill’s partner is not Ben (which was my initial thought) but the verb that goes with bill in a phrase meaning to talk in a lovey-dovey manner. Put an abbreviation for betting odds around that.

10a Argue with socialite Matthew regularly spurned (6)
DEBATE: start with the abbreviated (and dated) word for a socialite “coming out” into society and add what’s left of Matthew after discarding regular letters.

11a 27 tormented in hell somewhere below the Alps (8)
PIEDMONT: put an anagram (tormented) of 27a inside a metaphor for hell to get the name of an Italian region at the foot of the Alps.

12a Writer acquiring street cafe (6)
BISTRO: the proprietary name of a writing implement contains the abbreviation for street.

14a Bird, fabulous bird, travelling west crossing over northern Germany (6)
CONDOR: reverse the name of a gigantic mythological bird which featured in The Arabian Nights and insert the crickety abbreviation for over, the abbreviation for northern and the IVR code for Germany.

16a Five overs left; England’s opener shows all the tricks! (4)
VOLE: string together the Roman numeral for five, the abbreviation for overs (as used in the previous clue), the abbreviation for left and the opening letter of England. I didn’t know this word which means taking all the tricks in some card games such as écarté.

17a Boycott, holding firm — this could be streaky (5)
BACON: a verb to boycott or prohibit contains the abbreviation for a firm.

18a Gutted — only got a point (4)
DREW: gutted here is a verb meaning eviscerated and the answer is used as in the phrase “hanged, drawn and quartered“. In football this means that a team only got a single point (other sports have different scoring rules).

19a All sorts going topless repeatedly around promenade (6)
STROLL: remove the initial letter from each of the first two words and reverse what remains.

21a Spirit drink knocked back in chaotic scene (6)
RUMPUS: knit together an alcoholic spirit and the reversal of a verb to drink.

24a Bloody best bitter bottles in Yorkshire beauty spot (8)
AIREDALE: there’s a bit of Yoda-speak here. Put a 2-letter abbreviation for best and another word for bitter beer round a synonym of bloody.

26a Part of Spitfire has hasty makeover (6)
REHASH: hidden in the clue.

27a Expert lecturer welcoming the writer back (5)
DEMON: a university lecturer contains the reversal of the objective form of the pronoun used by the writer to mean himself.

28a Tee off with 17d’s iron? (4,5)
BASE METAL: an anagram (off) of TEE and the answer to 17d.

Down Clues

1d Oasis fan arrived before the end of Wonderwall (5)
CAMEL: a synonym for arrived precedes the last letter of Wonderwall.

2d Bug a pirate’s mobile? (8)
PARASITE: an anagram (mobile) of A PIRATE’S.

3d Fed up with English court inadequacy (6)
DEFECT: reverse ‘fed’ and append abbreviations for English and court.

4d Sound made by coach and horse! (4)
CLOP: the sound made by a horse’s hooves on a hard surface is also a homophone of the surname of the current manager of Liverpool FC.

5d Nous avons choisi une maison en Normandie. First impressions? (6)
ACUMEN: the letters printed at the start of six consecutive words in the clue. How clever is that!

6d Heartless boatswain Channel port legally constrained (5,4)
BOUND OVER: join together one of the informal spellings of boatswain without its middle letter and a Channel port in Kent.

9d Light Tory slogan? (6)
BEACON: split the answer 2,1,3 to get what might be a Tory recruitment slogan.

13d Stretch limo that’s owned by 17d but not 17a? (5)
OSCAR: split 2,3 this could be a very large automobile. One of these was won by the 17d actor in 1966 but the 17a actor has never won one, in spite of being labelled as one of the best actors never to have been nominated.

15d Caught De Niro TV broadcast … rather forced (9)
CONTRIVED: the cricket abbreviation for caught followed by an anagram (broadcast) of DE NIRO TV.

17d Mum’s research facility set up medicinal product using resin (6)
BALSAM: weld together an affectionate word for one’s mum, the ‘S and an abbreviated place of research. Now reverse the lot.

18d Anything to feed the German girl? (8)
DAUGHTER: an archaic word meaning anything is placed inside one of the German definite articles.

20d Shakespearean king bestowing honour on naked crone (6)
OBERON: an honour or award precedes the inner letters of crone.

22d Kill lots of black birds (6)
MURDER: the collective term for crows.

23d Paper reported downsizing of Brownshirts (5)
ESSAY: this sounds like the abbreviation for Hitler’s Brownshirts, the Sturmabteilung.

25d Invented cheese? (4)
EDAM: something invented or fabricated is **** up.

I ticked 7a, 8a, 5d and 13d. Which one(s) earned your applause?

27 comments on “Toughie 2415
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  1. I wouldn’t say I had an awful lot of knowledge of footballers, their coaches and/or Hollywood actors but I didn’t have any problems solving this very enjoyable Hudson crossword which unusually for one of his actually took a time on my Toughie spectrum (dare I say 2* difficulty? ;) ).

    Thanks to Hudson for the 4* enjoyment my particular favourites were 4d (for the d’oh moment) and 1d. Anyone else look at 8d and try to fit in Ben?? [Note to self: read blog before finishing off comment] Thanks to Gazza for the review

  2. The second outstanding puzzle of the day! This was a nicely challenging Toughie and a lot of fun.

    Like Gazza, I flirted with Ben as Bill’s partner, and I even thought about Hillary before the penny dropped. Although I got the definition and answer to 4d I was completely foxed by the coach in the wordplay.

    My podium choices were 7a, 8a, 1d, 5d & 13d. It was also nice to see a clever new take on the old chestnut in 25d.

    Many thanks to Hudson and to Gazza.

  3. Really enjoyed this one. Nice mix of easy, tougher and very clever clues. My favourites 4d, 25d and particularly 5d ( loved the use of nous here).

  4. I think the Hudson puzzles are getting better and better. This was great. I completely missed the Liverpool coach, duh, and it took me a while to realise who 17d was. Loved the Oasis fan and loads more. Thanks Hudson and thanks Gazza as always

  5. I’m in the consensus so far. Good fun puzzle with a few clues to challenge the otherwise steady progress.
    16a had to be what it is but I wasn’t familiar with the definition until enlightened by the BRB. The star for me is 5d – a brilliant ruse to disguise the definition. Agree with RD re 25d and, despite the Yodaspeak, I liked the alliteration in 24a as well as the smooth surface.

    Thanks Hudson & Gazza.

  6. Left side (apart from 16a) slotted in far more readily than the right – quite a few stretches required over there.
    Yes – I tried very hard to get Ben into 8a and my lack of football knowledge left me wondering about 18a – do both teams get a point in that instance?
    16a was a new but welcome addition to the memory bank, hope it resides there for longer than often proves to be the case!
    5d scores the points here with a commendation for the amazing bird.

    Thanks to Hudson and to Gazza for the review.

    1. When I was growing up football teams got 2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. At some stage (in an attempt to encourage more attacking play) this was changed to 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw.

      1. Thank you, Gazza. Never imagined that the points scored for kicking around a ball of whatever shape would come to play such an important part in my life!

  7. Hudson is definitely becoming one of my favourite setters.
    Although, like others, I didn’t get the connection in 4d, I stopped at the definition in the BRB.
    I first thought there was a typo in 13d as the letter O appears in 17a and not in 17d. Great misdirection.
    Favourite 5d.
    Thanks to Hudson (je t’aime, moi non plus) and to Gazza.

  8. I thought 5d was brilliant. Far and away my COTD
    This blog Is coming earlier in the day. A side effect of the horrid virus? If so, a very welcome one.

    1. I’m not sure what you mean about the blog timing – unless you haven’t switched to BST yet? :D
      We’ve always aimed to get the Toughie blog published at 2pm.

      1. Somehow, before this, I only received it about 4 p.m. Not to worry, I think the blog is brilliant whatever time I access it and I’m so grateful for the effort you all put into it. Take a bow!

  9. Well I go somewhat against the consensus above! I think of it as a general knowledge crossword with a bit of cryptic thrown in. I knew enough of the required knowledge to finish with a couple of guesses. But I don’t like such puzzles. The Hollywood stuff (of which I know little) was not needed to finish the puzzle but I found it disconcerting and it took me a while to see the anagram in 28a. There were several other things I did not know. The cryptic side seemed pretty easy when GK did not interfere.
    I believe it is a beam puzzle tomorrow which is bound to be more to my liking

  10. I missed out on18A but the penny did drop on 5D eventually. 10A was a new word to me but the clue was readily solvable.Lots to like here. My picks are 7A and 22D Thanks Hudson and Gazza.

  11. I do like a Hudson puzzle. It’s been solved in little bursts between bouts of gardening, wallpapering, drinking cider and baiting Saint Sharon. I’m not finished yet but not far to go. Thanks to all involved

  12. The gloss was rather taken off this for us by the GK required. For 24a we worked out that RINEDALE fitted the checkers and wordplay perfectly. Google found us a RYEDALE that fitted the definition but not the grid so we did ponder an alternate spelling before we started looking further afield. With 4d, as it is a homophone even Google was no help. We did know the rest of the GK though.
    Thanks Hudson and Gazza.

  13. This is the first Hudson Toughie I’ve attempted, and, with a bit of electronic aid, I managed to answer all but two: 18a (I never would have worked that one out, I fear) and 28a (which I really should have seen was essentially an anagram). Early on, I struggled somewhat with 11a, 24a, and 23d, but some electronic gifts saved me there, and I solved 7a from the clue even without knowing Gareth Bale. I thought this quite a challenge but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I look forward to more of Mr Hudson! Thank you, Gazza, for the excellent review and Mr H for this brilliant display. Winners: about twelve of them! ***** / ****

    1. I quickly thought of MB as Mr Arbogast in Hitchcock’s Psycho and knew that he had won a Supporting Actor Oscar somewhere along the way, but I had to Google to remember A Thousand Clowns. I really should have confessed earlier that I solved 16a only from the clue, knowing nothing about ecarte, etc., nor did I know Coach C of Liverpool–but I do know some horsey sounds. And finally: the special British use of ‘nous’ just dawned on me!! How wonderful is that for that villa I wish I had in Normandy, maybe the COTYear.

  14. Thank you Gazza for the very generous review and thanks to those who have been kind enough to leave a comment. I understand the objections to the amount of GK in my puzzles. I like the idea of introducing GK sometimes if it offers an alternative way of clueing something that’s been around the block a few times, and I must admit that my puzzles in another outlet (thank you, Jean-Luc!) are positively rammed with it. It wasn’t my specific intention to use multiple football references when I filled the grid and I only noticed the Bacon/Balsam/Oscar shtick while I was writing the clues. I’ll always defer to the editor’s judgement wrt the GK content – rest assured he has used the secateurs more than once.
    Warmest regards to all from the Black Forest and I hope everyone stays safe and well during these awful times.
    Rob/Hudson

  15. Although I needed Gazza’s excellent hints for a couple, and to explain a couple that I biffed, it didnt detract from my enjoyment or appreciation of this excellent puzzle. I thought 1d and particularly 5d were brilliant. I also liked the clever 13 and 25d, so many thanks to both Hudson and Gazza for the evening’s entertainment.

  16. Thanks to Hudson and to Gazza for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much. Managed to get the two actors. There was a lot I’d never heard of, but it was good to pick up some knowledge. Is 8a an Americanism? Needed 9 hints to finish. Was 5*/3* for me.

    1. I don’t think that scoop is an Americanism. It’s been around for some time as an exclusive news story and was used by Evelyn Waugh as the title of a novel.

  17. I usually finish Hudson but this had me fooled-particularly 18 across and 23 down. I was however very pleased to get 5D which is by far the best clue I’ve come across in years of Cryptic practice. Simply brilliant.

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