Toughie 2419 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2419

Toughie No 2419 by Messinae

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

I’ve given this puzzle four stars for difficulty because although I didn’t have any great difficulty in coming up with the right answers I did struggle to understand the full ramifications of a few clues (notably 19a and 27a).

I did enjoy most of the clues (mainly the ones where my scientific and golf knowledge was not found wanting). Thanks to Messinae.

Do leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a Cans with rings on top (10)
HEADPHONES: a verb meaning rings or calls follows a synonym of top.

6a Staunch scientific subjects (4)
STEM: double definition. I’d not heard of the acronym for scientific subjects and it’s not in the BRB so I had to consult Collins to find out that it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

9a Researcher has job over in Washington (7)
POSTDOC: I’d never heard of this informal term either (I’m not doing too well, so far) – it’s used for someone who’s already gained a DSc, say, and is doing research. Stick together a synonym for job or appointment and the location of Washington (the capital city, not the state) containing the crickety abbreviation for over.

10a Temporary feature of football (7)
PASSING: double definition.

12a See 26 Across

14a Check mate for Eeyore? (6)
ASSESS: two meanings, the second a cryptic definition of a male donkey’s mate.

15a I’d return rolls to get butter in (8)
INTRUDER: an anagram (rolls) of I’D RETURN.

17a Recording established in Slough base (8)
CASSETTE: insert an adjective meaning established or fixed into a verb to slough or shed and the letter used for the base in logarithms.

19a Predecessor of SI encapsulated by metres and things like that (6)
METRIC: the name of the international system of units used prior to the introduction of SI units is an adjective relating to metres and similar. I’ve a feeling that there’s more to this than I can see – can any scientist help? Thanks to Malcolm R, Taking 5 and CS for explaining that the answer comes from the abbreviation for metres followed by ‘etc’ (things like that) containing R (the predecessor to S) and I.

22a Crazy Magpies choir’s making earth-shaking records (13)
SEISMOGRAPHIC: an anagram (crazy) of MAGPIES CHOIR’S.

24a They may learn to operate as groups of three (7)
INTERNS: a word for trainee doctors means made up of groups of three when it’s split 2,5.

25a Overwhelming force gripping North America, I have to retreat (7)
TSUNAMI: reverse ‘I have to’ (1,4) and insert abbreviations for North and America.

26a/12a Work could produce gloominess in monks (4,8,5)
KING SOLOMON’S MINES: this adventure novel by Rider Haggard is an anagram (could produce) of GLOOMINESS IN MONKS.

27a Early KP’s to burst into this? (10)
STROKEPLAY: the simple bit of this clue is to work out that the answer is an anagram (burst) of EARLY KP’S TO. It took me a lot longer to find that KP is a ‘closest to the pin’ contest on 3-par holes in golf – why is it KP rather than CP I hear you ask (nobody knows!) – so I’m assuming the surface means that the answer can incorporate such a contest. If you’ve read this far through the hint you’ll have realised that I’m stuck in a bunker here – can any golfer help? Ignore all that rubbish – it’s nothing to do with golf. Thanks to Rabbit Dave and others for pointing out that KP is the batsman Kevin Pietersen and that the surface relates to his becoming an attacking batsman,

Down Clues

1d Massive build-up of earthy peat (4)
HYPE: hidden in the clue.

2d Provides backing musicians but no leader (7)
ASSISTS: guitarists without their first letter.

3d What could transport adept dealers round Mississippi primarily? (6,7)
PADDLE STEAMERS: an anagram (could transport) of ADEPT DEALERS containing the first letter of Mississippi.

4d Maker of razor with unknown alloy (6)
OCCAMY: this is a silvery alloy. I didn’t know that but I did know the name of the chap who formulated the principle known as Occam’s Razor. Append one of the algebraic unknowns.

5d The power of mathematics (8)
EXPONENT: cryptic definition of the power to which a given number is raised.

7d Watered-down like some cheap beer served round hotel (7)
THINNED: a description of how some cheap beer (bought in a supermarket perhaps) is served contains the letter that hotel is used for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet. Did anyone else try to make characters 3-5 of the answer be the hotel?


8d Birds pecking one with tip of their sharp beaks (10)
MAGISTRACY: a short form of the name of black-and-white birds contains the Roman numeral for one. Follow that with the first letter of ‘their’ and an adjective meaning sharp or zestful.

11d Old record store certain others dubiously exploit (8,5)
SOMERSET HOUSE: this is the building in London where all birth, marriage and death records for England and Wales used to be housed. Bring together a determiner meaning certain, an anagram (dubiously) of OTHERS and a verb to exploit.

13d Very slender support for striker (10)
MATCHSTICK: double definition, although there’s a considerable overlap. The first describes very slender people or objects such as Lowry’s characters.

16d Scenery that should not change over centuries (5,3)
STAGE SET: the direction to leave something unchanged in an item of text contains a word meaning centuries or long periods of time.

18d In tennis, unsuccessfully hit Henman’s returns, losing to love! (7)
SMITTEN: a verb meaning make an unsuccessful hit in tennis is followed by Mr Henman’s abbreviated forename plus the S. The whole lot then gets reversed,

20d Island venue for Bill ‘Aley fans? (7)
ROCKALL: an island that we all tend to know only from the Shipping Forecast could, when split 4,3, be the Cockney version of where Bill Haley’s type of music might be played.

21d Players run out in famous red (6)
CASTRO: knit together a word for all the players in an artistic production and the cricket abbreviation for ‘run out’.

23d 54 year old historian (4)
LIVY: the Roman numerals for 54 and the abbreviation for year give us the name of a Roman historian.

I ticked 1a, 14a, 8d and 21d. Which one(s) did you like?

34 comments on “Toughie 2419
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  1. I managed to fill the grid, but a few were bung-ins. I didn’t know 9a, 4d (razor or alloy) or 23d. I still don’t understand the ‘three’ in 24a.

    But if Gazza thinks this is ****, then I will be happy for the rest of the day.

    Thanks to he and Messinae

  2. I found this pretty tough and it was very much of a curate’s egg for me in terms of enjoyment.

    Why does “tinned” = “cheap beer” in 7d? I can’t match the part of the speech of the definition for 22a to the answer. 4d is very obscure. The surface of 27a is utterly bizarre – Gazza, I think KP refers to the cricketer Kevin Pietersen.

    I can’t see any more to 19a than Gazza and if that’s the case it’s not a good clue.

    I did like 1a, 10a, 14a, 3d & 23d.

    Thanks to Messinae and to Gazza.

    1. The way I parsed 19a was M for metres, things like that = etc with RI inside, being the predecessor of SI, (quite why, I don’t know).

      The cheapest way to buy beer is in tins.

      27a is definitely cricket, not golf.

      1. That’s how I read it R being the letter that precede S then the I with etc… It was my LOI not helped by having rate instead of racy for 8d

        1. I’ve got it now, in 19a, “Predecessor of SI” is “Predecessor of S” (R) then “I” from the clue, inserted into ETC, with M in front. Whew.

        2. The lock down has been worth it! Completed 2 toughies in a row AND helped with the parsing. Never thought I’d see the day. I may just have to have a lie down

  3. Some very clever anagrams and some really obscure words made an unexpectedly enjoyable puzzle. Thank you Messinae and Gazza

  4. I knew 6a from the old day job, ditto 9a

    A nice crossword on the Toughie spectrum – my favourite was 20a for the DOH moment when I realised that I wasn’t supposed to remove the R from Rock

    Thanks to Messinae and Gazza

  5. I managed to fill the grid without using aids but, like others above, I was a bit uncertain over a few parsings. Quite a lot of GK over a wide range of topics so sure to irritate scientists and lovers of the humanities alike. I parsed 19a as MalcolmR with no better explanation than R is before S in the alphabet. Maybe the setter lives in Germany – there is no such thing as cheap beer in the UK (no) thanks to the tax man. I agree with the curate’s egg assessment by Rabbit Dave.
    Thanks to the setter and Gazza

  6. Plenty of time on my hands after the back pager so toughie it was and very rewarding too-a ****/**** for me.
    Some difficult parsing along the way.
    Not seen the acronym for 6a before or heard of the abbreviated birds in 8d-liked this clue anyway .4d was the last in ,never heard of the ‘razor man’ but located the alloy in my well worn Chambers.
    Failed to parse 19a-thanks to Malcolm R for the explanation.
    Favourite was 11d, took a while to unscramble 26a-in need of a pint.

  7. Managed to cross the line with the only recourse to Mr G being the alloy but I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed the solving experience.
    A smattering of ticks for Eeyore’s mate, Bill Haley’s island venue and the old record store – that’s about the height of it.

    Apologies to Messinae and many thanks to Gazza for the whys and wherefores.

  8. I think I much prefer your original parsing of 27a Gazza. I don’t follow either golf or cricket but I d rather be expected to know a type of game than guess an individual from their initials AND know that they are an “aggressive batsman”. The answer was easy to guess from the anagrind and crossers but for me it spoilt what was otherwise a good Toughie challenge. Thanks all.

    1. I don’t think it would be fair to refer to most people by their initials†, but ‘KP’ is actually the nickname of the cricketer in question — how he was referred to in commentary and reports. As cricketers go, he’s pretty famous.

      If you asked random people in the UK “Who is KP?”, I bet more of them would know than would many of the other facts used in Toughies — such as the 26a novel in this one — so I think it’s fair to include.

      † A recent Puzzled Pint puzzle used ‘JC’ in the blurb for what to do next. After dismissing Jesus Christ, Jeremies Corbyn and Clarkson, and every other JC we could think of, it eventually transpired it referred to Julius Caesar, indicating use of a Caesar cypher.

      1. To put it more succinctly: ‘KP’ has been used in The Telegraph to refer to Kevin Pietersen, and searching its website for just ‘KP’ brings up articles about him (as well as the crisp makers). And if the paper expects readers to understand a term in articles, it’s hard to say it’s too obscure for the Toughie crossword.

      2. Yes, but the difference is that you can work out the name of the novel from the anagram. There’s nothing in the 27a clue to indicate that KP is a person and if you asked random people in the UK ‘What does KP stand for?’ I suspect that most would say ‘nuts’.

  9. I seem to be in a minority of one, having raced through this in a few seconds over half the time it took me to defeat the back pager. Only one I checked was the alloy, having heard of the Razor Man, and “y” fitting well as an undefined numeral. I really enjoyed this! 2*(just)/4.5*. Thanks Messinae & Gazza.

  10. I did enjoy this, but there was just a little too much general knowledge for my liking. I ended up with failing only on 4d (I knew neither the razor man nor the alloy). Nor did I know the scientist subjects in 6a, or the cricketer in 27a etc. I found the generous number of anagrams helpful in completing the grid in relatively good time. Like Jane, I liked Eeyore’s mate. Many thanks to Messinae and Gazza.

  11. Failed on 4d. Never heard of the razor nor the alloy.
    Thought 27a was about golf as the answer seemed related to that sport and after googling KP golf, I ended up in the Kilnwick Percy club in Yorkshire.
    Always thought that Somerset House was Tax records.
    The Cans in 1a and the Researcher in 9a were new to me.
    So was the acronym in 6a by the way.
    And the Roman historian in 23d.
    And the Atlantic island in 20d.
    I think that’s about it.
    Talk about GK. There was quite a lot here.
    Oh. Couldn’t parse 19a either.
    A real toughie for my little brain.
    Thanks to Messinae and to Gazza.

  12. Took me some time but I enjoyed the challenge. Struggled with parsing on 19a, still don’t get groups of three in 24a and had no idea who KP is/was in 27a. Favourites were 14a and 2d which took longer than it should have considering my boy plays bass. 4*/3* seems right to me. Thanks to Messinae and Gazza.

  13. We got 27a by spotting the anagram but would never have understood the KP reference. Several other bits of GK like 6a also needed Google research.
    Over all, a bit of a slog to get across the finishing line for us.
    Thanks Messinae and Gazza.

  14. Quirky wasn’t it? I rather enjoyed it but must take issue with 19a where SI [no space between] is solely for the benefit of the surface. Precursor of S [space] I may be R I at a push but the precursor of SI is SH. Also 27a – identifying some cricketer by his initials is a big ask when nothing in the clue suggests cricket – unfair Sir, I thought it was nuts.

    I liked 11d for the old record store, the Slough base at 17a and the Bill Aley island at 20d.

    Point of information Gazza – a postdoc is post PhD not DSc. The latter is usually a very senior degree for pretty eminent geezers by election from their peers. But thanks for a grand blog – and thank to Mess… for a mixed fun bag.

      1. I’ve been one for too long! it’s meant to be a bit of stopgap until you get your own career going, but some of us kinda hang in that space for ages

  15. I thought this was fairly straightforward too, though granted I didn’t bother to parse large chunks of it. A good puzzle…

    1. To be honest I can’t understand what enjoyment you get from doing a cryptic crossword if you don’t at least try to parse the clues. If you just put in answers from the definitions aren’t you just treating it as a quick crossword?

  16. Thanks to Messinae and to Gazza for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much. Needed 4 hints to finish, and couldn’t parse 6&19a. In 24a “terns” was a new word for me. I didn’t notice 15a was an anagram, while the reverse was true of 27a, but I couldn’t solve it, was thinking “nuts” not Mr Petersen. Favourite was 14a. Was 4*/3* for me.

  17. Late getting here but finished this exciting Toughie last night though not without a great deal of googling and bunged-in answers. Thanks for parsing 19a for me, everybody! I really enjoyed this challenge; don’t remember working a Messinae before. I knew the razor but not the alloy so guessed that ‘y’ was the only unknown that would fit. Podium contenders: 23d, 26/12d, 9a. What fun! Anagrams to outsmart anagrams, esp. 27a, which was of course new to me. Glad crypticsue didn’t call this one a Floughie! Thanks to Gazza and Messinae. ***** / ****

  18. Thanks Gazza, i didn’t get the metric thingie and had no idea what to make of KP. At least the novel went in straight away.

    toyed with BIC for the maker of razor, didn’t really think occam was a maker of razor but i guess he is, sort of.

    quite hard but lots of nice touches, many thanks Messinae

  19. Didn’t get 4d, but was pleased apart from that to complete a 4-star Toughie.

    Favourites were 15a for the ambiguity of butter and 21d.

    Thanks to Messinae and to Gazza for the blog.

  20. Thank you Gazza and everybody else for the hints and explanations. I had no intention of completing this unaided, and definitely succeeded in that!

    My favourite was 4d, mainly for the definition; I hadn’t heard of the alloy, but there was only one unknown that really makes sense at the end of that.

    For those unfamiliar with 6a, it seems to be education jargon of fairly recent vintage: it’s used at the university where my spouse works and in communications from the children’s school, largely replacing the widest use of ‘sciences’ (in the taxonomy where all subjects are designated either a science or an art).

    For 27a, my first association with ‘KP’ was the cricketer … but that still didn’t help with solving it. Partly because I’m not sure that 27a is something one can burst into, but mainly because the answer isn’t in this laptop’s word list, which I use for cheating with anagrams and missing letters.

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