Toughie 2436 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2436

Toughie No 2436 by Silvanus

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

Silvanus always provides an enjoyable, well-crafted crossword, this time a little trickier than usual, not just in the solving but in the explaining of the ‘complications’ of several clues while typing the hints

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Associate of diplomat Spain expelled (6)
ATTACH We start with a nice bit of deceiving surface reading as ‘associate’ here is a verb, obtained by removing (expelled) the IVR code from Spain from a diplomat

4a    Delayed receiving new microwave finally, couple of months back? Hard cheese (8)
EMMENTAL A reversal (back) of a synonym for delayed ‘receiving’ the abbreviation for New, the final letter of microwavE and two lots of the abbreviation for month

10a    Rejected masquerade by adult storyteller (5)
AESOP A reversed (rejected) of an assumed attitude (masquerade) goes after (by) the abbreviation for Adult

11a    Convenience in vacuous employers creating division between workers (9)
HANDINESS IN (from the clue) and the outside (vacuous or ’empty’) letters of EmployerS inserted into (creating division between) some workers (especially in a factory or on a ship)

12a    Pet theory oddly has to take in male first (7)
HAMSTER The odd letters of ThEoRy are preceded by (first) HAS (from the clue) into which is inserted the abbreviation for Male

13a    Novel requires unlimited changes to reach screen (7)
SHELTER Rider Haggard’s famous novel so useful to crossword setters is followed by the inside letters of part of a verb meaning changes

14a    Educated class composed of international talent I single out (14)
INTELLIGENTSIA An anagram (out) of I (international) TALENT I SINGLE

17a    Version of chart hit we miss making bestselling record (5,9)

21a    Muscle pain in this setter’s bad legs I saw periodically (7)
MYALGIA The possessive adjective this setter would use (possibly when referring to his crossword) followed by the alternate (periodically) letters of bAdLeGs I sAw

23a    Aerial gannet naturalist describes going westwards (7)
ANTENNA Lurking in reverse (going westwards in an Across clue) in gANNET NAturalist – when commenting, please try very hard not to use that awful made-up term to describe a reversed hidden word!

24a    Conservative tone emerging from Ely: ‘Labour worried’ (5,4)
ROYAL BLUE An anagram (worried) of ELY LABOUR

25a    Area behind hotel, regularly in this state (5)
HAITI The abbreviation for Area goes behind the letter indicated by Hotel in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet and is followed by the regular letters of In ThIs

26a    Drunk, extremely insulting with worker, person in suit (8)
LITIGANT A synonym for drunk (usually accompanied by the word up), the ‘extreme’ letters of InsultinG and one of crosswordland’s workers

27a    Quietly film participant in sport (6)
PLAYER The musical abbreviation meaning quietly followed by a coating (film)


1d    Web designer from Switzerland managed to conceal getting outside assistance (8)
ARACHNID Some assistance goes outside a verb meaning managed ‘concealing’ the IVR code for Switzerland

2d    How to check light is satisfactory for cricket game? (4,5)
TEST MATCH How you might check that something used to light (eg a cigarette) was working (although once you’d checked, you wouldn’t be able to use it again!)

3d    Most important thing about aluminium paint previously article overlooked (7)
CAPITAL The abbreviation for about and the chemical symbol for aluminium, the latter preceded (previously) by PaInT (once you have overlooked the ‘article’)

5d    Over where a rat’s moving, fellow encounters unknown bird (4,10)
MANX SHEARWATER A fellow encounters a mathematical unknown and then goes over an anagram (moving) of WHERE A RATS

6d    Demanding army officer must interrupt leave (7)
EXIGENT An abbreviated army office must interrupt a verb meaning to leave

7d    Negotiate entertainment for free (5)
TREAT A double definition

8d    Brightness appearing as clouds started to disperse at intervals (6)
LUSTRE The even (dispersed at intervals) letters of cLoUdS sTaRtEd

9d    Press guy feeds daily line on popular comedy star (7,7)
CHARLIE CHAPLIN A synonym for press (against something) and an informal term for a man (guy) ‘feeds’ or is inserted between a (daily) cleaner and the abbreviation for Line and two-letter word meaning popular

15d    Huge size of football club, reportedly having above one million followers (9)
IMMENSITY A homophone (reportedly) of a name often used for football clubs over which (having above) the letter that looks like a number one, the abbreviation for million and some followers

16d    Fruit tree, pear, lies damaged (8)
ESPALIER An anagram (damaged) of PEAR LIES – I still think this refers to a particular way of growing a fruit tree not necessarily the tree itself

18d    Accompany someone unleashing essentially offensive language (7)
TAGALOG Remove (unleashing) the ‘essential’ letter of offeNsive from a verb meaning to accompany someone (usually uninvited) to get an Austronesian language used by the people of the Philippine Islands – I did know the language but was rather taken by the definition in the BRB

19d    Bag carried by pensioners at Chelsea (7)
SATCHEL Hidden (carried by) in pensionerS AT CHELsea

20d    Exam scheduled before midday? That’s not ethical (6)
AMORAL A spoken examination scheduled before midday might be described as an xx xxxx.

22d    American determined to retain ultimate in anonymity, until now (2,3)
AS YET The abbreviation for American and a way of saying determined, the latter retaining the ultimate letter of anonymitY

30 comments on “Toughie 2436

  1. It’s no fun when I get both crosswords finished this early in the day. All over in */** time.

    This was a slow starter, but once the kindling caught, the whole thing went up in flames. My last two in were 6d, I wasn’t too sure of the meaning, and 13a which I had pencilled in but took me ages to parse.

    Many thanks to Silvanus and CS.

  2. This was a wonderful Toughie, mainly because I managed to finish almost unaided. It’s not just that though because there were some great clues such as 5d and 15d. I struggled, as usual, with the long anagrams but got them in the end. I thought 17a a bit incongruous for the month we are now in but, hey ho!

    Grateful thanks to Silvanus and to Crypticsue for the hints.

  3. A very enjoyable and straightforward puzzle completed at a Toughie gallop – **/****.
    Favourite – 26a.
    Thanks to Silvanus and CS.

  4. A lovely puzzle today. Solved between houses all but two which were solved quickly before lunch. Couldn’t see the whys and wherefores of 13 across so An explanation needed for that one. I did think too many anagrams but then I always do. Thanks to CrypticSue (who must be obeyed at all times) and thanks to Silvanus (no story this time round)

    1. Unusual for such a free spirit.
      For my part, I shall not wreck rule.

  5. Two excellent puzzles today, Ray Ts and Silvanus’s, both of which I solved in very good time, though I did need one letter in the Toughie, the first one in 5d, and I was on my way. 13a was my last one in because I kept poking around for a ‘novel’. Outstanding clues: 5d, 21a, and 6d. Didn’t know of that bird but the very adroit anagram and the unknown (mostly that) helped me get there. Thanks to crypticsue for the nice review and to Silvanus. ** / *****

  6. I agree with CS’s preamble that this was enjoyable, well-crafted and a little trickier than usual.

    I learnt two new words in the answers to 5d & 18d, and although I am not really convinced about “press” and “lie” being synonymous in 9d, the former is given in the BRB as one of the meanings of the latter (but not vice-versa).

    I’m not quite sure about the role of “followers” in 15d as there is one (I) million (M) above the football club homophone. Is it that the “million” are followers of “one”? I took 7d to be a triple definition.

    There are lots of goodies on show here and my podium comprises 1a, 1d, 2d & 7d.

    Many thanks to Silvanus and to CS.

    1. Chambers Crossword Dictionary has press and lie as synonyms of each other whichever word you look up.

      Surely the followers in 15d are the ‘men’?

      I used to work with someone who was fluent in 18d – not that we could understand a single word, but it was fascinating to listen to

      1. I’ve checked my BRB again and I can’t find “lie” in the admittedly complex entry for “press”, but perhaps I need to go to Specsavers.

        I took Mensity to be a “homophone” of Man City, but, on reflection, I don’t think Silvanus would have considered that!

        1. It isn’t in the BRB but as I said above, it is in Chambers Crossword Dictionary. Mrs Bradford has lie as a synonym of press but not vice versa

  7. Thanks to Silvanus for the usual pleasurable experience and to CS for the usual erudite review.
    When I first solved 15d I thought that a horrible homophone of ‘Man City’ was involved, then I thought ‘Silvanus wouldn’t do that to us’ and reconsidered.
    My ticks went to 13a, 1d and 18d.

  8. I know we’re not supposed to mention actual times but given that I rarely finish the Toughie unaided (& when I do it invariably takes numerous revisits & half the evening) I’m more than a wee bit chuffed to complete in one sitting & under the hour for the first time ever. Mr G used only twice to confirm 5&18d & I even clocked the lurkers front & back for a change. Needless to say shy of couple of parsings but I’ll overlook that. Having said that & much as I liked this one it wasn’t quite up there with the last 2 days either for difficulty or enjoyment.
    Thanks to Silvanus & to CS.
    Ps thought Vlad in the Graun pretty good & worth a look.

  9. I love all the little stories in the clues.
    Meaningful surface add to the pleasure of solving.
    Favourite is the Russian doll construction in 1d.
    Thanks to Silvanus and to CS for the review.

  10. I was braced for a stinker after an easy run on the back page but not so. Very enjoyable. I wasn’t familiar with 5d but constructed correctly prior to confirming via Google. Probably spent the longest time on 7d, as I couldn’t (and still can’t) make sense of the need for Negotiate. Favourite clue today was 1d. Thanks to Silvanus and CS.

    1. The clue is a double definition – so negotiate in the sense of the solution means to have discussions prior to forming an agreement – it is where the word treaty comes from. The second definition means to provide free entertainment

  11. I definitely thought this one was at the trickier end of Silvanus’ repertoire but the craftsmanship we associate with this setter made it well worth putting in the time.
    I didn’t know the name of the 18d language although I well recall us using a version of it in my schooldays, much to the annoyance of our parents!
    I did wonder how many people would know 5d which took me back to the time I spent on Bardsey Island, one of their favoured breeding grounds. They always come in to their chicks under cover of darkness as they are so clumsy on land (legs set very far back on their bodies) and therefore an easy target for predators. Their unearthly cries that fill the air at around 1-2am are enough to wake anyone up with a fright.
    Top two for me were the afore-mentioned 5d along with 2d which made me laugh.

    Many thanks to Silvanus for a most enjoyable challenge and to CS for the review.

    1. For some reason, I had a sneaking feeling that you would have heard of and even seen a 5d. :smile:

  12. I had the same thought as CS re 16d but it is indeed listed as 2. such a shrub or tree (how dare the dictionary disagree with me – grrr)
    Also can’t find press/lie anywhere here, so all in all a bit of a etymological bad hair day for me
    My foibles aside, another super puzzle as we have come to expect
    Many thanks to Silvanus and CS

  13. Another well-crafted cleverly put together puzzle from Silvanus. The bird in 5d was new to us but we do have a Sooty variety of it down here so it was just a matter of getting the first word from the wordplay.
    A real pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Silvanus and CS.

  14. Many thanks to CS for her decryptions, illustrations and additional explanations and to everyone else who took the trouble to comment.

    1. So good of you to pop in, Silvanus. Makes the world of difference for ‘us’ solvers to know that the setter looked at what we had to say.

    2. Many thanks, Silvanus. It was a beautifully crafted puzzle. I have not been tackling The Toughie long so I do need the hints occasionally. However, for the first time, I managed to finish a Toughie before the blog was posted.
      Thanks again.

        1. Thanks, Miffypops. I am as pleased as punch to have solved a Toughie practically unaided.

    3. I’m very late tonight, Silvanus, though I commented much earlier today. I usually like to return to the blog and see how others have fared. I did love your handiwork today, and I would have given you more than five stars if I could have. Many thanks. Return soon!

  15. Very enjoyable. I do enjoy making up words and discovering they (or something close to them) are correct, as per 18d. Favourite is 5d, largely because they are such great birds, but also the effort to set a clue, and the issue their colonies have with rodents. Thanks Silvanus.

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