Toughie 2437 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2437

Toughie No 2437 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Splendid! Not overly difficult, and clever clues that are clever for all the right reasons. A lot of lovely surfaces, some of which seem topical. As often happens, I appreciated the puzzle all the more when writing the blog and added an enjoyment star

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Taken medium English vegetable boxes (7)
CHARMED: The abbreviations for medium and English are contained in (boxes, as a verb) one of crosswordland’s favourite vegetables

5a    Newly target officials restricting old copper (7)
REFOCUS: Sporting officials containing (restricting) the abbreviation for old and the chemical symbol for copper

9a    Value characters coming back from retirement (5)
MERIT: Absolutely. What heroes they are. Reverse hidden (characters coming back from … )

10a    A French drink is not pleasant (9)
UNCORDIAL: A French indefinite article plus a concentrated fruit drink

11a    Future surrounding play on golf course is dispiriting (3-7)
OFF-PUTTING: Yes, with the clubhouse being closed! A 6-letter word for future, or a time some way off, contains (surrounding) a golf stroke

12a    Add wrapping around this present, that will be stuck (4)
HERE: When you wrap ADD around [the answer], you get a word meaning stuck

14a    Phrase used on first dates? (6,6)
BEFORE CHRIST: Cryptic definition. The second dates would be the ones we’ve been using for the last two millennia. I did consider a lot of phrases!

18a    Acting like bootlegger, announced dollar per piece of jewellery (12)
BUCCANEERING: A homophone (announced) of slang for dollar, a 1-letter word meaning per, and a dangling piece of jewellery Oops, Leslie Ford in comment 17 rightly points out we have “an” in the answer. So, the homophone is a translation of the whole phrase “Dollar per piece of jewellery”

21a    Rough stray caught scratching around (4)
THUG: An anagram (stray) of (ca)UGHT without (scratching) the Latin abbreviation for around. How clever is that?

22a    Canteen carrying on keeping meal cool (10)
MODISHNESS: Russian dolls. A 4-letter word for canteen or dining area contains (carrying) ON from the clue which contains (keeping) a word for a meal

25a    Cutting vessel, jugular vein’s fluid all over the place (9)
UNIVERSAL: Once we have removed the vessel, an anagram (fluid) of (jug)ULAR VEIN’S. As well as clever use of an anagram indicator as definition, the surface is impressive

26a    Cockney got love from East End girl (5)
LINDA: A reversal (from the East End) of how a Cockney might say a 3-letter word meaning got, then the value of a love score in tennis

27a    See about painting hospital being feasible (7)
EARTHLY: Crosswordland’s favourite cathedral city goes around (about) the discipline of painting, drawing, etc. and the abbreviation for hospital

28a    Criticised good person close to me in a way (7)
ROASTED: The 2-letter abbreviation for a good person plus the last letter (close) to me go inside (in) a way or thoroughfare


1d    Dessert stain’s beginning to disappear from dress (6)
COMPOT: Remove the first letter (beginning) of stain from a verb meaning dress, perhaps not the first meaning that comes to mind!

2d    Insecure lady shunning outside with separation (6)
ADRIFT: LADY from the clue without the outer letters (shunning outside) and a word meaning separation or split

3d    Satisfied in peace, lifted beer bottle (10)
METHUSELAH: A 3-letter verb meaning satisfied, then inside (in) a 4-letter word meaning peace or quiet, we have the reversal (lifted) of another word for beer

4d    Cheat, only to have university raising question (5)
DOUBT: A 2-letter verb meaning cheat, then another word for only in which the abbreviation for University moves upwards (raising)

5d    Teller against cutting fee, you are told (9)
RACONTEUR: A word meaning against goes inside (cutting) a word for fee, then a homophone (told) of you are

6d    President, one of the predecessors to Roosevelt? (4)
FORD: The second Roosevelt, the one who was often referred to by his initials. The answer, split (1,2,1) suggests either of his first initials

7d    Erratic working to circumvent current standards (8)
CRITERIA: An anagram (working) of ERRATIC goes around (to circumvent) the physics abbreviation for current

8d    Strippers use these very large gatherings to go topless (8)
SOLVENTS: A 2-letter word meaning very, the abbreviation for large, and a 6-letter word for gatherings without the first letter (topless)

13d    Rodent put in fridge breaks porcelain (10)
CHINCHILLA: A verb meaning ‘put in fridge’ goes inside (breaks) a word for porcelain

15d    Person shrewd, collecting our rent in oppressive manner (9)
ONEROUSLY: A 3-letter word for person and a 3-letter word for shrewd surround (collecting) an anagram (rent, as in torn) of OUR

16d    Enigmatic stranger losing temper with bully around (8)
ABSTRUSE: STR(anger) from the clue, losing a word meaning temper, has around it (witharound) a verb meaning to bully

17d    Resident‘s fall eating baked product (8)
OCCUPIER: A verb meaning fall (as in my birthday will fall on a Monday) contains (eating) a 3-letter baked product

19d    Protein-rich food, case of prize fish turned up (6)
PEANUT: The outer letters (case) of prize, plus the reversal (turned up) of a fish

20d    Is learner driver also in pedestrian area? (6)
ISLAND: IS from the clue, the abbreviation for learner driver, plus a word meaning with

23d    One unoccupied snug oddly ignored by indulgers (5)
IDLER: An anagram (oddly) of SNUG is removed from (ignored by) INDULGERS

24d    College tutor lacking heart (4)
TECH: A verb meaning to tutor without its central letter (lacking heart)

I enjoyed 9a and 11a because I attributed topicality. I thought 21a and 25a were very clever. I thought “person close to me in a way” was a beautiful bit of surface. And I really liked the presidential device. Which were your favourite clues?

26 comments on “Toughie 2437

  1. Not proXimal at his trickiest but an enjoyable second proper Toughie this week. I did mark a number of clues where something had to be ‘scratched’ or ‘cut’ or ‘shunned’ or ‘lost’. Lots to enjoy too

    Thanks to proXimal and Dutch

  2. I finished but have to admit to needing a lot of help. I did however get some of the longer clues under my own steam – 18a and 3d for example. There were some excellent clues and some I found somewhat obscure but this is The Toughie :grin:

    Many thanks to proXimal for a difficult (for me) challenge and to Dutch for the much needed hints.

  3. A first-rate and highly enjoyable puzzle – thanks to proXimal and Dutch. No Xs today but no other high-scoring Scrabble letters either.
    My ticks went to 14a, 21a, 26a and 27a with my favourite being the clever 6d.

  4. “Not overly difficult” Dutch? I obviously haven’t had my brain food today. A struggle, albeit a very pleasant one, from start to finish. 4*/5* from me, but as has been noted, not a typical proXimal. Loved 16d & 18a.Thanks to both Dutch & proXimal.

    1. Agreed, I’m sitting with still only the bottom half finished. Some good head scratching going on here. 21 across is a very clever clue as are both 14 and 26 across. Some gardening may well be used as respite before long ;-)

  5. Yep, agree with you, Dutch: 21 and 25a are the stars. But I rather liked 15d as well [“collecting our rent” is lovely]. And 6d is a bit “differently clever” too.

    Thanks for the blog and to proX for the puzzle.

  6. Yes, 6d was very clever. A really penny drop moment when I realised why my guess was right.
    For the rest everything was pretty straightforward but I must admit I disliked 26a, I really have no time for cockneys and spooners in my puzzles.
    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  7. Certainly needed help from Dutch to parse 26a and left 1d blank until I reached the ‘can’t be anything else’ stage but everything else slotted into place albeit with a fair amount of effort and head-scratching. Have to say that I hated the surface read of 25a but that was down to the picture it conjured up!
    The rodent made me smile and my top two were 11&14a.

    Thanks to proXimal for the Friday challenge and thanks to Dutch for the review and the help with 26a. Liked your feline 21a!

  8. “Not overly difficult”, indeed? Well, it certainly was from my point of view. I required a lot of electronic help to end up with a filled grid and, even then, I needed Dutch’s review to understand the parsing of several clues.

    “Clever clues that are clever for all the right reasons”. I agree, even though I could only appreciate the full extent of the cleverness in hindsight.

    Many thanks to proXimal for giving me a good thrashing and to Dutch for a lot of enlightenment.

  9. Haven’t looked at this yet but pleased to read that it’s not fiendish Friday because I fear I will have to admit hopeless defeat to our Dada who’s set today’s Graun cryptic (having only mustered a dozen answers) – something to look forward to this evening.

    1. I am just on my way to Paul/Dada’s Zoom.
      Do you want me to ask for any hints ;p

      1. Thanks JB – am now on the Toughie & still 7 short.
        Not too tough indeed !

      2. If I’d read RD’s opening comment I may not have bothered. After 20 mins I had 4d & 11a – finding answers was like panning for gold in the Yukon.
        However perseverance & few breaks paid off & with the aid of a 1 letter reveal I got there without the hints. 21&26a were the last 2 in & both were bung ins neither of which I’d have parsed this side of Christmas.
        Lots of super clues of which I think 6d & 21a are my favourites.
        Many thanks to ProXimal for the mental workout & to Dutch for explaining a number of my answers to me – though in future I shall no heed to your view of degree of difficulty.

  10. My goodness. ‘Not overly difficult’? Well, I guess not for such master solvers as Dutch and crypticsue, but I really struggled with this one and yet was determined not to give up. After several passes, I still had 8 unsolved clues–most disheartening! Several clues kept foxing me, especially 13d, where I couldn’t decide between the rodent and the porcelain–what was I looking for? Fine porcelain or a 10-word rodent? After much help, though, I did finish and thought that 14a was the big winner, with 27a and 12a close behind. I would really question 22a for ‘cool’, however, and because I live in these Benighted States, I’d never have solved 3a in three lifetimes. Hard to know how to rank this one. Grrr. Thanks to Dutch and proximal, anyway. ***** / ***

    1. Much later now, 2300 my time in Pitiable America (the Graun and the Wash. Post both called us that today, and I agree: once the horror is gone, only pity remains). My spell-check, or whatever it is called on my Windows 10 tablet, keeps lower-casing X in proXimal’s name, and so I do apologise. No disrespect intended. I’ve re-thought my comments earlier and have re-assessed my opinions. I now think that 6d and 21a deserve high rankings, certainly up there on the podium. I think that Huntsman and I had similar experiences, though I still agree with Rabbit Dave–a proper Toughie that earned my ***** for difficulty but deserves at least **** for enjoyment. At my age (coming on 82), I find myself doing a lot of re-assessment these days. Thank heavens for these blogs that keep allowing me to vent my spleen and then ask for pardoning for doing so. If anyone is still around to read this, have a great weekend and stay safe. Thanks again to proXimal and Dutch.

      1. Re-assessment is great. There’s not enough of it around. I guess i’ll reassess difficulty to 4* min. based on feedback. That was easy. I mean that little bit of re-assessment

  11. Got there but very slowly. After the first pass I was staring at a grid with only two words in it ! Very enjoyable though and it slowly came together over a bottle of Chablis down at the allotment. Many great clues but today’s award from me goes to 14a. Thanks to Dutch and proXimal.

  12. Good level of difficulty and great fun all the way through. Lots of penny-drop moments but the biggest one was when we sorted out the wordplay for the obvious answer to 6d. Thanks proXimal and Dutch.

  13. I’d agree with Dutch in his assessment of this very enjoyable puzzle.

    Thanks to all.

  14. A proper toughie to end the week.
    Needed the review to understand 6d.
    Good construction.
    Liked the ones also in 3d, 4d and 21a.
    Had to check the spelling of 1d as it was new to me.
    The homophone in 18a made me smile.
    Thanks to Proximal and to Dutch.

  15. Managed most of it apart from bottom LH corner. Mainly because I forgot that a dollar is a buck and could only find the word thaler in the dictionary. I liked 11a the most as so topical. Took a while to find 14a after being misled by romantic first dates.

  16. I made good progress with this crossword on Friday night but spent much of Saturday evening struggling with 18a, 25a and 16d.With 18a I had ‘a’ for per but this left a space to ‘earing’ which was the piece of jewellery. I concluded that the piece of Jewellery was ‘an earing’ this solved the problem. With 25a I translated ‘all over the place’ to some sort of muddle but could not get the anagram to work. a glance at your parsing sorted this out immediately. With 16d I had removed ‘rage’ from stranger and was left with an odd ‘n’ to fit in which would not do. again resort to your parsing solved the problem. Thank you Dutch. My favourite was 14a with 21a a close second. Thanks to Proximal for an enjoyable puzzle.

    1. you’re absolutely right, the homophone should in fact be applied to the whole phrase “dollar per piece of jewellery”, which your version satisfies

      i’ll correct the blog

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