Toughie 2444 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2444

Toughie No 2444 by Zandio

Hints and tips by crypticsue

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

We haven’t had a Toughie from Zandio since last November but I’d say he certainly hasn’t lost any of his ability to provide a proper really tough crossword in the interim. I’ve added an extra star to the enjoyment rating because it was great to solve a properly tricky crossword which didn’t have any obscure words or require any dictionary ‘assistance’.  

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Mime involved in spectre’s holy appearance (10)
VISITATION A famous French mime artist inserted (involved) in a spectre

6a    Eccentric queen? (4)
CARD A double definition – an eccentric person or one of several pieces of board used in various games

9a    Leaving word as to the French boarding pass? On the contrary (5)
ADIEU The French word for ‘to the’ isn’t inserted (boarding) into a verb meaning to pass, but the other way round (on the contrary) produces a word used on leaving

10a    Not willing to take part in skin test at ENT (9)
INTESTATE Found in part of skIN TEST AT Ent

12a    Pop’s full of ache — start of love, say, an awkward, delicate thing (5-4-4)
DADDY-LONG-LEGS Another way of saying father’s (pop’s) into which is inserted (full of) a verb meaning to ache, the ‘start’ of Love and the abbreviation meaning say

14a    Put on underwear and ring (8)
ENGIRDLE To circle or ring something in the manner of a particular piece of underwear

15a    Limb breaks with one having fallen, getting tender feeling (6)
WARMTH A limb inserted into (breaks) WiTH – one having fallen telling you to omit the I

17a    One’s porridge comes with sweeteners (6)
TRUSTY A cryptic definition of a well-behaved prisoner (someone doing porridge) often granted special privileges

19a    Spit out mock turtle soup lacking substance (8)
SPLUTTER An anagram (mock) of TURTLE SouP, omitting the middle letters of soup (lacking substance)

21a    English count disposed to keep in fashion — maybe king and queen cheer (13)
ENCOURAGEMENT The abbreviation for English, an anagram (disposed) of COUNT into which is inserted (to keep in) another word for fashion (as in the latest thing) and the word used to describe chess pieces such as the king and queen

24a    Petition about northern clerical district bishop backs as real deal (4,5)
BEES KNEES A reversal (about) of a verb meaning to ask for (petition) into which has been inserted the abbreviation for Northern; an ecclesiastical (clerical) district, and the chess abbreviation for bishop

25a    Workers with upper-class roots, not outsiders (5)
UNION The abbreviation for Upper class and some vegetable roots without their outside letters

26a    Shady deposit after changing new money for old (4)
DARK Change the first letter from a verb meaning to deposit and leave – in this case,  the abbreviation for our ‘new’ currency is changed to that used when we used pounds, shilling and pence (old)

27a    Glad plane is reaching time for arrival (5,5)
HAPPY EVENT A synonym for glad, a verb meaning to level (plane) and the abbreviation for Time


1d    One gives little squirt split byline (4)
VIAL Split BYLINE 2, 4 – a synonym for the first word and the abbreviation for the second will give you the solution, cryptically and literally!

2d    Banish indigestion — take a dose of this and hop (7)
SHINDIG Hiding in a ‘dose’ of baniSH INDIGestion

3d    Bowled over in awful shunt with red vehicle (13)
THUNDERSTRUCK An anagram (awful) of SHUNT with RED followed by a vehicle

4d    A less common way to go, using a revolver more or less (8)
TRICYCLE This particular form of transport has one more ‘revolver’ than a two-wheeler and one less than a four-wheeled vehicle

5d    Public work is best (5)
OUTDO I’m not sure whether I need to explain this very old friend of the crossword solver, but you need another way of saying in public and an alternative word for work

7d    Mania for animation grips that boy in place of Disney? (7)
ANAHEIM An anagram (for animation) of MANIA ‘grips’ the male third person pronoun (that boy)

8d    Blue material covers her revolutionary clothing three sons do wear (5,5)
DRESS SHIRT Something obscene (blue material) ‘covers’ a reversal (revolutionary) of HER (from the clue), into which is inserted (clothing) three lots of the abbreviation for Son

11d    Programme’s opening guest in botched concealing make-up (9,4)
SIGNATURE TUNE An anagram (botched) of GUEST IN ‘concealing’ the quality that makes something what it is (make-up)

13d    Spoil something amazing that’s done with sage? (10)
FEATHERBED A deed manifesting extraordinary strength, skill or courage followed by a way of describing something to eat that includes sage or another aromatic plant used in cookery

16d    Following seas, moving north, swallow becomes swift to a greater extent (6,2)
SPEEDS UP Follow a reversal (moving north in a Down clue) of some poetic seas with a verb meaning to swallow

18d    Hazy sort of explosion nitrogen’s put down (7)
UNCLEAR The chemical symbol for Nitrogen put further down a type of explosion

20d    Fliers must be strict occasionally with computer things (7)
TITMICE The occasional letters of sTrIcT with things used with computers

22d    A time to look up where the show is? (5)
ARENA A reversal (to look up in a Down clue) of an indefinite article and a period of time

23d    Creature in reservoir coming from the bottom, thousands mutating (4)
GNAT Reverse (coming from the bottom (in a Down clue again!) of a reservoir for water or oil and ‘mutate’ or change the last letter of that word from the abbreviation for a thousand for the one used to indicate a thousand dollars

My top favourite (out of several candidates) has to be 4d for the moment when I realised exactly what ‘more or less’ meant.   Which clues did you like?


23 comments on “Toughie 2444

  1. Zandio provides an object lesson on how to compile a proper Toughie without needing to use obscurities – thanks to him and to Crypticsue for the blog.
    My podium selections were 15a, 4d and 8d (I loved ‘do wear’).

  2. Well! I’ll admit this completely beat me! Just managed 2 clues. I found I really could not make head or tails of the clues and even reading the blog leaves me bamboozled.
    Never mind, I sailed through yesterday’s puzzle. You can’t win them all!

  3. After staring at this for half an hour I had one answer. I seriously thoughts I was going to be badly beaten by this proper toughie. Eventually I found another answer, and thanks to the benevolent grid I started to work my way through it. Getting it finished and fully parsed was as satisfying as it gets. I had to check the porridge answer as the answer is not in 1998 BRB, and my google research made me wonder if an American indicator might have been apt.

  4. Strange day for me, rather last night.. I started out doing very well–delighted when I got 3d and 12a…and then something took hold of me and I simply lost heart. I found that I couldn’t go on. It must be that all of this disease and dying has finally got to me. I lay down for several hours and then returned to the world of necessity. No, I didn’t try this brilliant puzzle again, but I did very much appreciate crypticsue’s enlightening explanations for the clues I never even got to earlier. Thanks to her and to this masterful Zandio, whose puzzles I’d never seen before. Hope for better days ahead.

  5. I had to give up with this. Got about a quarter then had to admit defeat. I am not sure which French mime artist was being referred to in 1a because I only know one – Marcel Marceau and I couldn’t fit him in.

    Still, I had a great Toughie on Monday and tomorrow is another day.

    Thank you Zandio and also Crypticsue.

      1. I always looked upon him as a silent comedy act who made silent films rather like Rowan Atkinson. Never thought of it as mime but I suppose it is. Jacques Tati was great. I admit.

  6. I thought this was a cracking good puzzle. Unfortunately, I fell a couple short. Even with crypticsue’s review, I’m not quite sure what is going on in 17a, and I could not find a way of making the definition work for me in 13d, although in truth I should have been able to piece it together from the wordplay. There were a couple of other things I fell short on – the mime artist, famous or not, in 1a for immediate example. Having come so close, it was disappointing not to have had the pleasure of finishing, but many thanks to Zandio and crypticsue.

  7. Took a while to get into this puzzle ,as there was difficult parsing throughout.
    I put down a ****/**** on completion, thanks to crypticsue for the explanations on 1d and 23d, the last two clues and two lucky bung ins.
    BBQ about to be lit, feel the need for a cold beer reward.
    Liked 8d and 12a.
    Elgar tomorrow ! a ***** no doubt.

  8. Needed help to complete.
    4d, 13d, 14a and 17a were left without an answer.
    Thanks to CS for the explanations.
    Thanks also to Zandio for the toughie.

  9. Hello, compiler here. Thanks for the discussion. It made my day when Crypticsue explained “more or less”, because the crossword editor Chris Lancaster and I had a “Does this work?” conversation about it. Have a great evening.

    1. Robert C in America here….Charleston, SC…This was my First Zandio, Mr Zandio, and I am sorry that my sudden attack of Weltschmerz (see my above comment) forced me to abandon your brilliant puzzle (and what would we do without crypticsue?!). I managed ‘adieu’ quite well, thought ‘daddy-long-legs’ and ‘thunderstruck’ strokes of genius, and then I was felled by my angst-storm. Do come back soon. (‘Featherbed’, really? to coddle or baby someone maybe?)

  10. Having very much enjoyed Zandio’s back-pagers, I was looking forward to this but sadly I was completely defeated by it. It was way above my pay grade! :(

    I gave up after a long struggle (what else is there do in lockdown?) with only six answers entered, one of which (4d) I couldn’t parse.

    Thanks to Zandio and to CS.

  11. Eventually managed the bottom left corner plus 16&20d on the right and the long 3d – that was where it ended!
    Many thanks to CS for the illumination and to Zandio for a challenge that I obviously couldn’t meet :sad:

  12. Well into 4* time for difficulty. Two in on the 1st pass – no idea what made me want to continue! Eventually got ’em all except help needed (but not the answers) for 17 & 25. Many thanks to CS & Zandio.

  13. SW got the better of me with four clues unsolved. I don’t think I would ever have solved 13d and therein lay my problem. I am unfamiliar with today’s setter but hats off for a superb puzzle. More like this please. Thanks to CS and Zandio.

  14. After a lot of struggle we did eventually get it all sorted. 17a was the last one to find.
    Thanks Zandio and CS.

  15. 9a French for “to the” (where’s Jean-Luc when you need him)
    wasn’t sure about 17a but i guess sweeteners are bribes? these prisoners take on the role of prison staff, don’t they, and are corrupt? else i’m still confused
    I also liked the more or less, but I think my favourite moment was twigging “do wear” for 8d

    Many thanks Zandio & CS

    1. They’re not corrupt and don’t get bribes. Trusties are prisoners given special privileges – earned through good behaviour.

Comments are closed.