Toughie 2468 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2468

Toughie No 2468 by Firefly

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

Firefly in friendly mode this time – although there are a couple of clues that might have scared the horses (if horses did cryptic crosswords), a slight beep or two from the repetition radar and at least one thing that will have caused muttering in the Rabbit Hutch!  But, ignore all that – did you notice the Nina round the outside of the grid?  Congratulations to Firefly on setting your Toughie no 12a 

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


6a    Obscure player has expert game (9,4)
BLINDMANS BUFF A verb meaning to obscure, a player and an expert [the game has an apostrophe between the last two letters of the first word]

8a    Engraver/artist lacking beginnings of skill (6)
ETCHER The first two letters (lacking beginnings) of SKill should be removed from someone who makes rough or undetailed drawings

9a    Distant destination — one for the visitors (4,4)
AWAY GOAL A way of saying distant followed by a destination or aim

10a    Modelmaker’s timber (3)
ELM Hidden in modELMaker

11a    Two numbers by vacuous entertainers may be non-starters (2-4)
NO-NOES Two lots of the abbreviation for number and the outside letters (vacuous) of EntertainerS

12a    The setter (dreadfully iffy about time): ‘Could it really be ten to two?’ (3-5)
ONE-FIFTY How the setter might refer to himself and an anagram (dreadfully) of IFFY about the abbreviation for Time

14a    Kill time more than once when things don’t go so well (3-4)
OFF-DAYS A US slang word meaning to kill and two (more than once) specific periods of time

16a    Ruler, white with age, back after conclusions of top church curia (7)
PHARAOH A reversal (back) of an adjective meaning white with age goes after the ‘conclusions’ of toP churcH and curiA

20a    Providers of transport for old crocks? (3,5)
TEA TRAYS A cryptic definition of a way of carrying used domestic crockery

23a    Ear bone irritating at first for ‘man of horror’ (6)
LUGOSI An informal term for the ear, the [Latin] anatomical term for bone and the first letter of Irritating – this man of horror was famous for playing Dracula in 1931 but had roles in other horror films too

24a    Scuttle with husband over foot of pyramid (3)
HOD The abbreviations for Husband and Over (in cricket) go over (or perhaps before as it is an Across clue) the ‘foot’ of pyramiD

25a    Nip out, leaving Minneapolis in conveyance to find pudding (8)
SEMOLINA An anagram (in conveyance) of MinNEApOLIS once you have removed (leaving) NIP (the anagram indicator out telling you that the letters aren’t in that order in the State)

26a    Neglect furnace temperature (6)
FORGET A furnace, especially one where iron is heated, and the abbreviation for Temperature

27a    Organisations like AA finance radicals (7,6)
SUPPORT GROUPS Maintenance (finance) and a word to describe a set of atoms behaving as one atom


1d    Carp here, perhaps, to discover dreadful shop inside (4,4)
FISH POND An anagram (dreadful) of SHOP goes inside a verb meaning to discover

2d    Raid easy to fix, one supposes (1,4,3)
I DARE SAY An anagram (to fix) of RAID EASY

3d    Artist fine after employee flipped and went on rampage (3,4)
RAN AMOK The usual abbreviation for artist and an informal way of saying fine, the latter going after a reversal (flipped) of an employee (he gets around – he was a ‘player’ in 6a)

4d    Everything you own‘s in base condition (6)
ESTATE The letter representing the base of the natural system of logarithms and a condition

5d    Delightful Grand Hotel close to Brindisi — serving porcini, perhaps? (6)
FUNGHI A synonym for delightful, the abbreviations for Grand and Hotel and the ‘close’ to BrindisI

6d    Lowest-level streams flounder? (6,7)
BOTTOM FEEDERS Flounders are an example of this type of fish – the lowest level followed by some streams channelling water into a larger river

7d    Insubordination certain, so fuss made (13)

13d    Composer César’s half brother? (3)
FRA The first half of the surname of the Belgian-French composer (he was born in Liege which was originally in Belgium and is now in France) is an Italian word for a brother or friar

15d    Bearing‘s jammed in chairlift (3)
AIR – Hiding (jammed) in chAIRlift

17d    Refuse to budge from last company (4,4)
HOLD FIRM A way of saying last or continue and a company

18d    Meticulous in dress, old setters welcoming run out (8)
RIGOROUS A (now informal) verb meaning to dress or clothe, the abbreviation for old and how two or more crossword setters might refer to themselves ‘welcoming’ the cricket abbreviation for Run Out

19d    Ghanaian chanted a sea song (7)
ASHANTI These Ghanaian people sound like a homophone (chanted) of A ‘sea song’

21d    Cast has Romeo in short hairpiece (6)
TROUPE The letter represented by Romeo in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet inserted into a truncated (short) hairpiece designed to disguise baldness

22d    Developer of Morning Star (6)
AMIDOL The abbreviation for morning and an object of admiration such as a film star combine to form the registered trade name of chemical used as a photographic developer

39 comments on “Toughie 2468

  1. Great puzzle. 20a was my last in and gets my vote for best clue. Didn’t spot the Nina. Thanks to Firefly and CS.

  2. Thanks to Firefly and congratulations on the achievement related in the Nina (although I’ll wait for Big Dave, who keeps track of such things, to confirm the figure :D ). Thanks too to CS for the blog.
    I found the puzzle fairly straightforward though I had to check that the 22d developer actually existed.
    My favourite clue was 9a.

    1. Hi everyone… This is the puzzle labelled FIR150, but, owing to content clashes with other Toughies this week, my 149th was held back.
      The upshot is that solvers will have 149 in about a month’s time.
      Thanks for your kind words, Sue and others – I’ve loved every minute – so far!
      All the best.

      1. Welcome to the blog, Firefly.
        Congratulations once more – the rearrangement means that you’ll be able to celebrate twice!

      2. Thanks for a great puzzle, Firefly, and for your monumental achievement (upcoming).

  3. For once I finished the toughie before the hints were posted so I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself! Of course, I missed the nina, as usual. Thanks for the blog CS and thanks to
    Firefly for a gentle yet very enjoyable offering.

  4. Yes, pretty straightforward. Apart from having to check Chambers for the developer [helped by the Nina] my only holdup was trying to justify starting with Escher [Maurits] to parse 8a. Eventually I noticed “beginningS of skill” and the penny dropped.

    Congrats to Firefly. Thanks to him and CS.

  5. Apart from a little hmm for 14a, I enjoyed this but I completely missed the Nina.

    Like Halcyon, I tried to convert Escher to Etcher in order to parse 8a, but, unlike Halcyon, the penny never dropped. I was surprised by 6a as I have only ever known the second word as “bluff”.

    I took the answer to 13d to be an abbreviation (which is given in the BRB) rather than an unindicated Italian word.

    Many thanks to Firefly and to CS.

        1. Never mind RD, Collins agrees with you and gives ‘Italian, abbreviation of frate’

    1. According to my favourite reference book – Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable – the ‘buff’ is the tap on the shoulder that is originally given to the identified person

  6. Very nice marker for the occasion, congratulations Firefly
    I used to develop my own B&W negatives and prints and I’d never heard of 22d, it was all just branded Ilford
    Many thanks to Firefly and thanks also to CS for the blog

  7. With the exception of 13d (for which I needed the hint) this was my quickest unaided Toughie finish by some margin & affords some consolation for today’s back page failure. Nicely clued though not particularly taxing. Mr G required to confirm 22d & other than a brief hiccup caused by initially putting in facetiousness in 7d it was a Senfian gallop to the missing letter in 13a. Didn’t spot the Nina obviously & must say I do find that sort of thing very clever (composition & identification).
    Thanks Firefly & CS for the review

  8. Putting facetiousness in 8d (very nearly fits the anagram) made 9ac into a bit of a problem. Just spotted Huntsman’s post in time to edit. Not just me then.

  9. We didn’t see the nina and found this fairly easy for a Thursday, but enjoyable. Thanks to Firefly and crypticsue.

    1. I’m quite often disappointed when this and other similar grids don’t have a message round the outside.

  10. What a nice toughie and just right for me, I found it a steady solve, on the across I liked 1, 12, and when the Penny Dropped 16 across, on the downs 1, and 19 made me smile but COTD was 25 across as I normally struggle with that type of clue. Many thanks to Firefly and Cryptic Sue.

    SEE you all tomorrow

  11. I guessed FUNGHI from the word play but I haven’t seen that spelling before and it is not in Chambers. I now realize it is the Italian spelling.

  12. I thought this was terrific puzzle, although I found it a little more than * in difficultly. I did notice the Nina – and a good thing too because I knew neither the man of horror in 23a, nor the developer in 22d. The extra letters at the ends from the Nina was just sufficient for me to be able to track them both down. Congratulations and thanks to Firefly for another very enjoyable puzzle, and to crypticsue for the review.

  13. I am thrilled I managed to do this apart from two clues, 22d and 23a. I found this much easier than the “other side”. Thank you Firefly, and congratulations to you on hitting your milestone. Thank you too Cryptic Sue.

  14. This is a first for me – solving two Toughies in a row albeit with the help of one or two hints. A great puzzle and very enjoyable.

    Many thanks, Firefly and please accept my congratulations on your milestone. Also thanks to Cryptic Sue for the hints.

  15. I completed this fairly easily but I don’t quite understand the nina. If it’s not giving anything away could someone please explain. Maybe it’s just too hot here in Toronto. 🥵

    1. A Nina is a message, hidden or in the case of today’s message not particularly hidden. Starting at the top of the grid with the first letter of 1d, work your way round in a clockwise direction! I did explain the connection at the end of my prologue. Firefly’s reply to Gazza @2 above is also relevant

  16. I’m confused . Surely the white in 16a is hoar not the haor in the hint. Am I missing something?

    1. The fact is that I can’t type, not helped by the fact that my computer keyboard space bar kept seizing up this morning and I kept having to restart the computer each time in order to be able to type sentences with spaces between the words!

  17. Solved all of the 3-letter words first and that set me up for a good, enjoyable roll through Firefly’s artistic grid–all except for 20a, which I stared at for eons until I finally settled for a couple electronic letters (shucks!). Still, a really pleasurable outing. Surprised at the ‘h’ in 5d as I hadn’t seen that before. Favourites galore, especially the long clues and the short ones, as well as 1d, 2d, and 16a (‘a’ always first–my mnemonic device for ‘pharaoh’). No, I missed the nina. Thanks to crypticsue and Firefly. ** / ****

  18. We must have had some brain freeze here, such that it stretched to 2.5* time. I did ask Mrs Sheffieldsy if it was a tough crossword or an easier one that we were making heavy weather of. After finishing, we came here, saw CS’s single * and laughed.

    Thanks to Firefly and CS.

  19. Haven’t been doing crosswords for a while and settled down to do this one this evening…..and completed it!! So imagine my disappointment to see it scored only one-*!!!

    Didn’t get the Nina, but congratulations to Firefly on an excellent puzzle. Thanks too to crypticsue for the blog.

  20. Most enjoyable and when we had finished found the Nina. Had most of the GK but did have to check that we had the developer correct.
    Thanks Firefly and CS.

  21. It seems that I’ve learned another couple of things today – always thought there was an ‘L’ in the second word of 6a and thought everyone spelled 5d with an ‘H’, apparently not.
    Struggled with the parsing of 25a, didn’t know the developer and didn’t like 20a. Apart from that I did OK!

    Thanks and congratulations to Firefly and thanks to CS for the review.

  22. Thanks to Firefly and to crypticsue for the review and hints. Terrific puzzle, congratulations to Firefly for 150 Toughies. Glad I looked at the blog, because I missed the Nina. Found parts of it solvable, but needed 10 hints to finish. Was 4*/4* for me. Favourite was 6d.

  23. Just got out of the bath having finished the toughie – yeah – apart from 22d. Great puzzle congratulations Firefly, I am sorry I missed your hidden message I must try harder. My mother greatly admired Bella Lugosi (I think it was Bella wasn’t it? Odd name for a nasty man but that’s what I remember). I have only ever known 1a as Buff. Thanks also to CS for the hints and showing me the Nina. May I go to bed now?

  24. I’m only an occasional attempter of the toughie, more of a back pager. This I almost completed, didn’t know the developer in 22d. I enjoyed it, Ray T’s back pager I thought slightly tougher.
    I thought Liege was still in Belgium ?
    The nina is very clever, having read about Firefly’s upcoming achievement.

  25. A very nice solve – thank you Firefly and congratulations. Never heard of 23a but was able to construct him from the cluing. I rather liked 20a.

  26. Enjoyed this one but had not heard of 23a or 22d so unable to finish it without hints. Only had a single fish pond unlike the hint! Liked 25a for bringing back childhood memories.

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