Toughie 2480 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2480

Toughie No 2480 by proXimal

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

It has been quite a while since I last sent an email saying “[setter] – me or him?” and you’ve no idea how relieved and delighted I was when today’s reply came back “him” – the confirmation I needed that this really was a properly tough proXimal Toughie and not just me having ‘wavelength’ problems as I quite often do with this setter

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Stand case of crockery over by plain type of bowl (5-6)
DAISY-CUTTER A raised platform (stand), a reversal (over) of the ‘case’ or outside letters of CrockerY and an adjective meaning plain in the sense of total – in case anyone is wondering, it is a cricket ball bowled along the ground

10a    Knight for one rook and plan sacrificing a queen (5)
RIDER The chess abbreviation for Rook, a plan without (sacrificing) the A, and the Latin abbreviation for queen – I’m sure we are  supposed to think of this ‘knight’ as a chess man on a horse, but [sadly] my first thought was the TV programme

11a    Remove casualty with a heartless command (9)
ERADICATE The two-letter way the Americans would refer to the hospital department we call ‘casualty’, A (from the clue) and a synonym for command without its middle letter (heartless)

12a    Striking both of us, undisguised horrific vertigo (9)
GIDDINESS Strike or remove both instances of the letter U in uNDISGuISED  and an anagram (horrific) of the remaining letters will give you vertigo

13a    Returned rotten old fruit (5)
OLIVE A reversal (returned) of a synonym for really bad (rotten) and the abbreviation for Old

14a    Festival with discounted bar near centre is more relaxed (6)
EASIER One of the letters near the centre of a church festival can be used to mean a type of metal bar – if you discount or remove the top line from that letter, you’ll get a different letter which changes the word to mean more relaxed

16a    Conspirators succeeded capturing maiden in good health (8)
SCHEMERS The abbreviation for succeeded followed by a drinking toast (in good health) into which is inserted the abbreviation for Maiden in cricket scoring

18a    Guard posted in hotel not powerful (8)
SENTINEL A synonym for posted, IN (from the clue) and hotEL after you have removed the adjective meaning powerful

20a    Leave scrap, put away parts (4,2)
BEAT IT A verb meaning to put away ‘parts’ a scrap of something

23a    Dreaded people blocking progress (5)
OGRES Hidden in (blocking) prOGRESs

24a    Wordsmiths anagramming using list (9)
LINGUISTS The clearest indication that we need to rearrange USING LIST

26a    Burrower‘s limb bad with external trouble (9)
ARMADILLO A limb followed by some trouble or fuss into which is inserted a synonym for bad

27a    Change direction crossing island city (5)
TURIN A verb meaning to change direction ‘crossing’ the abbreviation for Island

28a    Noted camper’s rear framed in plastic tent window (7,4)
WRITTEN DOWN The letter at the end (rear) of campeR framed or inserted into an anagram (plastic) of TENT WINDOW


2d    Further confused with large shed (5)
ADDED Shed or remove the abbreviation for large from a word meaning confused or muddled

3d    Employment benefit (7)
SERVICE Work or employment, or something that is of benefit to others

4d    Clubs on that Man United ground (6)
CHEWED Misleading capitals time – the abbreviation for the card suit Clubs, the male third person pronoun (that man) and a simple way of saying united [in matrimony]

5d    Negotiate using diplomacy to receive right answer (8)
TRANSACT Abbreviations for right and answer inserted into (to receive) some diplomacy

6d    Poised to explode with energy to get fit (7)
EPISODE An anagram (to explode) of POISED followed by the abbreviation for Energy

7d    Fine leaving ace, taking king instead in moving forward (13)
PROGRESSIONAL The abbreviation for Fine leaving an expert (ace) and being replaced by the regnal cipher used by any one of six of this country’s kings

8d    Plain staff that is inset with fine stone (8)
MANIFEST A verb meaning to staff, the abbreviation for that is ‘inset’ with the abbreviation for Fine, the result finished with the abbreviation for stone (weight)

9d    Getting number of French signs in site translated (13)
DESENSITISING The French word for of followed by an anagram (translated) of SIGNS IN SITE

15d    Offended tramp picked up in complex (8)
SYNDROME Homophones (picked up) of a word meaning offended and a verb meaning to tramp

17d    Barrow maybe with unusable wheel failed completely (4,4)
FELL FLAT A hill or upland tract of moorland (barrow maybe) with an unusable wheel

19d    Peeled minidress off to reveal accessory, perhaps (7)
INSIDER Peel or remove the outside of mINIDRESs and make an anagram (off) of the remaining letters

21d    Holy uprising, oddly trendy, broke out (7)
ERUPTED A reversal (uprising in a Down clue) of a synonym for holy followed by the odd letters of TrEnDy

22d    Outstanding Parisian’s an entertaining fellow (6)
UNDONE The French female version of an ‘entertaining’ a fellow of a university

25d    Yellowish skin imperfections on the rise (5)
STRAW A reversal (on the rise) of some skin imperfections


17 comments on “Toughie 2480

  1. I do enjoy proXimal’s puzzles and I thought that this was excellent, a proper Toughie with no gimmicks where the toughness comes from clever wordplay rather than obscurities.

    Were I equipped with repetition radar (which I’m not usually) it might have beeped at the use of the abbreviation for ‘fine’ in successive down clues.

    My ticks went to 12a, 4d and 17d with my favourite being 14a for the eureka moment when I realised the whereabouts of the bar that had to be removed.

    Many thanks to proXimal and CS.

    1. I did mean to mention the repeated ‘fine’. I think it has a lot to do with setters and their editors not writing/solving the clues in clue order and so they miss things that those of use who work down the Across clues and then the Downs and, as is the case today, have to work down the clues to explain them, see every time.

  2. Yes, proper tough [but not that tough CS, say 3.5 to 4]. I too loved 14a and also 9d once I twigged “getting number”.
    Thanks to proXimal and to CS.

  3. I felt very smug in realising 1a was a cricketing term.
    I needed the hints to explain several clues, like 12a where the answer was obvious but the “why” was not.
    I almost finished this. My biggest problem was realising words like “outstanding” had a different meaning to the one I was fixated on.
    Thank you CS for putting me straight.

  4. Don’t worry, CS, you weren’t alone in thinking of the rather dishy knight in 10a!
    This was quite hard work for me and I did need help from CS to parse 12a – sneaky one, I thought.
    The above-mentioned dishy knight made my leader board along with the 9d translation.

    Thanks to proXimal for the challenge and to CS for sorting out my vertigo.

  5. Well I finished the Toughie for the first time yesterday. Had a ten minute look at it today before a Zoom meeting which has just finished and couldn’t do a single one. See that CS has given it a 5* difficulty which makes me feel much better. Haven’t read the hints yet but will now have another crack. Back later if I manage to get going.

  6. What a splendid Toughie! It took all 5 of my electronic gift of five letters (a most useful function that for us online solvers!) to solve this proXimal gem, and there were several whose answers I couldn’t parse, so CS finished my work for me. I did not know the cricket term, and it was my LOI, having all the checkers I needed to plug in the answer. (Google reveals all kinds of 1a.) I could probably choose any three of the clues for a podium selection, but 9d, 24a, and 12a get the nod. I spent hours, off and on, beginning last night and finishing this morning, and enjoyed every minute of the solve. Thanks to CS and proXimal for the gift. ***** / ****

  7. When I seen the *****/*** I felt a sense of fear but then remembered it is a crossword and it has to be fair, the 1 across meaning was new to me but I did like 12 across and 5 down appealed to me, there were lots ot great clues so I have no COTD, but thank you to to proXimal and Cryptic Sue.

  8. A duel effort with Mrs B today and going for a ****/***-the difficulty rating was only given four stars because there have been more difficult toughies!
    Anyway a pleasant afternoon all round,
    last in was 14a ,I realised that there was an I substitute for the T but never thought of ‘decapitating it’
    Liked 1a ,reminded me of my cricketing days, 11a took an age to parse-Mrs B twigged the American casualty area-new to me.
    Thanks to setter and CS.

  9. Definitely a Toughie today, but good fun.

    Sue, in 12a it’s only the two letter ‘U’s which need to be removed – the ‘S’s form part of the anagram fodder.

  10. Thanks for your review, crypticsue. I think your explanation of 12 across needs some refinement. You only get rid of both letters u (not us) from uNDISGuISED, which leaves you with the nine-letter anagram fodder for the answer.

    A nice clue innovation (for me at least) to use “us” to mean more than one example of the letter “u”.

    1. Thank you. Deep Threat had already pointed this out so I’ve amended my hint

  11. This took two sessions, either side of popping down to the allotment to harvest courgettes, shallots, potatoes and other goodies. It wasn’t a quick solve but I got there in the end and enjoyed the journey. I liked many of the clues, but 9d raised the biggest smile when I got it so gets my vote. Thanks to crypticsue and proXimal.

  12. Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish (which was quite a long time) and all the wonderful wordplay successfully understood. Still chuckling over the surface reading for 28a.
    Many thanks proXimal and CS.

  13. Being a chess player 10a totally zugzwanged me at first
    Fantastic puzzle, my former nemesis is now a contender for favourite setter
    Thanks for the challenge proXimal and thanks to Sue too

  14. A proper toughie and quite an uphill battle for me but I got there in the end. Have been successful in toughie land all week but what will tomorrow bring?

  15. Needed a few hints to finish.
    The toughest toughie of the week as far as I am concerned.
    Put Afros in 23a which didn’t help.
    Thanks to proximal and to CS for the review and much needed help.

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