Toughie 2495 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2495

Toughie No 2495 by Serpent

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

This is just the sort of puzzle I like – no gimmicks, no obscurities just clever wordplay and deceptive definitions. Thanks to Serpent for the entertainment.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

4a Bizarre content-free media column shared by everybody (8)
COMMUNAL: an anagram (bizarre) of M[edi]A COLUMN.

8a Measure associated with the pound follows British economic recovery (6)
BOUNCE: a measure associated with a pound (of weight, not money) follows the single-letter abbreviation for British. CS will be pleased that there’s no sighting of her favourite cat!

9a This car could convey 6 (8)
RUNABOUT: this is a reverse anagram. Split your answer 5,3 and solve the anagram to get 6d.

10a Struggle ineffectually, being near the bottom in the main (8)
FLOUNDER: double definition, the second a creature that lives near the bottom of the sea.

11a He may buy rounds and drain bottle after golf (6)
GUNMAN: a verb meaning ‘drain bottle’ or ‘deprive of courage’ follows the letter that golf is used for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

12a Peacekeepers clearing tense area of Tours goes wrong (8)
UNRAVELS: start with our usual international peacekeepers and add a verb meaning tours without the bit that is the abbreviation for tense.

13a Beat criminal up in Slough (8)
PUNISHED: stick together an anagram (criminal) of UP IN and a verb to slough or cast off.

16a Start school dropping every second set of courses (8)
LUNCHEON: glue together a verb to start or instigate and our usual English public school then take away the second letter of each.

19a Ignore importance of aristocratic underworld figure? (8)
DISCOUNT: when split 3,5 this could be an underworld aristocrat.

21a Dive practice on vacation includes breathing apparatus (6)
PLUNGE: the outer letters of practice contain a breathing apparatus of which most of us possess two.

23a New College hampered by twelve working with no representation (3-5)
NON-UNION: abbreviations for new and a college are contained in 12:00.

24a Wild dog almost biting relative is rather scary (8)
DAUNTING: a wild dog from down under without its last letter contains a female relative.

25a Misfortune, as expected, brings discomfort with it (6)
UNEASE: hidden in the clue.

26a Funny scene employs ‘characters’, regularly appearing inappropriate (8)
UNSEEMLY: select regular letters from the first three words of the clue.

Down Clues

1d Leave supporter for one expected to rise to great heights (7)
GOSLING: this was my last answer and I wondered for an instant whether a Brexiteer was involved. I needn’t have worried – concatenate a verb to leave and something used to support an injured member.

2d Mute panic when swimming is related to air supply (9)
PNEUMATIC: an anagram (when swimming) of MUTE PANIC.

3d Massage will reportedly cause irritation (6)
NEEDLE: a homophone of a verb to massage and a contracted form of ‘will’.

4d Lady disheartened after exchanging letters in a fitting manner (15)
CORRESPONDINGLY: the outer letters of lady follow a present participle meaning ‘exchanging letters’.

5d Staff getting on and coping with difficulties (8)
MANAGING: charade of a verb to staff and an adjective meaning ‘getting on (in years)’.

6d Preventative measure quashed by jury rejecting case associated with settlement (5)
URBAN: a preventative measure follows the word jury without its outer letters.

7d Praise responsible individual’s time in A&E (7)
ADULATE: someone who’s old enough to be a responsible individual with their final letter (an abbreviation for time) placed between A and E.

14d What addict maybe did to obtain free drugs once? (9)
SCROUNGED: a semi-all-in-one – make an anagram (free) of DRUGS ONCE.

15d Substance turning up in drug ingested by couriers (8)
SELENIUM: insert IN and the abbreviation for Ecstasy into couriers of illegal drugs then reverse it all.

17d Rid one’s mind of tragic figure stopping sister cycling (7)
UNLEARN: one of Shakespeare’s tragic figures goes inside a religious sister with her letters cycled around.

18d Back objective to replace leader in Hackney? (7)
ENDORSE: the falsely-capitalise hackney here is a type of animal. Replace its leading letter by a synonym of objective or purpose.

20d Wicked king’s not part of reason for incoherent state (6)
SINFUL: start with an informal word for sufficient booze to render one incoherent then remove the chess abbreviation for king.

22d Present Only Connect, wanting both sides to get involved (5)
NONCE: an anagram (to get involved) of [c]ONNEC[t] with both sides missing.

My contenders for honours today are 11a, 16a, 1d and 18d. Which one(s) beguiled you?


36 comments on “Toughie 2495

  1. Managed nearly all of this. Beaten by four or five and by 1d which is a lovely clue. My COTD

  2. Fun and quite tough [not helped by the “cornery” grid]. The clues sometimes seem a bit verbose [eg “area” in 12a] but most of the time the wordiness is part of the setter’s craft. There were 2 that took a while to parse which, on reflection, I like a lot – 7d where the apostrophe is all important, and 22d where the cunning use of Only Connect disguises the 2 word definition. Other picks include 13a and 20d [LOL].
    Thanks to Serpent and Gazza [1d my last as well]

  3. This took me about my usual time for a Serpent – more than Gazza’s 2.5 difficulty – but enjoyable for the reasons he outlines above.

    Thanks to Serpent and Gazza – 1d was my favourite clue

    1. Just repeating my comment on 29492. I hope the bruises are not too painful. Last time I fell I had a most impressive black eye.

      1. Mine is pretty spectacular – never had one before and am hoping not to have one again. I’m feeling a lot better today but I think it will take a while to fully recover. Thank you for your concern.

  4. I had to check the definition of 22d. I would have to count that as obscure. Otherwise very fair and enjoyable.
    PS I hope all those of you who communicate by text are now ending every sentence with a full stop now, even if you weren’t before.

  5. It might have taken an aeon but delighted to finish with the use of only 1 letter reveal – the 13a/14d checker which was very annoying as neither were particularly tricky but was up a blind alley as convinced 13a began pan for who knows what reason. The final 3 to hold out were the 1,15 & 22 downs & they only yielded on the 3rd revisit. As usual I failed to parse a couple (11a & 20d) but was pleased to get a homophone for a change (3d). Favourites were the downs at 1,15&17.
    Many thanks Serpent & to Gazza for the review.
    Ps Gazza I’ve only just discovered that all of the old NTSPP puzzles are available on the site & have started to work (slowly) through your contributions having enjoyed your most recent one so much.

    1. I’m very flattered, Huntsman. There are masses of excellent NTSPPs by many different setters in the archive as well – they should keep you busy for a few days!

  6. Struggled with the SW corner but a really enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to Serpent and Gazza. My COTD is 1d

  7. Keep hoping that I’ll learn to appreciate this setter’s compilations but it’s not really happening thus far.
    I did enjoy some of the more straightforward ones today – 10,19,21&24a quite appealed – but several others filled me with 25a.

    Thanks to Serpent and also to Gazza for the illustrated review. If we’re going to be technical about it, I think your pic for 1d should have shown a Bar-headed Goose with youngsters but that’s just my take on the clue.

    1. I bow to your avian knowledge, Jane. I’ve just Googled the bar-headed goose and see that it flies very high, so I think I understand your point.

      1. Probably only in my mind because I watched an enthralling documentary about their migration route some time ago. Fascinates me that they can keep their bearings, continue to breathe and not freeze at those altitudes!

  8. Well I finished it in reasonable time (preferable to watching Saint Sharons Driving) but I will need to ready Gazzas blog to understand a couple of answers. Ta to all

  9. A tough as in the word crossword for me which I completed with hints and electronic help, 10a and 12a were my favourites, I am still having trouble parsing 9a as how does car equal the first word in the clue, I realize through the hints it is a reverse anagram but any help would be appreciated, thank you to Serpent and Gazza for the time well spent.

    1. The ‘This’ in 9a is really padding – the definition, as I’ve underlined, is ‘car’. So, if you split the answer (runabout) into 5,3 and treat it as an anagram (out) of RUNAB you get URBAN which is the answer to 6d.

      1. Bangs head on table! what was as clear as mud is now as clear as day, car as in method of getting from A to B. Thank you Gazza

  10. A joint effort today with Mrs B and a ***/**** difficulty with a *** pleasure.
    Some difficult parsing typical of Serpent-well it is a toughie .
    Last in was 15d ,glad I had the checking letters! 17a is a word rarely seen in print ,liked the clue
    A well spent afternoon thanks all.

  11. This was a real Toughie for me, and took several goes before it all fell into place. 1d was also my COTD. As I am only into my second week of Toughies it is too early to gauge the difficulty levels day by day, but this seemed a step up. I gather Fridays are the real test.

    Thanks very much to Gazza and to Serpent for the considerable challenge.

    1. Well spotted – and there was I saying that there no gimmicks. I don’t know what it means.

  12. Now I see bangs head on table! what was as clear as mud is now as clear as day, car as in method of getting from A to B. Thank you Gazza

  13. Splendid Toughie, though I failed to solve three of the clues: 1d, 15d, and 12a–even with electronic help (all five letters). So I didn’t do as well as I should have, though ‘mules’ (meaning drug suppliers, I take it) is new to me. But I very much enjoyed the challenge and look forward to more offerings from Serpent. Thanks to Gazza for the hints, three of which I very much needed today. 5* / 4.5*

    1. A mule is not so much a drug supplier as someone who agrees to carry illegal drugs across frontiers for money.

  14. We found this fairly difficult for a Wednesday Toughie and I was amazed to be told that there is an UN in every across clue. I hope Serpent will comment. Thanks to him and Gaza. Sorry about the fall CS.

  15. Many thanks to Gazza for the excellent blog and to everyone who has been kind enough to comment. And best wishes to CS – I hope you’re feeling okay.

    Well done, Tim @12, for spotting UN. I noticed the grid contained two blocks of black cells across the centre of the grid in the shape of the lower case letters u and n and decided to replicate them in the across entries.

    1. Thanks for the explanation and for joining us. I enjoyed your puzzle even though I needed help to finish.

  16. A tough 4* for me. Mainly held up by 15, which took me a third of the solving time. I must be an “assino”, as they say in Italy.

  17. We find it hard to believe that so many of us (yes we too) failed to notice the UN in the across answers.
    A couple of clues in the SW slowed down our solve but we did get there in the end.
    A lot of fun to solve and our gold medal goes to 9a.
    Thanks Serpent and Gazza.

  18. Beaten by 1d and 12a but thoroughly enjoyed this today and am now kicking myself. Thanks to Serpent & Gazza.

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