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Toughie 2504

Toughie No 2504 by proXimal

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

A nice proper Thursday Toughie with lots to enjoy throughout

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Mother takes in dogs (8)
MASTIFFS An informal word for mother and a slang verb meaning cheats or robs (takes in)

6a    Worship silver in cups (6)
HOMAGE The usual ‘in’ cups or goes round the chemical symbol for silver

9a    Curvature hard to miss in cavern (6)
CAMBER Omit or miss out the abbreviation for hard in a synonym for cavern

10a    Link to alternative journal about new normal (8)
ORDINARY Link or join together a conjunction used to indicate an alternative and a journal into which is inserted (about) the abbreviation for New

11a    One seemingly delightful drink (8)
SMOOTHIE An informal term for an insincere smooth-spoken person or a drink made with pureed fruit, yogurt, milk or ice cream

12a    Flier is about film (6)
SISKIN A reversal (about) of IS (from the clue) followed by an outer layer (film)

13a    Evidence of delivery time given by shop informally (7,5)
STRETCH MARKS A slang term for a period of imprisonment (time) and the informal way we refer to one of our best-known chains of shops

16a    Speak against Masons? Time for expulsion (12)
DISLODGEMENT To treat with disrespect (speak against), a way of describing members of the Freemasons and the abbreviation for Time

19a    Coarse lubricated drunk, not awfully cute (6)
RIBALD An anagram (drunk) of LUBRICATED without (not) the letters CUTE (awfully telling you that they aren’t in that order)

21a    Daring thief earl essentially apprehends (8)
FEARLESS Hidden (apprehends) in thieF EARL ESSentially

23a    Returned wine, second-rate one found on flight (8)
BANISTER A reversal (returned) of some Greek wine and the letter used to indicate that something is second-rate

24a    Offensive northern radio broadcast hosts (6)
INROAD An anagram (broadcast) of RADIO ‘hosts’ the abbreviation for Northern

25a    Not giving smart reply in the end (6)
STINGY A sharp pain (smart) and the ‘end’ letter of replY

26a    Trimmed distorted beetroot, fixed for cooking (8)
SKEWERED Trim or remove the last letter from a synonym for distorted and add the colour of beetroot


2d    Warnings from nearly all branches (6)
ALARMS The first two (nearly) letters of ALl and some branches

3d    Restricted a part of car with raised temperature (5)
TABOO A (from the clue) and part of a car – the T (temperature) at the end should be raised or put at the top of the word

4d    Helped hide followers of explorer Erik (9)
FURTHERED Some animal hide and the two words you’d add to the name of the Norse explorer Erik

5d    Least clever son most humble (7)
SLOWEST The abbreviation for Son and another way of saying most humble

6d    Deity from hot area acts without love (5)
HADES The abbreviations for Hot and Area and a verb meaning acts without the letter used to indicate love or nothing

7d    Put explosives on handle and access passage (9)
MINESHAFT Explosives put on the handle of an axe or knife

8d    Pungent scrap turned over tongue unknown (8)
GARLICKY A reversal (turned over) of a scrap (of material) a verb meaning to tongue and a mathematical unknown

13d    Lifeline thrown Aston Villa after losing lead to Liverpool (9)
SALVATION An anagram (thrown) of ASTON VILlA without one of the Ls (losing ‘lead’ to Liverpool)

14d    Mineral regularly cheaper — it is in China (9)
The regular letters of cHeApEr followed by IT (from the clue) inserted into a friend (China)

15d    Could that be article in upended box for guest? (8)
VISITANT A person who is a guest in the house of another – a simple question meaning ‘could that be’ and an indefinite article inserted into an abbreviated television (box)

17d    Explosive set off covering rock’s opening cracks (7)
EFFORTS An anagram (explosive) of SET OFF ‘covering’ the opening letter of Rock

18d    Duck‘s rest, dropping wings and head (6)
ESCAPE Drop or omit the ‘wings’ of rESt and add a head[land]

20d    Eccentric exuberant replacing stuffing in dolly (5)
DOTTY Replace the middle letters (stuffing) of DollY with an informal abbreviation meaning exuberant

22d    Grand spread, left for male (5)
LARGE Replace the M (male) in a type of spread with the abbreviation for Left

19 comments on “Toughie 2504

  1. :phew:
    I found this really tough but very enjoyable. There were some devious but very clever constructions to be unravelled along the way.

    I would have said that the slang term for “takes in” in 1a was an Americanism. Collins agrees with me but Chambers doesn’t.

    I needed electronic help to arrive at the answer for 15d which was a new word for me. Even then I couldn’t parse it – thanks for the enlightenment, CS.

    I had a lot of ticks on my page with 11a, 13a, 16a & 4d making it onto my podium.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to CS.

  2. This was a really enjoyable Toughie with plenty of misleading definitions and clever wordplay – thanks to proXimal and CS.
    I ticked 6a, 16a and 26a but my favourite was the brilliantly deceptive 13a.
    I think the first 2 letters of the 10a answer are ‘link to alternative’.

  3. Certainly tough – after yesterday’s stroll. It’s taken me a while & I have 4 confident answers after 2 read throughs.

    1. Superb puzzle but would never have managed to finish it without sneaking a look (14d, 26a, 8d & 16a) at what CS had underlined as the definition. Even then I needed to read the full hint for 14d & finally reveal the answer. Some very clever wordplay but top spot must surely be 13a – clue of the month thus far for my money.
      Thanks ProXimal & CS – shall now read the review fully to appreciate a few other answers I bumped into.

      1. Without having read your comment, I just called 13a one of the the two COTWeek, and I think I’ll amend that to COTMonth, too. And I’d add, the best puzzle in weeks (maybe because I managed to finish it without any help!).

        1. Well done you – I could have marooned on a desert island & unless Crusoe was a dab hand at Cryptics would never have got there without CS

  4. Certainly a proper toughie today and worthy of a ****/****.
    Not familiar with the 1a ‘stiffs’ and not in my old Chambers -maybe an updated version for Christmas !
    Solved in fits and starts, with the SE quadrant the last to complete.
    Favourite has to b 13a and liked the surface of 22a-the wine was in a recent crossword.
    Thanks to setter and CS.
    Probably a 5* awaits tomorrow.

  5. For me this was 3*/5* – by far the most enjoyable puzzle of the week. The only one I needed to check was the mineral in 14d.
    My favourite was 13a which elicited a big smile once the penny dropped.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to CS.

  6. I did have to use some electronic assistance to get through this one but it was nevertheless a very satisfying solve. Learnt something new in 15d and my top three were 11,13&16a.

    Thanks to proXimal and to CS for the review.

  7. I’ve just seen the sad news that Diana Rigg has died. Who can forget her stunning portrayal as Emma Peel in The Avengers?

    1. Only watching her the other night hamming it up in Channel 5’s surprisingly good remake of All Creatures Great & Small.

  8. Hooray! I finished a proXimal Toughie, alone and unaided, for the first time, and I was so happy last night–and woke up, just a bit ago, still quite pleased with it all. Not only that, but I think it has the Clues of the Week for me, the very clever 16a, immediately followed by its companion 13a. It took me two different shifts to complete the puzzle, over a stretch of time, but who’s counting, anyway? Thanks to CS, whose review I’ll read now, and to proximal. ***** / *****

  9. Very enjoyable challenge, thanks to proximal and cs
    Back from holiday in time for rookie corner on Monday, passing Gazza’s neck of the woods along the way

  10. Well, I got it finished, but I did need a little electronic help. What’s more, I parsed it all myself, 15d taking me the longest. COTD has to be 13a, as others have said. The SE was last to fall.

    I think I have earned a self-congratulatory pint. Or two.

    Many thanks to proXimal and CS.

  11. Although we got 1a easily enough the usage of the slang word for ‘to cheat’ was new to us and needed checking in BRB.
    13a definitely our favourite too.
    Thoroughly enjoyable solve with a good level of challenge to keep us out of mischief for quite some time.
    Thanks proXimal and CS.

  12. I also thoroughly enjoyed this Toughie, which was certainly worth its name. My favourite, too, was 13a. This was an expression I had never seen before in a crossword ! I also liked 4d and the backward spelling of a wine I didn’t expect in 23a. Thanks to proXimal and CS. I’ve got a hunch that tomorrow’s challenge might take me slightly longer…bring it on, though !!

  13. Thanks to ProXimal and to crypticSue for the review and hints. I managed to guess 1a. I’m now going to quit while I’m ahead :-)

  14. We didn’t think this was unusually tough and we particularly liked the deception in 12a and Cryptic Sue’s fine illustration of that flier.

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