Toughie 2508 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2508

Toughie No 2508 by Firefly

Hints and tips by crypticsue

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

Thursday brings us Firefly with a crossword on the Toughie spectrum

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Brief outfit for a special figure (5,6)
PRIME NUMBER To supply with instructions (brief) followed by a set or group (outfit)

9a    He rakes in shattered crags, even (9)
SCAVENGER An anagram (shattered) of CRAGS EVEN

10a    Champs elect to be heard (5)
CHEWS A homophone (to be heard) of a synonym for elect or pick

11a    Slight suspicion about entering sauna, say? (6)
BREATH The ‘usual’ way of saying about or on the subject of entering the type of room such as a sauna

12a    Support when traversing choppy Elbe? (8)
LIFEBELT Insert (when traversing) an anagram (choppy) of ELBE Into a verb meaning to support

13a    Cheering news — one’s gaining a pound … (6)
GENIAL A slang term for news, the letter representing one, A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for pound sterling

15a    … towards a curry, perhaps, after Charlie’s underground excavation (8)
CATACOMB A preposition meaning towards, A (from the clue), and a brush used on horses (curry) all go after the letter represented by Charlie in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

18a    Envy about Granny’s engagement (8)
COVENANT A verb meaning to envy goes about another name for your granny

19a    Gobbles very loudly in street beside The Telegraph (6)
STUFFS Follow the abbreviation for street with the musical instruction to play very loudly inserted into the way people at the Telegraph might refer to themselves which isn’t actually how the clue reads

21a    Up-tempo shindig? (4,4)
HIGH TIME Another way of saying up and a synonym for tempo go together to produce a lively celebration

23a    Small-scale plant‘s into carbon sailing-boats (6)
BONSAI Hidden in carBON SAIling

26a    Aerofoil allowing forward or backward movement and view? (5)
ROTOR A rotating part which is also a palindrome (allowing forward or backward movement) and, on a helicopter, for example, allowing one to view from a height?

27a    Without ceremony, nightdress is trimmed by South Bank playhouse (9)
NEGLIGENT Almost all (trimmed) of a flimsy nightdress followed by the abbreviation for the playhouse found on the South Bank of the River Thames

28a    Sly army type misused component of a cycle from York (7,4)
MYSTERY PLAY An anagram (misused) of SLY ARMY TYPE produces one part of a cycle of performances in the city of York


1d    Correspondence from Proust to be regularly at gallery from the start (7)
POSTBAG The regular letters from PrOuSt To Be At and the ‘start’ of Gallery

2d    Steamed up in refitted frigate — leaders of force getting withheld (5)
IRATE An anagram (refitted) of fRIgATE without (leaders… withheld) the first letters of Force and Getting

3d    Weakness of vision in Spain agreed with court (9)
EYESTRAIN The IVR code for Spain, a way of saying agreed and a retinue (court)

4d    Ship’s doctor, where child needs amputation, is prompt (4)
URGE Remove (needs amputation) a male child from the title given to a ship’s doctor

5d    The setter is able to sit below Sting in concert hall (8)
BARBICAN How the setter would say that they were able to do something sits below or goes after a sting

6d    Survey playground underwritten by church (5)
RECCE An abbreviated playground followed by (underwritten in a Down clue) the abbreviation for the Church of England

7d    Mum quiet, only coming upstairs — something’s brewing here! (4-3)
MASH-TUB Another informal name for your mother (mum), an instruction to be quiet and a reversal (coming upstairs) of an adverb meaning only

8d    Dam, some say, with northward current — it’s monstrous! (8)
WEREWOLF A homophone (some say – I wouldn’t!) of a dam followed by a reversal (northern) of a current

14d    Follow directions audibly from labourer on step (8)
NAVIGATE Homophones (audibly) of labourer and a way of walking (step)

16d    His out-tray, not small, could be specialist (9)
AUTHORITY An anagram (could be) of HIs OUT TRAY without the S (not small)

17d    American skipper of Nautilus, on three points, displaying bloomers (8)
ANEMONES The abbreviation for American, the skipper of the Nautilus (in two novels by Jules Verne) and three compass points

18d    Shelters accommodate fifty per cent of rides in characteristic groups (7)
COHORTS Some small dwellings (shelters) ‘accommodate’ half of the name of animals used on rides

20d    Son cunning about feet being fast (7)
SWIFTLY The abbreviation for Son and a synonym for cunning go ‘about’ the abbreviation for feet

22d    Drone with loose filament (5)
THRUM Who knew that this verb meaning to drone could also be a noun referring to a loose thread?

24d    Singular source for expansion (5)
SWELL The abbreviation for Singular and a source of water or oil

25d    Kind of arch exclamations? (4)
OGEE An expression of wonder (1) and an informal interjection (3)


14 comments on “Toughie 2508

  1. I managed to complete this before the hints appeared. Admittedly not without some help from Mr. G but I got about four fifths unaided. A most enjoyable puzzle. I did not realise that 25d was a kind of arch having associated it for years with a certain type of mass produced American wall clock.

    Many thanks to Firefly for the challenge and to Crypticsue for the hints.

  2. A pleasant Toughie – thanks to Firefly and CS.

    Like CS I don’t like the 8d homophone but at least Firefly includes ‘some say’ unlike a number of setters who assume that everyone else speaks the way they do.

    I took the the ‘outfit’ in 1a to be an item of attire as in “she’s wearing a little black ******”.

    I didn’t know either the loose filament or the arch.

    The clues I liked best were 12a and 5d.

  3. The top half went in very quickly, not so the bottom half. I needed help from the internet for a couple.

    Thanks to Firefly and to CS. The hint at 1d needs a little tweak.

  4. Seemed a bit easier than Firefly’s usual – and no compound anagram!
    Re the 8d homophone – I’ve heard it pronounced both as wier…. and where…. and Chambers has both, so “some say” is entirely appropriate.
    I didn’t know the loose thread either. Moral – if in doubt look in Chambers.
    Thanks to Firefly and CS

  5. Chambers gives the pronunciation of the dam as wēr and of the answer as wērˈwŭlf which would suggest that the homophone works, but the audios in WordWeb tell a different story!

  6. Well I got there after a few bung-ins. I think the obscurities made it a tad harder than a 1* for difficulty but it was good fun to complete. 4d was my favourite and the arch my final entry once all the checkers were in place.

    My thanks to Firefly for the challenge and to CS.

  7. I enjoyed this one and solved at a steady ** pace. A few clues required assistance to get a full parse and I’m still a bit hmmm regarding 26a. 3d was my favourite. Thanks to CS and Firefly.

    1. For 26a I thought ‘allowing forward or backward movement’ was describing the aerofoil, whereas ‘allowing forward or backward view’ was referring to the palindrome.

  8. A Firefly all on my own–a first for me, I think. And what a pleasure it was, especially 12, 15, and 18a, clever centerpieces for an altogether delightful puzzle. 25a made me laugh; it’s an old NYT GK chestnut but never tickled my fancy before now. Thanks to CS, whose hints I didn’t need (but I’ll read them now), and to Firefly. *** / *****

  9. I was a bit disappointed by this one as I thought from his last puzzle that our setter had returned to his old humorous ways – apparently not!
    My favourite was probably 1a which I took in the same way as Gazza mentioned.

    Thanks to Firefly and to CS for the review.

  10. An enjoyable solve, not like yesterday’s back page which was a painful slog. Lots to like.
    COTD 15a for its misleading curry

  11. I’m always a Happy Chappie when I manage to solve a Toughie without help. I didn’t know either the filament or the arch, but the wordplay gave them away.

    All over in ** time.

    Many thanks to Firefly and CS.

  12. Like MalcolmR I too am a happy chappie though it took me another *** time longer than his ** to complete & in truth there was a lot of educated guesswork/bung ins involved. Though I resisted the hints there were also a couple of occasions when I’d stalled so I checked that all input was correct & much to my surprise it was. Having now read through the review I’m clear on 2 of my 4 non parsed ones (one of which was missed 23a lurker) but not entirely sure I still get 15&19a. Having visited many distilleries I’ve never heard 7d called a tub before always a tun & wouldn’t cheery rather than cheering have been more synonymous with 13a?
    Anyway I thought it a great Toughie with lots of super clues – 5&8d along with 12&27a were my picks.
    Thanks Firefly & CS for the explanations.

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