Toughie 2509 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2509

Toughie No 2509 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Pleasant enough, though I normally enjoy Sparks a lot more – could just be me today.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


9a    Regularly run riot on party wine (5)
DOURO: The even (regularly) letters of ‘run riot’ follow (on, in an across clue) a 2-letter party

10a    Harry’s at play running around for paper (9)
ANAGLYPTA: A 3-letter verb meaning to harry or henpeck has around it an anagram (running) of AT PLAY

11a    Picked up crook, one offering the best speed? (7)
CHEETAH: A homophone of a crook or someone who doesn’t play fair

12a    Pussy Galore’s temporary residence (7)
CATTERY: I think this is just a weak cryptic definition of a temporary (e.g., during holidays) accommodation for a feline. Honor Blackman stars as Pussy Galore in the 1964 James Bond movie ‘Goldfinger’

13a    Struck son getting low grade on test (5)
SMOTE: The abbreviation for son, then a low exam grade follows (on, in an across clue) an annual test for a car

14a    Set about foreign character that’s caught inside plant (9)
RADICCHIO: A set that broadcasts news and music goes about a Greek character containing (that has … inside) the abbreviation for caught

16a    Nefariously airs new branch of mathematics (7,8)
FOURIER ANALYSIS: More of a mathematical tool than a branch, but an anagram (new) of NEFARIOUSLY AIRS

19a    Officer to get boat and change direction (9)
SUBALTERN: A boat that goes underwater, a verb meaning change, and a compass direction

21a    Heading west, went by Underground entrance (5)
DEBUT: A reversal (heading west, in an across clue) of a verb that means ‘went by underground’

23a    Ripped clothes worn by Oscar (3,2,2)
OUT OF IT: The letter corresponding to the radio code Oscar goes inside (worn by) a set of clothes

25a    Shake head, you and me getting reported (7)
CONCUSS: A homophone (getting reported) of a slang word for head and a pronoun that means you and me

27a    Profit from revised motel menu (9)
EMOLUMENT: An anagram (revised) of MOTEL MENU

28a    Nervous, as might be social workers? (5)
ANTSY: An adjective that might describe 6-legged social workers



1d    Superficially, Old Icelandic is poetic (4)
ODIC: The outer letters (superficially) of Old Icelandic

2d    Divorcee extremely cross in public over suit (6)
TUXEDO: I spent some time trying to put EX in here somehow. But no, it is a reversal (over) of the outer letters (extremely) of divorcee plus the letter that looks like a cross inside (in) a 3-letter word meaning public or published

3d    Very good police getting star? (3,3,4)
TOP THE BILL: A 3-letter informal adjective meaning very good plus a (3,3) expression for the police

4d    Article penned by distant relative (6)
FATHER: The definite article goes inside (penned by) an adjective meaning distant

5d    Imagine desperate bloke being stylish performer (5,3)
FANCY DAN: A verb meaning imagine or wish for plus a cartoon character who has the prefix ‘desperate’

6d    Seems like old times are initiating depression (4)
SLOT: First letters (… are initiating)

7d    Accelerated board activity repeatedly curtailed in talks (8)
SPEECHES: An accelerated version of a game played on an 8×8 chequered board (5,5), without the last letters (repeatedly curtailed)

8d    Not strict diet, so anyhow take your time (4,4,2)
EASY DOES IT: An adjective that means not strict or not hard plus an anagram (anyhow) of DIET SO

13d    Sentimental affection, mostly on what we know is low-key (4-6)
SOFT-SPOKEN: A (4,4) sentimental affection for someone without the last letter (mostly), plus a 3-letter word meaning knowledge

15d    In Iceland, on a mobile from Scotland (10)
CALEDONIAN: An anagram (mobile) of ICELAND ON A

17d    Relax — peacekeepers working following strike (8)
UNBUTTON: A 2-letter abbreviation for an international peace-keeping organisation, then a preposition that can mean working follows a verb meaning to strike, as a goat might with its horns

18d    Let outside old information unit (8)
ROENTGEN: A 4-letter verb meaning to let or lease goes around (outside) the abbreviation for old, plus a 3-letter word for information

20d    Delicate management on ice, typically just a bit (6)
NICETY: Hidden ( … just a bit)

22d    Minor example of House to put behind British Prime Minister (6)
BHUTTO: A small (minor example of) house or shed plus TO from the clue comes after (put behind) the abbreviation for British

24d    A square hole in coat (4)
FOUR: The letter that looks like nothing goes inside an expensive politically-incorrect coat

26d    Twigs picked up from river (4)
STYX: A homophone of a word meaning twigs as in small bits of wood

I like ripped clothes (23a). Which clues were your favourites?

27 comments on “Toughie 2509

  1. Not the toughest Toughie but enjoyable and perhaps we need something a bit lighter interspersed with the now fortnightly doses of Elgar. Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

    I always thought a 2d was just half a suit but the BRB confirms it can be the whole caboodle.

    Sparks usually gives us a little Nina, which I usually miss, but I did spot that the letters across the top line form a relevant sequence.

    My ticks went to 23a, 3d and 7d.

      1. I noticed those letters too but don’t know what they signify (well, OTT I know but not the rest).

              1. OK – I’ve twigged the top line but the bottom line remains a mystery. Could I have some more help please.

                  1. Surely the last eight clues would give you thirteeN,fifteeN, seventeeN, eighteeN, twentY,twenty twO, twenty fouR and twenty siX. Not NNRNYNOX. Should I just discount the order they come in?

  2. Having ‘spent’ my electronic gift of 5 letters, I still had two unsolved clues–and so they remained: 10a (which I had never heard of) &12a (which I should have guessed at). But I did enjoy this nice Toughie challenge, with my favourites: 25a, 19a, 23a, 22d (yes, I ‘got it’ and remember her well, a tragic loss), & 5d (I first had ‘man’ but 14a took care of that). Thanks to Dutch for the review and to Sparks for the workout. (When I don’t finish a Toughie, it hardly seems apt to ***** it.)

  3. My first Friday finish without any help so delighted with this one. Regular solvers may have found it at the easier end of the setting spectrum, and it was not by my nemesis Elgar, but I thought it was tough but fair. Enjoyable too, which is the point of the exercise. 17 and 22d stood out, with 10a my final entry.

    Many thanks to Sparks for the very fair challenge and to Dutch.

  4. Didn’t exactly cover myself in glory today – had to come in to check with our blogger on the unknowns at 16a plus 5&18d. I’d agree with Dutch that there didn’t seem to be as much fun as Sparks often gives us but I did rather like Pussy Galore’s temporary home and the officer changing direction.

    Thanks to Sparks (and Sparky) and gratitude to Dutch for the assistance – I did idly wonder why your pics for 23a & 17d were of women and you definitely showed the wrong Bond wearing a 2d!

  5. I’m afraid this was way beyond me. Just couldn’t get on the right wavelength. My only solved clue was the obscure 16a and that was done with an electronic word search!

    1. not obscure to me – the basis of my whole career! (I have enjoyed being an X-ray crystallographer: the calculation that translates an X-ray diffraction pattern into a 3-D picture of the molecule you are studying is 16a. Aren’t you glad I shared that?)

      1. In fact, I am glad. One of my undergrad degrees was in Mathematics, though Fourier Analysis (ca 1956-60) must have been a secret to me. My last favourite class in Maths was Partial Diff. Equations; Fourier must have been taught by the Physics people.

  6. We needed Google assistance for 16a which was new to us but managed to get all the rest of it sorted but it did take us quite some time. We did look for a Nina but totally failed to spot it. Very clever and very devious.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  7. Decided to have another bash at a Toughie late yesterday and despite some heavy weather managed to complete a good chunk of this before coming up short and needing some assistance with the last half dozen or so entries notably in the NW and SE corners.
    Was under the impression 2d was a jacket but now suitably corrected. COTDs 19a and 5d.
    I didn’t spot the top and bottom line sequencing noted in comments above but that is extremely clever and well thought out. I often wonder how long each crossword takes to compile with that level of detail.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch!

  8. What a fantastic nina. Like many others i thought that 2d was a jacket! but stand corrected by Chambers. My favourite was 10a. The hallway in the house in London where I grew up was covered in the stuff and i still remember helping my father remove it in the 50’s it was as tough as hell. Never to be forgotten.!! 12a and 26d caused a smile. Thanks to Sparks for some good entertainment and Dutch for the usual excellent explanations.

  9. Thank you Dutch for the blog and to all for the positive comments.

    Just goes to show how a setter’s prediction diverges from reality: no way did I think this was easier than usual, yet most of you did.

    Yes, the Nina was a sneaky one — but, as ever, not necessary to know to solve the puzzle — so it’s really rewarding to see solvers appreciate it! ;)

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