Toughie 2516 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2516

Toughie No 2516 by Zandio

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

An enjoyable Toughie with no obscurities but a couple of clues that needed a bit of thought to parse

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Thieves select parcels, all with no middle and nothing in (11)
PICKPOCKETS A verb meaning to select and some parcels joined together and then delete the middle letter of the joined word and replace with O (nothing in)

7a    Silly electronic currency units rising retrospectively (7)
PUERILE Reverse (retrospectively) the abbreviation for electronic, the currency unit of Turkey and a synonym for rising

8a    ‘Pint?’ ‘Very much so!’ (3,4)
NOT HALF An expression meaning ‘rather’ (very much so) sounds like a response you might make if you were thirsty and wanted a pint of beer rather than the lesser option

10a    Embarrassed seeing the woman’s husband’s framed record (8)
SHEEPISH Another way of saying in full ‘the woman’s’ and the abbreviation for Husband ‘framed’ an extended-play record

11a    Better scripture class (6)
REFORM The abbreviation for school scripture classes and a [school] class

13a    Cheers after most of football team scrap (4)
IOTA The letters that look like the number of players in a football team if one was sent off, followed by an informal expression of thanks (cheers)

14a    Cheating, in a huff until rehabilitated (10)
UNFAITHFUL An anagram (rehabilitated) of  A HUFF UNTIL

16a    One’s been chilly — I stay, oddly, showing foolishness (10)
IMBECILITY The short way of saying I am (one’s) and the odd letters of BeEn ChIlLy I sTaY

18a    Business degree causes deep sleep (4)
COMA An abbreviated business and a second or further degree in an arts subject

21a    One may turn over a bit in bed (6)
TROWEL A cryptic definition of a tool one might use when working on a bed in the garden

22a    It’s in Lear — changing it upset them? (8)
LITERATI An anagram (changing) of LEAR into which is inserted IT (from the clue), the result then followed with a reversal (upset – an indicator usually used in a Down clue) of IT – them being the learned people who might be upset if you changed the play King Lear

24a    Libel about US city restricting Scottish smoker (7)
CALUMNY The Latin abbreviation meaning about and an abbreviated US city ‘restricting’ the Scottish work for a chimney (smoker)

25a    How some greet carefree housing cheat given party backing (4-3)
GOOD-DAY Reverse (backing) an informal verb meaning cheat into which has been inserted a party and then put the result into an adjective meaning carefree

26a    Man’s condition after creation of gardens — OK, shattered (3-8)
GOD-FORSAKEN An anagram (shattered) of OF GARDENS OK – the whole clue being a reference to the story of the Garden of Eden


1d    Display in bar not very small to stand in (7)
PRESENT Remove the V (not very) from a verb meaning to bar or stop and replace (to stand in) with the abbreviation for Small

2d    Gathers prosecutors will protect border (6)
CRIMPS The abbreviation for the agency responsible for deciding whether criminal suspects should be prosecuted ‘will protect’ or go round a border

3d    Request one by one making a good impression (10)
PLEASINGLY A request and an adverb meaning one by one

4d    Swish vessel less ordinary (4)
CANE Another name for a slender flexible rod used for beating (swish) is found by removing (less) the abbreviation for ordinary from a light flat-bottomed boat (vessel)

5d    Opponents in bridge contract appeal (8)
ENTREATY The abbreviations for two of the opponents in a game of bridge followed by a contract

6d    Swimmer no longer available to get cap (4,3)
SEAL OFF A marine mammal (swimmer) and a way of saying no longer available

7d    Hopeless deficits — I miss epic upturns, to some extent (11)
PESSIMISTIC Found in part (to some extent) in reverse (upturns) in defiCITS I MISS EPic

9d    Acquaintance needing change of air housed by relatives accepting it (11)
FAMILIARITY An anagram (change) of AIR ‘housed’ by relatives ‘accepting’ IT (from the clue)

12d    Shells found in farmer’s furrows? (10)
CARTRIDGES If you split your solution 4, 6 you will see the reference to the furrows in a farmer’s field

15d    Criminal scared to admit this person was a squealer (8)
SCREAMED An anagram (criminal) of SCARED to ‘admit’ a pronoun oneself (this person)

17d    Pirate wields cudgel to obstruct rising? On the contrary (7)
BOOTLEG Hidden in reverse (on the contrary) in cudGEL TO OBstruct

19d    Constantly working with side at Old Trafford? (2,3,2)
ON AND ON A two-letter word meaning working, a conjunction meaning with and a side of the cricket pitch at Old Trafford

20d    Set up second form for, say, reading breaks on vessel (6)
REWORK The two-letter word meaning on (the subject of) and a cooking vessel, into which is inserted (breaks) the letter used to indicate a school subject such as reading

23d    Beginner‘s mistake, trading bits of public relations (4)
TYRO Change the P in a common keyboard mistake for an R (trading ‘bits’ of Public Relations)


25 comments on “Toughie 2516

  1. I needed electronic for a couple but otherwise solved unaided. A thoroughly enjoyable Toughie. I’m still not sure about a couple of my answers because the parsing eludes me. I will check the hints. I got 1a straight away and that gave entry to other clues. I thought 26a and 12d were really good clues.

    Many thanks, Zandio for the challenge and, of course, to Crypticsue for the hints, which I will now read.

  2. I found this a comfortable and fairly straightforward Toughie with only one or two parsing problems. Zandio is fast becoming one of my favourite setters, and this was an enjoyable example of his art.
    I really liked the reverse lurker at 7d, but my COTD was 2d.

    Many thanks to Zandio and CS.

  3. Enjoyable but not too tricky – thanks to Zandio and CS.

    My biggest problem was resisting the temptation to write in ‘tosser’ for 21a until I had the checking letter which stopped it working.

    The reason that 17d needed both ‘rising’ and ‘on the contrary’ had me pondering for a while.

    My ticks went to 8a, 21a and 17d.

  4. Quite straightforward for a Thursday. The only problem I had was with 20d; I had no idea what the clue was trying to say…
    8a was my favourite.

    Thanks to Zandio, and to CS for the write-up.

  5. I needed CS’s hints just now for 4 and 20d to be sure that my would-be answers were correct (one was, one wasn’t–I thought ‘rebook’ for 20d), but I did manage to finish the rest of this deliciously challenging Toughie. I agree with YS above: Zandio is becoming one of my favourite setters too. I especially liked 26a (though I seldom choose anagrammed answers as COTDs), 22a, 7a, & 16a. Thanks to CS for some hints and parsings, and to Zandio for his continued excellence as a compiler.

  6. I enjoyed this nicely challenging Toughie. I’m not convinced by the definition for 20d but that apart this was good fun.

    Many thanks to Zandio and to CS.

  7. We strongly suspect that the paucity of comments on this crossword is due to most folk feeling too intimidated to admit that many of these clues are just too convoluted for the average bear. We got to the end by foul means rather than fair, but needed the blog to explain many of our conclusions, so thanks crypticsue! Zandio obviously has his fans, nothing wrong with a bit of meritocracy …. 🙂

  8. Frustratingly I completed this unaided with the exception of 20d, which I didn’t think was Zandio’s finest moment. Other than that I thought it was an excellent puzzle, not necessarily the smoothest surfaces but good fun, and that’s why we do them.
    Solving three of the four very good long perimeter clues early on helped a lot, but my podium places go to 8a, 25a (had to laugh at that) and the reverse lurker at 17d.
    Thanks to Zandio and to CS for clearing up a couple of parsing issues and her review.

  9. Either I’m improving at Toughies or it was a wavelength thing, because I found this a bit like a 3* backpager. Certainly easier than yesterday’s.
    I’m pretty sure it’s the latter, though.
    Many thanks to CS for some of the parsings which escaped me – I thought the first 5 letters of 24a were a Scots name, but then I couldn’t fit in smoker. I had a different answer for 20d, which didn’t involve a vessel, so -fail.
    Thanks to Zandio. I must look out for them.

  10. A very satisfying solve followed by a series of “now let’s see why that is what it is” moments. Particularly the cooking vessel in 20 down. Thanks to Zandio for the tussle and CS for the why’s and wherefores

  11. We had wrongly parsed 20d but this was a nicely challenging Thursday. Thanks to Zandio and crypticsue.

  12. I was defeated by 24a as I hadn’t heard of either the answer or the smoker. Also struggled to parse 20d which was a bung in. Thanks to Zandio for another very entertaining offering and CS for the explanations of the couple that got away.

  13. Today’s setter certainly likes to give us a collection of bits and pieces that we have to cobble together (which lead to the odd unlikely surface read) so his occasional straightforward cryptic clues always come as something of a relief.
    Favourite for me concerned the shells found in the farmer’s furrows.

    Thanks to Zandio for the challenge and to CS for the review – loved your illustration for 10a!

  14. We had the answer for 1a well before we worked out the subtlety of the word play and with 21a we started off by trying a much larger gardening tool until the first letter did not fit with 7d. A pleasure to solve and much appreciated.
    Thanks Zandio and CS.

  15. Hello all. Compiler here. Thanks for the discussion and Crypticsue’s analysis. In case anyone’s interested now that another Toughie day is nearly upon us, in the not-very-popular 20d, ‘for’ is part of the definition. Have a good Friday and weekend.

    1. Thanks for popping by and for another great puzzle. I don’t usually have time for Toughies but I made a special effort as I enjoy your Friday back pagers so much, and I wasn’t disappointed.

    2. Thank you for popping in, Zandio. I loved the puzzle. Whether I am getting better at solving or not I find Toughies getting slightly easier but I know that will soon change.

    3. Thanks for joining us, Zandio, and for the big challenge (for me, anyway). So, the answer to 20d is that one must ”set up a second form for”: “reading = r” in “vessel”. Therefore, one must ‘re’ ‘wo (r) k’. I couldn’t quite parse crypticsue’s parsing. Hmm, my goodness. Love your puzzles.

    4. The moral of the tale is, of course, that one should stick to one’s original convictions about underlining ‘for’ and not change one’s mind several times and opt for the wrong decision.

      1. An Oscar Wilde moment. Spend all morning putting in a comma and all afternoon taking it out again.

  16. Now all my music commitments are on hold I’m finding time for some toughies, hurrah! I really enjoyed this one. Looking forward to tackling a few more.

  17. Just finished this one a day late & what a cracker it was. Like others 20d was the one remaining & only twigged the answer whilst reading MP’s comment mentioning the cooking vessel & the penny dropped. Like RC 4d was also a head scratcher. Favourites were the 2 reverse lurkers, particularly 17d, and 16a which I’m invariably guilty of & not only when trying to solve crosswords.
    Thanks Zandio & CS.

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