Toughie 2519 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2519

Toughie No 2519 by Serpent

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

There’s some complicated wordplay here (which I enjoyed winkling out). There are two clues (1a and 14a) where the definition can only be the whole clue but the whole clue doesn’t really match up with the answer. I’m also a bit puzzled by the ‘land’ in 26a – I’ve provided my best shot at an explanation but any better reasoning would be welcome.

Thanks to Serpent.

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

Across Clues

1a Elite cops ordered to arrest most members of gang? (6,6)
SECRET POLICE: an anagram (ordered) of ELITE COPS contains a type of gang without its final W. I’ve underlined the whole clue as the definition but I don’t think it works terribly well.

8a What finally made Lake Geneva empty out? (7)
LEAKAGE: an anagram (out) of [mad]E LAKE G[enev]A.

9a Tolerant attitude initially overlooked in books on the French (7)
LENIENT: a French definite article and the abbreviation for some Biblical books contain a synonym of attitude or demeanour without its leading M.

11a Long sharp object allowed this to be toasted in fire (7)
PIKELET: stick together a long pointed weapon from years ago and a past participle meaning allowed.

12a Woollen fabric requiring soft soap (7)
FLANNEL: double definition – soft soap means flattery.

13a Part of database processed after moving base away from Germany (5)
FIELD: start with a verb meaning processed in the sense of ‘added to a database’ then move the letter used for the base in logarithms one letter away from the IVR code for Germany.

14a Article not used in stabbing? (9)
IMPLEMENT: remove an indefinite article from a word meaning stabbing or transfixing. Once again, the answer doesn’t really correspond very well with the whole clue.

16a Skinhead perhaps said ‘race means to cross country’s boundaries’ (9)
HAIRSTYLE: join together two homophones (said) – a) a verb to race (like a fast animal) and b) a structure used to cross boundaries between fields in the countryside.

19a Go up steps that may go up or down (5)
SCALE: double definition, the second related to musical notes.

21a Lead completely secures home game (7)
PINBALL: assemble the chemical symbol for lead and a synonym for completely then insert an adverb meaning (at) home.

23a Preview film about storyteller close to Marxist revolutionary (7)
TRAILER: concatenate a prefix meaning about or concerning, a teller of false stories and the last letter of Marxist then reverse the lot.

24a Took in bits of a course writer ran (7)
NIBBLED: charade of a writing implement and a verb meaning ran or oozed.

25a This extremely artificial spread makes less fat (7)
FALSEST: if you make an anagram (spread) of the answer you’ll end up with LESS FAT.

26a Land heralded by guiding star? (7,5)
LEADING LIGHT: I was puzzled by land here but Collins tells me the answer is an alternate name for a navigation aid which is fixed ashore to help ships manoeuvre through narrow channels (to reach land?) at night. Let me know if you have a better explanation.  
The definition is star (a leading performer). A verb to land or come down is preceded by a synonym of guiding. Thanks to Rinteff for putting me on the right track.

Down Clues

1d Odds on champion horse showing winning quality? (7)
SPARKLE: fix together an abbreviation for betting odds and the name of a champion steeplechaser from the 1960s (ARKLE). I knew the horse which was very famous in its heyday but that was a long time ago!

2d Dashed off without son and behaved abjectly (7)
CRAWLED: a verb meaning dashed off or wrote hastily loses the abbreviation for son.

3d Return to office as long as railway guards supply power (9)
ELECTRIFY: glue together a verb to return (a politician) to office and the abbreviation for railway containing a conjunction meaning ‘as long as’.

4d What could be eaten off a fine plate after cooking? (5)
PILAF: remove the jumbled letters of ‘eaten’ from A FINE PLATE and make an anagram (after cooking) of what you have left.

5d Older family members get on after row (7)
LINEAGE: a verb to get on (in years) follows a synonym of row.

6d Purge lists screened by religious establishment (7)
CLEANSE: if you’ve done today’s back-pager you may have a sense of déjà vu – not only the answer but almost identical wordplay features there. A verb meaning lists or tilts goes inside the abbreviation for the established church in England.

7d Enclosure’s scrap of paper reveals author’s mistake (4,2,3,3)
SLIP OF THE PEN: cryptically this could be an animal enclosure’s scrap of paper.

10d Two articles, mainly about dreary routine supporting order, are honest (4,3,5)
TELL THE TRUTH: two occurrences of the definite article (the second truncated) contain a word for a dreary routine. That all follows a verb to order or direct.

15d Fill net up at sea when fish are thus? (9)
PLENTIFUL: an anagram (at sea) of FILL NET UP.

17d Base is possible to overlook without artist’s contribution (7)
IGNOBLE: start with an adjective meaning possible to overlook or “doesn’t have to be taken into account” then remove the abbreviation for our usual recognised artist.

18d Raced over in vehicle with runners caught fast (7)
SNARLED: reverse a verb meaning raced and insert it into a vehicle having runners.

19d Witness reported small bear being seen underwater (3,4)
SEA SLUG: start with a homophone of a verb to witness and add the abbreviation for small and a verb to bear or carry.

20d Drink intended for audience gets cold? (7)
AILMENT: combine two homophones, the first of an alcoholic drink and the second of a verb meaning intended.

22d Charged young man with case of extortion (5)
LADEN: a young man followed by the outer letters of extortion.

My ticks today went to 2d and 19d. Which clue(s) hit the spot for you?


33 comments on “Toughie 2519

  1. I cannot claim to have completed this unaided but I thoroughly enjoyed it and that is what it’s all about. The clues are more complicated, of course, but I am getting the hang of how they are complied. I managed about 75% unaided, which is an improvement on a few months ago. I loved 3d.

    Many thanks, Serpent and Gazza for the hints.

  2. Got there in reasonable time but struggled to parse 9a and still do. I also took 26a to refer to the navigation aid (Swallows and Amazons sprang to mind). Thanks to Gazza and Serpent.

  3. For 26a I had ‘star’ as the definition with light for land (as in alight) preceded (heralded) by leading/guiding

  4. I enjoyed this and didn’t find it as tricky as some Serpent Toughies, although nicely on the spectrum. I was surprised at almost the same clue for the same solution for 6d as in the backpager

    I thought the ‘light’ in 26a meant to ‘land’ (or vice versa) so you have a Leading (guarding) Light (land) which is a useful star for navigation purposes

    Thanks to Serpent and Gazza

    If you want to be tested a bit more by Serpent, his alter ego Basilisk is in today’s FT

  5. I can’t say I overly enjoyed this one, some of the all-in-one clues didn’t really work for me
    8a has a rather large leak called the Rhone
    1d am I supposed to know the name of a 60s horse now, really??
    26a the parsing seems a little ambiguous (etc)
    Just didn’t suit me; never mind, thanks to Serpent and Gazza

    1. He still is the highest rated steeplechaser of all time Roy – perhaps not quite as broadly known as Red Rum but a legend to any with a remote interest in the sport.

      1. I doubt many of us here have a remote interest in steeplechasing horses of the 60’s, and surely you’d need to be 70+ to know that?

  6. I found this very slow going as I had answers but not the reason for them and so had to wait for Gazza’s extremely helpful hints to verify them. I had 12 requiring help which was a far cry from today’s cryptic. Once I verified these and got assistance for 1d i finished off the west side which until then had been largely blank. 2* on enjoyment level as even with Gazza’s explanation I had too many head scratchers. 23A fave.

  7. Serpent has been challenging us lately with a tough IQ on Saturday and a Magpie numerical and this was no exception. It was difficult, we thought, for a Wednesday Toughie but we got there. Thanks to Gazza and Serpent.

  8. I keep persevering but this setter’s compilations are still a bit too ‘left field’ for me and don’t provide much enjoyment.
    1&20d came closer than any to getting a tick.

    Thanks for your efforts, Serpent, and thanks to Gazza for the reassurance that I hadn’t missed any clever twists and also for the author’s mistake which really made me giggle.

  9. I’m not sure whether I enjoyed this or not. I was, however, delighted to be able to tackle the Toughie on my iPad. Thanks to Gazza for some parsing ( though I worked out 26a successfully). Thank you also to Serpent.

  10. You are right. 6d is virtually identical to 10a in today’s cryptic! The answer is the same. Definitely deja vu.

  11. Like Steve C., I managed about 75% on my own, but the NW is ‘wot done me in’. I didn’t know the horse, had never heard of the verb in 18d, nor the toasted things in 11a. (If I hadn’t convinced myself that ‘curried’ could be construed as ‘behaved abjectly’–as in currying favour (!!)–I might have done a bit better.) I did enjoy the challenge, though, and thought that the four long answers, all of which I solved happily, were the highlights of a genuinely tough puzzle. Thanks to Gazza for the decryptions and to Serpent.

  12. Although I finished this reasonable time, the three or four bung-ins took me ages to parse and one or two still have me scratching my head. I thought the official BD rating where the difficulty surpassed the enjoyment was spot on. 1d was my favourite.

    Thanks to Serpent and Gazza. I still don’t understand 17d!

  13. Quirky and quite tough. I was a bit grudging and took a while in admitting that some of the “double usage” clues [eg 14a] were fair enough. But I did like 3d and it’s nice to see 11a given an outing; my Gran used to toast them as defined but I fear a lot of Southerners will never have heard the word.

    Thanks to Serpent and to Gazza for the blog. [Back on form with the music!]

  14. Many thanks to Gazza for the excellent blog and to everyone who has taken the time to solve the puzzle and comment.

    In passing: every grid entry contains an L, inspired by the fact that all contiguous groups of black squares in the grid are L-shaped.

  15. A couple of times during the solve we said “Glad it is Gazza doing the hints and not us”, but we did get there in the end with just a couple of clues not fully parsed. Amazed that we remembered the horse. It must have been in an earlier crossword at some time.
    Quite challenging for us and enjoyable to solve. Never noticed the ‘L’ thing of course.
    Thanks Serpent and Gazza.

  16. Just like the old days. I have a grid filled very early this morning by answers I knew to be correct. Answers I derived from the definition. Answers that were the only words that fit into the empty spaces. It left no time for the regular start to the day Codeword Quickie Cryptic which I can now look forward to after dinner. I’ll have a go at parsing the stragglers first and then turn to Gazza. Thanks to Serpent for the puzzle and to Gazza whom I am sure I will turn to later

  17. I decided to try this puzzle rather than the cryptic today. I managed to complete 75% to my satisfaction but couldn’t come up with anything for the rest. I did enjoy the challenge though. With hindsight, I feel I could have solved 3 of the “missing” answers but not 2, 17 and 18d and 13a. I liked 7 and 10d in particular. Thanks to Serpent and Gazza for helping me out.

  18. Completed unaided apart from pressing the reveal mistakes button with my 14a bung in (still don’t understand). Found it tough going & took just under ****** time but like Steve don’t think I’d have got anywhere near before I’ve started doing the Toughies (Elgar excepted) each day now that they’re on the iPad. The L in every clue completely passed me by & is very clever. In addition to Gazza’s 2 favourites I also especially liked 3&15d & 16a.
    Thanks to Serpent & Gazza for the explanations.

      1. Oh of course – thanks Gazza. Be a lot easier if I had a ring through my nose so I could be led to the answer.

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