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Toughie 2520

Toughie No 2520 by Micawber

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ****

On a grey and gloomy morning, in an ever increasingly grey and gloomy world, Micawber returns to cheer us all up with one of his always enjoyable crosswords – I’m doubly happy because he’s here on a Thursday too which means that I get twice the fun (sorry Gazza!)

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Print of ruined, disused lighthouse outside Knock (10)
LITHOGRAPH An anagram (ruined) of LIGHTHOuse, dis-used telling you not to include USE, into which is inserted a synonym of knock

6a & 17a Like scorer of try, one going round to keep things moving (4-7)
BALL-BEARING In order to score a try, a rugby player might be described as this

9a    Sought to reform media (5)
AIMED An anagram (to reform) of MEDIA

10a    In favour of Ukrainian government’s detaining of Russian composer (9)
PROKOFIEV A preposition meaning in favour of and the capital of Ukraine (where the government sits) ‘detaining’ OF (from the clue)

12a    American in diner’s ordered fish (7)
SARDINE The abbreviation for American inserted into an anagram (ordered) of DINERS

13d    Keen sense of hearing catching ends of dying note (5)
EAGER The faculty of hearing ‘catching’ the ends of dyinG notE

15a    Without a scratch — not hard when opponent is this? (7)
UNARMED Remove the H (not hard) from a way of saying without a scratch

17a    See 6a

19a    Reformed prisoner, with term discharged, enlists (5,2)
ROPES IN – Discharge or remove the term or end letter of PRISONEr and an anagram (reformed) will produce the solution

21a    Illegally take web address over, cracking digital access code (7)
PURLOIN The system of web addresses and the abbreviation for Over in cricket scoring inserted into a digital access code

22a    ‘Assassin in Japan’ covers it (5)
NINJA Hidden in (covers it) assassiN IN JApan

24a    Chinese man’s best friend has university pursuing his revolutionary ‘How to Zoom for Beginners’ (4,3)
SHIH TZU The abbreviation for University pursuing or going after an anagram (revolutionary) of HIS and the ‘beginners’ of How To Zoom

27a    During summer month, Russian flower’s opening (9)
INAUGURAL Another way of saying during, an abbreviated summer month and a Russian river (flower)

28a    Reverse farm vehicle bearing scrap (5)
TRACE Reverse a farm vehicle and follow with a compass bearing

29a    Something to be taken late in the morning (4)
EXAM The two-letters used to mean late or former and the Latin abbreviation for the morning

30a    Member of Doves joins Mud — disc released to be hit (4,6)
CLAY PIGEON A member of the dove family joins or follows some earth (mud)


1d    Part of plant insect recycled (4)
LEAF Cycle or move the first letter of a tiny insect to the end of the word

2d    Stop supporting paper record of event logged digitally (9)
TIMESTAMP A verb meaning to stop [up] ‘supporting’ or going after a newspaper

3d    Overdose on wine after serving up more rum (5)
ODDER The abbreviation for overdose goes on top of a reversal (after serving up) of a type of wine

4d    Congressman produced fake news, made comeback (7)
REPLIED A three-letter abbreviation for a member of the American Congress and a way of saying produced fake news

5d    Saw Blackburn player perhaps going into lead (7)
PROVERB Someone who might play for the Blackburn football team inserted into the chemical symbol for lead

7d    Cutting answer bringing up nothing good (5)
AXING The abbreviation for answer, a reversal (bringing up) of an old slang term meaning nothing, followed by the abbreviation for good

8d    Given lager, drunk’s making the most of the situation (10)
LEVERAGING An anagram (drunk) of GIVEN LAGER

11d    Break into song — but you won’t raise the roof in this kind of venue! (4-3)
OPEN-AIR Another way of saying break into followed by a song

14d    One having two pints outside home before start of extended period of isolation (10)
QUARANTINE Insert an indefinite article (one) inside two pints, add the usual ‘home’ and finish with the start of Extended

16d    Two odours in timeshare possibly equine (7)
MUSTANG Two odours ‘sharing’ the T at the end of one and the beginning of the other

18d    I clean out wound and protect from disease (9)
INOCULATE An anagram (wound) of I CLEAN OUT

20d    Towards the top, it’s on either side of right and left, and it smells (7)
NOSTRIL A reversal (towards the top) of ITS ON from the clue on either side of R (right) with the abbreviation for Left added at the end

21d    Settle around Skye, perhaps to make cloth (7)
PAISLEY Settle or give what is due goes around the land mass of which Skye is an example (perhaps)

23d    Between east and west coast cities we find a species of antelope (5)
NYALA Insert (we find) A (from the clue) between the abbreviations for cities on the east and west coast of America

25d    All express disapproval of appeal being overturned (5)
TUTTI Express disapproval followed by a reversal (being overturned) of some sex appeal produce a musical instruction for all performers

26d    Sickly — to conserve energy, adjust diet (4)
WEAN Insert (to conserve) the abbreviation for Energy into an adjective meaning pale and sickly

Impossible to pick just one favourite out of so many so I’ll just say thank you to Micawber and please don’t leave it so long before the next one

33 comments on “Toughie 2520

  1. This was great. So much better than the cryptic,
    My one complaint? – where oh where was “cleanse”!

  2. Isn’t it lovely when a master of the craft demonstrates just how well it can be done?
    Many thanks Micawber and CS for the blog.
    If I may CS – my reading of 20d is that “its on” backwards is on either side of Right, all followed by Left.
    ps there’s a duck in the 2nd row but I’m not sure it’s relevant to anything.

  3. A thing of pangrammatic joy – many thanks for the feast of fun to Micawber and to CS for the review.
    I’ve a long list of likes – 1a, 6/17a, 30a, 5d and 16d but my favourite was the semi-all-in-one 20d.

  4. As ever, I needed help but it seems to be less and less each day. This was most enjoyable and I loved 23d because, despite never having heard of the animal, the parsing gave nothing else. I also liked 14d.

    Many thanks to Micawber for the puzzle and to crypticsue for the hints.

  5. I thought this was absolutely brilliant, and I loved every minute of it. Finished rather quickly last night before tackling the lackluster cryptic, whose prosaic lack of elegance and wit is vastly eclipsed by this stunning masterpiece. Gazza ticked my favourites but I also especially liked 24a and 10a. I’ll read CS’s review now, so thanks to her, and a big hug to Micawber.

  6. Great puzzle. 1a and 1d take joint honours from me today. There’s another bird on row 5. Thanks to Micawber and CS.

  7. Micawber is just delicious and his puzzles are darned good as well! What a joy to find him here today.
    Loved it all but in the interests of playing favourites I’ll go for the 6/17 combo and 30a. I also thought the surfaces of 14&18d were very nicely done.

    Many thanks to Micawber for such a pleasure and also to CS for the review. I hope our setter heeds your plea for him to return very soon.

  8. This pangram was a light delight in stark contrast to today’s back-pager. I’m not going to try to pick a favourite from such a splendid selection and it just remains for me to thank Micawber for the fun and CS for the review.

  9. After today’s rather depressing cryptic, this was an absolute pleasure to solve.
    Many thanks to Micawber and to CS for the write-up.

  10. A delightful and accessible Toughie today. My favourite was 16d. I believe this was my first Micawber and I shall certainly seek him out again. Great fun.

    Thanks to the aforementioned and to CS.

  11. Made rather harder work of this than I perhaps ought to have but agree with all comments. Too many super clues to single out a favourite, enjoyed it immensely & wished I’d given it my undivided attention instead of watching the golf at the same time. Last in was 30a, a delightful bit of clever misdirection which led me up the wrong path for a while.
    Many thanks to Micawber & to CS – will now read the review to check on a couple of my tenuous parsings.

  12. The lovely Micawber at his brilliant best.
    He still beat me – I found the top easier and needed hints for quite a few at the bottom.
    I’m not sure I’ve ever known how to spell 24a – know a really good joke about it but too long and probably not the place for it here anyway!
    Thanks so much to Micawber for brightening a pretty grey, grumpy and gloomy autumn day and to CS too for hints (some answers) and pics.

      1. No – it was about a hair removing cream – whatever it’s called (a depilatory?) – if there’s enough interest I’ll try to put it on here in as short a form as I can. It really made me laugh.
        I don’t know the one about the menagerie with few animals – should we have a competition about which one we put on here? :unsure:

        1. You go first, Kath. I understood the joke from Ash but your hair removal cream has got me mystified.

        2. OK – you all asked for it so here goes.
          A woman has a little dog – just happens to be a 24a. She’s terribly proud of her and decides to enter her into a dog show. Someone told her that they really didn’t stand a chance of winning unless their legs were shaved but she decided to go to a chemist and get some cream to get rid of the hair and save the trouble of shaving. The chemist warned her that the cream could be quite irritating to skin and said, “Madam, I should warn you that this is an irritant so if it’s for your underarm area then I’d advise you not to wear a bra or a tight fitting T-shirt for a few days and, if it’s for your legs, then no tights or close fitting jeans for a while”. “Thank you so much for the warning”, she said, “But you don’t need to worry about that as it’s for my” 24a. The chemist was, understandably, somewhat non-plussed and didn’t quite know what to say so stammered and stuttered his way through, “Oh well, um, er, – in that case, um er perhaps you shouldn’t ride a bicycle for a while”.
          Apologies to all but it made me laugh.

          1. 🤣🤣🤣
            Reminds me of Fawlty Towers when the Major asked a guest what breed her dog was. She said “He’s a little 24a.”

            The Major replied, “Oh, dear, I hope he gets better soon.”

          2. PS – apologies for ‘lowering the tone’ to Micawber’s brilliant Toughie and to CS’s review.

            1. I doubt that Micawber would be at all bothered, Kath, he’d probably laugh along with the rest of us!

  13. I made good progress with this until I realised I needed to sort today’s cryptic blog. Solved as usual with bung ins so thanks to CrypticSue for explaining 1 across, 19 across, The impossible 24 across, 30 across and 2 down. Good fun all round. Thanks to Micawber and to Crypticsue.

  14. Done fairly quickly and yes, it did brighten a very dull day. Glad that Micawber turned up!

  15. An absolute delight as ever from this setter. We took several wrong directions along the way but eventually got everything sorted.
    Thanks Micawber and CS.

  16. Lovely puzzle, but a bit discouraged (having finished it) to find in the blog that CS had adjudged it a miserly one-* for difficulty. I suppose it all depends……

    Favourites were the 6/17 combo and the composer in 10a.

    Thanks to Micawber for the fun and to Crypticsue for the blog.

  17. I only started tackling Micawber puzzles earlier this year, and he has very quickly become one of my favourite setters. So much to enjoy here, especially the uber-elegant surfaces. Favourites are 1a, 10a, 16d and 20d, although pretty much every one raised a smile.
    Thanks Micawber and CS.

  18. 2*/4*….
    liked 21A “illegally take web address over, cracking digital access code (7)”

  19. Managed this without recourse to the review, except to check my parsing. Only my second ever unaided Toughie. Who cares if to the experts it was easy-peasy. Certainly not 1* for me!
    Yes it is silly o’clock but the challenge was just the distraction I needed.
    Grateful thanks to Micawber & CS for the education.

  20. Thanks to Micawber and to crypticsue for the review and hints. What a pleasure to solve this. Great fun, don’t care it’s 1* difficulty. It’s a Toughie completion for me, as rare as a blue moon! Favourite was 16d. Was 1* /4* for me.

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