Toughie 2534 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2534

Toughie No 2534 by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

As usual Chalicea had me reaching for my trusty Chambers to confirm the musical abbreviation, the bone marrow, the measuring instruments, the pugilism, and the subgroups, but all were easily derived from their respective clues and only the bone marrow was a totally new word.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Vigorous musical — caught song lacking body (6)
MUSCLY: a three-letter abbreviation, new to me, of MUS(ical) is followed by C(aught) and a song without its internal letters (lacking body) – as caught can indicate a homophone, I wasted time resolving the wordplay until I decided to check “mus” in Chambers

5a    Possibly grating tasks in establishment for smelting (8)
IRONWORK: a four-letter grating followed by a collective word for tasks

9a    Appropriately, bank covers part of Mediterranean (10)
RELEVANTLY: a verb meaning to bank or depend on around (covers) the eastern Mediterranean and its shores

10a    Chopped into cubes, trimmed and frozen (4)
ICED: a word meaning chopped into cubes without its initial letter (trimmed)

11a    Pedagogue‘s old coin in European gold (8)
EDUCATOR: put an old coin between European and the heraldic term for gold

12a    Mark on prosthesis (3,3)
PEG LEG: a verb meaning to mark with a small stake, as in scoring the game of cribbage, followed by the other word for the on side in cricket

13a    Indication of guns primarily involved in offence (4)
SIGN: the initial letter (primarily) of G[uns] inside (involved in) a moral offence

15a    Appraise cooked veal you consumed, we’re told (8)
EVALUATE: an anagram (cooked) of VEAL followed by what sounds like (we’re told) “you consumed”

18a    Cry of exhilaration over child, say, returning (8)
GERONIMO: this cry of exhilaration, especially when jumping from a great height, is derived from the reversal of O(ver), a child and the Latin abbreviation of say or for example

19a    Strange echoes surrounding old fogey (4)
DODO: the reversal (echoes) of a word meaning strange around O(ld)

21a    Hard work requiring energy and force in proportion to time (6)
EFFORT: E(nergy) and F(orce) are followed by a word meaning in proportion to and T(ime)

23a    Eccentric boundlessly poker-faced environmentalist (8)
ECOFREAK: an anagram (eccentric) of [p]OKER-FACE[d] without its outer letters (boundlessly)

25a    Bird is admitting ambiguous sexual identity (4)
IBIS: IS from the clue around (admitting) an ambiguous sexual identity

26a    Remarkable development; quiet woman leads ordinary fellows on (10)
PHENOMENON: a charade of the mathematical symbol for quiet, a disrespectful Scottish word for a woman, O(rdinary), some fellows and the ON from the clue – I remember when I was working in Glasgow a girl at a nearby desk indignantly ending a phone call by saying “and don’t call me hen”

27a    Obstinately continues appended note about cycling nun (8)
PERSISTS: a two-letter appended note at the end of a letter around a nun whose final two letters have been moved to the front (cycling)

28a    Hint at bone marrow going west losing mass (6)
ALLUDE: drop (losing) M(ass) from the reversal of some bone marrow – a word I had to confirm in Chambers


2d    University writing on principally dandy thing duck does (5)
UPEND: U(niversity) followed by a word meaning writing and the initial letter (principally) of D[andy]

3d    Progressive increase of intensity of last part in rough soccer (9)
CRESCENDO: the last part goes inside an anagram (rough) of SOCCER

4d    Indeed pig pen’s restless and turbulent (6)
YEASTY: a word meaning indeed followed by a pig pen

5d    I enter for merest tweaks in measuring instruments (15)

6d    Elite athlete‘s cunning main ploy (8)
OLYMPIAN: an anagram (cunning) of MAIN PLOY

7d    Distort women’s pugilism (5)
WRING: W(omen) followed by a word meaning pugilism (definition 21 in Chambers!)

8d    Voted in again, chosen in advance with private secretary dropped separately (2-7)
RE-ELECTED: start with a word meaning chosen in advanced (like the gear on some PSVs) and drop, separately, P(rivate) and S(ecretary)

14d    Fine fable curiously inexpressible (9)
INEFFABLE: an anagram (curiously) of FINE FABLE

16d    Insufficiently value German and Irish lines (9)
UNDERSELL: the German for and followed by a word for the Irish language and LL (lines)

17d    Holy tree around India exemplifies subgroups in species (8)
BIOTYPES: a two-letter holy tree around the letter represented in the NATO Phonetic alphabet by India followed by a verb meaning exemplifies

20d    Plaything sent up to a Japanese city (6)
TOYOTA: a plaything is followed by the reversal of the TO from the clue and the A from the clue gives a city which is better known in the UK for its cars


22d    Love the same sanctuary (5)
OASIS: O (love) followed by a phrase meaning the same (2,2)

24d    Nothing eaten by greedy duck (5)
AVOID: O (nothing) inside an adjective meaning greedy

There seemed to be a lot of anagrams but, including the partial anagram at 15a, it turned out there were only six.


29 comments on “Toughie 2534

  1. A bit of a non-floughie headscratcher, but very enjoyable completed at a Toughie Gallop – 2.5*/4*.
    Candidates for favourite – 18a, 26a, and 16d – and the winner is, I know it’s an oldie but goodie, 18a.
    Thanks to Chalicea and BD.

  2. Have just read your opening paragraph BD & all I’ll say is that the musical abbreviation & the subgroups might be ‘easily derived’ by your good self but I’ve been staring blankly at these 2 remaining for quite some though haven’t as yet entirely given up on the slim possibility of a lightbulb moment……

    1. Sadly my ignorance of Buddhism & trees defeated me but got 1a, albeit by revealing the first letter. Really enjoyed this one though found it a tough test. Lots of great clues – particularly liked 9,11,18&26a with 4&24d.
      Many thanks Chalicea & to BD – shall now read the review to check some very likely iffy parsing.

  3. I managed three quarters of this unaided before I turned to electronic help. I thoroughly enjoyed it – well the part I could do – and thought there were some cracking clues. 18a was my favourite Many thanks to Chalicea for the challenge and to the Big Man for the hints.

  4. Quite tough for Tuesday. I spent a great deal of time trying to parse “punchy” for 1a before thinking again!
    I loved 23a [BTW isn’t the whole clue the definition??] and 26a.
    Now back to Sunday’s EV.

    Thanks to Chalicea and to BD for the blog.

  5. Having been a ‘lurker’ of the back page puzzle hints for a few years, I am delurking today because, for the first time ever, I finished the Toughie. The only clue I couldn’t parse was 1 across. So, thank you Big Dave for the hints, and especially for this web site.

    1. That’s a helluva good first time finish Sheila. Welcome from me also & please comment regularly.

  6. I found this fairly hard going for the most part, although it was a steady, if somewhat lengthy solve. Good fun though, and rewarding to complete the challenge. I don’t care if 18a is a chestnut, it was still my favourite although 23a ran it close. A thoroughly entertaining puzzle.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and BD.

  7. 14d Strange to see an anagram of nine letters when only the first four letters need to be changed.

  8. Going for a **/***, last one in was 1a and like BD checked chambers for mus, well it was either the start of the correct solution or punchy!
    Usual gentle toughie start to the week and a pleasant way to pass a miserable rainy afternoon.
    Liked 18a reminded me of the old rope tied to a branch over a stream-you can guess the rest.
    My favourite was 23a which took a time to parse’
    Thanks all.

  9. I did eventually get around to consulting the BRB regarding the parsing of 7d and the bone marrow definition but the abbreviation required for 1a never occurred to me so I can’t claim to have successfully parsed 1a.
    18a has to be favourite but I also smiled over the sexually confused bird at 25a.

    Thanks to Chalicea for the challenge and to BD for the review and the 1a brainwave.

  10. Found it a tough so slow but steady progress. Managed all but 2 then needed hints to confirm 1a, could only see it ending in ar (air empty). 4d followed.
    Thanks to reading the Toughie reviews, even those I don’t do, has allowed me to get into the easier Toughies.
    Thanks to Chalicea and BD.

  11. I finally took a stab with 1a, my LOI, and Voila! I was right. I thought the word existed but could not remember ever seeing it in print before. Likewise, with ‘medulla’–except I’d seen it only in the context of the longer word that usually follows it. Otherwise, I managed this very enjoyable one on my own, though I did not know the holy tree and just bunged that one in. So, I guess, given all the above, it was a lucky strike for me. Podium winners: 23, 18, & 9a. Thanks to Big Dave and to Chalicea.

  12. I’m surprised no one has mentioned it, but the reveal of 15a is a letter too long.
    Didn’t like 1a, an ugly word and I’m surprised that 23a is not considered insulting.
    My COTD was 18a simply because it’s a good word to yell when one’s finished a Toughie.
    Anyone getting excited about the US election? I thought so!

    1. Yes, JB re 23a – I could be considered to be a 23a but a) there is nothing at all freakish about it, and b) we should all be worried about it
      Whoever discovered oil and it’s commercial applications has an awful lot to answer for in my book, but I’ll bet he had a very posh funeral, which is nice
      I will resist the temptation to rant any further

  13. I managed about 3/4 and went for a walk to try to warm up a bit (it didn’t work – I’m still frozen) and did a couple more and then gave up.
    I did know the bone marrow but wasn’t familiar with any of the other less common words.
    My favourite was 12a.
    Thanks to Chalicea and to BD.

  14. Wavering between ‘punchy’ and ‘muscly’ for 1a – couldn’t parse them but the latter seemed closer, so bunged that one in. Took ages to find a Bo tree, new to us. Otherwise reasonably straightforward.
    18a gave us a chuckle!
    Thanks to all as usual.

  15. Enjoyable but failed on 1a. Also not knowing my bone marrow 28a was just a bung in. My favourite today was 20d. Thanks to Chalicea and Big Dave.

  16. Last one in was 1a where we had to check the abbreviation just to be sure. A delight from start to finish and a real pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Chalicea and BD.

  17. It was an honour to have the Big man blog this. My apologies for the slightly more obscure words that have made this just a mite more ‘Toughie’ than the usual Chalicea first of the month. As often happens to me, the18a that you liked the most was a clue that Chris, the editor, tweaked, as mine was too much of a give-away. I really appreciate your warm response and special thanks to BD.

    1. You would have got a ‘Golly Bongs’ if it had been my turn. Lovely puzzle as always from you. Thanks to you and BD.

  18. Thought I would get to finish this last night but too tired – sure I’d finish with the morning coffee but no. 4 uncompeleted – gladdening to see- they were the same clues that the “pros” struggled with. Thanks to the setter and BigDave – onward and upward – let see what Weds has in store

  19. Joining late but did do it by myself, though I too had punchy for 1a. Are we still allowed to use the term peg leg? It sounds less pc than ecofreak! And am I the only one not to have heard of interferometers. Only got it because it was all that would fit.

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