Toughie 2541 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2541

Toughie No 2541 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A delightful puzzle, the top half went in quickly though I slowed down towards the bottom. The Nina suggests a milestone, congratulations Sparks! Not sure if this is years or crosswords, either way a fine collection.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Families divided by Romeo, say, going over mistakes (8)
CLANGERS: A 5-letter word for families or tribes contains (is divided by) a reversal (going over) of the letter represented by the radio code Romeo plus the abbreviation of say or for instance

5a    Stove pipe’s front edge undoes at the sides (6)
PRIMUS: The first letter of pipe, and edge, and the outer letters of undoes (at the sides)

9a    Fall over after a few bevvies in jaunt to and from the pub? (5,4)
ROUND TRIP: A verb meaning to fall over catching your foot comes after a few bevvies you might buy for your mates at the pub

11a    Cardinal is about to block article (5)
THREE: A short word meaning about or concerning goes inside (to block) the definitive article

12a    Oscar always fresh, at first not reciprocated (3-3)
ONE-WAY: The letter represented by radio code Oscar, a 2-letter word meaning always – but just before that (at first), a word meaning fresh

13a    Cross individual returned ring briefly for old historian (8)
XENOPHON: The letter that looks like a cross, a reversal (returned) of a 3-letter word for individual, and a word meaning to ring or call without the last letter (briefly)

15a    English town‘s new game plan — it’s on (10,3)

18a    Cat left after session in toilet or potty (13)
TORTOISESHELL: The abbreviation for left follows an informal word for session contained in an anagram (potty) of TOILET OR

22a    Dish that may, with a dash, come before order? (5,3)
APPLE PIE: When hyphenated (with a dash), the answer is sometimes seen before the word ‘order’

23a    Kleptocrat having stuff thus sent round item by item? (6)
MARCOS: A reversal (sent round) of words meaning stuff and thus, one at a time (item by item). I.e., reverse a word meaning stuff, then reverse a word meaning thus, rather than together, if you know what I mean.

26a    Scratch result (5)
SCORE: Two meanings

27a    Element of bitter rum that’s tasty to consume (9)
YTTERBIUM: An anagram (rum) of BITTER, which an exclamation that means ‘that’s tasty’ contains (to consume)

28a    Killer’s headless chickens? (6)
LAYERS: A word meaning killers without the first letter (headless)

29a    Tree god cutting beard after end of month (8)
HAWTHORN: A god with a hammer goes inside (cutting) a 3-letter beard, all after the last letter (end) of month



1d    Complains about John escalating communal schemes for estates, perhaps? (3,5)
CAR POOLS: A verb meaning complains goes around (about) the reversal (escalating) of a John or toilet

2d    Shrewd copper outwardly irritated (5)
ACUTE: The chemical symbol for copper has around the outside (outwardly) a verb meaning worried or irritated

3d    Collection of notes found on international African coup leader (7)
GADDAFI: 6 notes plus the abbreviation for international

4d    Extraordinary results attract rigorous examination — but only ‘firsts’ (4)
RARE: First letters ( … but only ‘firsts’)

6d    Food, the best among brilliant, served up (7)
RATIONS: The best, as in number one, goes inside a word meaning brilliant, as in a **** pupil, all reversed (served up)

7d    Run after tramp, proverbial whacko (5,4)
MARCH HARE: A verb meaning to run or hasten follows a word meaning tramp as in walk

8d    Upon rising, girl is showing colour (6)
SIENNA: A reversal (upon rising) of a girl’s name plus IS from the clue

10d    Endeavour’s position maybe ending abruptly (8)
PREMORSE: Split the answer (3-5) and think tv detective dramas! 

14d    One short little man, by suppressing bully, finally causing humiliation (8)
IGNOMINY: The Roman numeral for one, a little man seen in gardens without the last letter (short), a word that could mean by (drop **), all sitting on top of (suppressing) the last letter (finally) of bully

16d    Saint penning revolutionary religious church music (9)
ANTIPHONY: A 7-letter saint contains (penning) the reversal (revolutionary) of a 2-letter word meaning religious

17d    Fictional hero remains with maiden tucking into pie (8)
FLASHMAN: The remains of a fire plus the abbreviation for maiden go inside (tucking into) a pie or tart

19d    Animal route present in the East End? (3,4)
ROE DEER: How someone in the East End might say ‘route present’

20d    Trouble at reefs? (3,4)
SEA FRET: An anagram (trouble) of AT REEFS

21d    Subordinate strand of fever Victor brought back (6)
VASSAL: Reversal (brought back) of a type of fever and the letter represented by radio code Victor

24d    Capital Greek letters read out (5)
CAIRO: This capital city sounds like (read out) two Greek letters

25d    Jet stream under way, in seconds making hot European location (4)
ETNA: Second letters (… in seconds)

I really liked the cat (18a), the fictional hero (17d), but my favourite was the 3-word all-in-one at 20d. Which clues did you like?

23 comments on “Toughie 2541

  1. Very enjoyable – thanks to Sparks and Dutch (I laughed at the parking sign).

    BD’s count shows the number of Toughies by Sparks at 59 so I suspect that the milestone relates to his Toughie achievement rather than his age!

    The clues I liked best were 9a, 18a and 17d (because I loved the books – when the first book was published some American reviewers thought that the hero was a real person!).

  2. I did need some electronic help but what a treat to finish a Friday Toughie! Finish? Well, apart from 23d when, after 3d, I ran out of Kleptocrats.
    I feel 17d should have “anti” in front and are 5a still for sale? COTD? Probably 18a.
    Cannot see a Nina but what’s’ new?

  3. A superb end to the Toughie week. Hugely enjoyable and well clued throughout, this was a pleasure to solve. Favourite a toss up between 9 and 18a.

    Grateful thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  4. Rather a lot of proper nouns and 2 repulsive dictators in one puzzle may be overdoing it a bit. But pleasant enough and a welcome change in difficulty for those with other things to do on Fridays. 10d was new to me, but eminently gettable if you’re familiar with the two series. 9a raised a smile and it’s a lovely surface whilst 20d is neat.

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  5. I ran out of steam in the SE corner, with Kleptocrat and the hero, but I thoroughly enjoyed this chef d’oeuvre by Sparks. Favourites: 10d, 13a, & 22a. (10d is a new term for me but perfect for the clue. Is it botanical in nature?) Great fun, with thanks to Dutch and to Sparks.

  6. I did enjoy this milestone puzzle from Sparks. New word learned in the 29a beard and I did have to check on the historian and whether 27a actually existed!
    5a reminded me of many happy childhood holidays where Dad was in charge of said piece of equipment and I did laugh over 6d – crossed my mind that ‘ratpots’ might be something on the menu for the Z list celebrities in that dreadful jungle series. Having said that, I do hope that the fee paid for using that delightful old castle in N. Wales goes some way towards restoring the roof – what an enterprising young man it’s found as it’s saviour.
    Shame about the random girl in 8d but otherwise an excellent compilation. Big ticks for 9&18a plus 19,20&21d with 9a having the edge.

    Many thanks and congratulations to Sparks (plus love to Sparky whom I hope is still your faithful companion) and thanks to Dutch for the review and for pointing out what I’d failed to see in the parsing of 25d (OK I’m dim!).

    1. Ditto, in almost every respect, including the new word in 29a, the unnecessarily vague girl in 8d, and not being able to parse 25d! 9a was my favourite too.

      Many thanks to Sparks for a very enjoyable puzzle and to Dutch, particularly for the parsing of 25d. Thanks too to Jane for saving me having to type too much!

      1. Really? Oh dear, the marbles are definitely deserting me – unless of course it appeared in an Elgar, in which case I’d have passed on the puzzle!

  7. My only reservation as per Halcyon was the abundance of proper nouns which are not my forte
    Very enjoyable anyway, so thanks Sparks and Dutch

  8. Excellent puzzle full of fun, just right for a Friday puzzle. No obscure words or phrases. Right up my street. Thank you Sparks. Thank you Dutch.

  9. An enjoyable solve and we even knew the town in 15a which was a relief as we usually groan when we read a clue like this.
    Good fun to solve.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  10. 4* for me, though got there in the end. Having read all the 17ds, agree with earlier comment, defo an antihero. Thanks for the entertainment all.

  11. The right parsing led me to the correct answers but had to check a few.
    Didn’t notice the number in the central column.
    Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch.

  12. Pleased to have (rarely) finished a Friday Toughie, although there were a few words that were unfamiliar to me. One was 10d which was my favourite of the day.

    Last one in was 11a: kicking myself!

    Thanks to Dutch for the blog and Sparks.

    Took me a while to locate the Nina.

  13. A very enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Sparks. My only real problem was 23a.Is cos really a synonym for thus? surely it is because. I had sic reversed which proved to be impossible to construct a solution so i had recourse to Dutch. So thank you for that.
    Otherwise my favourites were 10d and 18a. I had never heard of premorse as a word before so I had to look it up in chambers .

  14. 3*/4*……
    liked 9A “fall over after a few bevvies in jaunt to and from the pub? (5,4)”

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