Toughie 2544 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2544

Toughie No 2544 by proXimal

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

Now that was a proper Toughie and no mistake!

From time to time, my friend and I are accompanied on our walks with a very young “Jorkie” which we refer to as a ‘cut-and shut’ (like a dangerous used car made up of halves of two other cars) as the puppy’s front half is Jack Russell and the back half Yorkshire Terrier. Well, I found this Toughie to be a bit of a cut-and-shut too – the lower half was backpager-like, but the top half provided all the toughness, taking twice as long to solve as the bottom half did

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    One not totally behind meeting without consultation (12)
UNILATERALLY The first three letters (not totally) of a single thing (one), a synonym for behind [time] and a gathering for a common purpose (meeting)

9a    Personal search putting two drinks together (9)
SHAKEDOWN A slang term for a thorough search of a person is obtained by putting a type of drink together with a verb meaning to drink

10a    Vital wrong answer must be reversed (5)
ALIVE A reversal (must be reversed) of an adjective meaning wrong or bad and the abbreviation for answer

11a    Announced model wearing ornamental accessory (6)
TIEPIN A homophone (announced) of a model of something and an adverb meaning wearing

12a    Expeditions scared relaxed American dons (8)
CRUSADES The abbreviation for American dons (wears or goes inside) an anagram (relaxed) of SCARED

13a    No person having divine protection with shift in A&E (6)
DENIAL Take the name of an Old Testament person who was saved from some lions in a den by the God of Israel (having divine protection) and ‘shift’ the letters A and E in that name

15a    Constant work cutting off raised route (8)
CAUSEWAY The abbreviation for constant and a verb meaning to work inserted (cutting) an adverb meaning off

18a    Putting time into designs for English dresses (8)
COMPOSTS Replace the E for English with a T for Time in a verb meaning designs

19a    Following wolf and ominous bears (6)
FANDOM Hidden in (bears) wolF AND OMinous

21a    As originally stated, very bad time with all getting reductions (8)
VERBATIM VERy BAd TIMe all getting reductions!

23a    Open jail was adequate (6)
CANDID A (not necessarily American) slang word for jail and another way of saying ‘was adequate’

26a    Plump sandwich (5)
ROUND A double definition which is an old friend of the cryptic crossword solver

27a    Plastic altarpiece, not lead, is copy (9)
REPLICATE Remove the first letter (not lead) and an anagram (plastic) of the remaining letters of aLTARPIECE will produce your solution

28a    Spots first-rate people entering into projects (12)
PREDICAMENTS The letter used to indicate first-rate and some people ‘entering’ into a verb meaning projects or foretells


1d    Not gratified being deposed, losing fourth place (7)
UNSATED Remove (losing) the letter in fourth place in a synonym for deposed

2d    Fare in Delhi halving … that is ridiculous (5)
INANE Some Indian bread (fare in Delhi) inserted into (halving) the abbreviation meaning that is

3d    Area with sheep circling around for drink (9)
AMERICANO The abbreviation for Area and a breed of sheep ‘circling’ the abbreviation for around or about

4d    Upset offended deity (4)
EROS A reversal (upset in a Down clue) of a synonym for offended

5d    25 this peculiar could become incomparable (8)
ABNORMAL A compound anagram where, if you added the solution of 25d to the solution of this clue, an anagram (could become) would produce the word INCOMPARABLE

6d    Clues where northerner might be from, by listening (5)
LEADS A homophone (by listening) of a Northern city

7d    Diseased feeble weakling with head slightly down (8)
MILDEWED A synonym for feeble and a weakling, where the first letter (head) should be moved slightly down

8d    Agreed about male going up river (6)
MERSEY A reversal (going up) of a word meaning agreed, the two-letter preposition meaning about and the abbreviation for Male

14d    Many show signs of uncertainty in common sense (8)
NUMEROUS Two interjections expressing uncertainty inserted into common sense

16d    Person is embroiled in false religion (9)
SHAMANISM A person and IS (from the clue) ’embroiled’ into an adjective meaning false

17d    One might pin down runner in flight (5,3)
STAIR ROD A cryptic definition of something used to hold down a particular carpet (runner)

18d    Two-thirds preserved, Cervantes novel in vault (6)
CAVERN An anagram (novel) of the first two thirds of CERVANtes

20d    Folly and woe with son becoming married (7)
MADNESS Replace the S (son) at the beginning of some woe with M (becoming Married)

22d    Misshapen deal provided recalled, cut from fir tree (5)
ALDER Cut the reversal (recalled) of the conjunction meaning provided in fiR and then add the remaining letter to an anagram (misshapen) of DEAL

24d    Beginning to gather Romeo pulled (5)
DRAWN Insert (to gather) the letter represented in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet by Romeo into a ‘beginning’

25d    Huge epidemic avoided by half of the French (4)
EPIC Avoid or remove the French word for half from EPIdemiC


16 comments on “Toughie 2544

  1. Really beaten by this and am finding it difficult to parse the clues I did solve! By default I got 7d but explain it someone please.
    I put “Butty” for 26a. Quite wrong but I rather like it.

  2. proXimal provides a lesson in how to compile an enjoyable toughish Toughie without the need for obscurities. Thanks to him and CS.
    Like our blogger I started in the lower reaches and worked my up to the top with a number of d’ohs en route.
    My ticks went to 13a, 15a, 18a and 14d.

  3. :phew:
    I was much relieved to learn I was not alone in finding this genuinely tough, but, as Gazza rightly says, there was nothing obscure included which added to the enjoyment. By the time I had finished the sizeable notes panel adjacent to the crossword was full of my scribbles.

    It took me a while to work out in what context “work” = “use” for 15a, and parsing 2d & 20d also added some time to the overall solve.

    My podium choice is 13a, 21a & 14d.

    Many thanks to proXimal for a rewarding and entertaining challenge and to CS for the review.

  4. Well your rating has made my day Sue. Finished a ***** production on my own – who’d ‘ave thunk it. Needless to say it took quite a while & I was shy of parsing a few correctly but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Got the shake bit in 9a but still didn’t see where the 2 drinks were, completely missed that 11a was a homophone & 18a, my last, was a bung in synonym. Enjoyed the struggle & there were some good lightbulb moments with 2d, 13a & particularly 7d which was my last in (bunged in billowed initially) & is my pick of bunch.
    Thanks to proXimal & for the review

    1. The two drinks are a) (milk)shake and b) down (as in ‘Can you down that pint in two gulps?’).

  5. A real Toughie to get me in a state of self-congratulation before I come crashing down to earth with the Elgar tomorrow. This was beautifully, if somewhat fiendishly clued, and it took a lot of teasing out, but ultimately the sense of satisfaction at completing it was worth the effort. I think 14d was my pick of all the excellent clues on offer.

    Many thanks to proXimal for the considerable challenge and to CS.

  6. I always find it disappointing to be denied the pleasure of completing a challenging, and beautifully crafted, puzzle like this by something I’ve not heard of. In this case it was the drink – and the sheep for that matter – in 3d. I had 11a correctly penciled in, but couldn’t quite make the homophone work for me. If the truth were told, I did enjoy the challenge hugely, and I’m glad I wasn’t alone in finding this tricky. Many thanks to proXimal and crypticsue.

  7. Stumped by the NE corner, not helped by putting “individually” (“one” and the “behind” of “totally”) as 1a.
    Agree with others that this was a very fair toughie, so no complaints. Back to the practice court.
    Love the intro BTW CS – many thanks to all.

  8. Well, that was odd – hit the wall with the NW corner virtually empty, went for an appointment with the chiropodist and then completed the puzzle relatively quickly on my return. Maybe if I saw her twice on a Friday I could handle an Elgar?
    Top three for me were 23a plus 7&14d.

    Thanks to proXimal for a substantial challenge and to CS for confirmation of the parsing.

  9. You and me both Jane – except in my case the conservatory needed cleaning. Once that was done the NW corner began to yield, albeit grudgingly. Agreed it was worthy of 5* on the crossword Mohs scale. Favourites, from many, were11a [a clever homophone that works] 14d [I liked the 2 different forms of uncertainty] 17d [a cryptic def that’s cryptic and amusing is quite rare] and 20d [a nice substitution clue with a good surface].

    Many thanks to proX and CS

  10. Ditto. Started from the bottom and slowly made my way up, finishing with the NW corner with a lot of help from my Collins thesaurus.
    I much prefer 3d when it’s made from red martini and campari. The coffee never crossed my mind.
    Needed a bit of research on the biblical person in 13a and the personal search in 9a as I could only find stories about shaking straw to make one’s bed.
    Thanks to Proximal and to CS.

  11. That took us a long time and we found it an absolute joy to solve. No obscurities, just wordplay that kept us guessing and working through the possibilities until the pennies dropped.
    Thanks Proximal and CS.

  12. My third cryptic of the day since I am golfless. It kept me amused for some time. I was stuck on 2d but when I was preparing the veg for dinner it came to me. Thank you to CS and setter.

  13. Enjoyed this and completed all but 9a and 3b without help. Favourites were 13a and 7d as I have recently recognised clues which require moving letters around. As is obvious I like to do these in stages as it has been proven that leaving a crossword and coming back to it fresh helps. But won’t be winning any competitions!

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