Toughie 2550 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2550

Toughie No 2550 by Moeraki

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

It took me a few minutes to get into this puzzle, but once I had a few answers the rest fell quite quickly.  A promising start from this new setter – Moeraki is a small fishing town on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand, which suggests a Kiwi connection.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Starts to study hard, exercise daily and drop off (4)
SHED: a nice easy initial letter clue to get started

9a           Meet April and Ben; they’ve become thick (12)
IMPENETRABLE: an anagram (they’ve become) of MEET APRIL with BEN

10a         Namely, short date in Rome (4)
IDES: the full Latin phrase for namely / that is without its final letter (short) gives a Roman date  – beware this date in March!

11a         Pulls down dreary quarters housing (10)
DISMANTLES: an adjective meaning dreary and two quarters of the compass around (houses) the National Trust (preservationists)

15a         Show from Morecambe to Kendal (7)
BETOKEN: hidden (from) inside the clue

16a         Mahler’s third in its entirety? (5)
AITCH: the third letter of [Ma]H[ler] spelt out

18a         Usain Bolt out washing (9)
ABLUTIONS: a clever anagram (out) of USAIN BOLT

19a         High water for Jack Point? (4)
TARN: this small mountain lake (high water) is a charade of a jack (sailor) and a compass point

20a         Heavy metal pioneer (4)
LEAD: two definitions

21a         Nice doorman could with time become egocentric (9)
CONCIERGE: this French (Nice) doorman when added to T(ime) is an anagram (could … become) of EGOCENTRIC

23a         HM leaves dog in German city (5)
TRIER: start with a type of dog and remove (leaves) the first instance of Her Majesty’s regal cipher

24a         Merseyside team away pegs out (7)
TOFFEES: the nickname of a team from the blue part of Merseyside is derived by putting a three-letter word meaning away inside some pegs used in golf

26a         Listening to Radio 3, say, with it (8,2)
SWITCHED ON: this phrase could mean that you have tuned in to Radio 3

29a         Apparently veto-free port (4)
OBAN: when this Scottish port is split (1,3) it could mean veto-free

30a         No colour match? (5,7)
WHITE WEDDING: a cryptic definition of a traditional ceremony celebrating nuptials

31a         Backing political moderates causes bother (4)
STEW: the reversal (backing) of some political, typically Tory, moderates


2d           Insure against scene after fight for flier (5,7)
HEDGE SPARROW: this bird (flier) is a charade of a verb meaning to insure against, to fight and a scene

3d           In seconds a dreadful harsh sound (10)
DISSONANCE: an anagram (dreadful) of IN SECONDS A

4d           Sam maybe is a card (5)
SPADE: the surname of fictional detective Sam is also a playing card

5d           Where lawyers are at home with Poles (4)
INNS: a two-letter word meaning at home followed by both poles

6d           Female? No! (4,3)
IRON MAN: an old chestnut of a clue – just split female into Fe and male and use Fe as a chemical symbol

7d           Pronounced fit, Magwitch? (4)
ABEL: the first name of Magwitch from Dickens’ Great Expectations sounds like (pronounced) a word meaning fit

8d           Chops for Ted, so it’s said (4)
HEWS: this verb meaning chops sounds like (it is said) the surname of a former Poet Laureate

12d         Awful clue — I can’t impress! (9)
INCULCATE: an anagram (awful) of CLUE I CAN’T

13d         Aims — often rewritten? (9)
MANIFESTO: an anagram (rewritten) of AIMS OFTEN

14d         What one may get for a pound and a euro? (8,4)
EXCHANGE RATE: I had hoped for an anagram of the second word using the first as an indicator, but I think it’s just a cryptic definition

17d         Old fogies out on small London area (4,2,4)
ISLE OF DOGS: an anagram (out) of OLD FOGIES followed by S(mall)

22d         Words of wisdom coming from Welsh craft, heading off (7)
ORACLES: start with some Welsh fishing craft and drop (off) the initial letter (heading)

25d         Rumour it’s out of condition (2-3)
ON-DIT: this French phrase for a rumour (it means one says) is hidden (it’s out of) inside a word in the clue

26d         Planted, proved hard to avoid (4)
SOWN: drop (to avoid) the H(ard) from a verb meaning proved

27d         River emergency — councillor’s away (4)
ISIS:  start with an emergency and drop (away) the abbreviation for councillor

28d         Old creature seen in two parties (4)
DODO: a two-letter word for a party, repeated

Rather too many anagrams (eight out of thirty-two clues) and some Literary references with which not everyone may be familiar slightly spoiled this debut Toughie.


34 comments on “Toughie 2550

  1. Sailed through this. Nice concise clues, 16a, 30a and 6d were my favourites. Thanks to BD and Moeraki.

  2. Well, between this and the back-pager, there hasn’t been much to test the brain cells today.

    All over in ** time, I didn’t know the bird in 2d, and 12d isn’t a term I use everyday. I hadn’t heard of the German city (Wiki doesn’t seem to have any reason why I should), and 24a might be unknown to many.

    I hadn’t parsed 6d correctly, but COTD has to be 16a.

    Many thanks to Moeraki and BD.

        1. Only this morning I was looking at a photo I took as a small boy in 1964 of the Porta Nigra, followed by one of a mechanical bear outside a nearby shop. Then the city’s in the crossword, then in the headlines.

  3. Not overly tough but enjoyable – can we call it a Floughie or is that reserved for a Chalicea puzzle? Completed at a Toughie fast gallop – **/***.
    Candidates for favourite – 29a, 30a, 31a, and 2d – and the winner is 30a.
    Thanks to Moeraki and BD.

    1. Senf – thanks for advising me to pop in here. Really enjoyable and amazed myself by only needing Big Dave’s hints for a couple. Completed at a steady trot.

      Thanks to Moeraki and BD!

  4. This was very light indeed for a so-called Toughie and I found it a curate’s egg in terms of enjoyment. The cluing was commendably brief, but, from my perspective, there was an over-reliance on GK and a few clues which caused some eyebrow twitching, e.g.: 19a, 26a, 14d & 25d.

    The last of these caused me considerable grief. I resorted to going through all the entries in the BRB starting ON- and still found nothing which would fit the checking letters. Then the penny dropped. It was not English but French!! I have now found the entry in the BRB but, of course, it is not listed as a subentry to our English ON and is on the next page. Zut alors!

    21a was my favourite.

    Welcome and thanks to Moeraki, and also thanks to BD.

    1. Those 2 letters in 25d have just stopped me from annihilating my fastest ever Toughie solve by a margin that would have certainly alerted the dope testers.

    2. I did not want to alert you to the lurker at 25d in case you still wanted to work it out for yourself…Senf did! I was certain that you could wait for the hints if you needed it :)

      A little GK is ok so long as it is well clued. I had never heard of the German city and I lived in Germany for a year.

  5. Like Malcolm, my hiccups were 23 and 24 a. Never heard of either of them.
    The rest was straightforward with COTD probably being 30a.
    So, which of our kiwi friends gave us this? I’m ready to tackle another!

  6. I thought there was more to this than just a straightforward Toughie; the clues were often quite complicated yet the answers rarely were. Granted, the completed grid had a couple of words that were new to me but they were fairly clued so no quibbles from me. The outstanding clue for me was 21a; very neat.

    Thanks and a warm welcome to Moeraki and thanks, too, to BD.

  7. Welcome to our new Toughie setter – I hope that he or she will drop in later to introduce themself. Like others I thought that this was pretty gentle although with a couple of clues (24a and 17d) which might be problematical for overseas solvers.
    The clues I liked best were 16a and 6d.
    Thanks to Moeraki and BD.

  8. Always like to have something nice to say about a debut puzzle but couldn’t find much to applaud in this one beyond 21&30a.
    Seemed to be too much reliance on GK rather than clever wordplay and some of the surface reads were ‘dodgy’ to say the least.
    As for 24a – why would anyone other than an avid football fan have known that one?!!

    Sorry, Moeraki, hope we can get along better next time. Thanks to BD for the review – you obviously had no difficulty with the football team!

    1. The latest Puzzles Newsletter email from Chris Lancaster makes interesting reading on the subject of GK.

      1. Yes, I read that, YS. Trouble is that one person’s GK is another person’s totally unknown! I just thought that there was rather too much in this puzzle whichever way your cookie crumbles.

        1. I do puzzles to learn. I like learning new GK and new words. The German City was new to me. Provided the clue is good enough we can work it out and then confirm it :)

  9. A lovely puzzle, which was most enjoyable. Like others, I did not know 23a but I did know 24a after hearing about them in a programme on sweets. No favourites – I’m just pleased to have finished a Toughie.

    Many thanks, Moeraki and welcome. Thanks also to Big Dave for the hints. I needed only about four but I read them all.

  10. Well this was a ‘chirpy ‘ puzzle light and entertaining from our new setter.
    Concisely and briefly clued , nothing long and tedious .
    In terms of difficulty/ enjoyment I had to give it a */*** which is unusual, but it would not have been out of place on the back page, this is not a criticism,
    Favourite was 6d,last in was 25d confirmed as a rumour synonym in Chambers but not initially spotted as a lurker by me -well done setter.

  11. I am grateful for the recommendation of this less than Toughie in another place as I really enjoyed the solve. Parsed 24a but have never heard of the team. Thanks to Moeraki (look forward to your next) and to BD.

  12. Zut alors as Rabbit Dave said.
    That was the only clue that I didn’t get and couldn’t see anything past On Air as an answer.
    But this shameful Frenchman enjoyed Moreaki’s first crossword.
    Favourite is that dreadful clue..I can’t impress!
    Thanks to the setter and to BD for the blog.

    1. Don’t be too ashamed! You have to be, like me, a reader of Georgette Heyer as a teenager, to be “au fait”(!!) with the French expressions used in the Regency period,

  13. A good start for a new setter I think. Yes, perhaps a tad too much GK but nothing an Everton supporting Dickens fan with a knowledge of Bogart film roles can’t deal with. There seemed a lot of anagrams together but that may have been the way I solved it, helped by the very friendly grid. The clueing was nice and concise and as YS @6 says there was more to some than at first it seemed [16a, say, or even 6d if you haven’t seen it before]. Favourites were 24a [I’m familiar with the nickname but it still took a while for the wordplay-penny to drop] 13d [how very true!] and 25d [nice one].

    Thanks Moeraki, keep at it, and thanks to BD for the blog.

  14. A nice breezy start to the day which had me smiling. Solved at a steady pace until 25 down stumped me. Lots to like. Especially 12 down which is a favourite word of mine despite having two hard letter CS. I’d welcome this setter back anytime. Thanks to Moeraki and to Big Dave.

  15. I liked most of this but I thought 23a a tad weak and obscure and wondered if there was more to 14d. Not a great fan of the Ted and Sam clues either. I did like the rest particularly the lurkers, the football team and the politics related clues, so overall good fun.
    Many thanks, and welcome to Moeraki. and to Big Daves for the entertainment….I wonder what our second debutant of the week will bring tomorrow?

  16. Like MP 25d beat me & Beaver’s comment gave the game away but doubt I would have got it anyway as it’s not something I’ve ever heard of & I’m lousy spotting lurkers at the best of times. Agree that there were too many anagrams & it was maybe a tad GK heavy (loved Halcyon’s quip though Everton supporting could also have been prefaced with poetry loving) but must say I enjoyed it. Among a number of clever clues 2&6d along with 16&21a were the ones that stood out for me in a very gentle start to the Toughie week.
    Welcome & thanks Moeraki & to BD for the review which I’ll now read.

  17. How odd that a city I had never before heard of , Trier, is in the news today for the worst reasons.
    It reminds me of the D-Day crosswords, which was concluded to be a total coincidence.
    Otherwise I really enjoyed this crossword.
    Thanks to the setter and BD.

  18. Not sure what to make of this one. The setter’s name has very definite NZ connections but the answers have quite a lot of anglo-centric GK. 24a being a particular example. Wonder what is going on there. Hope the setter pops in to throw some light on this.
    Thanks Moeraki and BD.

    1. Fret not. I’ve had both eyes done and the procedure isn’t anything like as bad as you imagine, and the results are great

      1. I had the first three weeks ago and the second yesterday. It’s about an hour of mild discomfort and you feel slightly battered afterwards but it is honestly nothing to worry about and as crypticsue says, the results are great – I keep reaching for my glasses then realizing that I don’t need them. Good luck.

  19. I finished this quickly this morning. It was very enjoyable and I look forward to future offerings!

    Thanks to the setter. My COTD us 8D

  20. Enjoyed this and completed all of the answers apart from 10a. Wish I had learned Latin! That is, after I had got rid of the black pudding in 30a! Particularly liked 6d.

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