Toughie 2554 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2554

Toughie No 2554 by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Miffypops

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

A full house of thirty-two clues written by Chalicea greeted me when I made it to the Toughie page this morning. That’s enough to spark a smile for me. The smiles continued throughout the solve nothing onerous today. Just a lot of gentle fun.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. 


1a        Revolutionary, with total recanting, to become less miserable (5,2)
CHEER UP: Our overworked revolutionary provides the first three letters of your answer. Followed by the reverse of an adjective meaning sheer or involving and containing nothing else 

5a        Chests of principally charitable things given (7)
COFFERS: The initial letter of the word charitable followed by things presented to be accepted or declined

9a        Motoring organisation swindle takes in old masked dustbin-scavenger (7)
RACCOON: The initials of a long standing motoring organisation are followed by a swindle which contains the abbreviation for old

10a      Harsh and bitter bishop in command, pursuing one regime at first (7)
ACERBIC: The abbreviations for Bishop in command sit after the one in a deck of cards and the initial letter of the word regime

11a      Amazed as we crashed lorry (3-6)
AWESTRUCK: An anagram (crashed) of AS WE is followed by a synonym of lorry

12a      Motor found dumped in reservoir (5)
SERVO: The answer lies hidden within the words of the clue as indicated by the words dumped in. The best included word indicator I have seen for some time. Possibly ever (see hint for 17 across)

13a      Letter of thanks after article (5)
THETA: The most common of words described as an article is followed by the most common form of abbreviated thank yous

15a      60 minutes for Disney dwarf when drinks are half-price? (5,4)
HAPPY HOUR: The word usually used for a period of sixty minutes is preceded by one of Disney’s seven dwarfs. This clue reminded me of the Christmas quiz in Peter Kaye’s Phoenix Nights where the hapless bar staff team were trying to name the twelve apostles. Bashful Grumpy Sleepy etc.

17a      Record-keeper in golf hemmed in by a stirrer, deplorably (9)
REGISTRAR: An anagram (deplorably) of A STIRRER also contains the letter suggested by the word Golf in some phonetic alphabets. Deplorably is as good an anagram indicator as dumped in is an included word indicator in 12 across

19a      Present object having zero weight? (5)
ENDOW: The word object here is a noun meaning a goal or purpose. It is followed by the letter that looks like zero and the abbreviation for weight

22a      Civilian expounder of Muslim law (5)
MUFTI: A double definition. The first describing the civilian dress of who normally wears a uniform. The second a Muslim legal expert who is empowered to give rulings on religious matters

23a      Female dish, lacking restraints, with base need finally, had amorous affairs (9)
WOMANISED: A straightforward four part charade in the order written in the clue. 1 a female 2 The word dish without the restraint of it’s outer letters 3 the letter denoting logarithmic base 4 The final letter of the word need 

25a      European fellow upset issue (7)
EMANATE: A three part charade. 1 The abbreviation for European 2 A fellow chap or geezer 3 A verb meaning to have upset or niggled away at one’s emotions 

26a      Racket involving mystic syllable is harmful to health (7)
NOISOME: A mystic syllable, considered the most sacred mantra in Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and daft Moody Blues songs sits inside a word meaning a din or a racket

27a      Drunkenly cuss pet believed to be guilty of misdeed (7)
SUSPECT: Anagram (drunkenly) of CUSS PET

28a      Adult group working in desert (7)
ABANDON: Begin with the letter A from the clue. Add a group of similar items. Add a short word meaning working


1d        Fruit course is announced (7)
CURRANT: The flow or course of a river sounds like a dried seedless grape. Sort the wordplay from the definition and put in the answer that suits the definition

2d        Eject from one-time Greek island (7)
EXCRETE: A preposition meaning one time or formerly is followed by a Greek Island. Which one of the six thousand or so Greek Islands I hear you say. Well it is named and it is inhabited. It is possibly the largest Greek Island and I went there when Donkeys outnumbered 4 by 4s and again when 4 by 4 s outnumbered donkeys

3d        Marsupials must finally settle for the night (5)
ROOST: The plural of an Australian common term for one of their native marsupials is followed by the final letter of the word must

4d        Fellow secures new help to advancement for clerk in a dull job (3-6)
PEN PUSHER: A member of the nobility sits around the abbreviation for new and a gentle nudge given to aid advancement 

5d        Break up constant torture (5)
CRACK: The abbreviation for constant is followed by an apparatus used for torture 

6d        Steer around south of France, see upcoming type of race (9)
FREESTYLE: An anagram (around) of STEER lies below the abbreviation for France and above the reverse of crosswordlands most featured See or diocese. This provides the ultra modern name of a swimming stroke up until recently known as the Front Crawl

7d        Ban insane mob rage (7)
EMBARGO: Anagram (insanely) of MOB RAGE

8d        Comfort gullible type on the radio (7)
SUCCOUR: A homophone (on the radio) of a word meaning a gullible or easily deceived person

14d      Four in a spacious car pass summer lethargically (9)
AESTIVATE: A new word for me. Begin with the letter A from the clue. Add a long type of car once known as a shooting brake. Insert the Roman numerals for four

16d      Burning obsession of European republic supporting gutless policy (9)
PYROMANIA:  The outer letters of the word policy are followed by a European republic, capital city Bucharest. Apparently Bucharest straddles The River Danube with one side being known as Bucha and the other side being called Rest

17d      Religious instruction at heart polemises in a lower degree, lacking a frame (7)
RIMLESS: The abbreviation for religious instruction. The central letter of the word polemises. A word meaning to a lower degree or fewer

18d      Nonsense initially attracts wonderfully sonorous boisterous laughs (7)
GUFFAWS: Begin with a synonym for nonsense. Add the initial letters of three consecutive words in the clue

20d      Become dejected and react when Democrat replaces Republican (7)
DESPOND: Find a verb meaning react to or say something in reply. Change its first letter (the abbreviation for republican) to the abbreviation for democrat

21d      Naughty new dog going round heart of lairs gets duck (7)
WIDGEON: An anagram (naughty) of NEW DOG includes the central latter of the word lairs

23d      Start of welcome warmth produces cereal crop (5)
WHEAT: The start or initial letter of the word welcome is followed by a synonym of the word warmth

24d      Circling in Iran, a unit of currency (5)
NAIRA: Anagram (circling in) of IRAN A. The unit of currency in Nigeria subdivided into Kobo


32 comments on “Toughie 2554

  1. I enjoyed this from Chalicea. Needed help with a couple but 80% went in with little fight. I particularly liked 15a but my favourite clue is 11a.

    Many thanks, Chalicea for the challenge and to Miffypops for the hints.

  2. I do enjoy Chalicea’s puzzles; she seems to find my wave-length rather swiftly, though I did need a bit of an electronic nudge for the motor (‘servo’ not a term I know, even though, as MP says, it was lurking right there in front of me!). 17d is my COTD, though I didn’t realise that the Danube had been diverted north of its usual course and actually bisected that fair city–MP, you never cease to crack me up! (When I was in another city actually divided by the Danube, I stayed in the Hills of Buda, completely ignorant of the competing charms of Bucha, elsewhere.) Thanks for the laughs, MP, and thanks to Chalicea for the enjoyment.

  3. A thoroughly enjoyable and accessible Toughie to get us going this week. Some very smooth surfaces made this a very rewarding solve, and of the many fine clues on display I liked 16d the best.

    Many thanks to Chalicea for the fun and to MP.

  4. This highly enjoyable crossword made Rose’s 86-year-old mum happy too, as she provided an answer while on her daily phone call to us, thus proving that short-term memory loss doesn’t mean you’re stupid! 😀 Our favourite clue was 15a, but we needed help to parse 17d, and 24d was new to both of us, always nice to collect another currency. Thanks to setter and Miffypops, more like this please!

  5. Just right for Tuesday – not too tough but not that easy either. I slowed down in the NE, failing to spot the lurking motor for a while then failing to parse 6d. I was thrown by that word “around” and spent a while trying to do something with “freesian” [a mis-spelled steer].

    Thanks to Chalicea and to MP for the blog.

  6. I agree completely with the four previous commenters. It’s Toughies like this one that give me the confidence to attempt more of them. Thoroughly entertaining and nicely clued – and a new word learned, but in all probability most likely forgotten by this evening ;-) (14d that is) Thanks Chalicea and MP.

  7. Just a very pleasant afternoon solve. My one failure was 14d, completely new to me. A marvellous word. It brings to mind the lotus eaters

  8. Very enjoyable start of the toughie week.
    No problem with 14d as all the lovely people who come to spend the summer in Hyeres are called estivants.
    Quite a few ticks next to 11a, 6, 14 and 16d.
    Thanks to Chalicea and to MP.
    I now have a bit of free time to have a go at her EV.

      1. You’re absolutely right. We also call people spending the winter somewhere “hivernants”.

        1. One summer, when I decided not to teach the six-week session, I posted a notice on my office door: “The Professor will aestivate instead of teaching this summer and travel instead”. My colleagues all thought it so typically ‘chic’ of me (or so they said), and I learned a new word in the process. Must have been around 1986 or so.

  9. Going along great guns but was stumped by 14 and 24 down, which were both new to me. A very pleasant puzzle to start off the week.

  10. Somewhat surprisingly, this is the first “Toughie” I’ve attempted. Presumably, this is at the easier end of the spectrum? I enjoyed it but thought it was like the usual cryptic. Thanks for the review. I am now hooked.

  11. Agree with the plaudits thus far. Hugely enjoyable & a lovely, albeit very gentle, way to kick off the Toughie week. Other than the 12a lurker, the currency & 14d there was nothing obscure & must say I felt more than a little smug to have it completed & fully parsed in a Senfian gallop that comfortably bettered my quickest ever Toughie solve. Absolutely concur with MP’s point about the use of dumped & deplorably as lurker & anagram indicators. Lovely surfaces, beautifully clued & an absolute pleasure to solve. Too many gems to pick a favourite.
    Thanks Chalicea & to MP for the customary witty review.

    1. Don’t know if you read my tongue in cheek reply to your comment on last Friday’s Elgar. I did actually go back to it the next day & got about a dozen more & may even have another go as I didn’t read Dutch’s review but crikey he’s hard going. At least in the alternate weeks there’s 4 Toughies……
      Little Dave – be warned not for the faint hearted.

  12. Enjoyed this. I needed to check 14d as a new term to me. Otherwise a relatively gentle start to the toughie week. Thanks to Chalicea and MP.

  13. Beautifully composed clues and smiles all the way through. Our sort of puzzle.
    Thanks Chalicea and MP.

  14. OMG. Knock me down with a feather. Thought I would have a stab at a Toughie as we sit here waiting for a large delivery. So surprised, and chuffed, to only need a few hints to finish. 14d was last in. I should have got 12a as Peter just ordered 4 new ones for his latest RC plane, which keeps occupying the dining room table. Big thanks to Chalicea, just my cup of tea. And to Miffypops of course. Glad I decided to have a go at a Toughie today.

  15. I really enjoyed this. Many thanks to Chalicea. My faves were 14D & 16D, but COTD is 4D simply because it reminded of the time when I was trying to solve my Sons birth certificate in the Netherlands…having finally got them all the docs they needed which was a huge struggle, they told me I had to wait 4-6weeks for the birth certificate. We were flying to South Africa the following week.
    I mentioned to them that their letter to me said he was “Stateless” and pointed out that it was against human rights legislation.
    After consulting her boss, they printed the birth certificate immediately.

  16. Lovely analysis, Miffypops – you had me smiling and I’ve learned about my own clues (Bucha and Rest for example – I knew that the Elizabeth Bridge performed a similar separation of Buda and Pest). I’m delighted to have given such pleasure to solvers, thanks. It makes setting so much more worthwhile. Yes, we’ve aestivated during lockdown too and are now having to hivernate as they won’t even let us ski in all the lovely new snow that is falling here.

    1. A pleasure to solve and a pleasure to blog. Your puzzles allow my imagination to run wild.
      Thank you for dropping in.

  17. Aha, a doable toughie, although I did have to refer to a couple of the hints and have absolutely no idea what a
    12a is although it was beautifully hidden. I must look it up. Reminds me of the car my father bought me when I was old enough to learn to drive, a 1936 Austin 7, he spent ages with the bonnet up trying to explain cotter pins to me. Never did sink in. Many thanks to Chalicea and to Miffypops for the excellent hints.

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