Toughie 2557 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2557

Toughie No 2557 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A charming crossword with a lovely Nina – and a few new words.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Run into husband with wife that is plain (7)
PRAIRIE: The abbreviation for run goes inside (into) another word for couple, then the abbreviation for that is

8a    Oscar classifies trees (7)
ORANGES: The letter corresponding to radio code Oscar plus a word for classifies

10a    Issue over plan in which event should occur (9)
TIMEFRAME: Reversal (over) of a verb meaning to issue plus a word meaning to plan

11a    Unlimited trading hit rock bottom (5)
NADIR: An anagram (hit) of (t)RADIN(g) without the outer letters (unlimited)

12a    Philosopher once a good-hearted cad (5)
HEGEL: Another word for cad containing the abbreviation for good (good-hearted)

13a    Old architectural engineers initially adopting small imperial measurements for heating facility (4,5)
OAST HOUSE: The abbreviation for old plus the first letters (initially) of the next two words contain (adopting) the abbreviation for small and some imperial measurements I’d never heard of but they are indeed small

15a    Dirty, gutless, threatening regime (7)
DYNASTY: Dirty with the inner letters removed (gutless) plus a word for threatening

17a    Third person singular I utter about first (7)
TERTIUS: The abbreviation for singular but first an anagram (about) of I UTTER. A Latin answer I had no come across before

18a    Patrician talker regularly a pupil of Plato (9)
ARISTOTLE: Another word for patrician plus the odd letters (regularly) of talker

20a    Crowd travelled by car (5)
DROVE: Two meanings

21a    Forbidden flutter about horses, two in 2nd and 3rd places (5)
TABOO: A reversal (about) of flutter, as in to flutter your eyelids, plus the second and third letters (places) in horses and two respectively

23a    Bank statement initiating planned cash withdrawal? (5,2,2)
STICK ‘EM UP: A cryptic definition involving bank robbers

24a    One puts up English clergyman (7)
ERECTOR: The abbreviation for English plus a clergyman

25a    Paper getting more sarcastic about Rolling Stone (7)
DRIFTER: The abbreviation for a pink newspaper is covered by (about) a word meaning more sarcastic



1d    Lungs Adam trained before start of individual medley (10)
SALMAGUNDI: An anagram (trained) of LUNGS ADAM plus the first letter (start) of individual. Yes, new to me too

2d    Very angry squire fully absorbed (6)
IREFUL: Hidden (… absorbed)

3d    New rising-generation politician expressing denial (8)
NEGATORY: The abbreviation for new, the reversal (rising) of a 3-letter generation, and a conservative politician

4d    ‘We’re doomed!’ Mainwaring — at last, Fraser finally opens drinks (6)
GONERS: The last letter of Mainwaring, then the last (finally) letter of Fraser goes inside (opens) some drinks (as in ***S for the road)

5d    Diner eating a source of rocket? (8)
LAUNCHER: A midday diner contains A from the clue

6d    Wow! Red Guard oddly dismissed (4)
EGAD: Even letters (… oddly dismissed)

7d    Pleb chatted freely about it in fierce set-to (7,6)
PITCHED BATTLE: An anagram (freely) of PLEB CHATTED goes around (about) IT from the clue

9d    Extremely smart guide backing number one by council worker? (6,7)
STREET SWEEPER: The outer letters (extremely) of smart, a reversal (backing) of a 5-letter word meaning to guide, number one (!), and a 3-letter Latin word meaning by, as in according to or via

14d    One capturing potentially first class likeness (10)
UNIFORMITY: A 5-letter word meaning one contains (capturing) a group of school children

16d    Praise fourth man guarding garrison (3,5)
SET FORTH: The fourth man in the Bible contains (guarding) a garrison

17d    Film Martin and Robin et al (3,5)
THE BIRDS: Martin and Robin are of course species of …

19d    Brood about hard faith lessons in Jewish period (6)
TISHRI: Reversal (about) of a word meaning to brood, the abbreviation for hard, then a 2-letter abbreviation for faith lessons in school. I need to study my Jewish calendar

20d    Two little animals raised another (3-3)
DIK-DIK: The reversal (raised) of two baby goats

22d    Made move, swapping sides in plot (4)
BREW: Made move (by air), swapping the abbreviations for left and right

I liked the film (17d), the school children (14d), and my favourite is the forbidden flutter which took me a while to parse. Which clues did you like?

29 comments on “Toughie 2557

  1. A pleasant puzzle – thanks to Sparks and Dutch (I enjoyed the 23a cartoon and the lazy council workers).
    Nice Nina which, rarely for me, became apparent before I finished and helped in the SE corner.
    I didn’t much like 22d which works either way round. I opted for the wrong one (I now see from Dutch’s blog) based mainly on the positioning of the comma though it was really a toss-up.
    I wondered at one stage whether there was going to be a theme of philosophers but only two appeared.
    The clues I liked best were 12a and 23a.

    1. Yes I had blew, as in ‘blew the joint’, or ‘moved on’. I assume the electronic version of the puzzle confirms the setters intention by confirming that the overall solve is correct, so I guess I have to take that as a minor defeat. Ah well.

  2. Started really well but took a while to finish the SE.
    The small animals and the bank statement gave me a hard time.
    Got 19d by visiting BD’s mine and found it albeit a different spelling.
    Even spotted the Nina.
    Lots of great clues.
    Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch.

  3. Well I ground it out until I had a letter in every light. A bit of a chore at the end. But it is a Friday Toughie so I should expect that. As a time served precision engineer I am well aware of the small measurement in 13 across. In the early 1960s a chap was sacked from a large factory in Coventry for being two thou out on a job. Well he did work in the wages department. Thanks to Dutch for the blog. Great illustrations. Thanks to the setter for the puzzle

  4. A pleasant and not too taxing a finish to the Toughie week. As our blogger says, a couple of new words, and some penny drop moments too. I really liked the cash withdrawal so that is my favourite. I missed the Nina, but that aside this was a very enjoyable little challenge.

    Many thanks to Sparks for the fun and to Dutch.

  5. My Latin failed me today, although it gave me “esse” yesterday and even though I did know what 17 meant; I just couldn’t come up with it. I did not, however, know the Jewish 10a. Yes, the cash withdrawal clue is not only today’s COTD but probably this week’s as well. I loved it. The entire left-hand side was done (and mostly parsed) before I solved a single clue on the r-h side, and that was Hitchcock’s film, followed by 9d (which was a bung-in, really). Thanks to Dutch whose review I’ll read now, and many thanks to Sparks for this clever, amusing gift.

  6. We found this a bit of a slog at times and were completely stumped by 17A and 19D. However the rest was enjoyable with 23A COTD by a country mile! ***/***. Thanks to Dutch for the aids.

  7. I was working slowly but steadily through this and enjoying it when I got got stymied right at the end by 19d, 20d & 22d. It felt almost as if the setter had finished with a few obscurities to justify it as a Friday Toughie.

    Thanks to Sparks for most of this, and to Dutch, particularly for his explanation of the parsing for 21a.

  8. An enjoyable and quite tough [I’d give it 4*] end to the week with some cunning and inventive clues. I particularly liked 17a [my last solve] 21a and 9d. Agree with Gazza 22d is poorly drafted and has 2 correct answers of no consequence.

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch for the blog.

  9. Unusually, I spotted the Nina, but not until I had finished and was admiring the completed grid. Pity – it would have helped me with 22d of which I made very heavy weather. I did like the cash withdrawal in 23a! Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  10. A pity we hadn’t spotted the Nina earlier as it would have helped with the pesky 22d. We were convinced that the plot was a bed so were tossing up between BLED and BRED to try and fit one for the definition. 19d needed Google assistance and took a long time to sort out 14d. All in all, it kept us out of mischief for quite some time. Enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  11. I’m so delighted for you all and your Nina.
    I’d join in the fun if I knew what the h*** you were talking about! 🙄

    1. it’s one of the questions answered in the FAQ tab above. Basically it is a hidden message. Look in the grid at rows 1 and 15 and the central column

  12. Didn’t have as much time as I would have liked for this one so I accepted help from our blogger earlier than I otherwise would have done. Having said that, I’d probably not have arrived at answers for 17a or 19&22d in any case.
    In line with others, I’ll nominate 23a for favourite – humour invariably wins out at the end of the day.

    Thanks to Sparks for the challenge – very best of festive wishes to both you and Sparky, hope you manage to enjoy at least a double Nina on Christmas Day! Thanks also to Dutch for the review and the help with the pesky ones. Loved your cartoon depiction of 23a.

  13. I don’t get the parsing of 22d. I understand swapping L for R but how does F become B (assuming that ‘flew’ is the move by air)?

    1. ‘Made move’ is ‘blew’ (as in ‘I blew the dust away’) – now swap Left to right to get the answer ‘brew’.

  14. Arduous, informative, fun. 23a was our favourite, 22d only went in after we consulted the hints. 1d and 19d new to us: clearly we were not alone! Thanks to setter and Dutch.

  15. Had a late night stab at this & early optimism for a possible hint free Friday finish soon evaporated once the SE was encountered. In the end & even after revealing the 17a/d checker I needed help with 5 clues, three of which (17a,19&20d) were completely new to me, to finish.
    Also needed the hints to make sense of 4d & 22d & in all honesty the review to parse a couple more (13&21a) For me certainly, as you’d expect, by far the toughest challenge of the week & fun trying. A toss up between 17d & 23a for my favourite. With the latter I struggled to think of the first letter of the second word & that despite having just watched before the marvellous Hell or High Water on Film 4 about 2 brothers robbing the Texas Midland Bank to raise the funds to stop the same bank foreclosing on their property.
    Thanks for the help Dutch & to Sparks for the entertainment.
    Ps Am I being thick because I can’t see the Nina? What is it ?

  16. Bit late to this, but 22d has been vexing me from the moment I saw the clue and realised two answers were possible. I interpreted the comma as giving an instruction to swap the sides in the definition of “plot” and so plumped for the wrong answer. I was surprised that this clue made it through the pre-publish review process.

  17. Completely foxed by 19d as (being Jewish) I had always spelt it “tishrei”. Apparently it is an alternative spelling! Fortunately my rusty Latin allowed me to spot 17a. Thanks to Dutch for explanations and to Sparks for an enjoyable couple of hours.

  18. I like many others above sorted out the LHS pretty rapidly the NE corner yielded eventually but the SE corner proved somewhat more troublesome staring with 17a. i took a long time trying to rearrange I utter into something that made sense but i needed Dutch’s excellent direction to eventually reach the answer. In 9d i still do not see how ‘wee’ equates to number one !
    Overall a good challenge from Sparkes. With 23 a taking the cream.

    1. wee: think toilet, doing a No 1 vs a No 2, in euphemistic child talk / slang (it’s in Chambers!)

      i know

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