Toughie 2560 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2560

Toughie No 2560 by Micawber

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ****

The usual, but sadly rarely seen, treat of a crossword from Micawber – at the gentler end of the Toughie spectrum but great fun throughout

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Lacking adventure, indefinite number become participants in breaking revolt (14)
UNENTERPRISING The letter indicating an indefinite number and a verb used to mean become participants (in a competition or race perhaps) inserting into (breaking) a revolt

9a    Inhabitant of cave beginning to investigate eastern religion (7)
DENIZEN A cave, the beginning to Investigate and an Eastern religion

10a    Mafioso multiplying capital in seafood delicacy by twenty (7)
MOBSTER Multiply the Roman numeral that is the first letter (capital) in a seafood delicacy by twenty

11a    Take a chance, moving knight over next to king (4)
RISK A reversal (moving over) of the title of a knight put next to the abbreviation for King in a game of chess

12a    Inane insinuation voiced increasingly quietly (10)
DIMINUENDO A musical instruction to play increasingly quietly is formed from a synonym for inane and a homophone (voiced) of an insinuation

14a    Prepared to be near the knuckle? (2,4)
ON HAND A description of something near the knuckle on part of your body

15a    Portion including more than necessary (80%) sugar (8)
DEXTROSE A portion ‘including’ 80% of the letters in an adjective meaning more than necessary

17a    ‘Shut up!’, heads of army training interjected — ‘that’s juvenile!’ (8)
IMMATURE The heads of Army and Training inserted (interjected) in a verb meaning to shut up within walls

18a    Dull broadcast rehearsal (3,3)
DRY RUN A synonym of dull and a broadcast

21a    Record collection of papers one after the other (6,4)
SINGLE FILE A record such as an old 45 and a collection of papers

22a    Great United States! (4)
MEGA The abbreviations for two States in America are united to get something great (just like the d’oh moment when you realise how the clue works)

24a    Read law wrong, getting unfair treatment (3,4)
RAW DEAL An anagram (wrong) of READ LAW

25a    Paint docked cycle getting blown up with air (7)
ACRYLIC An anagram (blown up) of CYCLe (docked telling you not to use the final letter) and AIR

26a    Scatter cowry’s shell randomly in wild shore? They might (14)
OYSTERCATCHERS I much preferred this clue for today’s second DT crossword appearance of this wading bird – an anagram (randomly) of SCATTER and CY (the ‘shell’ of CowrY) inserted into another anagram (wild) of SHORE


1d    Experience for Kaiser and therefore for Caesar (7)
UNDERGO How the Kaiser of Germany would say ‘and’ and Caesar the Latin word for therefore

2d    Author of Eagles à la Campbell? (6,9)
ERNEST HEMINGWAY Some sea eagles and how someone might say in the manner of the nickname of a former leader of the Liberal Democrat party (3, 4, 3)

3d    B-blemish arising in state (4)
TIZZ A reversal (arising) of an originally North American word for a pimple with its first letter repeated as in B-blemish

4d    What police chief did perhaps is corrupt (6)
RANCID An old friend of the crossword solver – split the solution 3,3 and you’ll see what the police chief did

5d    General hiding in grass did not move (8)
REMAINED An adjective meaning general ‘hiding’ in a water grass

6d    Thread about weird club for particular group within society (10)
SUBCULTURE A thread used for stitching a wound into which is inserted (about) an anagram (weird) of CLUB

7d    No award for the King’s (as he’d put it) Miss Gwyn? That is … I won’t have it! (3,2,4,6)
NOT ON YOUR NELLIE NO (from the clue), an award for excellence in Broadway Theatre, how King Charles II would have referred to Miss Gwyn and the abbreviation for ‘that is’

8d    Track in the middle of wood is old (6)
GROOVE The abbreviation for Old in the middle of a small wood

13d    This month staff blocking key payment (10)
INSTALMENT The abbreviation used in formal correspondence to mean this month, and some staff blocking a key on your computer keyboard

16d    I’ll write biography of academic, increasingly sick, losing heart (8)
PROFILER An abbreviated academic and a word meaning increasingly sick losing its ‘heart’ or middle letter

17d    Putin spaced out? Mostly resting uneasily (6)
INSERT Nothing to do with Russian leaders – space out PUT IN and an anagram (uneasily) of most of RESTINg will provide a word to fit that definition

19d    Uncle’s an oddball, rejecting 50 Shades of Grey (7)
NUANCES Shades of difference obtained from an anagram (oddball) of UNClES AN, without ‘rejecting’ the Roman numeral for 50

20d    Llama regularly working to carry endless burden? Something like that (6)
ALPACA An animal related to (something like) a llama is obtained from an anagram (working) of the regular letters of LlAmA into which is inserted (to carry) almost all (endless) of a burden that might be carried by such an animal

23d    We hear you are in charge of waste (4)
URIC Obtained from urine (of waste) – homophones (we hear) of you and are followed by the abbreviation for in charge


25 comments on “Toughie 2560

  1. One of those days when I’ve finished this Toughie but am bogged downed with the cryptic. The only thing I’ve discovered so far about the cryptic is that the bird here in 26a can be transferred into it!
    COTD? Probably 21a

  2. I love 2d, and I like his writing, but if the allusion were a reality the majestic carnivore would probably turn vegan.

  3. As CS says Micawber has been rationing himself lately but that makes his rare appearances even more special. I loved this puzzle – many thanks to Micawber and CS.
    I’ve ticked 22a, 1d, 2d and 7d but my favourite was the superb 19d.

  4. I remembered that I had an old electric fan heater in the cellar. It took a couple of thumps to get going, but it has warmed up my office at least.

    I managed all but four without electronic aid, but quite a few more eluded parsing.

    Many thanks to Micawber and CS.

  5. A hugely enjoyable and highly entertaining puzzle that kept on giving. As Gazza says, it is hard to look beyond the marvellous 19d for a favourite. I believe this is my first Micawber and I sincerely hope it will not be the last.

    Many thanks to him and to CS.

  6. The Lesser Spotted Micawber – and what a delightful puzzle he’s brought us today, including an object lesson in how to clue 26a!
    So many smiles along the way and I finished up giving podium places to 14,18&26a plus 2,17&19d.

    Many thanks indeed to Micawber and also to CS for the review.

  7. Lovely stuff. Brightened up a fairly grey day here in the North West.

    Lots of favourites that cheered me up sitting in a hospital waiting room.

  8. I found this really tough and you could have knocked me down with a feather when I saw that CS had awarded it 1* for difficulty. Oh well, we are all different. I do agree however that it was supremely enjoyable with so many good clues that picking a favourite is virtually impossible. Podium places go to 1d, 2d & 17d.

    My only very slightly raised eyebrow was that “of Grey” in 19d appears to be surface padding but it certainly does make for a good surface. Could the clue perhaps have ended with “… for example”.

    26a is definitely better here than on the back page, but the big question is should it be (14) or (6-8)? :unsure:

    Many thanks to Micawber and to CS.

    1. 19d was perfectly splendid as it is and really doesn’t need anything adding or taking away

    2. (14) according to CED
      All the greys in the illustration appear pink/purple to me and I can’t read the caption for 10a if it is one, I just see a patch of pale green

      1. I didn’t reàlise there was a caption on the picture for 10a. It looks blurry green to me too

    3. My birdwatchers’ bible gives 26a as (14) and I’ve always written it that way in birding reports so I think Micawber is on safe ground with his enumeration.
      Re: 19d – have you read Halcyon’s comment @12 – I thought that explained the ‘grey’ quite well.

  9. Slow to start but a steady solve once I was underway, quite a few ‘inserts’ then working out why, like 2d .
    As noted by others 26a is very popular at the moment ,this clue has the best surface so far.
    10a was an unusual parsing and the definition for 23d had to be what it was but the waste eluded me-Thanks to Micawber.
    An enjoyable puzzle on a dank day-thanks setter.
    As for ratings, I thought * was somewhat mean, going for a **/***

  10. This time I didn’t get caught out on the parsing of 10a. Funny how a similar and very original device can appear in two consecutive days.
    Extremely enjoyable crossword even if it was on the gentle side for a toughie.
    Putin being spaced out made me laugh but favourite is 2d.
    Thanks to Micawber and to CS for the review.

  11. I really loved this Micawber. Finished it in good time, much faster than I did the cryptic, though I couldn’t parse Papa’s last name following the T in his first, having no knowledge of the LibDem gentleman. Very classy, and a classic. I could just about list them all as winners so I’ll just say thanks to CS for the review and to Micawber for the huge enjoyment.

  12. We often diverge on hardness ratings CS but this is an extreme case. I’m with RD [8 above] and found it hard to finish. Most of it went in reasonably easily although I couldn’t fully parse either 2d or 7d but the SW corner was much more difficult to crack. My last 2 were17d and 21a though looking at them I don’t really understand why. Must have had an off day. No matter – it was a lovely puzzle by a master setter. I’ll vote for the 2 I had most trouble with and the clever 19d. I’m with the setter on this one – all the insufferable bureaucracies I’ve ever been involved with [or part of] used nuances/grey areas/shades of grey interchangeably.

    Many thanks for the blog and to Micawber for the challenge.

  13. We always look forward to a Micawber puzzle and this one certainly lived up to expectations. We obviously found it a lot more challenging than CS did but enjoyed every minute of it. 1d set the tone but lots of other excellent clues as well.
    Thanks Micawber and CS.

  14. Solved by a mixture of solve and bung in. Nothing unusual there for a Toughie. I have a full grid but am still reverse parsing what I have. I’m concerned about the proliferation of Oystercatchers. Should they be culled? Thanks to Micawber for the fun and to CrypticSue for the explanations which I’ll be reading soon. A tough day in Daily Telegraph puzzleland

  15. Super crossword that was a real pleasure to solve. Not so sure about a * difficulty rating mind you as I found it tough going in places & certainly no easier than today’s tricky back pager. Can’t believe I struggled with the 26a anagram having correctly figured out the letters from the wordplay & quite agree it was the better of the two appearances. The only thing that took the shine off completion was that I only parsed the 2d’s surname after reading Robert’s comment & I couldn’t parse 10a & at the risk of appearing stupid still don’t really get it even after reading the hint. Anyway 3 out of 3 this week & as Elgar the impenetrable is in town tomorrow I think that’ll be my lot.
    Agree with Gazza’s ticks though it’s a toss up between 2&7d for top spot.
    Many thanks Micawber & to CS for the review.

    1. 10a multiply the Roman numeral for 50 which is the first letter of the seafood by 20 and you get another Roman numeral to start the mafioso

      The Toughie crossword is supposed to be harder than the backpager, so a 1* toughie should be about the same as a tricky 5* backpager, which is how I found today’s Micawber

      1. Oh dear Sue – told you I was thick.
        Try figuring it out with oyster. For some reason lobster never even crossed my mind……

  16. What a delightful, fun-filled puzzle. Thank you Micawber! And thank you CS for explaining 2d, and for hints to give me a way in to the last half dozen that eluded me. I loved 1d which was my first in. 10a made me laugh when the penny finally dropped. I could go on. Wonderful.

  17. Very late with this, but glad I kept it, and after initially struggling to see anything, it went in with a little effort. Definitely harder than 1*, but very well clues (apart from the waffly 7d and 20d). And a setter who knows how to spell the 26a bird. Just one word! Very, very enjoyable, thanks Micawber.

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