Toughie 2576 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2576

Toughie No 2576 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Sparks seems to have beer on the brain, which makes for an enjoyable puzzle. He often has a Nina of some kind, but today he spoils us with a pangram. There is plenty to make you think, but also a number of anagrams and easier clues to get you started

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. Definitions are underlined.


1a    Maybe cook’s run through chaotic beer tent outside old church (2,9)
EN BROCHETTE: An anagram (chaotic) of BEER TENT goes outside the abbreviations for old and church

7a    Choke left out — that’s odd (7)
STRANGE: Remove the abbreviation for left from a verb mean to choke

8a    Critics having face-off in secret places (7)
CORNERS: A word meaning critics without the first letter (having face-off)

10a    How 22 might be seen in braces (3,2,3)
TWO BY TWO: Braces as in pairs. 22d is of precious little help here, so this does not refer to a clue number!

11a    Masses of badgers changing hands (6)
BLOCKS: Another word for badgers (the animals) with a swap of L(eft) and R(ight) (changing hands)

13a    Lean despicable character (4)
HEEL: Two meanings, the first as in tilt

14a    Nice Maoris represented Pacific region (10)
MICRONESIA: An anagram (represented) of NICE MAORIS

16a    In which to note cash and stuff? (7,3)
SCRATCH PAD: A slang word for cash plus a word meaning to stuff

18a    Symbol of lawless vocabulary (4)
ICON: Take a 7-letter word meaning a specific vocabulary and remove the Latin for law from the beginning

21a    One in three, alternatively one of two (6)
EITHER: The Roman numeral for one goes inside (in) an anagram (alternatively) of THREE

22a    That man about to introduce grave sacrifice (8)
HECATOMB: A 2-letter pronoun meaning that man, a 2-letter Latin abbreviation meaning about, and another word for grave

24a    Pressing information interrupts departure (7)
EXIGENT: An informal word for information goes inside (interrupts) a word meaning departure

25a    Opt to keep current dispatch for Mars, say (7)
DEICIDE: Which Mars would that be? A 6-letter word meaning opt (not choose) contains (to keep) the physics symbol for current

26a    Peak weight restricting single bloke having drink (11)
KILIMANJARO: A weight of approximately 2 pounds contains (restricts) the letter that looks like one or single, another word for bloke, and an informal word for an alcoholic drink, especially a glass of beer. I had a nice picture but it seems to have disappeared


1d    Locally souse Greek character in English beer (3-4)
EARHOLE: This confused me a while, but souse is a dialect word (locally) for the answer. A 3-letter Greek character is inserted into (in) the abbreviation for English plus another word for beer

2d    Radical German engineer, outwardly youthful (6)
BENZYL: A German automotive engineer who created the first combustion engine and who’s company merged with Daimler, plus the outer letters (outwardly) of youthful

3d    Stout deliveries with crew (10)
OVERWEIGHT: A set of cricket deliveries, the abbreviation for with, and a rowing crew

4d    Cut roof off of shelter (4)
HACK: Remove the first letter from a word meaning shelter or hut (“off of” won’t win any prizes for elegance)

5d    Girl, thin, picked up fabric (8)
TERYLENE: Luckily, we came across this answer recently. A homophone (picked up) of both a girl’s name (already broad without the homophone!) and a word meaning thin

6d    Needs, say, barriers, without using force (7)
EGENCES: A Latin abbreviation meaning say or for instance, then a 6-letter word meaning barriers from which the abbreviation for force is removed (without using)

7d    Test cheese crackers, including note to describe background (3,3,5)
SET THE SCENE: An anagram (crackers) of TEST CHEESE contains (including) the abbreviation for note

9d    Environmentally friendly sunbelt Asia developed (11)
SUSTAINABLE: An anagram (developed) of SUNBELT ASIA

12d    Give gun to old Mafia boss for final conflict (10)
ARMAGEDDON: A verb meaning ‘give gun to’, a word meaning old, and a Mafia boss. I can’t see this answer without thinking of Spike Milligan, in part one of his war memoirs: Hitler, my part in his downfall. A highly religious man is caught having relations with a girl behind a barn. When he is caught, he shouts ********** and runs. Spike adds a footnote: “I can only assume he meant ********** out of here!”. It’s become a popular pun. The anecdote doesn’t quite finish there, 21a!

15d    Heavenly present recently sent back for wrapping (8)
ETHEREAL: A 4-letter word meaning present is wrapped by a reversal (sent back) of a word meaning recently

17d    Independent daily newspaper held up by gross, mean American (7)
RATFINK: A reversal (up) of the abbreviations for independent plus a pink newspaper is contained in (held … by) a word meaning gross or foul

19d    Spicy little number caught on the level, mostly (7)
CHORIZO: The abbreviation for caught plus a word meaning a level line, as in where earth meets sky, without the last letter (mostly)

20d    Arabic poem in question, suppressed words briefly preceding answer (6)
QASIDA: The abbreviation for question, suppressed words on stage, without the final letter (briefly), and the abbreviation for answer

23d    India satisfied over point (4)
ITEM: The letter referred to by the radio code India and a reversal (over) of a word meaning satisfied

My favourite clue is the very smooth 21a, ‘One in three …’.

I also like 7a for the surface (though I wonder how many drivers remember the choke), the quirky mislead of clue number in 10a, managing to get MAORIS into the anagram in 14a to give a great surface, and the penny drop for Mars (25a)

28 comments on “Toughie 2576

  1. If we weren’t in lockdown, I’d be tempted to go to the pub to celebrate, even this early in the day!

    I have completed a Friday Toughie, without electronic help, for the first time. I did need to use my BRB to check a few words, 2d, 6d & 20d in particular, but otherwise a full house.

 I will admit, I am well pleased.

    It took me ***** time, but who cares?

 There were just two that I couldn’t fully parse, 1d & 16a. My COTD goes to 26a. It wasn’t until the very end that I spotted the pangram.

    Many thanks to Sparks and Dutch

    1. Bravo MalcolmR I hope one day to join you, I will raise a drink to you in Vancouver, Canada at home tonight.

  2. This was a terrific way to finish the week of Toughies and was worthy of the name. Of many fine clues, I liked 18a the best, although 21a ran it close. I was very appreciative of the beer and food to keep us going through lockdown.

    Many thanks to Sparks for the fun challenge and to Dutch.

  3. Some nice clues here e.g. 7a [neat surface and precise wordplay] the clever 21a and the nicely constructed 15d. But why oh why use an obscure word like 20d when there’s no need to [there are umpteen alternatives] unless you can write a really good clue for it? Ah yes, the pangram.

    Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch for the blog.

  4. We found this crossword to very a very enjoyable struggle taking us into **** time. If the anagrams hadn’t been there then we probably would have stalled, also we didn’t spot the pangram until nearly the end. Two hints needed thanks to all.

  5. Enjoyable – thanks to Sparks and Dutch.
    I knew the poem but had to check out the radical and the ‘needs’.
    My ticks went to 10a, 25a and 15d.

  6. I found this a lot more friendly than yesterday’s puzzle but I was still beaten by a few. 20d and 17d were completely unknown to me and I thought 8a a very poor clue. 10a was subtle, clever and my COTD

  7. There were a couple of sticky moments where I feared out setter had been rifling through DG’s bookshelves but I made it through with the odd prompt from Mr Google. Still haven’t found the dialect referred to by Dutch to explain 1d although I doubt I’ll be in much need of it in the future!
    Very raised eyebrows over the wording of 4d – slapped wrist for our setter.
    Top three for me were 10&21a plus 12d.

    Thanks to Sparks – hope Sparky is still soldiering on? – and many thanks to Dutch for the review. Poor old Noah certainly had his hands full!

    1. Re 1d, I was wondering about “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”; rhyming slang for ear then is souse.

      1. rhyming slang is normally like apples and pears rhyming with stairs, so the slang used for stairs becomes apples. Or butcher’s hook rhyming with look, so a butchers becomes a look. Or you can look up berk if you wish. In keeping with this puzzle, maybe pizza could be rhyming slang for ear.

        I’m not having much luck trying to find out where souse comes from, except that it indeed seems to refer particularly to a pigs ear, and souse is also a stew made from strange parts of the pig

  8. Got there in the end having needed to check several definitions. I was pleased to fare better with the Pacific Islands today.

    I liked 10a, 26a and 19d but today’s top pick is 21a.

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  9. I thought this was a very well constructed puzzle, but much time searching for the good many things I had not heard of sucked some of the enjoyment out of it for me. (Arabic poems, sacrifices, the mean American (fortunately the word play was very helpful), etc.). As usual, I missed the pangram (I’m not sure if it would have helped if I had noticed it). Many thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  10. I’m a bit perplexed about the ‘other word for badgers’ in 11a. I can’t find ‘blocks’ anywhere if it refers to the animals. What am I missing? What is being defined there–is it ‘masses”? There’s no underlining of the definition. Beyond that, I did very well, though I failed to answer two others: the Arabic poem and the fabric (which I think is really very poorly clued…’Terry’ = ‘girl’?). Thanks to Dutch and Sparks.

    1. All right, mea culpa. I meant to type ‘brock’ above, and I just found it in Google: a British / European badger, which I had never heard called a brock before. All is well.

      1. seems to be slightly older usage – apparently you find it names and town names – Brockton etc perhaps, dunno

      2. I thought blocks = masses. We call male badgers brocks round here. Change hands (l for r) and that’s it! I thought! !

    2. oops, two other clues were missing underlined definitions as well – now corrected, thank you

  11. Bit of a late solve for me and some cracking cluing from Sparks , two new words 20d and 22a, not sure if I’d seen the synonym in 16d and remembered 17d from somewhere but failed to parse it-never mind.
    25a was my misleading favourite with 11 across a close second ,once worked for a company called Brock with the badger motif on the headed paper and vehicles! agree with Dutch’s rating and look forward t0 our setters next offering.

  12. Beaten by 20d & 25a neither of which I’d heard of although with the latter I probably ought to have figured it out. Other than 8a I thought it superbly clued throughout with some great penny drop moments.
    Thanks Sparks & Dutch.
    Ps Well done Malcolm

  13. I got them all except 20d, which I thought was ‘Califa’ – a variant of calif/caliph – from Call (without the l) + if (the poem) + A for answer. Ah well . . .

  14. As I don’t usually do the Saturday Prize puzzle I saved this (on the strength that it wasn’t an Elgar) until this morning, and so pleased that I did. I needed electronic help here and there but that was compensated by the high number of quality clues that were “within my grasp” . I particularly liked 7,10&21a plus &12d. Like Dutch, I wondered what the second preposition was doing in 4d though.
    Many thanks to Sparks & Dutch for the entertainment.

  15. a very enjoyable Toughie. Thanks Sparks. I needed Dutch’s guidance to to get the parsing for 20d as I have never come across an Arabic poem before. Like one or two above i thought that the ‘poem in question was ‘if’ but i was unable to make it work. So thanks to Dutch for this. I too did not like the clue for 8a though the answer was obvious. My favourite was 25a and 17d was a close second as I managed to parse it to get the answer which I had to check in Chambers as I had never heard of the word before.! Thanks Dutch

  16. Thank you Dutch for the great blog as usual, and to all solvers for generally positive (I think!) comments.

    Just to add that the pangram transpired to be simply a welcome icing on the cake of the actual Nina spelt out by the four consecutive across answers at 7, 8, 10 and 11, which was a comment on the very rare (to me, at least) structure of this particular grid.

  17. A very satisfying easy to spend the weekend, and a chunk of today. Only disappointment was failing on 16a. Not come across that cash synonym, so even the hint made no sense. A few other new words (1a, 6d, 20d) but all fairly (if not easily) clued. Perfect for a Friday Toughie!

Comments are closed.