Toughie 2577 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2577

Toughie No 2577 by Silvanus

Hints and tips by Miffypops

I’m not here to be perfect. I’m here to be me

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

After a series of lighter Tuesday Toughies Silvanus has provided us with a puzzle with a little more bite. Don’t be put off by that introduction though. It’s all solvable either from definition or from wordplay. We begin with an error and work through to be rewarded with a refreshing pint at the end.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. 


1a        Snooker player might do this and avoid row, reportedly (6)
MISCUE: Begin with a word meaning to avoid and a word meaning a row or a line of people waiting in turn. Together these words sound like (reportedly) the term describing a snooker players clumsy stroke

4a        Summarise chronological context of Soviet Union era? (6)
PRÉCIS: Split 3,1,1,1 we have a preposition meaning before and the initials of a group of Eurasian states. Together they form a word meaning to summarise. Here is an example. Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It’s about Russia

8a        Accept as true current bookkeeping entry (8)
ACCREDIT: One of two regular electrical currents followed by a bookkeeping entry on the favourable side of the ledger

10a      Ministry convinced originally to abandon recycling, not popular somehow (6)
CLERGY: Have a good old look at the word recycling. Abandon one letter C, the first or original letter of the word convinced. Now remove a two-letter word as implied by the words not popular. Now solve an anagram (somehow) of what you have left

11a      Revel in paper omitting article by unknown (4)
ORGY: Remove a two-letter grammatical article from a word describing a newspaper. Add a mathematical unknown

12a      One time alarm goes off and it’s unimportant! (10)
IMMATERIAL: Begin with the letter that looks like the number one. Add an anagram (goes off) of TIME ALARM

13a      Poker hand has scope to produce serious drama (8,4)
STRAIGHT PLAY: A poker hand consisting of consecutively numbered cards is followed by a synonym of the word scope

16a      Small step that blocks launching parliamentary bill’s introduction (5,7)
FIRST READING: The abbreviation for small together with a synonym of the word step sit inside a word meaning launching as one might be launching a rocket on bonfire night

20a      Stardom regularly attracts university graduate, gloomy old singer (10)
TROUBADOUR: A regular charade in order. Follow the instructions for the answer. 1 Begin with the alternate letters of the word Stardom. Add the abbreviation for University. Add what a graduate might be known as. Add a word meaning gloomy

21a      Bob wrongly directed to turn off motorway (4)
SLED: Begin with a word meaning caused to have been given the wrong impression or direction. Remove the regular motorway used by setters.

22a      Mum, enthusiastic about religion (6)
SHINTO: Mum here is a synonym of the word quiet. Begin with a short sound that a person might use to denote that silence is required. Add a word meaning interested in

23a      Attack Times Educational Supplement? (3,5)
SET ABOUT: This phrase meaning to attack describes what has to be done to the abbreviation for the Times Educational Supplement

24a      Formal letter penned by GP, perhaps close to family (6)
DRESSY: A full spelling of the letter S (if such a spelling exists) is preceded by an abbreviation of what your GP is and followed by the final letter of the word family

25a      Uncommon to see panic gripping Conservative (6)
SCARCE: A verb meaning to panic or alarm contains the abbreviation for Conservative


1d        Cost to support club is steep (8)
MACERATE: The cost or price of a service sits below a ceremonial club

2d        Casual visit around centre of Liverpool (5)
STRAY: A visit which may last a few days sits around the middle letter of the word Liverpool. I’m finding it difficult to square the answer with the definition

3d        Ruin party held in college garden, turning up discontented (7)
UNDOING: There are three elements to this clue. An abbreviation for a college or high place of further education. The word garden, emptied of its inner letters and reversed. The regular short word for a party. Arrange as suggested by the clue

5d        Revolutionary piece, oddly ignored during subsequent musical performance (7)
RECITAL: The alternate letters of the word piece sit inside a word meaning subsequent. The whole is then reversed as indicated by the word revolutionary

6d        Chapter on poet I had heard to be discerning (5-4)
CLEAR-EYED: The abbreviation for chapter is followed by the poet who wrote The Pobble Who Has No Toes. That sorts the first word out. The second word is homophone (heard) based on a contraction of the words I had

7d        Remarkable design always is enthralling (6)
SIGNAL: The answer lies hidden within the words of the clue. The word enthralling suggests that it is so

9d        Trials of some paint rearranged around two separate times (11)
TEMPTATIONS: Anagram (rearranged) of SOME PAINT T T. The final pair of Ts being two times

14d      Gutless Italian flees power, replaced by a female offering wealth (9)
AFFLUENCE:. Remove the inner letters of the word Italian and take them away from a synonym of the word power. Replace them with the letter A from the clue and the abbreviation for female. Power here can be defined as the capacity to have an effect upon someone or something

15d      Worried start of cushy job is being delayed (8)
INSECURE: Find a position requiring little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit. Move its initial letter a little further along until you make a word that’s fits the definition underlined above

17d      Piece of sculpture, as on show in grounds (7)
REASONS: The answer lies hidden within the words of the clue as indicated by the words piece of

18d      Unpredictable retired celebrity having blown top visiting Morecambe, maybe (7)
ERRATIC: A celebrity minus his or first letter is reversed and placed into the first name of an old comedian, surname Morecambe who died in 1984

19d      Soldiers getting rebuked for bloomer (6)
ORCHID: An abbreviation for the other ranks (soldiers) precedes the past tense of a  short word meaning to have been rebuked or scolded

21d      Very good ale one European leaves, not drunk (5)
SOBER: A two letter word that can be substituted for the words very good is followed by a type of ale minus one instance of the abbreviation for European


40 comments on “Toughie 2577

  1. A very friendly Toughie today, I thought. All completed in **/*** time, but I was unable to fully parse 11a and hadn’t heard of the expression at 13a.

    My last in, and therefore COTD was 21a.

    Many thanks to Silvanus and MP.

  2. For the first time, I completed this puzzle (just!) before receiving the email with the blog.

    SW corner last to complete.

    Thanks to Miffypops for the blog and Silvanus.

  3. I always look forward to the Tuesday Toughie , usually not too difficult but very enjoyable-thanks Silvanus ,
    Excellent cluing throughout and nothing obscure .Going for a **/****
    Last in was 21 which took a while to parse but worth the eventual D’oh moment!
    Liked 1a for the surface, thanks to MP for the explanation of 4a which I failed to parse

  4. What do they say about pesky 4 letter words? 21a was my nemesis. I just couldn’t work it out. I suppose 21d was a bung in. It had to be what it was but I had no idea why.
    I felt 13 a was iffy as surely the first word is followed by “ flush “ or. something like that? As such it was incomplete. We must ask Victoria Coren Mitchell!
    I suppose 1a is my COTD.

    1. A straight is a series of cards in number and / or rank order, regardless of suit. A straight (or running) flush is a straight all of the same suit.

    2. A straight is merely a run of consecutive cards of any suit. If they are all of the same suit then they become a straight flush. If they are of the same suit and contain the picture cards they are elevated to a royal flush. The words Poker hand refer only to the first word of the answer.

  5. Thanks to Silvanus. Great puzzle (which means within my solving ability) with plenty of well constructed clues.
    Also to Miffypops for explanation of 14d which I missed.

  6. A really enjoyable Toughie today that was spot on. 21 and 23a were my favourites of many, and the whole grid was a delight to complete.

    Many thanks to both Silvanus and MP.

  7. Absolutely flew through this one in under ** time which is a comfortable record for me. Like Malcom & Beaver 21a was last in & really the only head scratcher & therefore my pick of the bunch although I loved 1&23a. Thought Silvanus was pretty tough on Sundance in Rookie Corner yesterday but if he’s looked at this he’ll certainly see what to aspire to. An real pleasure throughout.
    Thanks Silvanus & to MP

    1. Hello everyone – Sundance here!
      I do enjoy the Telegraph puzzles and since discovering Big Dave I have been regularly reading the blogs. I do not usually comment because I do not feel sufficiently qualified but I do have opinions about the puzzles and the comments and like the healthy debate. Yet again I am impressed with a silvanus puzzle and acknowledge his very high standards. To go from Rookie to Telegraph setter in a short period of time is quite something.
      I appreciate the remarks from Huntsman and am reassured to know that at least some people found something to like in my puzzle yesterday. To repeat a point I made yesterday, whilst I acknowledge that good surface readings are well worth aiming for I wonder if they are essential? If a solver enjoys a puzzle where perhaps not every surface reading is ideal by silvanus’s standards, is it a bad puzzle? I have encountered a lot of puzzles which include some unusual surface readings and have enjoyed some but not others. In fact my wife and I are currently working through CHAMBERS BOOK OF ARAUCARIA CROSSWORDS VOLUME 1 and there are a significant number of clues in there that would probably not pass the silvanus test. How about: Dodo known to King David, a scraper without a strike(7) or: Sickly pale, in love with film star Charles – he’s in the wind (4,6). We think, however, that it is a marvelous book (aside from one horrendous printing error).
      I know that some other bloggers frown on poor surface readings but I wonder what other readers may think?
      Rest assured, I will continue to strive to provide clues with good surface readings.

      1. Rather nostalgic reading Sundance’s comment as Araucaria set some of the first cryptic puzzles I ever attempted, back in the 70’s…..and in the Grauniad if I recall correctly.

        I also remember finding out that the setter’s nom de plume was the name of the Monkey Puzzle tree. But I expect you all know that!

  8. Well I am amazed, only the second time I have completed the Toughie and what is more I did it watching an Art Society Zoom lecture which didn’t entirely float my boat. 21a also my last one in, clever clue. I then watched an email from the National Trust CEO to volunteers which was completely predictable and did not address their awful ‘wokiness’ and obsession with past history. Doubt I will return as a volunteer. Thanks to all.

  9. Although I finished this terrific Silvanus in record time (for me), I am still a bit unsure of the parsing of 4a, even though I bunged it in as one of my first answers. I must be having a densely senior moment with those last three letters (C.I.S.) since I haven’t yet construed their meaning. Maybe MP can explain the Tolstoy connection for me. Anyway, I did thoroughly enjoy this Toughie and actually finished it last night before doing the Cryptic. Too many favourites to list, but I thought that 21a, my LOI, 20a, and 23a topped a long list of brilliant clues. Thanks to MP and Silvanus.

    1. Ah, I just located the meaning of the C I S. Should have googled earlier. All is well.

      1. The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional intergovernmental organization of nine members, plus two founding non-member, post-Soviet republics in Eurasia. It was formed following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. It covers an area of 20,368,759 km² and has an estimated population of 239,796,010.


        The prefix “cis” means “on the same side as.” So while people who are transgender move “across” genders, people who are cisgender remain on the same side of the gender they were initially identified as at birth.

        As for Tolstoy. ‘It’s about Russia’ is surely the perfect précis of War and Peace. Woody Allen told that gag years ago after speed reading the paperback by flicking quickly through it while staring at the pages rushing past his eyes

  10. Agree this was a bit tougher than the Tuesday norm but that’s nothing to complain about. A couple of quite cunning and nicely crafted clues at 10a and 21a and they’re my favourites.
    Thanks to Sylvanus and to MP for the blog [I too found the def at 2d a bit of a stretch tho’ Chambers gives it – still can’t think of an example.]

    1. There are no Miffypops quotes Margaret. They are all nicked from elsewhere. This one was to Fiona Apple from Bob Dylan

      Reflecting on the opportunity, Apple said: “I couldn’t believe it. I had met him many years ago, but I don’t really know why I’m on the record. I was there a total of like seven hours. I told Bob I was really insecure about it, and he was really encouraging and nice. He was just like, “You’re not here to be perfect, you’re here to be you.

      “To have Bob Dylan say that before my record came out was a huge deal for me. And I mean, this was like the one person I could have met who’s alive right now where it actually would have meant something to me as a kid.”

  11. Excellent!… and as MP says, a step up in difficulty from this setter’s previous Toughie. This was one of those puzzles where your appreciation for it grew as you solved it. Nice to see the job in 15d and the newspaper in 11a, two nouns that only ever appear in crosswordland making an appearance.
    Like others, LOI was 21a, very clever indeed. I needed help parsing 10, surprised no one else did.
    I particularly liked 1, 20& 22a plus 6d with top spot going to 14d.
    Many thanks to Silvanus and MP for the top notch entertainment.

  12. The synonyms in 2d and 7d were new to me but the parsing was evident.
    Great construction in 3d and 15d with smooth surface read.
    An extremely enjoyable crossword.
    Thanks to Silvanus and to MP.

  13. Many thanks to Miffypops for his Hints and Tips and to everyone who tackled the puzzle, especially those who took the trouble to comment.

    I think 2d can mean “casual” in the sense of “random”, although Chambers seems more comfortable with it as a synonym than Collins is.

    1. Thanks for popping in, Silvanus, and many thanks for a lovely puzzle which was challenging in parts and a lot of fun, as well as being a masterclass in smooth surfaces.

      My podium choices were 4a, 11a & 21a.

    2. I did better than last time Silvanus. Enjoyable to solve and enjoyable to blog. I’m happy with my Tuesday Toughie blogging spot. Thanks for the puzzle. See you next time.

    3. Thanks again Silvanus, I was beaten only by the parsing of 10a and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.

    4. Good of you to pop in, Silvanus, and thank you so much for another very enjoyable puzzle. Hardly surprising that some folk who usually struggle with Toughies managed to complete this one as your clues are always so well constructed.
      Top three for me were 1&16a plus 1d but several others were chasing them to the finish line.
      Hope we see you again very soon.

    5. Wonderful puzzle, Silvanus. The more I think of it, the more Clue of the Week-ish 15d becomes, and I neglected to mention it in my comment above. Thanks for joining us and thanks for this super treat of a Toughie.

    6. Thank you Sylvanus for diverting me from my pesky new knee which will not let me be – there’s an Odd Ode there somewhere. I don’t often comment on the Toughie although I always have a go, often finishing it over my cup of hot water in the morning it is amazing how answers pop up during the night. Like others 21a was last in, I wasn’t lateral enough with my Bob. I shall now read one chapter of my book before crawling back to bed for the rest of the night. 20a my favourite just because it is a lovely word. Thanks Miffypops for the 21a hint and for the nice précis of War and Peace!

      1. I’m sorry to hear your new knee is keeping you awake especially as you had to fight so hard to get it. Hope the painkillers work. Sweet dreams!

  14. I didn’t find this as easy as some but I got there in end, although I needed help parsing 10a. I also needed to look up the meaning of 1d and CIS. Every day’s a school day. Favourite was 23a because got it and understood why. Many thanks to Silvanus and Miffypops.

  15. Thought this was going to be awful based on first impressions, as I couldn’t get a start, but ended up really enjoying it. 2d is a bit iffy, but well within Toughie tolerances. Thought 21a was going to defeat me until the penny dropped (had to get away from haircuts and old money) and it’s ended up as joint favourite with 4a, closely followed by 23a. Thanks to Silvanus for a fun work-out.

  16. I went through this quite smoothly until I was left with 21a and 24a. After the penny dropped for 21a, I was left with 24a which I entered, although I wasn’t happy with it. I suppose a dressy occasion is one you have to dress up for and therefore formal but my old Chambers defines ‘dressy’ as ‘showy’, which is nearer my idea of the meaning of the word.

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