Toughie 2579 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2579

Toughie No 2579 by Firefly

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

A proper Toughie and the most fun I’ve had solving a crossword for some time, but then I’m a fan of strange and wonderful words – I did know them all and the other things I’m sure some commenters will refer to as obscurities. Yes, I was left with an ear worm, but I’ll forgive Firefly for that, as he did provide the opportunity to use a picture of Mr Stamp in the film version of one of my favourite books!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Another mug Mum shattered I put in 13 (6-8)
OMNIUM-GATHERUM An anagram (shattered) of ANOTHER MUG MUM with I ‘put in’

9a    Chase puss into the empty dock (8)
TRUNCATE A verb meaning to chase and a puss inserted into ’empty’ ThE

10a    Winger from Oxford United scores early on — Rochdale successful finally (5)
OUSEL The ‘early’ letters of Oxford United Scores and the final letters of RochdalE successfuL

12a    Passage of time following Ms Lupino’s retirement (4)
ADIT The abbreviation for Time following a reversal (retirement) of the Christian name of Ms Lupino, the English-American singer, actress and film-maker

13a    Miss Fitzgerald, we hear, is going to the Big Apple, appearing in variety (10)
MISCELLANY A homophone (we hear) of MISS, the Christian name of Miss Fitzgerald, the American jazz singer, and the abbreviation for the US city known as the Big Apple

15a    Birds in boaters? (8)
LEGHORNS I did know both the domestic fowl and the type of straw hat with the same name

16a    Drastic cut by base (6)
SEVERE A verb meaning to cut and the letter that is the base of the natural system of logarithms

18a    Doctor, doctor — I’d come! (6)
MEDICO An anagram (doctor) of ID COME

20a    Inactive husband with terrible flu’s next to window (8)
SLOTHFUL The abbreviation for Husband and an anagram (terrible) of FLU go after (next to) a window or opening

23a    Receiving no satisfaction from a French program, took it gently (10)
UNAPPEASED The French indefinite article, an abbreviated program and a way of saying ‘took it gently’

24a    Stem or stalk pruned (4)
PROW This stem is the front part of a ship and the stalk which needs to be shortened (pruned) is a verb meaning to follow stealthily

26a    Component of not-so-ordinary reversible bed (5)
ROOST A component of noTSOORdinary, ‘reversible’ telling you that it is backwards

27a    One decides to unite with bill embracing resistance (3-5)
TIE-BREAK A verb meaning to unite and a [bird’s] bill ’embracing’ the abbreviation for Resistance

28a    Those oysters go off, they say (2,3,5,4)


2d    Tending to quaver below sheep track, perhaps, when climbing (7)
NURSING To produce a musical sound of tremulous uncertainty (quaver) goes below a reversal (when climbing) of a track made by a sheep, perhaps

3d    Bone of contention among alumni? I’m staying out of it! (4)
ULNA An anagram (of contention) of ALUmNi without the IM (staying out of it)

4d    Inclination to stop working in conveyance (8)
GRADIENT A verb meaning to stop working inserted into a document (conveyance)

5d    Maybe three adjacent diamonds rank above hearts in Jack’s judgement? (6)
TIERCE Three cards of the same suit – a rank goes above the ‘hearts’ of jaCks judgEment

6d    During troublesome teens, Miss Malone reportedly obtains calmatives (10)
EMOLLIENTS A homophone (reportedly) of the Christian name of the Miss Malone who sold cockles and mussels (alive alive-oh!) in Dublin inserted into an anagram (troublesome) of TEENS

7d    Steal the show in hill climb on the Tour? (7)
UPSTAGE A cycle ‘Tour’ is divided into various sections; the hill climb part of which might be described as an xx xxxxx

8d    Might cast members be childhood chums? (11)
PLAYFELLOWS These childhood chums could, if split 4, 7, describe members of a theatrical cast

11d    I’m a fall guy, thrown around right into 13 (11)
GALLIMAUFRY An anagram (thrown) of IM A FALL GUY ‘around’ R (right)

14d    Little choir in stew with church for 13 (10)
HOTCHPOTCH An abbreviated choir inserted into a type of stew, the result followed with the abbreviation for church

17d    Close friend of Edward, say, enthralled by voice (5,3)
ALTER EGO The regnal cipher used by any of the Kings called Edward and the abbreviation for say, for example, inserted (enthralled by) a high singing voice

19d    Top game from Verdi, a Bolognese by extraction (7)
DIABOLO Hidden in (by extraction) VerDI A BOLOgnese

21d    Republican parts very much earlier in 13 (7)
FARRAGO The abbreviation for Republican ‘parts’ a two-word phrase meaning very much earlier

22d    Six-footer‘s remarkable stamina — there’s only one answer to that! (6)
MANTIS An anagram (remarkable) of STAMINa – the final part of the clue telling you to omit one of the abbreviations for Answer

25d    Hardy sergeant‘s weight (4)
TROY The name of the sergeant in Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd or a system of weight

What a lovely 13a of splendid words for collections of things

22 comments on “Toughie 2579

  1. Still a fair way short of finishing but 11d is a wonderful new word – looked it up more in hope than expectation. Will try to work it into conversation ASAP

      1. I have two of those books and that is where I first came across that delightful word.

  2. This was a genuine battle that gave me a huge sense of satisfaction and reward upon completing it. I will confess to a few bung-ins with later parsing, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining puzzle. Too many wonderful words and clues to even attempt a favourite.

    Many, many thanks to Firefly for the considerable challenge, and to CS.

  3. I enjoyed this one – thanks to Firefly and CS.

    I didn’t know 1a but could work it out from the anagram once the checkers were in place. When trying to find out the origins of the phrase I discovered that it’s also the name of a Finnish Death Metal band – I’m rather surprised CS didn’t favour us with one of their tunes. :D

    My podium selections were 27a, 7d and 19d.

  4. Great fun even though anagram solver needed for 1a and 15a nigh impossible as i hadn’t heard of either definition😳
    Thanks to Firefly and CrypticSue (loved the sloth picture👍). The hill climb picture reminded me that a trip to the turbo trainer is now required given the biblical weather.

  5. Some lovely words. We’ve had 11d before although I already knew it. I was pleased to meet it again along with 14d. As CS says, an enjoyable 13a.
    COTD has to be the feathered hats that are 15a

  6. Oops…was going to moan about how incredibly hard this was – I couldn’t get 22D & 25D at all – and needed to read CS’ hints above to understand a few more….and then I just realised this was the Toughie!! Inadvertent first time for me…quite proud I got as far as I did (with the help of my electronic friend) – may be back again, but for now, I’m off back to the (hopefully…) less challenging Cryptic. Cheers!

  7. I don’t generally enjoy puzzles which have so many words that I have to invent from the word play and then surprise myself when they exist. However, I really enjoyed this, and there were plenty of words I hadn’t met before – 1a being an immediate example. 13a, on which many other clues hinged, was such a wonderful clue that I was hooked immediately. Many thanks to Firefly and crypticsue.

  8. Even needing electronic help and a couple of hints I really enjoyed this, especially the lovely themed words.
    I’ve earmarked the brilliant 13a along with 27a plus 6&21d as highlights with a special nod to the “winger” at 10a as my brother is a fervent supporter of one of the clubs (not Oxford) in the wordplay.
    Thought the surface read of 18a a tad unfortunate!
    Thanks to Firefly and CS for a first class puzzle and review

  9. That took me a long time to complete, but as usual I can’t see why when I look back at it. The 1ac anagram almost had me reaching for electronic help, but eventually I spotted that bike race where they do ALL the events (well 5 or 6) and the second word was then obvious. I had never heard the phrase but there it was in the BRB. My only slight gripe was the film person who I doubt many had heard of. It didn’t hold me up as the answer was obvious, but it is annoying to need electronics to confirm the parsing. Still a satisfying solve. Thanks to setter and blogger.

  10. For some reason, I learned 11d as a child and have been using it occasionally ever since, just popping it into a conversation. (Huntsman, when that happens, people just stare at me.) I needed all 5 of my electronic letter gifts to finish it, but finish I did, and loved it. Like CS, I bask in the glow of such magical words as 1a, 11d, 21d, & 14d. This puzzle could have been better only if the other perimeter clues (8d, 28a) had also joined in with the theme. 13a was my favourite. Thanks to CS for the review and to Firefly.

  11. Have to confess to enlisting an anagram solver to assist with 1a, which I hadn’t heard of, and 11d, which sounded rather familiar in retrospect. I didn’t know the 15a hats but did know the hens so that just needed checking. Managed everything else all by my little own self!
    Top three here were 9,13&20a.

    Thanks to Firefly and to CS for the review – think you’ve missed the little choir out of the answer to 14d.

  12. I across! What on earth is that about? I’m not keen on puzzles that cross refer from clue to clue but at least Fiefly was magnanimous enough to signal his intention from the very beginning. I dragged out a slow finish over several visits. Thanks to Firefly for the puzzle and CrypticSue for the hints and tips. Who knew a Leghorn was a hat? It’s a cartoon. Foghorn Leghorn and I’ve been watching YouTube videos all afternoon

  13. Very difficult to get on with this puzzle – too much I don’t know eg who the heck is Molly Malone and why should I have heard of her?
    I gave up at that point, sorry
    Thanks Firefly and CS

  14. As others I needed electronic help to solve the plethora of words and meanings I’d never heard of, but I have now. I hope some of them stick in my memory. I needed the hint to parse the last two letters of 5d, I wouldn’t have spotted than if I’d sat here ’til tomorrow. Favourite was 27a. Thanks to Firefly and CS.

  15. Well that was great fun. Fast start, a grinding halt & then a few revisits throughout the afternoon until to within 5d of completion- one of many new words to me & would never have got without the hint. 1a was a definite pen & paper job (sorry MP) & got it at the umpteenth attempt unlike 11d which was a happy first punt. Thank God they were anagrams. Thought 24a tricky as, needless to say, it took me a while to cotton on to right kind of stalk. 13a was my favourite & nicely clued.
    Many thanks to Firefly & to CS, whose depth of knowledge never ceases to amaze.
    Ps FFTMC is also one of my favourite books Sue & my favourite passage in it is the one dealing with the shooting of George’s son after he’s driven the flock over the cliff top – another instance of the untoward fate which so often attends dogs and other philosophers who follow out a train of thought to its logical conclusion, and attempt perfectly consistent conduct in a world made up so largely of compromise.

  16. I’m also usually not a big fan of clues referring to other clues, but I enjoyed the “variety” of this one!

    Completed all except 5d which I couldn’t get and then gave up. Otherwise 2d was my last in…..obvious when the penny dropped.

    Favourite was 13a.

    Thanks to CS for the blog and Firefly for the ingenious puzzle.

  17. Wow. Beaten by 5d and 9a. Had thrice for 5d which made 9a impossible. Also wasn’t convinced that a prow was a stem, but put it in as nothing else came close. Pleased to have nearly finished. Thanks to all.

  18. Took forever to sort out the anagram in 1a as I couldn’t get magnum out of my head for the first word but when the G appeared, I was totally lost.
    Thought there was something more to 7d as the Tour made me think about a cycling indicator.
    Had to look up the birds in 15a and only found the one in 10a with a Z inside.
    Thanks to Firefly and to CS.

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