Toughie 2581 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2581

Toughie No 2581 by Gila

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

I tend to groan at most anagrams, but there were several very clever ones in today’s puzzle. Not a Floughie, but imminently solvable.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Teamsters worked to secure a certain discount (5,5)
MATE’S RATES: an anagram (worked) of TEAMSTERS into which the A from the clue is inserted (to secure)

6a    Right away, a step in the wrong direction (4)
ASAP: the A from the clue followed by the reversal (in the wrong direction) of a ballet step

9a    Top, non-European technology linked to advanced verification program (7)
CAPTCHA: a verb meaning to top or surpass followed by T[E]CH(nology) without the E(uropean) and A(dvanced) gives that annoying verification feature which keeps popping up, sometimes with (US) pictures

10a    Check at the back for definite sign of life (7)
REPULSE: a two-letter word meaning “for” the final letters (at the back) of [fo]R and [definit]E [thanks Gazza] followed by a sign of life

12a    It’s highly likely cheetahs can race heartlessly about (3,7,3)
THE CHANCES ARE: an anagram (about) of CHEETAHS CAN with R[ac]E without its inner letters (heartlessly)

14a    Sudden surge of current essentially ruining riverside plant (6)
INRUSH: the symbol for electric current is followed by the middle letter (essentially) of [rui]N[ing] and a riverside plant

15a    Say how, for example, snake gets angry (8)
ASPIRATE: a three-letter snake followed by an adjective meaning angry

17a    Snail understood to be found alongside steep slope, mostly (8)
ESCARGOT: a three-letter verb meaning understood preceded by most of a steep slope

19a    Emergencies arising from constant responses to provocation (6)
CRISES: C(onstant) is followed by responses to provocation

22a    Smart bird, very good, kept inside cage in error, unfortunately (7,6)
CARRIER PIGEON: a two-letter adjective meaning very good inside an anagram (unfortunately) of CAGE IN ERROR

24a    Soldier possibly eats fruit for nourishment (7)
ALIMENT: a soldier insect around (eats) a citrus fruit

25a    Like computers etc the French backed online maybe (7)
DIGITAL: a three-letter verb meaning to like followed by a collective term for computers etc. and the reversal (backed) of the feminine French definite article

26a    Occasionally thin, dry spruce (4)
TIDY: the odd letters (occasionally) of two words in the clue

27a    Old writers start to establish identical way of overcoming one literary barrier? (4,6)
OPEN SESAME: O(ld) followed by some writing implements, the initial letter of (start to) E[stablish], and a word meaning identical


1d    Fake items of protective clothing — no case to be made (4)
MOCK: drop the outer letters (case) of some items of protective clothing

2d    Row involving rider and tense racecourse regular (7)
TIPSTER: a row around (involving) a ride or afterthought and T(ense)

3d    Bond with colleagues as a group? (6,7)
SECRET SERVICE: the collective name for the organisation comprising James Bond and his colleagues

4d    Army helicopter quickly circles hospital (6)
APACHE: An adverb meaning quickly around H(ospital)

5d    Being happy to lose companion is a strange feeling (8)
EERINESS: start with a word meaning merriment or the state of being happy and drop the abbreviation for Companion of Honour

7d    Nuts nearly all mixed with a bit of dried fruit (7)
SULTANA: an anagram (mixed) of NUTS with most of (nearly) AL[l] and followed by the A from the clue

8d    Repeated reel oddly included in content for early copy of film? (10)
PRERELEASE: two instances (repeated) of the odd letters of R[e]E[l] inside a verb meaning to content

11d    Flustered umpire eagerly detailed final part of schedule for sporting contest (7,6)
PREMIER LEAGUE: an anagram (flustered) of UMPIRE with EAGERL[y] without its final letter (de-tailed) followed by the final letter of [schedule]E

13d    This can end in disarray and cause disappointment (10)
DISENCHANT: an anagram (in disaray) of THIS CAN END

16d    Opportunities to embrace politics up front and do some canvassing (8)
DOORSTEP: some opportunities followed by the initial letters (up front) of three words in the clue

18d    Short rib — preserved on the outside — prepared with spicy sauce (7)
CURRIED: most of (short) RI[b] inside a verb meaning preserved with salt

20d    Singer‘s material lacking an intro is rejected (7)
SINATRA: some (Scottish) material without its initial letter (lacking an intro) and IS from the clue, all reversed

21d    Secret greeting before daughter is taken into private room (6)
HIDDEN: a two-letter greeting followed by D(aughter) inside (taken into) a private room

23d    Sporty student blasted on the radio (4)
BLUE: sounds like (on the radio) a verb meaning blasted

I enjoyed this one.


36 comments on “Toughie 2581

  1. A friendly Toughie to be sure, but still thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and fun to complete. The elegant 15a was my favourite.

    My thanks to Gila for the challenge and to BD.

  2. I would agree with the *** rating. Just about at my limit of solving without help. A total of four clues were marked as being unparsed, so thanks for the hints.

    I think 27a was my COTD.

    Many thanks to Gila and BD.

  3. Gila is one of those setters where you start off thinking this is a bit tricky and then once you get on the ‘wavelength’, it takes a time on the cusp between a difficult backpager and an easy Toughie to finish off. Several quite long clues but all easy to solve as you read the clue, as opposed to those you sometimes get where you read the whole thing and then have to have a little lie down before going back to the beginning again to find out what the setter is on about

    Thanks to Gila for an enjoyable crossword and BD for the blog

  4. A very pleasant puzzle – thanks to Gila and BD.
    My podium is playing host to 15a, 27a and 20d.

    I took the first syllable of the 10a answer to be the final (back) letters of ‘foR definitE’.

  5. A bit of a head scratcher for me probably because I was put off by the dreadful term in 1a, completed at a Toughie fast canter ***/***.
    Candidates for favourite – 2d, 8d, and 23d – and the winner is 2d.
    Thanks to Gila and BD.

    1. Is your dislike of the term at one across due to those that Big Dave pays? It’s been around for years. They don’t exist of course. You only believe in them because they should exist.

      1. I once bought a 6 month old golden retriever then years later a 12 month old labrador from the same mate both for the price of a puppy.

    2. I was scratching my head for something like (easy) terms – I agree that the term is horrid

  6. I do find this setter’s clueing somewhat convoluted, in fact I was quite surprised that today’s didn’t over-run its allotted space in the paper. Much prefer short, snappy clues but I suppose it’s simply a matter of personal preference. 3&4d fit nicely into the category I enjoy.

    Thanks to Gila for the puzzle and to BD for the excellent review.

  7. Some really terrific and elegant clues here. (I needed help, so thanks BD!!).
    Liked many but 1a was a great anagram, as was 11d. 3d got me going when I realised the answer and 25a & 2d my faves!

    But am I alone in thinking that “steep slope, mostly” is not quite right for ESCAR as it is half, not most, of escarpment? Pedantic, I know, but would not “top of steep slope” have done the trick?

      1. Ah OK. Thanks. My ignorance shine through again! I thought it was with MENT on the end. Never heard of the shorter version. But maybe that’s because my brother’s a mountaineer and he goes on and on and on and on and on…LOL

  8. I found this quite tricky – taking a while to get into the style. Perhaps 3.5 to 4*. I liked 15a [say how e.g.] and the cryptic def at 3d which took a while to spot. 9a is a new word for me tho I’m familiar with the irritating process, Chambers has it as a rather tortured acronym.
    I too thought the def in 10a was just “Check” whilst “the back for definite” meant the last 2 letters of “sure”.
    Thanks to Gila and to BD for the blog.

  9. Enjoyed this a lot & suppose I’ll claim an unaided finish despite taking a couple of stabs at letters 4&6 of 9a which was my last in & couldn’t see for ages. 4d & 6a similarly refused to yield for a while until the pennies dropped with a clank. The remainder was relatively straightforward & agree with Gazza’s podium picks & with 8d vying for a place. Now to read the review to see how many I’ve parsed incorrectly.
    Thanks Gila & to BD.

  10. Nothing too taxing. Didn’t like acronyms at 6a and 9a and couldn’t really get the parsing of 10a. On a more positive note I thought 25a and 3d were great. Thanks to BD and Gila.

  11. The fact that I’ve completed a toughie always makes me happy. I’ve never heard of 24a but I got it from the clue. Lots of contenders for favourite but 15a just shades it. Many thanks to Gila and BD.

    1. I’ve been walking the footpaths of the area looking for a musically minded geezer surrounded by Labradors and carrying a shotgun and a rolled up copy of The Daily Telegraph. I’ve not come across him yet

          1. Well spaniel in the singular as the younger one of the two never goes goes awol. He’s almost royalty. Appears to be a complete nutter until I let him him off the lead the older one is the complete reverse.

  12. Enjoyable from start to finish, so much so that I nearly wrote a blog to save Big Dave a job. Completed in typical Tuesday Toughie time. I don’t subscribe to the wavelength theory. It’s checkers, checkers and more checkers, 5 down and 9 across being examples. Thanks to Gila for the puzzle, great fun as usual. Thanks to Big Dave/Gazza for the whys and wherefores of the first two letters of 10 across

  13. Although the clues were a bit wordy for my taste, I enjoyed this on the whole with 27a my favourite.

    As has been mentioned above, I too was puzzled by 17a thinking that we needed a full half of a steep slope.

    I know it’s supposedly OK to use 16d as a verb but I can’t say I like it.

    Many thanks to Gila. Also thanks to BD, particularly for the parsing of 20d, and to Gazza, for helping out with “re” in 10a.

  14. Managed to finish this splendid Gila on my own except for 9a (sought two letters after ‘cap’) and had never heard of 1a, though the anagram was all I needed. Favourites: 15a, 27a, 12a. Thanks to Big Dave for the review and to Gila for the enjoyment.

  15. Enjoyed this a lot though, good fun with several penny drop moments, though I did need help in parsing a few. Definitely wasn’t a quick solve but ultimately a very satisfying one, I particularly liked the anagram at 12a and that takes my top spot.
    Many thanks to Gila and to BD for the explanations.

  16. Spend a bit of time on the NE and needed all the checkers for 8d trying to fit either EL or RE twice into the word.
    Some well disguised anagrams needed a blank piece of paper as the setter didn’t leave much room on my printout.
    We have the same expression in French for 1a. It’s called a prix d’ami.
    5d made me laugh as I like dark humour.
    27a favourite.
    Thanks to Gila for a great crossword and to BD for the review.

  17. Good fun throughout, although I failed on 9a which was an unknown term for me.

    Podium for me went to 3d………once I’d realised that it was referring to 007.

    Thanks to Big Dave for the blog and Gila.

  18. Too many answers that I either don’t think of as words (eg 2a) or at all (3a) and phrases I have never heard used (1a). Also the clues required me to come up with synonyms that again I never use (eg like in 25a) or have never heard of (eg 22a where I only know the mathematical version). Still, I have used the wonderful guidance above for the across clues and will now endeavour to do the down ones before returning later to find the answers I still can’t get. I think I can safely mark my efforts as “a lot more study and practice required”. Oh well, every day and all that malarkey. Time to take the dog out …

    1. I have some sympathy with your comments, Cypher, being relatively new to Toughie territory, but that’s what makes toughies tough, and that’s why I’m happy to develop my thinking, vocabulary and solving skills.
      I failed in the NE corner because I put SIBILATE in for 15a, being the sound an angry snake makes. Made the rest impossible. D’oh! Onwards and upwards.

  19. I completed about half yesterday then, after writing out the 12a anagram, ended up with one left today so thank you for the much needed hint for 6d. I also needed help with the parsing of 10 and 25a and 16d. Feeling very pleased as I rarely attempt the Toughies and when I do rarely manage more than a few clues. I do enjoy them though so I shall resolve to try them more often.

  20. Thanks to Gila and to Big Dave for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one. Great fun, not too tricky. I had silver service for 3d, so couldn’t get 9a, but did think of the answer, which didn’t fit with my incorrect checker. Good fun. Was 3* /3* for me.

  21. 3*/4* …..
    liked 22A “Smart bird, very good, kept inside cage in error, unfortunately (7,6)”

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