Toughie 2587 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2587


Toughie No 2587 by Serpent

Hints and tips by crypticsue

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

You can usually rely on Serpent to give us both a proper Toughie and a Nina and that’s definitely the case today.

The last time I blogged a Serpent Toughie was back in December 2019 when I was a stand-in blogger who’d had to prepare the hints after a morning spent having a haircut, visiting the library and popping into a couple of shops, in order to get a few more things ready for flying out to surprise the grandchildren with a Christmas visit. All of which now sound like the sort of things you’d tell young children about when they ask what it was like in the olden days. Hopefully, next time I get a Serpent to review, we may well be able to ‘pop out’ whenever we like, although as the place I went to back then now resembles a 14d, sadly, I think it may not be quite the same as before

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Person unable to grasp operation by following doctor (7)
DROPPER An abbreviated operation and the preposition meaning by follow an abbreviated doctor

5a    Announced extra series of events being repeated in tandem? (7)
BICYCLE A homophone (announced) of an extra followed by a series of repeated events

9a    Mocking racist leaders from abroad in live broadcast (9)
SATIRICAL An anagram (broadcast) of RACIST and the ‘leaders’ from Abroad In Live

10a    World leader circulated preliminary material for programme (5)
INPUT The last two letters of a World leader’s surname are circulated and placed before the first three

11a    Serpent might make this move in order to pin knight (5)
VENOM An anagram (in order) of MOVE to ‘pin’ the chess abbreviation for knight

12a    Stirring score’s orchestration omitted from original categorisation (9)
AGITATION The letters SCORE (orchestration telling you that they aren’t in that order) are omitted from an anagram (original) of cATeGorIsATION

13a    Former politician and member of House of Lords reportedly feature in Blair’s work (5,4)
WIGAN PIER A work by George Orwell (the pen name of Eric Blair) are obtained from homophones (reportedly) of a member of a 17th century political party and a member of the House of Lords

16a    Elaborate way to eat one particular ingredient of meal (5)
MAIZE An elaborate system of paths ‘eats’ I (one) to give a particular type of grain (meal)

17a    Where meetings were held in the past by artist (5)
AGORA An adverb meaning in the past and the ‘usual’ abbreviated artist

18a    Salesperson’s laughter conveys something offensive (9)
ONSLAUGHT Hidden in (conveys) salespersONS LAUGHTer

20a    Vehicle fleet used to supply Escorts? (9)
MOTORCADE A cryptic description of a procession of motor cars, especially those carrying a head of state and their escorts

23a    Vocalist managed to ignore nervous tic and outburst (5)
SALVO Another compound anagram – here you ‘manage’ VOcALiSt once you have ignored the TIC (nervous indicating that the letters aren’t in that order)

25a    Dividing number by zero ends in continuous infinite loop (5)
NOOSE An O (zero) divides, or goes between, an abbreviated number and the ends in continuouS infinitE

26a    Segregate corrupted code that is hard to locate (6,3)
EASTER EGG An anagram (corrupted) of SEGREGATE – the definition refers to an undocumented sequence of computer code that is activated by a sequence of keystrokes, intended as a joke or often to identify the authors

27a    Sing loudly for middle of assembly (7)
CONFESS The musical instruction to play loudly replaces the middle letters of an assembly

28a    Guard’s content to have petition (7)
ENTREAT The middle letters (content) of a synonym for guard and a verb meaning to have or consume


1d    Deny doctor avoids opening of ward (7)
DISAVOW An anagram (doctor) of AVOIDS followed by the opening letter of Ward

2d    Frequently lose head in temper (5)
OFTEN Remove the first letter (lose head) of a verb meaning to temper

3d    Urge to inflame country’s support for extremists in party (9)
PYROMANIA A country is used to support or hold up (in a Down clue) the ‘extremists’ of PartY

4d    Waste disposal units respond when article is pushed down (5)
RECTA The indefinite article in a synonym for respond is pushed further down the word

5d    Game fowl eating everything up around island (9)
BILLIARDS Some fowl ‘eating’ a reversal (up) of a synonym for everything into which has been inserted (around) the abbreviation for Island

6d    Delicate material judge uncovered about banks (5)
CHINA The Latin abbreviation for about ‘banks’ the inside letters (uncovered) of a synonym for judge

7d    Upsetting way to determine if the hat fits? (9)
CAPSIZING Split 3,6 this solution might be a way of finding out whether a hat would fit

8d    Independent enterprise secures amicable deal (7)
ENTENTE Hidden in independENT ENTErprise

14d    Place where everyone’s gone? (5,4)
GHOST TOWN A cryptic description of many a place in this time of lockdown; originally describing a place which flourished when a natural resource was available but is now deserted when the resource has been exhausted

15d    Worshipful company subsequently breaks ceremonial vows (9)
IDOLATERS An adverb meaning subsequently ‘breaks’ an informal description of the vows made at a wedding ceremony

16d    Good man obtains best (and worst) case assessment of worth (5,4)
MEANS TEST An abbreviated good man inserted into a word which can mean both best and worst

17d    Medical man actually checks register for significant events (7)
ALMANAC Hidden in medicAL MAN ACtually

19d    Fancy admitting that to begin with (7)
THOUGHT A conjunction meaning admitting and the beginning letter of That

21d    Veered off, with no diamonds for partner to ruff (5)
REEVE An anagram (off) of VEEREd without the abbreviation for Diamonds – a ruff being a kind of sandpiper

22d    University dons seen changing result (5)
ENSUE The abbreviation for University dons (wears or goes inside) an anagram (changing) of SEEN

24d    Say story captures true subject (5)
LIEGE A story ‘captures’ the abbreviation for for example (say)

The Nina is found in the middle of the grid, first horizontally and then vertically. I wonder if it refers to 26a?

30 comments on “Toughie 2587

  1. 4 down was our last solve and made us laugh as we only put it in as a possible answer without realising it’s true meaning. Finally got to the bottom of it!!!

  2. Got there in the end but not helped by confidently putting ‘GRAVE YARD’ for 14d. Eventually sorted out. Thanks to Serpent and crypticsue.

  3. Extremely entertaining with a big laugh at 4d – thanks to Serpent and CS.
    I have loads of ticks on my paper – I’ll just list 13a, 25a, 27a and 21d with my favourite being 3d.

  4. Surprised at the rating as I found this one the easiest of this week’s 3 so far & probably for that reason the most enjoyable. Got off to a flyer in the NW then predictably slowed dramatically to a pedestrian crawl but at least it was a finish without the need to reveal a checker. Thought I was doing the Graun cryptic with 4d, which made me chuckle, & it made a pleasant change to clock the lurkers pretty quickly. Thought there were some cracking clues – 13,23&26a plus 3,7&14d were the picks for me with 3d my favourite.
    Many thanks Serpent. Shall now read the review to check how many I’ve parsed incorrectly.
    PS needless to say oblivious to the message & still couldn’t spot it when CS said it was present. Am only just getting the hang off the ones round the outside. Was this the setter who did similar not so long ago with single malt whisky ?

  5. I liked the compound anagrams here but did dislike Putin classed as a world leader. Unpleasant man.
    COTD is 26a. Had no idea of its alternative meaning.
    Looked at middle of puzzle as directed and, wonder of wonders, got the Nina.

  6. I filled the grid with known answers, bungins provided by checkers and wild guesses. Only by reading CrypticSues blog have I discovered that 9 across contains an anagram and 17 down is a hidden word and Vladimir has paid us a visit. I thought the good man at 16 down had been made redundant by Mr Lancaster and replaced by a politically correct good person. As for Ninas, like double pangrams they hide away from me. Thanks to CrypticSue for some help with parsing and thanks to Serpent for the workout.

  7. Please would someone enlighten me as to the Nina? I found this really hard. I was getting really pleased with myself until I hit a wall! Loved 13a!!

  8. Gratified to see your toughness rating CS – I also thought it worth at least 4 to 4.5* Somewhat surprised by 4d, thinking I’d strayed into Private Eye territory but no complaints. I do, however, agree with JB above about “world leader” in 10 altho alternatives like “Russian leader” would have given the game away. How about “poisoner” or “kleptocrat”? There are plenty of both. I chuckled when the penny finally dropped at 7d and at the clever mislead “worst case” in 16d so I’ll vote for the 2 of em.
    Thanks for the blog and thanks to Serpent for the challenge.

  9. For some obscure reason I thought it was Tuesday , no wonder I found this puzzle difficult !
    Gradually I worked my way around finishing in the NE quadrant.
    Failed to parse 26a-not surprisingly and 6d- thanks Crypticsue.
    Probably a ***** Elgar tomorrow.- my nemesis awaits.

  10. I enjoyed this, a puzzle with a straightforward way in but a few clues that were not immediately parsed, shall we say.

    I think my favourite was dividing by zero – what a great surface! It reminds me of the first calculators that came out. We’d make them go all doolally by dividing by zero. The mechanical ones were especially funny. You’d have to unplug them eventually, and hope they weren’t permanently damaged. Later we’d learn to put checks in our computer code, else the program took forever. I’m probably giving away my age!

    Many thanks Serpent and CS (your hint at 2d is probably a bit more useful than intended)

  11. Thanks to CS for explaining 6d.
    4d is such an unusual word, though obviously grammatically correct; difficult to see a context for it.
    Thanks to Serpent for a Toughie pitched right for my level.
    Of course I missed the Nina.

  12. I bought our blogger’s rating was spot on today. A proper Toughie from my perspective, and very enjoyable with some lovely humour and some neat touches. The NE corner held out the longest. 4d along with 7d were my favourites although I had a lot of choice. 6d my final entry.

    Thanks Serpent for the considerable challenge and to CS.

  13. On an off day for me (ha ha, he says immodestly), I did manage to answer all but seven in this splendid Serpent wordfest.
    I took great delight in realising who Mr Blair referred to and answering 13a early on. But the ones I failed to answer (mostly four- and five-letter words that now seem so obvious) will nettle me all day. The only clue I would never have solved in this lifetime, one that I remember from past failures, is 16d, a phrase I’ve heard of only in cryptic puzzles. Many thanks to CS for the hints, which came to my rescue very nicely, and to Serpent. Found the Nina!

  14. I enjoyed this a lot, though can’t claim to have solved it sans electronic help and a nudge or two from the excellent hints, especially for the parsings.
    I particularly liked 3,7,14& 16d but could have mentioned several others.
    Many thanks to Serpent and CS.
    Ps..shouldn’t the hint for 27a say “the middle letterS of an assembly” or am I missing something?

  15. I suppose I should have had the wits to be warned off by CS’s difficulty stars, but I didn’t.
    Oh well – at least I tried but this was so far beyond me that I was a very long way off finishing – I did get a few.
    Thanks, anyway, to Serpent and to CS.

  16. Didn’t find it too difficult but forgot to check the Ruff in 21d and the Judge in 6d although I was pretty confident that the answers were correct.
    Quite wordy clues but enjoyed their surface.
    Didn’t spot the Nina.
    Thanks to Serpent and to CS for the review.

      1. I didn’t know that.
        As for the bird, it’s scientific name is Love to fight, Love to fight.

  17. Many thanks to crypticsue for the excellent blog, and to everyone who has taken the time to comment.

  18. Well I battled on and got there in the end, I suspect this was at the limit of my solving ability. I managed to parse everything except 26a and 27a although I had 21d as an item of clothing the answer being a female version of a ruff, found that on Google. Favourite was 14d. Many thanks to Serpent for the crossword and for popping in and to CS.

  19. This took us a lot of time and a lot of effort but we did eventually get everything sorted apart from finding the Nina.
    Thanks Serpent and CS.

  20. As a general rule, I would rate most toughies a * or two more in difficulty than the reviewer, but for some unknown reason I would rate this a * or so less than crypticsue. There were no real hold ups, except that like Liverpool Mike, I was tempted by GRAVE YARD for 14d, but realized my error soon enough to avoid causing a train wreck. Thanks to crypticsue for the review and for pointing our the Nina which I would never have seen otherwise, and thanks to Serpent for a very enjoyable puzzle.

  21. Managed it after a few return visits. Loads of bung-ins without really understanding why the answer was what it was, but the checkers left few options. Really pleased to see CS’s ratings! Thanks to her and Serpent. Does he always have a clue about serpents?

  22. Really enjoyed this one. Only quibble is 20a, which just seems rather weak. Certainly it stands out amongst an otherwise very good crop. Just right for a Toughie, and lots of clever misdirection. Even the compulsory obscure word (17a) was clearly clued. COTD 21d. As a birder, it really made me smile! Thanks Serpent, and CS making me feel even better with her Toughness rating!

Comments are closed.