Toughie 2589 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2589

Toughie No 2589 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Another fine puzzle from Donnybrook.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


8a    Where Cranmer for example died is in dispute (2,5)
AT STAKE: two definitions

10a    Stays and strap holding old woman securely at first (7)
REMAINS: a strap surrounds (holding) the two-letter old woman and is followed by the initial letter (at first) of S[ecurely]

11a    As papal succession, so topical after Reformation (9)
APOSTOLIC: an anagram (after Reformation) of SO TOPICAL

12a    Tree feller going round copse in the middle (5)
MAPLE: a chap or feller around the middle letter of [co]P[se]

13a    Determination comes after second drink (5)
SWILL: a word meaning determination is preceded by (comes after) S(econd)

14a    French said to be holding back army unit in desert as before (7)
DEMERIT: the French for said around (holding) the reversal (back) of an Army unit gives an old meaning (as before) of desert or worth – this is the second use of holding in five clues!

17a    St John’s view as he converted sectarian (8,7)
JEHOVAH’S WITNESS: an anagram (converted) of ST JOHN’S VIEW AS HE

19a    Salesman halving capital returned to become top man (7)
EMPEROR: put a three-letter salesman in the middle of (halving) a European capital city and reverse all (returned)

21a    Victorian craftsman releasing mass preparation for perfumier (5)
ORRIS: drop the M(ass) from the surname of one of the leading lights of the Arts and Crafts movement

24a    Playful animal caddish chap beheaded (5)
OTTER: drop the initial letter (beheaded) of a caddish chap

26a    For dictator maybe canes will do! (9)
BAMBOOZLE: sounds like (for dictator) some canes followed by ‘ll (will)

27a    Hormone damage when temperature dropped at home (7)
INSULIN: drop the T(emperature) from a verb meaning to damage (in speech) and add a two-letter word meaning at home

28a    Overhead protection in the rain collapsed (7)
HAIRNET: an anagram (collapsed) of THE RAIN


1d    Girl picked up small badger (6)
HARASS: the reversal (picked up) of a girl’s name is followed by S(mall) to give a verb meaning to badger

2d    Surprise when mate gets round National Insurance (8)
ASTONISH: a two-letter word meaning when and a colloquial word for a mate or chum around N(ational) I(nsurance)

3d    Smart to trap opponent in bridge (10)
CANTILEVER: an adjective meaning smart around a four-letter opponent

4d    Blue joke appearing first warrants severe action (9)
CRACKDOWN: a four-letter word meaning blue or depressed is preceded by a joke

5d    Spiritual leader absorbed in anima mundi (4)
IMAM: hidden (absorbed) inside the clue

6d    One dozing having been given a smoke? (6)
KIPPER: a smoked herring (my favourite breakfast)!

7d    Answer cry for help to protect finest building material (8)
ASBESTOS: A(nswer) and an international cry for help around (to protect) an adjective meaning finest

9d    Untrustworthy sort is taking head off fish (4)
EELS: start with an untrustworthy sort and ‘S (is) then drop his initial letter (taking head off) – remember that fish can be singular or plural

15d    Permit Oslo or Rome to slip badly as big city (10)
METROPOLIS: anagrams (badly) of PERMIT OSLO or ROME TO SLIP lead to the same answer

16d    Cleaner with a disqualification caught coach (9)
CHARABANC: a charade of a cleaner, the A from the clue, a disqualification, and C(aught)

17d    Boxer, one in Seoul getting whipped — short task to start with (3,5)
JOE LOUIS: put I (one) inside an anagram (whipped) of SEOUL and precede (to start) with most of (short) a task

18d    Be sorry over bluish gas that all but covers continent (8)
EUROZONE: the reversal (over in a down clue) of a verb meaning to be sorry is followed by a bluish gas

20d    Prize tree getting this fertiliser (6)
POTASH: a trophy or prize followed by a type of tree

22d    Slender student beastly doctor admits in south-east (6)
SVELTE: the letter that represents a student or learner inside a doctor who treats animals (beasts) the again inside (like a Russian doll) the abbreviation for south-east

23d    Maidservant, perhaps middle-class, raised son to Noah (4)
AMAH: the middle letter of [cl]A[ss] is followed by the reversal (raised in a down clue) of the name of a son of Noah

25d    In French street Liberal appears to wield power (4)
RULE: inside the French for street place L(iberal)

Only slightly spoilt by the repetition of “holding” as a containment indicator, this puzzle featured some great anagrams.


43 comments on “Toughie 2589

  1. Almost there in *** time, but the SE put a stop to that. I didn’t know the word, or craftsman, in 21a and couldn’t parse 14a. I didn’t know the term at 23d, and although I had spotted the correct answer to 26a, I couldn’t justify putting it in!

    Still, for a Toughie, a good try.

    The sun is out, time for some Covid-friendly exercise.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and BD.

    1. With Toughies it’s worth putting in and waiting for the blog, no matter how obscure. Then sit imagining your reviewer trying to make sense of it

  2. Only just this minute finished after leaving it alone to do other tasks. Very much an ‘I need more checkers’ sort of puzzle. When more checkers arrived, more clues fell. Thanks to Big Dave for the blog and Donnybrook for the puzzle.

  3. For me, more like a back pager than a Toughie, completed in more or less the same time as today’s back pager, nevertheless Donnybrook is as enjoyable as ever – **/****.
    Candidates for favourite – 8a, 26a, and 16d – and the winner is 26a.
    Thanks to Donnybrook and BD.

  4. This really annoyed me! I just couldn’t get a handle on it. I kept feeling I was there and then I wasn’t. Several clues I solved but rejected as I couldn’t parse them. So frustrating. Must admit I thoroughly disliked 26a.
    Better luck tomorrow?

  5. Donnybrook is never less than enjoyable – thanks to him and BD.
    My podium features 8a, 26a and 15d.

  6. Apart from putting a “y” at the end of 9d, which admittedly made no sense, (tho’ the word is in BRB) this was all accessible and enjoyable. Particularly like the last three across clues.
    Thanks to BD and Donnybrook.

  7. Didn’t find this as easy as Senf & YS led me to believe it was going to be in their comments on the back pager. Like MalcolmR it was the SE that was the struggle having been problem free to that point. It was an unaided finish but can’t pretend to have parsed 14&26a correctly. Though I knew the definition synonym for 23a Mr G was needed to check on Noah’s lad. Similarly knew the craftsman but not the root at 21a. Thoroughly enjoyed this one as I always do with Donny’s puzzles & can’t say I even noticed the containment indicator repetition. Top spot for me was the very clever 15d with 3,16&18d plus 17a vying for podium positions.
    Thanks Donnybrook & to BD for the review.

  8. Only the second time I have finished the Toughie so I feel really good. Had to read the hints to see how I got 26a. All in all an enjoyable solve so thanks to all.

  9. Enjoyable solve in 3* time for me. Only hesitancy was parsing 26a, so thanks BD. Well done Donnybrook, 4 stars for enjoyment.

  10. Have read the blog and used the hints for the last few months.
    Decided that I would only contribute to the blog once I had finished a Toughie totally unaided.
    Today is that day ( yay to me!!)
    Only trouble was the ‘mate’ in 2d – still can’t find it – but got the answer from the wordplay

    1. Welcome to the blog, JoSelecta, and congratulations.
      Now that you’ve broken your duck I hope that you’ll carry on commenting.

      1. Thanks – certainly will, but more likely to be on the back pager blog than the toughie.

    2. Welcome from me too. The mate is ‘tosh’. Used to hear it a bit when I lived in Liverpool and when I was a lot younger. Not now, on either count.

      1. Well done. You’re doing better than me! “Tosh” is quite common in Monty Python but I have rarely heard it elsewhere.

    3. Well done you. A pretty good one too for your first unaided finish & by no means a doddle. Keep commenting.

  11. First time I’ve come across that name for a mate, I only knew him as a police officer in The Bill!
    Nothing that caused many problems in this one and my podium places went to 26a for the sound of the word, the 20d tree getting its TLC and the humorous surface read of 13a.

    Thanks to Donnybrook for the enjoyment and to BD for the review.

  12. Finished this lovely Donnybrook last night before the backpager, needing no aids or hints, and even winning some bonus points online (is it taboo to say this?), though I’ll admit that 14a gave me some pause even if my bung-in was correct. (‘Desert as before’ still bothers me.) But I rather went gliding through the grid, top to bottom, laughing along the way at 26a (my COTD), admiring the versatility of 15d, and getting a thrill at seeing my old boxing hero there at 17d. Thanks to Big Dave and to Donnybrook.

    1. I went searching for ‘tosh’ meaning ‘mate’ or ‘chum’ and finally found one good reference that said the term was popular during the 50s. I wonder if it still is. Jane’s comment made me wonder too, though at the time, I just blithely answered 2d and moved on. Anyone?

      1. My Dictionary of Slang says it was used in addressing a male friend in the army during WWII and by spivs in the post-war years but was obsolete by 1960.

  13. I felt this was about the same difficulty as today’s backpager, but lots more fun. Had to check on 23d. I wanted to put ayah, a word I’ve known all my life, but obviously not right.
    Thanks to all

  14. This was a Toughie which I really enjoyed pitched at just the right level for me, never heard of 21a, still do not understand 26a, learnt something new about someone at 8a, COD was jointly 15 & 16d,

    Thankk you to Donnybrook & Big Dave

  15. It’s always good to finish a Donnybrook toughie or any toughie for that matter. As others I needed the hints to parse 26a and 2d, as I’d never heard of the friend, and 24a to understand why it was the right answer. A trip to Google sorted out 21a and 23d. Favourite was 15d. Thanks to Donnybrook and BD.

  16. I always look forward to the Tuesday Toughie as it tends to be slightly more difficult than a backpager but always enjoyable.
    Like Robert C above not sure about14a as I have it down as a mark awarded against for a fault !
    Anyway nice balance of clues today, remembered the Victorian when the checking letters were in and Mr Cranmer’s demise , liked charades18 and 15d.
    Thanks to Donnybrook and BD.

    1. I’m still much bemused. I keep thinking that ‘to desert’ (as in to abandon or quit a post, like going AWOL) is to receive a ‘demerit’. Beyond that I can’t seem to make any sense. Am I just being obtuse here?

  17. Pleasant start to toughies for the week. I didn’t have a problem with the “mate” in 2d. I’m sure it was heard regularly in the 50s on the telly or at the flicks, generally as an alternative to “cock” and preceded by “wotcha”. Loved the excellent homophone and the clever def in 26a, the double anagram at 15d and the beastly doctor in 22d.

    Thanks to DB and BD

  18. I’d never heard of the preparation or the craftsman in 21a so failed on that and needed help to parse 26a. Always assumed “tosh” in my 2d bung in meant something like codswallop so that’s a new meaning to me. Other than those it all went together smoothly if not very quickly with lots of entertainment on the way.
    Podium places go to 4&15d along with 22d, such a lovely word
    Many thanks to Donnybrook and BD.

  19. We scratched heads for a while over 14a but eventually worked out how the wordplay fitted together. Lots of interesting anagrams and charades to piece together which always seems to lead to an enjoyable satisfying solve.
    Thanks Donnybrook and BD.

      1. I think the synonym for desert is a noun but not a barren piece of land, but as in “he got his just deserts”….a punishment or correction?

      2. Stephen L has nailed it. That is how we eventually read it too, but it did need a bit of pondering to get there

      3. Robert you’re not alone. I still don’t understand it & need a fifteen squared idiot guide explanation (not for the first or last time)

  20. Well, having been pointed in the direction of the toughie today, i have to say I throughly enjoyed this. Some excellent clues and some serious satisfaction in finally solving the whole thing. I needed to google 21a and 23d just to confirm.
    Thanks to Donnybrook and Big Dave.

  21. Feel strange today as I only had time to tackle the toughie. Been quite busy for a while.
    Nice to see that Jeanne D’Arc wasn’t the only one to suffer the fate of 8a although it might be a very British thing to do.
    No problem with the mate in 2d. I can still picture the ad: Hello Tosh, got a Toshiba?
    I wonder if 17a will accept the vaccine as it is not the kind of thing they approve of.
    Lots of lovely words in this and some great cluing.
    Thanks to Donnybrook and to BD.

    1. The father of Jo’s partner is a very committed 17a and he had his first vaccination last week without any demur, so I guess it must be acceptable to them.

      1. My mistake Jane,
        I was under the impression that they were against adding anything to their blood, but it’s only transfusions that they can’t accept apparently.

  22. Enjoyed one of my rare forays into Toughie territory and came through unscathed. Thank you Donnybrook and BD.

  23. I completed this excellent puzzle yesterday morning then completely forgot to come on and comment. All has been said, but I will still add my thanks and admiration to Donnybrook for a fine crossword and to BD.

  24. My first attempt at a Toughie and it lived up to its name. Got stuck in SE corner. 15d was my COTD by a mile – very clever. Thanks to BD and DB.

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