Toughie 2591 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2591

Toughie No 2591 by proXimal

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

A nice friendly proXimal Toughie for another snowy day in lockdown.

The DT Puzzles Editor wrote something fairly recently about how an easy Toughie should take the same time as a [5*] Friday backpager. This was my experience this morning and so I’ve rated it as 1* [Toughie] difficulty. I wonder how many of you will disagree?

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Weight and bodily firmness keeps annoying person (7)
TONNAGE Some bodily firmness ‘keeps’ an annoying person

8a    Bearing south in craft (7)
AIRSHIP Bearing or demeanour, the abbreviation for South and an informal way of saying fashionable (in)

10a    Horrid friend by end of meal mocking hosts (9)
APPALLING Another way of saying mocking or mimicking ‘hosts’ an informal friend and the end letter of meaL

11a    Clip plays, heard bears (5)
SHEAR Hidden in (bears) playS HEARd

12d    Country‘s capital having no better year (5)
ITALY Remove (having no) the synonym for better from capITAL and add the abbreviation for Year

13a    Replace ace, consider collecting diamonds (9)
SUPERSEDE An informal term for something good (ace) and a verb meaning to consider ‘collecting’ the abbreviation for Diamonds

15d    Too stifling a covering (7)
OVERLAY An informal (apparently originally US) word meaning too ‘stifling’ A (from the clue)

17a    Green space before messenger taking hour off (7)
EMERALD A printer’s space  goes before a messenger without the H (taking hour off)

18a    Exotic items expert valued (9)
ESTIMABLE An anagram (exotic) of ITEMS followed by an adjective meaning expert or skilled

20a    Shell of ranch, bit disused (5)
FRANC Here bit disused defines a particular coin no longer used but hidden in oF RANCh

21a    Figure out wearing coat picked up (5)
INFER A homophone (picked up) of a way of saying wearing a particular type of coat

23a    Do good and one blocking way turned friendly (9)
CONGENIAL A synonym for swindle (do), the abbreviation for good and I (one) ‘blocking’ a reversal (turned) of a narrow road (way)

24a    Drunk vocalist forgetting verse is indifferent (7)
STOICAL An anagram (drunk) of vOCALIST, forgetting verse telling you to omit the V

25a    Kilo of sage becoming exposed and less bulky (7)
THINNER Change the abbreviation for Kilo in a sage or wise person and replace it with the middle letter (exposed) of aNd


1d    A French knight in parapet badly hidden (10)
UNAPPARENT The French indefinite article followed by an anagram (badly) of PARAPET into which is inserted the chess abbreviation for knight

2d    Grass only just turning over heartless earl (6)
BARLEY Take an adverb meaning only just and ‘turn over’ the two letters that are the outside (heartless) of EarL

3d    Bank restricting girl in negligent way (8)
REMISSLY A verb meaning to bank [on] ‘restricting’ a girl

4d    Complex way to end conversation (4-2)
HANG-UP Without the hyphen, this informal complex might be a way to end a telephone conversation

5d    Take care of bag behind piano (8)
PRESERVE A verb meaning to claim for oneself (bag) goes behind the musical abbreviation for piano

6d    I’m enjoying that circular motion ending early (4)
WHEE A truncated (ending early) circular motion. (I always associate Mrs Armitage by Quentin Blake with this noise of enjoyment which she used a lot when riding her bicycle. It started No 1 Son’s interest in reading when he wondered about the difference in  sound between one E and several EEEs)

7d    Dramatic works show smoke rising in ribbons? (13)
TRAGICOMEDIES Reversals (rising) of an abbreviated show and something you’d smoke inserted into some ribbons

9d    Erect a mobile up in cradle (13)
PERPENDICULAR The three-letter preposition meaning for each (a) and an anagram (mobile) of UP IN CRADLE

14d    Unchanged upset cases state issues (10)
EMANATIONS A reversal (upset) of a synonym for unchanged ‘cases’ a state

16d    Humorous work made of fruit difficult to peel (8)
LIMERICK A fruit and the inside letters (to peel) of an adjective meaning difficult

17d    Age of tree in ground? Time unknown (8)
ETERNITY An anagram (ground) of TREE IN followed by the abbreviation for Time and a mathematical unknown

19d    Give way, beast with youngster coming up (6)
BUCKLE A reversal (coming up in a Down clue) of a type of beast and a youngster

20d    Fabulous being, of late, praised regularly (6)
FAERIE An archaic word for a fabulous being is found in the regular letters of oF lAtE pRaIsEd

22d    Out of shape with run coming up (4)
FROM The second use of ‘coming up’, used this time not to indicate a reversal but as an instruction to move the R (run) in a shape further up the word


27 comments on “Toughie 2591

  1. Took me a while to get a decent foothold but then progressed quite nicely. Some super clues today, I particularly liked 2d, 7d and 22d. Thanks to proXimal and CS.

  2. I didn’t think that proXimal was at his very best today but the puzzle was still enjoyable – thanks to him and CS.
    My ticks went to 20a, 2d and 22d.

  3. I found this quite a challenge particularly in the SE corner but I did enjoy it a lot. There were lots of excellent clues but I had no specific favourite.

    20a puzzled me for a while until the penny dropped that “shell” was being used as a verb. I don’t think I would have parsed 25a in a month of Sundays (or Thursdays) without CS’s review.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to CS.

  4. The original devices used made the crossword very interesting constructionwise (eg 2d, 22d and 12a)
    Thanks to Proximal and to CS.

  5. An enjoyable romp through crosswordland with several interesting and novel (to me) clue constructions that had me scratching my head a couple of times, most notably 25a. 22d was one of my final entries and my top clue.

    My thanks to proXimal and CS.

  6. Unlike our blogger I found this puzzle to be much more tricky than todays back pager.
    I eventually switched on to our setters wavelength and noted his penchant of letter swapping clues-2d 22d 25a and lots of charades which luckily are my favourite.
    Anyway a pleasant way to pass the afternoon away- is my ***** nemesis Elgar performing tomorrow?

    1. No it’s Sparks. There’s always a list of the Toughie setters on the home page under upcoming events or something like that

  7. Delightful. My second completed Toughie in a row. Hudson and proXimal fast becoming BFFs of mine! I just breezed waftily through most of this as if I were riding in an 8a, with 6d being my theme. 22d was brilliant. Thanks for helping me parse 25a, CS; wasn’t altogether sure about that one. And many thanks to proXimal for the enjoyment.

  8. Good fun and clever clueing seem to be proXimal hallmarks. Though this seemed a bit easier than his norm I would give it at least 2* for difficulty as I slowed down considerably in the lower half and stared at 14d with all the checkers in for quite a while before the penny dropped. 25a is a great clue in several ways – nice surface, “kilo of sage” and “exposed and”. 22d is also a gem.
    Thanks to proXimal and to CS for the blog.

  9. I enjoyed this, though it took me quite a bit longer than 1*. And i didn’t parse 25a, so many thanks CS.

    It took me forever to see the hidden bit, and the ‘out of’ seemed familiar, was it an elgar?
    I agree with young salopian, some nice clue constructions that help make it interesting – and some nice surface readings, eg putting up the mobile by the cradle – i remember that

    many thanks proXimal

  10. Phew! We did it, but weren’t quite sure how. The hints were invaluable to explain the tortuous workings of the setters’s mind in several clues, including 15a, 9d and 25a. Fascinating stuff, many thanks to setter and crypticsue.

  11. Much more enjoyable than today’s backpager, completed in about my normal Mr X man time. I wasn’t convinced about the expert/able synonym but it was the first word is Mrs Bradford, so what do I know.

    Ta to all.

    Getting chilly here now for those of us who don’t normally live here. Mind you, it makes not going out for the bloody government’s compulsory daily exercise a lot easier to justify.

  12. I’ve had success with all the Toughies this week. Hope that holds true for tomorrow and since it’s not an Elgar tomorrow, I may be lucky.

  13. My heart always sinks a bit when I realise CS is in the chair for the Toughie review because I know that I will feel like a complete ignoramus when I see her star rating for difficulty! Not to worry, I enjoyed the battle and that’s the main object of the exercise.
    I rather liked the horrid friend and the complex way to end a conversation so those get my votes today.

    Thanks to proXimal and to CS – particularly for the help with parsing 12&25a.

  14. We obviously found this a lot more challenging than CS is reporting. We do enjoy working through puzzles from this setter and are still kicking ourselves that it took us so long to get 22d, even with both checkers in place.
    An enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks proXimal and CS.

      1. The difficulty ratings for a back page puzzle range from 1 to 5*
        As Chris Lancaster has said, a straightforward 1* Toughie ought to equate to a 5* backpager
        So in theory Toughie difficulty would range from 5* to 10*, but of course we don’t say that, we start Toughie difficulty at at 1* and go up to 5*

        There has to be a difference between how one rates the difficulty of each type of DT crossword, otherwise they’d both either be all backpagers or all the ‘most fiendish crossword on Fleet Street’. That’s what I think anyway

    1. And me Bernie. 14 answers & already struggling. Toughest of the week so far for me. Think I’ll leave it a while & return to it later hopefully with a bit of inspiration

  15. I fell short on this one by more than I would like to admit. Better luck with Sparkes tomorrow I hope. Thanks to ProXimal and CS.

  16. With six clues solved after a few hours, I’ll come back to it in the morning…
    5* so far. Little enjoyment. When I read CS’s hints tomorrow I’ll probably feel differently about it all!

  17. Thank goodness for the last couple of comments. I got one answer on my first pass and needed all the hints for the rest. Another learning experience. Ho hum. I can only bow in awe of setter and solvers.

  18. Sheer bloody mindedness got me to a finish with this one & the small matter of 2 letter reveals (checkers for 17a/d & 5d/13a). The west wasn’t too bad but other than 4&9d & 8a I just couldn’t seem to get a foothold in the west until I resorted to hunt the definition, find a synonym & work backwards. It would have helped if I’d clocked the 2 lurkers but as per usual only twigged once the answer was in. Looking at the completed grid I guess a single * rating wasn’t too outrageous but by golly I made hard work of it. Mind you when you’ve cottoned on to the messenger is herald minus the H & you still need a letter reveal to progress the brain maybe isn’t functioning at optimum levels. Enjoyed it nevertheless. Favourite was last in, 20d, for the relief if nothing else.
    Thanks proXimal & to CS – reckon I could have stared at 25a for the rest of the week without parsing it.

  19. This was a proper Toughie, and all the better for it ! Definitely not 1* !! 8a, 18d, 12a and plenty of others were very good clues. Thanks as ever Proximal !

  20. Against all the odds and with another couple of hours application this morning, I’ve cracked it without the need to resort to CS or electronic help! After 7 & 8d went in, the rest followed steadily, with the last few at a positive rush.
    Now 4* difficulty for me, but enjoyment factor up from zero to 3*
    Thanks to proximal, and CS, whose hints I’ll read now

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