Toughie 2592 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2592

Toughie No 2592 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A most pleasant puzzle by Sparks with some geography and a touch of GK. And, of course, a most pleasing Nina

Definitions are underlined as always and indicators are italicized. The hints aim to help you untangle the wordplay, and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the 12 “double” unches buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Smeared viscerally by dismal noble (4-7)
BLUE-BLOODED: A verb that could mean smeared viscerally or in a gory way follows (by) a word meaning dismal or sad

9a    Muse tour briefly cut after important date (5)
ERATO: TOUR from the clue without the last letter (briefly), losing another last letter (cut), follows (after) a short word that can mean an age or an important date

10a    Malignantly wasted fuel with bloody old housing (9)
BALEFULLY: An anagram (wasted, as in drunk) of FUEL goes inside (withhousing) an old word for bloody

11a    Hits back about tax office rises, gradual ones (7)
SPIRALS: A reversal of a word meaning hits goes around an old abbreviation for the tax office

12a    Insect also lived in edges of swamp (4,4)
SAND WASP: A word that can mean also or plus and a verb that means ‘lived’ goes inside (in) the outer letters (edges) of swamp

14a    Religious image — community church order held in house (4,4)
ECCE HOMO: An economic community, abbreviation for church, then an order or medal goes inside the abbreviation for house. The answer is a term in art that refers to a depiction of Christ crowned with thorns, and is the name of this statue by Jacob Epstein, which stands in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral (thank you very much Miffypops!)


15a    Trot around a study (4)
READ: A Trot or communist goes around A from the clue

17a    Strayed off in free period? (4,3)
REST DAY: An anagram (off) of STRAYED

19a    Better returning by end of space walk! (4)
PACE: A reversal of a verb meaning to better and the last letter (end) of space

20a    Hatch cross-section towards the left (8)
TRAPDOOR: A reversal (towards the left) of a cross and a section

21a    Arabs ban blessed Cypriot saint (8)
BARNABAS: An anagram (blessed) of ARABS BAN

23a    Mildew covering walls of third-rate shed (7)
MOULTED: Another word for mildew goes around the outer letters (walls) of third-rate

25a    Irresistible supplement Charlie divides (9)
ADDICTIVE: A word for a supplement (as in food) into which the letter with radio code Charlie is inserted (divides)

26a    Service break (1,3,1)
R AND R: A cryptic definition that has nothing to do with tennis, rather a brief holiday from military service

27a    Stole credit-card data to exploit the cream? Everything but (7,4)
SKIMMED MILK: A verb that means ‘stole credit card data’, and a verb meaning to exploit


2d    Climber, one into obsessive climbing (5)
LIANA: The Roman numeral for one goes inside (into) the reversal (climbing, in a down clue) of an adjective meaning obsessive

3d    Refined chaps in exploit that has died down (7)
EMENDED: A 3-letter word for chaps goes inside (in) an exploit, in which the initial abbreviation for died has dropped down a space

4d    American article contributing to passage in Swiss municipality (8)
LAUSANNE: A 2-letter abbreviation for American plus a 2-letter article go inside (contributing to) a narrow passage or road

5d    Reportedly confuse Times (4)
DAYS: A homophone (reportedly) of a word meaning confuse or bewilder

6d    Labour over, in part (8)
DELIVERY: Two meanings, the first to do with birth and the second with cricket

7d    Spanish city girl penning adult tittle-tattle (9)
SARAGOSSA: A 4-letter girl’s name contains (penning) the abbreviation for adult plus an informal short form of a word meaning tittle-tattle

8d    Head turns up, bungs sweets (11)
GOBSTOPPERS: A reversal (turns up) of a 3-letter word for head (as in nautical slang!), plus a noun meaning bungs

12d    Starts meter running — shrewd (6-5)
STREET-SMART: An anagram (running) of STARTS METER

13d    Agitate dry salesman from the south (7)
PERTURB: A reversal (from the south) of dry (as in Champagne) and a salesman

16d    Old man carrying pot with one article and another over first ridge (9)
ANNAPURNA: A 2-letter old man contains (carrying) a pot or vessel, but first we have one article and another article reversed (over)

17d    Lists including 500 fishermen (8)
RODSTERS: Some lists (normally of assigned duties) including the Roman numeral for 500

18d    Give notice about advanced survey (8)
APPRAISE: A verb meaning give notice goes around (about) the abbreviation for advanced

19d    Picked up cool cat — unreal (7)
PHANTOM: A homophone (picked up) of a verb meaning to cool (by directing an air current), and a male cat

22d    Victor splitting indigo block (5)
ANVIL: The letter with radio code Victor goes inside (splitting) another word for the dye (or plant) Indigo

24d    Painter, epic, rejected heartlessly (4)
DALI: The reversal (rejected) of a Greek epic ascribed to Homer, without the central letter (heartlessly). Here he is taking his anteater for a stroll in Paris

Today I liked the climber and starting the meter running. I also liked 27a. Which were your favourite clues?

26 comments on “Toughie 2592

  1. I don’t often attempt a Friday Toughie but I thought I’d have a go at this one today. Very good it was too, right on the edge of my solving ability.

    I did have two slight hmms: a vague girl in 7d and an American answer to 12d, but, those apart, this was great fun with 27a my favourite.

    Many thanks to Sparks and to Dutch.

  2. Very tough indeed. The only Spanish City I know of is in Whitley Bay so stumped by 7 down. I don’t know much about Switzerland so stumped by 4 down. Not stumped by 6 down though (ha ha) Glad to see an old friend at 14 across. Enjoyable but tough. Thanks to Dutch for the review and to Sparks for the puzzle

    1. Yes, that was a real Toughie. Held up by 7d as I have been through there several times but have only known it by the Catalan spelling which is one letter too short and has a couple of Zs in it.
      Thanks to Dutch for enlightenment and Sparks for stimulating the little grey cells.

  3. A proper battle with a 5* Toughie (in the time I took to finish yesterday’s Toughie, I only had five solutions in this one) with the usual Sparks enjoyment factor and I noticed the double letters in the double unches.

    Thanks to Sparks for the fun and Dutch for the blog

    1. I’m astonished at that CS. Admittedly I’m completely flummoxed with 6 to go but I’ve found this one way easier than yesterday albeit some my parsing is a bit hazy.

      1. I’m with you, Huntsman. Failed miserably yesterday, but managed this in 5* time. Again, I’m amazed at the difference a day makes. Is it because I missed my weetabix yesterday, or failed to take my daily exercise? Or is it a wavelength thing? I guess it’s what makes solving crosswords so enjoyable.

  4. I think that this is the second time this week we have seen 8d, and on both occasions the first part of the word needed a reversal of a latrine. Never mind, the rest was really enjoyable and a great way to finish off the Toughies for the week. 14 and 27a take the honours. Great fun.

    My thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  5. Isn’t it rather odd that in 19a, the last four letters before the definition spell out the answer?
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch

    1. if you look at the 12 double unchecked letters (the “double unches”) you’ll notice they are all double letters – neat!

      1. Very neat. Thanks, Dutch. I wish I could spot things like this earlier so as to speed up solving.

          1. Well, I did know that Sparks often likes to use features of the grid for his ninas. Mr double unches.

  6. Very enjoyable – thanks to Sparks and Dutch.
    I wondered whether there was a phrase contained in the double letters in the double unches but I couldn’t get further than “Old men’s …”.
    I liked 20a (neat use of ‘cross-section’), 27a and 19d.

  7. A good end to a good puzzle week. Hagiography not being one of my strengths I was unaware of the 21a Saint’s Cypriot connection and was also held up by “ridge” in 16d, but no complaints. Cross-section at 20a is clever and 15a is neat and raised a chuckle. I don’t think the Nina justifies the double unches, which seem to be more frequent lately. Why is the DT so fond of rotten grids?
    Thanks to Sparks for the puzzle and Dutch for the blog.

  8. Even with my electronic gift of 5 letters, I had to rely on Dutch to help me limp across the finish line. But what a corker, and what enjoyment! Tried the Catalan spelling of the Spanish city, but should have remembered the other one; didn’t know the techie term for stealing credit card numbers, so missed that one. 16d is my top choice, but it’s a crapshoot, really. Thanks to Dutch and Sparks.

    Don’t know what to make of the double-lettered Ninas….

  9. Enjoyed this one but fell 2 short of an unaided finish or 3 as I had the wrong first letter in one. Needed the hint for 16d, which I had heard of, but am thoroughly ashamed to say that even after reading the hint I revealed 14a. Unlike MP though a fellow Coventrian but long departed I can remember the names of the boozers but the only statue that rings a bell is the nearby one of the lass atop a horse in the altogether. Thought Zaragossa was also ok for 7d but now realise I’m combining the Spanish & English & also didn’t know the meaning of bally.
    2 gobstoppers in a week & a rodster to follow a tapster. Along with Dutch’s picks also liked 1a & 6d.
    Thanks to Sparks & to Dutch

  10. Not quite a Friday Elgar but nicely clued throughout and agree with Dutch’s ratings.
    I struggled with the final NE quadrant, last in was 8d and it had to be gob at the beginning -a new head for me thanks Dutch.
    Eventually remembered 14a as it has recently occurred in a Telegraph Crossword along with Agnes Dei!
    Liked the surface of 1a and my Favourite was 27a a top draw clue.
    Thanks Sparks for the entertainment.

  11. Got into a bit of a pickle with some on the right hand side but all came good in the end. Sorry to see another toilet sweet – thought those were the province of the Independent!
    12&17a were my picks of the bunch.

    Thanks to Sparks (and hello to Sparky) and thanks to Dutch for the review – what on earth is depicted at 1a?

  12. 14 across appeared in Toughie 1575 by Sparks on March 25th 2016 clued as

    10a Religious image of maiden in cowl briefly put on city church (4,4)
    ECCE HOMO: The abbreviation for maiden goes into a 4-letter word for cowl without the last letter (briefly), all following (put on) the 2-letter post-code for the part of London known as the city plus an abbreviation for church

    Blogged by Dutch. The comments threw up some interest Names

  13. Needed a bit of Google help with the geography answers but the rest slowly and surely all came to mind. We found the Nina once we had completed the solve so not in time to be any help with the grid fill.
    Enjoyable solve with 27a in top podium spot.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  14. I failed on 8d. My map of Spain has the spelling Zaragoza which unfortunately is one letter short. Also i have never heard of goss being short for gossip.So I had no hope whatsoever. but the remainder was very enjoyable with 16d and 27a being the best. Thank you Sparks and Dutch
    I do not get on my computer during solving so i was unlikely to find the alternative spelling.

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