Toughie 2605 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2605

Toughie No 2605 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by Big Dave

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

An enjoyable puzzle from Donnybrook.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Wild horse from Midlands city in reserve (6)
BRUMBY: the nickname for the largest Midlands city is followed by an adverb meaning “in reserve”

4a    Temperamental rodent keeps swishing tail (8)
VOLATILE: a rodent around (keeping) an anagram (swishing) of TAIL

10a    Agent good for Bond smashing luge into pieces (9)
SUPERGLUE: an adjective meaning smashing followed by an anagram (into pieces) of LUGE

11a    Religious official sends note round university daily (5)
MUFTI: a note of the scale in sol-fa notation around U(niversity) and a daily newspaper

12a    North country area includes very serene place (7)
NIRVANA: N(orth) followed by a country and A(rea) around (includes) V(ery)

13a    Royal attendants bemoan banking eastern money (7)
RETINUE: a three-letter verb meaning to bemoan around (banking) E(astern) and a slang word for money

14a    Miserable husband initially under one choosing austerity (5)
SADHU: an adjective meaning miserable followed by H(usband) and the initial letter of U[nder]

15a    Former barrister maybe killing time sees model (8)
EXEMPLAR: a two-letter prefix meaning former followed by what could be a barrister without (killing) the T(ime)

18a    Sacrifice and explosive combat at sea (8)
HECATOMB: some High Explosive followed by an anagram (at sea) of COMBAT

20a    First book stolen from dope makes grand (5)
NOBLE: drop the first occurrence of B(ook) from a verb meaning to dope, typically a racehorse or greyhound

23a    Entrance needs locks turned by soldiers without uniform (7)
ENAMOUR: the reversal of some long locks of hair is followed by some soldiers outside (without) the letter represented by Uniform in the NATO Phonetic alphabet

25a    Renault changing gear (7)
NEUTRAL: an anagram (changing) of RENAULT

26a    Vampire, firstly impaled, interred by priest (5)
LAMIA: the initial letter (firstly) of I[mpaled] inside (interred by) a Tibetan priest

27a    Saint feeding cut flower before providing dish (5,4)
IRISH STEW: ST (saint) inside (feeding) a three-letter verb meaning to cut all preceded by a flower

28a    Material from Web in plan approved to hold crowd back (8)
GOSSAMER: if a plan is approved it could be described as a this – insert (hold) the reversal (back) of a crowd

29a    Ship on move suddenly reverses (6)
TRADER: a word meaning on or concerning followed by a verb meaning to move suddenly, all reversed


1d    Elizabeth dresses American in outfit (8)
BUSINESS: an affectionate form of the name Elizabeth (one of many!) around the abbreviation for American and IN from the clue

2d    Classy politician international socialist judged (7)
UMPIRED: a charade of a letter used for classy, a politician, International, and a socialist

3d    Save artist given partially digested food, a fish (9)
BARRACUDA: another charade, this time a word meaning save or except, an artist, some partially digested food, and the A from the clue

5d    No gang of gunmen handled machine (3-5,6)
ONE-ARMED BANDIT: without the hyphen this could mean a single gunman

6d    Take in maid dancing tango (5)
ADMIT: an anagram (dancing) of MAID followed by the letter represented by Tango in the NATO Phonetic alphabet

7d    Admirer cheers to support popular princess (7)
INFANTA: an admirer and a word meaning cheers below (to support) a word meaning popular

8d    Checked rising water level — dredge in middle (6)
EDITED: the reversal (rising) of a water level followed by the middle letters of [dr]ED[ge]

9d    Man’s excellent knowledge about bad weather in border region (6-8)
ALSACE-LORRAINE: a mans name with the S from ‘S is followed by an adjective meaning excellent and some knowledge around some bad weather

16d    Clerk one to provide assistance in swan-upping? (3-6)
PEN-PUSHER: this could be a person providing assistance with the female swans in a ceremony known as swan-upping – I looked at the assistance being provided by the last 5 letters of the second part of the answer, but I found myself unable to explain the first letter of said part

17d    Lie with maid in spring, among forest creatures (8)
DEFLOWER: a bit risqué for the Telegraph! – a verb meaning to spring inside some creatures of the forest

19d    Times getting letters from Greek theologian (7)
ERASMUS: some long periods of time followed by two or more of a letter in the Greek alphabet

21d    Scolded, undergo assessment? (7)
BERATED: split as (2,5) this could mean to undergo assessment

22d    Pirate’s prop to fix on stage? (3,3)
PEG LEG: A verb meaning to fix followed by a stage

24d    Mighty growth around Steppes originally a city (5)
OSAKA: a mighty growth or tree around the initial letter (originally) of S[teppes] followed by the A from the clue

After finishing, I did wonder why it took as long as it did!


24 comments on “Toughie 2605

  1. Yes, it took me most of the morning! I finished it but there were a couple of words I’ve never heard of and a couple of bung ins which I couldn’t parse.
    COTD has to be 10a

  2. Definitely a Start with the Downs crossword which flowed quite nicely. A nice 1* start of the week toughie, even taking into account the slight delay when I wondered whether the like of 17d and its definition had ever been seen in the Telegraph crossword before! 10a was my favourite

    Thanks to Donnybrook and BD

  3. I was relieved to see that our blogger awarded this four stars for difficulty as I found it quite devilish in places. I did enjoy the sharp and concise clueing throughout, with 16d my co-favourite alongside 10a, and the risqué 17d my final entry.

    My thanks to Donnybrook for the enjoyable challenge and to BD.

  4. This was an excellent Tuesday Toughie which I enjoyed a lot despite a small sprinkling of hmms.

    1a was that rarity, an unindicated Australian word, and a vague fellow popped up in 9d. Although 17d is a well-constructed clue, I would have thought it would have been more suited to the Independent’s editorial policy.

    I learnt a new word in 26a and, with a lot of good clues to pick from, the clever 24d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and to BD.

  5. A very enjoyable challenge – my only real hold-up was misreading the first letter of 19d as an A; I can’t read my own handwriting at times
    Many thanks to Donnybrook and to BD

  6. Enjoyable and head scratching.
    My take on 16d is pen from the clerk and the p as “one to provide” in as much as the first letter and then usher is the assistance.
    Many smiles and light bulb moments. 22d is my COTD
    Thanks to Donnybrook and BD

  7. Donnybrook is as entertaining as ever – thanks to him and BD.
    I didn’t know the wild horse or the vampire but the wordplay and checkers combined to provide the answers.
    My ticks went to 10a, 5d, 17d (I imagine this will have Sir Herbert Gussett penning a stern letter to the editor) and 22d.

  8. A pleasant steady solve although I did have to check that I had constructed 1a, 18a and 26a correctly – all new words to me. I did have a grin about 17d. 5d and 16d were chuckleworthy, but I’ll put 9d and 24d on the top of the podium today.
    Thank you Donnybrook.

  9. Like YS, I appreciated BD’s star rating for difficulty although I could almost guess what the verdict would be from CS!
    Managed to drag up most of the necessary GK from somewhere in the depths but got stuck on 9&17d which were the last ones to fall even when all the available checkers were in place.
    Pleased to complete this as it was towards the top end of my solving ability and my top two were 5&16d.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and to BD for the review.

  10. Excellent start to Toughie week, with the parsing a stage higher than the back pager, perhaps I just had a good day after reading the blog comments so far.
    I really enjoyed the solve and liked the amusing 5 and 16d.
    Remembered 18a from somewhere and 9d for its gewurztramminer-recommend it with pork! 26a was a new word for me too.
    Thanks again for the setter and BD

  11. I do enjoy Donnybrook’s style. It seems impenetrable at first, especially with that 1ac, but gradually it all falls into place. Just within my ability.
    17d last one in as couldn’t believe it. Thanks for the laugh. Much needed in spite of glorious weather.
    Thanks to BD for parsing 27ac.

  12. I thought this was a very well constructed puzzle, and definitely on the tricky side. There was more scrambling to find things I did not know than I find enjoyable – for immediate example I knew neither the horse nor the nickname for the Midlands city in 1a. However, I got it all sorted out in the end and with some chuckles on the way. Many thanks to Donnybrook and Big Dave.

  13. Excellent puzzle. I’m glad it was Big Dave’s turn to blog it though. From the city at 1 across to the city at 24 down every clue made me smile as I gradually ground out the solve. 1 across reminded of watching The Brumbies playing at The Reddings many years ago. Thanks to Donnybrook and BD

  14. With regards to 26a my only clue was the link to John Keats. Wasn’t she a serpent or something? Not, I seem to remember, a vampire. It was so long ago. One of you clever people will put me right.

    1. A serpent with vampiric abilities, a Keatsian construct, as I recall. It’s been decades since I taught it.

    2. According to Wikipedia, 26a was once a beautiful Libyan queen who had an affair with Zeus and produced several children fathered by him. Hera, his wife, was not best pleased and she took the children away, whereupon 26a transformed into a children-eating sea monster and set about eating as many as she could. The vampire stories were rather later in origin. Depictions of her appear to show a half-woman, half-serpent character with long, flowing hair.

  15. What a topsy-turvy day for me this has been! I finished this delightful Donnybrook in excellent time for me, without any aids and on my own happy lonesome, but I needed help to finish the back-pager (it was ‘doublets’ wot done me in). I really enjoyed this one. I actually hadn’t heard of the horse but I knew the nickname of the city, and the clue resolved itself easily enough; however, I knew everything else (do I sound like CS?)–wonder of wonders. Thought of Keats with 26a and Cole Porter, Frank Sinatra, and “A trip to the moon…” with 28a. How my mind works some days is a lovely enigma to me: e.g., 18a was my first one in (maybe because it had recently appeared?) Thanks to BD and Donnybrook.

    I must add that 17d was my LOI and I laughed out loud when I got it. Ooh, how risque’!

  16. We join the club of those having 17d as their last entry and join in the collective chortle too.
    Quite tricky for us but at least the 1a horse was more familiar on this side of the world. The city was the trickier bit for us.
    Enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Donnybrook and BD.

  17. I found this puzzle to be an absolute monster, struggling from start to finish.
    I have never heard of the answers to 1a, 14a, 18a and 26a so my vocabulary has improved.
    Last in was 17d which made me smile. I shall now make the Margaritas.

  18. A very satisfying solve which started quite sparsely but then gradually unfolded. Took 16d at face value that if you assist at a swan-upping then you push them towards the count. Local artist Stanley Spencer produced a fine work depicting this activity.

    17d made me smile as did 10a.

    Thanks to BD and DB.

  19. I had to check Friday hadn’t come early, but I got there in the end. Had to check brumby and had forgotten about Lamia from Greek mythology. I prefer BD’s rating to CS. A good fair struggle though. 17d LOI for me too. Very unusual for the DT.
    Thanks to BD and Donnybrook

  20. An absolute belter to kick the Toughie week off & a real pleasure to solve from start to finish. Brisk progress to 18 solved then the predictable brick wall but put it aside & returned to it this evening & surprisingly solved the remainder reasonably quickly. Can’t say I’d heard of the vampire & not sure I’d have risked big money on identifying what the 1a beast was in a straight quiz question but it vaguely rang a bell & fortunately the wordplay to both was clear. Unfortunately 24d was a bung in as I failed to twig the mighty growth bit but otherwise all parsed ok. Pick of many fine clue for me was 10a although 17d, last in for me too, made me laugh.
    Thanks Donny & to BD for the review.

  21. Late to the party, completed this morning whilst ‘babysitting a grandson’. That’s a laugh, he was on his ipad the whole time! Thought it was going to be an impossipuzzle after the first read through, but a couple fell and the rest clicked into place. 17d and 29a last in – expecting them to end with an ‘s’ didn’t help. When 17d finally dawned, it became my firm favourite, both for its content and clever construction. Thanks to Donnybrook and BD.

Comments are closed.