Toughie 2606 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2606

Toughie No 2606 by Django

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Thanks to Django for a pleasant puzzle. It’s not really a Toughie though is it? – let me know if you disagree.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a/1d Somewhere to pick up messages coming from flat landlord let go (4,6,4)
DEAD LETTER DROP: assemble synonyms of a) flat or lifeless, b) landlord and c) let go.

6a Carve in sweet chestnut (4)
ETCH: hidden in the clue.

10a Leaving platform, politician’s first to show hatred (5)
ODIUM: remove the first letter of politician from a platform or dais. A bit of Yoda-speak.

11a Easy decision from former Prince to abandon a current aristocrat at the start (2-7)
NO-BRAINER: remove one of the symbols for electric current from the name of a Prince who married a glamorous American actress (not that one!) and precede that with an informal word for an aristocrat.

12a Makes good comic broadcast in a state of desperation (2,4,4,3)
AT ONE’S WITS’ END: string together a verb meaning ‘makes good’ or compensates, a comic or humorist and a verb to broadcast or transmit.

14a Hard to get entertaining group of footballers for film (8)
SCARFACE: an adjective meaning hard to get (like toilet rolls at the start of lockdown-1) contains the abbreviation for the body that controls football in England.

16a Drink a toast every now and then — that’s an order (6)
DIKTAT: regular letters from the first three words.

18a Open Irish port after French one (6)
UNCORK: a port in the south-west of Ireland follows the French word for one.

20a Perhaps Freddie Mercury and Queen released tracks on disc (4,4)
ROCK STAR: start with a single-letter abbreviation for queen and add an anagram (released) of TRACKS after the letter shaped like a disc.

22a Beastly collection delivered by angry mailman biting family dog — that’s back to front (6,7)
ANIMAL KINGDOM: an anagram (angry) of MAILMAN contains a word meaning family and the word ‘dog’ with its last letter moved to the front.

26a Somewhat mediocre a.m. — so Dad’s getting a drink (5,4)
CREAM SODA: hidden in the clue.

27a Solving sudoku finally with a number — perhaps, a lot of number twos? (5)
GUANO: the final letters of solvinG sudokU are followed by A and the abbreviation for number.

28a Pair of horses reach bridge (4)
SPAN: triple definition, bridge here being a verb.

29a/25d Start short book in jail before end of sentence — it’s a place where renewal is encouraged (10,4)
ENTERPRISE ZONE: glue together a verb to start or plunge into, a synonym for jail containing the abbreviation for an Old Testament book and the last letter of ‘sentence’.

Down Clues

1d See 1a

2d After defence falls short a sailor returns to identify one connected to scores of thieves (3,4)
ALI BABA: concatenate a defence (in court perhaps) without its last letter, A and the reversal of one of our usual abbreviations for sailor to discover one connected to two scores of thieves.

3d Member with love for dance (5)
LIMBO: a bodily member and the letter resembling love in tennis.

4d Bent occupation making a case for divorce (8)
TENDENCY: the definition (bent) here is a noun not an adjective. Start with a type of occupation (of a flat, say) and replace the A with the outer letters of divorce.

5d Joint trouble rising, pinching limb’s edges (5)
ELBOW: reverse a word for trouble or affliction and insert the outer letters of limb.

7d Northern man after turning up at function (7)
TANGENT: the abbreviation for northern and a synonym for man follow the reversal of AT.

8d The woman’s allowance of food must raise energy — it’s genetic (10)
HEREDITARY: a possessive pronoun meaning “the woman’s” is followed by a dated word for a regulated allowance of food with the abbreviation for energy moved up two places.

9d That cycling sprain represents a great sporting achievement (3,5)
HAT TRICK: cycle the letters of ‘that’ and add a verb to sprain. Originally a bowler who achieved this was awarded a new hat by his cricket club.

13d Promises frisky sauna, ultimately wanting caress (10)
ASSURANCES: an anagram (frisky) of SAUN[a] (with its ultimate letter missing) and CARESS.

15d Weapons companies lug inside (8)
FIREARMS: another word for companies contains what lug is an informal word for.

17d Initially going round to charge servant commission (8)
POUNDAGE: the word ’round’ without its initial letter goes inside a young male servant.

19d Fire-breathing monster created by artist under agreement (7)
CHIMERA: the abbreviation identifying our usual artist follows a word meaning agreement or harmony.

21d Part of orchestra‘s time cut short, non-stop panic follows (7)
TIMPANI: fuse together time and panic, both without their last letter.

23d Recognised and immediately captured by nickname’s essence (5)
KNOWN: an adverb meaning immediately is contained in the central letters of nickname.

24d Find papers backed head of government in revolt (3,2)
DIG UP: reverse the abbreviation for papers confirming one’s name and add the first letter of government and an adverb meaning ‘in revolt’.

25d See 29a

The clues I ticked were 14a, 2d and 4d. Which ones made the cut for you?


33 comments on “Toughie 2606

  1. This puzzle will certainly appeal to those who enjoy removing letters. On that theme, 11a works for me without the a.

    Thanks to jango and Gazz.

        1. There are two occurrences of ‘i’ in Rainier so ‘a current’ tells us that we need to abandon only one of them.

  2. Very enjoyable even if, as Gazza says, it wasn’t really a Toughie (the honour of being the most fiendish crossword on Fleet Street goes to Monk in today’s FT)

    Thanks to Django and Gazza – I agree with your favourites

  3. When I completed this crossword this morning I was unhappy with the clueing for 28ac – which obviously had to be SPAN. Unfortunately your explanation is as impenetrable.
    What do horses have to do with it? I ask as a sometime carriage driver.

    1. Although more commonly seen as referring to a team of oxen, a span can also mean a pair of horses

    2. I think a span may be an archaic or colloquial word for yoke – more for oxen than horses though

  4. Loved it! I admit to having solved only about 75% unaided and having to resort to electronic help for the rest. However, that makes for an enjoyable Toughie as far as I am concerned. There were some great clues but my favourites are 21d and 27a, which made me laugh.

    Many thanks to Django for the challenge and to Gazza for the hints.

  5. I agree that this was a Toughie in name only, unlike yesterday’s which was, for me, genuinely difficult. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed completing the grid, which is the main purpose of the exercise, with 14a my top clue.

    My thanks to Django for the fun and to Gazza.

  6. Another enjoyable crossword from Django, I had to concentrate hard on the various charades especially 8d and 29a/25d,
    I thought the latter was a tad clumsy.
    As Jonners above says there is a tendency to remove letters !
    Last in was14a , a D’ oh moment when the film dawned, favourite was 27a for originality with the surface of 2d a close second
    Thanks to Gazza for the pics, liked 19d.

  7. Toughie / Smoughie, whichever, I enjoyed Django today, even though–to my knowledge, anyway–such things as 1a/1d and 29a/25d do not exist by those names over here across the Pond, and I did need a tiny bit of electronic help to complete those pairs. I really liked 11a, 27a, and 2d. Lots of fun. Thanks to Gazza for the enjoyable review as usual, and to Django for the pleasure.

    1. I too struggled with 1a/1d and 29a/25d which were totally new to me and made for a much more difficult solve than the majority. Also some obscure definitions which made Gazza’s explanations very helpful.

  8. I was amused by 27a having found out what it meant (eww) but was baffled by the parsing of 1a/1d, 17d and 11a — although I knew said prince, just couldn’t fathom the rest. Thank you Django for lightening the Toughie load a little today and to Gazza for your concise explanations.

  9. A good deal easier than yesterday’s but good fun. I like the way Django constructs his clues; 22a and 4d being excellent examples. Once you know the answer the syntax of the clue is impeccable – before you know the answer it’s highly ambiguous! I liked “initially going” and “charge” in 17d too -my last one in – it was obvious it had to be what it is but it took a while to see why.
    Thanks for a fun solve Django and thanks for the fun blog Gazza.

  10. I’m afraid this setter’s essay style of clues just don’t appeal to me, no matter how hard I try to get onto his wavelength. As for the wording of the clue at 27a, I think it belonged in the other paper whose puzzles he sometimes sets.
    Some of the short clues worked well and it was interesting to read about the third definition of 28a which I didn’t know.

    Thanks to Django and to Gazza for the review and the cartoons.

  11. A second one completed, but a couple of bung-ins. Missed the clueing in 4d, while the abbreviation in 29a was out of my knowledge range. It is good to have “easier” toughies for us tyros. The blog is an essential training tool and thanks to all involved each day.

  12. It’s probably the change in the weather, but sadly I didn’t really enjoy this.
    (I’m not Brian in disguise.)
    There were very few toughie clues even for my limited ability.
    If it had been on the “back” page I’m sure I’d feel differently.
    Who decides what constitutes a toughie? There seems unanimity here that this was not.
    Apologies to Django if he pops in, because I’ve enjoyed previous outings.
    Thanks to Gazza for the pictures.

  13. I did enjoy this, and it all went smoothly apart from being held up briefly by the intersecting 4d and 14a, and my last in 17d. Many thanks to Django and Gazza.

  14. I enjoyed this too; not terribly difficult, but a decent puzzle nevertheless
    I know some setters are very wary of creating an unfathomable slog – perhaps that’s the case here?
    Thanks to Django and Gazza

  15. This setter is an enigma to me. I really enjoyed his early puzzles with another pseudonym in a different newspaper, but more recently we are seeing what to me are curate’s eggs as he appears to be adopting a much more verbose cluing style. My heart sinks when I don’t see any white spaces in the columns of clues. However, I am glad to see that other solvers don’t seem to mind. The result of this long windedness can be that, while the wordplay is still accurate, some of the surfaces become tortuous which spoils my enjoyment.

    There are plenty of good clues on show here, mostly shorter ones. I ticked 12a, 18a, 28a (a very good triple definition), 5d, 9d & 15d.

    Thanks to Django and to Gazza for the splendidly illustrated review.

  16. Always nice (and relatively rare for me) to solve a Toughie unaided, I thoroughly enjoyed this, and do like this setter’s style, though can appreciate why others may not.
    Podium contenders for me include 11a, 20a (and what a 20a he was) 27a and 4d.
    Many thanks to Django and to Gazza for top notch puzzle and blog.

  17. 29a/25d was something we had never encountered before so needed Mr Google to help us out. Everything else went in smoothly enough.
    A pleasant solve.
    Thanks Django and Gazza.

  18. I enjoyed this, it went fairly quickly but it took me a while to see 17d and 29a. Some good surfaces!

    thanks Gazza (especially for cartoons) and thank you Django

  19. A relief after yesterday’s Friday in disguise!
    I failed on 29a / 25d, not helped by bunging in room for 25. Otherwise a nice solve. Thanks to Django and Gazza

  20. Just goes to show that one man’s not really a toughie, is another person’s quite challenging enough!
    Thanks to Django 🙂

  21. Having just read the comments but not the review I’m heartened to see that some others found 17d tricky. It’s my one remaining but will resist the hints & hope the penny drops later. The wordy style doesn’t bother me in the least although I probably prefer more concise clueing & I thoroughly enjoyed this. Getting the answer was largely straightforward but, for me at least, parsing them less so (4d a typical example & very clever wordplay). Triple definitions rarely occur to me & 28a was no exception – didn’t know the pair of horses bit anyway & completely overlooked the reach synonym. 29a/25d was was my last entry in & not entirely sure I’ve got it completely parsed. Brian De Palma’s hopelessly overblown movie (& Pacino’s ridiculous OTT performance in it) was my favourite clue.
    Thanks Django & Gazza- will return to your review anon.

  22. Putting ‘dig in’ for 24d meant I couldn’t solve 29a/25d, otherwise a good workout. Thanks to Django for the puzzle and Gazza for the hints.

  23. Thanks for all the comments and thanks for the blog, Gazza.
    Always fascinating to see what people make of things. And yesterday added to my list of things that Jane does and doesn’t find acceptable in crosswords as I learned that a surface using ‘shag’ to mean ‘sex’ and also means sex in the definition is fine in the Indy, whereas ‘number 2s’ meaning actual digits in the surface but bird poo in the definition most certainly isn’t for the Telegraph. Who knew!

    I suspect Enterprise Zone is very much a UK term, but I think Dead Letter Drop is used wordlwide. But as it’s a part of spy-craft, it’s a phrase that many of us won’t encounter often. But it appears to be alive and well in news stories on both sides of the pond.

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