Toughie 2607 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2607

   Toughie No 2607 by proXimal

Hints and tips by crypticsue

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

On the Telegraph Puzzles Site, this proXimal Toughie is today’s “Free-to-Play” puzzle which led me to imagine that this might be one of his relatively friendly Toughies to encourage more people to have a go at solving one.

How wrong I was, I found this to be a proper Toughie requiring quite a bit of muttering in between beeps from the repetition radar. I wonder how many people will disagree with me this time?

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


9a    Guide in the morning leaving ship (5)
STEER The abbreviation for ‘in the morning’ leaving a type of ship

10a    Confine dons giving person bladed item (9)
SHARPENER A verb meaning to confine ‘dons’ or puts on outside a person who gives part of what they own to others

11a    Great anger with end of containment for clubs (7)
INTENSE Change the C in a verb meaning to anger for the end letter of containmenT

12a    Good figure reflected across metal screen (7)
NETTING A reversal (reflected) of the abbreviation for good and a number goes ‘across’ a metal

13a    Glut from plant that’s good for son (5)
GORGE Take a prickly plant and replace the abbreviation for Son with the abbreviation for Good (which you should remember because you just used it in the previous solution!)

14a    Friend rejected advice and consumed pulse (9)
PALPITATE An informal friend, some reversed (rejected) advise and a synonym for consumed

16a    Cheap cake, profit low, people start to try (7-8)
BARGAIN-BASEMENT A cake (of soap perhaps), a profit, a synonym for low, some people and the ‘start’ to Try

19a    Factory worker mostly a boozer in retirement times (9)
MILLENNIA Most of a factory worker and a reversal (in retirement) of A (from the clue) and a more formal word for a boozer

21a    To which jay might grip, arriving at cheerfully (5)
UNTIL A different type of clue where if you let the letters JAY ‘grip’ or hold onto the outside of your solution – a conjunction meaning to -you’ll arrive at a synonym for cheerfully

23a    Picked up restaurant bill of writer (7)
CHEKHOV Homophones (picked up) of a restaurant bill and of

25a    Giving lecture, reduced long piece (7)
TALKING A truncated (reduced) synonym for long and a chess piece

27a    Arrival of space genre in conflict with church (9)
EMERGENCE A printer’s space, an anagram (in conflict) of GENRE and the abbreviation for the Church of England

28a    Castle dismissing old page and fool (5)
TWERP Dismiss or remove the O for Old from a castle and add the abbreviation for Page


1d    White stone blocks laid endlessly (4)
ASTI The abbreviation for stone ‘blocks’ the inside (endlessly) letters of lAId

2d    Flag carrying weight of metal (6)
PEWTER A type of flag (usually associated with the word blue) ‘carrying’ the abbreviation for Weight

3d    Much-loved Lady Grey cut sandwiches with cheese (6,4)
GRANDE DAME Cut or remove the final letter from GREy, then insert (sandwiches) the conjunction meaning with and one of Crosswordland’s useful Dutch cheeses

4d    When skin turned numb (6)
ASLEEP A conjunction meaning when and a reversal (turned) of skin

5d    Flying ace with this tone might be egomaniacal (8)
MAGNOLIA It seems to be the week for composite anagrams – here you need to remove the letters ACE (flying telling you that they aren’t in that order) from eGOMaNIAcAL and then rearrange what remains, or as Gazza quite rightly says, if you add ACE to the solution, you get the word EGOMANIACAL

6d    Beef, singular product from cow (4)
SPAT This beef is a disagreement – the abbreviation for Singular and a product from a cow

7d    Warm eventually, after entering bath uncovered (8)
INTIMATE A phrase meaning eventually into which is inserted the inside (uncovered) letters of bATh

8d    Fine shred of intellect gets broken (10)
FRAGMENTAL The abbreviation for Fine, a shred, and an adjective meaning of intellect

13d    Amazed advance helped to secure second and third of homes (10)
GOBSMACKED A verb meaning to advance, another meaning helped or supported into which is inserted (to secure) the abbreviation for Second and the third letter of hoMes

15d    Discrimination in English class (10)
INEQUALITY IN (from the clue), the abbreviation for English and a synonym for class

17d    Cheered Communist keeping European cover up (8)
RELIEVED The colour associated with a Communist ‘keeping’ the abbreviation for European and a reversal (up) of a type of face cover

18d    Presumably odd time in trivial function (3-5)
NON-EVENT If something is presumed to be odd, it could be said to be xxx-xxxx, add the abbreviation for Time

20d    Not totally clean, the messy religious work (6)
ANTHEM Hidden in part of (not totally) cleAN THE Messy

22d    Kid in group climbing races (6)
TRIBES A slang verb meaning to kid or tease inserted into a reversal (climbing) of a group

24d    Swine bit deficient, criminal big shot (4)
HOGS An anagram (criminal) of biG SHOt once you have removed the BIT (bit deficient)

26d    Take off after grand opening (4)
GAPE A verb meaning to imitate (take off) goes after the abbreviation for Grand


26 comments on “Toughie 2607

  1. A tricky but very enjoyable puzzle from one of my favourite Toughie setters – thanks to proXimal and CS.

    My ticks went to 21a (I think the definition is just ‘to’), 3d, 18d and 22d.

    I think that we’ve been told before that the ‘free-to-play’ puzzle on the online site is chosen randomly so that’s no indication of its friendliness (or otherwise).

  2. All morning and I only solved 2 clues! Way beyond me I fear.
    I didn’t even get 1 down. Ironic as I’ve been given a bottle for Sunday!
    You’re a clever girl CS.

  3. Not having a very good day with puzzles. Maybe I need some time off. I laboured long and hard with this one and still managed only about 60%. proXimal is one of my favourites, too, but I had huge gaps in the top half. Did like 19a, my favourite of the ones I managed to solve. Thanks to CS, whose review I really needed, and to proXimal.

  4. Tough but not much fun. It passed a couple of hours of a rainy day. My knife edging device [10a] appears to lack a blade as well as yours CS.
    Thanks for the blog and thanks to proXimal for the diversion.

  5. Toughie by name and nature. Bunged a few in without parsing. As usual with proXimal many smiles. 6d for example.
    Thanks to proXimal for an enjoyable solve and CS for parsing many!

  6. That was the hardest toughie for a long time. I got 26d instantly, then a wrong answer to 6d (it was a bit Yoda, so it only went in faintly) and then nothing for ages. 13d finally gave me a foothold and it all came together from there. A very satisfying solve in the end, but I did start to think it might beat me for a while. Clue of the day 6d, made me smile.

  7. Beyond me, I’m afraid. An immediately encouraging start with the structural mainframe that is 16a and then a good two hours going nowhere. Still, it absorbed some lockdown time. No doubt we have the challenge of Elgar tomorrow as well!

  8. Way above my pay grade this one, especially 21a.
    But quite a number of clues left me puzzle. Can anyone explain them to me?
    10a – how is the definition “bladed item” valid?
    23a uses a US-only term in the wordplay without indicating this. Is that fair?
    5d – what tells you to remove ACE?
    15d – the definition seems to be the opposite of what it should be!
    Sorry if I am being thick. I am sure there are good explanations for the above, but they escape me!!

    Having said that 6d made me laugh a lot and 20d got a tick from me.

    1. 10a The BRB defines it as an instrument with a flat edge eg a small duelling sword
      23a The BRB just calls it a restaurant bill, doesn’t mention US
      5d Flying appears to be doing double duty, telling you to lose the ACE (make it fly away) and that the letters aren’t in that order
      15d I omitted the IN from the hidden solution – the definition now works!

      1. I think that 5d is worded as an additive rather than subtractive clue. It requires us to make an anagram (flying) of ACE + the answer to make egomaniacal.

        1. This was one of those ‘lie down in a darkened room when you’ve finished’ crosswords and that was before I’d started on how to explain the parsing!

  9. This was a Toughie in the true sense of the word, I might be wrong ( probobly am) but is the first part of the answer for 15d missing from the hints & tips, other than that a real headscratcher, I always reveal afterwards to see the parsing, and with some of the clues I was glad I did.

    Many thanks to Proximal and Cryptic Sue

    1. You’ve changed your alias

      You are quite right about 15d – I’ll sort it out

  10. Indeed a proper toughie! Took ages but on a day like today a welcome diversion. It’s wild, wet, and windy…(is that the Oxford comma?)
    Eventually got there with some electronic assistance.
    Parsing of 21 and 25ac and 24d required CS blog, thank you.
    Thanks to ProXimal for the challenge. No harder thankyou.

  11. Like some others, I was sitting for a long time with a scattering of very few entries, thinking that it was going to be one of those days of throwing in the towel very early on. However, (very) slowly but surely, it began to fill in, and in the end I was beaten only by the much-loved lady in 3d. Even at that, I’m cross that I could not sort it out especially, as crypticsue points out, it contains one of crosswordland’s most common cheeses. I thought the clues were wonderfully elegant with hardly a wasted word – the swine in 24d for example. All in all, I thought this was a terrific puzzle, and many thanks to proXimal and crypticsue.

  12. After yesterday’s verbosity, I was delighted to see a lot of white spaces on the Toughie page today, but my joy turned to frustration as I tried to work through this. I expect a proXimal Toughie to be challenging but doable with persistence. However this one turned out to be way above my pay grade, and I needed CS’s enlightenment and some help from Mr Google to solve ten of the clues.

    In the aftermath, I can certainly respect the cleverness of most of the clues, but I will approach my next proXimal Toughie with caution.

    Of the clues I managed to solve under my own steam, I particularly liked 16a, 19a, 18d & 22d.

    I’m off for a cold shower now …

    Thanks to proXimal and to CS.

  13. This was just about at the top end of my solving abilities, and it took two sittings to complete it. Perseverance paid off, however, so I am glad I stuck at it as it was very rewarding to finally fill the grid. 21a proved to be my favourite with 5d my runner up.

    My thanks to proXimal for the considerable challenge and to CS.

  14. We also found this tricky but persevered and eventually got everything sorted.
    Enjoyed the challenge very much.
    Suspect that the bladed item for 10a would be one used on a pencil rather than the one pictured.
    Thanks proXimal and CS.

  15. Just popped in to read a selection of comments & at least relieved to see it’s not just me. The best part of 20 mins in & I’ve got 4 in the SE. May return to it later but probably not as suspect it’s way above my solving ability judging from reactions thus far.
    Thanks anyway.

  16. Very clever and very difficult – I could be in that darkened room for quite a while!
    Completed eventually but I freely admit to using the review in order to sort out a few bits of parsing.
    15d emerged as my favourite.

    Thanks (I think) to proXimal and many thanks to CS for her help with the wordplay.

  17. Very tricky. Finally got a correctly filled grid but needed the blog for some parsing assistance.

    Thanks to CS and ProXimal.

  18. Yes, this was a real Toughie. When ProXimal started he set some very difficult puzzles, but this was the toughest I can remember for a long time. Although there was only one solution that could fit for 21a I couldn’t parse it until I read Crypticsue’s blog. Yet there were no unfamiliar words in this puzzle at all, which demonstrates how very clever ProXimal’s clues are, to make them so tricky to solve. My favourite today was 5d.

    If that was a Thursday Toughie I’m really worried about what Elgar has in store for us today (Friday) Well done ProXimal and Crypticsue !

  19. Thanks to proXimal for the puzzle and Sue for the blog, especially the parsing of 21a.

    At 10a, I took SHARPENER to be of the pencil variety.

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