Toughie 2621 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2621

Toughie No 2621 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

Apologies for the lateness of the blog, but an overnight upgrade of Windows 10 nearly wrecked my laptop – I still have a lot to recover.

Another enjoyable puzzle from Donnybrook.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a Lay bare revolutionary power struggle (5,3) 
CIVIL WAR: a word meaning lay or public followed by the reversal (revolutionary) of a word meaning bare 

9a Brainless creature needs a second English degree (6) 
AMOEBA: a charade of the A from the clue, a second or brief period of time, E(nglish) and a University degree 

10a For one given award, knocked back drink (6) 
EGGNOG: the Latin abbreviation of “for one” or “for example” followed by the reversal (knocked back) of a word meaning an award or medal 

11a Cruise perhaps in carriage, carrying Bill to see burial site (8) 
CATACOMB: the first name of actor Cruise inside a hackney carriage all around a bill 

12a Front-row forward for certain bashed three-quarters? (6,8) 
PROPER FRACTION: a front-row forward followed by an anagram (bashed) of FOR CERTAIN 

15a British warplane not shelling Polish partner? (4) 
SPIT: Start with probably the best-known British warplane and drop the word meaning shelling with guns to get the other half (partner) of the phrase **** and polish               

17a Little woman fuels commotion in French city (5) 
DIJON: the first name of one of the March sisters in Little Women inside (fuels) a commotion 

19a Runner in central Greece at first looks beatable (4) 
ELBE: inside the middle two letters (central) of [Gr]EE[ce] place the initial letters of two words in the clue 

20a Clamouring for ropes in stormy ocean tracts (7,7) 
ROARING FORTIES: a word meaning clamouring followed by the FOR from the clue and some ropes 

23a Tense Dutch spy in smallest room finds rake (8) 
LOTHARIO: T(ense) and the second name of a female Dutch spy inside the smallest room in the house 

25a One caught by warm gust, wings failing? (6) 
ICARUS: I (one) followed by C(aught) and two words in the clue without (failing) their outer letters (wings) 

27a Fish with idiot on banks (6) 
WRASSE: W(ith) followed by an idiot inside (banks) a word meaning on or about 

28a Cruel and stupid to constrict busy sound (8) 
INHUMANE: a word meaning stupid around a busy sound 


1d Russian fighter adopting name of imperial dynasty (4) 
MING: a Russian fighter plane around (adopting) N(ame) 

2d Little Billy put to sleep in Shanghai? (6) 
KIDNAP: a little Billy goat followed by a (short) sleep 

3d Swamp predator to become weak losing tail (4) 
CROC: a word meaning to become weak or disabled without its final letter 

4d Sea food that’s spicy beginning to cook (6) 
BALTIC: some spicy food followed by the initial letter of C[ook] 

5d Trimming margins, act as soon as yours truly has plan (8) 
CONCEIVE: trim the outer letters (margins) from [a]C[t], add a word meaning as soon as and the shortened version of “yours truly (the setter) has” 

6d Foul sailor almost exhausted saving old Mrs Harker (10) 
ABOMINABLE: one of our usual sailors followed by most of a word meaning exhausted or drained around O(ld) and the first name of Mrs Harker in Bram Stoker’s Dracula 

8d Bet pay comes with shade of debt? (7) 
WAGERED: pay or salary followed by the colour (shade) associated with debt 

13d Run round in Ireland collecting fresh stock (10) 
REPERTOIRE: R(un) followed by the round letter in another name for Ireland all around (collecting) an adjective meaning fresh or cheeky 

14d Again order extremely reliable cutting guide (5) 
REJIG: the outer letters (extremely) of R[eliabl]E followed by a cutting guide 

16d Art master possibly finding useful item in the Remove? (3,5) 
TEA CHEST: without the space this could be an old-fashioned verb meaning art (is) the (school)master 

18d Ancient implement one thrown on fire by husband (7) 
NEOLITH: an anagram (thrown) of ONE followed by a word meaning on fire and H(usband) 

21d Nonsensical poet sent north to island republic (6) 
ISRAEL: a poet who wrote nonsense rhymes is reversed (sent North in a down clue) after IS(land) 

22d Streetcar crossing close to you a shock (6) 
TRAUMA: a streetcar around (crossing) the final letter (close) to [yo]U and followed by the A from the clue 

24d Poet putting love on tape (4) 
OVID: O (love/ zero) followed by recorded tape 

26d Grateful nation buries partner in arms? (4) 
ULNA: hidden (buries) in the clue the bone that partners the radius in the arm


28 comments on “Toughie 2621

  1. Most enjoyable although, as ever with the Toughie, I do rely on some electronic help here and there. However, I do feel as if I am progressing considering I could do none of them about a year ago. I liked 4d because of the misdirection making me go through my repertoire of spicy seafood. I should have heard alarm bells ringing because the clue did not state “seafood”. I loved the 26d partner but my COTD is 11a.

    Many thanks, Donnybrook for the challenge. Thanks also to the updated Big Dave for the hints. I hate updates – they always throw everything out of kilter especially if you have a MacBook. Apple updates mean half the programmes will no longer work because Apple has decided not to support them any more.

  2. Actual Toughies on a Tuesday two weeks running- what is going on??

    Lots of lovely misdirection and clever definitions – I think my favourite has to be 16d although I could mention others from quite a list

    Thanks to Donnybrook and BD – hope the laptop is restored to full health soon

  3. A superb puzzle from Donnybrook (surely promotion to the Wednesday slot can’t be far away?). Thanks to him and BD for the blog.

    I picked out 12a, 15a, 16d and 26d but the brilliant 25a all-in-one is my favourite.

  4. Great crossword thanks, Donnybrook.
    Thanks to BD for blog…needed help parsing 7ac and16d even though both answers were obvious.
    Didn’t 27ac occur recently? I’m sure I learnt of its existence through the DT.

  5. I did find this rather tough for a Tuesday Toughie but I did enjoy it a lot. I couldn’t parse 16d which I bunged in at the end. I even struggled to interpret BD’s explanation when I read his review without the definition underlined, but the penny finally dropped – what a devious clue!

    I know I ‘ve raised this before before but although “e.g,” and “for one” can each mean “for example”, I don’t think they are interchangeable. “E.g.” precedes the item you are referring to and “for one” comes after it. I’d be very happy if someone can come up with an example that suggests otherwise.

    My podium choices are 12a, 25a & 26d.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and to BD.

  6. Great puzzle. Needed hints to parse 16d and spent way too long on 20a. Thanks to BD abd Donnybrook.

  7. Quite a stiff challenge from our Tuesday setter but one that I really enjoyed. My sticking points were 13 & 16d – the latter I was convinced would have a connection to martial arts!
    Top of my pile was 20a with 15&25a taking reserve places.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and to BD for the review.

    1. Book recommendation

      Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

      Enjoyable even if, like me, you aren’t particularly a fan of Jane Austen

      1. Thank you, CS. Your recommendations have suited me very well so I’ll get it ordered.

      2. We enjoyed Gyles Brandreth on Jane Austen the other night followed by the brilliant Sense and Sensibility. I loved the comment in the What to watch saying that GB took almost as many opportunities to dress up as Lucy Worsley!

  8. Donnybrook has fast become my favourite Toughie setter, and this puzzle was a perfect example of why I look forward to his compilations. 20 and 25a share my top spot.

    Many thanks to the aforementioned and to BD. My sympathies to you regarding Windows 10. I hate it.

  9. I’m in the “needed the hint to parse 16d” camp this afternoon, I’m not sure I understand it now. Difficult but enjoyable, that’s toughies for you. Lots of contenders for favourite but I’ll go with 4d because it took so long to notice the space. Many thanks to Donnybrook and BD.

  10. 4* time for me. Like others, I spent too long trying to find a seafood that fit the checkers in 4d. This is probably my favourite because of the light-dawning experience. Wouldn’t have parsed 16d in a million years, but bunged in the answer. A good challenge, thanks to Donnybrook and BD

  11. A tricky puzzle and I was caught out by reading “seafood” and so on the end I caved in and came here. Ah! Very enjoyable toughie.

    Thanks Donnybrook and BD

  12. Well it wasn’t a quick solve at 2.30am but with the unholy din from nearby railway maintenance rendering sleep an impossibility perhaps that was just as well. Found it tough but an immensely satisfying solve with only the need to reveal the 13d/20a checker taking a bit of the shine off (an inability to parse one or two a given) but as I hadn’t heard of the winds in question doubt I’d have twigged the wordplay without a helpful nudge. 13&16d were my last 2 in with the latter a bung in & even after reading the explanation I’m not sure I could explain it.
    Amongst a host of cracking clues I’d go for a podium of 20,25& 28a.
    Many thanks to Donny & to BD

    1. It’s worth remembering the ‘art’ trick in cryptic puzzles. ‘French art’ for example is often ES (thou art = tu es). Similarly (although I can’t remember ever seeing it in a puzzle) ‘German art’ might be BIST (thou art = du bist).

    2. I’m just a bit later than you – the crossword is a great comfort at 3.30 with a cup of hot chocolate!

  13. Certainly a star or two greater than the usual Tuesday Toughie and a ****/*** for me, I found the parsing pretty difficult and like RD the parsing of 16d by BD did not become apparent ( well the T didn’t) saved by the removal ,still have the boxes in the garage!
    Quite a few bungs in, some excellent cluing, liked 23a what would we do without our Dutch Spy, favourite was 25d.
    17D reminded me of Test Match Special when one of the team when asked how good a bat the new west Indian wicket keeper was simply replied ‘mustard’

  14. Didn’t think this was doable but after having made a slow start and with some electronic help, just pottered on quietly on until the end. Must admit some of the parsing was beyond me. COTD? 20a

  15. Agree that it was quite a challenge for a Tuesday Toughie and a real pleasure to solve. 13d was our last one in. Needed Google to help us with Mrs Harker in 6d.
    Thanks Donnybrook and BD.

  16. I really enjoyed getting this sorted unaided, although it took quite a while. 4d was great misdirection, 5 took ages to untangle, 6 nearly as long, with 19a LOI.
    ****/*****. Those ones in NE took as long as the rest put together. Thanks to Donnybrook and BD.

  17. Huge satisfaction in solving this – thank you so much. I needed Big Dave’s hints for 16d which was very clever and eventually had to do a reveal for 13d as I had replenish firmly in my mind and then I could only think of Erin. I really liked 15a and 20a was brilliant. Thank you Donnybrook and BD

  18. Brilliant crossword from Donnybrook. Hoping to fill in the three I missed yesterday, but failed to do so.

    Many excellent clues often taking you in the wrong direction, but favourites for me were 15a and 25a.

    Thanks too to Big Dave.

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