Toughie 2623 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2623

Toughie No 2623 by Serpent

Hints and tips by crypticsue

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A proper Toughie as we’d expect from Serpent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many clues where either a letter or part of a word had to be removed – although knowing this did help me work out how to parse two of the clues which I had stared at for quite a while before deciding to see whether looking for something ‘missing’ would work there too – and it did!

Serpent usually has something hidden in his crosswords and I have found words crossing the two solutions in rows 5 and 9. I’ve looked at all the other rows and columns but can’t see anything else

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    One could raise a stink about charging post office rent (7)
POLECAT The Latin abbreviation for about ‘charging’ or going between the abbreviation for Post Office and a verb meaning to rent

5a    Father trapped after losing head is feeling anxious (7)
FRAUGHT The abbreviation for father and a synonym for trapped without its first letter (losing head)

9a    Teacher‘s conjecture obtaining accomplished name for university (9)
GOVERNESS Replace the U (university) in a synonym with for conjecture with a word meaning accomplished or done and the abbreviation for name

10a    Clear one’s throat but not expect to speak (5)
ORATE A verb meaning to clear one’s throat by coughing without (not) EXPECT

11a    What helps maintain circulation in a naked man? (5)
AORTA A (from the clue) and a human being (man) without its outside letters (naked)

12a    Constant change affecting most fads and tastes (9)
STEADFAST An anagram (change) of most of FADs and TASTES

13a    Change answer drained teacher’s put before class (9)
TRANSFORM The outside letters (drained) of TeacheR put before an abbreviated answer and a class

16a    Miserable time to spend week in Bury (5)
INTER Spend or remove the abbreviation for week from a miserable time of year – whilst possibly casting 14d’s about Bury in the surface reading, the capital B is there to mislead!

17a    Smart set will know these guys? (5)
ROPES These guys form part of a saying about clever people (smart set) knowing them

18a    Revolutionary new pesticide really is beginning to wipe this creepy-crawly out (9)
CENTIPEDE An anagram (revolutionary) of NEw PEsTiCIDE once you have removed (out) IS (from the clue) and the beginning to Wipe

20a    Shortened train addressed complaint of guards (9)
CURTAILED A verb meaning addressed complaint ‘guards’ a train

23a    Noun encapsulated by ‘rage’ possibly? (5)
ANGER The abbreviation for Noun ‘encapsulated’ by an anagram (possibly) of RAGE

25a    Second husband’s deserted three times (5)
TRICE The abbreviation for husband has ‘deserted’ a formal adverb meaning three times

26a    Characteristic praise follows statue’s full unveiling (9)
ATTRIBUTE Some praise follows the inside letters (full unveiling) of stATue

27a    Mature policy takes precedence over those that came earlier (7)
LINEAGE A policy goes in front of (takes precedence over) a verb meaning to mature

28a    Lock service that’s replayed after call (7)
RINGLET The call made when a tennis service is to be replayed goes after a verb meaning to call


1d    Display part of book connected with soldier (7)
PAGEANT Part of a book with one of crosswordland’s soldiers

2d    Person going on the radio for prize (5)
LEVER A homophone (on the radio) of a person going

3d    Dead bodies initially stashed in luggage under coach (9)
CARCASSES The initial letter of Stashed inserted in some luggage and the result put under a coach

4d    Criminal act destroying spa in part of Barnet (5)
TRESS Remove (destroying) the SPA from a criminal act to get part of what a Cockney would call his Barnet

5d    He holds the line, angling for a job (9)
FISHERMAN Someone who holds a line as part of his job


6d    Reporter’s sanctioned within scope of hearing (5)
ALOUD A homophone (reporter’s) of a synonym for sanctioned

7d    Argue about receiving advance payment as collateral (9)
GUARANTEE An anagram (about) of ARGUE ‘receiving’ an advance payment

8d    Singer, speaker and social media influencer? (7)
TWEETER An informal term for a bird (singer), a loudspeaker used for higher frequencies or someone who comments on social media, quite often in an attempt to influence others

14d    When one stops being bearer of misinformation (9)
ASPERSION A conjunction meaning when and a being into which is inserted (stops) the letter meaning one

15d    Some metallic sounds when reflected vary in frequency (9)
OSCILLATE Hidden in reverse (when reflected) in some of mETALLIC SOunds

16d    Mock student with no qualification? Quite the opposite! (9)
IMITATION The opposite of words 2 – 5 in the clue – A qualification without the abbreviation for student

17d    Short quote included in factual account (7)
RECITAL Truncate (short) a verb meaning to quote and include it inside a synonym for factual

19d    7 get established (7)
EARNEST A verb meaning to get and the abbreviation for established produce another word for a 7d

21d    Place to host final of competition? (5)
ARENA A space to ‘host’ the final letter of competitioN

22d    Put off man avoiding cleansing product (5)
DETER Avoid or omit the ‘man’ from a cleansing product

24d    Cheap fare starts to get rail users back on the line (5)
GRUEL The starts to Get Rail Users,the back of thE and the abbreviation for Line


21 comments on “Toughie 2623

  1. A proper Thursday Toughie, tricky and enjoyable with a welcome lack of obscurities – thanks to Serpent and CS.

    18a is clever but I can’t see what role ‘really’ is fulfilling.

    My ticks went to 1a, 20a and 4d.

    PS There is a Nina (not terribly hard to spot) in the grid identifying a Children’s TV Programme.

    1. Agree about the really bit. Would out also not be better after wipe rather than at the end ?
      The kid’s prog may be obvious to you but all I know is it isn’t Blue Peter.

      1. I think ‘out’ needs to be at the end because it’s an anagram indicator. The way I read the clue it’s saying : An anagram (revolutionary) of NEW PESTICIDE matches (really??) an anagram (out) of IS W[ipe] + the answer (this creepy-crawly).

  2. Took a while to get going but very enjoyable once underway. Was a bit thrown by the reference to 7 in 19d. Wouldn’t have spotted the Nina without the shout out from Gazza.

    Thanks to CS and Serpent.

  3. Three great toughies in succession.
    All enjoyable,witty and accessible
    Tomorrow’s Elgar will probably defeat me as usual.
    Missed the Nina as always and needed the blog for 19d.
    Thanks to Serpent and CS.

  4. Sped through the SW corner then ground to a halt. Reading the hints, I don’t think I could have done any better…..and this is Thursday not Friday!

  5. I invariably find this setter’s style hard to deal with and this was no exception. However, I did manage to complete this one and just about parse it all so that’s a distinct improvement! I also found the Nina but, as Gazza said, it wasn’t hard to spot.
    5&10a made me smile so get my votes today.

    Thanks to Serpent and to CS for the review – Miss Austen arrived this morning so I shall look forward to reading about her.

  6. Found completing the grid a good deal easier than yesterday as there were no ridiculously obscure words but struggled to parse a few. Needed the review to parse 10a (doh), 11a (still don’t get the ort middle) & 16d (nonplused) – sorry if I’m being thick. All very enjoyable & a real parsing challenge for the likes of me. Still no idea about the ‘not terribly difficult’ to spot Nina.
    Thanks Serpent & to CS.

    1. 16d is a qualification without a student (L) ie the opposite of the words 2-5
      11a… need to put the solution (minus the A) between M& give a man.

  7. One has to admire the setter’s style as well as cunning but this was a bit like pulling teeth After the 2 gimmes at 5a and 5d I stared at an otherwise empty grid for quite a while. I always find “subtractive” clues the most difficult and there are plenty here. But there are some real gems, including 10a [so obvious but my last in] 2d [the meaning of “prize” is so well hidden] and 14d [such a clever construction.
    Agree that “really” in 18a really doesn’t help.
    I think the NINA is an “Open S—–”

    Thanks to Serpent for the workout and to CS for the blog

  8. 10a was my absolute favourite from a long list of excellent clues. For me, the RHS went in almost straight away but the LHS took a tad longer. A couple of the parsings eluded me so thanks to CS for the help with those, and my grateful thanks to Serpent for a very enjoyable challenge.

  9. After a miserable start myself and Mrs B decided to pair up and tackle this proper Toughie between us!
    Even with this approach it was a bit like pulling teeth but got there in the end and eventually managed the parsing of several bung ins or should it be bungs in like courts martial?
    Some cracking clues and an eventual sense of triumph .Going for a ****/****
    Found the Nina after Gazza’s hint, time for a cold beer.- I bet it’s my nemesis Elgar tomorrow for another *****

  10. I’ve got half done and ground to a halt.

    Just one comment from me regarding 4d; I don’t believe that particular ‘act’ is a criminal one in England, it is a civil matter. Unless someone who knows better wants to add their two pennorth.

    1. I don’t know any better, but I found this by Googling. Make of it what you will:

      Is trespass a tort?
      A trespass gives the aggrieved party the right to bring a civil lawsuit and collect damages as compensation for the interference and for any harm suffered. Trespass is an intentional tort and, in some circumstances, can be punished as a crime.
      Trespass to land involves the “unjustifiable interference with land which is in the immediate and exclusive possession of another”; it is both a tort and, in certain circumstances, a crime under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

      1. Google is about as reliable as the Daily Mail, Jose
        Funny isn’t it – I can come creeping around your property and get a mere telling off, but watch an episode of Yes Minister on YouTube and I’m a criminal

  11. A good challenge and excellent fun.
    Totally missed the Nina of course.
    Thanks Serpent and CS.

  12. Finally got there, but I’ll have to look at a few parsings in more detail. Thanks in advance to Dutch. It’s been a good week so far, but I’m sure Elgar will firmly put me back in the box tomorrow.
    Thanks for the workout Serpent

  13. A true Toughie inasmuch that I have a grid full of correct answers but little idea of how they deserve to be there other than they fit with the checkers and have a vague relationship with the words at the beginning and end of the clue. Thanks to Serpent for the puzzle and CS for the review which I will refer to later

  14. Took me a while to get into the Serpent mindset but once I had it was fairly straightforward. However I spent a while trying to parse 18a and didn’t realise that earnest could mean guarantee. Liked 16d.

Comments are closed.