Toughie 2626 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2626

Toughie No 2626 by Django

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

A pleasant puzzle which didn’t put up too much of a fight – thanks to Django.

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

Across Clues

1a Strangely warm on a ship (3-1-3)
MAN-O’-WAR: an anagram (strangely) of WARM ON A.

5a Charlie plays moving love song (7)
CALYPSO: assemble the letter that Charlie is used for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet, an anagram (moving) of PLAYS and the letter that resembles love in tennis.

9a Shot animal left for scavenger essentially (5)
BLAST: start with another word for animal and replace the central letter of scavenger with the abbreviation for left.

10a Means to slowly cook 23 bananas with cheese crust (4-5)
BAIN-MARIE: an anagram (bananas) of the 23d answer is enclosed in a type of cheese.

11a Derelict found out about interest rates at the start (7-3)
UNCARED-FOR: an anagram (out) of FOUND contains a synonym of interest or concern. Finally append the starting letter of rates.

12a Union‘s denial broadcast (4)
KNOT: this sounds like a denial or negation.

14a French pig could be the product of this farm practice (4,8)
CROP ROTATION: if you apply the second word of the answer to the first word you’ll end up with one of the French words for pig. It’s interesting that we use words derived from German for live farm animals (e.g. cow, sheep, swine) but change them to words of French origin once they’re on our plates (beef, mutton, ****).

18a 12 put back into race, sure to skirt round northern town (6,6)
MILTON KEYNES: insert the reversal of the 12a answer into a middle-distance race then add an affirmative response (sure) containing the abbreviation for northern.

21a Prat with European holiday home (4)
GITE: another slang term for a prat followed by an abbreviation for European.

22a Bouncer using Circle Line after walk (10)
TRAMPOLINE: the letter resembling a circle and LINE follow a verb to walk heavily. Here’s the best John Lewis Christmas advert:

25a Relate to a pawnshop losing all content — inevitable after uncle’s focus dropped (9)
APPERTAIN: string together A, the outer letters of pawnshop and a synonym of inevitable without the central letter of uncle.

26a See 1d

27a Make subordinate unlimited tea without opening men’s toilet first (7)
ENSLAVE: ‘tea’ without its outer letters follows [m]EN’S without the opening letter and a twee informal word for toilet.

28a Firedog regularly fanned vitriol before end of election (7)
ANDIRON: regular letters from ‘fanned vitriol’ precede the last letter of election.

Down Clues
1d/26a Second one aboard coach journey after son — there seems to be no end to it (6,5)
MÖBIUS STRIP: concatenate a short word for a second or short time, a coach containing the Roman numeral for one, the abbreviation for son and a journey or excursion.

2d Suggestion from sister without a church (6)
NUANCE: a religious sister contains A. Add one of our usual abbreviations for church.

3d Power of art excited Mackintosh (10)
WATERPROOF: an anagram (excited) of POWER OF ART gives us a falsely-capitalised mackintosh.

4d Fanatical British papers pursuing artist (5)
RABID: abbreviations for British and papers (such as the proposed Covid passport?) follow the abbreviation for a recognised artist.

5d Treatment that can be good for the soul, by the sound of it (9)
CHIROPODY: cryptic definition of treatment for a homophone of soul. Rather corny?

6d Strike a light (4)
LAMP: double definition, the first an informal verb to strike or punch.

7d Highly suspicious soldier starts to notice odd incidents daily (8)
PARANOID: an airborne soldier followed by the starting letters of the last four words of the clue.

8d Association football team dropping lead after Ronaldo’s finish (8)
OVERTONE: a football team in Merseyside has its leading letter dropped to the bottom. Precede all that with the finishing letter of Ronaldo.

13d Looking up helium and oxygen consumption in part of hospital — it’s stored in a repository (10)
WAREHOUSED: the reversal of the chemical symbol for helium, the chemical symbol for oxygen and a synonym of consumption or utilisation all go inside part of a hospital.

15d Novel mostly perfect, okay, except the last bit — it’s hard to read (5,4)
POKER FACE: an anagram (novel) of PERFEC[t] OKA]y].

16d Record label close to folding, consider move abroad (8)
EMIGRATE: sew together a record label, the last letter of folding and a verb to consider or assess.

17d Creature, aptly evolved before Manx cat (8)
PLATYPUS: an anagram (evolved) of APTLY precedes a cat without its tail.

19d I’m returning posh car — or part of car (6)
MIRROR: glue together the reversal of I’M, the abbreviation of a posh car and OR.

20d Some dubbed pandemic ‘potty‘ (6)
BEDPAN: hidden in the clue. This is also the nickname of the Bedford to St Pancras railway line.

23d Student not involved in small cigar craze (5)
MANIA: start with a small cigar named after the capital of a southeast Asia country where it’s made and remove the abbreviation for student.

24d In the outskirts of Andromeda, with reference to space (4)
AREA: place a preposition meaning ‘with reference to’ between the outer letters of Andromeda.

The clues which graced my podium were 14a, 21a and 17d. Which one(s) made your shortlist?


38 comments on “Toughie 2626

  1. I managed about 90% unaided, which is a record for me. It probably means others will say it was easy and not worthy of the Toughie slot! :grin: I found it a pleasant and steady solve with many good clues such as 10a and the cheeky 20d. My absolute favourite is 17d.

    Many thank, Django for the workout. Thanks also, Gazza for the hints, which I will now read.

  2. I am always pleased to finish a Toughie, no matter which day. I’ll admit that I had to resort to electrons with just 6 to go, (8d and 14a), but that was enough for me to finish the rest in *** time.

    Quite a few were contenders for COTD, but I’ll limit my podium to 14a, 13d and 10a.

    Many thanks to Django and Gazza.

  3. Fairly gentle today, with more than enough letter dropping (promptly forgiven when I got to 17d). 14a raised a big smile, great clue. I wasn’t so sure about small reference in 23d but I prefer Cubans so am not an expert.

    Thanks to Gazza and Django.

  4. Definitely ‘more friendly’ than yesterday’s Dada and, sorry Steve Cowling, almost not a Toughie – **/***.

    I liked 14a, 22a, and 1d/26a.

    Thanks to Django and Gazza.

  5. All over too quickly.
    I didn’t know the alternative meaning of 6d but once electronic aid had brought me up to speed with the unknown 10ac it all fell into place. A lot of clues seemed somewhat convoluted. **/**
    Thanks to Django and Gazza (esp. for cartoons)

  6. Needed some electronic help and was beaten by the 15d, 18a combo….I was so sure 15d began with “paper”. I had “paper tape” which is certainly difficult to read, though I did manage it when I was first introduced to computers all those years ago.
    No real COTD though I did like 5a, such a lovely word.

  7. 10 out of 10 for inventiveness of cluing, making for a great fun to solve Toughie. More difficult than anything you’d encounter on the back page so a Toughie (albeit a relatively friendly one) in my book.
    5&20d made me laugh and I thought 2,7,8&17d rather neat.
    Thanks to Django and to Gazza for the explanation of a couple of biffs

  8. Toughie or not, it doesn’t matter much to me. What does matter is that I enjoyed it a lot and I thought it was Django’s best puzzle to date.

    I have been concerned in the past about some of this setter’s surfaces, but today most were very smooth which is good to see; I just had a few doubts in this respect about 11a, 27a & particularly 28a.

    14a was my runaway favourite.

    Many thanks to Django and to Gazza.

  9. I pretty much echo RD’s thoughts about this friendly and very accessible puzzle. I thought 14a was an absolute belter of a clue, with 17d a worthy runner-up.

    Grateful thanks to Django and to Gazza.

  10. 2*/3* Great crossword, reasonably straightforward and provides encouragement for the Toughies yet to come.

    Some lovely phrasing and clues; ticks for 25a (enjoyed pawnshop/uncle surface), 1d/26d, and 7d but 14a takes gold for me.

    Thank you to Django, and to Gazza for the review.


  11. I seem to have found this more difficult than most. I got the gimmes quite quickly but struggled with some of the others.

    Lots to enjoy today from Django … especially 14a, 17d and 25a.

    Somehow I always expect to see more jokes in the grid from this setter … probably asking for too much?

    Always a joy to read Gazza’s informative and corny reviews.

    Thanks to both.

  12. I like Django’s style a lot. He [nearly] always produces a decent surface with even the most convoluted wordplay [eg 25a, 13d] and the use of 23 to provide a fun surface for 10a is very clever. I liked 22a as well and your video clip was a joy Gazza.

    Thanks for the blog and thanks to Django for a fun puzzle.

    1. I agree with you Halcyon – not overly difficult (yet), but Django has a refreshing style which I enjoy
      Thanks Django, and thanks for the laughs Gazza

  13. Well I was overjoyed that I completed the Toughie without help except to look up 1d in the dictionary. But then I read the comments above and realised that it was obviously not really a Toughie so feel a bit despondent. Had two cock pheasants fight to the death in our garden yesterday – it was really rather unpleasant and the victor was completely merciless and kept coming back to gloat over the corpse until Mr M removed it.

  14. I always expect this setter’s puzzles to be peppered with references to bodily functions, football teams and so forth and they were all on show today but supplemented by things I didn’t know (the 1/26 combo) and, wonder of wonders, a couple of clues that I really liked.
    14a & 17d got ticks from me so thanks to Django for those and many thanks to Gazza for the review and the always enjoyable selection of cartoons. I remember smiling broadly at that John Lewis advert when it first appeared on our screens – goodness knows how much that advertising company charges!

    1. Jane, I’m intrigued by the “and so forth” for “bodily functions, football teams” — as if those two categories clearly have something in common, from which we can extrapolate into other sorts of things that are like both of those.

      Any hints, or a third example?

  15. An enjoyable crossword at the easier end of the toughie spectrum ,nothing obscure and some excellent cluing , like others 14a was my favourite, 1/26 came to mind as soon as I read the clue , it reminded me of my old grammar school days and making various strips with several’ bends’
    Thanks to setter and Gazza for the humorous pics.

  16. I really enjoy Django’s style too.
    Wordy maybe but nice little stories in the longer clues.
    Nice to see 1d/26a. We had lights from Spain (Luzifer Lamps) for years in the Jardin before the refurb. They were made from a soft wood rolled as a Mobius Strip. Very nice.
    Loved 14a.
    Thanks to Django and to Gazza.

  17. I really enjoyed this semi-tough Django, although I had to resort to an electronic assist to finish–8d was my undoing at the end. (Even though I did know the football team, I just couldn’t relate the answer to ‘association’ and still find it difficult to do so.) Nonetheless, there was so much to like, especially 14a, 21, and 10a–and a whole lot more, like 1d/26a! Thanks to Gazza for the review and to Django, fast becoming one of my favourite compilers.

  18. Nice to have a Django as a challenge today, although I got to the end fairly quickly. 24a was last to fall. 14a very clever. 18a my favourite
    Thanks Gazza and Django

  19. 18a was an example of our least favourite clue type but on this occasion we had heard of it so not a problem.
    It all went together smoothly for us with plenty of smiles along the way.
    Favourite was 14a.
    Thanks Django and Gazza.

  20. I hardly ever attempt a Toughie these days despite my intention of being able to do so during lockdown – it didn’t happen.
    I’m just not ‘toughie material’ – if it’s called a Toughie my brain (?) just says “no – you can’t do this and you know you can’t”.
    Oh well – I had a go today – I didn’t finish it by quite a long way but I did manage a fair bit of it and enjoyed it.
    I’m not very keen on clues that take you back to other clues or answers – feel as if I’m going round in circles.
    I’ve never heard of 1d/26a but guessed the second bit.
    I don’t know what Jane’s on about with ‘bodily functions and football teams and so forth” all being on show today – OK – there’s a football team and a loo and a bedpan but . . .
    Thanks very much to Django for the crossword and to Gazza for filling in all my many gaps for me.

    1. I’m confused by Jane’s comment too, Kath. But not surprised. I always expect this commenter’s comments to be peppered with references to bodily functions and so forth.
      (Even when the puzzle, like this one, doesn’t actually mention any.)

  21. Thank you, Django, for the fun. My favourite was 14A’s French pig. I also enjoyed the endless 1D, 8D’s association football team, and 12A put back in 18A’s northern town, and ….

    I hadn’t heard of the cigar. Hopefully it isn’t a term I’ll ever need to know in real-life.

    Thank you Gazza for the review, pictures, and video.

  22. A Django crossword, its blog and the comments on both are a wonderful gift that keeps on giving. Thanks to all concerned

  23. A fair bit easier than Dada yesterday but every bit as enjoyable. Thought, like yesterday with axon, I’d need a hint with a pesky 4 letter head scratcher to go but the penny dropped with 21a & then the parsing. Add me to the fan club of this setter’s style & must say his crosswords are a real pleasure to grapple with from start to finish & full of clever wordplay – wish I’d parsed 14a, which has to be COTD, but a bung in it was sadly though happy with all others. Big ticks for the 1d/26a combo plus 10,18,25&28a & 3,5,7,8, 13,17&20d, smaller ones for nearly all of the remainder.
    Thanks Django & Gazza.

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