Toughie 2627 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2627

Toughie No 2627 by Micawber

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty Enjoyment ***

It is always a pleasure to have a Micawber crossword to solve and even more so on a Thursday.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Moss Bros arranged 25% off everything — Queen pops in for a hat (8)
SOMBRERO An anagram (arranged) of MOSs BROs, once the fourth letters have been removed (25% off everything) and then the regnal cipher of our current Queen ‘pops in’

6a    After month, act to cut nails (6)
DECLAW An abbreviated month and a legislative act combine to give us a way of cutting the nails of an animal such as a cat or dog

9a    Cereal succeeded in upsetting part of digestive system (6)
MUESLI The abbreviation for succeeded inserted into a reversal of part of the digestive system

10a    Recommends online brides? (8)
ESPOUSES The letter used to indicate that something is ‘online’ and some marital partners (brides?)

11a    Royal bride in California’s beginning to get covered by newspapers (8)
PRINCESS Insert IN (from the clue) and the letter at the beginning of California into a word for newspapers and periodicals collectively

12a    Renovate most of home, and he’ll provide the raw materials (6)
HODMAN An anagram (renovate) of most of HOMe AND gives us a bricklayer’s labourer

13a    Measure archer’s speed? You need to take the long view (4,4,4)
TIME WILL TELL This expression meaning that the truth or correctness of something will only come clear in the future sounds like an instruction to measure a famous archer’s speed

16a    Save lamb to roast, eating starters for family events for Easter? (7,5)
MOVABLE FEAST An anagram (roast) of SAVE LAMB TO ‘eating’ the starters to Family Events

19a    Vessel of ale containing a third of keg (6)
BEAKER Some ale ‘containing’ A (from the clue) and the first ‘third’ of Keg

21a    Merry session around east end of London’s curiosity (8)
NOSINESS An anagram (merry) of SESSION around the letter at the ‘east end’ of LondoN

23a    One subject to ridicule trapped in genuine contradiction (8)
REBUTTAL Someone made an object of ridicule ‘trapped’ in a synonym for genuine

24a    What’s commercial TV read out? (6)
ADVERT An anagram (out) of TV READ

25a    Standing stone American tours regularly (6)
STATUS Abbreviations for stone and American followed by the regular letters of ToUrS

26a    Synthetic material to make e.g. cakes low in calories (8)
BAKELITE A verb meaning to make, for example, cakes, followed by the word used to indicate that food and drink are low in calories


2d    Old revue adapted to make artistic work (6)
OEUVRE An anagram (adapted) of O (old) REVUE

3d    Only child has this revolutionary American browser (5)
BISON A reversal of a way of saying that a child hasn’t a brother or sister

4d    Male pride damaged on the surface (9)
EPIDERMAL An anagram (damaged) of MALE PRIDE

5d    Cut too much perhaps when supervised (7)
OVERSAW Cut too much [wood] perhaps or a verb meaning supervised

6d    Department head’s beginning to show intensity of feeling? (5)
DEPTH An abbreviated department and the ‘beginning’ of Head The repetition radar gave a slight beep here

7d    Chapter rendered up-to-date — it involves dramatic change in order (4,5)
COUP DETAT The abbreviation for Chapter and an anagram (rendered) of UP TO DATE

8d    Approval accomplished with little resistance (8)
AMENABLE An expression of assent or approval and an adjective meaning accomplished

13d    Follow legal case that’s put on for training purposes (9)
TRACKSUIT A verb meaning to follow and a legal case

14d    Does one take interest in predating customer base? (4,5)
LOAN SHARK a cryptic definition of someone who lends money at exorbitant rates of interest

15d    It’s anticlimactic as nobody lets off steam (3-5)
NON-EVENT A pronoun meaning nobody and a verb meaning lets off steam

17d    Double blow for supporters (3,4)
FAN CLUB Two (double) meanings for the word blow, one much lighter than the other!

18d    English spar, showing wit (6)
ESPRIT The abbreviation for English and a spar on a sailing ship

20d    Values carpets (5)
RATES Double definition

22d    What Americana! Velvet trousers, cut-off cords (one of them) (5)
NAVEL Hidden in (trousers) AmericaNA VELvet

37 comments on “Toughie 2627

  1. NE slowed me down with 6ac and 12ac last ones in.
    Pleasant otherwise and accessible.
    Thanks to both.

  2. I was nearly finished when I noticed I was doing The Toughie and not the back pager. Not much difference in difficulty between them. I nearly sent Kath a photo of Mexican Pete for 1 across. I avoided the brickies assistant for far too long as he surely wasn’t a real thing and struggled with the last three letters of 6 across despite having seen that act so many times before. Thanks to Sue and to Micawber. Great fun

  3. How good it is to get the first Micawber puzzle of the year. Let’s hope that we’ll see his name on the schedule more frequently during the rest of the year. Thanks to him for this most enjoyable puzzle and to CS for the review.
    I ticked 9a, 16a, 3d, 5d and 14d but my favourite has to be the splendid 13a.

  4. Like Gazza, I had no need to look any further for my COTD than the marvellous 13a. I really like this setter’s style, and the whole grid was an absolute joy to complete.

    My thanks to Micawber for the fun and to CS.

  5. Lovely puzzle. 13a and 16a were my favourites. The digestive system was new to me but had to be what it was.

    Thanks to Micawber and CS.

  6. Just beaten by 6a and 12a, neither word had I come across before.
    I have to agree that 13a was a splendid clue.
    Now we gird our loins for tomorrow!

  7. Good fun and pleasing to see him back.

    Lots of nice stuff to like. Turning into a decent week of Toughies.

  8. What a pleasure to have Micawber back and with such an enjoyable puzzle.
    As others found, it was the pesky 6&12a that held me up and I did have the wrong final letter for 8d for a while.
    So many ticked clues but final podium places went to 11a (sneaky allusion to Meghan – thank goodness she isn’t one!), 12&28a plus 14&15d.

    Many thanks to Micawber for the fun and to CS for the review.

    1. Just realised that should have been 13a on my podium – 12a didn’t make the cut by a long way!

  9. My kind of Toughie, not mind bendingly difficult but challenging enough with lots of lovely penny drop moments.
    Like the back pager the NE proved the toughest nut to crack with 6&12a words I’d not come across before.
    I’ve chosen to highlight 1a for its excellent surface, 10a as it’s a lovely word and 8d for the misdirection but overwhelming favourite and clue of the week thus far is 13a.
    Many thanks to Micawber and to CS for an excellent review

  10. Like Jane, I first had a different ending for 8d, but it was the only editing I had to do in this wonderful Micawber ‘thing of beauty’, and I actually was rewarded with bonus points for a Toughie for the first time in memory. 12a was a new word for me, but it had to be what it was. I think 13a is my favourite, though there are many very close also-rans in this terrific puzzle. Thanks to CS and to Micawber for the total enjoyment.

  11. I was ok with 6a and 12a (eventually!) but bunged in “enthuses” for 10a (even though it didn’t parse) which gave me difficulty with 6d.

    Really enjoyable puzzle.

    Not sure what the difficulty score is (zero?), but thanks to CS for the blog and Micawber.

  12. “Something will turn up”! Yes, a lovely puzzle from Micawber.
    Stumped by 12 across but everything else went in smoothly. Loved the very clever 13 across.

  13. Cracking puzzle from Micawber, just tough enough to while away the time and provide a challenge,
    liked 3d but not keen on abbreviations, assume sib was one.
    Favourite was 13a,very original ,held up by misspelling 14d with Lone-never mind the penny eventually dropped..
    Having a good day all round, presented with an anniversary bottle of St Emilion Grand Cru and it was such a nice day that I had a blast on the Ducati!

  14. Nice to have you back Micawber.
    A real pleasurable solve free from obscurities as I didn’t need to open the BRB.
    Favourite 13a too.
    Thanks for the great fun and thanks to CS for the review.

  15. After a very busy day, I decided to give the Toughie a miss, but (and it’s probably more information than you need), I changed my mind and tackled it while having a very long soak in the bath. What a good decision that was, even though the water was nearly cold with just 12a not filled in. I couldn’t identify a definition and I was unable to come up with anything which fitted with either the checking letters and/or the wordplay, so I needed to dry myself and then resort to electronic help for completion.

    I don’t much like the “word” sib but it is in the BRB so I can’t have any complaints about its inclusion.

    The whole thing was great fun, with 13a my favourite joined on the podium by 16a & 14d.

    Many thanks to Micawber and to CS.

  16. Great to see Micawber back this year. Thanks to CS for confirmation of some of the parsing I had Q marks by.

  17. Very enjoyable, with 13a definitely COTD for me.
    Many thanks CS and Micawber

  18. Lovely to have Micawber back and an absolute pleasure to solve. The 12a person was someone we had not met before but very gettable from the wordplay and checkers.
    13a our favourite too.
    Thanks Micawber and CS.

  19. Well this beauty completes a weekly hat trick of super Toughies & in some style. Another nearly but not quite in terms of an unaided completion. A bit like Ray T’s cryptic all was well until the NE. Very disappointed not to see 7d until revealing the letter D checker with 12a & that was sufficient for the pennies to quickly drop for the remaining 3 head scratchers (6&12a plus 8d). As a person happiest on dry land I needed to check on my sprits & spars plus my lack of knowledge of the intestinal tract meant the parsing of 9a escaped me. COTD has to be 13a but 14d ran it very close for me because of the time it took me to twig the double meaning. Big ticks also to 3,13&15d along with 10&16a.
    Many thanks to Micawber & to CS for the review

  20. Apologies for going off-topic! I have been working my way through the wonderful, and highly recommended, Chambers Crossword Manual. I am totally stuck on three clues for crossword 27 (and Mr Manley hasn’t even reached the basic advanced crosswords!). I have the clues and I have the answers but, after several days, I still cannot align the two. Please explain!

    20a “Where reformer was condemned by some despicable people” – why is this “worms”?

    6d “What starts with a musical do?” – why “sol-fa”? Other than they are two other notes?

    15d “Earlier saint – relic of him in the monk’s office” – the answer, as if I need to tell you, oh learned ones, is “priorship”. I get the prior bit but where does the ship come from?

    Thank you in advance. Returning you now to your regular programming …

    1. I can help with 15d – the s is a single letter abbreviation for saint, and the hip is one of the bones often preserved as a relic of said saint.

    2. Oh, and the worms one will be a reference to where Luther did his reformation business – the Diet of Worms – a place in Germany. Still working on the music clue …

      1. Hmm, I will have to look that one up. Luther was not part of my Comprehensive education.

    3. Oh, and 6d needs a bit of musical knowledge – sol-fa is the name of the musical scale, I believe, which starts with ‘do’. Makes sense in my head, not sure if I’ve explained it very well …

      1. Thank you again, Cryptor. I really appreciate the help. Isn’t this site wonderful? No wonder it is one of the few listed in the above book!

  21. Found this somewhat easier than yesterday’s, but still at the top end of my current solving abilities, requiring a bit of electronic help. Quite liked 15d when I saw how it worked – all the rest I had to grind out, so less enjoyable. Onwards and upwards, thanks everyone.

  22. Re 20a. Martin Luther, of Reformation fame, was convicted of heresy at the Diet of Worms (a town on the Rhine in Germany). He refused to recant his writings, and was arrested.
    Hope this helps

  23. Cracking puzzle, very enjoyable. Lovely constructions and barely a below-par clue among the lot. Mentions in dispatches to 1a, 10a, 7d, 17d, but COTD to the wonderful 13a.

    Thank you to Micawber, and to CS.


  24. 2*/4*…..
    liked 14D “Does one take interest in predating customer base? (4,5)”-amusing picture in the hint !

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