Toughie 2630 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2630

Toughie No 2630 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by crypticsue

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A typical Giovanni Toughie – I knew most of the ‘unknowns’ and the wordplay was helpful for the couple I wasn’t sure about

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Communist comrades? They could make you laugh (4,8)
MARX BROTHERS A founding member of the Communist Party and some comrades

9a    Unorthodox love isn’t ending in happiness — in our stories? (9)
NOVELISTS An anagram (unorthodox) of LOVE ISNT followed by the ‘ending’ in happinesS

10a    What is ad for? Nothing should be a false story (5)
FLIER A promotional leaflet (ad) is obtained by replacing the O (nothing) in FoR with a false story

11a    My wild beast beginning to gallop around, showing enthusiasm (4-2)
GUNG-HO A reversal (around) of an interjection of surprise (my), a wild beast and the ‘beginning’ to Gallop

12a    Writer having block — what can get the flow going? (8)
PENSTOCK Something used to write and a block combine to give a type of sluice (what can get the flow going)

13a    One herding animals runs into port (6)
DROVER The cricket abbreviation for Runs inserted into a port

15a    Crime — something dazzling almost in part of Greater Manchester (8)
BURGLARY Almost all of something dazzling inserted into part of Greater Manchester

18a    Exhaust in specific location of US vehicle (8)
OVERTIRE Split 4,4 this would describe a specific location on an American vehicle

19a    Grass that may bend over with no effect (6)
MARRAM The name of this seaside grass is a palindrome (may bend over with no effect)

21a    Remedy offered by minister, one very small to be swallowed (8)
CURATIVE I (one) and the abbreviation (small) for very to be ‘swallowed’ by a Church of England clergyman

23a    Wild animals not provided with right tags (6)
BADGES Some wild animals without (not provided with) the abbreviation for Right

26a    I stand in watering-hole having demolished a litre with little hesitation (5)
LOCUM A watering-hole near where you live, without (having demolished) the A and the abbreviation for Litre, which are replaced by a little word of hesitation

27a    Inspirational female wants strain reduced by half when leading old blokes in gym (9)
MELPOMENE Always worth learning the names of the Greek Muses – this one, the Muse of Tragedy, doesn’t come up very often but the wordplay is very helpful if you hadn’t heard of her –the first half of a musical tune (strain reduced by half), the abbreviation for Old and some ‘blokes’ inserted into an abbreviation for what some of us at school might have called gym

28a    Place in poem given award by cheeky Charlie years ago (12)
GRANTCHESTER An award and the surname of a comedian from ‘years ago’ who, in his musical hall days, was known as Cheeky Charlie xxxxxxx,  combine to give us the setting for a poem by Rupert Brooke


1d    Enthusiastic about horse — one finally ran (7)
MANAGED An informal way of saying enthusiastic goes about an informal name for a horse and the ‘final’ letter of onE

2d    Bird with yellow head hidden (5)
RAVEN Remove the first letter (head hidden) from a synonym for cowardly (yellow)

3d    Most awkward attempts to enter bar (9)
BOLSHIEST Some attempts inserted into (to enter) a type of bar or rod

4d    City going up in thick smoke (4)
OMSK Hidden in reverse (going up) in thicK SMOke

5d    Heavenly body the fellow’s to look at endlessly (8)
HESPERUS Venus as the Evening Star – a simple way of saying ‘the fellow’s’ and almost all (endlessly) of a verb meaning to examine in detail (look at)

6d    Gentleman upset about newspaper quarrels (5)
RIFTS A reversal (upset) of a formal address to a gentleman into which is inserted (about) the abbreviation for the pink newspaper

7d    One won’t easily change misguided trades union sacking ten (8)
DINOSAUR An anagram (misguided) of tRADeS UnION without (sacking) TEN

8d    Shout about former US President offering goodness! (6)
CRIKEY A shout goes about the informal way we refer to a former US President

14d    Bit of an old LP providing a limited mindset? (3-5)
ONE-TRACK Without the hyphen, this term for someone obsessed with one idea to the exclusion of all others, would be a bit of an old long-playing record

16d    Ace dancing with glamour putting Romeo off — saucy type (9)
GUACAMOLE An anagram (dancing) of ACE with GLAMOUr (without the R – putting off the letter represented by Romeo in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

17d    Before the last word comes short sad complaint (8)
GRAVAMEN Almost all (short) of a synonym for sad or serious goes before the last word to give us a legal or ecclesiastical term for a complaint or grievance

18d    Mysterious copper squashed between two officers (6)
OCCULT The chemical symbol for copper ‘squashed’ between two abbreviated army officers

20d    Therapist has service on foreign street set up (7)
MASSEUR A church service on  (in a Down solution) a reversal (set up) of a French (foreign) street

22d    Mostly gentle, a river that divides counties (5)
TAMAR River appears to be doing double duty here – Most of a synonym for gentle, A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for River

24d    It’s remarkable anger being voiced (5)
GREAT A homophone (being voiced) of a synonym for anger

25d    Drink cold Guinness maybe (4)
ALEC Another word for beer (drink) and the abbreviation for Cold gives us the name an actor whose surname was Guinness

35 comments on “Toughie 2630

  1. I thought this was very tough, thanks Giovanni.
    Four new words and 18ac wasn’t good.
    Needed electronic assistance.
    So feeling grumpy (again). Second vaccination yesterday probably the reason, although this time no reaction.
    Thanks to CS.

  2. So glad to have the site back and up and running.
    Needed quite a lot of help especially with a stretched synonym like 3 down which I’d dismissed. Not sure about 24 meaning anger either.
    I did like 16d, my first one in and pleased to be reminded of Rupert Brooke.
    A real curate’s egg of a puzzle!

  3. I managed about 50%, which is good for me and a Giovanni Toughie. The temptation to continue with it is great but I have the dinner to prepare and, after the tough back pager this morning, I have thrown in the towel.

    Many thanks, Giovanni – it is not your fault I couldn’t finish. Thanks to crypticsue for the hints.

  4. This was a good work out and a Toughie in every respect. 7d and 28a were particular favourites, and 18a was my least favourite. That little horror aside, the rest was an enjoyable and rewarding solve.

    My thanks to The Don and CS.

  5. As is often the case with Giovanni my enjoyment was reduced by my having to verify that what the wordplay was suggesting was actually a word – this applied to 12a and 17d.
    I am old enough to remember the 28a comic whose peak was in the 1960s (though his peak even then wasn’t very high!).
    My ticks went to 1a, 26a and 1d.
    Thanks to Giovanni and CS.

  6. With electronic help, I managed all but three (the grass, the ad, and the dinosaur), and I enjoyed seeing the Tragic Muse there, as well as the 4 Marx Bros. Although I worked out the Brooke poem by the checking letters, I could not remember having read it (shame on me). I enjoyed this Giovanni very much, with thanks to CS and G.

  7. I cannot say that I am enjoying this one much. Have had to check here to confirm 18a(dreadful clue), 28a 5d 17d and 22d Still to get 3 but persevering as have all the checkers for 23a, 27a and 3d. I hope the penny will drop soon??? Not much fun and a tad difficult. Cheers CS and Giovanni. All in all not a satisfactory Wednesday as the Backpager disappointed too. Hopefully normal service will resume next Wednesday.

    1. It would have helped if i had spelled Guacamole right for 23a. 2 to go. 8d was a bung in and needed CS to explain. Cheers again.

    1. You may be right, but Chester was the name my memory bank came up with. I do recall listening to his broadcast on the Light programme – Sunday afternoon I think ( obviously only in the hols!).

    2. I remember him as ‘Cheerful’, too. However, I was not deceived. Perhaps there is some confusion with the ‘Cheeky Chappie’, Max Miller.

  8. Got there but it took two sittings. Needed to check some of my constructions. Thought 18a was awful, they don’t call them exhausts and they are rarely above the wheels.

    Thanks to CS and Giovanni.

    1. You misread me, sir. To exhaust is to overtire — nothing to do with a car exhaust. How nice though to heve led another solver up the garden path!

      1. Not quite as far up the garden path as you imagine, but apologies if my comment offended.

  9. Thanks for the feedback. As Giovanni, I am what I am ( and in other places I may be different). Those who hate solving new words and looking them up to verify them may as well not waste their time with the likes of me — but I know many (like me) grew up in the tradition of educative puzzles and adopt a different approach. It takes all sorts. A mild rebuke to our esteemed blogger who seems to think that all curates are clergyMEN — we moved on from that nearly 30 years ago, but crossworders (including crossword editors, setters, and alas at last one blogger, it seems) have not yet come to terms with what little modernity there is in our national church, That’s enough religion from me, but at least it isn’t the lamentable religious ‘obscurity’ which I am sometimes accused of! Thanks and greetings to all!

    1. I am probably more of a fan of new, unusual and splendid words than you are.

      As for the gender of curates, perhaps a word with those in charge of the BRB might be in order as I used their definition when preparing the hints, and didn’t question it as I should have done

      1. I’m not playing the ‘ I like even more new words than you’ game,as I don’t know how one would score, but maybe you are unaware of my other crossword personae in the barred-puzzle world or you wouldn’t have made the claim. No offence though and none in response to Jonners either! I’d never heve thought to look up CURATE in C, but you are right — clearly feminists may be few and far between in lexicography as well! Thanks for pointing this out, In the words of Father Ted outside the cinema: ‘Something must be done’ (maybe I paraphrase).

    2. No more religion? What about the “last word” being “amen”? That was my first hint towards solving the, new to me, 17d. Very clever.

    3. It’s not the first time that Giovanni has got his cassock in a twist about the use of ‘clergyman’ but he seems happy to use the equally sexist (in my opinion) term ‘policeman’. Here’s one of his clues from September 2019:

      Eccentric, like policeman who has finished duty? (7)

      1. On the contrary — why do you think I used the question mark? There is no one-to-one exclusive sexist deffinition to an answer here. I do wish bloggers stopped to think a bit more.

        1. There’s no question mark in this clue from 2016:

          Spotted policeman outside front of library (6)

          1. Interesting! I assume I thought (and indeed am still inclined to think) that BOBBY hasn’t yet been used to define a female police officer. If you can find any published reference to its use for a policewoma, please give ‘chapter and verse’ and I will happily pass the information to my erstwhile colleagues at the OED, who revised the entry fairly recently but still only indicate a male usage. I had no idea I was being watched so assiduously, but have no desire to be hounded back through the years, thank you. So l shall close this off now at my end (life is too short!) unless of course you can substantiate the bobby=policewoman provenance.

              1. Thanks — I’ll pass that on — but I maintain that I was not being sexist! Over and out

    4. How very nice to be able to address an esteemed setter.
      I am somewhat ambivalent about the ‘words that need looking up’ thing.
      My only real gripe was PENSTOCK. A word unknown to me but also the clue intimated STUCK.

  10. 8d that was hard! I got there eventually with a bit of electronic help for five clues but the rest was my own work. Favourite was 1a. Thanks to Giovanni and CS. If the cryptic is as hard as SC suggests I might struggle when I attempt it later.

  11. As our setter has commented, we know what we’re letting ourselves in for with one of his puzzles and this one didn’t fall short in that regard – a fair old slog for me from beginning to end! Having said that, my picks from the bunch were the first across and the last down – just several of the bits in between that caused me grief.

    Thanks to Giovanni for the new words I shall doubtless instantly forget and to CS for the review.

  12. Needed a bit of electronic help and and a couple of tiny hints to get over the line in this (mostly) enjoyable but tough puzzle.
    1d and 26a were clues that stood out for me.
    Many thanks to Giovanni and CS (it’s not Thursday, is it?) for the fun.

    Ps I took the definition of 22d to be “that divides counties”….Tame without e plus the A from the clue and the R being the symbol for river, therefore it’s not doing double duty.

    1. Well spotted. No, it’s definitely Wednesday. I’ve got a lot on tomorrow so Gazza and I swapped days. It will be a permanent change as Gazza has been doing the Wednesday Toughie blog since February 2009 and fancied blogging a different set of Toughie setters

  13. As I said before, I know all the muses whether they are named after a car or otherwise but I failed on the grass in 19a and the animals in 23a.
    Needed to check the validity of some answers which were derived from the parsing and have to admit that the Don is always fair in his cluing.
    Went for one sided at first in 14d but was proved wrong soon enough.
    Thought 28a was only a TV series with an investigating priest.
    Favourite 11a.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to CS.

  14. A whole day late getting on to this so had to carefully avoid looking at the blog.
    Yes, a few answers that we had to check in BRB but all sorted in a satisfactory manner. The cheeky Charlie took an educated guess followed by a Google check.
    Thanks Giovanni and Gazza.

    1. We’ve had a game of Musical Chairs here and I’ve bagged the Thursday seat – Wednesday Toughies are now the province of CrypticSue.

    2. We started off with the correct attribution. Then remembered it was a Wednesday Toughie so tried to change it. Looked like the change had not gone through but it must have after all.
      Apologies all round. :smile:

  15. Enjoyable and properly tough solve, but all very fair. Some typically nice misdirection, three new words, several smiles.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to CS for the review.



  16. The 100 years war was over marginally quicker than it’s taken me to tame this beast but finish it I have at the 5th sitting. I needed a few presses of the check answer button & a number of visits to Mr G to confirm things but otherwise unaided so quite chuffed. The palindromic grass, the muse, the sluice & the complaint were all new to me so was delighted to figure them out (eventually) from the wordplay. Right on the limit, if not beyond my solving level, but enjoyed the lengthy battle. 1,15&28a were my picks of the clues plus 8d & 23a for the penny drop moments.
    With thanks to Giovanni & to our new Wed reviewer.

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