Toughie 2634 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2634

Toughie No 2634 by Silvanus

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

Silvanus usually produces Toughies at the easier end of the spectrum – today the word I’d use to describe this one would be ‘tricky’ but as enjoyable as always

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Having eaten nothing, Liza began to prepare dessert (10)
ZABAGLIONE An anagram (to prepare) of LIZA BEGAN into which (having eaten) is inserted an O (nothing)

6a    Wife assumes husband’s role in store to barter (4)
SWOP Replace the H (husband) in a type of store with the abbreviation for Wife

9a    Lack of talent in legislature essentially attracting mockery (10)
LIMITATION The essential letter of legisLature following by a synonym of mockery

10a    Poet runs away over humiliation (4)
SNUB A reversal (over) of a famous Scottish poet without the cricket abbreviation for runs

12a    After a cold, there’s something slippery about that woman exhibiting weakness (8,4)
ACHILLES HEEL A (from the clue), a cold, and something slippery into which is inserted (about) the female form of the third person pronoun (that woman)

15a    Computer image of some aristocrat available to review (6)
AVATAR Hidden in reverse (to review) in aristocRAT AVAilable

16a    Went aboard British vessel entering eastern Mediterranean (8)
EMBARKED An abbreviation for British and a type of vessel inserted into (entering) abbreviations for Eastern and the Mediterranean Sea

18a    Half of city starts to isolate local delinquent boy (3-5)
MAN-CHILD Half of a Northern city and the ‘starts’ to Isolate Local Delinquent give us a literary term for a boy

19a    Finishes off sandwiches (6)
ROUNDS Double definition

21a    Norwich City footballer with faint-hearted tone (6,6)
CANARY YELLOW The nickname given to a Norwich City footballer and a synonym for cowardly (faint-hearted)

24a    Italy, not part of theoretical agreement (4)
DEAL Omit the IVR code for Italy from an adjective meaning theoretical

25a    Match broadcast on radio, etc (2-8)
CO-ORDINATE An anagram (broadcast) of ON RADIO ETC

26a    Distance from motorway, Alex discovered? (4)
MILE The abbreviated way we’d refer to the first motorway and the inside (dis covered) letters of aLEx

27a    On one side of college, student welcoming former artist (10)
UNILATERAL An abbreviated college and the abbreviation for student ‘welcoming’ an adjective meaning former and the usual artist


1d    African animal park facilities discussed (4)
ZULU Homophones (discussed) of an animal park and an informal term for a lavatory (facilities)

2d    Knock second-class referee, one about to retire (4)
BUMP The letter used to indicate second-class and a referee without (to retire) the letter representing one and the preposition meaning about

3d    Ordered research into flipping male individuals entering uninvited (12)
GATECRASHERS Reverse (flipping) an adjective meaning male and inserted an anagram (ordered) of RESEARCH

4d    Know instinctively trendy tourist goes missing every so often (6)
INTUIT The usual word meaning fashionable or trendy and the odd (goes missing every so often) letters of ToUrIsT

5d    New politician unusually alone visits leading light in advertising? (4,4)
NEON LAMP An anagram (unusually) of ALONE ‘visits’ or goes between the abbreviation for New and a politician

7d    Less than generous, the support for Western child prodigy (10)
WUNDERKIND A two-word phrase meaning less than generous goes under (the support for) the abbreviation for Western

8d    Ripped abs helped to carry originally bulky wallcovering (10)
PEBBLEDASH An anagram (ripped) of ABS HELPED into which is inserted (to carry) the original letter of Bulky

11d    Key defender, star who’s bound to draw crowds? (12)
ESCAPOLOGIST The key on the top left of your computer keyboard and a defender of an argument

13d    Time a car crashed overtaking empty Mazda on cracked, raised road surface (10)
TARMACADAM The abbreviation for Time, an anagram (crashed) of A CAR into which is inserted (overtaking) the outside (empty) letters of MazdA, the result then put on a reversal (raised) of a synonym for the informal meaning of cracked

14d    One was previously fired and removed from comedy act (10)
CANNONBALL Simply remove the word AND from an English comedy double act

17d    Minimise parking in front of store (4,4)
PLAY DOWN The abbreviation for Parking goes in front of a verb meaning to store

20d    Public library interrupted by oddly loud roar, or roars perhaps? (6)
PLURAL The abbreviation for Public Library ‘interrupted’ by the odd letters of LoUd RoAr

22d    Reportedly get on fine … (4)
FAIR A homophone (reportedly) of a verb meaning to get on well

23d    … with character Mike is succeeding, large Eddy (4)
WELL The abbreviation for With and the letter which precedes the character represented by Mike in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, and then the abbreviation for Large.  . I did check in the BRB and eddy (without the misleading capital!) is one of the definitions of the solution


30 comments on “Toughie 2634

  1. Tricky is also the word I would use. I almost got there on my own, but stumbled with 6 to go and had to ask a few electrons for help with 11d. A very clever clue. Obviously too clever for me. That gave me the leg-up that I needed to finish the rest of the eastern side, with the exception of 23d. Even with just two letters needed in a four-lettered answer, I would not have got that is a month of Sundays.

    Another **** rating from me.

    Many thanks to Silvanus and CS.

  2. My one quibble was with 23d. The meaning was the very last in a very long list in the online Chambers. I didn’t get that far!
    There were some fun clues. I especially liked 12 a
    Now I can settle down and enjoy the snooker.

  3. Another delightful Toughie from Silvanus, that was certainly tricky in places but beautifully clued as always. 23d was my final entry after a long time staring at it, and my favourite was 1d. Great stuff.

    Many thanks to Silvanus for the challenge and to CS.

  4. As enjoyable as ever, but Silvanus could have easily traded places with yesterday’s Logman in the difficulty stakes – **/****.

    Quite a large groan to match the clang when the tea tray sized penny dropped on 23d.

    Candidates for favourite – 27a, 11d, and 20d – and the winner is 20d.

    Thanks to Silvanus and CS.

  5. Another great puzzle from Silvanus, thank you.
    Only failed on 23d but the rest went in without any electronic assistance.
    Once the checking letters began to appear it seemed to be straightforward.
    Thanks to CS for explanation of 23 and the excellent array of pictures in the blog.

  6. Very enjoyable as always from Silvanus – thanks to him and to CS for the review (especially for the 5d illustration).
    My top clues were 14d, 17d and 20d.

  7. I always look forward to Silvanus’ puzzles, and this one was an absolute delight with his usual very smooth surfaces in evidence throughout.

    Rather stupidly I initially thought that 8d was an exception which read very strangely and I was intending to comment that it was most surprising to see such an absurd surface in a puzzle from this setter. How could torn muscles possibly help you to carry anything? Nothing in the BRB that I can find suggests that “ripped” means anything other than “torn” when describing muscles. However, I decided Silvanus must have had some basis for this clue and so Googled “ripped abs” which enlightened me that “ripped” in this context means not “torn” but “well-developed”! Whoever came up with that bizarre meaning must have been having a laugh. “I’m going to the gym to rip my muscles”!! :wacko:

    My page is littered with ticks, and my podium comprises 1a, 1d & 7d.

    Many thanks to Silvanus and to CS.

    1. Many thanks, RD. That meaning of “ripped” is shown in Collins, perhaps it will also be in the next edition of the BRB!

        1. We all realise that JB, the comment was alluding to how it fits into the surface read.

      1. Definitely not. Exercise for me has to involve a ball of some shape or size, although I have been groaning with every movement since Sunday when I played my first game of cricket since September last year.

  8. An enjoyable puzzle from Silvanus today and a steady solve for me, as young Salopian above 23d was my final entry , assumed the definition was eddy and managed to combine W and the appropriate character-thanks to Csue for the phonetic alphabet parsing!
    Never sure if I should put in the Star ratings for Toughies but a **/**** for me and thanks to Silvanus for the enjoyment.
    Hard to pick a favourite ,going for13a

  9. An absolute pleasure from start to finish & quite a contrast from yesterday’s head scratcher that took two sittings. Like others 23d was last in & was a definition synonym bung in but persevered & parsed it properly in the end. Could easily pick about 3 podiums but I’ll plump for the downs at 1,11&14.
    Many thanks to Silvanus & to CS

  10. A very enjoyable back pager followed by this equally enjoyable ( challenging but not mind bendingly difficult) gem from Silvanus.
    Nice to see my city of birth getting a mention in 18a but podium places go to 12&21a (so clever) plus the amusing 15d.

    Many thanks to the aforementioned setter and to CS for the top notch entertainment.

  11. Always a pleasure to solve a puzzle from Mr Smooth and I really must try 1a again some day. The only time I’ve had one in the past, the alcohol content was whisky which I really don’t like but brandy might have made it a whole different ball game!
    Last two to fall here were 19&24a, checkers definitely needed for those, and I had a bit of a fight with 6a because I would automatically spell it with an ‘a’ which obviously wouldn’t parse.
    Absolute favourite was 1d which made me laugh and a nod to the second-class referee – no wonder he’s retiring!

    Many thanks to Silvanus for a delightful puzzle and to CS for the review – is the photo from Big Dave’s café in Birmingham which is invariably the first thing to come up in Google if you search for ‘Big Dave’?

  12. Never heard of 1a or 4d and had the wrong answer to 23d, mell which can mean to mix. You can’t win them all and I did better than yesterday which I did a once through in the late evening and answered none so I gave up. Apart from that enjoyable. Favourite was 21a. Thanks to Silvanus and CS.

  13. Many thanks to Sue for her hints, tips and illustrations and to everyone else who took the trouble to comment.

    For anyone who hasn’t yet read it, can I recommend the excellent and amusing Telegraph obituary in today’s paper for John Richards, founder of the Apostrophe Protection Society. With modern society as it is, he was always fighting an uphill battle, but it’s heartening that someone was prepared to stand up for such things.

    1. Not forgetting Keith Waterhouse (d. 2009), who founded the Association for the Abolition of the Aberrant Apostrophe.

  14. Absolutely wonderful. Silvanus at his peak! 1d, 7d, 12a…I could go on and on. Finished in record time for me, completely on my own–which always gladdens the heart. Can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a puzzle more. Thanks to CS for her review, which I’ll read now, and to Silvanus. I don’t usually rate Toughies, but this one deserves the ***** for enjoyment.

    I’ve never had a 1a, but the pictures from Google have caused me to drool, and the addition of brandy just makes me drool more.

  15. Most enjoyable puzzle – probably the best Toughie I have completed.
    Struggled with parsing 7d because I had an ‘o’ as the second letter and wasn’t sure if I had invented a word ( which I had 😁). Made sense when I read CS hint.

  16. Excellent fun from Silvanus.
    We needed Google to check the comedy duo for 14d but it was a matter of ‘just checking’ rather than ‘searching’. Similar experience with 21a.
    Started off with a chuckle at 1d and the smiles stayed on our faces for the rest of the solve.
    Thanks Silvanus and CS.

  17. Last in 23d. Bit of an unparsed bung in to be honest – guessed it from 22d and ran fair and well together – made sense to me! Liked 7d, so that is favourite. ***/***, thanks to Silvanus and CS, and everybody!

  18. Nice toughie. I don’t try it every day, confirmed back-pager, me. This I found challenging but fair. I only needed the hint for 23 d, which defeated me.

    Thanks to CS and to Silvanus.


  19. For me this was difficult but so clever and enjoyable, especially the penny dropping moments. Many thanks to Silvanus and CS whose hints made it possible for me to solve so many clues. Today I’m looking forward to going to a book shop for the first time in ages. So excited!

  20. Arriving late at the party to add my thanks to Silvanus for a splendid puzzle. Witty and well-written, quite gentle for a Toughie, and hugely enjoyable.

    Podium shared by 12a and 1d.



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