Toughie 2639 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2639

Toughie No 2639 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

For the most part this is pretty straightforward but for me it didn’t have a lot of pizzazz. Thanks to Firefly.

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

Across Clues

1a Making a (good?) fist of passing over legal document (11)
HANDWRITING: a present participle meaning passing or transferring contains a legal document.

9a Sons lie about woman of courage (7)
LIONESS: an anagram (about) of SONS LIE.

10a Dim old monarch boarding vacant buggy (6)
BLEARY: an old fictional king goes inside the outer letters of buggy.

12a Dismiss moneyman? (7)
CASHIER: double definition, the first a verb meaning to dismiss from the armed forces.

13a Prepare to fire volunteer one’s seen holding parrot (4,3)
TAKE AIM: the old abbreviation for our volunteer soldiers and the contracted form of ‘one is’ from the setter’s viewpoint contain a parrot from New Zealand. I know the armed forces have suffered cuts but surely our reserve force still has more than a single volunteer?

14a Crazy bandleader joining the forces (5)
BARMY: the leading letter of band and one of the forces.

15a Maybe newspapers will break questionable item without delay (9)
IMMEDIATE: newspapers are an example of a means of mass communication. Insert this into an anagram (questionable) of ITEM.

17a Characters from the east younger, and with no visible means of support (9)
STRAPLESS: reverse a word for characters or roles and add an adjective meaning younger. I had problems trying to find an example of how **** means younger but I think Firefly may be thinking of this apostle.

20a Poles in boxes (5)
SPARS: double definition, the first a noun and the second a verb.

22a Compact shelter placed in midst of scenery (7)
ENTENTE: a temporary shelter goes inside the middle letters of scenery.

24a See Miss Phillips being heavenly? (7)
ELYSIAN: a charade of our usual see in Cambridgeshire and the forename of Miss Phillips the Welsh actress who I remember being brilliant as the scheming matriarch in the TV series I Claudius.

25a Tsar can earn mostly in secret (6)
ARCANE: hidden.

26a Hazel‘s bet, reduced by uncertainty, withdrawn (7)
FILBERT: hazel here could be either a tree or its nut. Join together a type of bet involving three selections without its last letter and a conjunction indicating uncertainty. Now reverse it all.

27a Lee and Al totter drunkenly — neither being this? (11)
TEETOTALLER: an anagram (drunkenly) of LEE AL TOTTER.

Down Clues

2d Dash into fellowship’s ‘facility‘ (7)
AMENITY: a short dash in printing goes inside a word meaning fellowship or friendly relations.

3d Absent-minded (female) artiste I sacked after first bit of dawdling (9)
DISTRAITE: an anagram (sacked) of ARTISTE I follows the first letter of dawdling.

4d Android ran on batteries of tungsten to begin with (5)
ROBOT: the starting letters of five words.

5d Edward having dicky innards fine-tuned (7)
TWEAKED: one of the common short names for Edward contains an adjective meaning dicky or frail.

6d New Romeo embraced by Trump’s ex is paradise! (7)
NIRVANA: start with the abbreviation for new then insert the letter for which Romeo is used in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet into the name of Donald’s ex.

7d Smash hit from Hammer? (11)
BLOCKBUSTER: for the surface reading Hammer is a film production company but if you split the answer 5,6 it’s a cryptic description of a (lower-case) hammer.

8d Slacker and no-hoper accepting Oscar (6)
LOOSER: a no-hoper contains the letter that Oscar represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

11d First of engineers in post — airmen free to take off (11)
IMPERSONATE: insert the first letter of engineers into an anagram (free) of POST AIRMEN.

16d Showing authority with worries mounting during strike (9)
MASTERFUL: a verb meaning worries is reversed inside a verb to beat with a wooden club.

18d Pensioner‘s more scary when upset about tobacconist’s closing (7)
RETIREE: reversal of a comparative meaning more scary around the closing letter of tobacconist.

19d Hanging first of paintings, wind up worker (7)
PENDANT: string together the first letter of paintings, a verb to wind up or conclude and our usual insect worker.

20d Coventry striker perhaps in shade? (3-4)
SKY-BLUE: double definition, the first being what a player for Coventry FC might be called based on the club’s nickname.

21d Got up; assembled sarnie (6)
ARISEN: an anagram (assembled) of SARNIE.

23d Spain’s opening game (5)
EVENT: the IVR code for Spain precedes an opening.

The clue I liked best was 8d. Which one(s) got you ticking?


37 comments on “Toughie 2639

  1. This was certainly at the friendly and benign end of the setting spectrum with only a couple of tricky parsings to slow up the solve. I am still relatively new to Toughies so I get a kick out completing the grid whatever the difficulty. I tend to agree that there was a lack of sparkle, but I still enjoyed the experience. 15a was my favourite ahead of 4d.

    My thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  2. I managed to fill the grid, in **** time, the only electrons used were for the anagram at 3d, not a word I hear used every day.

    Parsing 2d and 26a was also beyond me, but a full grid is what counts. I don’t suppose I will be so chipper tomorrow.

    Many thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  3. 3d was a new word to me, a case of looking it up because it was the only credible anagram I could make with all the checking letters, but I did not really expect to find it in the BRB. Would anyone use it these days, or has it fallen out of favour?
    I always spell 27ac wrongly because, rightly or wrongly I assume the derivation is from someone who drinks nothing stronger than Yorkshire Gold.

  4. I almost invariably have trouble with some of this setter’s definitions although I don’t doubt the BRB would back up his assertions.
    Would have got off to a better start had my Miss Phillips not been Zara but you can’t win ’em all!
    Top three for me were 12a plus 7&8d.

    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review – must try to get myself one of those joint accounts!

    1. I opened a joint account once, but then discovered that they would only accept monetary deposits

  5. As devartly above, 3d was a new word for me too.
    A steady solve today ,held up by7d-I assumed that Hammer was the film maker and my smash was Black Bottom from the recent oscars! Eventually the penny dropped and I was able to complete the SW corner.
    Going for a **/**** as I did enjoy the experience,
    Favourite was 24a.
    The Hazel was also new to me-thanks to Gazza for the parsing, Leicester play at Filbert street-is this anything to do with the trees?

    1. They’ve long since left that ground – now the Walkers Stadium I think.

        1. It’s been called the King Power stadium for some time now. All the streets around the old stadium were named after nuts, hazel street, brazil street etc.

          1. Of course it is. How did I forget that. I’d also quite forgotten that the streets around the old ground were nutty.
            Anyway quite a contrast between Leicester & my mob, The Sky Blues, with no ground to call their own. At one stage it looked a distinct pissabolity that we’d be relegated from the championship together with our landlords, Birmingham City. Back to The Ricoh next year at least. I’ve only been there once & that was to see The Stones.

            1. The Ricoh Stadium named after The Specials trombonist Rico Rodriguez is to be renamed The Coventry Building Society Stadium

              1. It probably was the Walkers stadium the last time you played us there. I’m looking forward to you getting back in the premiership so we can have 6 easy points. Only joshing. 😁

  6. I agree with Gazza’s opening comment. It almost seemed like the setter threw in a couple of French words in order to justify it being called a Toughie.

    The definition in 1a seems very dodgy, but I will be happy if anyone can explain it to me; and Gazza has done exceedingly well to find a reference to show that “younger” in 17a might mean “less”.

    Prolixic often writes in Rookie Corner that “some editors will not allow unindicated ‘lift and separate’ clues”. 14a would suggest that CL is not one of the “some”.

    My podium consists of 12a, 27a & 7d.

    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza.

    1. The BRB has 1a as the second definition for ‘fist’, though it notes it as informal.

      1. Thanks, Physicist. Something new to learn! But what function is “(good?)” serving?

    2. Rookie Corner sometimes gets scrutiny that some back-pagers would fail, I and many other Rookies have noted
      Don’t remember which puzzle, but we had definition for wordplay recently and no-one batted an eyelid

  7. 3d needed confirmation as a new word to me but thankfully with the checkers was the only plausible anagram. Like Malcolm the parsing of both 2d&26a eluded me. With the former the 2 letter dash was unfamiliar but the latter shocking for an ex bookie. 13a was a struggle as the bird was new to me but the remainder problem free. Very pleasant & not particularly challenging but I reckon lacking a bit of pizzazz is fair comment. Nice to see my struggling football team get a mention too. Pick of the clues was a toss up between 22&24a.
    Thanks Firefly & Gazza.

  8. Much enjoyed unlike several above.
    Lunch of langoustine, crab and rosé helped.
    Needed help parsing 13ac as the dratted kea had sunk into memory mire.
    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza.

  9. Also never heard of 3d but I have now. Apart from that no real problems. Favourite was 26a for obvious reasons although I needed the to parse it. Thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  10. I found this quite gentle although the parsing of 1a and the second half of 17a had me scratching my head. I did toy with whether 1a could be 4,4,2,1 because otherwise I don’t quite see the relevance of (good?). For 17a I wasn’t aware of the apostle so just put it down as a stretched synonym.

    Enjoyable with a couple of learning points.

    Thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  11. 6 &18d along with 27a were my picks from this slightly lacklustre puzzle that didn’t quite cut it for me, maybe slightly spoiled by the previous two. A couple of bung ins apart, which have already been discussed, mostly (Toughie) straightforward.
    Many thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the enlightenment.

  12. With reference to 1ac, I wanted to combine the two ideas of “FIST” = HANDWRITING and “MAKE A GOOD FIST OF” = DO SOMETHING WELL. This was how I tried to achieve it, and our kind editor left it in, though I accept purists may argue that it should form a functioning part of he wordplay. Thanks for all your comments – always interesting and helpful….

    1. Thanks for the enjoyable puzzle, Firefly, and for popping in. Benighted me, I’ve never heard the expression ‘make a good fist of’ in terms of the meaning you were pursuing, but it certainly makes good sense.

    2. Let the setter set. Let the puzzles editor edit. Solve. That’ll do me nicely and no mistake

  13. A most satisfying solve, evidently providing me with more enjoyment than for some other commentators. Really appreciated the wit and construction of quite a few clues – the brevity of 13a, humour of 17a and 6d, smooth surfaces of 4d and 24a (and many others). COTD for me possibly 22a, not because it was that difficult, but because of the clever misdirection.

    3.5* / 4*

    Many thanks to Firefly, and to Gazza.

  14. Even though I finished the puzzle, technically, I could not parse ‘filbert’, so thanks to Gazza for that help. I was pleased with myself–sometimes we simply have to be!–when I remembered that lovely old French word for ‘abstracted, elsewhere’ at 3d. For 17a, I simply took ‘younger’ as a stretched synonym for ‘less’ (in age, in being). I enjoyed the challenge of this semi-tough Toughie, so thanks to Firefly and Gazza. Nice puzzle.

  15. There never were such times…a completed Toughie.
    A few to double check the parsing, so thanks in advance to Gazza.
    Some bloke called Elgar tomorrow, I believe.
    Thanks also to Firefly.

  16. Had to check the Miss Phillips and 20d was a sheer guess for us of course. 26a we wrote the answer straight in from the definition and checkers but took much longer to parse.
    Pleasant solve.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  17. ****/**. Completed but without any real joy. Toughies are still newish territory, but at this point, I prefer the often simple but elegant backpager clue construction to these more convoluted toughie ones. I guess that’s what makes toughie tougher …

  18. Thanks Firefly for a charming puzzle. You only just beat me today whilst I was otherwise distracted. Thanks Gazza for the blog.

  19. Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review and hints. I managed to complete this after a bit of headscratching. Nice to see the setter drop in to explain 1a, which I found quite tricky. Last in was 26a, which I’d never heard of, but took a guess that filbert equalled hazel because of the name of Leicester City’s old stadium Filbert Street. Favourite was 24a. Was 3* /3* for me.

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