Toughie 2643 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2643

Toughie No 2643 by Serpent

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

In terms of difficulty this is about par for a midweek Toughie. At one stage I thought we were going to get an equestrian theme but I don’t think there are enough references even for a ‘mini’ one.

Thanks to Serpent.

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

Across Clues

1a Row about stray dog (7)
TERRIER: a row or bank contains a verb to stray from the straight and narrow.

5a Regular customer‘s slightly boring tone (7)
HABITUE: slightly (1,3) goes inside a tone or shade.

9a Add spurious detail to bore me rigid about missing serviceman (9)
EMBROIDER: an anagram (about) of BORE ME RI[gi]D without the US serviceman.

10a You’re taking sides after American’s affair (5)
AMOUR: remove the sides from the first word and put what remains after a 2-letter abbreviation for American.

11a Initially take eminent supporter’s part? (5)
THIGH: the initial letter of ‘take’ and an adjective meaning eminent or elevated.

12a You almost call US, upset by Republican with brash manner (9)
RAUCOUSLY: an anagram (upset) of YOU CAL[L] US follows the abbreviation for Republican.

13a Former partner and I worried about my skin (9)
EXCORIATE: string together our usual former partner, I and a verb meaning worried then insert a dated exclamation meaning ‘my!’.

16a Wreckage of canoe found floating here (5)
OCEAN: an anagram (wreckage) of CANOE.

17a Ridiculous play featuring disembodied figure going round bend (5)
FARCE: the outer letters of figure contain a bend or curve.

18a Build up police force coming after criminals time and again (9)
CONSTRUCT: an historical police force follows an informal word for criminals and the abbreviation for time. Finally append the same abbreviation for time. Since the provincial police force was disbanded twenty years ago an ‘old’ or similar might have been relevant.

20a Like surefooted Arab perhaps concealing dosh? (9)
ROUGHSHOD: Arab here is a type of horse and the answer is an old word for having shoes with projecting nails to give a better grip. It’s a reverse anagram – split the answer 5,4 to reveal where the dosh comes from.

23a Radical university student revolutionised painting? (5)
ULTRA: abbreviations for university and student precede the reversal of a synonym for painting.

25a Partial account of 1976 Olympic encounter? (5)
EVENT: convert 1976 to words and you’ll find the answer hidden therein.

26a Turkey supporter follows game at home (9)
LAMEBRAIN: turkey is a North American slang term for a stupid person. Our usual supporting garment follows an adjective meaning game or having an injured leg. Finally append an adverb meaning ‘at home’.

27a Giant satellite orbiting Uranus almost reaches speed of light (7)
TITANIC: the largest of the moons of Uranus (Titania) without its final letter is followed by the symbol for the speed of light.

28a Length of short gap year rearranged around beginning of December (7)
YARDAGE: an anagram (rearranged) of GA[p] YEAR contains the first letter of December.

Down Clues

1d New actors regularly appearing in the cinema? (7)
THEATRE: regular letters from the first two words appear inside ‘the’.

2d Book seized by international court upset teacher (5)
RABBI: the abbreviation for book is contained in the reversal of the abbreviation for international and a word (as used in the phrase ‘called to the ***’) for a court of law.

3d Press hack’s name associated with Express? (4,5)
IRON HORSE: charade of a verb to press and a hack for riding. The answer is a fanciful term for something hauling a method of transport which could be an express (or a stopper).

4d Mounted guard perhaps freed American casualty (5)
RIDER: stick together a past participle meaning freed and the US abbreviation for a casualty department.

5d List suppressed by that female copper is very dangerous (9)
HERCULEAN: a verb to list or incline follows a pronoun meaning ‘that female’ and the chemical symbol for copper.

6d B is for ‘brilliant!‘ (5)
BRAVO: double definition. Yesterday we had uranium, today we have another word from the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

7d Accurate note stated what’s to be worn for match (9)
TROUSSEAU: this sounds like an adjective meaning accurate and a note from tonic sol-fa.

8d Listening device that is intercepted by line near the start (5,2)
EARLY ON: knit together something that listens and an old literary word meaning ‘that’ then insert the abbreviation for line.

14d Let cop run amok showing signs of greed? (9)
CORPULENT: an anagram (amok) of LET COP RUN.

15d I’ll start to have cocoa? Not usually! (9)
ALCOHOLIC: an all-in-one clue – it’s an anagram (not usually) of I’LL H[ave] COCOA.

16d Have more bodies than anaesthetist has unconscious first (9)
OUTNUMBER: a cryptic description of an anaesthetist follows an adverb meaning unconscious.

17d Reporter’s coverage of animals intended to cause commotion (7)
FERMENT: homophones (reporter’s) of what covers some animals and a verb meaning intended.

19d Student managed without current support packs (7)
TRAINEE: a golf support contains (packs) a verb meaning managed around the symbol for electric current.

21d Flirt with husband into swinging (3,2)
HIT ON: the genealogical abbreviation for husband followed by an anagram (swinging) of INTO.

22d Model is a sucker for kids (5)
DUMMY: double definition, the first a replica of a human being.

24d Gladiator ordered to cast off gold headgear (5)
TIARA: remove the letters of ‘gold’ (‘off’ indicating that they are not in the right order) from [gl]A[d]IAT[o]R and make an anagram (ordered) of what’s left.

My ticks went to 11a, 13a and 20a. Which one(s) filled the bill for you?


23 comments on “Toughie 2643

  1. Steady solve, required hints to complete a couple of parsings. Thanks to Serpent and Gazza.

  2. I found this to be a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable puzzle that was just the right side of tricky to be a proper Toughie. There were too many excellent clues to pick a favourite, although I did like 6d.

    Thanks very much to Serpent for the challenge and to Gazza.

  3. A witty and satisfying puzzle to solve. Took a little longer than it should have done, owing to some clever deception and a couple of uncommon usages of common words, for which I needed Gazza’s hints or the BRB to parse my answers. I’m not usually a fan of anagram-heavy grids, but for this one (8?) I’m happy to make an exception!

    Ticks afterwards for 18a, 7d, 15d and 16d, any of which could take the laurels in my book.


    Many thanks to Serpent and to Gazza.


  4. Most enjoyable thank you Serpent. Bravo!
    All accessible and well constructed.
    26ac was new to me…but a great clue.
    Thanks Gazza for parsing help with 10ac 25ac and for the illustrations.

  5. All completed without help apart from the obscure Americanism. One of those “why did it take me so long” puzzles but, unlike many of those, very enjoyable. Purely on time spent it has to be 4*/4* for me. Thanks to setter.

  6. A tough Toughie to parse. Answers like 9 across and 15 down wrote themselves in once a couple of checkers were in place. Reverse work seemed to be the order of the day. Thanks to Serpent and Gazza

  7. Agree with Gazza that this puzzle is about right for midweek with nothing too obscure and providing lots of entertainment.
    Many excellent charades eg 5a and my favourite 26a.
    Failed to parse last in 25a, assumed the definition-thanks Gazza for the explanation , I was trying roman numerals but obviously this failed miserably.
    Going for a ***/****

  8. A few cunning misdirections added a point to the difficulty score. I Liked “supporter’s part” in 11a, “time and again” in 18a and the homophone in 17d, but my prize goes to the all-in-one anagram at 15d. I made parsing 27 difficult by confusing a moon of Saturn with the right one. And they all seem to have a lot more moons than they had when I was a kid.
    Thanks to Serpent and to Gazza for the blog.

  9. Needed too many hints to really enjoy this,
    25a. Oneninesevensix. Where is event? Or is it nineteenseventysix? A horrible clue.
    COTD is 6d

    1. The answer only occurs in your second example, i.e. Nineteen sEVENTy six. I would agree that it’s not the greatest clue.

  10. I too needed the hint to parse 25a, but I wrote it in anyway as it just had to be. A completed grid is a completed grid so I’m happy with that. I solved this steadily, the answers coming at regular intervals. Most enjoyable. Favourite was 17d. Thanks to Serpent and Gazza.

  11. Just popped in to cast my vote on 11a – Frankfurters
    Thanks Serpent & Gazza

  12. I didn’t finish this by quite a long way – I think I’d been scared off by the name of the setter because the TV series (The Serpent) really freaked me out – what a weed I am!
    Anyway having recovered I did enjoy what I managed to do.
    Thanks to Serpent for the crossword and to Gazza for explaining quite a few and for the 21a pic which made me laugh.

  13. 13a was a new word for me in this very pleasant and trouble free crossword.
    Didn’t know that the Royal Ulster Constabulary was something of the past. My memory is stuck in the last century and have just learned that Sadiq Khan is still at the head of the GLC.
    Agree with Lbr on 11a. Knackies for sure.
    Thanks to Serpent and to Gazza.

  14. No problems (other than 11a) with three quarters of this one but an abysmal performance in the SW. Other than the 14d anagram I just couldn’t gain a foothold & eventually resorted to using what Robert calls my 5 electronic gifts. Even with those strategic letter reveals I still needed the hints for 3 to finish so not my finest hour. Certainly not due to the quality of the crossword but rather on account of my struggles with it but this one didn’t really do it for me.
    Thanks anyway Serpent & Gazza

  15. With the electronic gift of 5 letters online–3 of which I used–I did manage to finish. Couldn’t get ‘birdbrain’ out of my birdbrain (‘lame’ occurred to me but couldn’t parse it) and that made ‘dummy’ impossible for this dummy to solve. Otherwise, I did quite well and thoroughly enjoyed the exercise, especially 11a and 20a. Thanks to Gazza for the assistance and to Serpent for the fun.

  16. I really have no business even attempting a Toughie crossword. But I am sometimes tempted if I finish the regular cryptic before lunch, particularly if I think I can solve a couple of clues before I print it. 1a and 1d led me to believe this one might just be possible for my feeble brain, and it wasn’t too bad. I did get more than a few from the checkers, rather than the clues though. Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for an enjoyable exercise.

  17. We scratched our heads for some time about the police force in 18a and eventually turned to BRB for help.
    Think that 25a is stretching things a bit far. If indirect anagrams are not permitted surely indirect ‘lurkers’ should be too.
    Not a quick solve for us but it kept us amused all the way through.
    Thanks Serpent and Gazza.

  18. Saw it through after a couple of sittings. Only uncertainty was 26a – would never have thought of the alternative pronunciation of game = lame, so thanks to Gazza for the hint. Thanks for the challenge Serpent

  19. I enjoyed this. My favourite was 7d. The only one I could not think of was 26a. I was looking for a football team in Turkey! Few others had a problem with this so I suppose it’s because I’ve never watched the Simpsons?

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