Toughie 2644 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2644

Toughie No 2644 by Artix

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This felt different and fresh. Lovely clues giving us a pangram, and I’m happy the Z was a checker!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Place to trash Spooner’s crooner’s triumph? (8)
SWINGBIN: The crooner’s triumph would be (4’1,3), split that (4,4) and ‘spoonerise’

6a    Plucky old US flier starting to glide into Hudson River area (6)
TWANGY: An old American, then the first letter (starting) to glide goes inside the state where the Hudson River is found

9a    Light yellow bog, loose inside (6)
FLAXEN: A 3-letter bog or marsh contains (… inside) a word meaning loose

10a    Victor gets a trophy, having nothing along the way to eliminate (8)
VAPORIZE: The letter with radio code Victor, A from the clue, then a 5-letter trophy containing the letter that looks like zero (having nothing along the way)

11a    Englishman can boast (4,4)
JOHN BULL: A word for can or loo, and a slang word meaning to boast or brag

12a    Sparring, a form of strenuous exercise (6)
ROWING: Two meanings, the first arguing, the second a demanding sport simulated on exercise machines

13a    Demonstrator follows remote broadcast, causing outburst from Sky (6,6)
METEOR SHOWER: Another word for demonstrator follows an anagram (broadcast) of REMOTE

16a    Cooler decoration having replaced MDF with e.g. granite (6,6)
FRIDGE MAGNET: An anagram (re-placed) of MDF + EG GRANITE

19a    Surfing novice in ’09 (6)
ONLINE: The abbreviation for novice or learner goes inside a spelled-out ’09

21a    One gets on elaborate chair occupied by lady in garden (8)
ACHIEVER: An anagram of (elaborate) CHAIR contains (occupied by) the lady in the garden with an apple, snake and fig leaf

23a/24a Stores planes inside standard garages (5,3,6)
MARKS AND SPARKS: A verb meaning planes or smoothens, goes in between (inside) a word that can mean standard (definition 27 in Chambers) and a verb that mean garages, as in puts car somewhere

25a    Fast and almost unhealthy pulse (6)
LENTIL: A word for a period of fasting, then a 3-letter word meaning unhealthy without the last letter (almost)

26a    Beauty fair not opening creates mess (8)
DISHEVEL: A slang word for a beauty as in a good-looking girl, then a 5-letter word meaning fair or even (as in a ***** playing field)


2d    Bat that’s amazing, controlling ball with no need for power (6)
WILLOW: An exclamation meaning ‘that’s amazing’ contains (controlling) a little ball-shaped item of compressed medication without the physics symbol for power

3d    Veto old and new President (5)
NIXON: A verb meaning to veto or dismiss followed by the abbreviations for old and new

4d    Where to place rump left out of veal ragout (9)
BANQUETTE: Remove the abbreviation for left from a 10-letter word for a veal (or chicken) ragout with a white sauce


5d    Composer’s book appearance not OK (7)
NOVELLO: A book with easy-reading fiction, then a 4-letter word meaning appearance but without (not) the final OK

6d    It’s a beast to get money off tax collectors! (5)
TAPIR: Split (3,2) – where the second bit is an abbreviation – the answer would mean to get money off tax collectors


7d    Source of thickness of Cockney school base? (9)
ARROWROOT: The Cockney pronunciation of a famous school for boys in London, and a word meaning base


8d    Lowball? In Strine, it’s ‘low ball’ (8)
GAZUNDER: Two meanings, I guess. The first is a dodgy business undercutting practice. In the second, ‘Strine’ comes from the book ‘Let Stalk Strine’, by Afferbeck Lauder, where we are introduced to Strine pronunciations like eggnishner (turn on the eggnishner, it’s too bloody hot). The second meaning is a cricket term used chiefly in the antipodes

13d    Cuckoo village nearly on top of county with no third man in field (3-6)
MID-WICKET: A village from a John Wyndham sci-fi novel without the last letter (nearly) plus a SE England county missing the third letter (with no third)

14d    Building up sets in shy game (9)
SYNTHESIS: An anagram (game) of SETS IN SHY

15d    Doyenne somehow managed? That’s about right (8)
GRANDAME: An anagram (somehow) of MANAGED goes about the abbreviation for right

17d    Given almost full protection in commercial (7)
AWARDED: A 2-letter commercial contains a person who guards, without the last letter (almost full)

18d    Shylock’s money heard to be shilling shy? Boo! (6)
HECKLE: A homophone (heard) of Shylock’s (and Israel’s) money unit without the abbreviation for shilling

20d    Communique rejected within parliament (5)
EMAIL: Reverse hidden (rejected within … )

22d    Praise of a kind knowing no bounds (5)
ELATE: A 7-letter word meaning ‘of a kind’ without the outer letters (knowing no bounds)

There are a lot of nice clues here. I particularly enjoyed the lovely reverse hidden at 20d, and the Shylock and Sky demonstrator stories. Which were your favourites?

25 comments on “Toughie 2644

  1. This was a joy to solve with masses of beautifully constructed clues and penny-drop moments. Thanks to Artix and Dutch.
    The best of a great bunch of clues for me were 10a, 11a, 13d and 18d.

  2. If the question mark can be stretched to a homophone indicator then 8d could also be a low bowl (under the bed). I had to check the BRB for the definition of 22d which appears last in the list and is designated obsolete. Still it is a Friday toughie, so no complaints. I did like the underwear shop when the penny finally dropped. Just to be picky, I think 6ac needs ‘flier’ in the hint. Thanks to all.

  3. I too thoroughly enjoyed solving this crossword although until I met the SE corner, I thought it was going to be at the friendlier end of the Toughie spectrum.

    Thanks to Artix and Dutch

  4. Whatever age is Artix? TWA went out of business in 2001 and John Wyndams cuckoos were 1957! Then we had the toilet in 11a and the potty in 8d. I cannot say it was a very elegant Toughie.
    I do wish I could have enjoyed it like Gazza and CS instead of nitpicking!

    1. TWA will still forever in my memory, if only for it’s nickname. As for the ‘cuckoos’, I think it’s iconic status should be well above that of ‘Emma’ which we meet on a regular basis in crossword land.

  5. The NE was the last corner to fall in this terrific Toughie. I honestly don’t know where to start looking for a favourite clue as the whole grid was an absolute delight to solve. Couple this with the backpager today and we have been blessed with a wonderful brace of crosswords.

    Many thanks to Artix for the fun and to Dutch.

    1. As it turns out, I am an Old Salopian, but maybe not quite as old as JB thinks I am!

      1. Actually, I liked being reminded of John Wyndham. When my son was at University he stayed at the Penn Club in London and thats where John Wyndham wrote some of his SF.
        P.s.Artix,l’m certainly older than you!

  6. Tough but fair. Elegantly clued. Most enjoyable thank you Artix.
    My only query is with 17d…protection for warden?
    Thanks Dutch as always.

  7. Despite a few references about which I have no clue (and why would I?), I enjoyed the rest of it
    Thanks Artix & Dutch

  8. Didn’t know the cuckoo village in 13d but the answer was quite obvious from the checkers and definition.
    Learned a bit of Aussie slang in 8d.
    Tried to justify Wastebin in1a at first.
    18d favourite.
    Thanks to Artrix and to Dutch.

  9. Took a while to unravel and the hints to fully appreciate the parsing of 8d and 13d.

    Thanks to Artix and Dutch.

  10. My online dictionary defines the pill in 2 down as a dated informal noun (in some sports) a humorous term for a ball. Where I grew up the use of pill for ball was commonplace. As I grew up in the fifties and sixties I agree with the dated bit. The puzzle was a great entertainment which complemented the back pager well. Thank to the setter and to Dutch

    1. I grew up in the sixties and seventies near London, and don’t remember a ball being called a pill, but I do recall my dad enjoying a pre-war song which included the lyrics: ‘Oh, the dirty little pill went rolling down the hill, and rolled right into a bunker. From there to the green I took thirteen, and then by Gosh I sunk her !’ My dad had to explain to me the meaning of ‘pill’ in this context ! Excellent Toughie, Artix, well up to Friday standard. with 1a and 16a particularly amusing, as these household items don’t usually appear in crosswords !

  11. Well, that was a properly Tough Friday puzzle in my view, but fair and solvable. A game of two halves, the south fell into place reasonably easily, followed by the NW, however the NE stumped me and I needed e-help with 6a (kicking myself afterwards for being so slow!) before the other five clues then swiftly tumbled.

    8d was a bung-in and completely new to me, but what an enjoyable exercise this grid was. COTD for me was 21a, by a nose, with entries to the Honourable Mentions Club from 19a,13d and 18d.

    4* / 4*

    Many thanks to Artix for such a great test, and to Dutch for the review.


  12. We really struggled in the SW. With 22d we now find that it does has an obsolete meaning of ‘raise or exalt’ but think it a bit of a stretch to make this ‘praise’. We were convinced that it was EXALT. This made 26a impossible and even now struggle to equate mess with the answer. ‘Mess up’, ‘mess with’ or even ‘create mess’ but not just ‘mess’ or ‘creates mess’.
    Apart from those we found this an enjoyable challenging solve with lots of clever wordplay.
    Thanks Artix and Dutch.

  13. I found it a bit of a struggle- a word that also describes the validity of some of the clueing.
    I don’t understand 8 down. To me, a gazunder is a potty. My main problem was because I had used the English rather than American spelling of 10ac.

  14. We loved the TWA clue and the first clue of all. Normally we loathe spoonerisms but that earned a joyful groan. Oh dear JB! Artix is 20 years younger than me (he’s our sort of neighbour) but what setter could resist a clue like that especially as it was such a happy reminder of that astonishing Hudson River event. We usually mutter and grumble about the obscurities in the Friday Toughie but thought this one was sheer delight.

    1. The film “Sully” was brilliant wasn’t it?
      I’ve assured Artix of my liking for John Wyndham and also assured him that I am very much older than him!

  15. enjoyed that one but, 13 down Dutch? When I last looked Kent was a SE county not SW

  16. 2d was my last in. I couldn’t parse it, so there were a number of alternatives. Fortunately, I lit on the right one. Having read the hints and responses, I am of the ‘pill’ = ‘ball’, rather than ‘medication’, school of thought.

  17. Just finished. Great enjoyment, and satisfaction as that’s the 4th Toughie I’ve finished this week without resorting to help. A few months ago I wouldn’t even have looked at them. Thanks to everyone for the puzzles and encouragement.

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