Toughie 2652 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2652

Toughie No 2652 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A nice symmetric pattern of X’s. I wonder if I’m missing anything else here. A knowledge of Dutch (and Libyan) geography helped today.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Hide jam without hesitation (4,4)
LOCK AWAY: Not sure here. I think the first word can mean jam, and taken together with the second word the phrase could mean jam without hesitation or relentlessly. Thoughts welcome.

5a    Tree snake about to pierce tailless young animal? (6)
BAOBAB: A reversal (about) of a snake goes inside (to pierce) a young animal, human even, without the last letter (tailless)

9a    Using which, fix handle on gear (8)
NAMETAPE: A cryptic definition playing on handle and gear – nothing overly mechanical here

10a    Squiffy fools rolling over floor (6)
STINKO: A reversal (rolling over) of a 4-letter word for fools, and a boxing abbreviation meaning to floor

11a    Agree with ditching witness in confrontation (3,2,3)
EYE TO EYE: A (3,3,2,3) phrase meaning agree with, then remove (ditching) the first word meaning witness

12a    Forensically examine some Shogun pickups (6)
UNPICK: Hidden (some … )

14a    Is former United supporter following leader of band in AC/DC style? (10)
BISEXUALLY: IS from the clue, a short word meaning former, the abbreviation for United, a word meaning supporter or friend, all after (following) the first letter (leader) of band

18a    Dependent on setting one tax cut, unexpectedly large (10)
CONTEXTUAL: An anagram (unexpectedly) of ONE TAX CUT plus the abbreviation for large

22a    Eighties cultural trend born around wit (3,3)
NEW AGE: A 3-letter word meaning born goes around a 3-letter wit

23a    Breed with nympho, one frequently on course (8)
RACEGOER: A 4-letter breed plus a common word for a nympho

24a    Raid on manoeuvres? (6)
INROAD: An anagram (manoeuvres) of RAID ON

25a    Recess to include unexpected third anniversary (8)
BIRTHDAY: A recess, as in a window set back, contains (to include) an anagram (unexpected) of THIRD 

26a    Met base, heartless, insane gangster (6)
YARDIE: A 4-letter word used for the headquarters of the Met, plus I(nsan)E without the inner letters (heartless)

27a    Dutch city school in east Nederland — less than half of it (8)
ENSCHEDE: A 3-letter abbreviation for school goes inside (in) the abbreviation for east and the first 4 letters (less than half) of NEDE(rland)


1d    Liberal American signed contract and joined up (6)
LINKED: The abbreviation for liberal and how an American might say signed contract

2d    Cloth that makes prince cold at first, not hot (6)
CAMLET: A Shakespearian prince with the abbreviation for cold at first replacing the abbreviation for hot



3d    Lawsuit father’s taken out of proportion (6)
ACTION: An 8-letter proportion with the initial 2-letter abbreviation for a religious father removed (taken out)

4d    Stifle venomous individual having dislike about unknown team (10)
ASPHYXIATE: A 3-letter snake, then a word meaning dislike goes about an algebraic variable plus a Roman numeral describing a team

6d    Element of expanded account? (8)
ACTINIUM: Take the 2-letter abbreviation for account, read it as a chemical symbol then expand it

7d    Utterly useless vitamin left in fish (4-4)
BONE IDLE: The vitamin here is thiamine, otherwise known as B1. Then add a 3-letter fish with the abbreviation for left inserted

8d    Black bird extremely lucky to land on new bridge, for one (8)
BROOKLYN: The abbreviation for black, then a 4-letter bird (which happens to be black), the outer letters (extremely) of lucky and the abbreviation for new

13d    Rest of statement covering Times article (10)
RELAXATION: A statement or story goes around (covering) the letter that looks like an arithmetic times symbol plus an indefinite article

15d    Barely is able to get it back with skilful boxing (8)
SCANTILY: A verb meaning ‘is able’ plus a reversal (back) of IT in the clue are covered by (boxing) a word meaning skilful or clever


16d    Are all points being taken in by right responder? (8)
ANSWERER: ARE from the clue contains (being taken in) the 4 compass points, followed by the abbreviation for right

17d    Man finally opening unopened can in port (8)
BENGHAZI: A man’s first name, the last letter (finally) of opening, then a 5-letter word for can or lavatory without the first letter (unopened)

19d    Poisoned quotes protecting power on the rise (6)
SEPTIC: A reversal (on the rise) of a verb meaning quotes around (protecting) the abbreviation for power

20d    Pamper daughters protected by old king (6)
CODDLE: Two times the abbreviation for daughter inside (protected by) a king who was a merry old soul. Hm, protect in two subsequent clues – even the greats can have wee oversights

21d    Mole appearing as grey on ground (6)
GROYNE: An anagram (ground) of GREY ON. Mole as in breakwater

The Libyan port made me laugh. I also enjoyed the nympho and the vitamin. Which were your favourite clues?

31 comments on “Toughie 2652

  1. Enjoyable puzzle (well, four mini-puzzles really) – thanks to Sparks and Dutch.
    I’d never heard of the 2d cloth but the wordplay was clear.
    My top picks were 11a, 23a and 15d.

  2. I thought this was pretty hard, even for a Friday Toughie. That said, I persevered and finally came out on top. 23a was my favourite clue of many, with 5a a worthy runner-up.

    Thanks to Sparks for the challenge and to Dutch.

  3. I surprised myself with this one. A letter in every light but none too sure of why until I read Dutch’s blog. Thiamine B one. I would never have sussed that one. A nice end to the puzzles this week. Thanks to Dutch and Sparks

  4. Thanks to Sparks for a good Friday Toughie.
    NW corner was hardest with unknown cloth and Americanism in 1d.
    All the more difficult by 1ac being a bit iffy.
    Still most enjoyable.
    Thanks as always to Dutch.

  5. Sadly, this wasn’t my day at all. I started with the NW quadrant mini-puzzle, and ran aground immediately with two of the down entries missing and two of the across entries missing. Spending a good deal of time, I could not find a breakthrough anywhere. It should have been with the word play in 2d, which, as Gazza points out, was clear enough, but (with only one checker) I could not come up with the prince (silly me). Anyway I’m afraid I ditched this without going any further. I’m glad others enjoyed it.

    1. If you start with a Dutch city with sch in it (yes I had to look it up) theSE corner becomes accessible.

      1. Thank you very much for your hint and encouragement. After my losing battle with the NW quadrant my perseverance quotient was exhausted, and on reading Dutch’s review, I wasn’t surprised that I was having difficulties. Consequently I was happy enough to not to venture any further.

  6. I started this in a grumpy mood: the lousy grid, my inability to parse 1a [I still can’t] and the superfluous “for one” in 8d. Then it improved a lot. Sparks compensated for the grid with the symmetrical Xs which made18a and13d almost giveaways to get off to a flying start in the lower half. 23a [last one in] and 17d were both chuckleworthy.
    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

    1. Hi Halcyon,
      I don’t think that the “for one” is superfluous as Brooklyn is not necessarily a bridge.

  7. The only one I couldn’t fully understand was 1a also but reading the comments it now make sense.
    The Syrian port and the Dutch town were left until the end. The latter only needed to be checked from the parsing but the former was dragged from memory and worked out thereafter.
    Loved the charade in 14a.
    Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch for the review.

    1. Not Syrian! Syria does have a bit of the med coast between Lebanon and turkey. I grew up in Lebanon, but I wish I was french

    2. Not Syrian! Syria does have a bit of the med coast between Lebanon and turkey. I grew up in Lebanon, but I wish I was french

  8. Took me a fair while after a very sluggish start. I gave up trying to parse 1a so appreciate insights from others. Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  9. Finally crossed the finish line courtesy of a bloody-minded ‘Sparks won’t beat me’ attitude and the hint in Dutch’s prologue that suggested where I might find the 17d port!
    The 26a criminal and the Dutch city were new discoveries and I admit to not having a clue why 1a was what it had to be.
    Top two for me were 9&23a.

    Thanks to Sparks (love to Sparky) and to Dutch for the review – the pic for 10a made me laugh, I dread to think how he felt when he woke up!

  10. We ended up wrong in the NW corner. Settled for PACK AWAY for 1a and for 1d had PENNED which we couldn’t fully parse and did question whether William Penn could be described as liberal. He was a Quaker.
    The rest of the puzzle went together smoothly enough and enjoyable to solve.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  11. Many thanks — or should that be erg bedankt? — to Dutch for a cracking and amusingly illustrated blog, and to all solvers for what seem to be overwhelmingly positive comments.

    There was indeed a Nina, the identification of which accrues from a combi of several peeps’ comments: hopefully the attached pic explains it!

    Sparky is hanging on in there and says “hi” to Jane@10, but with 5 fewer teeth and less hair than the last time :(

    1. Hi Sparks,
      Tell Sparky I know the feeling – another tooth lost and hair shedding all over the place!

    2. Hey sparks, so nice of you to say hello. I don’t quite get the nina. Linked scantily 4X? I thought my mind was warped but it seems i have a way to go. I did like the symmetric X’s

      1. I would guess that the “linked scantily” refers to the fact that the grid has four sectors that are linked to the centre of the grid only by the squares with an X as the solution.

        1. I didn’t notice Spark’s’s Sparkseses, Sparkises) four Xs. But then I never notice yours ProliXic. Did Sparks borrow them from you or have you given them away for good?

  12. Well, I’m going to tell you this was a read and write puzzle. No! I’m not brilliant, I’ve just sat here over my breakfast coffee, read the hints and entered the answers. Believe me, except for 8 d , it was completely beyond me. I’m glad the rest of you enjoyed it.

  13. A properly tough Friday Toughie IMV. Many thanks to Sparks for the mental torture!

    I needed two of Dutch’s hints (thank you for those) and it was otherwise a very slow but enjoyable and largely fair journey anti-clockwise from the SE. Still have a couple of Hummmmms for 1a and 9a (gear / tape??), and there were some pretty darned esoteric (eg 2d) or extremely dated (10a) clues, but the clunks and clangs of pennies dropping surley wakened my neighbours.


  14. quite enjoyable and not overtaxing. For 1a i thought that ‘where there is a will there is a way’ meant that no hesitation was required. But each to his own on this one. Thanks to Dutch for the parsing of 7d. No chance of spotting Sparks Nina COTD 23a

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