Toughie 2659 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2659

Toughie No 2659 by Firefly

Hints and tips by 2Kiwis

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

Kia ora from Aotearoa.
  Bet you did not expect to see us back so soon.
Gazza has other important things to attend at present so we have the rare opportunity and privilege of writing the hints and tips for a Toughie.
  The NE corner was the sector that gave us the most difficulty in this most enjoyable offering from Firefly.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.


1a     Part of salad — pop it in for quickness (8)
CELERITY : Insert ‘it’ from the clue into a stalky salad ingredient.

5a     Excited when the setter’s taken into custody? (6)
WARMED : A two letter personal pronoun the setter could use for himself is inside a word for someone in protective care.

9a     I’m recast amazingly as Potter (8)
CERAMIST : An anagram (amazingly) of I’M RECAST.

10a     Somewhat posher messenger-boy? (6)
HERMES : ‘Messenger-boy?’ is the definition but the whole clue is involved in this lurker.

12a     Husband’s into dark craft (6)
DINGHY : Dark or gloomy contains H(usband).

13a     Girl joins gang in colourful square (8)
BANDANNA : A palindromic girl follows a gang that might be of musicians.

15a     Prohibit nasty board game; commercial cancelled (7)
EMBARGO : An anagram (nasty) of BO(a)R(d) GAME once a commercial plug has been removed.

16a     Speaker’s moment to present decoration (4)
TORC : A homophone (Speaker’s) of a word meaning a moment or turning force. 

20a     Questions from former American (4)
EXAM : The prefix meaning former plus AM(erican).

21a     Prodigy moving bishop to the right: that’s painful for Iris! (7)
RAINBOW : Start with a five letter word for a prodigy or intellectual and move the first letter (B) to the end, then an exclamation saying ‘that’s painful’.

25a     Well-known panto in production round Fringe (2,3,3)
ON THE MAP : An anagram (in production) of PANTO surrounds a fringe, usually of material.

26a     Sweet behind — ‘Elen’s, say? (6)
AFTERS : A three letter usually nautical word for behind, then a female possessive pronoun with the same elision that ‘Elen has in the clue.

28a     Top coverage of award given to international skater? (6)
ICECAP : The award traditionally given by universities for sporting achievement comes after the surface a skater would use.

29a     Their act becomes more informal (8)
CHATTIER : An anagram (becomes) of THEIR ACT.

30a     Backscratchers start to sell in Middle East republic (3-3)
YES-MEN : Insert the first letter of sell into a Middle East republic on the Arabian peninsula.

31a     Day trip I organised for 1 Across (8)
RAPIDITY : An anagram (organised) of DAY TRIP I.


1d     Six-foot individual — rotter — engaged by spies (6)
CICADA ; American spies surround a rotter or bounder.

2d     Cat gnaws leads of Andy’s revolutionary sound system (6)
LARYNX : A type of wild cat contains the first letters from two words in the clue.

3d     Romania, with man wearing red cap in, easily win … (4,4)
ROMP HOME : String together the IVR code for Romania, a military lawman who wears a red cap and the domestic location suggested by ‘in’.

4d     … top-level game; match being free of cheating (4)
TEST : A match or encounter with a three letter word for cheating removed from its beginning.

6d     To-do list assembled from maturity and with variety (6)
AGENDA : Maturity or development over time plus an anagram (with variety) of AND.

7d     Notes written about specialty as reminders (8)
MEMENTOS : A three letter medical specialty department is inside notes, often exchanged between colleagues.

8d     Spring into the sea for 31 (8)
DISPATCH : A spring or health resort is inside a slang word for the sea. (It is also the name that Kiwis call the one that separates us from Oz.)

11d     Rod departs roof garden, sadly in advanced state of disrepair (3,4)
FAR GONE : An anagram (sadly) of (ro)OF GAR(d)EN once the letters of rod have been removed.

14d     Fruit and nuts? (7)
BANANAS : A double definition.

17d     Old king’s caught up in pursuit — performance I missed in 8 (8)
VELOCITY : Start with a pursuit or hobby and remove from this a three letter performance and ‘I’ from the clue. What’s left surrounds the reversed nursery rhyme old king.

18d     17‘s stronghold (8)
FASTNESS : A double definition. The stronghold is a fortress or castle.

19d     Fragments of paper prisoner found extremely tricky to interpret initially (8)
CONFETTI : A slang word for a prisoner, then the first letters of five words in the clue.

22d     Establishment in which hands wither? (6)
MENAGE : Hands or male workers, then wither with advancing years.

23d     Sign of multiple birth? (6)
GEMINI : A cryptic definition for one of the zodiac signs.

24d     Unusual flier that, given inch, could be hypersonic … (6)
OSPREY : The answer when used in an anagram (unusual) with ‘inch’ can give hypersonic.

27d … non-flier is limited by poor health (4)
RHEA : A lurker, hiding in the clue.

Lots of good clues but we will pick the four related answers that make up much of the border as podium contenders.

19 comments on “Toughie 2659

  1. Finally able to comment. I thought it was because I was up in Norfolk!
    Some slightly dodgy cluing to my mind but took me a good portion of my train journey from London to Brighton to solve.

  2. Finally able to access the site and find the answer to a couple of clues which had defeated me. I wish I’d solved 16a but i couldn’t decide on mementos or memories for 7d.
    My other query was 25 a. An expression which fitted the squares but which I’d never heard of.
    Nice to see the Kiwis here and hope Gazza is fine.
    Ready to start another day and, this time, with the company of Big Dave. I’m always lost when the site crashes.

  3. Completed after a couple of breaks from it, so well into ***** time for me. Plumped for mementos and bunged in torc but couldn’t for the life of me see why – so thanks 2Ks for the enlightenment. Always a big disappointment when the site goes down – I usually assume it’s my device at fault, but all devices failed yesterday! It’s a bit slow loading this morning, but welcome back Big Dave and everyone.

  4. I found this far easier and far more enjoyable than yesterday’s. Couple of bung ins have been explained by the 2Ks so thanks to them and to Firefly for the top notch entertainment. Top spot goes to the back scratchers.

  5. My order of attack was NW, SE, NE and finally SW, but despite my general dislike both of the grid style (4-leaf clover, barely any links between the sections) and linking of multiple clues, I really enjoyed this challenging Toughie.

    Some great cluing, a wide variety of clue types, a few lovely red herrings, and plenty of smiles … and groans on the PDMs. My personal favourite was 24d, an absolute cracker.


    Many thanks indeed to Firefly, and to the 2Ks.

  6. I got on better with this offering from Firefly than I did with the back pager from Ray T. It was most enjoyable.

    Many thanks, Firefly. Thanks to the 2K’s for stepping in.

    1. Got there in the end early this afternoon having stalled last night with 5 to go. The speed theme got me the answers to 17&18d without being able to parse the former but most irritatingly couldn’t see either 4d or the last word of 25a without the hints – doh!
      Thanks to 2Ks for provided the leg up & to Firely for a fine & enjoyable puzzle.
      Ps don’t know why this is a reply to Steve but can’t be bothered to retype it – you obviously found it easier than I did…

      1. I suspect, Huntsman that you clicked on the “reply” arrow at the bottom of my post instead of writing in the comment box at the bottom. Not to worry, you are most welcome to hitchhike! :grin:

  7. Many thanks to 2Ks for standing in for me and to Firefly for the enjoyable puzzle with the speed theme.
    My ticks went to 26a, 28a and 2d.

  8. Compound anagrams – who else but Firefly! Just about right for Thursday and there are a couple of crackers at 21a and 17d.
    Thanks to Firefly and the Ks.

  9. With great respect to the 2Kiwis for whom they were podium contenders, the four related answers spoiled what was otherwise a very enjoyable puzzle. I never did emerge unscathed from the SW corner. Thanks to Firefly and 2Kiwis.

  10. Morning.
    Looks like the site is up and stable again now. Many thanks BD once again.
    Bet we weren’t the only ones who investigated LARION (it is so close to CLARION) before we thought of the right cat for 2d.

  11. Got them all except for the stronghold and the questions–so had to seek some electronic aids. Very fine Toughie. Thanks to the Kiwis and Firefly.

  12. Didn’t even notice that the site was down as I am so busy at the moment.
    This one was pulled from the draw and the solve was very enjoyable.
    Took a while in the SW until the activelocity dawned on me.
    Thanks to Firefly and nice to see the kiwis on the toughie blog.

  13. Thought 28A ” Top coverage of award given to international skater? (6)” was a neat clue.

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