Toughie 2668 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2668

Toughie No 2668 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

It’s  pleasure to blog a Notabilis again, it feels like it has been a while. As usual from this setter, this is an excellent puzzle which I found tricky, and some of my parsings were post-solve – the last one being the counter-agent. We have a Nina which shouldn’t be too hard to spot – it helped me with the solve, especially with 1d and 18d.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Displays a vegetable dressed with capers (11)
APPEARANCES: A from the clue, then a small round green vegetable goes inside (dressed with) a word meaning capers or frolics

9a    Goshen evacuated and the Nile laid waste to give spiritual insight (9)
ENLIGHTEN: An anagram (laid waste) of G(oshe)N (evacuated) + THE NILE

10a    Ladies out not needing coats so long (5)
ADIEU: Remove outer letters ( … not needing coats)

11a    Attachment to computer‘s no good for supplementing benefit (6)
DONGLE: Insert (for supplementing) the abbreviation for no good into a benefit

12a    One very fair king with success stopping rapacity (5,3)
GREEK GOD: The abbreviation for king and a 2-letter word that can mean success are inside (stopping) a word meaning rapacity

13a    TV’s Bruce mostly drinks American blend (6)
FUSION: First name of the Question Time presenter without the last letter (mostly) contains (drinks) a 2-letter abbreviation for American. Did anyone else have the wrong Bruce at first?

15a    Third-rate celeb tours old monastery (8)
CLOISTER: A third-rate celeb would be a (1-6), which goes around (tours) the abbreviation for old

18a    Variable cloud whenever retreating in time for military exercises (5,3)
FIELD DAY: A reversal (retreating) of: An algebraic variable, a verb meaning to cloud or muddle, and a conjunction meaning whenever

19a    Certain people’s high tension during film-related turns (6)
ETHNIC: A reversal (turns) of the abbreviation for high tension inside (during) a word or prefix meaning film-related

21a    Counter-agent has stake split by extreme elements in 6 (8)
ANTIDOTE: A betting stake has inserted (split by) two notes at the extremes of a musical 6d

23a    It’s hellish having room for wife, as much as one can bear (6)
ARMFUL: A 5-letter word meaning hellish or terrible in which the abbreviation for wife is replaced by the 2-letter abbreviation for room

26a    Water creature carried westward by icebergs (5)
GREBE: Reverse hidden (carried westward by … )

27a    Bottle base to cover street as paving material (9)
FLAGSTONE: A 6-letter bottle plus the base of natural logarithms covers the abbreviation for street

28a    Significant birthday treat’s finale, led around yard (6-5)
TWENTY-FIRST: The last letter (finale) in treat, then a (4,5) phrase meaning led goes around the abbreviation for yard



1d    Leading trouble between adult male and female (5,2)
AHEAD OF: A 3-letter word for trouble goes between the abbreviation for adult plus a male pronoun and the abbreviation for female

2d    Python endlessly getting lighter (5)
PALIN: A 6-letter word for getting lighter without the last letter (endlessly)

3d    Extremely good one with halo displays this (9)
ANGELHOOD: An anagram (displays) of the outer letters (extremely) of G(oo)D + ONE + HALO

4d    Official records of proceedings oddly mislaid, fancy that! (4)
ACTA: Even letters (oddly mislaid … )

5d    Dash features cheat and upstanding type crossing line (8)
CONTROLS: A 3-letter cheat plus a reversal (upstanding, in a down clue) of a word meaning type or kind containing (crossing) the abbreviation for line

6d    Tartar‘s hierarchy (5)
SCALE: Two meanings, the first related to your teeth

7d    In bits when chloroformed? (7)
ASUNDER: Split (2,5), the answer could mean when chloroformed

8d    Fours swap places in tremendous location on the Thames (8)
KINGSTON: Take an 8-letter slang word meaning tremendous or extremely big, and swap the first four and second four letters

14d    Annual report of 16th set of rooms? (5,3)
SWEET PEA: A homophone (report of) set of rooms number 16

16d    Measured by side of Milan, reasonably loud houses like this (2,5,2)
IN TERMS OF: A Milan football side, then the musical abbreviation for reasonably loud contains (houses) a 2-letter word meaning ‘like this’

17d    Holy Joe‘s pitch on shortened mound (8)
TARTUFFE: Some 3-letter pitch plus a 6-letter word for a mound without the last letter (shortened)

18d    In college society it’s horrible and stressful (7)
FRAUGHT: A contracted version of a male college society contains a 3-letter expression meaning ‘it’s horrible’ or ‘that’s disgusting’

20d    Makeover of cruel TV channel under way (7)
CULVERT: An anagram (makeover) of CRUEL TV

22d    Remained in the world of von der Leyen? That is out! (5)
DWELT: Take a (3,4) German (of von der Leyen) newspaper that translates to ‘the world’, then remove (out!) the Latin abbreviation for that is 

24d    Eating large, square meal, that’s fine (5)
FLOUR: A square number contains (eating) the abbreviation for large

25d    Necessary for Thai bantamweight to lose eight in a row (4)
BAHT: ‘Bantamweight’ loses eight consecutive letters (the central ones)

Some lovely touches, TV channel, square meal, etc. I really like the von der Leyen clue but my favourite today has to be the sweet 16 annual report (14d). Which clues did you like?

28 comments on “Toughie 2668

  1. An excellent and very enjoyable puzzle from Notabilis who always delivers the goods. Thanks to him and to Dutch for the review.

    It’s a bit of a coincidence that the Nina should appear on the same day that there’s further embarrassment for Tony’s namesake, the hapless Secretary of State.

    My printout is awash with ticks – I’ll just list 13a, 21a, 7d, 22d, 24d and 25d.

  2. Despite this not being an Elgar it took me all of the morning and I’m still 3 short. I’ll admit some answers were bungins but at least I got the right Bruce!

  3. Without the NINA I would still be scratching my head over 2d and trying to parse “pylon”. Superb stuff from another master, that’s 2 in a row. No tricks, no gimmicks, just great clue writing.
    Favourites, from many, – 8d [fours swap] 14d [so clever] 22d [loved the surface as well as the wordplay] and 2d!
    Many thanks Notabilis [don’t leave it so long next time] and Dutch for the blog.

  4. I absolutely loved solving this and fell into the groove very quickly. Naturally I failed to spot the Nina, but everything else other than a couple of late parsings was perfectly solvable and great fun. 22 and 25d were my top clues.

    Grateful thanks to Notabilis for he challenge and to Dutch.

  5. We don’t see enough of Notabilis and he usually turns up when I’m away from home, more often than not when we are waiting to fly home from Belfast. This one was started in Lyme Regis, continued at Chesil beach, finished in Weymouth.

    Thanks to Notabilis for a proper stretching of the grey matter and to Dutch for the blog

  6. Most enjoyable thanks Notabilis.
    So many cleverly constructed clues.
    As usual needed help with parsing several but did finally fill the grid.
    21ac took ages to sort as the scale has to start with Do …doh!
    Also other Bruce beginning with F ….dash it!
    Thanks to Dutch.

  7. I needed the hints for 18a and 18d so this one got the better of me despite a slow journey giving me the much needed time to get the rest.

    Thanks to Notabilis for a cracking puzzle and to Dutch for the required assistance on my last two.

  8. Donned my b-minded head and actually managed to solve this, with a slight detour to check with the BRB on 4&17d.
    Two questions – I thought 15a referred only to a particular area of a monastery and that the extremes of 6d would be ‘do’ & ‘do’.
    Top three here were 6,7 & 14d.

    Thanks to Notabilis for the brain strain and to Dutch for the review.

    1. BRB says a 15a can be a monastery or nunnery.
      The ‘extremes’ in 21a must be the two elements right at the top.

    2. The musical scale goes from DO to TE, or alternatively TE to DO , then it repeats.

        1. Many thanks to both of you – I obviously hadn’t looked beyond the ‘covered walkway’ in the BRB, slapped wrist for me!
          Think I prefer Gazza’s take on the 21a extremes – I certainly recall our school music mistress referring to ‘top do’, so there must surely be one at either end of a standard scale?

          1. Yes, you’re right, Jane. It’s really a matter of semantics. Do to Do, I’d say.

  9. Oh, this was just brilliant, and I came darn close to finishing it (with some electronic assists) and haven’t yet spotted the Nina. But I did manage to locate the right Bruce (a la Google) and twigged the right Python, early on. Moliere came to the rescue for Holy Joe (my mind makes strange bedfellows of things) and I loved 12a, 7d, and 15a–plus a lot more. Many thanks to Dutch (I needed quite a bit of help parsing) and Notabilis (please come back soon, and often).

      1. The Nina is on rows 2 and 14. It’s the name of a famous UK radio and TV comedy programme from the last century.

  10. Excellent challenge and very enjoyable to unravel
    Thank you Notabillis and Dutch for the review

  11. This was hard work, but very enjoyable and satisfyingly, I was able to finish. 13a seemed to require some pretty localized knowledge – I hadn’t heard of Question Time or the Bruce in question, but fortunately I was able to guess the entry correctly from the definition and checkers. The Nina went right over my head – but they usually do. My last in was the ‘Necessary’ in 25d (like many others, so clever). Many thanks to Notabilis and Dutch.

  12. Found the SW the hardest in this very enjoyable toughie.
    And now that I can spell 18a, I managed to get a foothold there.
    Last one in was 14d just after 17d.
    Didn’t spot the Nina until mentioned and remembered the black and white series.
    Thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch.

  13. Funny how different setters suit different people. I struggled with yesterday’s “2*” and finished today’s “5*” more quickly! Both enjoyable, thanks.

  14. What a great puzzle. It makes us feel very proud of our compatriot.
    Eventually got everything sorted and parsed with the last act being the parsing of 8d as we spend time trying to get form ‘king size’ to the answer.
    Being fans of old re-runs of Antiques Roadshow helped a lot with 13a.
    Did not think to look for a Nina so missed that.
    Thanks Notabilis and Dutch.

  15. So nice to see one of my favourite setters again, after what feels like far too long. I thought this the best puzzle I’ve done in a long time, easily earning ***** for enjoyment. Too many great clues to list them all, but I will mention 28a (mine own is exactly a week away!), 7d, 8d, 14d, 20d and 22d. Didn’t spot the Nina until the very end, but it did help with the final clue.
    Many thanks Notabilis and Dutch.

    1. Hi Acnestis.
      Did you realise that Notabilis is also from NZ. The other name he uses for crosswords is Kea which has the Latin name Nestor notabilis.

      1. Hi 2Ks.
        I suspected he might have been. Thanks for confirming!
        He also used to set as Nestor for the Indy, but I haven’t seen one of his puzzles there for several years now.

  16. Very enjoyable and scrupulously fair Friday Toughie from Notabilis, as usual. I particularly liked 13a and 15a, amongst many outstanding clues. Whilst most people in the public eye enjoy 15 minutes of fame, it would seem that the beleaguered Health Secretary is worth a double ration, i.e. half-an-hour, perhaps because he Is a blood donor ??!?

Comments are closed.