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Toughie 2669

Toughie No 2669 by Robyn

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Robyn is a new (female?) Toughie setter and this is an excellent, if not too difficult to solve, debut.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Do a bit of hip rock’n’roll, always backing band (6)
SASHAY: a two-letter word meaning always preceded by (backing) a band

4a    In retirement, banking assets extremely devalued (6)
ABASED: a word meaning in retirement for the night around (banking) the outer letters (extremely) of A[sset]S

8a    Running into figure saying something cutting (5,3)
TENON SAW: a two-letter word meaning running between a 2-digit number and a saying

10a    Spies area where men go (6)
AGENTS: A(rea) and where men go to use the toilet

11a    After Beethoven’s Ninth, I thunderously hum (4)
NIFF: the ninth-letter of [Beethove]N followed by I from the clue and the musical notation for very loud (thunderously)

12a    Diced kale idly taken in both hands for hot dish? (4-6)
LADY KILLER: an anagram (dice-) of KALE IDLY inside the abbreviations for Left and Right (both hands – not too sure about the definition, perhaps that explains the question mark!

13a    Caterer sighs when moving box full of bread (4,8)
CASH REGISTER: an anagram (when moving) of CATERER SIGHS – bread here means money

16a    Kicking off at hot time of year, United score (12)
INAUGURATING: at a hot time of year (2,3) followed by U(nited) and a score or grade

20a    Shocked response from one of a pair rankles (6,4)
DOUBLE TAKE: the first seven letters of the answer can mean one of a pair, just as a similar word can mean one of three – add on the even letters (occasionally) of rAnKlEs

21a    One once producing scores of cakes or loaves, not tons (4)
BACH: these are musical scores – just drop the T(ons) from a lot of cakes or loaves of bread

22a    Guy hemming edges of Everton strip (6)
DENUDE: a guy or chap around (hemming) the outer letters (edges) of E[verto]N

23a & 5d    Kind of blue movie securing white hot coverage? (8,7)
ELECTRIC BLANKET: a shade of blue and a two-letter abbreviated name of a Speilberg movie around a word meaning white or empty – many setters seem unaware of the proper title of the movie in this clue

24a    What’s in hasty work using recycled materials (6)
REHASH: a two-letter interjection meaning “what!” inside an adjective meaning hasty

25a    Aerobics begins thus to create divine figure (6)
ATHENE: how AErobics begins (1,4,1)


1d    Royal taken in hand is, surprisingly, a source of drama (8)
SHERIDAN: the Queen’s regnal cipher (Royal) inside an anagram (surprisingly) of HAND IS gives the surname of the playwright who wrote, among others, The Rivals

2d    Hideous coffee cups quickly put away (5)
SCOFF: hidden (cups) inside the clue

3d    Excuse figure out topless, holding up six-pack? (7)
ABSOLVE: a verb meaning to figure out minus its initial letter (topless) preceded by another name for the set of well-defined abdominal muscles known as a six-pack

5d    See 23 Across

6d    Cricketer cutting fish to detect fishiness (5,1,3)
SMELL A RAT: the surname of a high-scoring West Indian cricketer inside (cutting) a type of fish

7d    Want conviction of criminal tried around the 5th of March (6)
DITHER: an anagram (criminal) of TRIED around the fifth letter of [Marc]H

9d    Serving for the match, Wade aced King, missing a shot (7,4)
WEDDING CAKE: this match is a marriage – an anagram (shot) of WADE [A]CED KING alludes to a tennis match between Virginia Wade and Billy Jean King

14d    One used to groom hospital doctor superficially (9)
HAIRBRUSH: H(ospital) followed by a verb meaning to superficially doctor a photograph or similar picture

15d    During play’s opening, venue empty and lifeless (8)
INACTIVE: a two-letter word meaning during and the first part of a play (3,1) followed by V[enu]E without its inner letters (empty)

17d    Not getting on a ship carrying English cricket side around (7)
AGELESS: the A from the clue and a SteamShip around (carrying) the reversal (around) of E(nglish) and a cricket side also known as the on side

18d    Swimmer in play area has time to return to office (2-5)
RE-ELECT: a fish (swimmer) inside an area for playing sports and followed by T(ime)

19d    ‘I seek to impress,’ you said, cracking Toughie (6)
POSEUR: the letter that sounds like (said) you inside (cracking) a Toughie or difficult question

21d    Wash black articles (5)
BATHE: B(lack) followed by the indefinite article and the definite article (articles)

One of these clues, 23a/5d, required a bit of head-scratching to resolve – maybe I was distracted by the reference to one of my favourite albums.


32 comments on “Toughie 2669

  1. Welcome to the DT Robyn, and thank you, Once I’d got on the setter’s wavelength, I thought this was an enjoyable crossword which just needed a teeny tweak to make it onto the Toughie spectrum. Nice to see a variation on the ‘usual’ to clue 25a. No particular favourites, just a nice solving experience all round

    Thanks also to BD

  2. On the basis of this puzzle Robyn is a very welcome addition to the ranks of Toughie setters. I particularly enjoyed the many deceptive definitions (e.g. ‘not getting on’ and ‘want conviction’).

    The BRB’s take on 12a is amusing if you’ve not seen it before.

    I ticked loads of clues including 21a, 24a, 7d, 14d and 17d.

    Many thanks to Robyn and BD. It would be excellent if the former popped in to introduce herself(?).

  3. Enjoyable and straightforward with some clever misdirections.
    Thanks to Robyn and BD .

  4. I think it’s a himself, if my spies are correct!

    A very enjoyable debut and very welcome addition to the Toughie family. I wondered when we would see this setter in the Toughie family, one of my favourites elsewhere.

    A nice gentle workout today and one which augurs well. The bottom left corner held me up a little with me completely missing the word ‘strip’, nicely concealed.

    Already looking forward to the next one!

  5. I really enjoyed this, and, as others have intimated, Robyn will make an excellent addition to the Telegraph Toughie setter stable.

    My only query relates to 21a, as don’t you need “a lot of cakes and loaves” in order to define “batch”?

    My podium choices from an excellent selection are 24a, 25a, 7d & 9d.

    Many thanks to Robyn and to BD.

    1. RD, 21a. Surely in a bakery a “batch” of cakes or loaves would constitute a lot of individual items. They wouldn’t run the big, expensive oven just to bake 2 or 3 teacakes, would they?

      1. Yes, but that’s not my point. Cakes or loaves may very well be made in a batch but that doesn’t mean one defines the other. You wouldn’t use baked beans to define tin; baked beans is an example of tinned food not of a tin.

        1. You sound just like LBR! You seem to be saying that if you looked “batch” up in a dictionary in wouldn’t read “a lot of cakes or loaves”. And that is true, it’s an axiom! But this is merely a cryptic clue we’re discussing it’s not a debate organised by the Oxford Semantics Society. In these clues context is important. The clue has a bakery/baking theme and in that specific setting the word “batch” would mean only one thing – a lot, or an amount, of cakes or loaves or suchlike. And related to a cryptic clue with that theme (only) one does “define” the other sufficiently.

          1. We are going to have to agree to disagree on this, Jose.

            P.S. Your reply strikes me as being very well suited to a debating society environment! :wink:

            P.P.S. Who cares anyway? England 2 Germany 0 is what really matters! 😁

            1. No probs, RD. Yes the football is more important but the game wasn’t as good as either of yesterday evening’s two. Fancy a debate about that? :-)

        2. * Incidentally, the phrase “a lot of cakes and loaves” you use doesn’t appear in the clue so I’m not clear whether you are questioning the setter or the reviewer’s interpretation of the clue?

  6. Loved this puzzle. Some great clues and nice misdirection. I particularly liked 21a, 25a and 9d.

    Thanks to Robyn (more please) and to BD.

  7. I echo earlier comments about our new addition to the ranks of Toughie setters. This certainly had a lovely fresh feel about it, with some inventive clueing. Having been at Wimbledon yesterday I have to pick 9d as my favourite. Plenty of cricketing analogies too which always makes me happy.

    Welcome and congratulations to Robyn, and my thanks as always to BD.

  8. The NW corner really held me up and I had to cheat to get 1a to unlock it.
    I hadn’t heard of 11a before . Some clever misdirects. I’d have said masculine humour but we’ll wait and see.

    1. Me too re 11a which was my last in. 2 mental trawls through the alphabet to no avail for the first letter until his ninth dawned on me.

  9. A warm welcome from me too. Enjoyed this immensely despite taking a while to get on wavelength so it was plenty tricky enough for me, today anyway. Fully agree that the clueing had a fresh feel with some great surfaces & clever misdirection. There were some lovely PDMs albeit my pennies were somewhat slow to drop. Favourite was 23a/5d but there were plenty of big ticks elsewhere – 12,13,16&20a along with 6,7,9,14,17&19d all goodies in my book.
    Many thanks Robyn & keenly await your next one. Thanks to BD for the review.

  10. Like crypticsue, it took me a little while to get onto Robyn’s wavelength. However, once there, this rolled along smoothly and without major hold up. I am much relieved that I got 21a – I would have been kicking myself round the block for weeks had I not done so – but the subtlety of the misdirect was an underlying theme for me in what was a most enjoyable solve. Thank you, and welcome, Robyn, and thanks to Big Dave for the review.

  11. Several clues made me chuckle so you’re very welcome Robyn. I was impressed by the cunning misdirections as well, especially the definition in 9d but also in some of the clue structures like 15d where I struggled to find a word for a play’s opening in order to put “ve” in it. Many thanks, and to BD for the blog.

  12. Fresh, invigorating, and thoroughly enjoyable. So thank you, Robyn, and welcome to our world! So many ticks to cite, so much to like. I thought that 7d was the first of many brilliant clues, followed by 20a, 9d, and the ultimate coup, 23a/5d. Please return often, Robyn. And thanks to BD for the hints, which luckily I didn’t need.

  13. I’m going to swim against the tide here and say I failed to get into Robyn’s mindset, found this a rather tedious and excessively contrived slog more suited for a Thursday or Friday, and really didn’t enjoy it very much. Sorry.

    15d COTD and hon. mentions to 7d and 17d.

    Thanks nonetheless to the setter and to BD for his review, from which I needed one hint.

  14. I finished this just before the England match started so first things first. Anyway we’re not losing. Enjoyable puzzle though. Thanks to Robyn and BD.

  15. As I said when I commented on this on the back page blog “quirky” was the first word that came to mind, fresh and original were two others. Definitely a Toughie in name and nature, the last half dozen took a fair bit of teasing out.
    Podium places go to.1a&17d with top spot going to 19d..brilliant.
    Many thanks and welcome Robyn, look forward to the next, and to BD for the top notch entertainment.

  16. Very enjoyable and – as others have said – refreshingly different. I did start off by thinking Robyn was a ‘she’ but by the time I reached 6d I began to have doubts. Having said that, if I knew the cricketer then so would others of the fair sex!
    So many possible podium contenders but my favourite was probably the 23/5 combo.

    Thanks and a warm welcome to Robyn and thanks to BD for the review.

  17. Loved the puzzle … especially the tennis one.

    RD vs Jose?… perhaps 40 / 40 … or Deuce … or égalité?

  18. A slow start for us which we thought was a good example of how important it is to be able to get on to a setter’s mindset or wavelength. Once we had our first half dozen or so sorted it all flowed much more smoothly. Kept us smiling and chuckling all the way through so certainly no complaints from us.
    Thanks and welcome to the stable Robyn and to BD.

  19. Very enjoyable puzzle from a new setter. 9d, 14d and 10a were all clever, original and amusing, amongst many good clues. I certainly hope Robyn is a female setter. For the first half of my life virtually all English Robins were male, and none of us spelt our names with a ‘y’ as the fourth letter. Since then virtually all new-born English Robyns have been female, and my name is now frequently misspelt, and people who have only had contact with me by e-mail often assume I’m female ! Anyway, it doesn’t really matter, so welcome aboard Robyn !!

    1. I’m a Mark. Can’t stand Marc as an alternative spelling. I also have an ancient double barrel surname. Get that wrong at your peril.

  20. As I said in an email at 07.31am – What a lovely puzzle from a new Toughie setter. I across sets the tone nicely. I so enjoyed this puzzle. Thank you Robyn. Thank you BD for the review which I was tempted to write myself and thank you Chris Lancaster for introducing this new setter.

  21. Right on wavelength and only held up with 2d/11a and 22a for some obscure reason.
    Thanks and welcome to Robyn.
    Thanks also to BD for the blog.

  22. I am so glad I decided to get up and make myself a hot chocolate and picked up the toughie. I have to admit I binged in 6d with no idea about famous cricketers so thanks for explaining that Bug Dave. I needed to reveal 19d because it just wouldn’t come but I thought the misdirections were delicious- serving for the match! And 7d, a beauty. Male or female Robyn,
    many thanks. Back to bed now.

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