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Toughie 2678

Toughie No 2678 by Serpent

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

Serpent has given us a proper Toughie to solve this grey and gloomy Wednesday morning.

I’m always slightly disappointed when a setter doesn’t use a grid like this one to give us a Nina round the perimeter. Serpent always hides something in his crosswords and I’m happy to report that he has done something clever with this particular grid, the noticing of which helped me find the initial letters of the solutions I was having trouble with in the NW corner.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Monitors adopting international codes of practice? (8)
POLICIES A verb meaning monitors adopting the abbreviation for International

9a    Represent content of new script briefly? (6)
PRECIS An anagram (represent) of the ‘content’ of nEw and almost all (briefly) of SCRIPt

10a    Unit equal to inverse of time divided by speed of light (4)
ACRE A reversal (inverse) of a period of time into which is inserted (divided by) the symbol for the speed of light

11a    Furious tech company admitting nothing initially causes tension in court (10)
APOPLECTIC A well-known tech company admitting the letter representing nothing, followed by the initial letters of Causes Tension In Court

12a    Prime minister cut short by Queen is upset (6)
RATTLE Follow the Latin abbreviation for Queen with a shortened surname of a Prime Minister

14a    Stop being inspired by fresh green produce (8)
ENGENDER A verb meaning to stop inspired by an anagram (fresh) of GREEN

15a    Bridge is blocked by American boat (6)
SAMPAN A bridge blocked by an abbreviation for American

17a    Give up on board divulging information? (6)
RESIGN The two-letters meaning on (the subject of) and a board divulging information

20a    Sponge divers source shell from galleon (8)
SCROUNGE An anagram (divers) of SOURCE and the outside letters (shell) from GalleoN

22a    This material, close to chintz, can be made into organza (6)
ANGORA If you add the ‘close’ to chintZ to this material, an anagram of the letters (can be made) will produce ORGANZA

23a    Total profit in English banks providing high interest rate (10)
ENGROSSING The total profit and IN (from the clue) inserted into (banks) an abbreviation for English

24a    Small advance by one member in workplace (4)
SHOP The abbreviation for Small and an advance made by using only one member of the body

25a    Reporter’s relatively hackneyed cover for The Observer (6)
CORNEA A homophone (reporter’s) of a comparative adjective meaning relatively hackneyed

26a    Girlie magazine’s ultimate shot captures woman’s rear in this (8)
LINGERIE An anagram (shot) of GIRLIE E (the ultimate letter of magazinE) captures the letter at the rear of womaN


1d    Covers up church backing scam and losing nothing (8)
CONCEALS The abbreviation for the Church of England goes after (backing) a scam and is then followed by a synonym for and without (losing) the O (nothing)

2d    Adviser thought to have advanced to highest level (4)
AIDE Move the abbreviation for Advanced from the end of a thought to the top (to highest level)

3d    Cost of hiring detective is criminal (6)
PIRATE Split 2,4 this criminal would show the cost of hiring a private investigator

4d    Last section of work records interrupted by one void update (8)
EPILOGUE Two types of record ‘interrupted’ by I (one) followed by the outside (void) letters of UpdatE

5d    Revoking terms of public user signed in by mistake (10)
RESCINDING An anagram (by mistake) of the ‘terms’ or ends of publiC and useR and SIGNED IN

6d    Joyful expression encapsulating the author’s particular way with words (6)
SIMILE A joyful expression encapsulating the way the author might refer to himself

8d    Push student to use clearing process? (6)
SHOVEL A verb meaning to push and the usual abbreviation for student

13d    Instrument in boat beginning to monitor polluted water (10)
TAMBOURINE An anagram (polluted) of IN BOAT and the ‘beginning’ to Monitor, followed by water produced by the kidneys

16d    Debut of Michael Caine as criminal is one to forget (8)
AMNESIAC An anagram (criminal) of M (the debut of Michael) CAINE AS

18d    Backward child going round bend lives in drug-induced state (8)
NARCOSIS A reversal (backward) of a boy child goes round a bend, the result followed by a simple way of saying lives

19d    Broadcast part of breakfast TV programme in instalments (6)
SERIAL A homophone (broadcast) of part of breakfast

21d    Lead singer may perform series of concerts on radio (6)
CANTOR The leader of singing in a church is found by adding a homophone (on radio) of a series of concerts to a synonym for may

22d    Car repairers replacing casing of engine causes complaint (6)
ANGINA Replace the ‘casing’ of EnginE with the abbreviated way we refer to one of the organisations who will come out and repair your car when it has broken down

24d    Short month’s end appears earlier than usual in part of March? (4)
STEP Abbreviate the ninth month of the year and then move the letter at the end ‘earlier than usual’


18 comments on “Toughie 2678

  1. We have another hot and sunny day in North Devon and for me this was the most enjoyable puzzle Serpent has given us since he joined the ranks of the Toughie setters. Thanks to him and CS.

    I spotted the clever ringing of the changes round the periphery in time for that to help with my last few answers.

    I ticked 17a, 23a and 3d but my favourite was the amusing 24a.

    1. I too smiled at 24a and marked it for favouritism but forgot to mention it in the blog

  2. I found this very tough, but overall I enjoyed it a lot with 24a my favourite which is joined on my podium by 17a & 3d.

    I did notice the Nina round the four edges which helped me to get the answer to 21d, my last one in. However I couldn’t parse it nor could I parse 9a. Thanks CS for the enlightenment with 9a, but, even with your explanation, I can’t see at all how the second syllable of 21d relates to concerts.

    Thanks too to Serpent.

      1. Yuk! 👎

        What an absolutely appalling non-homophone. I would never have got that in a million years.

  3. I found this something of a mixed bag – overall a bit of a slog but enlivened with a few very nice clues: the all in one at 9a, the cunningly appropriate anagram indicator in 20a, the LOL 24a and the clever 22d. 21d is the worst homophone I’ve heard in a long time. Didn’t spot the NINA but it is well done.
    Thanks to Serpent and to CS for the blog.

  4. Had I noticed the Ninas on the periphery, perhaps I might have completed this lovely Serpent, but I didn’t and fell four short of a finish–4a, 12a, 19d, and 26a. I did have some electronic help to get as far as I did. Favourite clue today 23a, but many others delighted me. Thanks to CS for helping me parse a couple and to Serpent for the entertainment.

  5. Being picky but the clue to 26a needs tweaking.
    Managed all but the NE corner when I ran out of steam. The parsec variations are very clever.
    Thanks to serpent and CS

  6. Decent toughie, solved unaided except for the odd head scratch and raised eyebrow.

    Thanks to Serpent and CS.

  7. Totally missed the Nina which is a pity as it would have been a help with the last few answers.
    Quite a challenge but we did get everything sorted and enjoyed the solve.
    Thanks Serpent and CS.

  8. Too tough for a late night bedtime solve. Did grind out a finish with the aid of 1 letter reveal but more importantly thought I’d read the comments with 8 still unsolved. Only read 3 lines of Gazza’s comment & immediately went back & saw the Nina which helped me over the line enormously. Had to look up what parsec was though. Agree that 24a was excellent & probably the pick of the clues but also very much liked 11,22&23a together with 6,13,18&22d. Couldn’t parse 21d either.
    Thanks to Serpent & CS

  9. Failed to complete this even though I got several clues without understanding quite how they worked. 18d was one of those that I still don’t! Didn’t spot the Nina, but then that’s something I had never heard of before I first read this blog.

    1. 18d A reversal (backward) of SON (child) goes round ARC (bend), the result followed by IS (lives)

  10. Too tough for this bear of little brain and acceptor of all homophones. Thanks to The Serpent (I enjoyed the recent series about you) thanks to CrypticSue. Rather you than me today

  11. I did this a day late but still found it pretty hard going. Nicely rewarding though, with a real sense of achievement on completion. Thanks to Serpent and CS.

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