Toughie 2681 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2681

Toughie No 2681 by Gila

Hints and tips by Miffypops

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from the St George hotel in sunny Harrogate. Today’s puzzle from Gila is an interesting mix of easy anagrams and harder to solve clues. Just about the right level for a Tuesday Toughie. Off to York later to see Sir Van Morrison at The Barbican 


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1a        Drone in America having completed miles (5)
THRUM: The American spelling of the word through (having completed) is followed by the abbreviation for miles. If only we had adopted Noah Webster’s re-writing of the way words are spelled or spelt instead of taking and upholding the moral high ground or ignorantly bemoaning the ‘incorrect’ way that American English uses common sense to spell words

4a        In spite of everything, they’re oddly entering a decline (5,3)
AFTER ALL:  The three odd numbered letters of the word they’re are placed inside the letter A from the clue and a word meaning a decline

10a      Train carriage’s rear section withdrawn by engineers (7)
RETINUE: The final letter of the word carriage and a section of an army perhaps are reversed and placed after the abbreviation for the Royal Engineers

11a      Old couple grabbing small space outside (4-3)
OPEN AIR: The abbreviation for old and a word meaning a couple or brace surround one of three printers spacings

12a      Sadly, owls nearly starve without primarily eating rodents (5,5)
WATER VOLES: An anagram (sadly) of OWL(s) and STARVE which also includes the initial letter of the word eating

13a      Guy, for example, takes time (4)
STAY: A word meaning for example takes in the abbreviation for time. The guy here is not made of flesh and blood but is a rope or line fixed to the ground to support a structure

15a      Team sport organised alongside river, generally (3,3,4,4)
FOR THE MOST PART: An anagram (generally) of TEAM SPORT follows a Scottish river

17a      Involving two individuals: a boy in contact with a boy (6-2-6)
PERSON TO PERSON: A word meaning A as in a price, for example, the mermaids vital statistics were 36 24 and twenty pence a pound. This is followed by a male offspring. Use this word twice separated by a short connection. It’s not always easy to explain a clue

20a      Rissole obviously contains fat (4)
OLEO: The answer lies hidden within the words of the clue as indicated by the word contains

21a      Personalised trial arranged with a demo (6-4)
TAILOR MADE: Anagram (arranged) of TRIAL and A DEMO

23a      Knock back some gin (or generous cocktail that requires it!) (7)
NEGRONI: The answer lies hidden within the words of the clue as indicated by the word some. It is reversed as indicated by the words knock back

24a      European knights boasted endlessly about love and honour (7)
ENNOBLE:  A four part charade which includes a shortened word. 1 The abbreviation for European 2 A pair of chess notation knights or if you prefer horses. 3 A word meaning boasted but without its last letter. 4 The letter that represents the zero score in tennis. I was thrown by the OBE in the answer being an honour

25a      Acceptable excuses given by worker? (8)
PLEASANT: claims that a circumstance means that one should not be blamed for or should not be forced to do something are followed by a soldier insect

26a      Leave old food unfinished (5)
EXEAT: A two-letter word meaning old or former is followed by a common term for foodstuffs minus its last letter. Common, or common? Both actually


1d        Disconcerted as a result of broadcast getting cancelled (5,3)
THREW OFF: A homophone of a word meaning as a result of is followed by a word meaning cancelled. Double duty with one across for this versatile word

2d        Arm muscle — it turns in both directions (7)
ROTATOR: A muscle in ones arm is also a palindrome

3d        Film takes against leading supporter of the royals (10)
MONARCHIST: A four-letter film of tiny water droplets surrounds a two-letter word meaning leading and a support for a bridge

5d        Hero flounders badly, carrying unknown injury (6,8)
FROZEN SHOULDER: Anagram (badly) of HERO FLOUNDERS which contains the mathematical unknown Z (I’m feeling generous today so I have given you the letter representing the unknown instead of letting you work it out for yourselves

6d        Former leader of East Germany with English name (4)
EDEN: Four abbreviations will solve this clue. East. Germany (Deutschland) English and Name

7d        Device for connecting plug, suitable in the place of missing lead (7)
ADAPTOR: A two-letter plug or advert is followed by a three-letter word meaning suitable and a word meaning in place of minus its first letter

8d        Bug requiring computers, etc. to be taken out of service (5)
LURGY: A common two-letter contraction of Information technology (computers etc.) needs to be removed from the service of the Eucharist in the Orthodox Church. The result has made for much hilarity in school playgrounds both past and present

9d        Proposal retained common ground (14)

14d      A quiet dance introduces each show (10)
APPEARANCE: Begin with the letter A from the clue. Add the musical notation for quiet. Now place a two-letter abbreviation for the word each inside a word meaning to dance. This word also means to move around with ostentatious exaggerated movements

16d      Concern among all other people leaving hospital (8)
INTEREST: A phrase meaning among all other people split 2,3,4 needs the abbreviation for hospital removing

18d      People bragged occasionally about new table ornament (7)
EPERGNE: Every other letter from the words people bragged surround the abbreviation for new

19d      Last three pieces of fresh lamb prepared for butcher’s stand (7)
SHAMBLE: Anagram prepared of frESH LAMB

20d      Have untold pride in the first instance and confess (3,2)
OWN UP: An adjective meaning to have possession or title to something is followed by the initial letters of untold and pride

22d      Nothing works. My bad! (4)
OOPS: The letter that looks like the number that represents nothing is followed by the plural abbreviation of opus (works)



24 comments on “Toughie 2681

  1. Very enjoyable start to the Toughie week. Favourite clue 1A and 2*/4* for me. Thanks to setter :)

  2. Can’t say this was a “read and write”:as that gives completely the wrong idea but it was one of those puzzles where the answers seemed to float up out of nowhere and, incredibly, prove right. A lot of the parsing was, of course, beyond me.
    I haven’t a COTD but a 23a later might be a food idea.

      1. Of course I’ve got Campari… a cupboard. Try Campari and orange juice for a very palatable summer drink.

  3. All completed and parsed except the parsing of 14d where I was trying to fit per (each) with an ‘a’ in it. I put it in anyway. Oh well I’ll settle for that. Favourite was 5d. Thanks to Gila and MP.

  4. Rarely dip my toe into toughie territory, generally too busy, or more honestly too tough ( I know clue is in the name) but having some sunshine and time and noting that 4a pretty much threw itself at me I gave it a go and whaddaya know finished it. Smug looks all round and the cheers of the crowd. Well the dog glanced up, but then she does s all the anagrams. Thanks to the setter and Miffypops for a teensy bit of help on parcing.

  5. A very comfortable and enjoyable solve from Gila this morning, with some fine clueing and a sprinkling of stiffer ones to increase the challenge. 5d had a lovely smooth surface and was co-favourite along with another anagram, 12a.

    My thanks to Gila for the fun and to MP.

  6. Started slowly [1a last in] but finished quickly so about right for Tues. Never knew the etymology of 19d till I checked Chambers to see if a butchers stand really was one. Top clue was the concise 13a.
    Thanks to Gila for the puzzle and MP for the blog. I think the def in 23a is the last 4 words [think Negroni recipe]. Your musical interlude at 4a reminded me of “They Might Be Giants” of blessed memory.

    1. There are many rural market towns with areas known as “the shambles”, which is where I first came across the word.

      1. I’m in York and Saint Sharon and I have just walked down ‘Shambles’ lovely street spoilt by Betfred and Greggs across the road at the end. But we did find the pub next door

        1. We had a fantastic meal in the Shambles at a little place called the Shambles Tavern – really excellent home cooking, mind you this was a few years ago but give it a go if you are still there!

          1. We saw that pub but had eaten very poor sandwiches in Knaresborough. How hard can it be to make a sandwich? We will wait now until Sir Van Morrison has finished entertaining us and have a Chinese or Thai meal late enough to give us indigestion through the night

        2. York is where I’m from many years ago & I haven’t been home since early 2019 so I envy you & your sainted lady. BTW which pub were you in? There are a great many decent taphouses in York & equally there are some to avoid i.e. most Sam Smith pubs & Wetherspoon’s.

  7. Well, amazingly I finished unaided. Last in 22d which is a word I often use. Yesterday I managed to send all the WI members a reminder of our next meeting a week early and sent it to the Art Society Committee by mistake so there was a big ‘oops’ from me. Enjoyable distraction today doing this so thanks to the setter and MP.

    1. I used the expression “oops-a-daisy” a lot when my godchildren were kids and a mishap occurred. Well, that’s just what you do with toddlers, isn’t it. Trouble is, it stuck and came out later in other situations. You can be on the receiving end of some intense mickey-taking if you inadvertently blurt out “oops-a-daisy” on a city-centre building site!

  8. Good, solid Toughie material.
    Enjoyable mental workout.
    Probably, in retrospect, took longer than I liked.
    So, ****/*****
    Many thanks Gila and MP for the review.

  9. Excellent, just up my street.
    After being thoroughly grumpy with Elgar the other day this was a pleasure.
    Thanks to Gila and to MP for parsing a couple.

  10. Amazingly, I found myself on the right wavelength from the beginning (actually, with 4a, not 1a) and pretty much stayed there until I had finished it and parsed all but one or two. So much to like, especially the long anagrams 5d, 15a, but I think that my favourite is 19d because I have such great memories of my stay in York and wandering through the Shambles there. (And because MP and St S are there now!) Thanks to Gila for a terrific Toughie and to MP for the review.

  11. I always enjoy Gila’s puzzles for their fairness and smooth surfaces, and this was no exception. A delight from start to finish.
    Many thanks Gila and MP.

  12. A brisk Toughie solve for me but can’t in all honesty say I paid much attention to the parsing so will need to have a look through it again tomorrow. Very pleasant though not difficult. Pleased to remember 18&19d from previous puzzles. 26a was my favourite for no other reason than it brought back memories of Sunday exeats from the Royal Wolverhampton Grammar School when after chapel boarders could be taken out for a few hours & properly fed.
    Thanks to Gila & Miffs – hope Van was in good voice. Look forward to your review.

  13. Ist. Toughie I actually finished unaided – though truthfully I answered some without really understanding the clue.

    1. Well done Reggie. There are usually a couple of bung ins for me most days too

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