Toughie 2697 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2697

Toughie No 2697 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by Miffypops 

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

G,Danga. Today’s Toughie falls into proper Toughie territory by dint of several nefarious clues that needed a bit of squeezing to wring out a suitable answer. I enjoyed it a lot and was not surprised when I discovered Donnybrook to be the setter. My last one in was 16 across although I had an inkling of an idea thanks to a holiday in Majorca in 1969

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. 


7a        Condemn prattle that’s involved a setter? (8,6)
PORTLAND CEMENT: We begin with an anagram (that’s involved) of CONDEMN PRATTLE

9a        Follow suit with thrust: that precedes victory in court (5,5)
MATCH POINT:  The court is not one of law. It is one where a sport is played. A verb meaning to follow suit, correspond or equal is followed by a second verb meaning to give force or emphasis to

11a      Makes use of blade with Excalibur almost put back? (4)
ROWS:  Reverse and truncate what Excalibur was (Or is. Surely something as important still exists somewhere). The blades here are used to propel a boat

12a & 13 Across A felo-de-se interpreted anew with this book (3,6,4)
THE ODESSA FILE: An anagram (interpreted anew) of A FELO-DE-SE and THIS

13a      See 12

16a      Dupin’s alter ego in Silk Road city ignoring a character (4)
SAND:  Our setter gives us two ways into this answer. We can travel along the Silk Road looking for cities from which we can remove the letter A together with a character to leave the answer. Alternatively we can enlist the help of Chopin’s girlfriend Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin and use her pen name or alias.


The pen name of Amantine Dupin or the city of Samarkand minus the letter A and the word Mark (character)

17a      Choosy MP to marry concealing sign all is not well? (7)
SYMPTOM: The answer lies hidden within the words of the clue as indicated by the word concealing

18a      Dream about restraining one drunk fighting civilians (7)
MILITIA: A dream, ambition or target is reversed (about) and contains the letter that looks like the number one plus a short word meaning drunk

20a      There’s nothing in watering-hole for wild swine (4)
BOAR: This watering hole could just be your local pub. The letter that looks like the love or nothing score in tennis sits inside

21a      Time to elude poor old American native (10)
INDIGENOUS: An adjective meaning poor or needy needs to lose the abbreviation for time. Add the abbreviations for old and The United States

23a      Almost choke CO? (3)
GAS: A word meaning to choke needs to lose its last letter

24a      German booze   stand at wake (4)
BIER:  A double definition

25a      Ambassador, eschewing seriousness in promotions, beams (10)
HEADLIGHTS: The abbreviation for an ambassador (His Excellency) is followed by a plural abbreviation for advertisements into which is placed a word meaning eschewing seriousness or weight

28a      Machine offering notes to people in street? (8,6)
PERSONAL STEREO: These notes are musical. The machine is portable. Earphones or earpieces convey the music. Sony produced the first of these way back in 1979


1d        Imbue wordplay with a twist to keep learner rising in standard (8,6)
UPWARDLY MOBILE: An anagram (with a twist) of IMBUE WORDPLAY which also includes the abbreviation for Learner 

2d        Fierce creature? A broken down thing wanting closure (4)
CROC: An old worn out vehicle or person minus its last letter (wanting or lacking closure)

3d        Film at the start cut results in failure (4)
FLOP: The initial letter of the word film is followed by a synonym of the word cut as one might with overhanging branches

4d        Dull at home: primitive desires appearing after drink (7)
INSIPID: A three part charade. 1 A two-letter word meaning at home 2 A short drink of something 3 A two-letter word beloved of scrabble players meaning innate instinctive impulses

5d        Succeeded making provision to screen First of the Few (10)
SCATTERING:  Begin with the abbreviation for succeeded. Add a word meaning making provisions for people to eat or drink. Insert the first letter of the word the

6d        Yours truly is to continue without single idea (10)
IMPRESSION: A contraction of the words I am (yours truly when said by the setter) is followed by a phrase split 5,2 meaning to continue or keep going which sits around the letter that looks like the number one (single)

8d        Currently employedsuccess impossible here? (2-3,9)
NO WIN SITUATION: When split 3,2,9 this phrase means at the present time, having a job. When split 2,3,9 it becomes a dilemma where any choice made leads to failure. 

10d      Husband given arsenic suffers (3)
HAS: The chemical symbol for Arsenic follows the abbreviation for husband

14d      Prolific singer likely to publicise work by The Killers? (10)
SUPERGRASS:  The singer here is an infomer, a sneak, a teller of tales. He is prolific or of a higher kind. Above the normal expectations. What he has to do with The Killers I have no idea. Have you? I’d be glad to hear if do

15d      Doing away with swimming in big shoal (10)
ABOLISHING: Anagram (swimming) of IN BIG SHOAL

19d      Idiots initially loiter without point in a perfect world (7)
IDEALLY:  The initial letter of idiots is followed by a synonym of the word loiter which contains the abbreviation of one of the four points of the compass

22d      For Inquisition the One Priest (3)
ELI: The way a native of the country that produced The Inquisition might sat the word the is followed by the letter that looks like the number one

26d      Old instrument that thief makes off with reportedly? (4)
LUTE:  An old stringed instrument sounds like (reportedly) a thieves swag or booty

27d      Bush with sharp spines: son lost much blood (4)
GORE: A prickly yellow flowered bush needs to lose the abbreviation for son



45 comments on “Toughie 2697

  1. All done in **/*** time, with just a few electrons spent to help me through the NE. No, I lie. Not all done, I had no idea what 16a was all about, and even with the hint, I still don’t. According to Mr G., Dupin was an EAP character.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and MP.

  2. Donnybrook provides us with a proper Toughie which I thought more of a candidate for a Thursday than a Tuesday

    Thanks to him for the most enjoyable brain mangling and to MP for the blog

  3. Really enjoyable as always from this setter. I have to confess to a couple of bung-ins and was hoping MP could parse then for me, and he did apart from the Killers reference. 6d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook andvMP.

      1. ‘Lit up’ for ‘drunk’ was current in the first half of the twentieth century. A famous example was in 1937, when a BBC reporter commentating on the Coronation Review of the Fleet got rather too merry beforehand (he was an ex-naval officer) and, seeing all the lamps illuminating the ships, kept repeating ” the fleet’s all lit up! “, much amusing his listeners but annoying his bosses.

  4. I think the hint for 12a & 13a should be anagram of A FELO-DE-SE and THIS.
    I was hoping for enlightenment on The Killers in 14d, but obviously I need more patience.
    Really enjoyed this one, especially compared to the apocalypse that was my attempt at last Friday’s!

    1. Thank you. I have amended the hint for the 12 and 13 across clue. I still don’t know where The Killers come into things at 14 down

    2. I can only posit that ‘killers’ are the type of person grassed on. However, I think that would be unlikely – they more often grass up thieves etc.
      Maybe the setter would care to explain it for us.

  5. Like Malcolm R I had no idea re last in Dupin’s alter ego in 16a and I have to say that MP’s hint did not help.
    Apart from this ,the puzzle was right on my wavelength and I really enjoyed it.
    Maybe the Killers pop group had some of the band Supergrass in their line up? best I can do..
    Thanks all

  6. Really enjoyed this challenge and, like others, 16A was my downfall!! 3*/3* for me. I think that Supergrass may open for the Killers? Thanks to setter

  7. Only connection to The Killers I could think of was […] likely to publicise ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’.

    Bit out there if you ask me

  8. I thought this a great crossword. I felt overwhelmed at the beginning but slowly came to realise that the clueing was a lot more readily accessible than at first sight.
    I enjoyed this: as I did today’s backpager.

  9. Great puzzle: witty, clever, amusing, with generally smooth surfaces, plenty of “Doh!” moments as pennies dropped.

    16a my LOI, and for me the solution was the city rather than the pianist’s partner (ok, I’m probably a philistine … 12a/13a was much easier!); I too have no idea what The Killers have to do with 14d other than the capitalisaton probably being a red herring, with the work of killers being a possible subject of a supergrass’s singing – hinted at by the ‘?’.

    Could have put almot any of these clues on the podium. Cracking puzzle. Thank you Donnybrook and Miffy.

  10. Thank you Donnybrook for a very entertaining challenge.Managed to finish with some electronic help. Didn’t know the alias but bunged in the answer by going down the silk road cities route as the only possibility.

    Enjoyed the clever hidden anagram for 28a and the brilliant misdirection in 5d

    Thanks MP for parsing 4d as didn’t know the definition for the last two letters

  11. I thought today’s Toughie was quite brilliant even though I’d never heard of a 14d nor could I connect ‘The Killers’ with anything feasible. (My rock star partner could think of no work by that band that would fit, so there we are.) Otherwise, most enjoyable, and as CS says, more like a Thursday Toughie than a Tuesday. 21a is my favourite among many contenders. Thanks to MP (now there’s a Mark of a Character) and to Donnybrook.

    I knew Ms Dupin but couldn’t come up with the Silk Road city for the life of me, so double thanks to MP.

  12. Having inserted CUTS as the answer to 11a( remembering that Excalibur was ‘stuck’ which drops a final letter and comes back as meaning ‘makes use of blade – -) I was then, of course, hopelessly lost in that corner. Grrr!

    1. I have been wondering also but we’ve had no news since we heard she was in hospital. Please give us an update someone.

  13. I finished this 6 or 7 hours ago as I found found myself at a loose end with one of my aging 4×4’s in for it’s MOT, the other one’s off the road, so effectively housebound. Just as well as I really struggled with this initially, but with a bit of electronic help and lateral thinking, MP’s checkers started to appear and I ended up finishing at a relative canter. Favourite was 21a. Thanks to Donnybrook and MP

  14. The Wimbledon scoreboard indicates that the game is still quite even. Who won? Or is the match still in progress?

    1. It’s a daily battle where the tiniest edges give great satisfaction which just about sums up most marriages. At the moment I’m not quite sure who has the edge but I’m off out for beer for the second time today and Saint Sharon has offered to drive me to the pub as it’s spitting with rain. I’m happy with that. After all, tomorrow is another day

  15. The Killers? Well them, though other criminals would have sufficed! Obvs I know, but it’s just that a band so named seemed to fit with the ‘singer’ joke, so I bunged it on.

    Thanks MP and all, glad you enjoyed it.


  16. Not at all what we were expecting for a Tuesday Toughie and we made really hard work of this one. We did not know, or had forgotten, the GK needed for 16a so struggled there but that was not the only place that had us head-scratching.
    Thanks Donnybrook and MP.

  17. I loved this puzzle: at first it looked impenetrable, but after a while the light shone in.

    I think my favourite was 8d, but all were interesting.

    The only gap in my grid was 16a. Ignorant of George Sand’s real name, I set off finding out about an Edgar Allen Poe character who was considered the forerunner of Sherlock Holmes. Fascinating.

    Thanks to Miffypops for the blog and to Donnybrook for an outstanding puzzle.

  18. Crikey that was tough. Had 15 answers earlier before leaving for golf & returned to it for a pre bedtime solve – so much for an early night. 16a defeated me as I knew neither cities on the silk road nor the Dupin lass. Irritatingly also forced to reveal the 1d/7a letter P checker to unlock both anagrams which then came immediately & I didn’t parse 18a as well as being bemused by The Killers (overrated band). Anyway super crossword packed with excellent clues – 9&21a plus 8d my picks for a top notch podium.
    Thanks to Donny & Miffs – love the Wimbledon scoreboard….

  19. Fairly plain sailing until 16ac which seemed like a Times clue in terms of GK so decided to resort to the hints in order to complete. I’m a regular Times solver but I find myself occasionally let down by a lack of GK that would obviously help with the odd clue here and there. Maybe Tilsit could offer me an apprenticeship on a quizzing team….

    Thanks to Donnybrook and the the (possibly by now) hung-over hinter.

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