Toughie 2699 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2699

Toughie No 2699 by Artix

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

This is my first blog of an Artix puzzle and a very enjoyable experience it was. There’s a fair bit of GK here and it helps if, like me, you are a) fairly old and b) interested in sport. It may pose a few more problems for those outside the UK. Artix has sprinkled a few gimmes (such as 12a, 14a and 6d) among the more tricky clues. Many thanks to the setter.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a England’s safest pair of hands, perhaps, to trust when filling gin? (6,5)
GORDON BANKS: a verb meaning to trust or rely goes inside a brand of gin.

7a ‘U’ is also confused with retro ‘Y’ (7)
SLOANEY: an anagram (confused) of ALSO followed by the reversal of what Y is an abbreviation for.

8a Get back together on set (7)
REGROUP: join a prefix meaning on or concerning and a set or clique.

10a Fireplace where unmarried folk will strip (5)
INGLE: strip off the S letters from both ends of unmarried folk.

11a Dock stalk on plant (9)
PENSTEMON: charade of a dock or enclosure, a synonym of a stalk and ON. This is a North American plant (new to me).

12a Capital I invested in dodgy casino (7)
NICOSIA: insert I into an anagram (dodgy) of CASINO.

14a EU character not in favour of another’s wine (7)
CHIANTI: bring together a Greek letter and ‘not in favour of’ to make a wine from another EU country.

15a Say Hutton’s better being cover (4,3)
LENS CAP: Hutton was a prolific English batsman in the years before and after WWII – assemble his forename plus the ‘S and a verb to better.

18a Perfectly hit Chopin’s first note (6,1)
MIDDLE C: we have another cricket reference. Start with a verb to hit the ball using the sweet spot of the bat and add the first letter of Chopin.

20a Track particle drunk by the gallon (5,4)
THEME SONG: a subatomic particle goes between THE and the abbreviation for gallon.

21a Close to border, leaving body in bushes (5)
COPSE: remove the closing letter of border from a dead body.

22a Devious doubling of perimeters around emotional President? (3-4)
EEL-LIKE: double in turn the first and last letters of emotional and append the nickname of a US President of the 1950s.

23a Asian food crop returns earned before twelve Eastern (7)
EDAMAME: reverse a verb meaning earned or brought in and add the timely abbreviation meaning ‘before twelve’ and the abbreviation for Eastern.

24a Add two thirds of egg into bean-flavoured buns to create baker’s nightmare? (5,6)
SOGGY BOTTOM: insert the final two-thirds of the word egg into an adjective meaning bean-flavoured and add what buns are an informal US word for in an anatomical sense.

Down Clues

1d Virgilian poem snubbed last king in command (7)
GEORGIC: remove the last letter from the name of our most recent king and add the abbreviation meaning ‘in command’. See here for more information on Virgil’s poetic work.

2d Maybe Aga Khan’s toe snagged by pet (5)
RANGE: insert the bottom letter of Khan into a pet or tantrum.

3d Divine location for exhibition centre (7)
OLYMPIA: double definition, the first being the home of the Greek gods.

4d Cynical Independent involved in Corbyn’s downfall (7)
BYRONIC: insert the abbreviation for Independent into an anagram (downfall) of CORBYN.

5d Stop-out partygoer hit Knightsbridge, spilling rum kegs (9)
NIGHTBIRD: a subtractive anagram – make an anagram (hit) of KNIGHTSBRIDGE after you’ve removed the jumbled (rum) letters of KEGS.

6d Alfresco effigy which will self-destruct in spring? (7)
SNOWMAN: a fairly gentle cryptic definition.

7d Might this turn out like ‘Instant’ you initially ordered (one to go)? (6,5)
SKINNY LATTE: an anagram (ordered) of L[i]KE INSTANT Y[ou] without one occurrence of the Roman numeral for one.

9d Fraud men chose, zip being possible outcome (5,6)
PONZI SCHEME: an anagram (being possible outcome) of MEN CHOSE ZIP. The perpetuator of the largest fraud of this type was Bernie Madoff.

13d Horrid chant about writer’s insides (9)
SICKENING: a verb to chant contains the inner letters of the name of probably the most famous British novelist.

16d Goes through three stacks of chalk (7)
NEEDLES: double definition, the second a geographical feature off the south coast of England.

17d Rank European polymaths: ____ has to appear (7)
PTOLEMY: this is a compound anagram. An anagram (rank, in the sense of foul) of E[uropean] POLYMATHS contains as fodder this name (a Greek astronomer) plus the word HAS. It’s quite difficult to underline as the definition a missing word that’s already underlined.

18d ‘Zine on web covering oxygen generator (7)
MAGNETO: knit together another abbreviation for a ‘zine and another word for the worldwide web and follow that with the chemical symbol for oxygen.

19d Chapstick aggravated blip over a large mass (3,4)
LIP BALM: an anagram (aggravated) of BLIP followed by A and abbreviations for large and mass.

21d Plan of Winston’s home not showing well (5)
CHART: remove the ‘well’ from the name of Churchill’s home.

I ticked 18a, 2d and 21d but my favourite was the amusing 24a. Which clue(s) made your honours board?


24 comments on “Toughie 2699

  1. What is it with ARTIX? A dead footballer, a dead cricketer, a dead US President, a dead polymath, a dead swindler and 2 very dead poets! Have I missed anyone?

    1. Perhaps he thought he was setting for the Times where any people included in the crossword have to be no longer with us!

  2. I found this to be at the easier end of the spectrum for a Toughie, but beautifully clued and enormous fun to complete. Although not a fan of the programme, I had heard of the baker’s nightmare somewhere, and that, together with 18d proved to be my co-favourites.

    Many thanks to Artix for the challenge and to Gazza.

  3. Hats off to YS if that’s at the easier end of the spectrum. I found it tougher than Tuesday & that was hard enough. Well & truly hit the buffers with 7 to go. Revealing the 6d/11a checker immediately got me Frosty & the plant both of which I was a little disappointed not to have worked out myself. Unfortunately despite availing myself of the full allocation of 4 further letter reveals I still needed the hints to solve 7&20a plus 17d so comprehensively beaten. Still enjoyed it however & particularly enjoyed the 4 perimeter clues. Favourite was 18a.
    Thanks Artix & Gazza for explaining it all.

  4. Got stuck on 17d. Some fun clues along the way although I concur with JB’s observations.

    Thanks to Artix and Gazza.

  5. That was certainly an uphill battle for me with 17d just about pushing me over the edge. I was, however, rather proud of myself for knowing the sporting references, the plant and the stacks of chalk. As for enjoyment, not really for me but I did derive a sense of satisfaction from completing the grid.
    Mary Berry and the goalie got top marks here.

    Thanks to Artix and to Gazza for the very comprehensive review.

  6. Put in a quick half dozen then came to a grinding halt !
    Solved 1a and gradually tuned in-probably my favourite, held up by the SW corner-liked 20 across, the chemistry came in useful. .
    As Gazza says it helps with the clues when there are sporting references/GK when you get older,
    Thanks to Artix and Gazza -agree with his Toughie rating.

  7. I really enjoyed this. Childhood visits to Filbert Street were a help, though the cricketer was before my time. Thank you to Artix and Gazza.

  8. A most enjoyable and rewarding puzzle, and like YS I found this very much towards the easier end of the Toughie range, certainly for the last 2-3 weeks. Indeed I’ve found several recent backpagers somewhat more challenging. Clearly a wavelength thing! That, or being able to remember lots of famous dead people, though even the younger of them were only ever historical characters to me!

    Some good chuckles and a lovely challenge. I look forward to the next Artix with keen anticipation.

    Many thanks to Artix and to Gazza

  9. The answer to 17d is not a Greek astronomer but Cleopatra’s brother, the last in a line of kings deriving from Alexander’s general.

    1. I don’t think any of the Egyptian kings called Ptolemy could be described as a polymath (or European) but the Greek astronomer and mathematician certainly could – his model of how the Sun and the planets orbit the Earth was the standard theory for about 1400 years.

  10. I find this really difficult. I needed the hint to parse the last word in 24a and the hint to get 7a for which I had the wrong answer and couldn’t parse anyway, so did not finish unaided. Let’s hope Rayt is going to be kinder to me. Favourite was 22a. Thanks to Artix and Gazza.

  11. Many thanks as always to Gazza for the review. Too much UK insularity for me, I’m afraid, though I did answer about half of the clues, even 1a and Mary Berry’s nightmare (I have watched her show over here). The most abominable clue I’ve seen in ages turned me off altogether, a ‘sickening’ one in fact. I did not enjoy this one very much, but I do respect the setter’s efforts so thanks to Artix.

  12. It was certainly not easy (although not sure 4-*), but worth the effort.

    I’m ashamed to say the only clue that beat me was 6d: very obvious when you see the answer. Therefore it’s my clue-of-the-day.

    Thanks to Gazza for the blog and to Artix for keeping my grey cells active.

  13. A pretty tough start for us with 1a being someone we had never heard of and it didn’t get much easier after that. Stuck with it and with lots of Google help did get most of it sorted. More of a dogged slog than an enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks Artix and Gazza.

  14. Beaten by 2 clues, 17d and 29a. 1a my favourite. Learnt some new words, which is always good. Thanks Gazza for your help and to the setter for the workout

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