Toughie 2754 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2754

Toughie No 2754 by Django

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

Django set us a most enjoyable Toughie challenge to brighten up an extremely grey and damp Wednesday.It was a pangram with lots to make you smile and groan out loud in equal measure – we were heading nicely for a 5* enjoyment rating and then the repetition radar bleeped :cry:

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Study in guesthouse, say, to make a living (5-3-6)
BREAD-AND-BUTTER A synonym for study inserted into a guesthouse and followed by a verb meaning to speak (say)

9a    Number a chapter at the start, building story (7)
ACCOUNT Start with A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for chapter and follow with a verb meaning to count

10a    Enter uninvited because of genuine diamonds inside (7)
INTRUDE A preposition meaning because of and the abbreviation for diamonds inserted into another word for genuine

11a    The Office of the President of the United States of America has nothing against Alabama? (4)
OVAL The letter representing nothing, the Latin abbreviation meaning against and the abbreviation for the State of Alabama

12a    Told ‘intrudes into’ means ‘spoils‘ (5,5)
PRIZE MONEY A homophone (told) of a way of saying intrudes into followed by some means. Such a shame that the fact that the repetition radar bleeped as this clue has a word almost the same as a previous solution which meant I had to deduct half a star from the enjoyment rating.

14a    Bandage the man on strike (6)
SWATHE Strike smartly or heavily followed by (on) the male third person pronoun

15a    Discovered Ypres Command is secure in advance (8)
PREORDER The inside (dis-covered) letters of yPREs and a command

17a    Artist; popular and with taste — Mackintosh, for example (8)
RAINWEAR An abbreviated artist, the usual ‘popular’, the abbreviation for With and a sense by which we perceive the quality of something aural (taste)

18a    Spirited eccentric bites first (6)
FEISTY An adjective meaning eccentric ‘bites’ an abbreviated way of writing first

20a    Bespoke Django clue about Cantona’s focus when missing header for Leeds United (10)
CONJUGATED An anagram (bespoke) of DJANGO ClUE and T (the ‘focus’ of CanTona) without the L (missing the ‘header’ for Leeds)

21a    Competitive karaoke on vacation with nurse (4)
KEEN The outside (on vacation) letters of KaraokE and an abbreviated nurse

23a    Maybe Yoko takes a paper — oddly without obligation to buy (2,5)
ON APPRO A (from the clue) and the odd letters of PaPeR inserted into the surname of probably the best-known lady called Yoko

24a    In retrospect, Ernie’s pal, Eric is somewhat degenerate (7)
RELAPSE Hidden in reverse (in retrospect) in erniES PAL ERic

25a    They run round rooms ignoring what occurs before M put Bond girls at risk somehow (8-6)
SKIRTING-BOARDS An anagram (somehow) of BOND GIRlS AT RISK, ignoring the letter that occurs before M in alphabetical order


1d    Son taken in by detailed scam on board ship — alternatively, one might put the squeeze on you? (3,11)
BOA CONSTRICTOR The abbreviation for Son ‘taken in’ by a truncated (detailed) scam is inserted into (on board) a ship, a word meaning alternatively being added at the end

2d    Cast a milkman and ex-actor! (11,4)
EXLAMATION MARK I do love a sneaky punctuation definition clue – an anagram (cast) of A MILKMAN and EX ACTOR

3d    When Flymo’s final component is absent, squash up grass, perhaps (4)
DRUG A reversal (up) of a type of squash without the last letter of flymO

4d    Kind about drunken aunt at first (6)
NATURE An anagram (drunken) of AUNT goes first before the ‘usual’ about or on the subject of

5d    Bale occasionally taking top off muscular stomach — causing storm (8)
BLIZZARD The occasional letters of BaLe and a muscular stomach (especially that of a bird) without its ‘top’ or first letter

6d    Pillars of some American communities lose badly after politician supports form of gambling? (5,5)
TOTEM POLES An anagram (badly) of LOSE goes after an abbreviated politician, the result supports or goes after a type of gambling

7d    Strangles Morse, ultimately one of five English detectives with self-control (6,9)
EQUINE DISTEMPER The ultimate letter of morsE, one of five children born at the same time, the abbreviation for English, some abbreviated detectives and some self-control gives the formal name of a particularly nasty disease of horses (strangles)

8d    They use baseball bats regularly in set way: Ron Kray angrily smashed knees (3,4,7)
NEW YORK YANKEES An anagram (angrily smashed) of the regular letters iN sEt WaY rOn and KRAY and KNEES

13d    Spring rainfall’s covering sportsperson (10)
SHOWJUMPER A short fall of rain covering a leap (spring)

16d    Content to claim a car on insurance — this is extravagant (8)
MACARONI Something extravagant or fanciful is found in the content of to claiM A CAR ON Insurance – the illustration represents the ear worm I was left with after solving this clue!

19d    Trade knight for rook in plot that’s set up for provocation (3,3)
RED RAG A reversal (that’s set up) of a plot where the chess abbreviation for knight should be traded for that for a rook

22d    Too American, having all systems go at last (4)
ALSO The abbreviation for American and the last letters of alL systemS gO


41 comments on “Toughie 2754

  1. A lot to enjoy here. Quite a few ticks, my joint favourites were 1a and 2d. The definition in 16d was new to me so also a learning day. Thanks to Django and CS.

  2. An excellent start to the day. I look forward to Django puzzles. A very individual style of clueing by a very competent wordsmith. Every clue a winner. Thank you Mr G and Mrs P.

  3. What a disappointment. I enjoyed Django’s last Toughie a lot and was moved to comment at the time that I was glad that he had reined in his tendency to use very wordy clues. The same comment certainly doesn’t apply to this, and the verbose clueing spoilt my enjoyment, which was a pity because a fair bit of this puzzle was fine.

    CS, I think the anagram fodder for 8d is iN sEt WaY rOn KRAY KNEES.

    Thanks to Django and to CS.

  4. Great fun with a lot of smiles, I have a full grid but I’ve yet to work out why for a few. I’ll return after my jab.
    I particularly liked the four long perimeter clues along with 2&6d.
    Many thanks to Django and CS, whose explanations will no doubt be required to some extent later.

  5. Great fun with some cunningly inventive clues. Some may not, but I liked the “wordy” clues, especially 20a, 6d and the tour de force at 8d. Your anagram fodder is not quite right CS. I tried to make that work too but the number of Rs aint right – it is actually “iN sEt WaY rOn” plus KRAY plus KNEES.
    Thanks for the blog and to Django for an enjoyable solve.

  6. For 20a I thought: what on earth does Django mean? I searched on the internet with no luck.
    I wish setters would realize that those of us who do these puzzles online don’t know who their names are as they are never given.

    1. You can find a list of the week’s Toughie setters on the right hand side of the home page of the blog, so it is possible to check whose crossword it is before you start to solve

  7. I thought this pangram would divide opinion, as fans of verbosity or conciseness face off. I prefer the latter, which took some of the shine off my enjoyment, although there were enough good clues to make it a worthwhile and entertaining solve. 2 and 8d were my favourites.

    Thanks to Django and CS.

  8. I enjoyed this especially as I went on pangram alert fairly early on which helped no end. I did need the hint to fully parse 17a and I’ve never heard of 16d in that sense but I have now. Favourite was 1d. Thanks to Django and CS.

  9. Great puzzle which I thought, unusually, less difficult than CS’s rating. I well remember strangles going through the horses in the early 70s. You don’t hear about it much now, thank goodness.
    Thanks Django and CS

    1. There’s still plenty of it about, believe me. Perhaps we are better at diagnosing, treating and preventing its spread.

  10. I did this online before the backpager today and really enjoyed it. An early Pangram alert helped particularly with 18a. I am not sure I parsed it properly but it had to be or I was effless.
    I did like 20a as a Leeds fan of that era and I would disagree with Aldhelm, I don’t think you need to know that Django is the setter just that Bespoke is an anagram indicator and “Django clue” is part of the fodder.
    I think I have Dick Francis to thank for remembering what Strangles could be.
    I don’t object to wordy clues when the surface works.
    Thanks to Django and CS

  11. I managed to fill the grid, with just a little electronic help, but needed the hints to explain a few. 7d was new to me, as was the definition at 16d. The parsing of 17a & 18a was beyond me. COTD has to be 20a, especially if Django is a follower of the Whites (Leeds Scum).

    Thanks to Django and CS.

    1. Scum. What a horrible word. Used mostly by football supporters these days. What an awful lot those that use this word are. Hopefully a minority

      1. When other teams started calling them that, because of their infamous violence towards other fans, they proudly adopted it as their own. It’s really only used in jest these days.

        Football does invoke ancient tribal loyalties at all levels.

          1. The Beautiful Game?

            Trust me, that particular four lettered word is mild compared to other songs. Google the United song “My old man said be a City fan,” if you want. It’s quite an experience to be in a crowd of 50,000 people singing that at full volume, the eight year old lads missing out the naughty words, with their Dads’ next to them in full voice!

            1. Not just Manchester United! I remember it sung at West Ham about pretty much any team we played whose name fit the tune. Among others equally as unpleasant.

    2. I liked 20a as well, but I’m pretty sure the setter is a Liverpool fan.
      2d was my favourite (and it also made me think of Sean Connery, who did each job at either end of his working life).

  12. Rather wordy which made parsing some tricky but variety is good!
    In my innocence I didn’t think of grass as a drug which left 3d unanswered.
    Agree with CS star ratings.
    Thanks to both. I always enjoy Django toughies.

  13. Interesting how controversial this one is. I thought no more than two stars for difficulty because there were a good number of fairly obvious anagrams, and I suppose I’m more of a fan of concision than verbosity. But some of the surface meanings were most amusing, and I shall look forward to Django’s next offering. Notwithstanding my remarks about anagrams, my favourite was definitely 2d – very cleverly done.

  14. Lots of lovely long answers and a real pleasure to solve. 2d our last one in. Those punctuation mark clues fool us every time.
    Thanks Django and CS.

  15. I, too, dislike wordy clues. At my age there is aiways the risk that, by the time I’ve reached the end, I’ve forgotten the beginning! ( I do hope I’m joking)
    I did, however, remember my teenage reading and knew that a Macaroni was a Regency fop. There is an “extravagant” penguin too,

  16. Lots to like here for an American and lots to learn. I did manage to finish but needed a wee bit of electronic help and some parsing assistance from CS. Didn’t know about strangles; had often wondered about that macaroni in Yankee Doodle’s cap; solved 23a but the term is not used in these parts, as far as I know. Extraordinarily rich pangram. Loved the perimeter clues. Thanks to CS and Django for the considerable challenge and enjoyment.

  17. Loved this… always look forward to a Django puzzle. Not as challenging as previous ones IMHO but lots to like.

    Many thanks to the setter and to CS for unravelling some of my bung-ins.

  18. I seem to recall breezing through Django’s last but not this one. Very nearly threw in the towel early doors (like Robyn’s yesterday) but perseverance paid off & stuck with it. Though I can relate to JB’s observation on lengthy clues I can forgive all because they are impeccably clued & have witty surfaces. 2&7d vied for top spot for me but with numerous big ticks elsewhere – 1,15,20&25a plus 3,6&8d all excellent.
    Thanks Django for another very enjoyable puzzle & to CS.

  19. Like many others I dislike wordy clues but I forgive Django because this one was so much fun.

    Thanks Django and CS.

  20. Very pleased, I often shy away from 3* rated Toughies, but I got this down to two remaining clues before looking for help.
    “Pangram” was all the help I needed.
    Enjoyed the struggle, every clue’s a winner, as far as I am concerned.

  21. Thanks for the blog CrypticSue. I think my intended parsing for 8D is slightly different to what’s given here, although it amounts to the same thing.

    I didn’t think of it as an anagram of all those components, more as a clue in three parts.
    1 the regular letters iN sEt WaY rOn
    2 an anagram (angrily) of KRAY and
    3 an anagram (smashed) of KNEES

    1. That was my original theory but I couldn’t find ‘angrily’ listed as an anagram indicator so I decided to play safe before the ‘anagram indicator’ grumpies complained

      1. Sorry to be late, but you’ve raised an interesting point there. Some purists (I’m not suggesting you are one, particularly) seem to insist that all AIs must appear on some “official” list. I don’t recall seeing “angrily” before, but it seems OK to me – in the sense of stormily or maybe ragingly. There must be plenty of as yet undiscovered/unused AIs lurking in dictionaries and thesauri which could appear in future clues. Just thought I’d mention it…..

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