Toughie 2797 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2797

Toughie No 2797 by Musaeus

Hints and tips by Stephen L

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

Greetings from South Devon, from where I’ve had the pleasure of blogging a puzzle for the first time from Musaeus, a setter who doesn’t seem to come along too often. I found this a lot of fun and perfect for a Tuesday Toughie. Hope it’s not too long before we see him again.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a        Busy aircrew looks for handler of cases for those struggling (6,6)
SOCIAL WORKER: A nice confidence builder to start. Anagram (busy) of the following two words

8a        Salts? (7)
SEASONS:  A cryptic definition, the salts here not being sailors but a verb. Split 3-4 we have some different salts

9a        Flexible market returning with reduced credit (7)
ELASTIC: A synonym of a market is reversed (returning) and followed by an informal word for credit without its last letter (reduced)

11a      Slate stroke going left of slip (7)
RUBBISH: Slate here is a verb. A 3-letter synonym of stroke precedes (going left) an informal word for a mistake

12a      Stable state is helping gold (7)
PLATEAU:  A helping (of food) is followed by the chemical symbol of gold

13a      Fine about European family member (5)
NIECE:  Insert the abbreviation for European into a synonym of fine or pleasant

14a      Cure present people before time (9)
TREATMENT:  A present or a gift is followed by some people and the abbreviation for Time

16a      Distinctive feature of 23? Chaos with mute running amok (9)

MOUSTACHE: Anagram (running amok) of CHAOS and MUTE  gives a facial feature that was once popular but thank heavens isn’t anymore. Sported here by 23a

19a      Superhero’s cover beginning to reduce crime (5)

CAPER: A garment worn by say Superman and the initial letter (beginning to) of Reduce

21a      Designated driver, one in clinch of brass? It’s not cricket (7)
CADDISH:  Start with the abbreviation for Designated Driver. Add the letter that looks like the number one. Place the result inside (in clinch of) an informal word for brass in the sense of money, to give a lovely old word that conjures up images of Terry Thomas

23a      Criticism over made-up wisecracker? (7)
GROUCHO: Some criticism in the sense of complaint is followed by the abbreviation for Over. The “made up” refers to the fact that his moustache was fake

24a      Amongst French the Republican motive to return hides (7)

LARRUPS:  HIdes here is a verb but has nothing to do with concealment. Start with a French definite article. Add the abbreviation for Republican and a reversal of a motive or incentive.

25a      Name on food initially turned off folks (7)

NATIONS:  The abbreviation for Name is followed by a portion of food without its first letter (initially turned off)

26a      In a muddle anytime? Run to pound, or similar (8,4)
MONETARY UNIT:  Anagram (in a muddle) of the following three words


1d        Too bad about empty barrel’s unsteady progress (7)

SHAMBLE: A word meaning too bad or pity goes around the outside (empty) letters of BarreL

2d        A summery treat that’s cold and best outside (4-3)

CHOC ICE:  The abbreviation for Cold is inserted into a synonym of best as an adjective. Good clue

3d        Possibly it teaches about the art of beauty (9)

AESTHETICS:  Anagram (possibly) of the following two words

4d        Young bear with remedy (5)
WHELP:  The abbreviation for With and a synonym of remedy gives a dated name for a young mammal

5d        Study inclined to change for the second time? (7)
READAPT:  Split 4-3 synonyms for study and inclined in the sense of disposed

6d        Last leave I rejected when attached to military engineers (7)
EXTREME:  Start with a synonym of leave and remove the I (rejected). Add the abbreviation for Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

7d        Monster of fine dining downing starter (12)
ASTRONOMICAL:  An adjective relating to the practice of eating good food has its first letter removed (downing starter)

10d      Balance I found in contrary attitude (12)

COUNTERPOISE:  A synonym of contrary is followed by an attitude in the sense of position into which is inserted the letter I

15d      To turn up with Conservative in New York could be a calamity (9)
EMERGENCY:  A verb meaning to turn up or appear is followed by the abbreviation for New York split by the abbreviation for Conservative

17d      In Berlin and therefore suffer tribulation, say (7)
UNDERGO: The German (in Berlin) word for AND plus a 4-letter adverb meaning therefore or hence

18d      Champion kid bursting into song (7)
TRIBUNE:  This champion of the people is obtained by placing a verb meaning to kid or make fun of inside (bursting into) a piece of music

19d      Hoax surrounding defeat? One could be in the soup (7)
CROUTON:  A  3-letter hoax goes around a decisive defeat

20d      Plump for available cream first (4,3)
PICK OUT:  A synonym of available as in released follows a synonym of cream in the sense of best

22d      Pack a garden feature? (5)
HOSTA:  A large number (of people) plus A from the clue gives a plant much loved by snails and slugs (in my experience)

Good stuff with the excellent 19d taking the honours for me but also liked 21a and 2d. Which ones did you like best?


29 comments on “Toughie 2797

  1. An entertaining start to the week but not as simple, for me, as Stephen L suggests. 10d favourite for me and ***/*** Thanks to setter

  2. I didn’t find it as straightforward as Stephen suggests either – 3*/3* from me too

    Lots to enjoy and so nice to have an actual Toughie on a Tuesday too – thanks to Musaeus and StephenL

  3. Held up in the SW with parsing 21 ( never knew there was an abbreviation for designated driver) and 24 which in retrospect was accessible. Otherwise an enjoyable Tuesday offering .
    Thanks to both compiler and blogger.

  4. 21 across last one in. An enjoyable solve with a slow start but as usual the checkers were my friends. Thanks to StephenL for the blog and to our setter today who’s name would make a good start word for Wordle

  5. I, too, didn’t find this all that straightforward. Perhaps when I return to South Devon at the end of the week, I’ll agree with Stephen L
    I had “sea dogs” for 8a which I like and, oh, I do wish you’d tell my Canadian grandson to shave off his 16a!

    1. Ooh! Just spotted that I also had seadogs….seems a better answer..although the BRB has it as two words.

  6. I thought this was quite tricky for a Tuesday – thanks to Musaeus and StephenL.
    I wasn’t sure what ‘made-up’ was doing in 23a – does it refer to the fact that the answer wasn’t his real name?
    I liked 2d and 19d but my favourite was the 8a sons of the sea.

  7. I’m in the ‘decidedly tricky’ camp this afternoon but I got there eventually. I also managed to parse everything which must mean the cluing was fair. Favourite was 19d. Thanks to Musaeus and SL.

  8. The usual Tuesday introductive puzzle with a few difficult clues to add spice and a **/**** for me.
    Thought 8a was going to be sailors then when the checking letters went in changed it to seadogs which according to SL was seasons-I can see from the blog that I was not alone!.
    Not a fan of abrieveations as DD in 21a ,in this instance the cricket saved me.
    Favourate was `the nicely misleading 19a followed by 23a.
    Thanks to setter and SL.

  9. A crackerjack Tuesday Toughie indeed. Still dithering over ‘madeup’ for that manic Marxian and lost at sea over the designated driver in 21a, though I did manage to solve both clues (in the case of the latter, I had to fish for a bit of electronic help). Otherwise, most enjoyable, with 2d, 3d, and 24a scoring the highest in the medal count. I too had ‘sailors’ at first for 8a until 1d set me straight. Thanks to StephenL for the review (and helping me parse 11a) and to Musaeus for a most enjoyable puzzle.

  10. I didn’t think it was that easy either. The top half went in easily enough then I ground to a halt for a while before the bottom bit surrendered. I loved the double meaning of 8a – which is the second one-word clue in a week or so. They’re supposed to be rare as hens’ teeth.
    Thanks to Musaeus and SL.

  11. What a thoroughly delightful Toughie, worthy of the name and a great tussle. Loads to enjoy, especially 8a, my favourite.

    Many thanks to Musaeus and SL.

  12. Enjoyed this but only put in 24a in desperation as I could think of no other word. Still puzzled as to the solution as larrup to me was to thrash. Mystery to me would enjoy an explanation, still niggling at me. Many thanks

  13. Still baffled the 24a solution. I put the correct answer in but could not justify hides being synonymous with the it.

  14. Took a bit of teasing out and only 3rd time lucky on 8a. I liked 1a. Thanks to Musaeus and SL.

  15. Relieved to see that others found it trickier than Stephen’s difficulty rating. Never seemed to get on wavelength – it was a ponderous solve aided by 2 letter reveals which in retrospect I ought not to have needed. Still at least they were all parsed. Bish was a new one on me at 11a & I also couldn’t see what made up was doing at 23a. Jt favs 1&8a with hon mentions for 24a (last in) plus 1,2,7,15&19d.
    Thanks to Musaeus & to Stephen for the review which I’m about to read.

  16. Definitely a true Toughie as I can sometimes do quite well on Tuesdays, but not today. I persevered as it often proves a good learning experience, revealing words I had forgotten or never seen, as in 24a. These occasionally pop up in later cryptics. Did enjoy the 1a anagram. Of course I found it more difficult than StephenL’s assessment, but that is to be expected. Thanks to setter and Stephen.

  17. We also found this one quite tricky with the last clue to solve being 24a.
    Thanks Musaeus and SL.

  18. For me, not a floughie toughie. I was beaten by 8a I went for the obvious sailors and the fact that 3/4 checkers were correct left 1d unsolvable. Similar to 24a where I was convinced it had to be leather, but you live and learn and I will try and remember some of the devices that Musaeus used when I next encounter this setter. I feel obliged to pick 11a as a favourite for the excellent “bish” which gives me the opportunity to quote the inestimable J.C.T. Jennings to his pal Darbishire – “Don’t quibble. You’ve made a frightful bish and you’re about as much use as a radio-active suet pudding.”
    Thanks too to SL you certainly didn’t make a bish of the blog. And Musaeus 1 The Bees 0 today thanks for the crossword.

  19. A thought on ‘made-up’ in 23a. As Stephen L says, the moustache was not real. I believe that it was applied with grease paint.

  20. Eventually finished, (after some research on ‘bish’), but have to admit that I figured 8a somewhat dubiously I have to say, as ‘seadogs’ which didn’t affect the overall result, and only saw ‘seasons’ whilst scrolling down the comments! !! **/*** IMHO.

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