Toughie 2805 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2805

Toughie No 2805 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by Stephen L

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

Greetings everyone from South Devon. Today Donnybrook, one of my favourites setters, has given us what I thought was a super puzzle (despite parts of it occupying territory that is somewhat alien to me) that certainly can’t be described as a “Floughie”. All fairly and craftily clued throughout.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a        Composer William having no tips for singer (4)
ALTO:  Remove the outer letters (having no tips) from a composer born in Oldham around the turn of the last century. I had the voice before the composer!

3a        Something added to letters in sacks returned? (5)
SERIF: A reversal of a synonym of sacks as a verb.

6a        Mistake to ignore leader in church area (4)
APSE: Remove the first letter (ignore leader) from a mistake or slip up.

8a        Mistakenly put frozen heart before universal literary hero (6,2,7)
RUPERT OF HENTZAU:  Anagram (mistakenly) of the following three words. Append the abbreviation for Universal

9a        Troops coming to Kentish Town in trying experience (6)
ORDEAL:  Some soldiers and a town on the Kent coast, a limb of the Cinque Ports I believe.

10a      English lord stirring trouble in fabulous location (8)
ELDORADO:  Start with the abbreviation for English. Add an anagram (stirring) of LORD and then some trouble. There’s something about this clue I like!

11a      Count’s written about Alpine heroine in Russian novel (3,5)
THE IDIOT:  I’m guessing Heidi is the Alpine heroine  here which leaves the word TOT around it (written about). I’ve seen “tot up” as count but not tot on its own.

13a      Drink from tea service? Nothing wrong in that! (6)
CHASER:  Start with an informal 3-letter word for tea. Add the word service from the clue and remove the sin (nothing wrong in that) from it. Great clue

15a      Criminal ready when roused to surround island (6)
YARDIE:  Anagram (when roused) of READY placed around the abbreviation for Island

17a      One disbarks from intact vessel in warehouse (8)
ENTREPOT:  A synonym of intact or whole has the letter that looks like one removed from it (disbarks) Add a vessel.

19a      Pan embodies singular range of abilities (5,3)
SKILL SET:  A type of pan surrounds (embodies) the abbreviation for Single.

21a      BBC initially advertising free? (6)
AUNTIE:  This rather quaint name for the BBC (from a time when everyone trusted it) is obtained by placing a synonym of free as a verb after the initial letter of Advertising.

22a Drug used illegally seen in training is a trace in blood (8,7)
ANABOLIC STEROID:  Anagram (seen in training) of the following five words.

23a      Monk securing poor grade in spelling competition (4)
BEDE:  Take a 3-letter spelling competition and insert a letter that would be a poor grade in an exam, possibly a fail.

24a      Physician became dictator’s prisoner (5)
MEDIC:  Hidden (prisoner) in the clue.

25a      Resistance encountered in stone structure that develops (4)
GERM:  Place the abbreviation for Resistance inside a (valuable) stone to give a word meaning the beginning or genesis, from which something may develop. My last one in.


1d        Show big wheel good to leave ground (9)
AIRWORTHY:  A synonym for show or display and a “big wheel” in the sense of a dignitary.

2d        Nick‘s height advantage (3,4)
TOP EDGE: A crickety clue! Synonyms for height and advantage give a shot which batsman dread, often resulting in being caught out.  Great clue.

3d        Body going round worried student pair put in place (9)
SATELLITE: A 3-letter synonym of worried plus the abbreviation for (two) students sit within (put in) a place or location.

4d        Female the French court following about as muse? (7)
REFLECT:  Start with the abbreviation for Female. Add a French definite article and the abbreviation for CourT. Append the result to a preposition meaning about or regarding.

Here’s South Devon superstars Muse. I’m sure our setter will appreciate the drumming.

5d        Addict okay with last couple swapping day (5)
FIEND:  Start with a synonym of Ok. Swap the order of the last two letters. Add the abbreviation for Day.

6d        Winger in a last-minute switch (9)
ALTERNATE:  Place one of crosswordland’s favourite birds inside A from the clue and a word meaning last minute. I spent far too long looking for a bird as the solution.

7d        Wrap with some meat sandwiches (7)
SWADDLE:  A joint of meat “sandwiches” or goes around the abbreviation for With.

12d      Fast food store feeding popular belle regularly (9)
INDELIBLE:  Here fast means stuck or enduring. The shortened form of a food store goes inside (feeding) the usual 2-letter popular and the regular letters of BeLlE.

13d      Christian heretic: habitual response is purging (9)
CATHARTIC:  A member of a heretical Christian sect is followed by a 3-letter uncontrolled response.

14d      City man lacking principles died before noon (9)
ROTTERDAM:  A man without principles, a cad say is followed by the abbreviation for Died and the two letters indicating the morning.

16d      Quiz expert about point obliquely (7)
ASKANCE:  A synonym of quiz as a verb is followed by the usual expert into which is inserted the abbreviation for a compass point.

17d      Lured in, ten brutally murdered (7)
ENTICED: Anagram (brutally) of TEN plus a dated synonym of murdered.

18d      Deep problem on way, but staff taken outside (7)
POTHOLE:  A shortened form of a synonym of the word “but” is surrounded by (taken outside) by a synonym of staff in the sense of a rod or mace.

20d      Where, in Massachusetts, engine driver needs stronger drink? (5)
SALEM: The driver of an engine here is “steam”. Replace the drink  within it with a stronger one.

In a strong field 13&17a plus 2,5,18 & 20 down were my highlights. Great stuff.


27 comments on “Toughie 2805

  1. Fun puzzle and lovely blog but I ll just disagree about 2d. It’s only a great clue if you are into cricket otherwise you solve it from the crossers and come to the blog for the explanation.
    Thanks all

  2. I do like it when a proper Toughie turns up on a Tuesday. This one was both tough and enjoyable

    Thank you very much to Donnybrook and StephenL

  3. A very enjoyable Tuesday Toughie – thanks to Donnybrook and StephenL (great cartoon at 18d but I rather wished I hadn’t seen the 22a pic).

    I didn’t know the 8a literary hero but with all the checkers in place I was able to construct from the fodder a name which looked odd but turned out to be correct.

    My ticks went to 13a, 1d, 7d and 20d.

    1. I agree Gazza, not a pretty sight!… and it makes one wonder why anyone would do that to themselves.

  4. Tough and enjoyable. Wasn’t familiar with 8a so had to confirm. Ticks to 13a, 19a and 6d with overall honours to 20d.

    Thabks to Donnybrook and StephenL.

  5. Oh, I am glad I’m not the only one who didn’t find this a Floughie. I felt that I was making heavy weather of it, though in the end I too had 3* time. Maybe it seemed longer because I was tired. Must stop eating too much meat in the evenings. I came here looking for the parsing of 20d, which of course is obvious when you see it, and rather fun. So thank you very much to Stephen for that. And I too didn’t know 8a – I figured out the first name and then I confess that I Googled ‘****** of’ to see what would come up… Cheating?

    1. Not cheating at all Friar Richard. The answer is quite obscure and the checkers for the last word were not that easy to come by. I only know Rupert The Bear from Nutwood and Rupert The Fish, once of Coventry Fish Market. A real character

  6. Thanks Donnybrook for another enjoyable puzzle. Needed Mr Google for the hero in 8a, and having read the synopsis, I’m glad I haven’t read the book! Confused me more than a Friday Toughie. Wasn’t aware that the ones mentioned in 13d were heretics, and finally thanks to SL for parsing 20d. Couldn’t see that one for looking. 2*/3*.
    Btw, just seen the cartoon at 18d – I skidded off the road several years ago, the only reason I didn’t land IN the ditch was, my car ended up on top of a Mini already in the ditch! No one injured, thank the Almighty.

  7. I thought this was a terrific Toughie. It was certainly challenging in parts and very enjoyable.

    “Disbarks”, which the BRB describes as obsolete, seems a strange choice for 17a when “leaves” would have been a perfect alternative.

    If I were a pedant :wink: , I would have to point out that a “nick” in cricket is a thin edge, which can be an inside edge or an outside edge (if the batsman is playing with a straight bat), or a bottom edge or a top edge (if played with a horizontal bat). A top edge is not necessarily a nick as it can also be a thick edge!

    Even though the answer to 20d was obvious, I failed to parse it so was grateful for SL’s explanation. It’s very clever, and now I understand it, it gets my vote as favourite!

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and to SL.

  8. Certainly not a Floughie today. A super challenge to start the day. So many good clues and a glass of fine ale to boot. Thanks to Donnybrook for the tussle and to StephenL for the review. The rehearsal for Muse at The Ricoh had locals calling the fire brigade

  9. Some of this was completely beyond me, a composer, two books, a warehouse and a heretic I hadn’t come across before so had to use electronic help albeit only to check that 11a was a Russian novel. I also needed the hint to parse 20d. Thanks to Donnybrook and SL.

  10. Crikey that was tough. Sadly my 19a woefully inadequate to complete this unaided. Took an educated guess it was Rupert but it took 5 stabs to arrange the remainder of the anagram correctly to find out where he was from. Bunged in 11a as I knew the novel (haven’t read it) but didn’t manage to parse & 3d also required confirmation. Last 2 in were 17a&18d & needed to reveal the checker – never heard of the former but ought to have pegged the latter. All a bit too much of a struggle (finding the answers never mind parsing them)to be really enjoyable but that’s not to detract from the merits of the puzzle. Picks for me were 13a plus 1,12&20d – the last one included now Stephen has explained it.
    Thanks Donny & Stephen

  11. After quite a struggle last night, I did manage to finish this brilliant Donnybrook with a couple of bung-ins (20d, 2d) but without any outside aid or letter reveals. I did, however, consult Mr G for the Anthony Hope sequel to that Ruritanian ‘fantasy’ I think I read as a teenager–but only after I’d worked through the anagram. Knew the great composer at 1a and the great novel at 11a, my COTD. I too cringed at the picture in 22a. Thanks to SL for another fine review and to Donnybrook for the challenge.

  12. Didn’t know the literary hero of 8a, but Mr Google assisted fitting the unchecked letters in the anagram; failed to parse 20d, doh!

  13. Really enjoyed this cracking puzzle, a proper Tuesday Toughie. It helped that I was familiar with 8a having listened to The Prisoner Of Zenda and the sequel on BBC Sounds quite recently, and had a wonderful time some years ago visiting a number of the heretic castles in southern France – they are quite remarkable, and well worth the steep hikes to visit (as well as making vivid sense of the Kate Mosse books).

    Biffed and could not parse 20d and 7d until reading the blog, and was delayed for far too long trying to work out why Amster might be a man lacking principles … Dredged Heidi from the depths. Thought the surface of 24a was quite excellent.

    3 / 4

    Many thanks indeed to Donnybrook and to SL for the review.

  14. Needed a bit of the internet in this one too.
    I knew I was looking for a composer ending in alton as the most plausible guess but it took a while to reach letter W.
    Once I found him, I continued with the crossword listening to his Troilus and Cressida.
    I knew the book in 11a and wonder if it’s called The Eejit in Ireland?
    No problems with the heretic in 13d, we still have a few lovely Cathar Castles to visit in SW France.
    Thanks to Donnybrook for the workout and to StephenL for the review and pics.

  15. We also needed Google assistance for 8a. Took some time to twig the wordplay for 20d and a real Aha moment when we saw it.
    A pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Donnybrook and SL.

  16. Late to this and I suspect bed will call before completion but just want to praise the venerable 23a and thank Stephen for the muse!
    Thanks to Stephen L and Donnybrook

  17. That was fun! Beyond me to complete unaided, but still fun, and Stephen’s hints perfectly arrived at 2 o’clock just as I needed them — thank you!

    The various things new to other commenters above were also unknown to me, along with 17d’s ‘murdered’, which The OED labels as “US slang”.

    And nor did I know 16d by that definition, just the ‘disapproval’ sense (which is also the only one Lexico has, though The OED has the ‘obliquely’ meaning as well).

    Massive thanks to Donnybrook. So many good clues it’s hard to pick a favourite, but maybe 23a. Our first-born is called Aidan, and I remarked at his Baptism that if we had more children we could call them Bede and Cuthbert, working our way through an alphabet of Northumbrian monks … though probably not all the way up to Wilfrid. (We didn’t.)

  18. 3*/4*….
    liked 14D ” City man lacking principles died before noon (9) ” ….
    and the pothole pic in the hint to 18D.

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