Toughie 2817 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2817

Toughie No 2817 by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Miffypops

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Doncha just love it when 1 across falls at your feet and you get that ‘Piece of cake, I can do this feeling’? Unfortunately pride often comes before a fall and I fell and remain fallen at 19 down.

This puzzle from Chalicea stands at the easier end of the Toughie spectrum giving a hopeful confidence boost to those newly braving Toughie territory

The Cheltenham Festival starts today. Yay! No matter how much we agree on no alcohol before we get to Cheltenham the usual six pints and a bottle of champagne will be ordered with breakfast at 10.30am.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a        Pervading tone of complicated metaphors explored at first (10)
ATMOSPHERE:     Anagram (complicated) of METAPHORS plus the initial letter of the word explored

6a        Ancient priests‘ incomplete enchantment (4)
MAGI:  Find an adjective meaning enchantment, witchery or fascination and remove its last letter

10a      Crazy morning, one way or another for formidable lady (5)
MADAM: A palindrome according to the wording of the clue. A synonym of the word crazy and the term used for morning when pm is used for afternoon and evening

11a      Principally remain derisive about bank (9)
RIVERSIDE:  Begin with the principal letter of the word remain. Add an anagram (about) of DERISIVE

12a      Determination to tackle crossword again? (7)
RESOLVE: Split 2,5 how you might complete a crossword for the second time. Given the amount of time between compiling a puzzle and it’s publication I wonder how often setters struggle with a clue having forgotten their answer as todays setter once confessed to doing

13a      Quote briefly in sincere performance (7)
RECITAL: Remove the last letter from a word meaning to quote and stick it in a word meaning genuine or sincere

14a      Censorious of tec’s software program lacking fixed base (12)
DISAPPROVING:  The plural abbreviation for some senior detectives and the short term used for computer applications all followed by a word meaning to wander or travel continuously without a fixed destination

18a      Noble queen with self-confidence and balance (12)
COUNTERPOISE: A neat little three part charade in the correct order. Do as you are told and the answer is obvious. 1. A noble. A geezer such as Dracula. 2 Our beautiful Queen. 3. Elegance and grace within a person

21a      Sudden appearance of thoroughly short hairstyle (7)

OUTCROP:  Two synonyms required here. A three-letter word meaning thoroughly is followed by a very short haircut

23a      Lacking clubs, bid too high altogether (7)
OVERALL:  Remove the abbreviation for clubs from a word meaning to  make a bid higher than an opponents in a game of cards

24a      Intricately sliding as in continuous movements between notes (9)
GLISSANDI: Anagram (intricately) of SLIDING AS

25a      Wander, but not initially, in leisurely walk (5)
AMBLE: Remove the initial letter of a word meaning to wander or stroll along or walk for pleasure in the countryside to a secluded pub with views across the countryside perhaps

26a      Approves of lodgings (4)
DIGS: A double definition daddio

27a      Jewel of European river’s brilliance of colour (10)
RHINESTONE: Begin with a river that rises in Switzerland and eventually empties into the North Sea. Add the letter S from river’s. Add a word that a describes the particular quality of brightness, deepness, or hue of a shade of a colour


1d        Respect Democrat in a tough situation (6)
ADMIRE: Place the abbreviation for democrat between the letter A from the clue and a complicated and unpleasant situation from which it is difficult to extricate oneself

2d        Fashionable second course (6)
MODISH: The word second here indicates a short period of time. The course is part of a meal

3d        Type of mortgage offered by most straightforward housing agent essentially put to rest (6-8)
SIMPLE INTEREST: A three part charade. 1 The most straightforward or easiest. 2 The central or essential letter of the word agent. 3 A word meaning to put to rest or bury. Now arrange as per the instructions in the clue.

4d        Fabric‘s rough it’s said on uncovered seats (9)
HORSEHAIR: A word that sounds like rough (of voice perhaps) is followed by what you might sit on minus its outer letters

5d        Run across drifter (5)
ROVER:  The abbreviation for run is followed by a word meaning across or above

7d        A Roman road deceives, we’re told, a flier (8)
AVIATRIX:  Begin with the letter A from the clue. Add a three-letter Roman road. Add a homophone of a word meaning deceives, cons, fools, scams or swindles

8d        Endless videos flog disheartened guy for abstract speculation (8)
IDEOLOGY: Remove the outer letters of the words videos and flogs. Add the outer letters of the word guy

9d        Valuable elements in time capsules or otherwise (8,6)

15d      In favour of proposal for upgrading (9)
PROMOTION:  A preposition meaning in favour of is followed by a synonym of the word proposal

16d      Unavoidable disaster, in fact good, perversely (3,2,3)
ACT OF GOD: Anagram (perversely) of FACT GOOD

17d      Taking stock of plant disease on heather (8)
RUSTLING: A plant disease that attacks my roses and hollyhocks is followed by a fish only seen in crosswordland

19d      Following false tale, show contempt for grass (6)
BAMBOO:  The second part of this clue means to show contempt  for something happening in the theatre perhaps. From this and the definition the answer is obvious. What the firs three letters of the clue have to do with a false tale I have no idea. Perhaps one of you kind people can provide an answer

20d      Take flight with wrappings of choice woolly coat (6)
FLEECE:  A word meaning to take flight from a place or situation of danger is followed by the outer letters of the word choice

22d      Kick  drink (5)
PUNCH:  A double definition. I’ll take the second over the first anytime











37 comments on “Toughie 2817

  1. Damn! I thought this was all not too dreadful but I couldn’t understand 19d either! So one smarter than me please help!!

    1. I also had to look up the first bit of 19d, not sure about 22d, it deserves a right hook followed by an upper cut!

  2. 19d I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, why people don’t look in the dictionary is a mystery to me, especially when this setter is famed for using words only found there these days.

    BRB defines the first three letters of the solution as an informal term for a hoax or false tale

    1. Yes I had to look that up though assumed it must be. I only knew the onomatopoeic context fondly remembered from speech bubbles in comics when someone took one on the chin.

    2. I have Google’s dictionary Sue but that was no help. I have online access to the complete OED but it’s a faff to log into for something as trivial as a crossword puzzle. StephenL knows the answer but he’s too modest to reveal it

  3. Apart from having to confirm 7d, which was a new word obtainable from checkers and wordplay, and check the “false tale” (though the solution was obvious) I found this remarkably straightforward and, dare I say it, a tad lacklustre.
    Favourite was 14a as it blends a bit of the old and the contemporary in the wordplay.
    Many thanks to Chalicea and MP for the fun.

  4. I thought this about as floughie as it gets but unlike Stephen didn’t find it particularly lacklustre (which is how I described the back-pager) & rather enjoyed my quickest solve yet (with all parsed too) in this slot. No real favourites but 14&18a plus 8d the ones that stood out for me.
    Thanks to Chalicea & to MP for his review which I’m about to read.

  5. I never do the Toughie but always read the reviews. I want to thank M’pops for the Henry V clip, loved it. I’m old enough to remember Olivier in the movie. Goosebumps!

  6. I too had my doubts over the first part of 19d which I did look up but it only came up with the loud noise. Following CS’s instructions I put hoax after it and the answer popped up. I shall try and remember it in the future. I did enjoy this. Favourite was 7d. Thanks to Chalicea, MP and CS.

  7. I’d recommend the Chambers app. It’s the only app I’ve ever paid for but at a fraction of the price of the BRB it offers great value with full dictionary look up and if you’re totally stuck a word search (that allows wildcards). Thanks to MP for the review and Chalicea for the puzzle. (I love her thematic puzzles too) I don’t work for Chambers!

    1. I’d second that, it’s probably the best £6 (or thereabouts, I think) I’ve ever spent – BAM!

    2. The online BRB doesn’t have bam on its own but the dead tree version does. I suppose that’s what you get for the extra £36

  8. Only the second time I have finished a Toughie unaided and both were by Chalicea who is my favourite setter. I loved this puzzle from start to finish although I did have a bung-in at 13a.

    I have no doubt that many will say this is too “fluffy” but I for one am grateful to Chalicea for giving us a Toughie that we lesser mortals can claim as our own. Also, huge thanks to MP for the hints.

  9. Considerably more enjoyable than today’s rather flat backpage puzzle, though of comparable difficulty. Completed at a good pace, bunged-in 19d just because it had to be what it was, and the mischievous part of me wanted 8d to start with ‘th’ rather than ‘id’ … but then again the clue might then have read ‘pointless’ instead of ‘abstract’!

    Can’t decide between 8d and 23a for the laurels today, for me they both stood H&S above the rest.

    1 / 3

    Many thanks to Chalicea and to MP for the hints. Cheltenham, especially the Festival, used to be something of a pilgrimage for us, but the pleasure of spending the day moving from pre-parade to parade to trackside and back again (coffee / hot choc only, never wasting time in the bars and restaurants!) was eventually overshadowed by the irritations of getting out of the car park, inching through Cheltenham, and crawling down the M5. Much more enjoyable to watch it on TV!

    1. Couldn’t agree more. Last time I was at Cheltenham was in the William Hill box overlooking the finishing line so at least getting a drink wasn’t a problem whereas it’s usually nearly as trying as attempting to pick a winner…

    2. We park in the owners and trainers car park. For which we give a man twenty quid every year.

  10. Very floughie (easier than back-pager today, I think) but very good fun – favourites 2d for its lovely simplicity and 19d for learning the unusual word. Many thanks Chalicea and MP.

  11. Always start puzzles bottom up (in sometimes vain hope that compilers save the easier clues till last!) and got held up by putting tonic in 22d. Once that was sorted I found this more like a midweek back pager than a toughie.
    I thought 7d was the best clue and had a hmm over brilliance in 27a
    Thanks to Chalicea and MP

  12. Another beautifully compiled Toughie from a setter on whom we can rely to produce an accessible and thoroughly entertaining puzzle. So many great clues, I shall stick in a pin and nominate 27a.

    My thanks to Chalicea for the fun, and to MP for his review.

  13. All good.
    Thanks to MP and Chalicea for well constructed puzzle on the easier spectrum.

  14. Very enjoyable , although 19d was my last one in too.I used a letter hint.
    8d was my second last one in. I hope I’ll remember it from now on.
    Thanks to Miffypops and Chalicea.

  15. A fun puzzle I did after the regular back pager.
    Two clues I failed to solve, so technically a DNF, but enjoyed what I solved nonetheless.
    Favourites include 12a, 18a, 25a & 20d

    Thanks to Chalicea and MP

  16. The only thing I would say is that I found the first 3 letters of 19d rather incongruous in the context of the puzzle, which is very easy for a Toughie IMO.

  17. As the cryptic was such fun today, I hoped the magic might rub over on to the Toughie, and it pretty much did. I didn’t notice until I was nearly finish that this one is by Chalicea, that ‘sprains it 😊. 19d didn’t give me a problem as with the last three letters in what else could it be. I know, I should understand the parsing before I write it in. 24a was a total mystery, not being in the least bit musical, but 27a was a giveaway having sailed from Basel on that lovely river. It’s probably a chestnut but did laugh at 26a. Thanks to Chalicea and Miffypops. What a day, two lovely puzzles.

  18. Nice and gentle. My earlier years as a trombonist helped with 24a. Thanks to Chalicea and MP.

  19. I will confess that I didn’t check that the first three letters of 19d mean what they have to mean, but it was pretty obvious that it was the right answer (and when you do it on-line it tells you if you’re wrong, which is kind of nice but also kind of cheating maybe?). Chalicea’s puzzles are always fun, and this was no exception, though I must say that it barely took any longer than the back page, and that wasn’t especially tough. And I have a cold! (First one for two years – in a weird way, it’s kind of nice to get back to normal. Forgive me, I’m blethering. Cheers all.)

  20. Many thanks, Miffypops and to crypticsue. Indeed, I am always surprised when a little wordplay element that is in Chambers, like that three-letter word at the start of 19d causes problems. As she says, I stick fairly strictly to Chambers for definitions (which means my compilations err on the floughie side) but I do realise that it is marked as ‘informal’ in the dictionary. We certainly met it in the comics we read as children with a slightly different meaning.
    It is always a pleasure to give solvers some satisfaction, so many thanks for the warm comments. Good luck with the cold, Friar Richard. After two years of caution and self-isolation, I landed a 12-day dose of covid but the recent version of it didn’t seem to be so life-threatening (and gave me lots of ‘isolation’ time for setting more gentle Toughies – watch this space).

    1. Thanks for popping in and I look forward to more of these sorts of puzzles. maybe in the Sunday Toughie slot perhaps.

  21. Thanks to Miffs and Chalicea. I enjoyed that, especially the music clips.
    7d is my favourite today. A trifecta of Clue, Solution and music clip.
    Have you any tips for a trifecta at Cheltenham Miffs?

      1. At 7:45 am :o I imagine you will be going for Guinness in the fourth too!
        I will be having a token bet on Andy Dufresne in the 4:50

  22. 2*/3*…
    liked 16D ” Unavoidable disaster, in fact good, perversely (3,2,3) “

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