Toughie 2818 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2818

Toughie No 2818 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

A fairly typical Stick Insect Toughie – the solving and parsing of two clues took me well into 2* Toughie time.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


4a    Make secret arrangement on condition that secrecy’s ending (8)
CLASSIFY A scientific division or arrangement, a conjunction meaning on condition that, and the ‘ending’ of secrecY

8a    Pulp singer is number one (6)
REIGNS An anagram (pulp) of SINGER

9a    Chap I heal in treatment (8)
MANICURE A chap, I (from the clue) and a synonym for heal

10a    Corrupt top men accommodating one son? (8)
NEPOTISM An anagram (corrupt) of TOP MEN ‘accommodating’ I (one) and the abbreviation for Son

11a    Elite soldiers dance and walk ostentatiously (6)
SASHAY The abbreviation for a special forces unit (elite soldiers) and a winding country dance

12a    Prison holds Parisian and outstanding sea creature (8)
CETACEAN A slang term for a prison ‘holds’ the French (as used by Parisians) word for ‘and’ and an informal adjective meaning outstanding

13d    Set ass before tree (5,3)
IDIOT BOX A foolish person (ass) goes before a type of tree to make a slang term for a television set

16a    Agent left out of initial crushing failure (8)
EMISSARY Remove the L (left out) from a synonym for initial in the sense of ‘near the beginning’ and insert (crushing) a failure

19a    Mixed spice pieces in sample (8)
SPECIMEN An anagram (mixed) of SPICE followed by some [chess] pieces

21a    Hurt and kill twice (6)
OFFEND Synonyms for kill used twice – firstly a US slang word meaning to kill and, secondly, a verb meaning to destroy

23a    Rude urchin beginning to oppose diet (8)
IMPOLITE An urchin, the ‘beginning’ to Oppose and an adjective meaning low in calories (diet)

24a    Combined to win that woman (8)
TOGETHER TO (from the clue), a verb meaning to win and the female possessive pronoun (that woman)

25a    Award over tooth, shortened and dull (6)
OBTUSE An abbreviated award goes ‘over’ a truncated [long protruding] tooth

26a    Thus paper covers western affection (4,4)
SOFT SPOT An adverb meaning this, the abbreviation for the pink newspaper and a reversal (western) of some covers


1d    Hot meal returning minister consumed (7)
FEVERED An informal term for a plentiful meal into which is inserted (consumed) a reversal of an abbreviated member of the clergy (minister)

2d    Fool is amusing or confused (9)
IGNORAMUS An anagram (confused) of IS AMUSING OR

3d    Long church feature follows start of Advent (6)
ASPIRE A feature of many churches follows the ‘start’ of Advent

4d    Fellow feeling when bottle passed around? (9,6)
COMMUNITY SPIRIT The sense of belonging to and participating in local matters that might be improved if a bottle of alcoholic drink  was passed around

5d    A jerk holding uplifting tune is doubtful (8)
AGNOSTIC A (from the clue) and an involuntary movement (jerk) ‘holding’ a reversal (uplifting in a Down solution) of a musical tune

6d    Spoils old wines in bags (5)
SACKS Triple definitions – Plunders (spoils in the sense of takes by force); the old name of various dry white wines from Spain and the Canaries; large bags

7d    Game about newspaper shambles (7)
FARRAGO A card game goes ‘about’ a derogatory word for a newspaper, the result being a confused mass of objects or people

14d    In gallery, I cultivate tease (9)
TITILLATE I (from the clue) and a verb meaning to cultivate inserted into the name of an art gallery founded by a sugar refiner and industrialist

15d    Pinch compact vehicle (8)
HARDSHIP Pinch here meaning a critical time of difficulty – an adjective meaning solid (compact) and a ‘means of conveyance’ (vehicle), this particular one used on water or in space

17d    Soprano perhaps held up by virtuoso, if ambitious (7)
MAFIOSO A member of an organised crime family (the Sopranos being a television series about a fictional one) is hidden in reverse (held up by) virtuOSO IF Ambitious

18d    Professional looking after canine tends it badly (7)
DENTIST An anagram (badly) of TENDS IT

20d    Use stratagem to tail half of them (6)
EMPLOY A stratagem ‘tails’ the second half of thEM

22d    Online opening for festival, maybe? (5)
EVENT The letter used to indicate that something is online followed by an opening

While I was solving this crossword over breakfast, I mentioned to Mr CS three clues and what I thought would be the reaction of some solvers to them – I’ll be interested to know if I was right – he won’t care either way!

21 comments on “Toughie 2818

  1. Very enjoyable mid week Toughie. Top three for me were the ones with an element of misdirection, the excellent &lit at 10a plus 1d with top spot going to the very clever 16a.
    Many thanks to Stick Insect and CS for the entertainment.

  2. Couldn’t fully parse 16a,6d and 15d but really enjoyed this nevertheless. Thanks to all. 2d answer needs to be hidden 👍

  3. Very enjoyable. Got held up on 1d, and 26a took me a while to parse the second half. Otherwise straightforward Wednesday fun. Thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

  4. That just hit the spot to cheer up a dull Shropshire lunchtime. This was a very accessible and entertaining solve, with the clever 10a taking top spot, with an honourable mention to 18d. I did wonder if my fellow Salopian Steve Cowling has seen this one yet?

    Thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

  5. Cracking Toughie, well-deserving of the Wednesday/Thursday slot. Could not parse 16a and 26a. Appreciated the paucity of anagrams and the skillful clueing, though there were a couple of odd surface reads. Finished in the NW with 8a (groaned when that P D’d) and then LOI 1d.

    COTD? Close between the excellent &lit 10a, and the wonderfully funny mental picture of the beautifully crafted 11a. The dancing soldiers win by a short head.

    3* / 3.5*

    Many thanks to Stick Insect and to CS.

  6. I love Stick Insect. Like Hudson his crosswords are full of smile clues. Cleverly disguised but ultimately doable. Pity CS dismisses them. I find them infinitely more enjoyable than Elgar.
    Many thanks to Stick Insect and CS

  7. A crossword of two halves for me, east first despite not having heard of the dance in 11a or 13a before but they had to be what they were and a quick visit to Google confirmed this. Hard work but a satisfying finish. For once I parsed everything. COTD was a toss up between 12a and 16a. Thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

  8. A bit of a drag at times but managed to finish it. Didn’t have a proper COTD but 21a came close.

  9. thanks SI for the entertainment, 3* time and 3* smiley quotient. CS, I think you have inadvertently included part of 4d in your parsing.

  10. A fairly standard Stick Insect puzzle – thanks to him and CS.
    Best clue for me is 11a.

  11. This was nicely challenging and good fun. I didn’t know the game in 7d but it couldn’t have been anything else. I am not entirely convinced that “compact” in 15d is exactly synonymous with “hard”, and it was a shame that a US meaning crept into 21a.

    With plenty of nice clues in evidence, I think the clever all-in-one 10a takes top prize.

    Many thanks to Stick Insect for the fun and CS for the review.

  12. None too sparkly a Toughie for me, but diverting enough. **/** for me today.

  13. Last to fall was 1d for some unknown reason.
    An enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Stick Insect and CS.

  14. Got off to a grumpy start with that dreadful word for a meal in 1d and wasn’t overly convinced by ‘compact’ in 15d.
    Not to worry, it’s all in the name of the game and I know tomorrow’s Toughie setter will set my world to rights again!
    Top two for me were 11&12a.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to CS for the review.

  15. Late today, too many distractions keeping me away–the highlight being Zelenskyy’s heroic & eloquent address to the US Congress, but with absolutely heartbreaking videos–followed by a much-needed few hours of silence, and then a respite into sleep. Last night I finished this very engaging Stick Insect but needed a bit of electronic help in the NW corner, with 10a, 12a, & 1d falling into place after a bit of a struggle. Excellent puzzle, not a dud in the grid. Thanks to CS (which two pushed you into **, by the way?) and Stick Insect.

    1. 26a – It took me a long time to see the ‘covers’ and what western had to do with it

      15d – like RD, equating hard to compact, and then I had to accept that a ship could be a vehicle

  16. Very much enjoyed this puzzle which I found nicely challenging this evening. Rather annoyed with myself for turning to the hints with just 12a to go. Fairly obvious really but just didn’t twig the prison synonym (another Americanism surely RD). 13a was unfamiliar & needed confirmation. I also spent a while trying to figure out what the hell TSPO had to do with westerns before the penny dropped. Top 3 for me 10&11a along with the reverse lurker at 17d, a truly superb drama.
    Thanks to Stick Insect & to CS.
    Re 25a is over in this instance around ok in an across clue ?

    1. 25a – yes, ‘over’ can mean above (in a down clue), surrounds (as in all over it), reversed (turned over) or even an anagram indicator (as in to start over, controversial as over is not a verb), can also be a positional indicator (as in move over)
      That is my understanding

    2. Huntsman, can meaning toilet is definitely American, but I think it’s OK in the UK as slang for prison.

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