Toughie 2854 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2854

Toughie No 2854 by Django

Hints and tips by Crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ****

Another fine Toughie from Django – I did toy with removing half an enjoyment star to allow for the number of times we had to ‘take or remove a letter’ but I had so much fun otherwise, that I thought I’d just have a little grump about it instead

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Hapless broadcaster initially going after all-naked pub and club act (7)
UNLUCKY The name of a well-known broadcaster without its first letter (initially going) put after the inside (all-naked) letters of pUb aNd cLUb aCt

5a    Marx wasting hour visiting business with liberal idea to mobilise workers? (3,4)
CAR POOL Remove (wasting) the abbreviation for hour from the name of one of the Marx brothers and insert it into (visiting) an abbreviated business and the abbreviation for Liberal

9a    Dreamers in space organised time aboard research satellite (9)
ESCAPISTS An anagram (organised) of SPACE followed by the abbreviation for Time inserted into the abbreviation for the International Space Station (research satellite)

10a    Piece from burlesque entertainer (5)
QUEEN Hidden in burlesQUE Entertainer

11a    After evacuation, safety instruction to reader to keep two metres apart is characteristic of illness (7)
SYMPTOM ‘Evacuate’ SafetY and then follow with an abbreviated instruction to a reader inserted (to keep … apart) two abbreviations for Metre

12a    Angry at time I take off (7)
IMITATE An anagram (angry) of AT TIME I

13a    Will finally drag in cooker as romantic gift (4-5)
LOVE TOKEN The final letter of wilL and a slang verb meaning to drag on a cigarette (especially one containing marijuana), the latter inserted into a cooker

16a    Heartless sod after filling in his nana (5)
IDIOT This nana is a slang word for a fool – remove the middle letter (heartless) from a thin piece of turf dug up by a golf club during a stroke and put the letters you have left after the ‘filling’ in hIs

17a    You are caught during escape from the east — blast (5)
CURSE A homophone (caught) of you are inserted (during) a reversal (from the east in an Across solution) of the abbreviation for escape you’ll find on your computer keyboard

18a    007’s boss popular with Bond — new to area that’s often consumed with case? (9)
MINCEMEAT The initial by which Agent 007’s boss was known, the usual two-letter ‘popular’ and a type of bonding material, the abbreviation for New in that word being changed to that for Area

21a    Gather around auction site, spending last of money to get essential item for the table (3,4)
CUE BALL A verb meaning to gather goes round a well-known auction site without the Y (spending the ‘last’ of money)

22a    Overdraft arranged reflected experimental environment (4,3)
TEST BED A reversal (reflected) of something owed such as an overdraft and part of a verb meaning arranged

25a    Occasionally good to query smell (5)
ODOUR The occasional letters of gOoD tO qUeRy

26a    Stint in quirky local drinking pale ale at the end (9)
ALLOWANCE An anagram (quirky) of LOCAL ‘drinking’ an adjective meaning lacking colour (pale), the result followed with the end letter of alE

27a    As one worried Essex man must cast vote (2,5)
EN MASSE An anagram (worried) of ESSEx MAN without (must cast) the letter you use when you vote

28a    Stream or boring river (7)
TORRENT OR (from the clue) ‘boring’ a British river


1d    Tool modifying iTunes with lead to laptop (7)
UTENSIL An anagram (modifying) of iTUNES with the ‘lead’ to Laptop

2d    Deputy locked up my half of everything (5)
LOCUM Half of each of the first three words of the clue

3d    Suffer punishment from second flier — look out (3,2)
COP IT The second flier on an aircraft without (out) the archaic interjection meaning look

4d    Speak up over His Majesty: King supporting a cover-up (7)
YASHMAK A reversal (up) of a verb meaning to speak, the abbreviation for His Majesty, and the chess abbreviation for King, the latter ‘supporting’ or going after A (from the clue)

5d    Protection from copper, quiet before one’s charged (7)
CUSHION The chemical symbol for copper, an instruction to be quiet and an electrically-charged particle

6d    Necessary introduction to riding on horse — sit in knight’s place (9)
REQUISITE The introduction to Riding and a horse where SIT (from the clue) replaces the chess abbreviation for knight

7d    I tape over wound in action (9)
OPERATIVE An anagram (wound) of I TAPE OVER

8d    I eat noodles, originally to break religious fast — it’s tolerant (7)
LENIENT The original letters of I Eat Noodles to ‘break’ a religious fast

14d    Content to supervise on account of medium or, perhaps, short measure (5,4)
VERSE FORM Take a verb meaning to supervise and just use the inside letters (content to supervise) follow with a preposition meaning on account of and the abbreviation for Medium

15d    Sign outside of the man’s book (9)
THESAURUS A Sign of the Zodiac goes ‘outside’ a simple way of saying ‘the man’s)

17d    Storm starts in 5,4,3,2,1 (7)
CYCLONE – The ‘starts’ to the solutions to 5, 4, 3 and 2 followed by 1 written out in full

18d    Knock back some of the raw lamb — it could damage your system (7)
MALWARE Reverse (knock back) some of thE RAW LAMb

19d    Short letter reviewing TV fundraiser: “Hearts not in it.” (7)
NOTELET A reversal (reviewing) a TV fundraiser without (not in it) the abbreviation for Hearts in a pack of cards

20d    Smartest One Day International match is entertaining (7)
TIDIEST A match ‘entertaining’ the letter representing one and the abbreviations for Day and International

23d    Singer makes things that may be used by one channel (5)
SEWER Someone working with material and thread might use a machine made by Singer; the second definition referring to a drainage channel

24d    Diva removing shell of every nut (5)
BONCE A slang term for the head is obtained by removing the ‘shell’ of EverY from the name of an American female singer (diva)

My top favourite clues were the clever 17d (I don’t think I’ve seen that used before) and the smile-inducing 24d.

23 comments on “Toughie 2854

  1. Gentle stuff, especially once settled into the rhythm of taking letters off or replacing them. I liked 22a and also 17d once the penny dropped. Thanks to Django and CS.

  2. Good fun but not too much of a stretch – thanks to Django and CS.
    My ticks went to 17a, 3d and 23d with my favourite being the novel 17d.

  3. As seems to be the norm for this setter, there is very little (off-)white space in the clue columns, but he has mastered the art of providing smooth surfaces despite the wordiness of the clues which is fine by me.

    I thought at first that 19d was an indirect anagram with reviewing as an anagram indicator. It was only after I had written it in that I spotted it was also a reversal with reviewing as a reversal indicator.

    As a cricketing fanatic, my first thought on seeing One Day International was ODI, to the point that I even checked if “todiest” was a real word until the penny dropped. Very cunning disguise, Django!

    With a lot of inventive clueing on show, the top prize has to go to 17d.

    Many thanks to Django and to CS.

  4. I found the bottom half quite tricky [3* say] but all of it was a joy to solve. Must admit I failed to parse 17d altho it seems so obvious in retrospect and I had fiddled with F, F,T,T one – without much conviction! So that’s a cotd along with the magnificent 11a.
    Thanks to Django and to CS for the blog.

  5. Amazing stuff, never have seen anything quite like it, certainly not 17d, clearly my COTD. My biggest problem lay not in the unpacking of the definitions but just plowing through the sometimes wordy, overwritten clues, searching for some kind of coherence and clarity. (Where are you Ray T / Beam when we need you?) But it’s obviously Django’s style, and who am I to carp, eh? In addition to 17d, I also very much admired 1a, 27a, 5a, & 21a. I am not impressed, however, with his ‘diva’ or that definition at 24d. Thanks to CS whose parsing of several clues helped me and to Django.

  6. Today’s setter is one whose puzzles I always look forward to and this didn’t disappoint
    Found the bottom half (particularly LHS) tougher than the top and needed a couple of nudges re the parsings but otherwise not too difficult and a whole host of fun.
    My winners were 11,18&27a plus 17d.
    Many thanks to Django and Cryptic Sue for a top puzzle and blog.

  7. Very good puzzle, and like others I found the N rather more straightforward than the S, and the SW tougher than the SE. Needed the blog to parse a few of my bung-ins, and while my BRB tells me that cull derives from a French word meaning “to gather”, it’s use in this context was quite new to me. 17d very clever but since I had to come here to parse it I can’t include it among the podium list, which instead has 2d, 3d and 22a, with 5a my COTD.

    Thank you to Django and to CS

  8. For the first time in ages I have to admit that this was a struggle, and not one I particularly enjoyed. I found the clues a little too wordy for my liking, and some of the constructions were awkward. I rarely write a negative review, but one has to be honest and this was just not to my taste. I did appreciate the clever 17d and the misdirection in 20d.

    Thanks and apologies to Django; thanks, too, to CS.

  9. Django does suffer from verbal diarrhoea doesn’t he! Answers once more revealed. Such a bore

    1. JB, I use a Windows laptop, an android phone and an Apple iPAD … all the answers are always hidden on all three.

      What do you use that is causing so much angst?

      1. An iPad using Chrome. Yesterday the cryptic was fine and the Toughie not. Confusing.

        1. I had the same problem again today. Answers were showing. I use Chrome on an android phone, in fact a Blackberry – some of you may remember the Blackberry!

  10. What is the point of B D if you don’t use the yellow covers may as well use Dan Word but with extra clues

      1. Click here! Is grey at first and goes yellow when you reveal the answer. If yours are yellow to start with it is your browser that is opening them the wrong way round. If you click the yellow answers do they turn to grey click here’s?
        PS to CS 23d doesn’t have either

        1. Mine are neither grey nor yellow. The word is just printed black on white like the clues.

  11. Very enjoyable puzzle although initially found the verbiage off putting. Favourite clues were 21A, 26A, 24D but best of all, the very clever (and new construction to me) 17D. Thanks to setter **/**** for me.

  12. A really good fun solve with chuckles all the way through. Favourite the clever and different 17d.
    Thanks Django and CS.

  13. At least a 2* difficulty I thought, not a fan of clues like 14, but 17d and others good fun.

  14. I thought this was absolutely top drawer & great fun. Way harder than a * star difficulty rating for the likes of me in terms of making sense of the wordplay, which is really what it’s all about with Django puzzles. Couldn’t think of the first 2 letters of the 2nd word at 22a so read the hint, swore loudly & then bunged in 24d to finish though it still took a while to figure out why.
    Big ticks all over. Thought the wordplay at 1,5&11a particularly clever & like RD was initially thrown by ODI at 20d. COTD has to be 17d. Just wish I’d twigged the why. The parsing of 21a also eluded me – another clever clue – auction house indeed…
    Thanks to Django & to CS

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