Toughie 2857 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2857

Toughie No 2857 by Serpent

Hints and tips by Miffypops

Chris M Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****

A good Tuesday level Toughie puzzle from Serpent. Very amusing in parts but a little too much cycling for me and a lack of sustenance to keep me going. Those minor points pale into insignificance when 10 down is deconstructed. So much misdirection in one clue which made it a winner for me

Spoilers – The pink bars that should hide the answers but are not working for some site visitors . Mr K and Big Dave are testing a fix for this ongoing problem. Bear with them and hopefully normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Court risks   show of passion? (4,4,4)
PLAY WITH FIRE: I’m going for a double definition here . Court risks is one. Show of passion the second.


8a Summary statement of public policy (7)
OUTLINE: A three letter word meaning published or available for purchase is followed by a word meaning policy, often preceded by the word government or party in political terms

9a Publication that’s produced by the Greens? (7)
LEAFLET: A cryptic definition of a printed sheet of paper containing information or advertising and usually distributed free

11a Most illustrious reporter’s experience bringing happiness to audience (7)
NOBLEST: A rather strange clue here. The words reporters experience perhaps is a negative response. There follows a homophone (to audience) of a rather stretched synonym of happiness or pleasure and relief. If you have a different take on this I sure would like to hear it

12a What inspires rumour about football manager? (3,4)

PEP TALK: The nickname of an association football club manager who will be known to followers of the wretched game but possibly not to many solvers is followed by a synonym of the word rumour. If it helps the manager is from Spain and currently manages Manchester City

13a Signal change when head of state takes more central role (5)
ALERT: Begin with a verb meaning to change. Move our lovely queens cipher to the left

14a Revolutionary books introduced by popular and powerful mass movement? (9)
INSURGENT: The initials of a set of biblical books is preceded by a short word meaning popular and a word defined in the clue as a ‘powerful mass movement’. I will add the words ‘of a crowd or tide’

16a In the morning, lay around conserving energy to my surprise (9)
AMAZINGLY: The initials used to denote the morning are followed by an anagram (around) of the word LAY which sit around or contain a synonym of the word energy, enthusiasm or liveliness

19a Strangely, T. S. Eliot removes Old Possum’s’ central character for publication (5)
TITLE: Anagram (strangely) of T S ELIOT minus the abbreviation for old and the central letters of the word possums

21a Specimen test paper loses everyone at the outset (7)
EXAMPLE: A simple synonym of the word test is followed by the leading letters of three consecutive words in the clue

23a Name of lead character? Quite the opposite (7)
INITIAL: The name of leading character or letter of any word is what you need here

24a Yahoo accepts sanction over viewpoint (7)
LOOKOUT: A three part charade. 1 A yahoo or thug. 2 To sanction or give the go-ahead to a project. The cricketing abbreviation for an over of six balls. Arrange as the clue suggests

25a Foreign gentleman concealed destination when cycling (7)
HIDALGO: Begin with a word meaning concealed. Now find a word meaning destination, aim or end. Move the last two letters from the end to the beginning. These cycling clues are a pain in the jacksy to me. I’m almost tempted to use a pen and paper with them

26a Communist work wanting first male worker moved because of it? (12)
REDEPLOYMENT: Two synonyms and a subtraction are required here. Synonyms of the words Communist and work sit alongside one another. The abbreviation for male needs to be subtracted as indicated by the word wanting


1d Merger of corporation and board is appropriate for consumers (7)
POTABLE: One’s corporation, belly or tummy plus a word for a board upon which food is placed. The answer shares the last letter of the first word with the first letter of the second word. Confused? So am I

2d Food intake’s initially lowered through illness (7)
ALIMENT: Take a word meaning a minor sickness or illness and lower (move downwards in a down clue) the initial letter of the word intake

3d Lying Liberal stops supporting women’s sport (9)

WRESTLING: A word meaning lying as in lying on a settee after working contains or stops the abbreviation for Liberal. Together what you have comes after or supports the abbreviation for woman

4d Upset about university student’s bloomer (5)
TULIP: A word meaning upset as in knock over surrounds the abbreviation for University and the letter used to denote a student or learner

5d Female drinker is a flighty creature (7)
FLAPPER: The abbreviation for female is followed by one who drinks in the manner of a cat

6d What production company makes available,  free or on rental (7)
RELEASE: Did you await with mounting excitement the latest ******* from the Beatles (or any other band) back in the early nineteen-sixties? I certainly did. We have two definitions which precede the wordplay here. What production company makes available is one definition. Free, is another. The wordplay consists of a short word meaning on or about followed by a synonym of the word rental.

7d Ring in very good condition? (5,2,1,4)

SOUND AS A BELL: The noise of the Sunday six bell chime in Van Morrison’s beautiful song Beside You perhaps

10d Most of those people look, after drunk nurses start to dance (4,3,5)
TAKE THE FLOOR: An anagram (drunk) of LOOK AFTER surrounds or nurses three quarters of a word meaning those people

15d Exploded silly myths without a trace of merit in an elegant way (9)
STYLISHLY: Anagram (exploded) of SILLY MYTHS minus the first letter (trace of) of the word merit

17d Seafood (and nothing else) sustains sailor (7)

ABALONE: The regular abbreviation for a sailor is followed by a word meaning and nothing else or unaccompanied

18d Naughty child learning to beg (7)
IMPLORE: A three-letter rascal or scamp is followed by traditional learning or knowledge

19d Twirl around, pretty well intoxicated, having consumed whiskey and ecstasy (7)
TWIDDLE: A word meaning mildly intoxicated needs its last letter removing as indicated by the words pretty well. Insert the abbreviation for whisky and add the abbreviation for ecstasy

20d This set of notes describes feature of GATT treaty (7)
TRIPLET: the words GATT Treaty contain the same letter three times. How one might write this is also a group of three equal notes to be performed in the time of two or four

22d Celebrate return of personal fortune by Spain (5)
EXTOL: A word meaning one’s fortune or destiny, the mathematical symbol of multiplication (times or by) plus the IVR code for Spain all need to be reversed to give your solution


26 comments on “Toughie 2857

  1. Very enjoyable. I wondered whether reporter’s experience may be a homophone of know in 11a ?

    20d gets my vote amongst a fair few ticks.

    Thanks to Serpent and MP.

  2. Quite tricky for a Tuesday but good fun. I parsed 1a as show = p… and “of passion” = w… f….
    I think 11a is a double homophone, each bit indicated separately – experience = k… [indicated by reporter’s] and bringing happiness = b…. [to audience]. I too was confused by 1d but on reflection think it’s fine [merger is indeed appropriate].
    Thanks for the blog M, and thanks to Serpent.

  3. I thought this was super fun, probably just right for the Tuesday Toughie spot.
    Took me a while to see how 20d worked so that’s on my podium along with 16a but given my new Gravatar the winner has to be 12a.
    Great stuff.
    Many thanks to Serpent and MP

  4. Just to say that, when it comes to spoilers, I know Mr.K always gets it right. Today’s cryptic proves my point.

  5. Just right to while away the time waiting in pre-op this morning! LOI and COTD 20d. Now to the back-pager.
    Thank you to Serpent and MP

  6. I like the fact that Serpent can be guaranteed to provide a Toughie every time he appears and I’d have called this Wednesday level not Tuesday. He usually hides something in his grids but so far I haven’t spotted it

    Thanks to Serpent and MP – my favourites were 12a and 20d

  7. Excellent Tuesday fare, thanks Serpent.
    I needed MP help parsing 13ac as thought head of state was s….clot.
    Also missed the x in 22d as = by..
    I also took 11ac as double homophone as others have said.
    Otherwise an enjoyable romp which qualified as a Toughie.

  8. 23a is a blast from the past isn’t it? COTD is 5a. Not the sort of bird I was looking for!

  9. A real headscratcher imho, worthy of a Thursday or even a non-Elgar Friday. Managed to parse (NOT solve) everything on the first go (!), including the 11a first two letters homophone, as others have pointed out; and I think, MP, you may have erred in 19a. Remove the O (old) and the middle of POSSUMS, surely? Thanks Serpent and MP.

  10. This was great fun to complete, with 3 and 18d fighting it out for the top spot; a very doable Toughie that was well clued throughout. My thanks to Serpent for the challenge and to MP.

  11. Really enjoyed that puzzle today – a slow start, which took root in the SE, steadily spread to the broader S, and then accelerated rapidly through the N. Tremendus wit throughout, and unfair maybe to highlight any in particular, though 3d, 12a, 10d and 19a all merit mention.

    2.5* / 4*

    Many thanks indeed to Serpent, and to MP.

  12. Gentle start for me to the toughie week and a **/****, have to confess on a few bung ins but it was this type of crossword
    liked the 16a charade , the misleading 5d with 12a my favourite-just what he did at half time to save the day-including mine !
    Lots of fun, thanks setter and MP, 6d was clever

  13. Reasonably straightforward but needed the hint to parse 20d but it had to be the answer and 25a was a new word for me. I was held up for a while in the NW as I’d put ‘clear’as the first word in 7d but became my COTD once I’d realised my mistake. Thanks to Serpent and MP.

  14. I’ve been away since the morning’s backpager, seeing my podiatrist, and am happy to read so many jubilant comments about Serpent’s splendid Toughie, which I finished late last night, with my only parsing problem being 23a, which was a bung-in and which I frankly still do not understand. Otherwise, all systems were go and 20d, 10d, & 12a take home the medals. Thanks to MP and Serpent.

  15. Completed the grid ok & without any letter reveals but in the immortal words of Alan Clarke (in the Matrix Churchill trial) I would be economic with the actualite if claiming to have parsed them all.
    Thanks to Serpent for a very enjoyable challenge & to Miff for explaining at least 4 of my educated bung ins to me.

  16. One of those where I found it difficult to get a foothold and, after finishing it, wondered why I’d struggled!! Very enjoyable and favourite was 20D. Thanks to setter

  17. Are you sure 20d isn’t triolet? I thought it worked!
    As always miff, very entertaining!

  18. Many thanks to Miffypops for the great blog and to everyone who has been kind enough to leave a comment.

    There was something hidden in the grid, as crypticsue guessed – (almost) every entry contained the letter L, reflecting the pattern of the blocks in the grid. Unfortunately, I made a mistake, replacing INSOLVENT with INSURGENT at some point for some reason best known to myself, so the gimmick wasn’t properly implemented in the end.

    1. Using the word insolvent would have made 5 down impossible. An insurgent is a rebel and there is an L in that so it’s a good enough effort for me. I enjoyed both the solve and being the hinty man today. Keep em coming and thanks

  19. Busy week so only got round to this today. Started to get a grip in the SE (needed MrG for hidalgo, knew the word but not a clue of its meaning!) Rest of E followed then some serious head-scratching to complete the grid.
    Thanks to Serpent for the workout and MP for a superb blog, excellent start to the Toughie week

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