Toughie 2866 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2866

Toughie No 2866 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by Crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

I’ve solved many of this setter’s puzzles in different places over the years but this is the first time I’ve actually had the chance to blog a Donnybrook Toughie. Definitely a touch of the “Biblical” about this one and several clues which required careful thinking to parse and explain

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


8a    Job was so useless in the end — about to stop work (7)
STOICAL Job in the Old Testament is an example of someone long-suffering and patient – to produce an adjective describing this take the ‘end’ of uselesS and then insert (to stop) the Latin abbreviation for about into some [hard] work

10a    Infant tiny, uncovered? That’s dreadful (7)
ABYSMAL An infant and a synonym for tiny put together and then the outside letters of the result removed (uncovered)

11a    Angry nurses battle over trickster’s command (3,6)
HEY PRESTO A British and North American dialect word meaning heated (angry) ‘nurses’ a World War I battle, the cricket abbreviation for Over being added at the end

12a    Once enough to keep daughter and bequeath an income (5)
ENDOW An archaic (once) word meaning enough into which is inserted (to keep) the abbreviation for Daughter

13a    Food shop back next to King’s Cross (5)
RILED Misleading capital time! A reversal (back) of a food shop follows (goes next to) the Latin abbreviation for King

14a    Trousers too long for fashionable person? (7)
HIPSTER The name of trousers designed to fit lower than the waist would be too long (ie need the S removing) to get a fashionable person

17a    House the boss here temporarily, as narc oddly went berserk (3,8,4)
NEW SCOTLAND YARD Stephen House is the Acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the place he’s working in temporarily is an anagram (berserk) of AS NARC ODDLY WENT

19a    Guest in Vietnam’s capital is there occasionally (7)
INVITEE  IN (from the clue) the capital of Vietnam (and no, we aren’t looking for Hanoi) and the occasional letters of In ThErE

21a    This was taken from Samson and Lot (5)
SIGHT More misleading capitals – the sense taken from Samson can also be an informal term meaning a lot

24a    Virgin martyr gets on train finally coming in (5)
AGNES The patron saint of young virgins, possibly martyred in the Diocletian Persecution in around 304. The final letter of train inserted (coming in) to part of a verb meaning gets on in the sense of grows older

26a    Purple, gold, black, and one seen in green pants! (9)
AUBERGINE The chemical symbol for gold, the abbreviation for Black as used on lead pencils, and the letter representing I inserted into an anagram (pants) of GREEN

27a    Similar drinks going together with classy wine made here (7)
CHATEAU Informal and formal ways of referring to a particular drink combine and then the letter representing upper class is added at the end

28a    Very determined Armada man took ships (7)
ADAMANT Hidden in (ships in the sense of carries) armADA MAN Took


1d    Biblical beauty in Paris is that woman? (6)
ESTHER A lady from the Old Testament chosen to be Queen of Persia because of her great beauty. The French (as used in Paris) word for is and the pronoun meaning ‘that woman’

2d    Person by turns to meet with deep disappointment (4,4)
BODY BLOW A slang word for a person, a reversal (turns) of BY (from the clue) and a synonym for deep

3d    Get out boxes ready with cold battered chicken (7-3)
SCAREDY-CAT An informal interjection meaning to get out/go away ‘boxes’ or goes round an anagram (battered) of READY with C (cold)

4d    Confined an enormous bird inside small bottle (9)
PAROCHIAL Restricted or confined within narrow limits – A (an) and an enormous bird of Arabian legend put ‘inside’ a small bottle

5d    Ultimately flood may soak the ditch (4)
DYKE The ultimate letters of flooD maY soak thE

6d    Surrounded by 500 in a film (6)
AMIDST The Roman numeral for 500 inserted in A (from the clue) and a film [of vapour]

7d    Female gave evil look and came out (8)
FLOWERED The abbreviation for Female and part of a verb meaning gave an evil look

9d    Luxurious boozer (4)
LUSH An adjective meaning luxurious or a slang term for a drunkard (boozer)

15d    Boring President forced to tour America (10)
PEDESTRIAN An anagram (forced) of PRESIDENT goes round (to tour) the abbreviation for America

16d    Two articles by retired staff about Brussels institution (9)
ATHENAEUM An ancient institution of learning – Two grammatical articles: one indefinite, the other definite and a reversal (retired) of a synonym for staff which goes about the two-letter abbreviation for the European Union (Brussels)

17d    Something obnoxious exists to split subtle difference (8)
NUISANCE A simple way of saying exists goes inside (to split) a subtle difference

18d    English align converts with John (8)
ANGLICAN An anagram (converts) of ALIGN with a slang term for a lavatory (john)

20d    One wrecking vehicle young chap’s driven up (6)
VANDAL A type of vehicle and a reversal (driven up) of a young chap

22d    Banknote left in emptied tray (6)
TWENTY A synonym for left inserted into the outside (emptied) letters of TraY

23d    Group using rhymes in Petrarchan sonnet (4)
ABBA The Petrarchan sonnet forms rhymes in the form of two lots of the name of a famous Swedish group

25d    Female heading to destination: Slough (4)
SHED A final visit from the misleading capital – The feminine form of the female third person pronoun and the ‘head’ to Destination


27 comments on “Toughie 2866
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  1. I didn’t know the boss in 17ac but all the rest was straightforward and only slightly tougher than yesterday.
    These easier Toughies are good for morale…but
    Whenever I feel I’m improving a Friday Elgar puts me firmly back in my place!
    Thanks to Donnybrook for a well clued puzzle and to CS for the blog.

  2. A pleasingly tricky but ultimately rewarding puzzle to solve, with some inventive clueing. My favourite from many was 3d.

    Thanks to Donnybrook for the challenge and to CS.

  3. Very enjoyable – thanks to Donnybrook (I did wonder whether he is applying to take over from Giovanni as our religious correspondent) and to CS.
    Lots to like – I picked out 10a, 14a and 4d.

  4. A proper toughie – especially the top half where my favourite clues were – 8,10,11 across and 2d.
    Thanks to DB and CS [especially for explaining 17a which defeated me].

  5. I probably made much heavier weather of this puzzle than I should have done. So much so that the puzzles web site tells me that completion took an inordinate amount of time as I had to ‘recharge’ in the arms of Morpheus part way through. However, I claim some mitigation, from 5,000 miles away, in, for example, not knowing who Mr House is which did not help the solving of 17a.

    Candidates for favourite – 8a, 26a, 27a, and 7d – and the winner is 26a.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and CS.

    1. I doubt if more than one person in a hundred in the UK knows who the temporary boss is – he hasn’t made a great impression on the public so far.

        1. 90% of us wouldn’t know much about the politics of your country Senf. We nearly all think the capital of Canada is Toronto

  6. Couple of failings on the GK front left me scurrying to the reference books (aka Mr G) for assistance with 17a & 23d and I wasn’t very persuaded by 14a. OK elsewhere and quite enjoyed this one.
    Top two here were 10a & 3d.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and to CS for the review.

  7. Very enjoyable indeed from one of my favourite setters. One of those puzzles where a few of the solutions arrived on and earlier bus than the parsings, two of which I’ve yet to fathom.
    In a strong field I particularly enjoyed 10,11,26&27a plus 3&7d. Great stuff.
    Many thanks to Donnybrook and CS for the top notch entertainment.

  8. I think I solved most of this from definitions checkers and enumeration. 1 across made my head hurt and still does even after reading the hint, I’ll try again after a beer or two. Any clue that has Boss in it makes me think of Bruce Springsteen or The Great Pretender both of which have more than 15 letters. Thanks to Sue for telling us who is the Boss at NSY. How and why does she even know? 11 across was so clever. Thanks to Sue who I hope travels safely without let or hindrance and thanks to Donnybrook for the puzzle

  9. An excellent puzzle with D’s usual accuracy and wit, with the bar thus set high for the choosing of podium candidates.

    With regard to Biblical matters, I suspect a somewhat mercenary attitude from this compiler, who I note in relatively recent times has given Independent solvers puzzles referencing matters (or at least monuments) pagan: perhaps the other Don is yet safe?

    Very nice puzzle, great blog, so many thanks to Donnybrook, and to Cryptic Sue.

  10. Wonderful. The only thing I did not know was the gentleman alluded to in 17a though the solution came quickly. Otherwise, I thought this the best Toughie in some time, with 8, 10, & 11a setting the pace for a superb retinue of followers, especially 3, 16, 23, & 4d. Delighted to have finished this unaided last night, with many thanks to CS and Donnybrook.

  11. Good Toughie, and worthy of the name. I found this slow to start but swift to complete. Biffed 17a as a straightforward anagram but had no idea about the parsing – and on reading CS’s review (thank you!) can only now appreciate Donnybrook’s wit in the construction of that clue. Nothing untoward in the answers, but I found many of the clues suitably oblique and/or complex. Some very strange surface readings but that did not detract from a very satisfying solve.

    2.5 / 3

    Many thanks to Donnybrook & CS.

  12. I’ve not done this puzzle, but have read the H&Ts and comments (as always) which I find very interesting and intriguing. The 5d answer is a funny ol’ word. It’s a kind of contranym; it can be a drainage ditch to allow the flow of water, or a dam/embankment to hold water back. But often with the same purpose – to prevent/relieve flooding. Just musing …

  13. We got 17a from the checkers but had no idea how to parse it.
    Plenty to enjoy and a very satisfying solve.
    Thanks Donnybrook and CS.

  14. Surely a 3* difficulty level, e.g. 10a. I know it’s only for fun, but possibly demoralising for some newer solvers to slog over it and only see 2*?
    No arguments with yesterday’s 1*, almost a write-in. Moan over, thanks all.

  15. Unlike so many smug posters here I have never claimed to be an accomplished puzzler and I rarely finish. So I found this Wednesday toughie unusually difficult, obscure and irritating. For example HET is angry? ENOW is enough? HOUSE is some miserable nobody at the Met? AGNES is a well know virgin martyr? SCAT is get out? LOWERED is gave evil look? And I had never heard of a Petrarchan sonnet. Clearly I am just a pedant or ignorant or most probably both.

    1. In the crossword’s defence: ‘het up’ is a common enough expression for angry; enow WAS enough (once); scat is a commonly used word when trying to get pets and small children out of the house; and you should probably read more poetry! As for Agnes, I do think a well-known virgin is a bit of an oxymoron…

  16. Hello all, many thanks for all the comments, and for the excellent CS blog. Much appreciated.

    With the greatest respect, William Wright — and I’d certainly never call anyone brave enow (sorry about that one) to have a go at the Toughie either a pedant or ignorant — the answer to all your questions is ‘yes’. Apart from ENOW itself, which was defined in the puzzle as ‘Once enough’ to account for the archaic usage (which we can find in Edmund Spenser for instance). Whilst we are on the phone, let me (again respectfully) say that I’ve never found posters here either ‘smug’ or boastful in any way. Rather, they seem to me a really nice group of people, who have somehow developed the ability to be nice even about things they don’t like!

    Anyway, as I say, all comments welcome. Thanks.

  17. An excellent puzzle (as usual from Donnybrook), but I needed to recharge my batteries before completing the NE corner.

    Some of the GK escaped me eg 23d but still managed to complete.

    I think more of a 3* difficulty and 5+* on enjoyment. Thanks to CS for the blog and applause to Donnybrook for the wide-ranging puzzle.

  18. Hear hear regarding the niceness of contributors here. I’ve always encountered politeness, civility and fun.

  19. As usual, I’m way behind on toughies, at least three dibs at this one before finally filling the grid this evening after a day in the garden. Have to own up to “cheating” as I found the puzzle incredibly difficult, had to resort to using every electronic device available in order to get the job done.
    Reading the hints after completion, I now understand the parsing of my bung-ins and the quality of the clues from our competent setter, to whom I give my sincere thanks for the braincells exercise and CS for the enlightenment.
    Note re WW comment above, I haven’t come across a “smug poster” once (apart from the one arrogant character who has long since disappeared into oblivion), we’re a pretty understanding bunch, I reckon!

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