Toughie 2885 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2885

Toughie No 2885 by Chalicea
Hints and tips by StephenL
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
BD Rating – Difficulty * – Enjoyment ***

Toughie setters this week

Wed Hudson Thu Artix  Fri Elgar

Hello all from sunny South Devon.

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing a Chalicea puzzle for the first time. She has eased us very gently into the Toughie week with a fun puzzle that I rather breezed through.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Relatively tasteless young bird heard (7)
CHEAPER: A homophone (heard) of a synonym of an immature bird….based on the sound they make I guess

5a Survive till the final wicket? (7)
OUTLAST: If you split the solution 3-4 you’ll see the wordplay. I’ve seen this clue or something very similar before so probably a bit of a chestnut

9d At sea, I arrive in coastal region (7)
RIVIERA: Anagram (at sea) of the following two words. Understandably, considering my location this went straight in.

10a Violent storm split a party (7)
TORNADO: The past participle of a verb meaning to split or rip, A from the clue and a (non political) party.

11a Plants I’d lifted from US state (5)
FLORA: Remove or “lift” I’d from the “Sunshine State”

12a Experts incorporating method in brief jokes (3-6)
ONE-LINERS: An archaic term for some experts or remarkable people goes around a method or approach.

13a Broadcast belittles instructive examples (7)
LESSONS: A homophone (broadcast) of a synonym of belittles or diminishes

14a Crime racket oddly linking two US cities (7)
LARCENY: The odd letters of the word RaCkEt are inserted between the abbreviations of two US cities

16a He could probably calculate composition of any salt properly presented (7)
ANALYST: Anagram (properly presented) of ANY SALT but the whole clue serves as wordplay and definition

19a Bane of start of nauseous vomiting (7)
NEMESIS: The initial letter of Nauseous and a noun (I had to check) that means the act of vomiting

22a Violent hoodlum and thug regularly a blusterer (9)
LOUDMOUTH: Anagram (violent) of HOODLUM and the regular letters of ThUg.

24a Deeply tinge limbs with hues, dropping restraints (5)
IMBUE: Remove the outside letters (dropping restraints) of the words limbs and hues.

25a Record first heartless love letter (7)
EPISTLE: One of the usual musical discs, the three letters that look like ” first” when written with a number followed by the outside letters of LovE.

26a Flat place of arrival in small field (7)
PADDOCK: An old fashioned word for a flat or apartment and a place of arrival associated with a body of water.

27a Tower in every detail penetrated by disastrous bug (7)
TUGBOAT: Tower in the sense of something that tows. Insert an anagram of bug into four letters that when split and read out 2-1-1 mean “in every detail”. Great clue and my runaway winner.

28a Ball game gathering characteristic of the countryside (7)
RURALLY: The abbreviation for a 15 a side game played with an oval ball and a gathering, meet-up or convention.


1d Solicitous about university student supporting judge (7)
CAREFUL: Start with the the abbrevated form of circa (about) add the abbreviation for University and an abbreviation for a student or Learner and into the result insert an informal synonym of a judge or umpire.

2d Curiously I’ve no use mostly for showing covetousness (7)
ENVIOUS: Anagram (curiously) of the following two words plus US  (use mostly)

3d Exploiting others portrayed differently (9)
PREDATORY: Anagram (differently) of PORTRAYED

4d Draws conclusions concerning adult offspring (7)
REASONS: A preposition meaning concerning or regarding, the abbreviation for Adult and some male issues

5d Nothing at breakfast, maybe, but this? (7)
OATMEAL: The letter that represents zero, AT from the clue and something of which breakfast is (usually the first of the day) an example.

6d Is worthless stuff turning up in trunks? (5)
TORSI: Start with IS from the clue. Add a synonym of tat or bilge and reverse the result.

7d College life deemed a cakewalk, somewhat, on reflection (7)
ACADEME: Hidden and reversed (somewhat on reflection) in the clue

8d News channel pursuing bustle about revolutionary (7)
TROTSKY: A news channel (although they do other things) follows a synonym of bustle in the sense of hasten or scurry. Some might say the syllables are rather apt!

15d One not in favour of Brexit entertaining disdain essentially for the rest (9)
REMAINDER: A term for someone opposed to Brexit goes around (entertaining) the essential letter of disDain.

16d Trouble of small island accommodating large fellows (7)
AILMENT: A small island (in a river) goes around (accommodating) the abbreviation for Large and some adult males.

17d American, on reflection, providing entertainment (7)
AMUSING. An abbreviation for American and a period of reflection or thought

18d Greek character on trial is most stressed (7)
TAUTEST: The nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet and a trial or exam.

19d Eternal loser, no flair ultimately limiting hard work and energy (2-5)
NO-HOPER: Bit of a Lego clue. Start with NO from the clue. Add the final letter of flaiR. Place them around (limiting) the abbreviation for Hard, some shortened work and the abbreviation for Energy.

20d Replaces black gold — substance found just below the surface (7)
SUBSOIL: An informal or abbreviated synonym of replaces and the substance we’re all supposed to be weaning ourselves from that is known as black gold.

21d Smoothly devious involving a national emblem (7)
SLEEKLY: Place a synonym of devious or underhand around a vegetable that is the emblem of one of the home nations.

23d Recurring phrase upset almost two-thirds of Ottomans (5)
MOTTO:  Unless I’m missing something this is just a reversal of five of the eight letters (almost two thirds) of the word Ottomans.

27a was my favourite with 11& 16a making up the numbers.


43 comments on “Toughie 2885
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  1. My second unaided solve of a Toughie and both by my favourite setter, Chalicea. To my mind, this had just the right amount of head scratchers and chin pullers. There were so many clues to like and I have given ticks to 5a, 11a, 14a, 27a, 4d and 8d. On the whole, a most enjoyable companion to today’s back pager.

    Thank you, Chalicea for giving me my second unaided Toughie. Many thanks to StephenL for the hints and blog and BOC.

    1. Chin pulling? Haven’t we got enough with hmmmming, raising eyebrows and running to the dictionary to check on abbreviations?

      1. Sorry, MP. It goes back to my time in the RAF. “Why do members of the RAF Regiment have flat foreheads and long chins?” :smile:

          1. When you ask members of the RAF Regiment a question they pull on their chins while they ponder the answer. When you tell them the answer they slap their foreheads and shout “doh!” :smile:

  2. This seemed to be a typical Chalicea puzzle, not difficult but still a pleasure to solve. On reflection, like our reviewer I thought 27a was an elegant and clever clue, so deservedly takes the top spot.

    My thanks to Chalicea for the fun and to SL.

  3. Thanks Chalicea & SL, great clues throughout. 5a (and possibly 5d too?) did feel a bit chestnutty but still very nice. Enjoyed the tricky 27a, with 14a and 7d making up the podium. Thanks again!

  4. Straightforward but great fun, though I needed the hints to parse 12a and 27a. Thanks to Chalicea and SL.

      1. I do not usually comment on crosswords as I live on the West Coast of Canada and receive my crossword at 4 pm PST, so after my sleep, I think it is too late for me to comment (I am not trying to be uppity). But I found this really enjoyable as I always struggle with Toughies and I always try them, but this was really enjoyable thank you to everyone who was involved
        in this.

        Thanks to Chalicea and Stephen L

        PS I meant this as Individual comment not a reply and with no offence intended

  5. I did try to share the enthusiasm for 27a but the surface read didn’t quite gel for me. My own top three came courtesy of 11&14a plus 20d.

    Thanks to Chalicea and to Stephen for the review.

    1. Ditto. Your top 3 match mine.
      Bleary eyed pre nights quick solve that was just the ticket.
      Thanks Chalicea & Stephen

  6. Enjoyable Floughie from the Mistress of the art. A delightful amalgam of familiar friends and new faces – the chestnuts helping with checkers here and there. Good range of clue types with all in a happy balance. Hon Mentions to the lurker in 7a, to the surface of 22a and ‘lego’ of 25a, with the super 27a just missing out on COTD by a whisker to the great 18d.

    1* / 3.5*

    Many thanks to Chalicea and to Stephen.

  7. Must admit my heart sank when I saw the grid – my least favourite, four crosswords each cemented by a single letter – but a very fast solve, a new PB for a Toughie. Thanks Chalicea, and SL for the blog.

    1. NogBad you will be delighted to know that Chris Lancaster, our editor, has just sent all Toughie and back-page setters a reduced set of grids that we may use. Ones with four mini grids like this and those with over-unching have been removed. Some will still appear for a few months as those we have already submitted will be used but after that your heart will rise.

    2. Hand on heart I never or rarely notice the grid pattern, so I have no favourites and no dislikes in that direction. I simply go clue by clue and write in an answer when the grey matter provides one :-) I saved both Chalicea and Hudson’s puzzles to work on ‘after the day’. Just finished completion of this most entertaining puzzle whilst watching our ladies play Northern Ireland in the Euros. Thanks Chalicea – nice one :-) :-)

  8. This proved to be very light and good fun.

    Like Jane, I can’t share the enthusiasm for 27a. Although the wordplay is clever I can’t make any sense out of the surface reading at all. That doesn’t seem to bother some folk – we are all different, which is probably just as well or else the blog would become rather boring.

    With plenty of good options to choose from, my podium selection is 14a, 18d & 20d.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and to SL.

    1. As a surface read I enjoyed the possibility of a Tower in computing terms being infected by a bug (I well recall the build up to 01/01/2000, although it could also more tenuously be a bug moving through the occupants of a tower block), even if the answer bore no relation to that particular surface. Even though the “in every detail” bit is something of a chestnut, it too raised a broad smile.

  9. Sorry to sound a note of discord but this was far easier than your average backpager and didn’t really contain any clues where I was desperate to know the answer . I thought Toughies , even on a Tuesday , were meant to be tough .

    1. I agree with Steve Cowling. Please don’t begrudge others to relish the completion of a Toughie. In any case, if you want a challenge, try today’s back pager, which is really a Toughie in disguise. We often are faced with very tough back pagers so today’s about turn was very welcome.

  10. A delightfully enjoyable offering from the Floughie Lady – */****.

    Candidates for favourite – 5a, 13a, and 5d – and the winner is 5d by a nose from 5a!

    Thanks to Chalice and to StephenL.

  11. Just right for today. I really am no good with heat as my brain, such as it is, just collapses. My one hold up was 6 d. Not a plural I was familiar with
    No real favourite but 9a sounds attractive.

  12. Another delightful journey through the wondrous ways of our Lovely Lady Setter. Nothing pleases me more than one of her gifts, as this one was to me last night. It’s no secret that as an aged outlander I’ve been struggling with the cryptics lately (’tis no wonder, given my age and location, they say), but I felt younger and welcomed ‘home’ again when I romped through this little gem. Thanks to StephenL and Chalicea.

    1. I wonder if attempting this would restore my solving abilities! Alas, a trip to my office isn’t on the books right now and I’d never be able to explain how to print it off.

  13. Delighted to finish this excellent Chalicea puzzle. A very welcome find on a day when the editor seems to have, for some reason, found it necessary to provide an extremely difficult back pager. Finishing a puzzle unaided is so much more enjoyable than anything that needs help, so this one is top of the pops for me. Thank you Chalicea, and to StephenL, although glad to say I didn’t need the hints today 😊.

  14. Lovely to meet you StephenL and many thanks for your review. I smiled at your illustration for 22a. Thanks too for all the solver comments – it’s great to know that some are happy with a gentle Tuesday Toughie start. Apologies to Simon North but you have Artix on Thursday and Elgar on Friday, those will be on the tougher edge of Toughies, and, indeed, the back-pager today should have given you the challenge you want.

    1. Thanks for popping in and saying hello Chalicea, always appreciated on the blog, and of course for providing a fun puzzle that found approval amongst the great majority of contributers.

  15. Great to get another full-solve Toughie under the belt, even if it was on the lighter side.

    27a was last in for me because of the misleading definition so therefore my favourite.

    Thanks to StephenL for the blog and to Chalicea for the puzzle.

  16. Very enjoyable and almost completed my first Toughie were it not for 16d . What is over-unching though ? Doesn’t 4 mini grids make it harder to solve ? Anyway it’s given me encouragement I might be able to crack a Toughie one day

    1. “Over unching” is having too many double unches in the grid Bob. A double unch is when two consecutive squares don’t have a checking letter. Hope that helps.

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