Toughie 2905 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2905

Toughie No 2905 by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Miffypops

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good afternoon from Barrel. A newly formed desert geographically. A Cultural desert has been avoided narrowly by a well crafted Chalicea Toughie. If you are sitting comfortably then I will begin


1ac. Type of cheese for university sportsperson? (6,4]

OXFORD BLUE:     Top marks to Chalicea for snack placement. We need food during our solve and what better place to have it than at 1 across. With a sharp crisp apple and a glass of Dunkerton’s Cider. The University should be the first to spring to mind although Durham and Exeter could be in with a shout. The sportsperson is one playing for said university

6ac.  Mad zealot holds sharp object (4)

ADZE:  The answer lies hidden within the words of the clue as indicated by the word holds. Has anybody ever seen one of these?

10ac.  Fashionable people in command producing tension (5)

TONIC:   A three letter word meaning fashionable (only ever seen in cryptic crosswords) is followed by the initials for In Command

 11ac.  Slim fit of pants not to be discussed (3-6)

OFF LIMITS:   Anagram (pants) of SLIM FIT OF. We have had pants as an anagram indicator for long enough that it should now be accepted as such

12ac.  Classy schemes about foremost of designated high-lying areas (7)

UPLANDS:   A single letter vowel used to indicate classy or posh is followed by some schemes or intentions which include the first letter of the word designated

13ac.  Muscle’s instant power succeeded (7)

TRICEPS:   A word meaning an instant (usually preceded by the words ‘in a’ is followed by the abbreviations for power and succeeded

 14ac.  The gradients exceptionally relieved of bends (12)

STRAIGHTENED:  Anagram (exceptionally) of THE GRADIENTS

18ac.  Type of reflection of worth involving famous boxer pursued by periodical (7,5)

VIRTUAL IMAGE:  Begin with a quality or worth considered morally good in a person. Insert the name of histories most famous boxer (a fighter not a dog) and the shortened name given to periodicals such as Private Eye, The Economist or The Radio Times

21ac. Highly esteemed place surrounded by grass (7)

REPUTED:  A verb meaning to place something somewhere sits centrally inside a type of grass favoured by crossword setters

23ac.  Article shrewdly rejecting Liberal chaos (7)

ANARCHY:  Begin with an article. The one I have just used will do very nicely thank you. Add an adverb meaning shrewdly or slyly minus the abbreviation for Liberal

24ac.  African plain‘s surprisingly greenest before onset of inundation

SERENGETI:   An anagram (surprisingly) of GREENEST sits before the initial letter of the word inundation

25ac.  Altogether ultimately out of bounds (2,3)

IN ALL :   Remove the outer letters from a word meaning ultimately to reveal your answer. Thank you StephenL for pointing that out.

26ac. On the radio confuse periods of time (4)

DAYS:  These twenty-four hour Periods of time also sound like (on the radio) a noun meaning in a state of stunned confusion or bewilderment

27ac.  Point of concert being performed by Conservative (10)

PROMONTORY: Begin with a concert like those held annually at The Royal Albert Hall. Add a two-letter word meaning being performed. Add an alternative name for a Conservative


1d Choose not to participate in work followed by racecourse tipster (3,3)

OPT OUT: Begin with our usual abbreviation for a musical work. Add a racecourse tipster. I’m sorry my hint repeats the clue but the answer is quite obvious really

2d.  Conclusion of mostly excellent beer (6)

FINALE:  This ending to a theatrical show can be found by removing the last letter from a word meaning excellent and adding a type of beer

3d.  Newly building up, stupidly cutting corners (14)


4d.  Reserves lofty stand for selling literary compositions (9)

BOOKSTALL: A word meaning reserves (tickets perhaps) plus a word meaning lofty

5d.  Female in small military group not in good condition (5)

UNFIT:  Place the abbreviation for female into a small military group or subdivision

7d.  Oddly dermic blood vessels – vehicle needed for these! (5-3)

DRIVE INS:  Begin with the alternate letters of the word dermic. Add the name of the vessels that carry your blood around your body

8d.  Fraction of New York   lights found here — on the grid (4,4)

EAST SIDE:  A quarter of New York City.  Your answer is also the position of your answer on the grid that you are solving. Lights are the white squares.

9d.  Loss of cohesion is disastrously disorientating (14)

DISINTEGRATION:   Anagram (disastrously) of DISORIENTATING

15d.  Secondary school for little James, it’s said, for starters not a success, introduced with hesitation

GYMNASIUM:   A homophone based on a shortened form of the name James is followed by the starting letters of the words ‘not a success, introduced’. All of this is followed by one of the usual words used for hesitation. Not er. The other one. Your answer is a school in Germany, Scandinavia, or central Europe that prepares pupils for university entrance

 16ac.  Worn out foolish endeavours northern America abandons (8)

OVERUSED:   Anagram (foolish) of ENDEAVOURS minus the initial letters of the words northern and American

17d.  Peculiar borders of territory in land one owns

PROPERTY:  A synonym of the word peculiar is followed by the outer letters of the word territory

19d.  Form bookmaker used  upset old tax company (6)

OCTAVO:  Begin with the abbreviation for old. Add a well known tax. Add the abbreviation for company. Reverse or upset what you have.  The bookmaker here is not a turf accountant

20d.  Accept, we’re told, 50 in emolument for subsidiary action (2-4)

BY PLAY:  A homophone of a word meaning to accept the truth of something is followed by an emolument or salary which contains the Roman numeral for 50;

22d.  Shelley’s dismal daughter back (5)

DREAR:  The abbreviation for daughter is followed by a word meaning back

To Mary Shelley by Percy Bysshe


The world is dreary,
And I am weary
Of wandering on without thee, Mary;
A joy was erewhile
In thy voice and thy smile,
And ’tis gone, when I should be gone too, Mary.



33 comments on “Toughie 2905

  1. A lightish and enjoyable start to the Toughie week, very much a “do as it says on the tin” puzzle. Runaway favourite 8d.
    As you asked Mark, 25a… F in all Y

    Many thanks to Chalicea and MP.

  2. A very enjoyable – and dare I say gentle – introduction to the Toughie week, one which those who prefer not to stray from the backpage may find very approachable. The long anagrams were straightforward and provided checkers and a useful structure; good surface reads, clear instructions, and the two that held me up (10a and 19d) were both very fairly clued, not that I had ever thought of ***** being tension. Podium shared by 25a and 8d.

    Many thanks to the setter and of course to MP.

    Edit to add: Ah-ha, I see this is a Chalicea creation, hence the Floughiness, smiles and enjoyment throughout!

  3. I was unaware of the fashionable people in 10a, I know it now. I needed the hint to parse 8d and 25a was a bung in. Favourite was 19d. Thanks to Chalicea and MP.

  4. As soon as I saw that today’s Toughie was by our favourite lady setter I knew we were in for a fun solve, and so it proved. Smile followed smile as the grid filled up, with 25a my favourite once the coin hit the floor.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and MP.

  5. We should be very grateful to Chalicea for setting such fun and gentle Toughies. I hope no-one will be disheartened by the ‘fluffy’ descriptions – hers are on the easier end of the scale but they definitely participate in the Platonic form of the Toughie, and are hugely enjoyable.

  6. As always a most enjoyable and logical puzzle.
    Thanks to Chalicea and to MP for the blog, particularly 25ac.

  7. Most enjoyable and finished all except 19d, which was a bung in. I managed about fifteen on the first pass so I went out to pot up fuchsia cuttings and finished when I came back. Plenty of clues to like and my favourite is 27a.

    Grateful thanks to Chalicea for the fun and to Miffypops for the entertaining hints.

    1. It is – reckon Miff was distracted by the choice of a great song albeit an awful vocal by RP. Remember buying the album on release & being blown away by the track & the 2 Willie Dixon covers.

      1. It’s the playing of the guitar with the violin bow that got me. Jimmy Page pointing out the looped echo with the violin bow which came flying out of his hand when I first saw Led Zeppelin in Coventry. My first major concert of hundreds

      2. Miff was detracted by having to go out at 9.00 am and being a bit rushed. Now corrected. Thanks for pointing it out

  8. Loved this model of a puzzle, Toughie or otherwise, though I’m still pondering just how 10a produces or creates tension. So nice to have Chalicea back with us: such breaths of fresh air, her little masterpieces. 8d, 7d, & 25a head my list of many winners. Thanks to MP and to our Lovely Lady Setter.

    1. Aha! Tonic seizure = ‘sudden stiffness or tension in the muscles of the arms, legs, or trunk’. That must be it.

  9. Lovely gentle puzzle that took marginally longer to complete than the back-pager but for my money the more enjoyable of the 2. Like TG the fashionable synonym was new to me & I got 19d from the wordplay without being entirely certain what it was. 8d was a definition bung in with the lights on the grid bit over my head – shame as agree with Stephen that it’s the pick of the bunch.
    Thanks to Chalicea & to MP.

    1. The strap line at the head of this page says ‘putting the words to lights’ The lights being the white squares. Who knew? I didn’t until I did

      1. Blimey how many times must I have read that without registering. Slapped wrist for failing to parse.

        1. Yes, me too, not long ago, though over here the white squares are called ‘whites’ by the NYT analysts, but I prefer ‘lights’.

  10. The so called fluffy lady is my favourite setter. Her anagrams are impressive,.
    Is there an Oxford Blue cheese? Here in Devon we prefer the Barkham Blue
    With 7d I was going to comment on the drive in cinemas of my youth but I’d forgotten McDonalds and their like though those I believe, are now termed “drive thrus”..

    1. Order a McDonalds and when the delivery driver asks for the money at your door send him to the window to collect his payment

  11. 19d my favourite because of the misdirection of type of bookmaker, no pun intended. I remember it’s abbreviation as 8vo.
    Nice stroll through very enjoyable clues. Thanks to Chalicea and MP

  12. Thank you for all those lovely welcoming comments and many thanks to Miffypops. The popular 19d clue was the combined work of the relatively new assistant puzzles editor. He didn’t like my original clue as I had implied that paper was the origin of the term rather than books (as per Chambers). This clue, that was my own favourite with its misdirection, came out of our discussions.

  13. Nice, straightforward puzzle from a fun-setter.

    No particular favourites.

    Thanks to MP for the blog and to Chalicea.

      1. You’ve changed your alias since your previous comments in 2016 so this needed moderation. Both aliases will work from now on.

  14. As usual a very enjoyable but not too demanding Toughie from Chalicea; very apt for a Tuesday. I liked 19d and 27a. 9d surely ends with ‘on’ not ‘ng’ ?

  15. An enjoyable puzzle and great to finish one. I was wondering about the answer to 10a as I thought it meant the opposite of the given answer. But toughies deal in obscure meanings of words so I put it in anyway. Always like to complete these without reference to a dictionary. Doesn’t always work!

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