Toughie 2850 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2850

Toughie No 2850 by Silvanus

Hints and tips by Crypticsue

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

Silvanus doing what he does best – I am, however, left with a question; I wonder who else will agree with me?

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Unusual sport entertains very old cleric (7)
PROVOST An anagram (unusual) of SPORT ‘entertains’ the abbreviations for Very and Old

8a    Reveal what inspires painting by one in Paris (7)
UNEARTH An interjection of surprise (what) ‘inspires’ a term for works such as paintings, the result going after (by) the French (as used in Paris) word for one

10a    Discovered catch with share account (9)
NARRATION The inside letters (dis covered) letters of a verb meaning to catch followed by a share or fixed portion

11a    Told way to find country house (5)
MANOR A homophone (told) of a way something is done

12a    Concertgoer’s back inside, enthusiastic about opening musical piece (5)
INTRO The letter at the back of concertgoeR inserted into (about) an informal word meaning to be enthusiastic about

13a    In thoughtful mood after European vote becomes costly (9)
EXPENSIVE An adjective meaning in thoughtful mood goes after the abbreviation for European and the letter you use when voting

15a    Large fruit mostly satisfied gastronome (7)
GOURMET Most of a large fruit and a synonym for satisfied

17a    Fashionable student is wearing small, extremely trendy headphones initially (7)
STYLISH The letter used to indicate a learner (student) and IS (from the clue) go inside (is wearing) the abbreviation for Small, the extreme letters of TrendY and the initial letter of Headphones

18a    Story Heep unfolds bringing concluding remark from David Copperfield? (3,6)
HEY PRESTO – Not the Dickens character but the magician – an anagram (unfolds) of STORY HEEP brings a remark he might make at the end of a magic trick

20a    Trains those engaged in surveillance (5)
TAILS Trains or follows; those engaged to follow and keep a constant watch on someone

21a    Inclination to promote English nurse (5)
ANGEL Promote or move the abbreviation for English ‘up’ a synonym for inclination to get an informal term for a nurse

23a    Where ocean liners travel, mostly (2,3,4)
IN THE MAIN An expression meaning for the most part could describe where ocean liners travel

24a    Particular cycling that shows spirit (7)
SPECTRE Cycle or move the first two letters of a synonym for particular to the end of the word

25a    Liberal candidate finally left a vague flyer (7)
LEAFLET The abbreviation for Liberal, the final letter of candidatE and an anagram (vague) of LEFT A


1d    Today’s setter — poor or rusty? Occasionally dull? Variable? (5,5)
YOURS TRULY An anagram (poor) of OR RUSTY, the occasional letters of dUlL and a mathematical variable produces an informal way for today’s setter to refer to himself

2d    Island narcotic plant’s good for colds (6)
TOBAGO To get this island, change the two abbreviations for cold found in a narcotic plant to the abbreviation for Good

3d    Posted about rising obscenity, it’s grating (8)
STRIDENT A synonym for posted goes ‘about’ a reversal (rising) of an obscenity

4d    Appear giddy on horseback (4,2)
TURN UP Become giddy and an adverb meaning on horseback

5d    Youngsters primarily see defending country as brave (8)
YEOMANLY The primary letter of Youngsters and an ecclesiastical see beloved of crossword setters into which is inserted (defending) a country in the Arabian Gulf

6d    Chairman essentially supported by small number around club (4)
IRON The ‘essential’ letters of chaIRman supported (in a Down solution) by a reversal of an abbreviation (small) for number

7d    “They will cut mentorship in King’s,” hear student is claiming (7,6)
PINKING SHEARS Hidden in (is claiming) mentorshiP IN KINGS HEAR Student

9d    Note thrushes flying around crown of coppiced tree (5,8)
HORSE CHESTNUT An anagram (flying) of NOTE THRUSHES goes ‘around’ the crown or top of Coppiced

14d    Exceptionally good current board depressed by small upset (10)
INIMITABLE The symbol for electrical current and a board, the latter going under (depressed by) a reversal (upset) of a combining form used to indicate small

16d    New mayor maintains tight ethical considerations (8)
MORALITY An anagram (new) of MAYOR ‘maintains’ a slang word for intoxicated (tight)

17d    Calmly suggest husband must break secret (8)
SMOOTHLY A verb meaning to propose for discussion (suggest) and the abbreviation for Husband must ‘break’ a synonym for secretive

19d    Thin cut from second piece of meat (6)
SLIVER The abbreviation for Second and a piece of meat

20d    One returning to visit best part of Oxford possibly (6)
TOECAP A reversal of one in dice, cards or dominoes inserted (to visit) in best or most important

22d    Express hesitation to energetic individual (4)
GOER If you were to express hesitation, you might xx xx


44 comments on “Toughie 2850

  1. Very enjoyable – thanks to Silvanus and CS.

    I took the 20a first definition (trains) to be appendages of formal dresses.

    I ticked 8a, 2d and 20d but my favourite has to be 1d (though I’d say that today’s setter is consistently good rather than variable).

    1. I obviously need new glasses or a better memory – I read the clue for 20a and went off and looked up ‘trail’ and went on from there

  2. An enjoyable floughie. My only hold up was parsing 20d where I spent a while with the wrong best. Quite a few ticks today.

    Thanks to CS and Silvanus.

  3. Two superb Toughies on the bounce, this one slightly easier but no less entertaining than yesterday’s
    Ticks all over the grid 12&18a plus 1,5,7(superb lurker)&14d just some of the highlights.
    Many thanks to Silvanus and Cryptic Sue (particularly for 8a explanation) for the top notch entertainment

  4. An elegantly straightforward but most enjoyable puzzle from one of our favourite setters. Silvanus was certainly in a very friendly mood when he compiled this which, and I hesitate to say this, barely counts as a Toughie. It was, though, great fun to solve with 1d my top clue ahead of 16d, with a special mention for the excellent lurker at 7d.

    My thanks to Silvanus and CS.

      1. Our esteemed editor, me and doubtless many other solvers who appreciate ‘artistic impression’ over often impenetrable clues.
        Those who, like you, enjoy mind-bending puzzles, are perfectly entitled to hold a different opinion as to what constitutes a Toughie but to subject an excellent setter to your propensity to damn with faint praise isn’t greatly appreciated by some of us.

        1. I enjoy every single Silvanus crossword. This one took me exactly the same time as most of his backpagers. His Toughie candidates are usually trickier than this

      2. I very rarely do the backpagers so don’t have that yardstick but I would classify this as similar to Dada’ s Sunday offerings which are lovely but not very difficult. I would agree with you that today’s was an one star for difficulty.
        Not at all sure why Jane is upset with you though. Don’t see anything offensive in your comment.

  5. Everything going quite swimmingly until I got completely ‘bogged down’ in the SE and ‘self-extraction’ was only possible with some e-help. Nevertheless, a very enjoyable challenge and I think worthy of its position as the first Toughie of the week.

    Candidates for favourite – 3d, 5d, and 7d – and the winner is 5d.

    Thanks to Silvanus and to CS.

      1. Oops – brain slightly addled by four hours of a Webex meeting yesterday (same today and tomorrow) but it is the first Toughie of the week for me.

  6. Perhaps a little Floughie but very enjoyable – typically great surfaces throughout, favourites 13a, 18a, 1d, 20d… well, could’ve listed any of them really! Many thanks Silvanus & CS

  7. Answers today revealed in both cryptic and Toughie. So odd, I was OK when the problem was first discussed.

  8. In spite of others’ objections, I found this a perfectly enjoyable, and adequate, Toughie, for a Wednesday, as opposed to yesterday’s almost impenetrable (at least to me) offering. Lovely misdirection (Dickens, trains to name but two), and a smidge of Lego (eh? Painting?). Thumbs up from me. Thanks Silvanus, and CS for the parsings – which I thought I was going to need twice, until coins descended.

  9. A terrific puzzle & on a par with Robyn’s one yesterday for the fun of the solve. Not particularly difficult but certainly not overly floughie for the likes of me. It took me twice as long as Jay’s back-pager & with a fair bit of head scratching down south. All parsed with the exception of 8a where the ‘what’ did for me. Am also not too embarrassed to own up to initially thinking how in the hell is anyone expected to know the last 2 words of The Personal History, Adventures, Experience & Observation of DC.
    As always (Gazza’s comment spot on) no shortage of ticks – 8,17&18a plus 1,5,7&17d are my YB,SM,CB,JC,RV,BD&HB.
    Thanks to Silvanus & CS

    1. H, 18a. I think all you need to know with this one is that DC is a famous magician (but plenty of people won’t know that). And with any magician, the concluding remark in each section of their act is quite likely to be: XXX XXXXXX (the answer).

      1. I’m a bit on the slow side Jose & the right DC only occurred to me about 4 answers later.

    2. I doubt very much that either David Copperfield ever uttered the words Hey Presto. The answer did raise a smile though

  10. Very enjoyable puzzle from one of my favourite setters. Ticks aplenty including 7,13&18a plus 1,9&19d. Maybe 18a heads the leader board. I used to thoroughly enjoy watching David Copperfield’s illusions on TV – clever man!

    Many thanks to Silvanus for the puzzle and to CS for the review.

  11. Plenty hard enough for me. Completing any crossword is always a pleasure this was no exception. Favourite was 8a. Thanks to Silvanus and CS.

  12. I’m happy to let setters set and I’m equally happy to let editors edit. I really enjoyed this puzzle so thanks to Silvanus. I needed a nudge for the eh and the art so thanks to Cryptic Sue for that. Funny how the advocates of free speech don’t like people speaking freely.

  13. There is good news, bad news and then more good news.

    The first good news is that I played my first game of cricket today, opened the batting (in spite of the drizzle), and stayed in for 20 overs. The bad news is that, as soon as I was out, the heavens opened and the game was called off an hour later. The more good news is that I was cheered up by coming home to have time to complete this magnificent puzzle.

    OK, it wasn’t particularly difficult, but who cares when it is as good as this? You could very easily pick any one of the 28 clues as a favourite, but I’m going to select a bloated podium of 8a, 18a, 1d, 2d & 7d.


    Many thanks to Silvanus and to CS.

  14. The LHS was a write-in and I thought maybe the Editor had mixed up the schedules but then things got tougher in the SE. I made the same initial error in parsing 20d as Jonners and thought 1d the pick of the bunch. Overall a fun solve and there’s nothing wrong with an easy one so long as the clues are good, as here. Thanks Silvanus and CS.

  15. Trains and Oxfords got me, and I had to use some ‘gimme’ letters for those two, but how deliciously clever and wickedly amusing that Silvanus trapped me that way! In this (to me) quite appropriate Wednesday Toughie (I am only in my second year of doing toughies, after all), I appreciate Jane’s speaking up for those of us who have not spent decades in the pursuit of crowns and glories. 1d wins the Gold, 8a the Silver, & 5d the Bronze. And David Copperfield wins my heart. Thanks to Silvanus for his consistently brilliant puzzles.

  16. Many thanks to everyone for their comments and to CS for her Hints and Tips. 9d is one of my favourite trees and it’s a joy to see them at the moment looking at their magnificent best.

    When composing the clue for 18a, I did think to myself “will Robert Clark approve?”, and I’m very pleased to know that it won that particular Dickensian scholar’s heart :-)

      1. Just a little walk down Memory Lane, Silvanus. During our DickensFest in 1970, members of the English Department at SUNY-Cortland, NY presented a weeklong celebration of the great one’s works, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his death. Guess who gave the Copperfield presentation. 1d!

    1. 9d – one of ours, too. We have a young red-flowering example, grown from a conker I picked up one autumn in the beautiful gardens of RHS Rosemoor in Devon. It’s now got a half-dozen or more blooming spikes, and we are ridiculously proud of it!

    2. Thanks for popping in Silvanus. I dread to think what reaction you’d have got from Brian if this gem had been on the back page…

  17. A Red Letter day – the backpager was one of the best in a while, and this Toughie likewise. Neither was overly taxing, both were superbly constructed. Some absolutely wonderful clueing here, thank you Silvanus, with some super misdirections. Whenever I found myself wondering something stupid – such as could one spell tobacco with only one c – the wording of the clue would put me right. Splendid lurker in 7d, quite brilliant, joined for Hon Mentions by 1d, 20d and 8a, with COTD to 4d.

    OK, so more a Tuesday than a Wednesday Toughie (and I found yesterday’s from Robyn very challenging indeed) but had this appeared on a backpage I imagine there would have been howls of protest, even though I think this should be signposted to the backpage-only community as being a perfect introduction to Toughies.

    Many thanks indeed to Silvanus, and also to CS.

  18. It seems that we have some disagreement on difficulty with this one!! Personally, I found this much much harder than yesterday’s and I really had some difficulty getting on the same wavelength. When I started doing Toughies, I would’ve found it quite disheartening to struggle with a puzzle which featured comments regarding how easy it was and how it should be on the back page instead. These clues are all very easy………….IF you know the answers!! However, the enjoyment level was, for me, high and easily ****. Thanks Silvanus

    1. I agree with you entirely. Some of the comments are completely lost on me. Just enjoy it! 😉

  19. I shall always be late with any toughie comment as I surrender our dead tree version to others after completing the back-pager around breakfast time and attack the toughie (often several days) later. As others have commented this is a first-class puzzle at the easier end of his range from Silvanus, clued in style as usual. Though the answer to 10a had to be (account) I struggled to parse this, but all clear now thanks to the hints. 18a was a superb misdirection and 1d especially clever. Thanks to all.

  20. Me again, further to my comment yesterday, have checked on my Windows 10 desktop (Google Chrome), the answers are uncovered there as well, again this has only been an issue over the last couple of weeks or so?

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