Toughie 2021 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2021

Toughie No 2021 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This is a fairly standard midweek Toughie – thanks Firefly. Having found the names of two UK political party leaders I was wondering whether there was a theme but nothing more came to light.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a In reduced circumstances, Torquay is the answer for great-granny, perhaps? (8)
ANCESTOR: the answer is lurking.

5a Cake from Wittering? (6)
WAFFLE: another word for (falsely capitalised) wittering.

9a Woolly character Wigan’s exposed (8)
CARDIGAN: a character or oddball followed by “Wigan’s” without the outer letters.

10a Choosing left-winger fails in poll — Page gets in (6)
OPTING: start with a word for poll (or what happens in a poll), drop the first letter (left-winger fails) and insert the abbreviation for page.

12a Time for breakfast fare? (3,6)
DAY RETURN: cryptically this could be when the sun comes up once more.

13a Force‘s exceptional policemen, drunk once, getting sacked (5)
IMPEL: remove the letters of ONCE (not in that order, so drunk) from POLICEMEN and make an anagram (exceptional) of what you have left.

14a Jaguar could be heard in watery wood (4)
CARR: this (new to me) is a copse in boggy ground. It sounds like what a Jaguar is an example of.

16a Tender parts initially plastered in acne (7)
PINNACE: the initial letter of parts and an anagram (plastered) of IN ACNE. Tender here is a small boat.

19a Youth’s into Playboy and food (7)
ROULADE: put a young male into a playboy or sexually promiscuous man.

21a Get-together with Penny’s a hoot! (4)
BEEP: join together a meeting of people for amusement or competition and the abbreviation for penny.

24a Cross source of Volga river with daughter (5)
VEXED: assemble the first letter of Volga, a river in Devon and the abbreviation for daughter.

25a Family may take heart from vicar’s prayers in near future (9)
OFFSPRING: insert the three letters at the heart of “vicar’s prayers” into a word meaning the near future.

27a Something wrong with the doorbell? Entering! (6)
NOTING: split the answer 2,4 and it could mean the doorbell’s broken.

28a One among 25 pianos in performance (8)
GRANDSON: more than one instance of a type of piano followed by an adverb meaning ‘in performance’. The ’25’ refers to the answer to 25a.

29a Coin easy clue? Regularly do! (6)
ESCUDO: regular letters from ‘easy clue’ precede DO. I was going to comment that coin should be preceded by ‘old’ but a bit of Googling informs me that this is still the name of the currency in the Cape Verde Islands.

30a Advocate treaty with no vacillating (8)
ATTORNEY: an anagram (vacillating) of TREATY and NO.

Down Clues

1d Paradise Yard offers new exit to passageway (6)
ARCADY: this is a poetic name for a region in ancient Greece considered an ideal rustic paradise. Start with a covered passageway and replace its last letter with the abbreviation for yard.

2d I must evade eccentrically Byronic leader (6)
CORBYN: an anagram (eccentrically) of BYRON[i]C without the I.

3d Bottle first of Edradour drams up (5)
SPINE: stick together the first letter of Edradour and another word for drams or tots. Now reverse the lot.

4d Less clear over Dad’s poser? No end to it! (7)
OPAQUER: weld together the cricketing abbreviation for over, an affectionate term for dad and a word for a poser or question without its last letter. This is a horrible word – would anyone use it as a comparative rather than saying ‘more ******’?

6d With cover and base defunct, intended to pop into PC supplier for machine (9)
APPLIANCE: an engaged male person (intended) without his top and bottom letters goes inside a manufacturer of PCs and other communications equipment.

7d Justice for the shy, perhaps? (4,4)
FAIR PLAY: cryptically this could describe a shy (for a coconut, for example).

8d Overwhelmed, lunged out, grabbing iron (8)
ENGULFED: an anagram (out) of LUNGED contains the chemical symbol for iron.

11d Snatch second game (4)
SNAP: the abbreviation for a second and a card game make a verb to snatch or seize.

15d Uninhibited amateur group a certain disaster at first (9)
ABANDONED: string together the abbreviation for amateur, a musical group, an adjective describing ‘a certain’ or ‘a specific’ something and the first letter of disaster.

17d Old hand Cable, maybe, for department? (8)
PROVINCE: charade of an informal word for an old hand or experienced performer and the forename of Cable, the veteran politician.

18d Depart around ten with nothing — French here mostly unrealistic (8)
QUIXOTIC: a verb to depart contains the Roman numeral for ten and the letter that resembles zero. To finish we need the French word for ‘here’ without its final letter.

20d Young archer 24 brought up (4)
EROS: reverse an informal synonym for 24a.

21d Expect trouble with back — that thing should support (2,3,2)
BE FOR IT: a phrasal verb (2,3) to back or support is followed by a pronoun meaning ‘that thing’. The answer means to expect trouble as in the threat “You’ll ** *** ** when your father gets home!”.

22d Neckwear all the rage for associates (4,2)
TIES IN: charade of items of neckwear and an adjective meaning all the rage or fashionable.

23d Account covering info on year in Bureau (6)
AGENCY: the abbreviation for account contains an informal word for info, then we finish with the abbreviation for year. Since Bureau is capitalised I presume it’s a reference to the FBI.

26d Show — ‘Phantom’ — Queen not attending after rift (5)
PANTO: remove the two letters used to describe the Queen (not ER) separately (after rift) from ‘phantom’.

My favourite clue is 21d. Which one(s) appealed to you?

10 comments on “Toughie 2021

  1. I don’t know whether it was because I was tired after being in that London yesterday, but I took longer than I expected to for a Firefly toughie.

    No particular favourites for me – thanks to Firefly and Gazza

  2. I struggled a bit here. Didn’t parse 25a – the near future was new to me. Many thanks Gazza. That held me up with 27a for a while but it then convinced me 25a had to be right.

    I had the wrong second word for 7d which didn’t half make a mess of 13a.

    For 4d i was surprised the word even had a comparative – I agree with Gazza, though my chambers app does recognise it.

    The cross-reference to 24a had me puzzled for a while.

    I liked the woolly character. My favourite clue I think is 18d, a nice word, though it feels like there are rather a lot of end deletions for one word.

    Many thanks Firefly

  3. Had a lot of trouble with the four 4 letter words in the centre. Except 20d which was a nice penny drop moment.
    Thought 21d was “up for it” which I couldn’t parse making 21a impossible.
    Didn’t know the game in 11d and went for “snip”. 14a was also unknown.
    Never too keen on these divided grids but easiest corner was SW and hardest SE.
    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza.

  4. I got a bit stuck with the parsing in the NE so needed Gazza’s help there.

    It seemed tricky to start with and would certainly agree with Gazza’s difficulty rating and maybe a smidge more for enjoyment after the pesky four letter clues fell with substantial clangs.

    Thanks to Gazza and Firefly.

  5. I really enjoyed this and done in *** time.
    Thanks Firefly.
    No problems and only 2 grumbles
    14a – contrived + obscure
    6d. Had to be but big leap for the “chopped” word to = intended.
    Favourite was 18d. Great wordplay + actually only ONE word without its end so fine! – as I my MA thesis was on the DQ novel – 43 years ago!

  6. More like a ***/**** for me. Some obscurish ones such as 12a and 27a. Clever though

  7. I do struggle to get onto this setter’s wavelength and today proved to be no exception.
    Hard to believe that 4d is a recognised word but at least I knew the watery wood having lived close to The Carrs in Wilmslow for quite a few years.

    No particular favourite, just rather miffed with myself for making such heavy weather of the solve.

    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for a most helpful blog.

  8. I did enjoy this. I found it a good steady solve, except that it took me a while to get established in the SE corner, but looking back I am not quite sure why. The leader was unknown to me in 2d and so I needed all of the checkers to make sense of the anagram. With the ‘Q’s, ‘V’, and ‘X’ I was getting excited suspecting a pangram (I can never, ever, recognize a pangram in time for it to be any help to me), however, needless to say, and for no good reason, I ended up being mildly disappointed. Many thanks to all.

  9. We had problems with 21a and 21d. We had three possible first words for 21d and could not decide which one fitted the definition most precisely to give us the first letter of 21a where the type of gathering was slow to come to mind. With a couple of Qs and an X coming up we did consider a pangram for a while but it was not to be.
    Interesting to note that 14a here and 6a in the back pager are very similar looking words and both rather obscure.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  10. Blimey, 25a , the answer was clear. After longer than I dare mention have just parsed it. Thanks Gazza and Firefly

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