Toughie 2022 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2022

Toughie No 2022 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment *****

I don’t know if my week off dulled my brain but I found this to be quite a struggle. But it was also extremely enjoyable with lots of nice touches

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Get around premium for insurance on shell of vehicle by showing sign of fire and third-party damage cause (7,7)
PASSIVE SMOKING: ‘To get around’ + the first letter (premium) of INSURANCE + the first and last letters (shell) of VEHICLE + a sign of fire = the involuntary inhalation of something produced by other people

10a    Funny or amusing fool (9)
IGNORAMUS: An anagram (funny) of OR AMUSING

11a    Put on fitting clothing for function (5)
ADOPT: ‘Fitting’ goes round (clothes) a function or party

12a    More than one giant company with negative balance sheet requiring investment to start (7)
COLOSSI: The abbreviation for ‘company’ + a negative balance sheet + the first letter of INVESTMENT

13a    Drink a toast to absent regulars in order (6)
DIKTAT: Alternate letters of DRINK A TOAST. A good spot by the setter

15a    Slough‘s publicity lacking in respect (4)
MIRE: Remove ‘publicity’ (2) from ‘to respect’ (6)

17a    How mercenary might get paid leave (10)
PERMISSION: When split (3,7) it may be how a mercenary is paid. ‘Leave’ is a noun here

18a    Salt beans, a meal to stew (4,6)
ABLE SEAMAN: A salt or sailor is an anagram (to stew) of BEANS A MEAL

20a    Expression of indifference about head of social network (4)
MESH: An interjection expressing indifference round the first letter of SOCIAL. It’s not an interjection that I am familiar with

22a    You’ll have to go to the ends of the earth to find this top hat (3,3)
ICE CAP: A permanent cover over a polar region = ‘to top or to kill’ + a hat

23a    Encourage to try small size (7)
HEARTEN: ‘To try’ + a size of clothing worn by smaller females

26a    A shy, retiring one’s going to confess (5)
ADMIT: A + a reversal of ‘shy’ with an I (one) removed

27a    Inflamed, hot turning to cold? This expert may assess one’s colouring (3,6)
ART CRITIC: Take a nine-letter word meaning ‘inflamed (as a joint might be)’ and change H (hot) into C (cold). Another good spot by the setter

28a    Bill to firm up next case once redeployed (7,7)
EXPENSE ACCOUNT: An anagram (redeployed) of UP NEXT CASE ONCE


2d    Year-on-year, eighth of remuneration’s cut? Strike! (5)
ANNUL: Remove A (the eighth letter of REMUNERATION) from ‘year-on-year’

3d    Disturbed state of lover leaving note (6)
STRESS: Remove the third note of the scale from a female lover

4d    State judge getting the chop over racket is bloodsucker (7,3)
VAMPIRE BAT: The abbreviation for an eastern state of the USA + a judge or arbitrator with the first letter removed + a bat used in some games = a bloodsucking mammal. I bunged this one in and then scratched my head for some time when writing the review before I managed to parse it

5d    Regiment first to have band (4)
SASH: An elite unit of the British army + the first letter of HAVE

6d    Nothing changes where eggs come from (7)
OVARIES: O (nothing) + ‘changes’

7d    Sketched alternatives that faced UK voters vis-a-vis EU policy (2,7)
IN OUTLINE: The two alternatives (2 & 3) that UK voters had a choice of in the EU referendum + a policy

8d    Be disciplined and start putting the genie back in the bottle? (3,2,2,3,4)
GET IT IN THE NECK: This phrase meaning ‘to be disciplined or severely dealt with’ could also tell you how to start putting something in a bottle

9d    Perhaps fly round, racing wildly with active sign of doubt suppressed (14)
CIRCUMNAVIGATE: ‘Perhaps fly round the world’ is an anagram (wildly) of RACING and ACTIVE round an interjection expressing doubt

14d    It’s sickening to maintain course of action, feeling as you do for me? (10)
EMPATHETIC: ‘Causing vomiting’ round a course of action

16d    The peaks and troughs are palpable with this aid plan (6,3)
RELIEF MAP: Aid or assistance to the poor + a plan

19d    Basic log function (7)
SPARTAN: A length of wood (log) + a geometrical function

21d    Watering hole north of port district (6)
BARRIO: A watering hole or pub + a port in South America = a Spanish-speaking, usually poor, community or district. Thank to Chambers for this definition of a word I didn’t know

24d    Giant beat it inside (5)
TITAN: IT inside ‘to beat’

25d    Reveal ill-mannered person on tape? (4)
BARE: ‘To reveal or strip or uncover’ is a homophone (on tape) of a rude, rough or ill-mannered fellow Not surprisingly this one was my last one in as pesky four-letter words often are


17 comments on “Toughie 2022

  1. Glad it wasn’t just me who struggled with this one – although there was still much to enjoy, it didn’t seem quite as Micawberish as usual

    Thanks to Micawber and to Bufo too

  2. Excellent, indeed – thanks to Micawber and Bufo. Top clues for me were 17a, 27a, 8d and 14d.
    I didn’t much like ‘getting the chop’ (4d) for removing the first letter of the judge.

  3. Managed to finish this but did need the explanation of the parsing of 27a.
    Re 20a is the 3 letter expression meant to be entered backwards?

    1. It’s not backwards. It’s an exclamation much used in The Simpsons, I believe.

      1. Oh. I thought it was. “hem” as in “ahem”. Not a fan of the Simpsons. I always thought their only contribution was “d’oh”!

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed. Needed Bufo’s help to parse a couple, so thanks to him and to Micawber.

  5. No problems – **/*** – except needed nudge with 25a to finish SE. Weak clue I think.
    20a had to be. But not heard of the expression.
    Enjoyed the numerous clever wordplays, favourite being 4d. Ta to Micawber.

  6. I found this challenging but very enjoyable. I thought it was an unusual combination of some very wordy clues, and some very succinct ones. I was able to get a hold in SW corner, and fortunate to get the long 9d and 28a relatively early. I would have been able to finish more quickly and easily had I been able to let go of ‘master’ sooner as the second word in 27a. (Once the penny dropped, I thought it was a wonderfully crafted clue.) There were one or two words I invented from the word play and was surprised to find existed (13a for example) and I don’t think I have run across the term in 1a. I spent way too long trying to make 6d an anagram of ‘nothing’. All in all, great fun, and many thanks to Micawber and Bufo.

  7. I really am having a bad day. I thought the RayT back pager was tricky and I really struggled to find a toe-hold in this one. First pass revealed just three solutions :sad:

    Got there in the end though and looking at it now I don’t see why it was such a struggle.

    As I said, I’m having a bad day.

    Thanks to Micawber and Bufo.

  8. Thanks Micawber and Bufo

    A slow start but soon got going as the checkers came. Favourite is the genie clue, for the slight different way the definition needed to be interpreted

  9. 27a is one of the cleverest clues I have seen, deserves to be included in the (non-existent as far as I know) All Time Great Crossword Clues list.

  10. What a relief to find that it wasn’t just me having a dim day!
    Like Bufo, I didn’t know the Spanish district or the expression in 20a although I think I’ve seen Kitty incorporate the latter into a blog at some stage?
    25d was the last to fall as I’m not familiar with that particular ill-mannered person!

    Some clever clues as mentioned by others and I think my favourite has to be 17a.

    Many thanks to Micawber who could have warned us on Tuesday that this week’s offering from him was a humdinger!
    Thanks also to Bufo for all the hard work on the blog.

  11. Wonderful stuff again from this setter. Our last one to get sorted was also 27a. We had the correct answer from definition and checkers and then a real penny-drop moment when we twigged the wordplay. Brilliant. Not a rapid solve by any means but good fun all the way through.
    Thanks Micawber and Bufo.

  12. Terrific. Spent ages with that pesky 25d, vowel checkers, but did not detract from the enjoyment. My favourite is the same as Dutch although 27a was a close runner, Thanks Micawber and Bufo.

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