Toughie 2027 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2027

Toughie No 2027 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Got up early and managed to finish this well before the school run. ProXimal is using some very subtle definitions today, which forces you to unravel the wordplay rather than guess & parse.

As always, the definitions are underlined. The hints are intended to help you make sense of the wordplay, and you can always reveal the answer by clicking on the CLICK  ME boxes. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Little heed from husband with split on garment (5,6)
SHORT SHRIFT: The abbreviation for Husband plus a 4-letter word meaning a split follows (the convention for on in an across clue) a garment normally reserved for summer or sports

7a    Batman finally trapped by Riddler gets shot, perhaps (7)
SNIFTER: The last letter (finally) of Batman goes inside (trapped by) another word for riddler (as in user of a riddle or sieve)

8a    Number with obsession for peanuts (7)
NOTHING: The 2-letter abbreviation for number plus an obsession

10a    Doctor‘s hard to separate from bodice (5)
ALTER: The definition is a verb. Remove (to separate from) the abbreviation for Hard from the start of a 6-letter word for a bodice

11a    Assume one involved in Scrabble is not productive (9)
INFERTILE: A 5-letter word meaning to assume or deduce plus a scrabble piece

12a    Awful name-calling Heather ignored, showing restraint (7)
MANACLE: An anagram (awful) of NAME-CAL(ling) without another word for heather (Heather ignored)

14a    Content to counsel a colleague getting back spots (7)
LOCALES: Reverse hidden (Content to … getting back)

15a    Object to banks in dire place, journey regularly taken (7)
DEPLORE: The outer letters (banks) in D(ir)E, the 2-letter abbreviation for place, plus the even (regularly taken) letters in journey

18a    Courier parking on small incline (7)
UPSWEEP: An American multinational package delivery company, plus the abbreviation of Parking following (on in an across clue) a Scottish word for small

20a    Conversations might result from this pastry oven exploding (9)
CROISSANT: An anagram (exploding) of the pastry in the answer + OVEN would give you CONVERSATIONS

21a    Cold day for larking about island (5)
CAPRI: The abbreviation for cold plus the day (3,1) on which practical jokes are usually carried out

22a    Superlatively poor way to cross English street (7)
LEANEST: A way or type of road goes around (to cross) the abbreviation for English, plus the abbreviation for street

23a    Ironic lack of faith in report for weather (4,3)
RIDE OUT: A homophone (in report) of a 3-letter word meaning ironic plus a 5-letter word meaning a lack of faith or a suspicion or uncertainty of opinion

24a    Drinkers imbibing a wine selection on counter — that is friendship (11)
CAMARADERIE: A real-ale drinking organisation goes around (imbibing) A from the clue, then the reversal (on counter) of a kind of wine and the abbreviation for that is.


1d    Running after bird that has protected status (7)
STILTON: A 2-letter word meaning running or operational follows a long-legged wading bird

2d    Old, faithful fisherman rejecting first European settler (5)
OPTER: Settler as in decider. The abbreviation for Old, then the apostle who was a fisherman without the first appearance of E (European)

3d    Rub fluid in between housing of the motor (7)
TURBINE: An anagram (fluid) of RUB plus IN from the clue go between the outer letters (housing) of ThE

4d    Small amount that’s not easy to deal with (7)
HANDFUL: Two meanings

5d    Monarch overwhelmed by sound; son communicates (9)
INTERACTS: The Latin abbreviation for our queen goes inside (overwhelmed by) another word for sound as in unimpaired or whole, plus the abbreviation for son

6d    Minor drip pilot covers (7)
TRIVIAL: An abbreviation of a medical drip is surrounded by (covers) a word meaning pilot or test

7d    Irregular spring’s second caught in graduated plate (11)
SPASMODICAL: Another word for spring or well, include the ‘S, a second or a short while, then the abbreviation for C inside (in) a graduated plate, like a watch face or speedometer

9d    Theatrical slap (6,5)
GREASE PAINT: A cryptic definition, based on slap also being slang for make-up

13d    Spanner is superior, finest according to Spooner (9)
CROSSBEAM: Superior as in your manager perhaps, finest as in elite, then swap the leading sounds (according to Spooner)

16d    Dull for one filling bag (7)
PROSAIC: a 3-letter word meaning for, then the Roman numeral for one goes inside (filling) a bag

17d    One who used to be in film is demanding person (7)
EXACTOR: Split (2,7), the answer would mean one who used to be in films

18d    Not bound to eat starter in restaurant that’s fresh (7)
UNTIRED: A 6-letter word meaning not bound contains (to eat) the first letter (starter) in restaurant

19d    Go off in search having lost king for days (7)
EXPLODE: A word meaning to go and search or investigate has the Latin abbreviation for King replaced by the abbreviation for days

21d    Cried out for a drink (5)
CIDER: An anagram (out) of CRIED

I liked the subtractive anagram in 12a and the compound anagram in 20a. I also liked 21a, took a while for the penny to drop. Which clues did you like?

15 comments on “Toughie 2027

  1. I really enjoyed this one – thanks to proXimal and Dutch.
    I had problems in the SE corner from initially writing in ‘untried’ for 18d (seems to me to be an equally valid answer) and only having a rethink when 23a proved impossible.
    I always thought that 9d was a single word (and most dictionaries agree) but the BRB (to my surprise) sides with the setter.
    I’m bestowing my ticks on 8a, 11a, 21a and 1d.

  2. The 1d definition threw me for a while, and I put the R in the wrong place for 18d, which held me up longer (made perfect sense at the time).
    *EDIT* I see I am not the only one.

    Agree with Dutch re 20a & 21a as faves, but in good company as one would expect from this setter. I would add 13d for a classic D’oh! moment.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to Dutch. Good stuff.

  3. I often have problems with proXimal puzzles but I enjoyed this one from start to finish – I really enjoyed unravelling all the wordplay. I left the ‘which way does the IR go in 18d until I’d finally had the d’oh moment as to what 23a was all about

    Thank you to Mr X and Mr D

  4. Oh good – I’m not the only one who had ‘untried’ for 18d! The correct answer isn’t a word that I would use – I’d always say ‘I’m not tired’ – so it hadn’t occurred to me. Made 23a impossible as I guess both Gazza and LbR also discovered.

    Tops for me were 21a and the theatrical slap with a mention for the protected bird at 1d.

    Thanks to proXimal and to Dutch – if I’d have been doing the school run the kids would have had a day off!
    PS The 13d pic makes me feel rather queasy………….

  5. Add me to the list of those who had ‘untried’ in 18d. Sadly, I was sufficiently confident with it that 23a was rendered impossible, of course, which was my only gap. I did enjoy the puzzle, but I do agree with Gazza that there appears to be two equally valid entries for 18d which is unfortunate. Thanks to proXimal and Dutch.

  6. What an enjoyable solve. Still found it typically “Friday demanding” but perseverance paid off. Another with 18D wrong and never heard of 23a anyway. Also, thanks for the explanation of 20a which I had but could not parse. Great puzzle thanks.

  7. Not a good start. 21a. Anagram of D + for + I = French for cold? Ha ha. Maybe trip to pub better idea… do it tomorrow!

  8. I’m still lost on the definition of 1d – and I also ( naturally ) had the transposition in 18d.,so didn’t get 23a.
    Other than that liked 11a ,9d and 24a
    Ta to proXimal & Dutch

    1. At the moment, the answer to 1d enjoys protected designation of origin by the European Commission. You’re not allowed to make it elsewhere and call it by the same name. Though there’s a chance that is exactly what the US would want to do if we entered a trade agreement with them. A rather oblique definition, i thought.

    2. Hi Dave,
      I’m assuming you’ve done the wordplay to get ‘stilton’?
      Stilton cheese has protected status under EU regulations and can only be produced and sold under that name by six dairies in the UK that hold licences to manufacture it.

      Sorry, Dutch – I was typing as your answer appeared!

      1. Absolutely. And for me it has to be from Colston and Bassett.
        Aix en Provence woke up with a sore head when they realised that the Calisson wasn’t protected. The Chinese are producing a Calisson d’Aix of their own.

  9. 1a was our last one to have its wordplay sorted. Got stuck on the idea that the garment involved was a SHIFT. We had trouble remembering the acronym used in 24a until we eventually recalled having been caught by it before. We must be slow learners.
    Really enjoyed the solve.
    Thanks ProXimal and Dutch.

  10. Had trouble with the NW corner as I couldn’t get “spinner” out of my head for 7a.
    Didn’t get 2d.
    Thanks to ProXimal for the work out and to Dutch for the review.

  11. A proper toughie and what a good one it was. A pleasure to unpick clues that held out for just long enough and then fell gracefully. An excellent end to the week. Last in 1d where I thankfully knew the cheese because I didn’t know the bird.

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