Toughie 2347 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2347

Toughie No 2347 by Serpent

Hints and tips by crypticsue

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

BD has something nice to attend today and his stand-in blogger has a family emergency, so I’m the stand in’s stand in again. How lovely to get an actual proper (and very enjoyable) Toughie on a Tuesday, not least because it gives me a chance to tick off ‘blog a Serpent crossword’ from my cruciverbal wish list.

Once again, I saw early on that the grid was one of those crenelated ones where there’d be the possibility of a Nina, but forgot to look and so missed the Nina round the circumference of the crossword (luckily for me, I know a man who did!)

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    University student at MIT upset by suggestion of uncertainty in final offer (9)
ULTIMATUM The abbreviation for university, the letter used to indicate a student, an anagram (upset) of AT MIT, all finished off with something that suggest uncertainty

8a    Belief in demigods, not God, strangely (5)
DEISM Remove the letters GOD (not God) from DEMIgodS and an anagram (strangely) of the remaining letters will produce the solution

10a    Prison ship reportedly having great views? (6)
SCENIC A homophone (reportedly) of an informal way you might refer to a prison ship (3, 4)

11a    Brexiteer’s attitude seemingly wants right to replace British transport (8)
EUPHORIA Remove the B for British from a way of describing what might be (seemingly) a Brexiteer’s attitude and replace with an R (wants right)

12a    Tear my school trousers (6)
SCORCH A nice misleading surface reading which made this ‘mother of boys’ smile – here we need a synonym for tear in the sense of going fast – the abbreviation for school ‘trousers’ an informal interjection of surprise (my)

14a    Humble abode finally opening given handle that turns (6)
DEMEAN The final letter of abodE opening or going inside a reversal (that turns) of a way of saying given a handle (handle being a slang term)

16a    Squaddy keeps guarding trench (4)
DYKE Lurking in ‘guarding’ in squadDY KEeps

17a    Bullying language wanting good person to get more depressed (5)
BLUER The abbreviation for saint should be removed (wanting good person) from some bullying language.   Interesting this second use of ‘want’ has the opposite meaning to the one in 11a

18a    Partners holding hands on vacation learned to bond (4)
WELD The initials of two bridge partners followed by the outside letters (on vacation indicating the need to remove the middle ones) of LearneD

19a    Get two groups of volunteers to meet face-to-face at home (6)
ATTAIN Take two lots of the abbreviation for the [old] army volunteers and reverse the first one so that they ‘meet face-to-face’ and then add a way of saying ‘at home’

21a    Decide to do without having key cut (6)
ESCHEW One of the keys on your computer keyboard and a verb meaning to cut with blows

24a    See 26a    

26a & 24a    Briefly state soldier ringing base arranged help for one making trunk calls? (6,8)
INDIAN ELEPHANT Almost all (briefly) of an American state ‘ringing’ the letter E (base) and an anagram (arranged) of HELP, the result followed by one of crosswordland’s soldiers

27a    Unveil part of share issue possibly where stock could be raised (5)
RANCH ‘Unveil’ or remove the outside letters of a part of a share issue

28a    Expert accepting that woman in study shows stickability (9)
ADHERENCE A three-letter expert ‘accepting’ a way of saying that women inserted into a study


1d    Pick bottle to take down? (5)
PLUCK A nice triple definition – there’ll be a lot of turkey farmers doing the third one at the moment!

2d    Salt deposited in tree’s crown (8)
PINNACLE The chemical symbol for sodium chloride (salt) inserted into a tree

3d    See 17d

4d & 25d Solvers will reportedly make improvements around present time? (4,4)
YULE TIDE A homophone (reportedly) of how Serpent might refer to us solvers followed by a reversal (around) of a verb meaning to make improvements

5d    Implementing this twist makes him hide (6)
DEFORM I was running out of time and couldn’t see how this worked and so I am very grateful to Gazza for explaining the obvious – I realised that the solution was a synonym for twist but hadn’t got as far as seeing that if you split it 2, 3 1, you can then see what you have to do to make him hide

6d    Is French author’s claim to be qualified worthy of consideration? (9)
ESTIMABLE The French word for is, and an author’s claim to be qualified

9d See 13d    

13d & 9d Despise wrongly charging time for web developer (5,6)
HOUSE SPIDER An anagram (wrongly) of DESPISE ‘charging’ or filling a period of time

15d    Bikini perhaps covered by maid for religious leader (9)
AYATOLLAH This Bikini is an example (perhaps) of a coral island which should be covered by or put inside an Indian nursemaid

17d & 3d Why this fighter represented brawny challenge (6,6)
BENGAL LANCER An anagram (represented) of BRAWNY CHALLENGE will give you both your solution and the letters WH and Y. A quick check on Google reveals that there are apparently more Indian restaurants with this name than pages with  information on the fighters

18d    Gently persuaded another 18 moving to take care (8)
WHEEDLED Take your solution to 18a and Insert a way of saying ‘take care’ into an anagram (moving) of your solution to 18a

20d    View list of requirements in applicant’s case (6)
ASPECT An abbreviated list of requirements inserted into the ‘case’ of ApplicanT

22d    Inner section of triptych is elaborately cut (6)
CHISEL Lurking in the inner section of triptyCH IS ELaborately

23d    Comedy clubs acquiring following with live coverage (5)
FARCE Easier to solve than explain but here goes – the abbreviation for following plus part of a verb meaning live into which is inserted the abbreviation for the card suit of clubs

25d    See 4d    

As our setter has briefly mentioned the current festive season, I thought I’d show you what I was looking at this morning. The pillar-box-decorating knitting ladies of Herne Bay have done even better this year – fortunately for you I decided to come home rather than go and photograph all the rest of them (I did spot a Nativity scene on one while I was driving home) otherwise this blog would have been much delayed.

34 comments on “Toughie 2347

  1. :phew: I found this much tougher than the usual Tuesday Toughie but it proved to be an enjoyable challenge split over several sittings. I didn’t unravel the parsing for 17/3d and as usual I missed the Nina.

    5d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Serpent and to CS, ably assisted by Gazza.

  2. An excellent (and proper) Toughie to go with the excellent back-pager to make a very enjoyable Tuesday. I very nearly ended up as the stand-in’s stand-in’s stand-in – luckily for you CS surfaced in the nick of time (otherwise with my typing speed you might have got the blog around supper time!). Thanks to Serpent and Crypticsue.
    I have masses of ticks – I’ll just list 10a, 12a, 14a and 5d.

    PS Aren’t meanings 1 and 3 of 1d pretty much the same thing?

      1. I thought of pick in the sense of choose or select (xxxxx from obscurity to stardom perhaps) although I should have thought about the guitar playing as no 1 son does play a guitar

  3. Grandson duties would have prevented my chances of blogging this one. A proper tough Toughie after a good few weeks of ease. Those I solved early I enjoyed. Those I struggled with were a lot stiffer and those I stared and stared at were tortuous. Thanks to Serpent and CS and Gazza.

  4. Maybe one day I’ll gel with Serpent’s wavelength but today was not that day and I found this something of an unremitting slog. I don’t doubt that has more to do with my solving abilities than our setter’s talents!

    Thanks to him for the challenge and to CS (plus Gazza) for explaining how I should have arrived at those that I’d guessed.

  5. Comfortable solve here, no problem with the pizzicato (half learnt Greensleeves on a classical guitar once) but stupidly failed to notice a Nina. D’oh!
    Thanks to both Serpent and CS

  6. Failed on the Nina front as usual and had three that really taxed my brain but I really enjoyed this today. Many thanks to CS and to Serpent

  7. Just back from my Christmas lunch with the Hanley Swan Gentleman’s Dining Club. For the second year running we have been to the Swan at Birlingham.

    Many thanks to CS for once more stepping into the breach at short notice.

  8. It went spectacularly well.
    I like this setter a lot.
    Didn’t spot the Nina though.
    It might have helped me getting 5d a bit sooner. What a lovely tea tray clang! Still reverberating in my head.
    11a made me laugh.
    A warm welcome to the first Xmas clue.
    Thanks to Serpent and to CS for the dénouement and the dévouement.

  9. I agree that this was considerably tougher than our regular Tuesday Toughie, and there were a few places where I had to turn to Mr Google (I won’t say how long I spent looking at lists of prison ships before that penny dropped). A very enjoyable solve, with the aforementioned 10a my favourite and 5d not far behind it. Thanks for Serpent for the entertainment and to CS for the blog.

    p.s. I think the hint for 18d needs a small addition – the copy of 18a goes into the answer as an anagram.

  10. Failed miserably in the N W corner but managed to solve the rest. Thanks for explanations.
    Now, CS, what if this about knitting for pillar boxes? I saw one in Meopham last Friday. Is it just Kentish ladies doing this and, more importantly, why?

    1. I’m not sure why they do it, but every Herne Bay pillar box has been given a knitted themed ‘hat’ for several years now. Last year there was one with a full knitted turkey dinner on the top – I’ll have to go and see if it is there again this year

      1. Meffam. .. is the pub on the green with the cricket ball Inn sign still open? I vaguely know it cos our local team played rugby against vigo. We’ve dropped down a league now though

    2. The ‘Guerilla Knitters’ of Dorking also adorn anything adornable with wooly treats all year round, most notably the Dorking Cockerel roundabout, courtesy of Gilliangladrag of West St

    3. The Nutty Knitters of Barwell in South Leicestershire have a go whatever the season. The Green Man Stitch And Bitch girls (also known more kindly as Knit and Knatter) have also been known to knit random stuff for random events. A google images search for yarn bombing will keep you amused for a while.

  11. Many thanks to crypticsue for the excellent blog and to everyone who has taken the time to solve and comment.

  12. That had us working really hard but we did eventually get it all sorted apart from a couple of details of the parsing. Totally missed the Nina though.
    A significant challenge and heaps of fun.
    Thanks Serpent and CS.

  13. I enjoyed this very much, but I just fell a little short of a completed grid. I was on the right track for 5d and 15d but just couldn’t come up with the right entries, and I missed the compound anagram in 17&3d. I think the Brexiteer’s attitude in 11a gets my vote for favourite. Unfortunately, the Nina did not materialize for me. Many thanks to Serpent and Crypticsue.

  14. Meffam. .. is the pub on the green with the cricket ball Inn sign still open? I vaguely know it cos our local team played rugby against vigo. We’ve dropped down a league now though

  15. Thanks to Serpent and to crypticSue for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, which was only 14 answers. I was encouraged to guess 24/26a as my starting point, but it soon became too difficult. I enjoyed looking at the explanations. Way above my pay grade. As others have said, “a proper Toughie”.

      1. Oh my goodness! How clever is that? Just something else to torment me with.
        Thank you so much for pointing it out.

    1. I haven’t got my solved grid to hand but if you look carefully at the letters round the outside of the grid, words will appear

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