Toughie 2700 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2700

Toughie No 2700 by Sparks

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

A lovely proper Friday Toughie from Sparks – a new word or two to learn and some nice illustration opportunities. Sparks usually hides something in his crosswords and in this one there is definitely something going on in 1d/2d/16d/17d 

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    VIP about to receive second officer (4)
BOSN A reversed (about) informal VIP to ‘receive’ the abbreviation for second

3a    French stick together as one until divided by this? (5,5)
BREAD KNIFE A cryptic definition of something that might divide a French stick

9a    Shut up shop, but don’t dash! (4)
COOP Insert a dash into your solution and you get the informal way we refer to a particular shop

10a    Whip prisoner sporting cut at side of eye (10)
FLAGELLATE A prisoner ‘sporting’ or going inside a verb meaning to cut, the result followed by AT (from the clue) and a side of Eye

11a    Ready to be received outside working hours? (4,3)
SICK PAY Some income (ready) you might receive when you were not working

13a    Priest occupied by naughty dance (7)
LAMBADA A priest ‘occupied’ by a synonym for naughty

14a    Concealing secret place? No way (11)
OCCULTATION A concealing, especially of a heavenly body by another – an adjective meaning secret and a place without the abbreviation for street (no way)

18a    State oath at kudos being misrepresented (5,6)
SOUTH DAKOTA An anagram (being misrepresented) of OATH AT KUDOS

21a    Glum without my round old English dog (7)
SAMOYED Feeling glum goes ‘without’ MY (from the clue) into which is inserted (round) the abbreviation for Old, and E (English)

22a    Left on Orkneys, losing last of very new breathing gear (7)
SNORKEL An anagram (new) of ORKNEyS (losing last of very telling you to omit the Y) followed by the abbreviation for Left

23a    Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy works truncated conflict (7,3)
CRIMEAN WAR Truncate two works by Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy

24a    Flower from grandparent upon retirement (4)
LAVA A reversal (upon retirement) of an adjective meaning relating to a grandparent

25a    Segregates exotic festive goodies (6,4)
EASTER EGGS An anagram (exotic) of SEGREGATES

26a    Stick small fragment back on statue — it’s dropped off (4)
FLAK A small fragment without the E (back on statuE dropped off)


1d    Screen on pitch helps cover (8)
BACKSTOP A verb meaning helps and a cover

2d    Valve’s copper ring available for sale, conceivably? (8)
STOPCOCK If something was available for sale, you would say it was IN xxxxx – insert an abbreviated policeman (copper) and the ring-shaped letter into the second word

4d    Recover from series of strokes (5)
RALLY Double definition

5d    Guardian search exposes sharks (9)
ANGELFISH A guardian and a verb meaning to search combine to give us some sharks with large wing-like pectoral fins

6d    Mountain family receiving letter from NATO clash over nothing (11)
KILIMANJARO Some family ‘receiving’ a letter from the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, followed by a verb meaning to clash and the letter representing nothing

7d    Home not home, from one point of view (2,1,3)
IN A WAY Home and not home, the latter split 1,3

8d    Time before event to get pint maybe for bird (6)
EVEJAR A time before an event and an informal term for a pint of beer

12d    One-ply tyres can be moulded from this synthetic resin (11)
POLYSTYRENE An anagram (can be moulded) of ONE PLY TYRES

15d    Plenty of cake in a cakewalk, say (9)
ABUNDANCE Insert a cake between A (from the clue) and an activity, an example of which is the cakewalk

16d    ‘Between The Sheets’, perhaps naughty bits put together (8)
COCKTAIL Two naughty bits of the body put together

17d    Trouble bishop breaking nail in jam (8)
TAILBACK A verb meaning to trouble and the chess abbreviation for Bishop ‘breaking’ a small nail

19d    Mind getting a little tipsy? Cheers! (6)
PSYCHE Hidden in a little tiPSY CHEers

20d    Repeatedly stripped enamel components for circuits (6)
AMBITS Strip the first two and last two letters from enAMel and add some components

22d    Sends information over — is lacking jargon (5)
SLANG A reversal (over) of a way of saying sends information from which the IS (is lacking) should be removed

Lots to enjoy but my particular favourite was 23a

31 comments on “Toughie 2700

  1. Very enjoyable – thanks to Sparks and CS. I did notice the ‘something going on’ in the corners.

    I ended up in the SE corner where the two 4-letter answers held out for some time.

    I’m a bit surprised that the ‘naughty bits’ survived the editorial blue pencil but that certainly made me laugh. I imagine that Sir Herbert Gussett will be penning a strong letter to the editor.

    There are some cracking clues here – my nominations for the podium are 9a, 23a and 2d.

  2. Re “The naughty bits”, that may have survived the blue pencil but the potential crypticising of 10a minus the slang for prisoner certainly wouldn’t have done.

    1. R.A.T. — For perhaps a nanosecond, no more, that risqué-beyond-the-pale wordplay reared its very naughty head :D ;)

  3. Aha! I just found the ‘something going on’ in those four clues, so I did manage to salvage some pride from this terrific Toughie, which I only halfway finished. Those four 4-letter clues all defeated me (and I still don’t know what those three letters suggesting VIP stand for), as did 14a and others. But I loved 23a, naturally, and lots more. Thanks to CS for helping me fill in so many blanks, and many thanks to Sparks for the challenge.

  4. Well that was a real battle – a Toughie in every sense. I did not know the word indicating a grandparent but the flower was gettable after much thought. 23a was my clear favourite from a great selection of potential winners.

    My thanks to Sparks for the mind-stretching and to CS.

    1. I had Nera (backwards in grandparent) as flower (river) which is in Italy. Ruined the SE for ages.

  5. I was quite happy getting as far as I did with this Friday Toughie but when I ground to a halt a halt was where I stayed. It mattered not how many times I returned to the puzzle or how I separated the clues word for word. Those last few would not give up their secrets. Thanks to Sparks for the scrap and thanks to Crypticsue who rescues me from a permanent stay in moderation on an almost daily basis. Bless her little cotton socks

  6. A real***** star toughie today, Sparks was wearing Elgar’s boots!
    A combined solve with Mrs B, I wanted to go out tonight .Like Gazza I noticed something was afoot in the corners as we were finishing off the NW quadrant, last in was 1a -I have seen the officer with an apostrophe as a five letter word*** ‘** but not a four letter word ,no doubt it will be correct.
    8d was a new bird-presumably American.
    Hard to pick a favourite, going for the beautiful 21a.
    Thanks Sparks for the enjoyment and Crypticsue for the picks

    1. The enumeration here is as per the Times wherein, e.g., HORS D’OEUVRES would be (4,8). With my solving hat one, the non-indication of internal apostrophes catches me out almost every time.

  7. Three-quarters of this fell without recourse to external assistance. Struggled with the remaining few in both the NW and SE and needed to reveal letters – and in one case read a CS hint – to get moving and then finish / confirm my answers. Up until the point where I ground to a halt I had been enjoying the puzzle, but the final struggle did rather take the edge off, although I freely grant that in retrospect it’s entirely fair.

    Had never heard of 1a without an apostrophe or more commonly a ‘u’ and would be interested to know whether the dead tree version included the apostrophe … I suspect not! 8d, 24a were solvable from the clues but had never heard of the bird or the adjectival grandparent. If there’s something going on in 1a/1d and 16d/17d then I’m either reading too much into the above comments, or too innocent and naive(!), or too knackered, to see it.

    Certainly 5* for difficulty in my view.

    Many thanks to Sparks and CS.

    1. Starting with 1d, read the solutions mentioned in order and you should spot something

  8. I stymied 24a by realising there was an obscure Italian river reversed in grandparent. My first in was my last out.
    Is the bird in 8d related to the nightjar? Just earlier in the day? The picture looks pretty similar.
    10a and 16d were sailing a bit close to the wind weren’t they!

      1. Variants like that always seem unnecessarily gratuitous to me, we all know it’s a Nightjar

        1. I’ve certainly never heard anyone refer to it as an 8d although I vaguely remember the term from a novel I read many moons ago.

  9. The brick wall appeared with 8 left, so resorted to hints. Two of my comments above have appeared in the wrong place for some reason. Have asked for deletions but that seems to have made it worse! Sorry about that. Got further than normal on a Friday toughie, so I’m happy enough. CS, shouldn’t your 1a hint mention the VIP should be reversed?
    Thanks for your hints anyway, most helpful.
    Thanks Sparks as well

  10. Enjoyed the 75% I managed before hitting the brick wall, after that it all rather fell apart and left me feeling a bit disgruntled. I did think that 23a was quite clever despite the slightly odd surface read and my top two were the fairly simple 21a & 4d.

    Thanks to Sparks (hi to Sparky) and to CS for the review.

    1. Sparky says ‘hi’ in return, though a tad more grumpily as he’s now maturing into a miniature Victor Meldrew, bless him!

  11. I have been doing the cryptic for a year or so and occasionally look at the toughie, usually to give up after only getting a few, so just wanted to say thanks to Miffypops for putting a comment on the cryptic blog that today’s toughie was 80% straightforward forward, as that spurned me on to give it a go and so far I have done half, unaided, so I am well pleased, and not given up yet.

  12. 1a eventually defeated us. Settled for BOSS but could not justify it.
    A very clever puzzle and we enjoyed the solve.
    Thanks Sparks and CS.

  13. Many thanks to CrypticSue for a fine blog and to others for overwhelmingly positive comments. Glad you all enjoyed it :D

  14. 20 clues went in pretty quickly hence my user friendly comment on the cryptic site. I assumed the other 8 were just me being a bit slow until I read MP’s reply. Had another go at them last thing with no progress so revealed the 5 absent checkers & got a further 4. Even after reading the hints to the 4 remaining I only got a further 2 & revealed the answers to both 24&26a though ought to have twigged the right kind of stick. I have never seen 1a spelt that way, the bird & the cocktail were unfamiliar, 14a was a new word for me & wouldn’t have got 26a in a year of Sundays.
    A proper Toughie it certainly turned out to be & very enjoyable too. 23a my clear favourite but also really liked 3&9a.
    Thanks Sparks & CS for deciphering it all.

    1. Welcome to the blog

      Chambers Dictionary says “Angelfish – a type of shark (genus Squatina) with large wing-like pectoral fins” before it goes on to define the type of fish with the same name

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