Toughie 2703 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2703

Toughie No 2703 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

The Telegraph’s usual (very convoluted) method of informing on-line subscribers of the identities of the compilers of the Toughie puzzles has failed this week so I’m not certain of today’s setter, though I have a strong suspicion. I’d be grateful if someone with access to the dead tree version could let me know who it is. [Thanks to Zak Naklair and RD – my strong suspicion has been confirmed}

I enjoyed the puzzle. There’s nothing very obscure here and there are several penny drop moments.

Many thanks to the setter.

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

Across Clues

1a Copied design of underwear chafing after two seconds (5,7)
BRASS RUBBING: start with some female underwear and add a synonym for chafing after two abbreviations for second.

9a Welcome cold shower (4)
HAIL: double definition.

10a Wicked discount for dons (9)
REPROBATE: a Yoda-like clue – a prefix meaning ‘for’ is clothed in a discount.

12a Desire to prune mature plant (6)
LOVAGE: stick together a word for desire or passion without its last letter and a verb to mature.

13a A VIP organised cat shelter … (8)
PAVILION: an anagram (organised) of A VIP and a member of the cat family.

15a … old cat dies after shuffling out of place (10)
DISLOCATED: an anagram (after shuffling) of OLD CAT DIES.

16a We’re told, ring for cosmetic treatment (4)
PEEL: this sounds like a verb to ring.

18a Fancy orthopaedic back cushions (4)
IDEA: hidden in reverse.

20a Alleviating hurt via tea and pill (10)
PALLIATIVE: an anagram (hurt) of VIA TEA PILL.

23a Judge cut rose, then fell (8)
SEESAWED: charade of a verb meaning judge or consider and a verb meaning cut.

24a Drink upset and spilled occasionally (6)
TIPPLE: a verb to upset and regular letters from ‘spilled’.

26a Hearing a strain for ear (9)
ATTENTION: A followed by what sounds like strain or stress.

27a Food wagon overlooking near side of road (4)
TUCK: remove the leftmost letter of road from a wagon.

28a Soldier from capital turned on mean country, changing sides (12)
PARAMILITARY: reverse a South American capital after a word for mean or average. Now append a European country after changing one side to its opposite.

Down Clues

2d Belief Area 51’s infiltrated (8)
RELIGION: a synonym of area with the Roman numeral for 51 inserted.

3d Rank squat’s no hotel (4)
SORT: an adjective meaning squat or diminutive without the letter that hotel stands for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

4d Prey led astray bears feed on often (10)
REPEATEDLY: an anagram (astray) of PREY LED contains a verb meaning to feed on.

5d Vocal criticism, for instance, over holding one dance (6)
BOOGIE: a sound of disapproval followed by the reversal of ‘for instance’ containing the Roman numeral for one.

6d 50-year-old record that is sealing mother with her ruin? (7)
IMAGINE: the abbreviation for ‘that is’ contains an affectionate term for mother and what’s popularly known as her ruin.

7d Traditional number of vegetables nearly always consumed by the French (12)
GREENSLEEVES: assemble types of vegetable and an adverb meaning always without its last letter contained in one of the French definite articles.

8d Parts of limbs left in dens (6)
CALVES: insert the abbreviation for left in dens or burrows.

11d Fantastic servant’s quarters opened by 1? (8,4)
ALADDIN’S LAMP: the living quarters of a fictional obedient servant which can be opened by 1a.

14d Supervisory staff lofty around group’s leader (10)
MANAGERIAL: join together a verb to staff and an adjective meaning lofty containing the leading letter of group.

17d Receptacle unopened miscreant vandalised (8)
CANISTER: an anagram (vandalised) of [m]ISCREANT.

19d Sportsperson riding eleven terrifying tackles (7)
EVENTER: hidden.

21d Function under spirit’s strong effect (6)
IMPACT: a verb to function or perform follows a wicked spirit.

22d Article in silence split by good shooter (6)
MAGNUM: a Russian doll clue – a word meaning silence contains one of our indefinite articles containing the abbreviation for good.

25d Group supplying pronouns (northerner’s first) (4)
UNIT: the answer’s made up of two pronouns, the first being one spoken in a North of England dialect.

I ticked 1a, 23a and 7d but my favourite was the clever 11d. Which clue(s) graced your podium?


18 comments on “Toughie 2703

    1. :phew: That was a real Toughie. I struggled, but I enjoyed the challenge over several sittings and got there in the end.

      I couldn’t parse 10a where the relevance of “dons” escaped me.

      1a & 11d were my joint favourites.

      Many thanks to proXimal for the fun. Thanks too to Gazza for the review and particularly for the explanation for 10a.

  1. Solved 1a at the drop of a hat, solved a couple more and, just as I was feeling smug, ground to a halt. Pride cometh before a fall and all that jazz!

  2. The best proXimal puzzle I’ve ever had the joy of working–and finishing! (Yes, I did apply my 5-letter online bonus.) My favourites are the same as Gazza’s: 7d, 11d, 23a, and 1a. But 5d made me feel 70 years younger and made me chuckle. I also thought that 6d was quite moving and I started humming along. Loved this puzzle. Something about the ‘Arabian Nights’ always stirs me, sends me back to my youth, and reminds me of Wordsworth in The Prelude. Thanks to Gazza and to proXimal.

  3. Oh Gazza, where do you find these pictures?
    1a made me chuckle – thanks for the laugh
    Enjoyed the puzzle too, many thanks to setter

  4. 11d had to be what it was but I did struggle to justify the wordplay – I’m assuming it’s a reference to the Cave of Wonders?
    Thought 28a was cleverly constructed and my top two were 1a & 7d.

    Thanks to proXimal and to Gazza for the review – loved the goldfish!

    1. 11d is where the genie lives (has his quarters). 1a is required to open it (and let him out).

  5. Crikey that was hard and right at the limit of my solving ability. Favourite was 6d not for it’s difficulty but for it’s cleverness. Thanks to ProXimal and Gazza.

  6. A right proper and no mistake.

    I started it and had only solved a few before we had to leave home. Obviously spending cogitation time at Bletchley Park helped although based on today’s performance with the two DT crosswords, I don’t think they’ll be recruiting me any time soon

  7. I found the bulk of this one on a par with Giovanni’s back pager but predictably the last half dozen were real head scratchers. Ordinarily I’d probably have resorted to a letter reveal but was happy to ponder while watching England surely on their way to levelling the series. 11d&23a were my last 2 in & along with 1a&7d my pick of the clues in an excellent puzzle.
    Thanks to ProXimal & Gazza – great pic 1a

  8. We hesitated a long time before putting in the answer for 25d so good to see that we did get it correct.
    Really enjoyed the 1a/11d combination which was a real penny-drop moment for us.
    A significant challenge and a lot of fun.
    Thanks proXimal and Gazza.

    I have a very special guest on my latest Zoom call tonight. Brian Greer, is joining us. A former Times and Independent crossword editor, Times setter, setter around Guardian setter and ex-Sunday Telegraph setter – many consider him the greatest around. To ‘meet’ him subscribe here:

    See you then!

    John Halpern

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