Toughie 2716 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2716

Toughie No 2716 by Sparks

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

Not sure where Dutch is today, but here’s a quickly bashed out set of Hints and Tips for what I thought was quite a difficult Toughie from Sparks. I do seem to have typed the words ‘reversal’ and ‘abbreviation’ quite a lot!!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


5a    Our monarchy regularly airs main point about overseas theatre (7)
BUNRAKU Never heard of this Japanese puppet theatre but the clue was fair – a reversal (about) of the abbreviation for our country (monarchy), the regular letters of AiRs and a main point

7a    After polling, understands gains by Labour (5)
EARNS Poll or remove the top from a synonym for understands

9a    Bully not retreating in, ultimately, fist fight (6)
TYRANT A reversal (retreating) of an adverb meaning not inserted into the ultimate letters of fisT and fighT

10a    Management face accepting concessions being rejected (8)
DISPOSAL A face ‘accepting’ a reversal (being rejected) of some concessions

11a    Bohemian ideal of penniless sot? (4,6)
FREE SPIRIT A term for a Bohemian which could be the ideal of a sot without any money

13a    Black key — where E is found? (4)
INKY The letter E is found xx KeY

14a    Stifling nostalgia — turn well away (13)
STRANGULATION An anagram (well away) of NOSTALGIA TURN

16a    Port consumed by Frankie Vaughan (4)
KIEV ‘Consumed by’ FranKIE Vaughan

17a    Flagged police dog steps in (10)
SIGNPOSTED An anagram (police) of DOGS STEPS IN  – Police is in the BRB’s list of anagram indicators and can be defined as ‘to put or keep in order’

19a    Trace short round handle for engine component (8)
CAMSHAFT A reversal (round) of almost all (short) of a trace of something followed by a handle

20a    In the City, finally leave union (6)
EQUITY A synonym for leave inserted between the final letters of thE and citY

22a    House and well connected by a pipe (5)
HOOKA The abbreviation for house and an abbreviated way of saying well plus A (from the clue)

23a    Tramp‘s foot bandaged with towel? (7)
DRIFTER An abbreviation for foot covered by (bandaged with) a description of a towel


1d    Coin falling into one’s hands in just seconds (4)
ANNA Found in just the second letters of fAlling iNto oNes hAnds

2d    Accompany a POW unit after being shot (4,4)
WAIT UPON An anagram (after being shot) of A POW UNIT

3d    China provoke leader of Taiwan (3,3)
TEA SET A verb meaning to provoke and the ‘leader’ of Taiwan

4d    Monk is accommodating neckwear preferences (10)
PRIORITIES An abbot’s deputy (monk) and IS (from the clue) ‘accommodating an item of neckwear

5d    Purchaser‘s lower barn picked up (5)
BUYER A homophone (picked up) of a barn for cattle (lower)

6d    Couldn’t afford right move on time in Dundee ground (13)
UNDERBUDGETED The abbreviation for Right, a verb meaning to move and the abbreviation for Time inserted into an anagram (ground) of DUNDEE

8d    Want to stand in centre of Arsenal flag (7)
SLACKEN A deficiency (want) inserted into the centre letters of arSENal

12d    TV network‘s souvenir broadcast about moon (10)
EUROVISION An anagram (broadcast) of SOUVENIR about one of Jupiter’s moons

14d    Leaves trip with a lot of pain (7)
SPINACH A short trip in a motor car with almost all (a lot of) a pain

15d    Adult pages left on record — that is something fruity (5-3)
APPLE-PIE The abbreviation for Adult, two abbreviations for page, the abbreviation for left, a type of record and the abbreviation meaning that is

17d    Beetle — vehicle crushed by wrecker (6)
SCARAB A vehicle ‘crushed’ by an informal abbreviation for a wrecker

18d    Penetrate chapter shunned by middle of America (5)
ENTER The abbreviation for chapter ‘shunned’ by the American spelling for a word meaning middle

21d    Preposition or noun covered by tuition off and on (4)
UNTO The abbreviation for Noun ‘covered’ by the even (off and on) letters of tUiTiOn

Sparks usually has some sort of a Nina in his grids but neither Gazza nor I can find anything this time.


20 comments on “Toughie 2716

  1. I found this to amongst the toughest of Toughies in recent weeks. The usual few unparsed bung-ins for a Friday and a sense of satisfaction, possibly relief, once it was completed. 13a was neat and my favourite.

    Thanks to Sparks for the challenge and to CS for some of the parsing.

  2. Many thanks CS, I’m very grateful. I’m in the middle of a house move and I’m afraid the stress and exhaustion got to me. When I woke today it was 2 pm.

    Most unlike me. Good that you are there.

  3. For the first time ever, I think, I have completed a Friday Toughie grid. Admittedly it took me ***** time, and I will admit to using a few electrons towards the end, but I am still well pleased with myself.

    There were just a couple at the southern end where the parsing evaded me; 19a & 18d. I had not heard of 5a and the spelling of 22a was one letter short in my book. My COTD was 13a.

    Still, I feel I have earned a celebratory pint, or maybe two, this evening.

    Thanks to Sparks and CS for clearing up the unknowns.

  4. Took a bit of unpicking but all came together. Had to check a couple of definitions in the NW. Police is a new anagram indicator to me but it made sense. 13a was my favourite, a great clue.

    Thanks to Sparks and CS.

  5. Pretty tough I thought. Thanks to Sparks and to CS for the overtime.
    My ticks went to 7a, 11a and 13a.

    I hope that Sparks will look in and tell us what we’ve failed to spot in the grid.

  6. The best thing about today’s Friday puzzle is that it wasn’t an Elgar! So, with some electronic help, I finished it.
    I did like 14d so is my COTD.
    Thank you CS for stepping in. I was beginning to wonder what was wrong. Good luck Dutch with the move.

  7. Ho hum, that’s my second DNF Toughie of the week. To be honest, it’s my second ‘barely started’ Toughie of the week!
    Not to worry, I enjoyed what I could manage so thanks to Sparks for the challenge, sorry I wasn’t up to it, and to CS for magically producing the review in extremis.
    PS Hi Sparks, hope Sparky is still creaking along happily? Tell him I know the feeling!

  8. Beat me all to pieces. Even with the use of my maximum 5-letter electronic gift, I still had 6 unsolved clues. Thanks for stepping in, CS, and best wishes to Dutch in his move. And to Sparks: you just wore me out, but thanks for the challenge. You gave Elgar quite a run for his money.

  9. Slowly and surely it all eventually came together for us. Then we searched the grid in vain for a hidden message. 11a our favourite.
    Thanks Sparks and CS.

  10. No complaints from me (!) – a proper Friday Toughie, no gimmicky clue-jumping and cross-referencing, no theme (or at least that I could spot), just good old-fashioned mean SOFAB clueing (if I’m allowed that abbreviation) and some quite specialist “G”K and reference work required.

    South fell comfortably more swiftly than North, and NW was the last to succumb. 5a was entirely new to me and 1d/9a were bung-ins, so thank you CS for the review and parsing. Felt disposal was a bit of a stretch for management, and I still don’t get the short trace in 19a! 22a without the second H does look odd to me, too.

    As a Gooner I’m sad to say that “slacken” was quite approriately associated with Arsenal. My stand-out COTD was 13a, which prompted a laugh when I worked it out, but 11a was not overly far behind.

    5* / 3*. Thank you Sparks for a good end to the DT crossword week, and to CS for the review.

    1. Trace in 19a is ‘smack’ as in ‘there is a smack/trace of hostility in her behaviour’. Short means drop the last letter leaving ‘smac’.

  11. Many thanks to CS for blog and to others for comments. The Nina is highlighted in the (hopefully) attached pic. Neither I nor the editor flagged this puzzle as tricky, so apologies that it transpired to be so :(

  12. This took a bit of getting into but I didn’t find it too difficult to fill the grid. However, some of the parsings were very tricky and I needed help with a couple and completely missed the Nina.

    Hot and humid here in Tennessee with rain waiting to roll in tomorrow.

    Thanks to CS and Sparks.

  13. I picked wrong day to have one of my infrequent bashes at the Toughie but did manage to come through with just a couple of tips from my electronic friends. And so to bed with the grey matter still on the go so doubtless delayed slumber. TVM Sparks and CS.

  14. Ah-ha, there’s my problem : I had shaft rather than haft, and couldn’t work out what mac or cam were derived from. Thank you, Gazza.

  15. The minute I opened the blog, I quickly looked for a message to no avail unfortunately.
    Very clever Nina as usual from this setter.
    Failed on 5a despite all the checkers but found the rest quite straightforward for a Friday toughie.
    Thanks to Sparks and to CS.

    1. Jean-Luc holding back Bones (5) — with a Star Trek surface reading — appeared in a recentish puzzle of mine ;)

      Jean-Luc peeled back bones (5) — a tad more graphic!

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