Toughie 2728 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2728

Toughie No 2728 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A couple of clues pushed this into 5* difficulty for me. Today Elgar gives us a theme indicated by 6d. I think you’ll find 13 examples in the grid (all the main ones – a clever grid fill) as well as several other references in the clues and answers

Definitions are underlined as always. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7 See 18

8 Turkish dish girlfriend’s brought west on stern of junk (5)

KEBAB: Reversal (brought west) of a pet word for girlfriend plus the last letter (stern) of junk

10 Up to nothing in Paris, son’s bored (6)

ARISEN: How you would say ‘to nothing’ in Paris (1,4) containing (bored) the abbreviation for son

11 See 5 Down

12 Car brand new and jack out, just notice wheels! (6)

DATSUN: A reversal of the abbreviation for new, (j)UST from the clue without the card abbreviation for Jack, and a 2-letter notice.

14 Sell bike to receiver? (6)

PEDDLE: A homophone (to receiver) of a word meaning to bike

16 Present head of Gestapo with papers (4)

GIFT: The first letter (head) of Gestapo plus two newspapers

17 See 26

18 & 7 Word from backwoodsmen? (4,9)

BUSH TELEGRAPH: An allusive definition made easier by being a contribution to the theme

19 Send over third note, counter tracking packages (6)

REMAIL: The kind of tracking that choo-choos travel on contains (packages) a reversal (counter) of the third note (do, re, … )

21 See 24

24 & 21 Having knocked back ace narcotic, granny sets about a group of vigilantes (8,6)

GUARDIAN ANGELS: A reversal (having knocked back) of a 2-character expression for ace or excellent and another word for narcotic, then another word for granny, another word for ‘sets’ and finally insert (about) A from the clue

26 & 17 Is it 11 for Roman 9? (6,5)

MIRROR IMAGE: Nothing to do with clue numbers. Another allusive definition: what is the Roman numeral 9 of 11? And another contribution to the theme

27 Nervous of snakes? (5)

WINDY: The answer would also be a characteristic of snakes

28 Leader-writer that was forced out? (9)

EXPRESSED: Leader as in a main article. Split (2,5,2), the answer suggests a leader-writer that was


Subway at first rates No.1 for sandwiches (5)

METRO: Did anyone else enter S+TOPS? But that doesn’t contribute to theme. The first letter of rates is sandwiched by the personal pronoun representing No.1 plus a 2-letter preposition that can mean ‘for’ (definition 15 in Chambers).

2 Players at Belgrade Theatre’s premier singer (8)

REDSTART: The Belgrade football team (players) plus the first letter (premier) of Theatre

3 Amount of ale editor’s finally consumed goes to press (6)

PRINTS: The usual measures of ale contain (consumed) the last letter (finally) of editor

4 Barney violently ejected (4)

SPAT: Two meanings, the first a noun meaning a row

5 & 11 Where multiplier is losing touch with Jones and family? (6,3,5)

BEHIND THE TIMES: Think of arithmetic, and another contribution to the theme. The definition is based on the expression ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’

6 Using electronic communications without ID – unlike this puzzle (9)

PAPERLESS: A hint to the theme. Two definitions. Read the first as using only electronic communications.

9 & 23 Say which we collectively enjoy (6,5)

PEOPLE POWER: Cryptic definition playing on say. Say or authority that is devolved to all of us

13 Buffalo seen here after antelope (5)

NYALA: The location of Buffalo, plus a French (1,2) expression which means ‘after’ or ‘done in the way of’

15 High-pitch sound attracting fast runner – so it did for Hamelin’s rats (4,5)

PIPE MUSIC: A 3-letter high pitched sound, a fast-running bird, and Latin for ‘so’

17 Get distorted from detailing complex mixed images on screen (6)

INLAID: Subtract an anagram (distorted) of GET from an anagram (complex) of DETAILING

18 Plant something ruby-coloured in ring to produce this reaction? (8)

BULLRUSH: Split (4,4), the answer is a reaction when someone in a ring waves something ruby-coloured

20 Scrape off second slice of daily bread, dropping middle onto floor (6)

ABRADE: The second letter (slice) of daily (thematic!) plus BREAD from the clue, from which the central letter (middle) drops to the end (onto floor)

22 Players natter about rising alternative rock band (6)

GAMERS: A slang word meaning natter contains (about) the reversal of an alternative rock band

23 See 9

25 Caught by then? (4)

NEXT: A letter than means by (think arithmetic) goes inside a 3-letter catching device. Hence the ‘by’ is caught.

My favourites today are the buffalo (home, home on the ranch) and the ruby-coloured incentive. Which clues did you like?

16 comments on “Toughie 2728

  1. I enjoyed solving this themed proper Friday Toughie so much that I decided not to solve any other puzzles today in case I was disappointed that nothing else matched the fun I’d had with this one

    Thanks very much to John and to Dutch (surely it is Home, Home on the Range’ not the ‘ranch’??

  2. Really couldn’t get going on this one and didn’t get the theme which might have helped.
    In contrast to CS above I immediately moved to the back pager to restore shattered confidence.
    Thanks as always to Dutch.

  3. To be really pedantic, the usual English spelling for 18d is with one L; and the illustration is not really an 18d, it’s a Typha. I believe the confusion came from a famous painting re Moses, and the artist included some Typha – hence the misunderstanding. Awaits correction from more knowledgeable contributors…
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch

  4. This took a while to unpick but I got there in the end. Reading the blog has helped me to understand a couple of my usual unparsed bung-ins, and also enhanced my admiration for the composition as a whole. The 5/11 combo has to get a big tick, as it is nice to get a name check, but my favourite was the buffalo. Quite brilliant.

    My thanks to Elgar for the considerable challenge and to Dutch.

  5. I struggled along but then finally resorted to the hints for 19a and 17d. That’s not how I spell the third note or indeed 18d but I’m assuming such variants exist.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  6. Managed just 2 clues on my own, then needed lots of hints and reveals. Most of them in fact!
    Thanks for the hints, and to Elgar for spending what must be an enormous amount of time twisting the clues into shape!

  7. My last one in was 19a, which I realised must contain the name of the only prominent publication missing up to that time. A very cleverly constructed, challenging and entertaining puzzle; in fact one of Elgar’s best ever, I think.

  8. thanks for the blog! i needed it :) definitely the toughest toughie i’ve toughed it out against so far.

  9. Slowly unpicked from the SW, picking up speed as it went, but what a(nother) tedious grind of a crossword. Clumsy convoluted clues and surface reads. Lacking in amusement. Fully one-third of the clues split and/or inter-related, and with “babe” for girlfriend and Datsun a very dated overall feel. As for this puzzle being not being “paperless” (6d), for how many years now have the DT crosswords been available and completed online?

    4*/ –

  10. Great puzzle – just the right level of difficulty for a Friday Toughie. Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch. I spent ages trying to insert the letters ‘ID’ into something for 6d, which didn’t help, and then when I finally got it had exactly the same reaction as Mustafa. It was my last one in and I still didn’t see the theme! I feel like such a fool…

  11. Managed 6 on my own, never found the theme, but loved the puzzle once Dutch unpicked it all for me. I stand in awe of those of you who finished this Big Toughie. Thanks to Dutch and Elgar for the experience.

  12. So this puzzle is clearly not paperless (6d). It contains in the grid: Telegraph, Guardian, The Times, Indy, Star, Metro, Mail, Sun, Express, i, FT, People, Mirror

  13. Did about 75% of it, hints for the rest. I didn’t get the theme…

    I had EX-TRACT-ED for 28a, which I think fits the clue just as well. Although that made 18d impossible to get.

  14. Thanks for the hints and tips, necessary for 19a and 17d otherwise I had the theme and was pretty much there. But had different parsing for 15d to get the same answer – my high pitch sound has 4 letters (as when an admiral boards a ship for example), then the internet found me a fast athlete named after a Greek letter! Thanks to Elgar for the workout, almost finished the course this time….

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