Toughie 2731 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2731

Toughie No 2731 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Micawber makes one of his all-too-rare appearances in the Toughie slot today. This one is very enjoyable as his puzzles always are.

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

Across Clues

1a Don’t leave any more in this dire shambles (10)
DISINHERIT: an anagram (shambles) of IN THIS DIRE.

6a Case of rowing records being overturned (4)
SPAT: reverse a verb meaning records or bugs. Rowing here rhymes with cowing rather than sowing.

9a Polish Conservative, outwardly disagreeable (5)
SCOUR: an abbreviation for Conservative contained in a synonym of disagreeable or embittered.

10a After scene, call for deal or settle perhaps using initial capital? (5,4)
PLACE NAME: after a synonym of scene we need a verb to call or label. Initial capital letters transform deal and settle into examples of the answer.

12a Politician identified as capable of promoting growth (5-8)
GREEN-FINGERED: charade of a member of a political party and identified or ‘singled out’.

14a Old Queen having radical leader of Trotskyites imprisoned and punished for beliefs (8)
MARTYRED: paste together a Tudor queen and a radical then insert the leading letter of Trotskyites.

15a Blair‘s alternative source of oil (6)
ORWELL: a conjunction identifying an alternative precedes a source of oil.

17a It could be cricket devotee’s location? (6)
INSECT: split 2,4 this could be where a religious devotee is to be found.

19a Raid netting academic who’s out for a good time (8)
HEDONIST: a raid or hold-up contains a senior academic.

21a Pupils progressing together with speed get help completing circuit (9,4)
CROCODILE CLIP: weld together a line of pupils walking together and an informal word for speed.

24a Decorate space in style of something hanging in church? (9)
EMBELLISH: assemble a space used in printing and, cryptically, ‘in the style of something hanging in the belfry’.

25a Venue taking a long time to make comeback (5)
ARENA: reverse ‘a long time’ (2,3).

26a State of agitation seeing return of s-spot (4)
TIZZ: a spot on the skin has its first letter duplicated as shown in the clue. Now reverse it.

27a A staggeringly insane sum for assistant (10)
AMANUENSIS: A followed by an anagram (staggeringly) of INSANE SUM.

Down Clues

1d Dee river in evening light (4)
DUSK: the identified letter and a river in Wales.

2d Parasite, small foul-smelling one (7)
SPONGER: the clothing abbreviation for small followed by someone suffering from BO perhaps.

3d Shark tracks fish where small fry are gathered (7,6)
NURSERY SCHOOL: join together a type of shark, the abbreviation for tracks and a group of fish.

4d One increasing volume direct from procurer (8)
EXPANDER: combine a preposition meaning ‘direct from’ and an old word (new to me) for a procurer or pimp.

5d Air translated TV panel game from Middle East (5)
IRAQI: an anagram (translated) of AIR and a TV panel game.

7d Partnership has runs in it, that is plain (7)
PRAIRIE: a partnership containing the cricket abbreviation for runs with the abbreviation for ‘that is’ appended.

8d He toiled to reset instrument (10)
THEODOLITE: an anagram (reset) of HE TOILED TO.

11d Accommodating bore with extremely high rental (5,2,6)
EAGER TO PLEASE: rivet together a word for a bore (of the type seen in the river Severn) and synonyms for ‘extremely high’ and rental.

13d In new form, since I’m not comprehensively educated? (10)
OMNISCIENT: an anagram (in new form) of SINCE I’M NOT.

16d Note the broadcast about large fundraiser (8)
TELETHON: an anagram (broadcast) of NOTE THE contains the clothing abbreviation for large.

18d Entertainment from crosswords? How bizarre! (7)
SHOWBIZ: hidden in the clue.

20d Words of journalist flashing credentials to create effect (7)
IMPRESS: what a journalist flashing his/her credentials might say (1’1,5).

22d Fool wasting time on central Colombian dialect (5)
IDIOM: a fool without the abbreviation for time precedes the central letter of Colombian.

23d I don’t know
what will get me through security (4)
PASS: double definition, the first an admission that one doesn’t know the answer to a question.

I ticked lots of clues including 15a, 24a and 7d but my favourite was 2d. Which one(s) cut the mustard for you?


15 comments on “Toughie 2731
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  1. Funny how I can get really grumpy when the crossword in the Toughie spot isn’t any more difficult than a backpager, but can forgive all when we have the rare treat of a crossword from Micawber. So many lovely clues but I particularly liked the pupils processing together in 21a, 24a and 2d

    Thanks to Micawber – come back soon please – and to Gazza

  2. I agree that this was more like a testing end-of-week backpager, but it was such a good puzzle, so satisfying and “different”, that it required a complete change of mindset for me. It did not feel entirely like a DT puzzle – I thought parts of it could have come straight out of The Times.

    Briefly tried to convince myself that a central S would be a legitimate spelling of a South American oil-producing country, which didn’t help! Laughs/broad smiles to 12a, 21a, 24a, 2d and 11d. I echo CS’s entreaty to Micawber to return soon.

    3* / 4*

    Thank you Micawber, and thank you Gazza.

  3. Delightful! The penny-drop at 10a takes the prize in my view, but I also smiled at 21a. I spent a while trying to find somewhere to put a J and a V, having found all the other letters…

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza.

  4. The woodpecker returns and how welcome he is. This was definitely a case of doing well until I wasn’t – 6&10a had me flummoxed for a long time. Learned something new in both 15a & 4d so the old grey matter has indeed been stretched today!
    Top three places went to 12a plus 2&3d with a mention for the pupils progression.

    Many thanks to Micawber (more please!) and to Gazza for the enjoyable review.

  5. Found this easier and far more enjoyable than today’s back page, although I did resort to an anagram solver for 27a which was new to me. 12a and 21a were my favourites. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  6. I thought this was excellent – a nicely challenging Toughie which all came together gradually except for 10a which I failed to solve. I couldn’t even come up with anything to bung in using the checking letters as nothing occurred to me as a possible definition.

    My podium choices were 15a, 2d & 3d.

    Many thanks to MIcawber and to Gazza, particularly for the enlightenment regarding 10a.

  7. I’ve clearly misunderstood CS’s comment which I read as she thought the puzzle no tougher than a backpager but forgave all due to the quality. I thought it extremely testing but thoroughly enjoyable. 27a’s anagram was yesterday’s tegument inasmuch it was a case use the checkers, chuck in something that sounded vaguely plausible & look it up more in hope than expectation. Last in was 10a which was yet another bung in (24a, 4d & 7d the others) for the consolation of a correctly completed grid. Was sure we were in for a pangram but turned out shy of a couple. 12a was my clear favourite (more my level of clue) of many good ‘uns – 14,15,19&21a along with 2&13d my other ticks.
    Thanks Micawber & to Gazza for some much needed explanations

  8. Like others before me I was flummoxed by 10a and really still don’t understand it. (Deal as in Kent and Settle as in Carlisle?)
    I very much liked 12a and that is my COTD.

    1. Using “initial capital” deal becomes Deal (name of a place in Kent) and settle becomes Settle (name of a place in North Yorkshire).

  9. I had to resort to the hints for 6a, 10a, 4d and to parse bore in 12d as they were beyond me. I also used an anagram solver for 27a and 13d as I’d never heard the words before, so a bit of a failure all round. Oh well! Favourite was 21a. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  10. What a wonderful puzzle! And how I wish I could say that I got to the end all on my own, but 10a absolutely baffled me: I just drew a blank, couldn’t figure out what to do with capital letters! And I do know those two towns. Mercy me. Otherwise, so very much to admire, even that delicious lurker in 18d. And just to be different, I think I’ll choose an anagram for my COTD, 13d. And so nice to see Mr Eric Blair in one of our puzzles again. He wrote the most teachable essay I ever taught, ‘Shooting An Elephant’ from his Burmese Days. I could go on. Thanks to Gazza for the review and to Micawber for the thrills.

  11. After a long and liquid lunch getting a start on this presented quite a challenge. The bottom half went in easily enough but still left an embarrassing amount blank above. Eventually I spotted the [fairly obvious!] anagram at 1a and away we went. But the parsing of 10a eluded me – tho’ it had to be what it was – so thanks for that Gazza; thanks for the blog and thanks Micawber for an all too rare treat.

  12. It is a good thing that we had remembered some geography we have learned from doing cryptic crosswords and were able to experience the penny-drop moment with 10a.
    A sheer delight of a puzzle.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  13. I completed this excellent puzzle before leaving for a concert in Birmingham then forgot to comment upon my return. 10a was my only unparsed bung-in so thanks to Gazza for sorting that one out. To Micawber, my thanks and admiration for a superb crossword.

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