Toughie 2734 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2734

Toughie No 2734 by Django

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

An enjoyable pangram from Django which just crept over the border from a Friday back page cryptic to an early-in-the-week Toughie. It might have contained all the letters of the alphabet but solving many of the clues involved quite a lot of removing of other letters along the way!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Smorgasbord in Polish and in French (6)
BUFFET A verb meaning to polish and the French word for ‘and’

5a    Oblique art about poetry (8)
TRAVERSE A reversal (about) of ART and some poetry

9a    Embargo article when family reveals potential hazard (6,4)
BANANA SKIN An embargo, an indefinite article, a synonym for when and another word for family

10a    Held in the button — turned over TV (4)
TUBE Hidden (held) in reverse (over) in thE BUTton

11a    Sitcom star (3,5)
RED DWARF A sitcom or a type of star

12a    Bound to apply 1p discount to sticky sweet (6)
LOLLOP Discount or remove the IP from a sticky sweet

13a    Every now and then Aztecs ate relish (4)
ZEST The even (every now and then) letters of aZtEcS aTe

15a    Simple and effective coat of polish for grand trunk — and its owner? (8)
ELEPHANT The outside letters (coat) of PolisH replace the G for grand in a synonym for simple and effective

18a    Occasional content for radio inspired by rotating crops (8)
SPORADIC The inside (content) letters of rADIo ‘inspired’ by a reversal (rotating) of CROPS

19a    Half of Mark’s gamble (4)
RISK The second half of a mark used as a reference to a note

21a    Ground supplied by river heading away from spring, perhaps (6)
REASON The abbreviation for River followed by one of the natural divisions of the year (spring, perhaps) without its first letter (heading away)

23a    Retiring Hammy Hamster-like creature after the first book (8)
LIBRETTO A reversal (retiring) of a small rodent (hamster-like creature) without its first letter and an informal abbreviation meaning over the top (hammy)

25a    Dance most of jig in front of empty venue (4)
JIVE Most of Jig goes in front of the outside (empty) letters of VenuE

26a    Making equine data jockey will be wanting (10)
INADEQUATE An anagram (making… jockey) of EQUINE DATA

27a    Worker in timeless place of worship penning detailed proclamation (8)
EMPLOYEE A place of worship without the abbreviation for Time that is its first letter ‘penning’ or going round a truncated (de-tailed) word of proclamation

28a    One small fireplace (6)
SINGLE The abbreviation for Small and a fireplace


2d    America, say, brought up tradition (5)
USAGE America followed by a reversal (brought up) of an abbreviated way of saying for example (say)

3d    Criminal fake fur trades (9)
FRAUDSTER An anagram (fake) of FUR TRADES

4d    Revolutionary chat after extra time and one could end up in hot water (3,3)
TEA BAG A reversal (revolutionary) of some idle chat and an abbreviation used in football matches to mean After Extra Time

5d    Dawn — possibly after escort will suspiciously disappear (4,6,5)
TAKE FRENCH LEAVE The surname of an actress, comedian and writer named Dawn goes after a verb meaning to escort and before a synonym for will in the sense of bequeath

6d    Cancelled edition after warning us regularly — all except the leader (8)
ANNULLED The abbreviation for edition goes after the regular letters of wArNiNg Us and aLL (all without [except] the ‘leader’)

7d    Commend European vote to Lords, initially (5)
EXTOL The abbreviation for European, the letter used to vote, TO (from the clue) and the initial letter of Lords

8d    Sub-post office rejected sensible legal documents (9)
SUBPOENAS SUB (from the clue), the abbreviation for Post Office and a reversal (rejected) of an adjective meaning sensible

14d    Memphis rocked after Elvis’s first high-class number one, say (9)
EUPHEMISM An anagram (rocked) of MEMPHIS goes after the first letter of Elvis and the letter used to indicate that something is high-class

16d    Hotel prepared real, protein-rich seeds but not on account of this clown (9)
HARLEQUIN The letter represented by Hotel in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, an anagram (prepared) of REAL and some protein-rich seeds without the two-letter abbreviation for On Account

17d    Diagnose current depression — condition society ultimately supports (8)
IDENTIFY The symbol for electric current, a depression, and a conjunction meaning on condition that, all supported by (in a Down solution) the ultimate letter of societY

20d    Absorb some of Rob’s essay … (6)
OBSESS Found in some of rOBS ESSay

22d    … Rob‘s essay reportedly covering the disheartened Left (5)
STEAL If you say ‘essay’ out loud (reportedly) it sounds like two letters of the alphabet. These should cover or go round the outside letters (disheartened) of ThE and be followed by the abbreviation for Left

24d    Make for Italy, that’s suffering coastal erosion (5)
TOTAL A preposition meaning in the direction of (for) and the inside (suffering coastal erosion) letters of iTALy

31 comments on “Toughie 2734

  1. Finished in *** time, I found this easier than today’s backpager. I was left with three answers unparsed, 19a, 5d and 24d. I also managed to spot that it was a pangram.

    Favourite has to be 11a, even if only because of the family connection.

    Many thanks to Django and CS.

  2. This pangram was pitched perfectly for me as a Wednesday Toughie. It was good fun and I was delighted to see that this setter has reined in the length of his clues with a full set of smooth surfaces to boot.

    With lots of goodies to choose from, I will settle on 14d as my favourite, with the added memory that my first girlfriend agreed to go out with me when she found out that I had all of Elvis’ LPs at that point in time. In fact I’ve still got them somewhere.

    Many thanks to Bluth and to CS.

  3. Enjoyable stuff – thanks to Django and CS.
    I’m not sure about the trunk in 15a. Is trunk being used to mean nose or first letter of grand?
    I liked ‘Hammy Hamster-like creature’ in 23a and ticked that one as well as 5d and 14d.

  4. There’s always plenty to smile about in Django’s puzzles. Smooth, witty clues that work – what’s not to like?
    I was suckered by 23a into thinking Hammy was part of the hamster [aren’t they always?] and thus left unable to account for the rest of the answer – exactly his intention I suspect. 14d was also a lovely mislead.
    Thanks to Django and to CS for the blog.

  5. Very enjoyable, only real pause for thought was parsing 22d & 15a, though 12a is an odd definition & 5d was new to me
    Thanks Django & CS

    1. LbR, I too was not sure about the definition for 12a, but the BRB’s first, not exactly pithy definition is “to bound about in an uncoordinated, puppy-like manner”!

  6. Filled one or two in on a wing and a prayer but great fun, you have to admire this setter’s wit and innovation.
    Runaway winner for me was 14d followed by 4,5&16d.
    I parsed 5d slightly differently, taking “will” to be a verb meaning to bequeath or leave.
    Many thanks to Django and CS for the fun

  7. Loved this brilliant puzzle, with the COTWeek for me at 14d but closely followed by 23a and 16d. I couldn’t parse 5d, though it had to be what it was, because I didn’t know Dawn from Darkness (though she looks like a lovely person). Once I realised that Memphis was a ruse–I’ve been to both, in Egypt and Tennessee, so they do exist and are not ruses–I laughed out loud. And as proof that I sometimes take these puzzles too seriously, I awoke earlier this morning with the epiphany of parsing the last three letters of 23a. I mean I was Over The Top with hamminess. Thanks to CS for the review and to Django for the amusement and pleasure.

  8. Finished the Toughie two days in a row – yippee. BUT had to wait for the hints to find out how I got there. It was obviously elephant by why? Completely missed the connection with Dawn French and didn’t spot the pangram either but still feel quite good about it. Thanks to the setter and for CS putting me out of my misery when I had finally finished.

  9. I found this a tad harder than the one star indicated in the preamble but it was certainly entertaining. It took a few leaps of faith to finish but the parsings all came good so no complaints. Our setter has certainly reined in his wordy style and is more concise in his clueing, which makes for a better puzzle I feel. 14d easily the clue of the day.

    Thanks Django for the fun and to CS.

  10. Just didn’t get 24d though it had to be what it was. Make? “Total” as in petrol?
    No real favourite but smiled at 9a

      1. OK but flour and milk will make pancakes! I admit I was thinking of a “make”: as in James’ Bond’s Aston Martin. The joys of misdirection!

  11. Enjoyable solve – not too tough. Although I got 23a, I couldn’t fully parse it. Hammy = OTT, really. I’ll give 21a top spot.

  12. Another Toughie unaided.
    SE last to fall with 23a coming from a bung-in so not total satisfaction. Thanks to CS I see how to get there now but could not see “hammy” as OTT (that’s why CS takes * when I take 3 .
    Very enjoyable and satisfying for me.
    COTD was 14d.
    Thanks Django and CS.

  13. I think the last two or three puzzles from Django have been really good. Parsing 23a, 5d and 24d held me up a fair while and definitely qualified this as a mid-week toughie. 22d was my favourite, a big clank when the penny dropped.

    Thanks to Django and CS.

  14. Need the hint to parse 23a but apart from that no probs. Back on track after a few crosswordless days. Still haven’t looked at Saturday’s though. Thanks to Django and CS.

  15. Finding the returning OTTER delayed our parsing of 23a. Not really hamster-like though.
    An enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks Django and CS.

      1. I, too, was ready to object that an otter was nothing like a hamster until I realised how wrong I was. Doesn’t this clue remind you of Johnny Morris?

  16. Thanks for the blog, CS and for the comments so far.

    My intended parsing for 5D was using ‘will’ for ‘leave’ in the sense of bequeath – as Stephen L suggests above, but I don’t suppose it matters.


  17. A second Toughie completed on sequential days, but definitely not just a one-* difficulty for me. Maybe for CS though, to whom thanks for the blog.

    Enjoyable and I suspected a pangram as 13a was my first in.

    14d took the podium although I was trying to force “emphasism” for too long before I realised that the word doesn’t properly exist. Also liked 1a but not sure why. I kept thinking 12a was “gallop” too……

    Thanks too for Django for such an enjoyable solve.

  18. Got there unaided eventually. Like others, the complete parsing of a couple eluded me until I came here.
    (23a and 19d)
    Note to self, please don’t google 4d and 14d in the same search box again!
    Thanks to Django and CS for the puzzle and parsings.

  19. Super puzzle. Always a pleasure to see this setter making a Toughie appearance. Rather wish I’d saved it until this morning instead of starting it when half asleep at midnight so I’ll blame that on my inability to correctly parse a couple (23a & 22d). Hadn’t come across the 5d phrase before & that needed confirmation too. 14d & 27a were my 2 picks from a fine selection.
    Thanks Django & CS

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