Toughie 2742 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2742

Toughie No 2742 by Silvanus

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

Silvanus normally sets Toughies at the friendlier end of the spectrum but this one was, for me anyway, the exception that proves the rule as it took me a 4* time to complete.  Mind you, it might have helped if I’d “started with the Downs”!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Bending’s difficult initially for bishop that’s only just got down? (8)
DUCKLING Change the letter that is the chess abbreviation for Bishop found at the beginning (initially) of a verb meaning bending or warping and replace it with the initial letter of Difficult

5a    Coins such as 50p pieces in circulation (6)
SPECIE An anagram (in circulation) of PIECES

9a    Old females pursuing Rod cease paying any attention (6,3)
SWITCH OFF The abbreviations for Old and Female (you need two of the latter as the clue says ‘females’) go after (pursuing) a rod or cane

11a    Catholic priest breaks historical object (5)
RELIC Crosswordland’s favourite Old Testament priest ‘breaks’ the abbreviation for Roman Catholic

12a    Half of Surrey contains key land (6)
REALTY The second half of surREY contains one of the keys on your computer keyboard

13a    Reportedly sister’s responsibilities in game (8)
PATIENCE This card game sounds like (reportedly) the responsibilities of a hospital sister

15a    With court help, ASBO staggers one fearing confinement (13)
CLAUSTROPHOBE An anagram (staggers) of COURT HELP ASBO

18a    Virtually pure Scotch Iris distributed in Texan city (6,7)
CORPUS CHRISTI An anagram (distributed) of almost all (virtually) of PURe and SCOTCH IRIS

22a    Achieves victory with steroids regularly, maintaining uniform speed (8)
TRIUMPHS The regular letters of sTeRoIdS into which is inserted (maintaining) the abbreviation for Uniform and the abbreviation for a particular unit of measurement of speed

23a    Pins back soldiers in daze (6)
STUPOR A reversal (back) of a verb meaning pins or fixes followed by the abbreviation for Other Ranks of soldiers

26a    Slight adjustment of width at first cutting wood (5)
TWEAK The first letter of Width ‘cutting’ a type of wood

27a    Barking MP’s irate over opening of nuclear plant (9)
SPEARMINT An anagram (barking) of MPS IRATE goes over the ‘opening’ of Nuclear

28a    Navigational instrument fails to display miles ultimately remaining (6)
EXTANT The ultimate letter of mileS removed (fails to display) from a navigational instrument

29a    Catch sight of Frenchman cycling in mountainous area (8)
PYRENEES Cycle or move the first two letters to the end of an archaic or literary way of saying catch sight of  [a] Frenchman[‘s name]


1d    Draw eyes away from fruit cart Sidney wheeled (8)
DISTRACT Hidden in reverse (wheeled) in fruiT CART SIDney

2d    Country rodent keeps out cold (5)
CHINA Remove a cold from a small South American furry rodent

3d    Finds pancake covered with stock mostly revolting (7)
LOCATES A reversal (revolting) of a Mexican pancake inserted into (covered with) most of a verb meaning to stock

4d    Unacceptable to waste time reaching secluded place (4)
NOOK A two-word phrase meaning unacceptable, without the T (to waste time)

6d    Left in charge, journo finally produces series of columns (7)
PORTICO The nautical word for left, the abbreviation meaning in charge and the final letter of journO

7d    Fellow parachutists? They are used to strain (9)
COLANDERS Split these strainers 2-7 and you might well be describing fellow parachutists

8d    Avoid barely posting on Twitter when upset about school (6)
ESCHEW Remove the outside letters (barely) of what you do when you post on Twitter, reverse (upset in a Down clue) what’s left and then insert (about) the abbreviation for school

10d    Type of furniture to fill apartment above (8)
FLATPACK An apartment goes above a verb meaning to fill

14d    Game of darts from time to time eclipsing anything (8)
DRAUGHTS The odd (from time to time) letters of DaRtS ‘eclipsing’ a noun meaning anything at all

16d    React badly receiving bill for engineer (9)
ARCHITECT An anagram (badly) of REACT ‘receiving’ a bill one signs and pays at a later date

17d    Heard man thinks highly of fertilisers (8)
NITRATES A homophone (heard) of a chess piece (man) followed by a verb meaning thinks highly of

19d    Baking dish Mike somehow managed without (7)
RAMEKIN A verb meaning managed goes round (without) an anagram (somehow) of MIKE

20d    Pensioner English authors discovered going around Spain (7)
RETIREE A reversal (going around) of the abbreviation for English and some authors without their outside letters (dis-covered) followed by the IVR Code for Spain

21d    Maybe anti-Brexit symbols inked over monument? (6)
STATUE A reversal (over) of some abbreviated anti-Brexit symbols (2,4)

24d    Coach First Eleven? (5)
PRIME A triple definition – to coach beforehand with information or instructions; the first in order in time, rank or importance; a type of number of which eleven is an example

25d    Bulgaria’s ready to cap variable tax (4)
LEVY The unit of currency (ready money) in Bulgaria goes on top of (to cap in a Down clue) an algebraic variable


28 comments on “Toughie 2742

  1. Most unusual to rate a puzzle easier than our reviewer but I thought this was gentle, although not lacking in clever clues. 1a was my favourite. Thanks to CS and Silvanus.

  2. A very enjoyable puzzle – thanks to Silvanus and CS.
    I ticked 29a, 21d and 24d but my favourite clue was 1a (“that’s only just got down” – brilliant!).

  3. I’m with Jonners – I thought very straightforward, only struggling with 3d. I enjoyed 1a’s very clever surface meaning, and also smiled at 7d and 21d (such bodily adornments less common among DT readers than those of the Guardian, maybe?), and thought the triple definition in 24d was very clever. **/**** for me.

  4. No surprise here! A beautifully crafted crossword, which was nicely challenging with great clueing and super-smooth surfaces.

    I can’t reconcile the parsing of 3d as this seems to require “stock” to be synonymous with “sell”, which doesn’t seem to work either if both are verbs or if both are nouns.

    I’ve got lots of ticks, with the cream of the crop being 1a, 27a, 29a, 7d and a splendid trio to finish: 21d, 24d & 25d.

    Many thanks to Silvanus and to CS.

      1. I’m not fully convinced, SL. You can sell without stock, and you can stock items that you don’t sell. But I guess they will appear as synonymous in some thesauri and it’s near enough in the world of crosswords.

        1. (verb) in the sense of deal in
          to deal in (objects or property)
          It sells everything from hair ribbons to oriental rugs.
          deal in
          trade in
          As you mentioned it RD, this is from Collins 😉

  5. Good fun all the way through. Just right for a Wednesday Toughie or any day. Thanks to the reviewer and the setter

  6. I always look forward to a Silvanus puzzle, be it at the back or middle of the paper and needless to say this didn’t disappoint.
    I particularly liked 1a,13&29a plus 8&24d.
    Many thanks to Silvanus and CS for the top notch entertainment

  7. Lovely stuff from our master of surface reads and I learned a couple of new things in 5&18a plus an abbreviation I was quite happy not knowing in 21d. So many really clever clues but my top three came from the amusing ones – 1a plus 10&17d.

    Many thanks to Silvanus for another very enjoyable Toughie and to CS for the review.

  8. I’m with Jonners too, which makes a change as I’m normally far less likely to find a puzzle easy than CS seems to. An enjoyable solve with a nice homophone [17d] as well as an awful one [13a] and some smiley moments [1a,7d and 24d].
    Thanks to Silvanus and CS

  9. Thanks to Silvanus and CS.
    Geography of Texas not my strong point so that was new but the rest exactly right!
    Like others 1ac floated my boat.
    I agree with earlier comments that it didn’t seem to be **** for difficulty.

  10. Definitely more of a ‘tussle’ than usual for a Silvanus Toughie but, for me, not up to 4* solving time/difficulty – ***/****.

    Candidates for favourite – 1a (after the PDM), 26a, 7d (after another PDM), and 10d – and the winner is 26a.

    Thanks to Silvanus for another fine puzzle and to CS.

  11. My only gripe with Silvanus is he doesn’t crop up either here or in the Indy nearly often enough. Always a treat & today was no exception. Made life hard for myself by bunging in wander (wand =rod & worry about the ER later) off at 9a which buggered up the NW & only twigged my mistake when the 1d lurker dawned on me. Impossible to pick a favourite from such an array of great clues & with not a dud in sight. The surface read of 15a was a beauty & I only wish I’d twigged all of the brilliance of 1a (thanks Gazza) – muppet that I am I thought the just got down was the wee thing sticking its head in the water.
    Thanks Silvanus & CS – will read the review later.

  12. Was not enamoured with the North American clues, although when 18a succumbed it all started to fall into place more swiftly. Sell/stock in 3d, and puts/pins in 23a felt rather tenuous. Certainly a challenging puzzle but it didn’t “float my boat” so was unsurprised on completion to find only two ticks, hence COTD to 7d and an HM to 24d.

    3.5* / 1.5*

    Thank you to Silvanus & to CS

  13. An absolute pleasure to solve.
    1a has to be our favourite for the definition and we saw dozens of them on our morning walk too.
    Thanks Silvanus and CS.

  14. Many thanks as always to CS for her review and choice of pictures and to everyone who has taken the trouble to comment. I’m glad most of you found it a pleasurable solve.

    I’m slightly mystified by the reference to “North American clues”, I can only think that the comment relates to 12a and 18a, but 12a is a (non-American) legal term for “land” and the place in 18a was, I felt, clued sympathetically as “Texan city” (after all, I could easily have made it US city!).

    The more eagle-eyed solvers might have noticed a bizarre similarity between the first row of this puzzle and the first row of Jay’s back-pager last Wednesday, when all but the last two squares contained identical letters. Proof, if it were ever needed, that Crosswordland can often throw up some really weird coincidences!

    1. The English language is an Indo-European language in the West Germanic language group. Modern English is widely considered to be the lingua franca of the world and is the standard language in a wide variety of fields, including computer coding, international business, and higher education. Some people cannot see the trees because the woods are in the way. I could say more.

    2. No need for mystification. I was referring to the clues concerning the US city and the Mexican (thus North American) “pancake”: while realtor is American, that wasn’t the answer, while realty is, as you say, a non-American legal term (likewise personalty).

  15. I ve scanned the blog to see if this has already been picked up but couldn’t see it anywhere so, with apologies if it has already been pointed out but, at 23a it is a reversal followed by the abbreviation and not an insertion of the abbreviation.
    Great puzzle with 1a, 11a and especially 27a and finally the cheeky 7d getting my top marks.
    Thanks all

    1. You are correct and thanks for pointing it out but I’m sure anybody referring to the hint will get to understand how it works. It’s not easy solving thirty clues and writing thirty explanations. Then there is the blog to format. Embed it into the WordPress page. Hide the answers. Add the illustrations. Write a preamble. Add tags and categories, a funny little break in the preamble and a finality line after the blog. Set the timer to schedule when the blog appears.

      1. Just as well that you’re all a talented bunch really….
        Don’t how you all do it. Solving ‘em’s hard enough for most of us.

  16. Surely one stocks an item with a view to subsequently selling it. An item remains in stock until it is sold. “Stock” and “Sell” are not synonymous.

    1. “Do you sell thingummies?” / “Do you stock thingummies?” is surely essentially the same question? (There’s also “stock” as in financial stocks and shares, where a particular stock might well be described as a “sell”)

      Great puzzle, thanks Silvanus and CS for review. Predictably, 1a favourite

  17. I thought that this was terrific, another Silvanus gem which I managed to finish with only two wee electronic boosts. 1a has to be this week’s wittiest and funniest clue, and I actually solved it early on. So much to like here but I’ll settle for 7d and 24d as the other two medal winners. Thanks to CS and to Silvanus.

  18. The first half hour produced a complete blank, and I thought it was going to be 5* difficulty a couple of days early. I later got 6d, and the rest fell into place in a clockwise direction without too much trouble. CS’s ratings normally point to the puzzle being much easier than I actually find it, but today I give it 3*/4*. Thanks to all, and to MP for pointing out the work required to write a blog. Great effort by you all!

  19. I finished this this morning and forgot to post but personally I found this easier than the cryptic. Cotd was 17d. Thanks to Silvanus and CS.

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