Toughie 2746 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2746

Toughie No 2746 by Logman

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

I am a great fan of both  Mr Mutch and his crosswords but I have to say that, if this had appeared on the Wednesday back page, I’d have said ‘very friendly for a Jay’ and given it 1.5* backpage difficulty. This, of course, makes it nowhere near the sort of difficulty one hopes for in a Toughie, however pleasurable the solving experience, and leaves me in a quandary as what to put as the difficulty rating, hence the 1* above

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Drug runners with no heart left one for something to eat (6)
MUESLI Some drug runners without the middle letter (no heart), the abbreviation for Left and the letter representing one

5a    Private eye covering alphabet initially hopes to get a flyer (8)
DABCHICK A slang term for a detective (private eye) covering a way of referring to the alphabet and the initial letter of Hopes

9a    Blonde felt as pickpocket might be (5-8)
LIGHT-FINGERED Another word for blonde and a verb meaning felt

10a    Unpunished factor upset with no answer in court (4-4)
SCOT-FREE An anagram (upset) of FaCTOR (with no answer telling you to omit the A) inserted into a verb meaning to court or woo

11a    Sales talk mostly about European Community money (6)
SPECIE Most of some sales talk goes ‘about’ the abbreviation for European Community

12a    Cause of sickness reflected in latest estimates (6)
TSETSE Hidden (reflected) in latEST ESTimates – how nice to have some different wordplay to produce this sleeping sickness causing insect

14a    Plastic surgeon injected with cold sponge (8)
SCROUNGE An anagram (plastic) of SURGEON ‘injected’ with the abbreviation for Cold

16a    After church, working women will take in island food (4,4)
CHOW MEIN An anagram (working) of WOMEN goes after the abbreviation for church, the abbreviation for Island being inserted (take in)

19a    Duty applied to offence reportedly getting order of sentence (6)
SYNTAX A duty goes after (is applied to) a homophone (reportedly) of an offence

21a    Without protection, change of emphasis results in accident (6)
MISHAP An anagram of the inside letters (without protection) of eMPHASIs

23a    Fragrant leaves spoil golden colour found in marmalade for example (8)
MARJORAM A verb meaning to spoil, and the heraldic word for gold, the latter inserted into the type of preserve of which marmalade may be an example

25a    Fudged late apology on such a science (13)

26a    A Belfast fixer runs off for a drink (8)
ANISETTE A (from the clue), the abbreviated part of the UK where Belfast is found and a fixer without the R (runs off)

27a    Staggered and looking embarrassed about fish (6)
REELED The colour you look when embarrassed goes about a type of fish


2d    Takes spikes off? (7)
UNLACES Although this refers to what you do to take off your spiked running shoes, I did wonder about a connection between ‘spikes’ and the last five letters of the solution

3d    Sense struggle, with son deposing leader (5)
SIGHT The abbreviation for Son deposes the first letter of a synonym for struggle

4d    Bury give up and act as peacemaker (9)
INTERCEDE Synonyms for bury and give up

5d    Germany has courses for operators of vehicles (7)
DRIVERS The IVR Code for Germany and some water courses

6d    Spurious incentive payment that’s good for North (5)
BOGUS Replace the abbreviation for North in an incentive payment with the abbreviation for Good

7d    Zany part of New York, shortly one of five (9)
HARLEQUIN Zany meaning like a clown – truncate part of New York and add one of five children born at the same time

8d    Apple may see way of paying Heather (7)
CODLING An abbreviated way of paying for something and another word for the heather plant

13d    Government at last freely allow NHS administrative buildings (4,5)
TOWN HALLS The last letter of governmenT followed by an anagram (freely) of ALLOW NHS

15d    Fund Tarantino film without tracks (9)
RESERVOIR Remove a synonym for tracks from the title of a famous Quentin Tarantino film

17d    Sharp turn that secures locks (7)
HAIRPIN Double definition

18d    Candidate coming with no explosive energy (7)
NOMINEE NO (from the clue), a type of explosive and the abbreviation for Energy

20d    Study two articles on sulphur in alkaline solution (7)
ANALYSE Two indefinite articles and the abbreviation for Sulphur inserted into an alkaline solution

22d    Gather origin of life must be in fossil fuel (5)
PLEAT The ‘origin’ of Life inserted into a fossil fuel

24d    Gas region to the south of Ohio (5)
OZONE A region goes after (to the south of in a Down solution) the abbreviation for the State of Ohio


42 comments on “Toughie 2746

  1. I was beaten by four clues – 5a, 11a, 23a and 6d – but other than those I found this most enjoyable. This is a PB for me having finished the best parts of two Toughies in a row and I have to admit to enjoying the different kind of tussle that comes with them. I have no real favourite just happy to get as far as I did but, if pushed, I would put 1a on the podium.

    Many thanks to Logman for the entertainment and to CS for the hints.

    1. I too finished 2 Toughies in 2 days, mainly becauseI’m under the weather after my booster and therefore sitting still

    2. I thought we were in sync as I too failed at 5a, 11a and 23a, but then I failed at 8d and 15d, but not 6d.

  2. The second light “Toughie” delight of the week so far, and this one was a pangram to boot. My biggest challenges were working out the spelling for 25a and trying to pick a favourite from so many good clues. I managed the first eventually and gave up on the latter.

    Many thanks to Logman for the fun and to CS for her review.

  3. A very gentle but very enjoyable Toughie from Logman – */****.

    No real standout favourite but I did like 22d.

    Thanks to Mr Mutch and CS.

  4. Good fun all round and not overly difficult.
    Very difficult to pick a favourite but I did like 2&15d in particular.
    Many thanks to Jay/Logman and CS for the top notch entertainment.

  5. I enjoyed this because it was at my level so have finished the Toughie 2 days running, Yippee. Thanks to all.

  6. Enjoyable but not too tricky – thanks to Logman and CS.
    I was surprised to find that zany (7d) can be a noun and the alkaline solution (20d) was a new word for me.
    The clues I liked best were 12a and 6d.

  7. I thought that the Toughie was supposed to be “The most fiendishly difficult daily puzzle emanating from Fleet Street?”

    Not today! Certainly not yesterday!

    What happened? :unsure:

    1. Must admit I generally find The Times crosswords in the first three days of the week comparable to moderately tough Toughies, and in the second three days harder than the usual Thursday / Friday Toughie.

      It’s the utterly different stye of clue composition between DT and Times that gets me, and I have no doubt that were I somehow to find the time for the Independent or Grauniad, they too would fox me on style-grounds if nothing else.

      I find the GK debates on this blog interesting now that I am rather more familiar with The Times puzzle than I was 6 or 9 months ago – it strikes me that The Times puzzles editor must be far more relaxed about the near-daily inclusion of what I might term “less well known” GK than is the DT editor.

    2. Perhaps they wanted a bigger audience. To be honest, there are many days when the back pager is really a Toughie.

  8. I’ve said before that I much prefer this setter in his back-page persona and it would seem that he delivered for me today, although I didn’t know the apple variety and had to check on the alkaline solution.
    No particular favourite to mention but I’m always happy to see the inclusion of one of my avian friends.

    Thanks to Mr Mutch/Logman and to CS for the review.

  9. Relatively straightforward it may have been but still a real delight to solve. 12a was a terrific reverse lurker, but 7d took my top spot.

    Thanks to Mr M and CS.

  10. Finished this in less than an hour with making tea and mooching about in between, 2d and 5a for me, nice clues.

  11. Just to show I read the invaluable helpful hints, please add another “e”to 18d
    As you say, a friendly puzzle and none the worse for that.
    Now to return to the back page which is proving a struggle.

  12. Wot Larks! A very satisfying and enjoyable puzzle from The Master, smooth as silk and plenty of smiles / laughs. More ticks than I could shake a stick at, but to highlight only two I will point to 20d and 22d.

    1.5* / 3.5*

    Many thanks to the Logman and to CS for the review.

  13. I usually struggle to get on the same wavelength as Logman’s alter ego, so I was pleased to find this as straightforward as I did and parse everything myself. I went on pangram alert early on. Favourite was 15d, my last on. Thanks to Logman and CS.

  14. I thought the point of one down was that to lace a drink would be to spike it, hence to unlace….. Without that it does not make a lot of sense to me.

    1. My reading of the clue probably has a fair bit to do with my uncle being a famous wearer of running spikes

          1. Definitely one of the greats, and he was born in Leeds too. He won sports personality of the year for beating Emil Zátopek!
            He sounds like he was an inspiration for Alf Tupper the Tough of the Track

    2. I’m not sure that works even with the question mark. Whereas spike as a verb can mean to contaminate, spike as a noun doesn’t mean contamination (I did check that in the BRB this morning). I also spent some time wondering whether ‘spikes’ could be a hairstyle and the answer could be ‘unlocks’.

      1. That’s very interesting, Gazza. I too though of ‘unlocks’. Over here, the shoes with spikes (or cleats) worn by American footballers are simply called ‘spikes’, and so they would be unlaced upon removal.

      2. I confess to putting unlocks without giving it a second thought. Now I’ve looked at the hints and answers I think it refers to decontaminating a drink which has been spiked or laced.

  15. Thoroughly enjoyable, still the master cluesman for me, whether as Jay or Longman. I did rather sail through this one, but with undiminished pleasure. Smooth surfaces, clever wordplays, unusual GK (the apple was new to me but couldn’t be anything else; the little ‘flyer’ too, which I think is my COTD). It’s funny how coincidences happen in our lives: just last night I thought of Tarantino and mentioned his name after Jimmy and I had watched a Brazilian film about mercenaries, and my point was that he was the only American director who could have made a film with anything close to the shock and awe of the one we’d just staggered through. Thanks to CS and Logman.

    1. Remember going to the cinema & watching Reservoir Dogs on successive nights when it opened & thinking it was brilliant. I watched it a number of years later & realised it was really just a rip off of Kubrick’s The Killing & wondered what I’d ever seen in it. Pulp Fiction is his best work though Jackie Brown would be my favourite & rather I liked his last but there’s a lot of dross.

  16. If all the Toughies were the 5* Elgar variety, I would give up ever trying them. Being able to solve the odd one or two easier ones shouldn’t be denied the less brilliant of us – how else does one progress? And I enjoyed it, so thanks Logman and CS.

  17. What happened, I finished two Toughies in a row? What a treat. I hadn’t heard of 5a or 6d but rest was quite friendly with only 5 hints needed. I am sure this won’t last, and those pitched at the brighter folks will be back, so don’t despair. But I have definitely enjoyed the last two days. Does wonder for one’s ago. Thanks to Logman and CrypticSue.

  18. I needed a bit of help to get over the line here so Thanks CS for the nudges. I thought a peacemaker may intervene but concede that cede is the correct ending. I also couldn’t decide between locks and laces.
    Thanks to Jay/Logman/Mr Mutch I quite like a toughie that taxes a little but doesn’t require the death of the few remaining brain cells I have available.

  19. Well I thoroughly enjoyed this one even if it was pretty gentle & much preferred it to Donny’s rather more demanding back page puzzle. Wouldn’t have bet good money on spelling 25a correctly so cheated & checked but otherwise plain sailing even after too much wine with dinner. 5a was my clear favourite with big ticks from me for 10&16a plus 7&8d.
    Many thanks to Jay/Logman & to CS

    1. I don’t see that checking awkward spellings is cheating. I’ve checked Pharaohs, Paleantology, (Still can’t spell it) and moveable/movable over the last couple of days

  20. I swear I have not spent all week doing this. Have done it this morning and I found it to be back page level but very witty. I got one wrong – locks/laces and had to check spellings. 25a was obvious but confusing when a less usual spelling was used. I have heard of some people being called dicks, in fact I may have used the word myself, but not in connection with a private eye. Got the bird so bunged it in. Last in was 23a. I thought cat was there somewhere. Too many good clues to list. Thanks very much Mr Mutch and CS who I now visualise in spikes.

  21. Just did this puzzle on Saturday as I finished the regular Saturday cryptic on Friday night.
    Seemed to be similar to a regular Wednesday Jay puzzle to me. 2*/4* for me.
    Did need a few of the hints too.
    Favourites include 10a,14a, 7d & 17d with 17d winner

    Thanks to Logman/Jay and CS

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