Toughie 2764 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2764

Toughie No 2764 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A gentle offering today from Sparks. Just as well, I started this a bit late. Sparks often has a Nina of some sort but I have not yet spotted anything

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Half-heartedly swears on late pardons (7)
EXCUSES: A 6-letter word for swears without one of the central letters (half-heartedly) follows (on) a 2-letter word for late

5a    Rules of golf concerning playing partners? (7)
GOVERNS: The letter with radio code golf, a 4-letter preposition meaning concerning, and some bridge partners

9a    Environment settling on fortunate compromise (5,6)
HAPPY MEDIUM: A word for environment follows (settling on) a word for fortunate

10a    Wrangle about fish (3)
GAR: A reversal (about) of a word meaning wrangle or argue

11a    Peg out wearing gold for so long (5)
ADIEU: A word meaning peg out or kick the bucket is contained in (wearing) the chemical symbol for gold

13a    Failing edit, press gets stuck (9)
PERSISTED: An anagram (failing) of EDIT PRESS

14a    Water supply trouble in biggest course? (8)
MAINSAIL: Course here is some nautical rigging. A 5-letter word for your water supply plus a word meaning trouble

16a    Lofty, aggressive, gutless Den’s back (6)
AERIAL: Aggressive without the inner letters (gutless) plus a reversal (back) of a den

18a    Run into position, quietly giving update (6)
SITREP: The abbreviation for run goes into a 4-letter position, plus the musical abbreviation for quiet

19a    A comb pinched by indulged bird (8)
PARAKEET: A from the clue plus a 4-letter comb for gathering leaves go inside (pinched by) an adjective meaning indulged or favourite

22a    Feeble dope, holding three high cards, extremely naive (4-5)
WEAK-KNEED: Some dope or grass contains the abbreviations of 3 high cards (why did I think they had to be different?) and the outer letters (extremely) of naive

23a    I slipped around entrance to race track (5)
SPOOR: A reversal (around) of a 4-letter exclamation meaning ‘I slipped up’ plus the first letter (entrance) of race

25a    Notes evenly spaced — quite so (3)
UTS: The even letters of ‘quite so’

26a    Social worker, inviting new outrage, one lacking in generosity (11)
BENEVOLENCE: A winged social worker containing (inviting) the abbreviation for new plus an 8-letter word for outrage or excessive force lacking the Roman numeral for one

28a    Broken trust restricting French art teacher once (7)
TUTRESS: An anagram (broken) of TRUST containing (restricting) the French 2nd person singular of the verb to be (as in ‘thou art’). The answer is not a word in use anymore, hence ‘once’

29a    Head away from most dangerous mountain (7)
EVEREST: Remove the first letter (head) from an 8-letter word meaning ‘most dangerous’


1d    Tribe of Israel record that man accepting Egyptian god (7)
EPHRAIM: A medium-sized vinyl record plus a 3-letter male preposition containing (accepting) an Egyptian god

2d    Island goat refusing grain (5)
CAPRI: The goat zodiac sign without (refusing) the grain

3d    Heavens, half of spirit’s gone (3)
SKY: The second half of a 6-letter Scottish spirit

4d    Spooner’s secret vessel that contains disinfectant for Cambridge, say (5-3)
SHEEP-DIP: Cambridge is a breed of farm animal. A spoonerism of ‘secret vessel’

5d    Swelling old vice-president secures appeal (6)
GOITRE: An old US vice-president contains a 2-letter word for ‘appeal’

6d    Temptress and siren, when exposed, wound up bloody parasites (7,4)
VAMPIRE BATS: A 4-letter temptress, the inner letters (when exposed) of siren, and a reversal (up) of a verb meaning to wound with a knife

7d    Dexter is on this fit team (5,4)
RIGHT SIDE: A word for fit and a word for team

8d    Rustled up pastry (7)
STRUDEL: An anagram (up) of RUSTLED

12d    Awful bus lane disrupted around maximum traffic? (11)
UNSPEAKABLE: An anagram (disrupted) of BUS LANE goes around a word used to describe maximum traffic times

15d    During passage, nothing lost from recycling change of key (2,7)
IN TRANSIT: Take a 10-letter word for a change of key (in music), remove the ‘O’ and recycle the last two letters to the front

17d    Brandy from Moldova regularly picked up? (3,2,3)
EAU DE VIE: A homophone (picked up) of the even letters (regularly) in Moldova

18d    What remains after shaping deal (7)
SAWDUST: A cryptic definition playing on two meanings of ‘deal’

20d    Distress people in wrong (7)
TORMENT: A 3-letter word for people goes in a legal word for wrong

21d    Comic menace erred when doing a U-turn (6)
DENNIS: A reversal (when doing a U-turn) of a word meaning ‘erred’

24d    Jaguar darted when uncaged (5)
OUNCE: A 7-letter word meaning darted without the outer letters (when uncaged)

27d    Porky Pig naked in ‘Looney Tune’ with censored content (3)
LIE: Pig without the outer letters (naked), same for ‘Looney Tune’ (with censored content)

I quite like the Moldova Brandy, a new trick. Which clues did you like?

56 comments on “Toughie 2764

  1. A gentle offering from Sparks concluding what has been a particularly friendly week in Toughieland

    8d made me think of a similar clue in Chalicea’s NTSPP last Saturday, I thought 17d was clever, as Dutch says something we hadn’t seen before, but the clue that made me smile the most was 21d

    Thanks to Sparks for the crossword – I can’t spot a Nina either – and to Dutch for the blog

    1. Thank you for your contribution to the blog
      I thought the puzzle was great too, so thank you to setter and to Dutch for taking the time to prepare the blog and explain everything for us, much appreciated :smile:

  2. 8d answer not hidden and wrongly spelt, I’m afraid! Gentle and enjoyable puzzle with not much to frighten the horses except the 4d Spoonerism😱. Thanks to Sparks and to Dutch.

    1. I’m not sure what your problem is with 8d. According to the German speakers in this house that is the correct spelling of ‘strudel’ which is an anagram of ‘rustled’.

      1. Although spelt strudel, German pronunciation is shtrudel. Like MJ, I have no problem with the clue. Completely accurate IMHO.

  3. The best I’ve done on a Friday toughie, only the spoonerism defeated me. Did not know 25a but it had to be – not sure what it means or represents. Thanks to Sparks for an accessible toughie for us backpagers and all hinters for my continuing education.

  4. Blessed relief on a Friday! Good fun and do-able without taking all day. Though 4d had to be what it is I hadn’t come across the breed of sheep. I gave up on the parsing of 15d but it’s obvious enough when you see it [thanks Dutch]. Faves were the neat 23a and the comic menace [21d].
    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  5. I agree – the hardest of the week, but still pretty gentle. I always especially admire very short clues, and we have a good few of them today… isn’t there a setter who never allows himself more than eight words per clue? Like a lot of people, I always get that sinking feeling when I see the word ‘Spooner’, but although I didn’t know that Cambridge was one of those, I thought today’s Spoonerism was very guessable.

    Would it be churlish to question the pronunciation of the second word in 17d vs that of the second relevant letter? I mean, we wouldn’t say that ‘cat’ is spelt ‘kuh ey tee’, would we? But this is a very tiny niggle in an otherwise very pleasant solve.

    Oh, does anyone know why the list of forthcoming setters is empty? Cheers.

      1. Thanks Sue. Sorry, I didn’t realise it wasn’t some sort of automated thing… I hope BD is OK. Some of my favourite setters coming up, then – and I suspect next Friday’s puzzle will be a little less gentle!

    1. I agree that 17d doesn’t quite work. If it were consistent the brandy would have to be eau-dee-vie.

    2. FR. Ray T is the setter who uses 8 words or less per clue. If you like concise clues, try today’s back-pager by Silvanus – all the clues are either 6 or 5 words, except 2 (one being 4 words and the other 2).

          1. no, i don’t quite think so! but i know what you mean. An oxymoron is a combination of two contradictory terms, like “honest Tory” (oops)

  6. For a Friday I didn’t do too badly though I didn’t finish.
    I had to Google the tribes of Israel, my spelling of 19a had 2 r’s so wouldn’t fit while 7d made me think of Colin and Morse. Of course, I hated the Spoonerism, I always do! Never mind. Another day, another puzzle.
    Best wishes to BD

  7. A friendly but very enjoyable and entertaining puzzle for the last Toughie of the week. 17, 18 and 21d were atop my podium at the completion of the grid.

    Thanks to Sparks for a fun challenge and to Dutch.

  8. I happily managed everything on my own until I reached the SW corner, where 18a and 25a (both new to me) held me up and I resorted to a bit of electronic assistance (three letters), but I thoroughly enjoyed this Toughie. I was delighted to solve the brandy clue on my own and that’s my COTD. A very lovely puzzle. Thanks to Dutch and Sparks.

  9. A most enjoyable Friday Toughie, and not just because I completed it! While not as tough as most Friday Toughies, still the toughest of this week IMV.

    Loved the wit and amusement in so many of the clues, the phrasing and smooth surfaces. Quite happy with 17d, could put any of a dozen on the podium but will settle for my LOI as COTD, 21d, which resulted in an audible laugh when the penny dropped.

    3.5* / 4*

    Thank you Sparks for this absolute delight, and thank you Dutch.

  10. I wasn’t confident after the paucity of answers after the first pass but as usual checkers came to the rescue. A fine week of Toughie puzzles. So thanks to the puzzles editor, thanks to Sparks and thanks to Dutch.

  11. Came across the same unknowns as Robert faced which caused something of an issue in the SW but guesswork and Mr Google came to the rescue.
    Maybe not the most difficult two clues but 9a & 2d got my votes today.

    Thanks to Sparks – I hardly dare ask but is Sparky still around to celebrate Christmas with you? Very best of festive wishes to you as I doubt we’ll see you again beforehand. Many thanks also to Dutch and best wishes to you as well – I certainly won’t be joining in with the Elgar next week and goodness knows what horrors CL has in store for us on Christmas Eve!

    1. Yes, Jane. Sparky is not only alive but also very much kicking.

      Last week, after I’d done a 9-mile often-steep hike in freezing/vile conditions, 13yo Sparky — who did not accompany me — stole 90% of my highly anticipated pork pie in a single bite. My patient 3yo border collie Tia got the remaining 10%; a bit of saliva-soaked crust I’d wrestled from Sparky. Had he not been so lovable I’d have gone bananas, but his cheekiness defused me at a stroke.

      While I’m here: thanks Dutch for your typically great blog, and to all for positive comments.

      According to my notes, the Nina is APPLES AND PEARS straddling the SW-NE diagonal in the grid.

      1. So pleased to hear the news about Sparky – of course you couldn’t lose your temper with him, he’s got you wrapped round his little paw!
        Thank you for explaining the Nina – think you’d fooled us all with that one.

  12. A real pleasure to solve. We also looked in vain for a hidden message. Perhaps the setter will pop in and point us in the right direction.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  13. The first Friday Toughie that I have finished, and in a good time (for me).
    No doubt Elgar will put me back into my place next week.

  14. Loved this – hard but fair.

    Can I ask for some help from the team? Stuck on the 100th clue of a charity quiz. Answer is a UK town/city.
    ‘Hang where mixed up dame went on strike’ (8)
    Any assistance would be much appreciated and the charity will benefit when I send in my entry!

  15. Late to the party, but had to check on 18a. Never heard of it, but filled in correctly. I liked 22a, but 28a takes the biscuit! Nice to get there on a Friday, although not completely parsed.
    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch

  16. I really struggled with this and it was a DNF.

    Even with the hints I am unable to understand the answers to 25A and 24D. Could someone give me an easier hint?

    1. 25a is even letters of second part of clue (very unusual word)
      24d remove 1st and last letters (uncaged) of another word for darted, which gives you another type of large cat
      Hope this helps

      1. I understand the mechanisms of how these answers were obtained.

        I just don’t see how the answers relate to the definitions.

          1. yes, ut is another word for do on the do re mi scale.

            I thought ounce and jaguar were different cats, but there it is in Chambers

    2. Googling the definition of UT might help with 25 across. Pounced minus its first and last letters provides the answer for 24 down.

      1. I am beginning to think I should invest in a BRB if I am going to continue attempting the Toughies.

        1. oh – a life essential! I’m quite keen on the brb app on my iphone. There are two, a dictionary and a thesaurus and they talk to each other, though perhaps not as smoothly as could be. Nicely the thesaurus entries are listed in order of similarity, rather than letter count as you sometimes see. Not cheap, but cheaper than the dead tree versions.

          I’ve been a Chambers fan for 50 years.

  17. Weak Kneed Unspeakable Excuses (and) Lies (from those that) Govern (us) – All in the crossword ( I did swap the S from 5a to 27d)
    Not really a Nina but I noticed those answers for some reason.

    Thanks to Dutch and Sparks – right on the limit of my skills and I needed quite a lot of hints today.

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