Toughie 2777 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2777

Toughie No 2777 by Gila

Hints and tips by Miffypops

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Chris M Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

In the words of a fellow blogger “An actual Toughie on a Tuesday” I agree but two simple long anagrams and a few gimmies gave enough checkers to make the tougher clues obvious. Some marvellous words at 27 across, 3 down, 6 down, 22 down and the phrase at 24 down. I do love the English language. Note to Gila, please feed me better next time 9 across 11 across does not cut the mustard

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7a        Trainer possibly gaining weight between fights? (8)
INTERWAR: An anagram (possibly) of TRAINER together with the abbreviation for weight

9a        Ongoing feasts occasionally beneficial for dieters (3-3)
NON FAT: Use the alternate letters of two words in the clue

10a      Mountain guide forgets her packed bags (6)
SHERPA: The answer is hidden within the words of the clue peeping out at you and laughing as you try to seek it out

11a      Greens in one block reflected on black material (8)
KOHLRABI:  Also known as a German turnip, (by whom I wonder?) This is a biennial vegetable, a low, stout cultivar of wild cabbage. It can be found by beginning with a black powder used as eye make up and adding the reverse of a ban or embargo and the letter that looks like the number one

12a      Pulsating score excited theatre worker (7,7)
PLASTIC SURGEON: An anagram with a rather boring indicator if something exciting can be boring. The fodder to play with is Pulsating Score

15a      Million invested in vaccine support (4)
JAMB:  A short onomatopoeic word which describes the giving of a vaccine surrounds the abbreviation for million. If you live in Scotland your short word will not work until you alter its last letter

17a      Proposed taking time out to go over business transactions (5)
DEALS: A word meaning to have been planned or scheduled is reversed and relieved of the abbreviation for time.

19a      Food in unlimited piles (4)
TACK: A word meaning heaps (think hay perhaps) needs its outer letters removing

20a      One sulky cat ran off irritably (14)

23a      Distinctive person also has tough exterior (8)
STAND OUT:  A conjunction meaning also is surrounded by a word meaning tough or strong and thick

25a      Belgium, in no small amount, is pretty good! (3,3)
NOT BAD:  Begin with the word NO. A gift from your setter. Add the reverse of a word meaning a small piece, to a small extent or somewhat. Insert the abbreviation for Belgium

27a      Wee creature abandoning a mate for life? (6)
BESTIE: Remove the letter A from Burn’s wee cowering timorous creature

28a      Weapon carried by VIPs, causing panic (8)
ALARMIST: Place a short synonym of the word weapon inside a term used to describe the highest level of stardom


1d        Move slowly, or dash without purpose at first (4)
ITCH:  A small amount of something (snuff perhaps) needs to lose the initial letter of the word purpose

2d        Wreckage created by extremely destructive religious ceremony (6)
DEBRIS: Begin with the outer letters of the word destructive and add the name of the ceremony where a Jewish baby boy is circumcised. Ouch!

3d        Understand the principles of government relatively well (4)
GROK: Use the initial letters of the words Government and Relatively. Add a sort term meaning all is good or well

4d        A new job all but secure (6)
ANCHOR: Use the letter A from the clue together with the abbreviation for new and add a dull household task minus its last letter

5d        Inert gas designed to be heated to a maximum level (8)
ANGRIEST: Anagram (designed) of INERT GAS

6d        Book taken by amazing brainiac student from a teacher (10)
RABBINICAL: The abbreviation for book is surrounded by an anagram (amazing) of BRAINIAC And rounded off by our usual student

8d        Worn-out clothing that is frayed at the back (7)
WEARIED:  A word synonymous with clothing is followed by the Latin abbreviation for that is and the final letter of the word frayed

13d      Insect caught in two pages, say (4-6)
LEAF CUTTER: The abbreviation for caught sits comfortably in between two synonyms. One for a page in a book and one for the word say or state

14d      Electrician requiring second deposit (5)
SPARK: The abbreviation for second is followed by a word loosely meaning to de posit

16d      Flimsy fastening implicated in destruction (8)
BANKNOTE: I don’t usually have a problem with the answer here but I did today. I couldn’t see it for looking. Place a fastening such as you might tie in a piece of string inside a noun meaning a cause of great distress or  annoyance. This cause of great distress or annoyance has destruction listed amongst its list of synonyms. Your answer is defined in Google’s online dictionary as ‘a document, especially a copy, made on very thin paper’

18d      Plant group in borders of shady area (7)
SYRINGA:  Place a group, band or circle in between the outer letters of the word shady and the abbreviation for area

21d      Editor, supporting immensely, made amends (6)
ATONED:  The abbreviation for editor follows a term split 1,3 meaning a great deal of something

22d      Part of system — it purportedly boosted computer availability (6)
UPTIME: Our second lurker of the day hiding in plain view amongst the words in the clue as indicated by the words part of. If you still can’t see it consider the word boosted which somehow informs us that the word we seek is reversed

24d      Son kicked out of wedding event? That’s as it should be! (2,1,1)
TO A T:  Remove the abbreviation for son from the raising of one’s glass to the bride and groom

26d      Recess seeing American kids finally getting into exercise (4)
APSE: The abbreviation for American, the last letter of the word kids and the abbreviation for physical exercise will lead you to this large semicircular or polygonal recess in a church, arched or with a domed roof and typically at the church’s eastern end

38 comments on “Toughie 2777

  1. Was going OK but then got stuck on16d and 27a. 3d was new to me. I liked 20a. Thanks to Gila and MP.

  2. I always thought that a knowledge of basic Martian would come in handy one day, so thanks to Gila for 3d. S/he has a rather quirky style that I can’t really put a finger on but very enjoyable nonetheless and just right for getting back into the swing of normality.
    Thanks again Gila and to MP for the blog.

  3. Thank you to Gila for a crossword that was definitely on the Toughie difficulty spectrum

    I’m mystified as to why you chose this slang word for the solution to 3d, unless you were intrigued by the fact that the BRB says it comes from a Robert Heinlein book and is a Martian word meaning to drink!

    Thanks also to Miffypops

    1. CS: Well, it might mean to ‘drink’ as in to ‘drink in something deeply’, as in Stranger in a Strange Land, where it means to drink deeply of understanding and to empathise, to know something deeply within and to feel it within others.

  4. 3d was new to me too, as was 18d – I always struggle with plants. A nice ‘aha’ moment in 27a when you realise the poetic connection. Some fairly obvious anagrams made this easier than 3* for me, but most enjoyable. I especially like the misleading use of ‘say’ in 13d. MP, many thanks for the review – did you mean to use explicitly the last word in your hint for 13d?

  5. Mixed bag with some obscurities and some gimmes.
    But a toughie which I enjoyed (as usual) and advanced my knowledge of Martian.
    Thanks to Gila and HNY to MP.
    PS Finally finished last Thursday’s Elgar..what a struggle.

  6. Sailed through three quarters of this but the last few (16d/27a plus 11a&6d) had me reaching for the electrons. Never mind, quirky and enjoyable though no real 23a clues for me but 20a is a fine word.
    Many thanks to Gila and MP.

  7. 3d was it seems new to most of us , well I don’t have even a smattering of Martian.
    And 19a wasn’t tuck.
    13d was also new to me.
    I liked 25a and 27a.
    Thanks to Gila and Miffypops.

  8. Crikey I thought bits of this very tough indeed. 11&19a plus 3,13&16d all new to me so pleased to finish without a letter reveal albeit my Xmas present BRB got its first real workout & the reveal mistakes (had tuck originally) was pressed a couple of times. 27a my clear favourite once the penny dropped.
    Thanks Gila & MP

  9. Finished in the SW corner, last in was 16d, ‘flimsy’ was provided in my Chambers when all the Checking letters were in!- thanks MP for the parsing., ditto for 11a, dont use eye make up.
    Not heard either of a mate for life, is it scottish? parsed 3d correctly but again had not heard of 3d-is this an americanism for good measure?
    Apart from the above a steady solve,

    1. As has been mentioned before 3 down is Martian. Would it matter if it was an American English word?

      1. Checked my electronic aid and it says that 4d was a 1960 invented american word meaning understood.
        I note that CS found its Martian origins-remembered reading Mr Heinleins science fiction stories in the 1960’s

  10. How well I remember the rage for Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land when my students and I went around the old ivied campus saying “Well, I can 3d that!” Seriously, we were captivated by the word, the concept, the force that begot it, and the novelty of it all. Today’s puzzle by Gila has had much the same impact on me, such freshness, such wiliness, such joy of the language itself. What a gift. Loved it all. But 27a, 8d, & 3d [it doesn’t really mean ‘drink’, CS; it means to intuit something deeply, empathically] take the medals. 16d was my LOI and I had to do a bit of investigoogling to arrive at the solution. Thanks to MP & Gila.

    1. Am I the only one who read and taught and was part of the Heinlein cult of the 60s and 70s? So far, apparently so.

      1. Stranger in a strange land along with Herberts Dune and L’engles A wrinkle in time, all read in the 70s remain my favourite sci fi novels so you’re not alone!

      2. You’re not alone. That’s where I learned Martian.
        BTW – “Stand on Zanzibar” by John Brunner is another classic from that period.

      3. Oh no, Heinlein was the kingpin of my SF youth – Future History, Valentine Smith, Lazarus Long, Rudbek cubed, Cas and Pol and the Space Family Stone all have a place in my heart (and a dusty corner of my bookshelves)

      4. Never heard of it before but my teachers never put me onto Phillip Larkin or Dylan Thomas. What a poor bunch of fools they were

    2. I just copied what it said in the BRB. It would have been interesting to learn RD’s views on slang American/Martianisms in his English crossword

  11. I was impressed by the very smooth surface reading of 20a, a lovely anagram. The wordplay of the obscure 3d was good enough to produce the answer, although I doubt I will ever see it again. That aside, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining puzzle, not too tough but always fun to complete.

    Thanks to Gila and MP.

  12. I too had a long list of new words to me which upped the difficulty. Favourite was 24d when the penny dropped. Thanks Gila and MP.

  13. We struggled with 27a and still can’t find a mention of the answer in our BRB. Maybe we don’t spend enough time on Facebook or the like to have taken it into our lexicon.
    An enjoyable solve, tricky in places.
    Thanks Gila and MP.

    1. 2Ks, 27a. The answer is in the latest BRB (p. 145). It’s slang for “best friend”. You obviously don’t watch The Big Bang Theory.

      1. Thanks. Our BRB is 12th Edition and you’re right that we have never watched The Big Bang Theory.

  14. 3d was new to me too. My alien vocabulary, such as it it, comes from Star Trek. Didn’t we have a Klingon some while ago?

    1. No, just as Miffs says in the hints you need the principle letters of the next two words and a term meaning good or well to fit the definition Understand
      The word is obscure from an American Sci-Fi novel that makes it suitable for a toughie.

        1. S. It’s principle in the sense of source, root, origin, fundamental or primary cause (all from the BRB).

          1. The definition you give would cover a word’s origins. The first letter of a word would not come under that heading.
            Principal has the meaning of first in order.

            1. I don’t disagree that principal would be an OK synonym (it isn’t the clue “definition” we’re discussing) but that would spoil the surface somewhat. Using “principle” in the sense of source, origin in a cryptic clue doesn’t necessarily refer to the history/root/etymology of the word in question, it can just mean the source/beginning/origin (or first letter) of the word. That’s how I see it.

                1. No, it’a a noun. The device in question is used quite regularly by setters. The clue is fine. But it’s OK if you’re not convinced.

  15. A great puzzle with the weird vegetable causing much more trouble than the very clearly clued, and delightfully playful 3d. More of the latter is what I want to see in 21st Century crosswords.

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