Toughie 2779 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2779

Toughie No 2779 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Stephen L is lucky to have some sun in South Devon because here in the North of the County it’s a horribly wet, cold day.

It’s Firefly on duty today (thanks to him) and he’s given us a reasonably gentle puzzle including a fairly high anagram count. There is a sort of theme as explained in 25d.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a In a state, cats set off with Shamus (13)
MASSACHUSETTS: an anagram (off) of CATS SET SHAMUS.

9a Investigating facilities with ruler, Andy’s thwarted initially (7,2)
LOOKING AT: stick together an informal British word for the “facilities” and a male ruler and finish with the initial letters of Andy’s and thwarted.

10a Cheers may emerge from venue, I daresay, on reflection (5)
ADIEU: hidden in reverse.

11a Month I lay naked in the shade (5)
SEPIA: assemble the short form of a calendar month, I and lAy stripped of its covering.

12a Jerry’s 25 sounds perfect (4)
HOLE: homophone of an adjective meaning perfect or intact.

13a Twice self-employed in cultural unit (4)
MEME: two pronouns that Firefly would use of himself are employed to produce the answer. If this clue featured in a Rookie Corner puzzle it would probably get a “Some editors don’t …” comment from Prolixic.

15a Apart from one, trainees developed promise (7)
EARNEST: an anagram (developed) of TRA[i]NEES without the letter resembling one.

17a Fruit, two-thirds produced in south (7)
RAISINS: start with two-thirds of a verb meaning produced or evoked and append IN and the abbreviation for south.

18a Field-guide displays footwear (7)
GHILLIE: two meanings, both Scottish. Chambers doesn’t recognise the second but it’s in Collins and the ODE as a type of shoe with laces along the instep, used in Scottish country dancing.

20a Joy‘s sidelight is going west, going west! (7)
DELIGHT: the reversal (going west) of IS disappears (going west) from sidelight.

21a Police ultimately detain grass (4)
LAWN: a word (normally preceded by ‘the’) for the police is followed by the ultimate letter of detain.

22a Joins in midweek? (4)
WEDS: double definition, the first a verb meaning joins or unites.

23a Faculty‘s just outside Lima (5)
FLAIR: an adjective meaning just or unbiased contains the letter that Lima represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

26a Overcome with locusts regularly at party (5)
OUTDO: regular letters from locusts and a festive party.

27a Underworld boss’s tailless old plane maybe given to tycoon (9)
PLUTOCRAT: the god of the underworld in Greek mythology followed by an informal word for an old plane without its last letter.

28a Trees Basil damaged he and daughter made good again (2-11)
RE-ESTABLISHED: an anagram (damaged) of TREES BASIL followed by HE and the genealogical abbreviation for daughter.

Down Clues

1d For fuel economy, this writer’s backing the French over tricky longer lap (5,3,6)
MILES PER GALLON: the reversal of “this writer’s” and one of the French definite articles precede an anagram (tricky) of LONGER LAP.

2d Exclusive store found below end of bypass (5)
SCOOP: the short name of a UK grocery store (usually written with a hyphen) once famous for its “divi” follows the last letter of bypass.

3d Chum’s introduced to lady in pants showing vivacity (10)
ANIMATEDLY: a synonym of chum goes inside an anagram (pants) of LADY IN.

4d One clashes with snob (4-3)
HIGH-HAT: double definition, the second an informal term for someone who puts on airs.

5d I may include last cutting from hazel in planter (7)
SETTLER: what Firefly is professionally contains the final letter of hazel.

6d Carriage factor’s looking up (4)
TRAP: reverse another word for a factor or component.

7d Ruling out of overfishing could be smashing (9)
SHIVERING: an anagram (could be) of [o]VER[f]ISHING with ‘of’ removed. The answer means ‘breaking into fragments’ – this meaning used in the exclamation ‘****** me timbers!’.

8d Getting dangerously full, feed on substitute mainly, refined and graded (14)
SUPERSATURATED: string together a verb to feed or eat, a word meaning substitute without its final Z, the letter used to mean refined and a verb meaning graded or assessed.

14d Glassware in factory fire — oil mostly involved (10)
MILLEFIORI: start with a word for a factory and add an anagram (involved) of FIRE OI[l].

16d Puddle contents getting artist immersed? (9)
RAINWATER: our usual recognised artist followed by a way (2,5) of saying immersed.

19d Peacock’s marking vacant essay on obscure poets (3-4)
EYE-SPOT: the outer letters of essay and an anagram (obscure) of POETS.

20d Dry up with Mr James in muddle (7)
DISTURB: reverse a word meaning dry or unsweetened and the forename of Mr James the ‘Carry on’ actor then reverse it all.

24d It’s awful, half the content of charity sale going to Grand Hotel (5)
AARGH: the second half of a word for a charity sale followed by the abbreviation for grand (i.e. $1000) and the letter for which hotel is used in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

25d Stop the setter in Habitat — this could be stolen from 1ac, 15, 18, 23, 2, 5 or 7 (4)
HOME: a short instruction to stop and the pronoun the setter uses to refer to himself (as previously seen in 13a). The answers to the clues referenced here all contain an example of the answer (one is repeated).

The clue I liked best was 20a. Which one(s) did it for you?


27 comments on “Toughie 2779
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  1. A gentle Toughie as we expect from Firefly but I did enjoy searching for the 25d examples ‘stolen’ in the other clues he mentions in that one

    Thanks to Firefly and Gazza

  2. Agreed to the gentle side of things but 7 down and 13 across proved to be elusive. 25 down was a bung in and I still don’t understand the first two letters. Thanks to all concerned

  3. I just don’t see “hill” meaning “home”:in ghillie. Interesting that it is also a shoe.I didn’t know that so I just settled for “Field guide”.
    I thought 1a a splendid anagram. My COTD

  4. Good fun, I thought – sort of a Nina, but given away at the end, which is a kindness! I didn’t know that 7d could mean that, but evidently it can, and I am grateful to Gazza for the nautical illustration. Everything else pretty straightforward thanks to – as you point out – a relatively large number of anagrams.

    Happy 12th night, for those who care about such things. I am cooking Persian lamb in honour of the magi, sort of.

    1. Of course I care. It is time to take down the decorations to avoid bad luck! It is also my son’s birthday so what’s not to like?

  5. In the latest Puzzles Newsletter our editor offers an enticing prospect:
    there are a number of innovations on the way (a Sunday Toughie Crossword, anyone?)
    Let’s hope that happens, in which case I’m sure BD will be looking for a new Toughie blogger.

  6. I didn’t think it was that easy: 4* for me. The 2 that held me up were 24d, which had to be what it was but I just had to try to use half the contents of “charity” and “sale”, which nearly provide the right letters, albeit in the wrong order. The other was 7d until I remembered there’s nearly always a subtractive anagram in a Firefly puzzle.
    What’s wrong with “hill” [anthill] as the habitat in 18a? All the others are 4 letters.
    I’d rather have a Saturday or Monday toughie. Sundays are EV days – and I heartily recommend them to toughie solvers. The clues are often more straightforward than the ones we’re used to [altho there’s no limit on obscure words].
    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the blog.

    1. I never thought of hill in that context, though does it mean home without the ‘ant’? Lie in the BRB is ‘an animal’s lair or resting place’ so I still favour that.

      1. OK Gazza- I’ll grant you that it’s context-dependent!
        Sorry about the dupe posting – dunno how that happened – blame my antiquated Macbook.

  7. We really enjoyed the bonus of finding the 25s at the end of the solve and like Halcyon thought that one for ants or termites in 18a was what we were looking for.
    Good fun anyway.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  8. I didn’t find this easy at all – well done to all those who did! Needed Gazza’s help to get the last two or three and can’t say that I particularly enjoyed the solve. Maybe that’s just sour grapes but I often struggle with this setter’s style.
    Think my favourite was the puddle contents with a mention for the peacock.

    Thanks to Firefly and most definitely to Gazza for his assistance.

  9. Well, I never (just kidding, sort of): how can I, a lifelong lover of Tom & Jerry cartoons, be expected to grok that reference to the wily one in 12a? Had I done so, my life would have been much easier last night, my sleep less troubled, and my world less disjointed! Grrr. And how do the first two letters of 25a = stop? Can’t find that one anywhere. Okay, simmer down….wasn’t this a lot of fun, though?! Once I was set on the right path by Gazza’s illustration for 12a, I realised what 25a was all about, and I think that ‘hill’ (for ants) is a much better solution than ‘lie’. But I did enjoy this Toughie (which I would award ****) very much despite my tergiversations (been waiting a few days to use that one!). I didn’t know 18a at all, so DNF. Many thanks to Gazza for the boost and to Firefly for the puzzlement and fun.

    1. 25d Chambers says that ho, hoa or hoh can mean (amongst other things) hold or stop. Collins refers to Old French “ho!” meaning stop.

    2. Name the film Robert – Jon Polito to Albert Finney
      ‘I’m sick of taking this crap from you Leo, kissing your Irish ass & you giving me the 4d’ (approx)
      The answer immediately made me think of the scene. Reckon I’ll watch it tomorrow night for the umpteenth time.

  10. Finished this some time ago but had to meet a friend for a beer or four early doors. I didn’t find it as easy as some, but then again I don’t. Favourite was 4d as drummers think they’re musicians. Thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  11. Gave this a go after seeing Gazza, Crypticsue, and Miffypops each labelling it gentle. I found it easy to get started (way more answers on the first pass than I typically get with a backpager, oddly), got stuck in the middle, then finished OK. Thank you to Gazza for unsticking me with the hints, and explaining the parsing of several others.

    I particularly liked 13a’s cultural unit, 20a’s sidelight, 2d’s exclusive store; my favourite was the ‘awful’ 24d.

    I don’t remember encountering the ‘snob’ meaning of 4d before, so thank you to the late Mrs Bradford for that one. For 27a’s tycoon I did better just guessing it from the definition and crossing letters; after reading Gazza’s hint in the hope of confirming it, I instead spent a while wondering how to fit ‘Hades’ in there, ignorantly unaware he had another name.

    Overall, lots of fun. Thank you, Firefly.

  12. Found the LHS fairly straightforward earlier but couldn’t get going on the right so saved it for a bedtime solve. Got there in the end but needed to reveal the checker to crack 7d&13a. Can’t say I’d come across 19d before or the fancy glassware – had fun messing about with fire & oil to find something that sounded feasible. Never heard of the Scottish term for footwear either. Didn’t find it easy but it was a thoroughly enjoyable solve & fun spotting the 25ds – I thought hill too.
    Thanks to Firefly & to Gazza

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