Toughie 2782 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2782

Toughie No 2782 by Hudson

Hints and tips by crypticsue

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A splendid mid-week Toughie from one of my favourite setters – lots to enjoy with an opportunity to learn some new definitions too

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Top pastry dish infused with last bit of Maldon salt (8)
PINNACLE A pastry dish ‘infused’ with the last bit of Maldon and the chemical symbol for sodium chloride (salt)

5a    Rascal playing Lear in small screen retrospective (6)
VARLET An anagram (playing) of LEAR inserted into a reversal (retrospective) of an abbreviated (small) screen found in many a home

9a    Bond’s initial public offering in mid-Oct (or November) (6,2)
DOCTOR NO The first Bond film to be shown in public can be found in miD OCT OR November

10a    Tighten company beginning to understand pressure (4,2)
FIRM UP A company and the beginning to Understand and the abbreviation for Pressure

12a    Dreary field study (6)
LEADEN A field or meadow and a study

13a    Dailies no longer carrying London’s premier, independent word game (8)
CHARADES The more formal name for daily cleaners without (no longer carrying) the first (premier) letter of London and the abbreviation for Independent

15a    Taxi running into horse — gruesome! (7)
MACABRE A taxi ‘running into’ a female horse

16a    Cliff‘s 60s pop vocal? (4)
SCAR A homophone (vocal) of a pop music genre that started in the 60s in Jamaica

20a    Parched, Charlie’s run out of bitter (4)
ARID Remove the NATO Phonetic Alphabet letter represented by Charlie from an adjective meaning bitter

21a    Kiefer regularly displayed sullen look which says ‘Go away’ (4,3)
KEEP OUT The odd (regularly displayed) letters of KiEfEr and a sullen look

25a    Awe-inspiring ‘Iron Mike’ punches a sore wound (8)
FEARSOME The chemical symbol for iron and an anagram (wound) of A SORE into which is inserted (punches) the letter in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet represented by Mike

26a    Agent Philby’s entered, somewhat thin (6)
SKIMPY The Christian name of Philby the double agent inserted into another word for such an agent

28a    This person’s gone off role in Cymbeline (6)  Newspaper Version: Hudson’s gone off role in Cymbeline(6)
IMOGEN The daughter of the title character in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline – a way of saying ‘this person’ and an anagram (off) of GONE   How our setter would say that he’s going to do something, followed by an anagram (off) of GONE

29a    US theatre where Bowie made his final appearance? (3,5)
THE ALAMO This theatre is an area of warfare and Bowie isn’t the singer but a soldier who died at this particular battle

30a    Heart’s first radio hit could be number one (6)
HAIRDO Here I think it helps to be a mother of boys, not that mine ever went as ‘short’ as a number one! The first letter of Heart and an anagram (hit) of RADIO

31a    Maybe Charlie set wig to cover Donald’s head (4,4)
HARD DRUG Charlie is slang for cocaine which is an example (maybe) of the solution – another word for set and a slang term for a wig ‘cover’ the first letter (head) of Donald


1d    Old boy gets upset after exercise equipment taken from beach (6)
PEDALO The abbreviation for Old and a boy are reversed (upset) and put after some abbreviated [school] exercise

2d    Gorgeous fluid new e-vehicle head of Tesla plugged (6)
NECTAR A delicious drink (gorgeous fluid)  – the abbreviation for New and an e vehicle into which is ‘plugged’ the head or first letter of Tesla

3d    Better than the average bogeyman’s status? (5,3)
ABOVE PAR This expression meaning better than the average could also describe the status of someone playing golf who’d scored a bogey

4d    Language student’s half-eaten fish (4)
LING The first half of a person who studies language

6d    Going round by way of American railway? It’s for the birds (6)
AVIARY A preposition meaning by way of inserted between abbreviations for American and railway

7d    End-of-term President perhaps left a familiar greeting in Notts (4,4)
LAME DUCK Any American President whose successor has already been elected is referred to as the solution. The abbreviation for Left, A (from the clue) and a term of endearment used as a greeting in Nottinghamshire and other parts of the East Midlands

8d    King’s record records King lodging in fringes of Torbay (8)
TAPESTRY A way of saying records and the Latin abbreviation for king ‘lodging’ in the outside letters (fringes) of TorbaY

11d    What Patsy takes before end of weekly counselling (7)
THERAPY Something taken by a patsy or fall guy (3,3) goes before the ‘end’ of weeklY

14d    Italian city doctor looking more peaky? (7)
PALERMO The capital of Sicily (which is well worth a visit) is obtained by putting an abbreviated doctor after a way of saying looking sickly (more peaky)

17d    Intent to cheat billion had Fiat in a tizzy (3,5)
BAD FAITH Treachery (intent to cheat) – the abbreviation for Billion and an anagram (n a tizzy) of HAD FIAT

18d    Bellucci — not a girl about to eat pasta (8)
RIGATONI Hidden in reverse (about to eat) in belluccI NOT A GIRl

19d    Drug addict Hardy found naked in scrapheap (8)
JUNKYARD An alternative spelling of an informal term for a drug addict followed by the inside (naked) letters of hARDy

22d    Climb Andes, shivering, pierced by cold (6)
ASCENT An anagram (shivering) of ANDES ‘pierced’ by the abbreviation for Cold

23d    Undermine the odd bet at the roulette table? (6)
IMPAIR A phrase used for a bet at the roulette table that the chosen number will be odd rather than even

24d    Cyprus tennis champ the Six Million Dollar Man? (6)
CYBORG The Six Million Dollar man was an example of a robot made of biological and machine components. The IVR code for Cyprus followed by the name of a tennis champion from Sweden

27d    Wife starts to henpeck, order about — to nag, it’s said (4)
WHOA A verbal instruction given to a horse (nag) – the abbreviation for Wife and the ‘starts’ to Henpeck Order About

45 comments on “Toughie 2782

  1. Very enjoyable, particularly 30a and 7d which have personal relevance. Parsing of 23d was new to me. Thanks to CS and Hudson.

  2. A top-drawer puzzle – thanks to Hudson and CS.
    I liked 9a but the actual title (as shown in the film poster) has the first word abbreviated.
    I have lots of ticks on my printout but those making the podium were 13a, 7d and 11d.

  3. A very pleasant and enjoyable Wednesday Toughie – 2.5*/3*.

    I did have a Hmm over the use of theatre in 29a but it does ‘work’ and it is a Toughie. I did also have some mild initial confusion with 6d as Via is the name of Canada’s passenger railway service.

    Candidates for favourite – 9a, 1d, and 7d – and the winner is 1d. Perhaps, interestingly, 9a was the first film but the sixth book.

    Thanks to Hudson and CS.

  4. Fabulous, many thanks Hudson & CS. I struggled in NW for a while with 9a & 1d – in retrospect they look like two of the easiest! Having previously lived for several years in Nottingham, 7d gets my COTD though 30a (for smooth surface) and 8d (for definition) run it close. Thanks again!

  5. This was almost a thing of beauty from one the Toughie setters whose puzzles I always look forward to. Pleasantly surprised by CS’s rating too.
    Where to start on highlights? Difficult but I’ll go for 9,13,30&31a plus 3&8d (of course) with top spot going to the hilarious 7d.
    Great stuff.
    Many thanks to Hudson and CS for the top notch entertainment.

  6. I’ve rarely put so many stars by the side of clues so this must have been another cracker from Hudson. I’ve whittled them down but all these must get a nod: 1a, 9a, 8d, 11d and 14d. Brilliant!
    Thanks to Hudson and to CS for the blog.

  7. Needed the hint to parse 23d as I’d never heard of the word used in that sense, mainly because I’ve never played the game, and my brother’s a croupier! The ‘greeting’ in 7d is only a greeting if it’s preceded by ay up. I believe ‘duck’ is a corruption of the Norman ‘duc’. Favourite was 29a. Thanks to Hudson and CS.

  8. The paper version has a different start to 28ac but as always it’s an excellent puzzle from Hudson
    Thanks to CS for parsing assistance as 16ac 31ac were not references I’d come across.

    1. I’m in the middle of something I can’t leave but if someone could let me know the paper clue, I’ll add it to the blog as soon as I can

  9. This was a delightful accompaniment to the Jay cryptic, just as enjoyable, just as entertaining. 7d was completely off the wall and my favourite.

    Thanks to Hudson and CS.

  10. Very much enjoyed although I confess to needing the hints from CS for a couple of bits of parsing – the beach equipment and the music genre.
    So many podium contenders and I’d like to add 26a to the list already compiled by others, I thought it was a very good ‘find’ on the setter’s part.

    Thanks to Hudson and to CS for the review – and bits of assistance!

  11. I thought this was excellent – nicely challenging and good fun from start to finish.

    Isn’t the drug addict in 19d the American spelling?

    I had a plethora of ticks, with double ticks for 1a, 26a, 28a, 7d, 8d, 11d & 27d.

    Many thanks to Hudson and to CS.

    1. My reading of the BRB entry for the drug addict only says that the word junker is “obs American” so presumably the other two spellings are ‘English’

      1. Collins gives the y spelling as American.

        I know the BRB is supposed to be our bible but I find Collins is generally more “accurate” on Americanisms – i.e.: it agrees with me! :wink:

  12. Wonderful puzzle today; thanks to setter. Favourites included 1A, 11D and 19D but top of the list was the brilliant 7D!!

  13. Thanks to dear crypticsue for the review and thanks to those who have commented. Happy new year, everybody. The discrepancy between the paper version and that seen online in the clue for 28 can apparently be explained by the fact that the online puzzle doesn’t have the name of the setter on it, so any kind of use of the compiler’s name in the word-play has to be changed. The editor pointed out to me that the film and book are both Dr No and not Doctor No – as Gazza has pointed out – sorry about that.
    Best wishes, Rob/Hudson

    1. I know I am a day late but have just done 2782 over breakfast and was so pleased by the fact that I finished it without recourse to the hints. Such clever clues. Thank you Hudson for giving me the pleasure of finishing a Toughie so smoothly, the clues were fiendishly en pointe and obviously up my alley. I loved the Hudson clue and the lurker was well disguised. I don’t often find time for the toughie, but I must now look out for Wednesday’s. Many thanks.

  14. Good fun from start to finish with a few head-scratchers in the SE that held us up a little.
    Thanks Hudson and CS.

  15. Hudson is definitely an acquired taste like Elgar (but infinitely more enjoyable!), who I’m learning to appreciate. The clues are a sorft of amalgam of general knowledge and cryptic. For instance I had to look up the cast list of “Cymbeline” and had no idea that the owner of the Bowie knife died at The Alamo. I did like 9a though, as shown on the poster, “Doctor “ should be “Dr.”
    I’ve also learnt a pseudonym for cocaine and, until now, never really thought that The Bayeux Tapestry was a “king’s record”, William, to me, will always be “The Conqueror “ but of course he was the first of that name but, hopefully, not the last!
    COTD? Has to be 24 d which exhibits both Hudson’s trademark of both GK and cryptic.

        1. I could have chosen a picture of Carole King’s record album cover with the name on it, but decided that would be a bit too helpful. I bet I’m not the only one with that long playing record in their collection, for whom the picture would be instantly recognisable

          1. I’m obviously being very thick! I understand your explanation but I still do not see why a tapestry only refers to the female Carole King except for the parsing.
            I reckon the sooner I join my son in South Devon the better for ever one!

                1. Depends how you define ‘obscure’ – well known to many of us – see Jose’s comment

                  1. I hope you pick this up. I attend a weekly pub quiz when in Devon and my score for the music section is always “nul points” so you see I didn’t stand a chance! Luckily I can usually make it up on the history, literature and science questions so all is not entirely lost.
                    Anyway, thankyou for your input. I always enjoy reading the blog.

                    1. The person who provides the blog gets an email every time someone posts a comment, so it doesn’t matter how long after a blog is published, it will always be read

            1. It’s one of the best-selling albums of all time – over 25 million copies sold worldwide. Two of them bought by me, one vinyl and one CD.

  16. Thought it highly unlikely that anything would top Jay’s excellent back-pager but reckon I’d give this one the nod. Loved it from start to finish. I’m not usually so quick to tune into this setter’s wavelength so it was an unexpected surprise to find myself on course for a fast journey to the finish line until roadworks in the SE – navigated only once the pennies dropped with 24d&31a. I thought the opener plus the final 6 across clues in particular all belters & had ticks for 3,7,8,14&24d. I wasn’t familiar with the 23d term despite a good knowledge of roulette & 5a is a new word for me.
    Thanks to Hudson & for popping in & to CS.

  17. I’m inclined to agree with Huntsman, giving the edge of a nod to Hudson today. I’m late getting here today because I slept the morning away, but I finished this brilliant model of excellence late last night–and quickly expired as a result (I did need a bit of an electronic boost, so it was not an unaided completion). It would be foolish trying to list all of my favourites since the whole kit and kaboodle would be here. Missed the right Bowie, by the way (shame on me), and still don’t understand the roulette term (a bung-in there). Loved the Cymbeline clue, naturally. Forever a lover of Hudson, so thanks to him and to CS for the review. What a glorious day for crossword lovers and how great is it to be a part of this terrific blog, eh?

  18. I only occasionally attempt the Toughie, but a comment in today’s backpager posts meant I spent a happy time with this one.

    Pure joy. No obscure words and the only GK I had to look up was the Cymbeline role.

    Many thanks to Hudson and CS.

  19. I have recently started doing the toughie regularly and thoroughly enjoyed this today.

    Kicked myself for not getting 28a and needed the answer for 16a.

    COTD was 29a. One of the best clues in ages!

    Thanks to all.

  20. A very slick offering today from a very accomplished setter. I don’t solve the Indy or the Graun much these days, rather the Toughies and the Times but I wonder if someone knows Hudson’s alias in other papers? I’ve an idea but my setter radar is not very accurate.

    Thanks to CS and Hudson – very enjoyable.

    1. Hi Jon.
      Thanks for the generous comment. I compile for The Indy as Knut and for the FT as Julius. I’ve also been setting a weekly cryptic in TES (the artist formerly known as The Times Educational Supplement) since September 2018 but this is currently in abeyance as the magazine transitions from dead tree to digital only. If you click on the “miscellaneous” button on the top of the BD homepage there’s a tab marked “Toughie setters” which is helpful for discovering different aliases.
      Best wishes, Rob/Hudson

Comments are closed.