Toughie 2793 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2793

Toughie No 2793 by Robyn

Hints and tips by Miffypops

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Chris M Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment ***

Good morning from the Trough of Bowland where the day has began with an excellent Tuesday Toughie from Robyn, an inventive setter, fast becoming a favourite. I plodded more than I raced through this puzzle but enjoyed the solve. How are you finding this setter?

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a        Don, say, headgear before Scottish smoker (7)
HOODLUM:  A head covering such as the one attached to a duffel coat is followed by a Scottish chimney. As the old well known saying goes:

May the wind be always at your back,

The sun shine warm on your face,

The rain fall soft upon your fields,

Lang may yer lum reek!

8a        Lie on front, hiding face and thighs (7)
OVERLAP:  The word front here is an appearance or form of behaviour assumed by a person to conceal their genuine feelings or persona. Begin with that synonym for front minus its first letter (hiding face) Add the part of the body (thighs) where your children or grandchildren sit and fidget

10a      Dry wine bottles cool after six-pack? (9)
ABSTINENT: The three-letter name given to muscles known as the six pack is followed by a type of red wine which sits around a word meaning cool, hip, trendy or with it

11a      Men plugging means to animate old palace companion (5)
CORGI: It is Toughieland abbreviation time. The military men known as the other ranks sit inside a form of animation known as computer generated imagery

12a      As some say, blade did some cutting (5)
SAWED:  A homophone (as some say) based upon the name of a weapon with a long metal blade and a hilt with a hand guard, used for thrusting or striking and now typically worn as part of ceremonial dress and a word meaning used a saw to cut wood

13a      Stir a lot of citrus fruit, and appeal for date to finish (4,5)
TIME LIMIT: Stir here is a prison sentence. Begin with another term for a prison sentence, add most of a green citrus fruit and a short word meaning sex appeal

15a      Wrong person setting exam that absorbs two minutes (7)
IMMORAL: Begin with a person.  Oneself. The first person singular (if I remember correctly) Add a spoken exam. Insert two abbreviations for minutes

17a      Two pints then eight emptied, or four (7)
QUARTET: The regular term for two pints (a fourth of a gallon, how fitting) is followed by the outer letters of the word eight

18a      Old noble German? Get serious! (9)
LANDGRAVE: A synonym of the word get is followed by a word meaning serious. Just what the clue says

20a      Catherine II’s son is an eminent scientist (5)
PAULI:  I’m going with the German physicist and Nobel prize winner here. I’m sure Catherine the second’s son has something to do with it. If you are so minded Google is your friend

21a      Quietly leaving stage, getting censure (5)
ODIUM:  This stage is a small platform upon which one might stand to give a speech or conduct an orchestra. Remove the musical abbreviation for quiet

23a      Drop off returning ex-PM, drunk after drive (2,2,5)
GO TO SLEEP: Find the surname of the only  prime minister that suits the solution to this clue. Add a drunkard. Reverse what you have (returning) and add it to a short word meaning drive or energy. As usual with this vague type of clue bung in the obvious answer and reverse engineer

24a      Run into less chubby person training (7)
LEARNER: A word meaning thinner or less fatty needs the abbreviation for run to be placed somewhere inside

25a      Exposed poet’s entreaty to songwriter? (4-3)
OPEN AIR: Correct me if I am wrong. Split 1,3,3 of what a poet might say to a lyricist or one who writes songs. I do hope Mr Dylan was never entreated in such a way. Or perhaps that’s what drove him to drink and drugs. The answer is obvious from the definition


1d        Imbecile somehow ran Amazon? (10)
HORSEWOMAN:  Anagram (imbecile) of SOMEHOW RAN

2d        Taking top off, had a fling in partnership (6)
ALLIED:  Begin with a word meaning had a casual romantic liaison with. Remove its first letter

3d        Peanuts regularly in novel, large Swiss roll’s filling (8)
EMMENTAL: A three part charade. 1. The alternate letters of the word peanuts 2 A novel. A particular well known novel. 3 The abbreviation for large. Arrange as indicated by the wording of the clue. An amusing and misleading definition for a stunning clue

4d        Bishop saw elevated character who’s a bit of an ass (6)
BOTTOM:  Just as we are directed to a vague novel in the previous clue, we are vaguely directed towards one of Shakespeare’s characters here. Begin with the abbreviation for Bishop. Add the reverse of a saw, proverb, saying or adage

5d        My bad food, consuming case of Cointreau and pop (3,5)
MEA CULPA:  Another charade in three parts.  1 A word for some food. Dinner, tea or supper possibly. 2 The outer letters of the word Cointreau 3 An endearing term for your Pop or father

6d        Slight, short sound from sucker (4)
SLUR: The sound made by someone sucking loses its last letter

7d        Teacher has slop on bread — the chop’s coming! (5,4,4)
HEADS WILL ROLL:  Nothing to do with vasectomies I’m pleased to say  Begin with the teacher at the top of the chain. The big cheese. Add some slop, kitchen waste and scraps of food which we used to feed to pigs. Add a small round piece of bread. If you haven’t got a small round piece of bread you can borrow one from 3 down.

9d        It removes coat or undies worn by one traveller (5-8)
PAINT STRIPPER:  One’s undies or smalls surround the letter that looks like the number one. This is followed by one who travels or makes multiple trips

14d      Yours truly, so fit, spinning the bottle (10)
METHUSELAH: A personal pronoun meaning yours truly is followed by a word meaning so. Finish off with the reverse (spinning) of fit, well or healthy

16d      Order something on plate, people tucking into it (8)
REGIMENT: Something on the number plate of your car is followed by some people (males) sitting inside the word it from the clue

17d      Continue expedition, eating starter from Italian grill (8)
QUESTION:  Split 5,2 find a phrase suggesting an expedition is taking place. Place what you have around the starter or initial letter of the word Italian

19d      It makes clothing market that shuts in November (6)
ANGORA: A Greek market surrounds the abbreviation for November used in phonetic alphabets

20d      Harry Potter, on vacation, touring east of France and Spain (6)
PESTER: The outer letters of the word Potter surround the French word for east and the IVR code for Spain

22d      This person’s a leader in Mecca? (4)
IMAM:  A contraction of I am (this person) is followed by the letter A from the clue and the initial letter of the word Mecca


24 comments on “Toughie 2793

  1. Not the easiest Tuesday Toughie but I really enjoyed this, I do like this setter’s style, the charades in particular giving some nice PDMs.
    Had to verify a couple electronically but as MP says it is a Toughie.
    In a strong field I’ve chosen to highlight 13,23&25a plus 3&9d but my favourite and LOL moment was 7d. Great stuff.
    Many thanks to Robyn and MP for the top notch entertainment.

  2. You can always rely on Robyn to give you an actual Toughie on a Tuesday and this enjoyable crossword was no exception. Lots to enjoy, but I think my top favourites were 3d and 4d

    Thanks to Robyn and P

  3. I found this to be a proper Toughie, perhaps more suited towards the end of the week. Still, it was devilishly enjoyable, very rewarding to complete. From several outstanding clues, I liked 7d the best.

    My thanks and congratulations to Robyn for a great puzzle, and to MP for his usual fun and enlightening review.

  4. Not knowing that Catherine son was called Paul and became Paul 1, was compounded by not knowing the scientist. Never having come across the German nobleman before meant electronic aid was required and in spite of much research in oenology the Spanish wine was new too.
    Anyway apart from 5d where the adjective bad doesn’t seem to work with the Latin noun culpa, it was a good start to the toughie week.
    Thanks to Robyn and MP

    1. Initially had the same thoughts re 5d Chris but the expression “my bad” is listed in several thesauruses as a synonym of my fault or the solution.

      1. Thanks for that. I hadn’t bothered to check with thesauri, but relied upon ancient classical education..mea culpa.

  5. Some cracking clues here, 5d 7d 19d and 3d all top stuff. Had to look up 20 across to confirm but knew the physicist.

  6. Very tough indeed. Needed the hints to parse 13a and 16d. Never heard of either person in 20a or the German in 18a but I have now. Favourite was the wonderful 7d. Thanks to Robyn and MP.

  7. A fair bit of consultation with good old Mr G was required with this one (for all the same reasons as Chris M) but the precise clueing pointed you in the right direction. Top clue for me was 3d which, as MP states, was stunning – I particularly liked the way it led idiots like me into trying to figure out how an anagram of large + the odd letters of peanuts was some unknown ingredient of the tasty cake. Ticks aplenty elsewhere also but 4&7d the other standouts for me.
    Thanks Robyn for a cracking puzzle & to MP for his review – I see that understated whistle has made another appearance.

  8. Thought this puzzle was a star greater than the usualTuesday start to the week and concur with MP’s ***/***.
    Remembered the scottish chimney-useful for crosswords.
    Last in was 11a and my favourite, watched the Hobbit yesterday and the CGI was top draw!
    Thanks to MP again for the pics.

  9. Some very nice things especially in the down clues on this toughish Toughie, which I’ve scored as ***/***. Which seems curiously close to the MP assessment :D

  10. With some Googling and lucky bungins, I did fill the grid last night and thoroughly enjoyed this most unusual, innovative Toughie. 3d and 7d in a dead-heat for the COTD for me. Thanks to MP and Robyn.

  11. Needed quite a few hints for this quirky puzzle. My first in was the clever 7a as I remembered the Scottish chimney but it was downhill all the way from there. Despite that, there was lots to like, especially 11a.

  12. Quite a few laughs in this one.
    1d especially. Wouldn’t mind being the richest imbecile in the world.
    Needed the blog to understand 25a and even though it’s hypothetical, I buy it.
    Thanks to Robyn for the fun and to MP for the review.

  13. Quite a lot of head-scratching, particularly in the SW and lots of chuckles throughout.
    Thanks Robyn and MP.

  14. Lots of head scratching and electronic help needed here.
    Over my pay grade today and was a DNF
    Thanks to setter and MP for excellent hints

  15. Blimey. Only managed about half of that, and then hardly got anything else even after looking at hints and using checkers. Obviously not on this setter’s wavelength at all.

  16. I’ve recently started trying to do the Toughie, with mixed results. This was by far the most difficult. I gave up this morning with nine answered.
    Thanks to MP and Robyn.
    Upwards and onwards.

  17. Thanks to Robyn and to Miffypops for the review and hints. I found this completely impossible. Managed to get some answers on the right hand side, but needed 13 hints to finish. I couldn’t seem to find any of the definitions, and couldn’t unravel the wordplay. Perhaps it was a wavelength thing. Puzzle was good and fairly clued. Must give Robyn’s next puzzle a try.

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